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April is National Autism Awareness Month

A number of myths and misconceptions surround the diagnosis of autism. As many parents of autistic children have experienced, these myths and misconceptions can cause individuals to react to autistic children inappropriately. Partially in response to this information gap between autism experts and the general public, April has been designated National Autism Awareness Month.

One area of life in which more understanding of autism is sorely needed is within the educational community. Not all teachers and administrators understand that autistic children have particular rights afforded to them under special education law. It is therefore critical for both parents of autistic children and educational professionals to review these laws with an experienced attorney so that they understand the rights that the law grants autistic children and the responsibilities that the law places on educators in regards to autistic kids.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as one out of every 68 American children may have autism. Some children have more mild conditions, while other children’s conditions are more severe. But no matter where a child diagnosed with autism lands on the spectrum, he or she is entitled to an education governed by an appropriate Individualized Education Program.

In addition, autistic children are entitled to learn in the least restrictive environment that the school can adequately provide, according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Parents and educators who are confused by or concerned about the proper execution of both IEPs and the least restrictive environment mandate should consult an attorney with experience in special education law.

Source: Findlaw Law & Daily Life, “5 Legal Tips for Parents of Autistic Children,” Aditi Mukherji, April 2, 2014

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