Autism Parenting Magazine Issue 74 (Member's Dashboard) - Page 15

AUTISM ADVOCACY be placed appropriately. IDEA also requires that the least restrictive environment be determined by the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team, not the school district. But, even though these guide- lines are under IDEA, sometimes parents will have to push for inclusion. Inclusion, when appropriate, is not a right that a school district can dismiss. IDEA mandates that students with disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environments to the “maximum extent appropriate.” Under the federal law, students with disabilities can only be removed from regular edu- cation classrooms when the nature or severity of the ability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. As most students with dis- abilities will not be able to function in regular educa- tion classrooms without any services, supplementary aids and services are used to give students with disabilities aid, services, and supports to assist them in general education classrooms. Once the IEP team determines what supplementary aids and services are needed (based on your child’s present levels of performance and IEP goals and objectives), the most appropriate placement is determined. When the placement discussion begins, always keep in mind the “continuum of special education ser- vices.” Since inclusion is not all-or-nothing, there are a variety of placement options that may benefit your child. Placement options generally include:  Regular education classroom with no support  Regular education classroom with direct or indirect special education support (i.e., consultation teacher services)  Regular education classroom with co- teaching model  Regular education classroom and resource room services (your child will be pulled out of the classroom and instructed by a special education teacher in a separate room) Most of the options for placement are proponents for inclusion.  Having a thorough discussion of the continuum of services will help the IEP team find the most appropriate placement for your child. Placement discussions always begin with educat- ing your child in the regular education classroom. If the IEP team determines that the regular education classroom is not appropriate for your child, the IEP team needs to explain why this placement is not ap- propriate. Once this explanation is given, then you can move on to the next option in the continuum of services until you reach a placement option that is most appropriate for your child. When you are in an IEP meeting, be sure that the IEP team does not skip over placement options or rush through it. Each placement option should be thoroughly discussed, and a reason should be given as to why a placement option is not appropriate for your child. With this understanding, the right decision will be made, and your child will receive the services that are best for him/her. Nicole Bovell is a longtime advocate of the special ed- ucation community. She is the author of  The Journey of Special Education  and  How to Have a Great School Year, informational resources to help special needs parents with the special educa- tion process. Nicole has her master’s of arts in spe- cial education, an educational specialist degree in teaching and learning, and over 15 years of expe- rience teaching and working with students with a variety of disabilities. She also provides additional resources for special needs parents on her website. Website: Facebook: Twitter:  Self-contained classroom Autism Parenting Magazine | Issue 74 | 15