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  • Writer's pictureHolly Griffith Terrell

The Autism Supplement: What is it? Do I want it? How do I get it?

*This article provides a summarized overview of the Autism Supplement and the strategies therein.

 

What is the Autism Supplement?

 

The Texas Education Code requires that for students eligible under the autism label, 11 strategies must be considered and, when needed, addressed in the IEP. Also, if the ARD committee determines that supports are not needed in any of the 11 areas, the IEP must say this and provide reasons.  Click HERE to see the relevant law.

 

The 11 strategies include:


  1. Extended educational programming.

  2. Daily schedules reflecting minimal unstructured time and active engagement in learning activities.

  3. In-home & community-based training or viable alternatives that assist the student with acquisition of social/behavioral skills.

  4. Positive behavior support strategies based on relevant information.

  5. Beginning at any age, futures planning for integrated living, work, community, and educational environments that considers skills necessary to function in current and post-secondary environments.

  6. Parent/family training and support, provided by qualified personnel with experience in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

  7. Suitable staff-to-student ratio appropriate to identified activities and as needed to achieve social/behavioral progress based on the student's developmental and learning level (acquisition, fluency, maintenance, generalization) that encourages work towards individual independence as determined by, for example:

    1. adaptive behavior evaluation results,

    2. behavioral accommodation needs across settings, and

    3. transitions within the school day.

  8. Communication interventions, including language forms and functions that enhance effective communication across settings.

  9. Social skills supports and strategies based on social skills assessment/curriculum and provided across settings.

  10. Professional educator/staff support.

  11. Teaching strategies based on peer reviewed, research-based practices for students with ASD.

 

How do I get it?


For these 11 strategies to be required to be considered, the student must be eligible for special education services under the autism label.  

 

What is Autism?

 

The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides that autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, that adversely affects a child's educational performance. The IDEA further provides examples of other characteristics often associated with autism, including engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. But the IDEA states that autism does not apply if a child's educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance.


Of note, although somewhat similar, the definition of autism set forth in the IDEA that applies to public schools and the definition set forth in the DSM-V are different. This is one reason some children will receive an autism diagnosis from their private medical provider(s) but will not meet eligibility criteria for autism at school.

 

What is an emotional disturbance?

 

The IDEA defines emotional disturbance as a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child's educational performance:

  • An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.

  • An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.

  • Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.

  • A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.

  • A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

 

Takeaways 

 

Although Texas law does not require that the 11 strategies set forth in the Autism Supplement be implemented, it does require that they be considered for students with autism. This is helpful because it provides parents/guardians with guidance regarding specific strategies that are available, and it opens up conversations about these strategies in IEP meetings. In addition, if the school refuses to utilize one or more of the Autism Supplement strategies, they are required to explain why, which further opens up conversations regarding these strategies. I encourage parents/guardians to print their own copy of the Autism Supplement, bring it to IEP meetings, and make sure that each of the 11 strategies is discussed.  Click below to access TEA's printable autism supplement form.


supplement-t-autism-supplement
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