Having a child and growing a family is a time of transition and joy for parents. Parents often imagine the life they hope for their child and decide to help their child be happy and have a quality life. The vision may include the friends they will have, or the after-school activities and the sports team they will join. For a parent, receiving the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder is often difficult. Parents sometimes do not have all the information they need and have many questions. This post will start with the characteristics of ASD as well as provide a summary of available therapies, and educational services.

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What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterized by varying degrees of difficulty in the following areas:
  • Social interaction
  • Verbal and nonverbal communication,
  • The presence of repetitive behavior
  • Restricted interests.

Due to the variability and symptom presentation, no two individuals with an ASD diagnosis are the same. The manifestation of ASD varies from person to person and from family to family.

What can the school do to help my child?

Every child has the right to a free and appropriate education. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), requires an appropriate public education for all eligible children and makes schools responsible for providing supports and services that will allow this to happen. Through IDEA, children with the diagnosis of ASD are eligible for special education under the category of Autism, if their diagnosis impacts their access to education.


Special Education services will include an individualized education plan (IEP) and potentially additional educational services such as Occupational therapy (OT), Speech and Language (SLP), and behavioral supports when needed. Along with educational services, a child with ASD may be able to access transportation, behavioral intervention plan, and other accommodation needed to access the curriculum successfully.

What interventions are available?

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Early Intervention services for children from ages birth to 3-years is a preventive measure. Eligibility for early intervention is determined by an established diagnosis of a physical or mental condition, an existing condition or a developmental delay which could affect their education in the future. Unlike special education service for children over 3, early intervention services occur in the natural environment and are based on the daily routines of the child’s family and caregivers. The purpose is to lessen the effects of the disability or delay. Services are designed to identify and meet a child’s needs in five developmental areas, including:

  • Physical
  • Cognitive
  • Communication
  • Social emotional
  • Adaptive development

Each State’s early intervention program has its own rules and regulations. Therefore, contact your local education system for more information.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, a scientific discipline that focuses on analysis, design, implementation for meaningful changes in human behavior, is currently considered the most effective intervention for teaching individuals with ASD. Click here to access more information.

Occupational therapy works to improve the motor, cognitive, social, and communication skills of individuals with ASD as it relates to their participation in daily living activities. Occupational therapist work in schools, homes and clinical setting providing direct services, consulting and collaborating with professionals. Click here to access more information.

Speech and Language therapy addresses the communications and social skill difficulties. Speech-language pathologists also can support children with feeding concerns related to refusing new foods and sensory-related inflexibilities. Click here to access more information.

With effective implementation of best practice strategies, children with ASD will gain skills to help them gain independence. Services should always work toward supporting the child in being successful in their community and always consider cultural expectations.

As a community, we can support one another through difficult transitions. Leave a comment in the section below and let’s engage in a conversation.



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