A child who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome will not automatically receive special education services once the diagnosis is made or be given an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The diagnosis will be considered as part of the process for determining eligibility for special education services . Some students with Asperger’s Syndrome will not need special education support to be successful and will learn to compensate within a regular education classroom. However, the majority of children who have Asperger’s Syndrome will need special education services to help them navigate within the school system and be successful. To be eligible for special education services, one must have two things: a disability and a documented need for special education services to be successful. Educational impact must be evident in order to receive special education services. Various methods for determining educational impact are used in schools. Some school systems look to see if the student is performing at his or her expected ability level (they compare cognitive scores with educational scores on testing), while some systems look for below grade level scores or grades.
If you suspect your child has a disability or if you want the school to consider if your child should receive special education services to address Asperger’s Syndrome , talk to your child’s teacher or principal immediately. There is a process within each school that usually begins with a meeting. This meeting will involve teachers, principals, other school personnel (maybe a School Psychologist). At this meeting, interventions to attempt with the child will be decided. If those interventions are unsuccessful, the committee may recommend a full evaluation for special education services. Often if there is already a diagnosis, the committee will recommend going straight to a full evaluation for special education services . Once the testing is complete an eligibility committee will convene to review the data and determine if your child qualifies for special education.
When a student has a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, sometimes a 504 Plan will give a student access to the accommodations needed to be successful. A 504 Plan is less restrictive than an IEP and is typically implemented in the regular education classroom. When educational impact is not evident, special education services can not be received, but a student might be eligible for a 504 Plan. To receive services from a 504 Plan, one must have a disability that is causing impairment in a “major life function.” Social skills are a “major life function.” Related services, such as Occupational Therapy, can be obtained through a 504 Plan as well. Talk to your principal if you would like to consider a 504 Plan.
To receive Special Education services, a child must qualify under one the special education categories. Typically, a student with Asperger’s Syndrome will qualify for special education services under the category of Autism , since it is an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. However, some schools will find a child eligible for special education under the category of Other Health Impairment.
The type of special education services your child will receive will be decided upon by the IEP committee. The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is to be individualized, so it should primarily depend on your child’s needs. Federal law mandates that the Least Restrictive Environment be provided. Your child may do very well in an inclusion classroom, which contains regular and special education students, a regular education teacher, and a special education teacher. There may be a resource class for specific subjects that are more difficult. This is a special education classroom with a small class size, consisting of other children in special education. In some instances a specialized school will be the most appropriate environment. Having a diagnosis of Asperger’s Disorder should not dictate where the child will be educated. The IEP committee will meet to determine a plan unique to each child.