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Within the school setting, students with ASD may be eligible for a number of support services based on their unique needs. Certain federal legislation, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) mandate various supports for all students with disabilities, and Indiana-specific regulations (Article 7) allow for further protections for Hoosier students. The information below outlines various educational support services available to students with ASD in Indiana.

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What is an IEP?

An individualized education plan, or IEP, is a written educational plan for a student that outlines specific academic and functional (e.g., communication, social, leisure, self-regulation, etc.) goals and objectives to be achieved, identifies specific special education services that the school will provide for the student. The IEP is developed by key school staff members (a student’s teachers, therapists, or other support staff) and the student’s parents and is reviewed at least once a year (or as needed) by a multidisciplinary case conference committee (CCC) to determine what progress has been made and/or if any changes are needed.

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What are ADA, 504, IDEA/IDEIA, and Article 7?

There are a number of federal and state laws that regulate the provision of educational services to individuals with disabilities, including ASD. The primary regulations include:

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, is legislation passed in 1990 that prohibits the discrimination of individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability in relation to employment, state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. ADA covers all individuals with disabilities, including students. For full text of the law, visit https://www.ada.gov/ada_intro.htm.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504)

Commonly referred to simply as “504,” Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against an individual with disabilities on the basis of disability. The legislation covers individuals who receive services from federally funded programs and institutions, such as schools and government agencies. Individuals who may not qualify for an IEP may qualify for rights and services under Section 504 and have a 504 Plan. Section 504 covers all students with disabilities, including those with ASD. For the full text of the section, visit https://www.dol.gov/oasam/regs/statutes/sec504.htm.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA or IDEIA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (commonly referred to as IDEA or IDEIA) is federal legislation overseeing special education for students with disabilities, which requires states to develop and offer multidisciplinary service to eligible children from birth to age 21. IDEIA guarantees free and appropriate public education (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services to all students with a disability, including ASD.

Indiana Special Education Rules, Article 7 (Article 7)

Section 11, Article 7 of the Indiana Administrative Code (which contains the State’s Special Education rules), commonly referred to simply as “Article 7,” is a state-level regulation protecting students in federally funded schools from discrimination on the basis of a disability.  Article 7 outlines the state’s interpretation for the implementation of federal IDEIA requirements at the state level and describes how special education and related services should be provided by Indiana’s local public educational agencies. Article 7 covers all Indiana students with disabilities. The most recent version, updated in 2014, is available at http://www.doe.in.gov/specialed/laws-rules-and-interpretation.

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What is the Difference between a Medical Diagnosis of ASD and an Educational Classification?

Obtaining a medical diagnosis of ASD, as outlined on the Screening & Diagnosis page, is an important step in identifying services that are determined by a provider to be a “medical necessity” for a child with ASD. These services may be covered by certain insurance providers and are related to the overall health of the child.

By contrast, within the school setting, a child may be eligible for special education services under ASD eligibility if the child meets diagnostic criteria for ASD as outlined within the current edition of the DSM-5 and if such symptoms or challenges result in a consistent and negative impact upon the child’s academic achievement and/or functioning performance as specified within the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) and the Indiana Department of Education Article 7. In order to determine special education eligibility, a multidisciplinary team comprised of qualified professionals (including school psychologists, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and special education teachers, among others depending on the student’s unique needs) will conduct an educational evaluation of the student’s academic achievement, functional skills across settings, communication skills, motor and sensory responses, and developmental history. Following and based upon this evaluation, a case conference committee (CCC) comprised of various school professionals and the student’s parents will decide whether the student’s ASD symptoms result in a consistent and significant negative impact on his or her academic achievement or functional performance; if the CCC concludes that the student’s ASD does negatively interfere with learning, he or she would be determined to be eligible for special education services within the school setting.

A medical diagnosis of ASD may be used in consideration of eligibility decisions but is not necessary or sufficient to make the educational classification.  As such a medical diagnosis is not equivalent to a special education eligibility of ASD and vice versa. For more information about how medical diagnosis and educational determinations differ, refer to this guide by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE).

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What is an Extended School Year (ESY)?

An extended school year, or ESY, allows for the provision of educational and related services to a special education student for a specified period of time beyond the regular school calendar. The determination of whether a student may require services as part of an ESY must be included in the student’s IEP.

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What is a Case Conference Committee (CCC)?

A case conference committee, or CCC, is a group of individuals (including a student’s parents and key school personnel) who determine whether a student is eligible for special education services. If the CCC concludes that the student is eligible, it develops and continually reviews a student’s IEP to ensure the appropriate services and supports are provided to the student and that progress is being made.

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What supports are available to individuals after high school?

IDEIA contains transition service requirements for students with disabilities, which must be addressed in the first IEP to be in effect when the student turns 16 (this is noted as 14 in Indiana Law), if determined appropriate by the IEP Team. The Rehabilitation Act authorizes a continuum of services, such as pre-employment transition services, transition services, job placement services, other VR services, and supported employment services for students and youth with disabilities, as appropriate, to secure meaningful careers.

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Available Resources


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