Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004 is the federal law that guarantees a free and appropriate public education to students with disabilities referred for or determined eligible to receive special education services.

This is the first sentence of the booklet, Notice of Special Education Procedural Safeguards for Students and Their Families, given to me at Joshua’s first IEP (Individual Educational Plan) meeting.  One thing parents of kids with autism need to keep in mind is the fact that because of the IDEA, they are the strongest advocates for their child to receive

a free appropriate public education <which> means special education and related services necessary for  your child to benefit from his or her education.  If determined eligible, your child could receive special education services from the age three and up to age twenty-one.

Parents need to realize how strong a voice they indeed have.  However, as I have found, it doesn’t come easy.  I was given this booklet, but there has been many things I have had to dig for.  For example, Seattle Children’s Autism Center, where Joshua was evaluated, recommended he have a full day school program with ABA elements.  There is a program in our district that has that, but, alas, we don’t live close enough and have instead been directed to the school with a half day program and no ABA elements.  Joshua has certainly made some improvements, but would clearly benefit from the full day program.  His teacher certainly wants such a program at their school which would specifically address autistic children’s deficits, such as including ABA and one on one instruction.  Autistic children don’t benefit from larger group activities, as much, based upon the nature of their condition of focusing inward.  This is where, as a parent, I have a louder voice, with the IDEA to back us up.

I wrote a letter to the Director of the Special Education Elementary Department to tell her of Joshua, his needs, what he is currently receiving for treatment despite the recommendations from the Seattle Children’s Autism Center, and the assurance of the IDEA.  I made clear my feeling of him being discriminated against receiving a full day program based upon where we live.  I also made mention of what I had been told regarding the talk of Joshua’s school receiving a full day program in the fall and I offered my support in such a program being established on the “other side” of the district.  I have yet to hear back from the director, but will do a follow up phone call to ensure she has received my letter.  Persistence is the key.  We’ll see what results from my efforts.  I was told that I was tenacious at one time, when I was a case manager, so I will be even more so for my own child.

Additionally, had Joshua been enrolled the entire year, (he started late November), he would have been eligible for the Extended Year Learning program (ELY), as he clearly would benefit from that.  Had I been thinking about the fall at the end of spring, I would have gotten the paperwork in to the school district so he could have started the first of the year.  As it was, I got the paperwork in early August and nothing could really happen until September, with evaluations, eligibility meetings, etc., and that lead to him starting late in the fall.  With some searching, however, Joshua may still be able to benefit from the ELY program after all.  I found this:

The purpose of ESY services is the maintenance of the student’s learning skills or behavior, not the teaching of new skills or behaviors.

The IEP team’s decision for ESY should be based upon regression and recoupment time based on documented evidence, or on the determinations of the IEP team, based upon the professional judgment of the team and consideration of the nature and severity of the student’s disability, rate of progress, and emerging skills, with evidence to support the need.

This is where the parent, again, has a lot of pull.  I can call for the IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) Team to meet, where we can discuss Joshua’s rate of progress, considering the nature and severity of his disability, to determine if he would benefit from the ESY program this summer.  I found out that it is 14 days for 3 hours a day and transportation included.  I am looking to do this, as with the rate of brain growth being the most up until the age of 5, we want to do whatever will help Joshua improve and take advantage of all “early intervention” has to offer.  I just need to see how to work his outside therapy around this schedule for the summer, especially with it being only for the month of July, essentially.  The month of August will include Vacation Bible School at our parish, for all the kids (I will volunteer in Joshua’s class) and, hopefully, vacation, before prepping for the coming school year.  Sounds doable!  (I’m such an optimist!)

What is he thinking about?

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 20th, 2010 at 3:33 pm and is filed under Autism Resources, Autism Treatment, General Autism Info. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)”

  1. admin Says:

    Would you mind having a link to my blog from your site? Thanks!

  2. admin Says:

    I looked at your site and it’s got a lot of information, too. I’m glad I was able to help you in your search. I’m looking for a funding source to help my son go to a summer camp. Do you have any leads? Thanks for all you do to help families on their journey with autism.
    Blessings, SMH


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