Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What IEP Teams Need to Consider in Seven Areas - For Children With Autism

Do you have a child with autism that receives special education services? Would you like to know what information that needs to be discussed in 7 areas to benefit your child's education? This article will discuss what information special education IEP teams need to discuss in seven areas to determine what services a child with autism needs.

The seven areas are:

1. Nonverbal and verbal communication needs of the child,
2. social interaction skills of the child,
3. educational needs caused by sensory integration disorder,
4. needs caused by rigidity and resistance to change,
5. needs resulting from engagement in repetitive activities,
6. needs for positive behavioral interventions and plans for negative behavior that interferes with the child's education,
7. any other need the child has that negatively affects their education.

Consideration for #1 Verbal and nonverbal communication needs of a child with autism.
A. What the child's current level of communication is. This can be determined by a speech language evaluation.
B. What system of communication is effective for the child.
C. The child's ability to use and understand non-verbal communication (facial expression, eye gaze, body language).
D. Alternative assistive technology devices that could help the child with their communication needs.

Consideration for #2 Need for social interaction skills for the child
A. Types of social interactions the child is capable of.
B. The child's ability to respond appropriately to the social approach of others.

Consideration for #3 Needs resulting from sensory integration disorder
A. Tactile: Does the child have a need for a higher level of input in tactile experiences.
B. Sound: How does the child respond to loud noises?
C. Smell/taste: Is the child affected by certain smells? Does the child avoid certain foods due to the texture?

Consideration 4: Needs caused by rigidity and resistance to change
A. How the child reacts to changes in environment or schedule? How to prepare for transitions with visual supports and timers.
B. An individual visual schedule written, pictures, photos etc
C. Any other supports needed for successful transitions from activity to activity

Consideration 5: Needs resulting from engagement in repetitive activities
A. Determine the function of the behavior to the child.
B. Determine the extent to which the behavior interferes with the child's education.
C. The use of positive behavioral supports to encourage participation in social activities.

Consideration 6: Needs for positive behavioral interventions and plans for negative behavior that interferes with the child's education
A. Discuss the need for a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) to determine what function the behavior has for the child.
B. Use the FBA to develop a positive behavioral plan and supports for the child. Also discuss needed teaching of appropriate replacement behaviors.

Consideration 7: Any other need the child has that negatively affects their education.
A. Medical needs that affect the child's education
B. Organizational needs
C. Direct instruction for learning new skills

By understanding what should be discussed for your child with autism at their IEP meeting, you will be able to be an active participant in the IEP process. By advocating for your child you will help them benefit from their education.

JoAnn Collins is the mother of two adults with disabilities, and has helped families navigate the special eduation system, as an advocate, for over 15 years. She is a presenter and author of the book "Disability Deception; Lies Disability Educators Tell and How Parents Can Beat Them at Their Own Game." The book has a lot of resources and information to help parents fight for an appropriate education for their child. For a free E newsletter entitled "The Special Education Spotlight" send an E mail to: For more information on the book, testimonials about the book, and a link to more articles go to:

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