Individuals with ASD often exhibit both behavioral and educational challenges within the school setting due to their often unique and individualized learning styles.  They may exhibit challenges not only with accessing the educational curriculum but also in functioning within this social context and being able to self-calm, self-advocate and stay organized and productive.  However, despite challenges in this environment, an understanding of the learning style and needs of those with ASD will assist school personnel in supporting these (and ALL) students most effectively and in the least restrictive environment through visual supports, structure, pacing, and other accommodations.  Supports are available to students across special education and general education settings, as outlined below and on the Educational Support Services page.

What is FAPE?

FAPE stands for Free and Appropriate Public Education, a right guaranteed through the federal regulation within the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA).  IDEIA stipulates that students with disabilities must have access to education in a public school setting that suits their individualized needs as represented by their individualized education plan (IEP). FAPE is provided at no cost to the student or family.

What is LRE?

LRE stands for Least Restrictive Environment. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) requires that individuals with disabilities receive services and supports, such as education, within an environment that does not unnecessarily restrict his or her life activities or opportunities to perform with nondisabled peers.  LRE is defined by the individual’s ability to most effectively achieve access to the curriculum; it is not defined by the placement.  As such, an individual may be in a more contained setting and still be receiving LRE if that placement better enables that student to access the curriculum.

What Considerations Are Appropriate when Deciding Whether a Student Should be in a General or Special Education Classroom?

According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), students in public schools are required to be placed in the least restrictive environment (LRE). This means that, to the greatest extent possible, schools must educate individuals with disabilities (including ASD) within the most inclusive setting with appropriate supports and alongside their student peers. A student’s individualized education plan (IEP) may require another arrangement based upon the student’s unique educational needs as determined by a case conference committee (CCC), but opportunities to interact with peers in a general education setting should be considered to the extent possible and appropriate.  Recognizing that there is no “one size fits all” approach to educating students with ASD, parents should be involved in a student’s schooling and understand the student’s particular needs and strengths. Some important practices and considerations to best advocate include:

  1. Meeting with the student’s teacher(s) and therapist(s) to provide any pertinent information about the student’s needs, strengths, challenges, and behaviors. Maintain open communication to discuss expectations and progress.
  2. Discussing how best to communicate (emails, phone calls, letters home, etc.) and how frequently communication with teachers should occur.
  3. Visiting the student’s classroom (on a scheduled visit) to get familiar with the environment and offer support to the student and teacher within the classroom setting.
  4. Attending important meetings and conferences, such as parent-teacher conferences, back-to-school nights, and IEP conferences. Being involved and prepared for these events will help everyone involved better understand the student’s strengths, challenges, and behaviors and make the best educational decisions for the student.

What Supports Can Students With ASD Receive Within A School Setting?

At your student’s case conference, you will be encouraged to actively participate. At the case conference, the committee will discuss the supports and services that will be provided to the child based on their educational and emotional needs. At the case conference, the team will also discuss any related services (e.g., OT, ST, PT), accommodations or modifications required for the student and these will be included in the IEP.

Additional Resources