The Value of a General Education for Your Child With Autism
Whether the child is severely affected by autism or only mildly, to some degree they will likely require the services special education can offer, like tutoring or accommodations made for the use of special equipment, and the benefits of general education. It is up to the parent as well as all members of the child’s education team to decide what a child can benefit from through either the special needs or regular classroom environment. The child’s IEP is a good place to start when determining the value of inclusion to someone with autism.
Review your child’s IEP (Individual Education Plan) or 504 Plan and see which goals are the most important. Goals are usually interrelated and can be synthesized for presentation to the team when you go in to discuss mainstreaming. Bringing these goals, in regards to the child’s known issues, to the meeting as highlighted points will help you get the most of your meeting(s) on inclusion giving your argument for mainstreaming an edge with concrete, supporting facts.
For children on the spectrum who rely heavily on visual communication, many of their lessons and lectures have to be provided to them in a manner that accommodates for their special needs when expressing and receiving knowledge. General education teachers should be informed of this and have strategies in place to address these needs. If they do not, then they should be supported by the special education teacher, the student’s aide, the principal, and the district’s LEA (Local Educational Agency/special education supervisor) in developing and putting these strategies into action. After all, the success of your child in an inclusion classroom depends upon how well team members work together and are supported by each other.
If you find that your child’s school is not currently equipped to provide an inclusive environment for him, this does not mean they won’t be in the future and that a door has been forever closed to you. Inclusion doesn’t start and end in general education classrooms.