The school years bring innumerable challenges for a child with autism, but they also hold incredible opportunity for growth. For parents, the challenge is to discover and leverage resources to maximize the child’s avenues of academic learning, social experience and physical fitness. Having a team of professionals is essential throughout this long life stage – getting help from those who know the system can reduce stress on the family and improve outcomes for the child with autism.
There are many treatment approaches available to school-aged children with autism – Applied Behavior Analysis, occupational therapy, a range of supplemental therapies, dietary regimens and more. Similarly, there are many different educational programs that provide stimulating learning environments to children with different needs and abilities.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, reauthorized as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004), a federal educational mandate that guarantees students with disabilities a free, appropriate public education, is the most important tool a student with autism has in securing the appropriate placement, supports and accommodations. An IDEA Individualized Education Plan for a student with disabilities can include “related services” to help him or her learn and thrive in school.
Be sure to check out the Autism Society’s online resource materials, including informational pamphlets for students and guides to school transitions, puberty and more.