3 Lies Told by Some Special Education Personnel About Autism and How You Can Fight Back!

Are you concerned that your young child may have autism even though you have you been told by special education personnel that he or she doesn’t? Would you like to know 3 of the lies told by many special education personnel about this disorder? Would you also like to learn advocacy strategies to overcome these lies? This article will address 3 of the most common lies told to parents about autism!

Lie 1: Your child does not have autism, they are emotionally disturbed! This is the most common lie that I see as an educational advocate. Most children with autism do have emotional and behavioral difficulty, but this is caused by the disorder. To truly be emotionally disturbed, the child cannot have any other disability causing the behavioral difficulty; which of course is not true in this case.

The reason that this is important is because if a child has autism, they will probably need extensive related and special education services, to benefit from their education. If the school district can convince you that your child does not have autism but is emotionally disturbed, they can try and deny all of the educational, services that your child needs.

You can advocate for your child by having them tested privately, with a psychologist specifically trained in this area. Bring these results to the school district and ask that your child be found eligible for special education under the category of autism; not emotionally disturbed (if the evaluation shows that this is true).

Lie 2: Your child does not have autism because they do not have the repetitive behavior that is a symptom of autism. I hear this a lot too, especially for children that have been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) or Aspergers Syndrome. Many of these children do not have the typical features associated with this disorder. Over the years I have had many special education personnel tell me that a certain child did not have a certain disability; without testing them. The child needs to be given an autism rating scale by a qualified professional.

The one that I recommend is the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS). It is easy to fill out and to come up with a score. The higher the score is the greater chance that the child has the disorder.

There is also an Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) that can be given again by a qualified trained professional. Insist that your child receive an Autism Rating Scale (CARS), or the ADOS.

Lie 3: Okay so your child has autism; but they are not eligible for special education services because the autism does not affect their education.

The federal law governing special education is IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). In 2004 the act was reauthorized, and the language stating that the child’s disability must negatively affect the child’s education, was taken out. It now states that for a child to be eligible for special education services, they must have a disability and have educational needs. No mention of disability negatively affecting the child’s education.

You should ask the special education personnel, to please show you in Federal Law where it states that special education eligibility, depends on the child’s disability negatively affecting their education. It does not exist and they will not be able to show you. As an advocacy technique keep repeating that it is your opinion that your child has autism and has educational needs. This is all that is required for a child to be found eligible.

You are the advocate for your child; stand up to special education personnel because your child is depending on you!

Can a Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule Be Used by Special Education Personnel to Help My Child

Are you the parent of a young child who you believe has Autism or Pervasive Developmental Disorder(PDD)? Are special education personnel in your district refusing to acknowledge this diagnosis, despite a lot of evidence? Many school districts refuse to admit that a child has autism, because they do not want to provide the special education and related services that a child needs! But this tool can be used by special education personnel to see if your child has autism.

Below are 9 things that you must know about the ADOS:

1. Purpose: Allows an accurate diagnosis of autism and pervasive developmental disorder

2. Can be used for children who are 2 years up to adulthood.

3. Takes 30-45 minutes for a qualified examiner to use this tool.

4. The person using the tool must have prior education, training, and experience in using this type of diagnostic took. They must also have extensive experience with autism and PDD!

5. The person using the tool must take a clinical training workshop, and at the end receive a certificate of completion. Be sure and check that any special education personnel using this tool, has a certificate of completion.

6. Person should have at least 8 practice sessions to make sure that they are familiar with this diagnostic tool.

7. Typically the people who are using this tool are Doctors, Clinical Psychologists, School Psychologists, Speech Pathologists, Certified Occupational Therapists etc.

8. While this is not an objective test it is far from subjective. The ADOS is a schedule of observations which has been developed over several decades and has been found to be effective!

9. This tool should be used in conjunction with other rating scales, such as the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS)! A full developmental history of the child, a medical history, developmental and academic evaluations, testing of adaptive functioning, and information on the child’s sensory integration function, should also be included. As well as Speech Language evaluation and Occupational Therapy evaluations if needed.

Parents can become very frustrated with school districts who refuse to acknowledge that their child has Autism! A private independent evaluator who is trained can also do the ADOS on your child, so you do not have to depend only on school district personnel. Bring any private evaluations to special education personnel and they must consider the results! Keep fighting your child is worth it!

6 Ways To Overcome Anger At Special Education Personnel For The Good Of Your Child

Are you the parent of a child with autism that has had major conflicts, with special education personnel? Has your school district developed an IEP for your child with a severe learning disability, but refuses to follow it? Have you spent thousands of dollars trying to ensure that your child receives a free appropriate public education (FAPE)? Anger is a very common emotion that you may feel, especially if your child is denied needed educational services. This article will discuss how to turn that anger around, and use it to benefit your child’s education.

Many parents experience a lot of difficulty, when trying to get their child with a disability a free appropriate public education. In fact it is my belief that few children with disabilities in the U.S. actually receive FAPE.

Some special education personnel use tactics such as blaming the parent, in order to not have to pay for expensive special education services. A lot of anger that parents feel is justified anger. But if the anger becomes explosive, you will not be able to help your child. Use these tips to help you control your anger, to benefit your child:

1. If you are in an IEP meeting, and you feel yourself getting angry, ask for a small break. Go outside, or walk in the hallway. This will give you a chance to calm yourself down, so that you can be a more effective advocate, for your child.

2. Stand up to school personnel in an assertive manner, if they try and blame you for your child’s difficulty. You do not cause your child’s autism, or learning disability, or behavioral difficulty. This is a tactic used by many special education personnel, and sometimes catch a parent off guard.

If you do not stand up to the personnel blaming you, your anger may get the best of you. Remember that being assertive means staying as calm as possible, but working toward getting your child the services they need.

3. Focus on what educational and related services that your child needs. Bring a list of items that you would like to discuss, and check them off as you discuss them. Write down what you are promised for your child, and make sure that it is written in your child’s IEP. By focusing on your child, you will be less likely to get angry.

4. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Use this strategy, when special education personnel try and change the subject, when you are asking for needed educational services for your child. For Example: We were discussing my child’s need for Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), please stop changing the subject and address this issue. This strategy works; refuse to move the discussion along until the important issues are discussed.

5. Bring a friend or advocate with you to any meetings that you are concerned may become adversarial. Also consider tape recording, special education personnel are often careful of what they say when it is being tape recorded.

6. If you find yourself getting angry over a dispute; write a letter to special education personnel. In the letter, clearly state what the dispute is; stick to facts, keep emotion out. By writing a letter you will decrease your chances of letting your anger overtake you.

By using these easy strategies you will be able to keep your anger in check, as you advocate for an appropriate education for your child. Good Luck in your advocacy journey, remember you are not alone!