• My child is eligible for special education services under the category of Autism. What does this mean?

    According to the Operating Standards for Ohio Educational Agencies Serving Children with Disabilities (2008), Autism is a developmental disability significantly impacting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, that adversely impacts a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are an engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.

    Because the eligibility team at your child’s school agreed that he/she meets the criteria of the Ohio Operating Standards, your child will have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that will address his/her unique needs and allow him/her to access the grade-level curriculum to the greatest extent possible. For those students who are unable to access the grade-level curriculum even with accommodations and supports, they will be taught a modified curriculum based on Ohio’s Extended Standards in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

    What specialized instruction will my child receive?

    Goals for children with autism vary and depend on the unique needs of the child, but typically address these areas:

    o   Social interaction – social awareness and relationship skills

    o   Behavior – self-awareness, self-management, sensory needs

    o   Communication – verbal, nonverbal, technology-aided

    o   Academic – reading, written expression, mathematics

    o   Daily living – following routines, self-care

     Specially designed instruction for children with autism may include, but is not limited to:

    o   Direct, explicit instruction in goal areas

    o   Immediate feedback on performance

    o   Repeated practice of skills, such as Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)

    o   Use of concrete and visual methods of instruction, such as TEACCH

    o   Sensory integration

    o   Instruction in the use of communication systems, such as Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) or Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC)

    o   Implementation of a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)

     Can a student with Autism attend any CMSD school?

    CMSD is committed to providing quality school choices for all families. Every school in CMSD is staffed with Intervention Specialists to support students in all disability categories with access to the general education curriculum along with specially designed instruction in academic areas. All schools also have access to related services (speech/language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy) and postsecondary transition services. Intervention specialists may teach separate academic classes that allow the student to receive grade-level instruction using specially designed instruction and enhanced accommodations. 

    In addition to these services in all schools, there are specialized single classrooms in every Cleveland neighborhood. ED classrooms focus on grade-level curriculum and intensive behavior intervention in a small group setting. Low incidence classrooms focus on a functional curriculum based on Ohio Extended Standards, and have the lowest student-teacher ratios. The least restrictive environment for each student is determined by his/her IEP team.

    My child has a medical diagnosis of autism, but the team decided that my child does not qualify for special education services. How can this be true?

    The needs of children with autism vary widely. Some children with a medical diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder do not qualify for special education services under IDEA, because their disorder does not negatively impact their academic performance. These children may qualify for accommodations in the educational setting, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

    What is the Autism Scholarship?

    According to the Ohio Department of Education, the Autism Scholarship Program (ASP) gives the parents of children with autism who qualify for a scholarship the choice to send the child to a special education program other than the one operated by the school district of residence to receive their education and the services outlined in the child's individualized education program (IEP). Please click here for more information on the Autism Scholarship Program.

    Additional Resources

    Center for Parent Information and Resources - Autism

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Developmental Disabilities

    Ohio Coalition for Autism and Low Incidence

    Organization for Autism Research