I work with parents of children with disabilities on a regular basis. Many of those parents are parents of children with autism. At the point parents find me they are usually in some type of crisis with the school system.
After doing this for many years I have noticed some patterns that I hope to capture and write about.
Sometimes the child with autism has been suspended or expelled. Hopefully the parent has reached out before an actual expulsion.
I know the parents I work with would like me to talk to them or make some calls and do something about their child’s situation.
Fortunately I have learned that for long term results for the parents I should not and do not do that. If I do the school system personnel start interacting with me.
If I get the parents to call and ask for documents or ask questions, they may have to call me back several times BUT the school system personnel interact with them. That works better for their child and for them. It is part of the parent being and learning to be the expert about their child.
From the beginning I tell the parent we need to meet, just me and them. Then I give them a list of several documents I would like to see. If they do not already have those documents then they can go to or call the school and ask for them.
First to get a snapshot of what has or should have been going on this year I need the current IEP. Second I also need to see the last 3 year evaluation from the school system. Where I live there is a smaller evaluation if we are just agreeing that the child continues to need special education services. I want to see the evaluation where more in depth testing was done. Third I would like to see behavior plans, office referrals, Response to Intervention (RTI) reports, suspension reports, or anything else.
All of those things are important before I am able to do something for a child with autism or any other disability. Ideally those are things the parent has readily on hand. Even if it is not the parent has some verbage to use with the school system to let them know they are learning how special education services work.