The Autism Society, the nation’s leading advocacy organization for individuals with autism and their families, supports a policy of high expectations for all students with disabilities and a commitment to a set of goals and standards that assures equal access to general education and inclusive postsecondary education. Local, state, and federal governments must be urged to enforce vigorously, at all levels, legislation that assures quality, accessible educational practices under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), including instances involving school choice.
The Autism Society believes in the following education principles:
• All students with autism are general education students first — not a separate, isolated group of learners.
• The Individualized Education Program (IEP) and its planning process should be driven by the academic and functional goals of the student, with the long-term outcome of supporting successful home, employment, and community life.
• Schools must be accountable for engaging family members and student in planning and prioritizing for the student within the IEP process.
• Students participating in voucher programs, education savings accounts, tax-credit scholarships, or other government funded school choice programs should receive protections guaranteed under IDEA.
• Students who chose to participate in voucher programs shall be given full information about their rights and options when transitioning from public to private education environments.
• Transition to post-secondary life should be a coordinated effort among students, families, schools, vocational rehabilitation, and healthcare services, and should begin at the age of 14.
• Early identification, intervention, and preschool services under IDEA are the fundamental building blocks for success for children with intellectual disabilities.
• For students with autism, curriculums should be developed promoting universal design and flexible approaches that can be customized for each student.
• Students with autism have the right to have highly qualified teachers and appropriate behavioral supports.
• Secondary students should have full membership in their high school community.
• Students with autism should have access to job skill development programs in preparation for post-secondary life.