Become Familiar with Your Child's Rights
The terminology and information about the rights of a child with autism can be overwhelming. You have to learn a whole new language of laws and terms such as IEP (individualized education program), LRE (least restrictive environment), EI (early intervention), IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), and FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education). The sooner parents and caregivers familiarize themselves with these terms and the rights, the sooner they can become their child's toughest and best advocate.
The family services team of Autism Speaks, under the Goring's guidance, recently updated its "100 Days" kit, which provides guidelines on how parents can get through their first few months after receiving the diagnosis. A section about legal rights provides a good starting point for understanding special education services. Talk to other parents of children with autism to get more information. "Parents' support groups sharing experience and knowledge with each other is one of the most powerful things out there," explains Asma Sadiq, M.D., Director of the Division of Child Development at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in New York. Dr. Sadiq offers information to her patients about a parents' support group to join or consult for key hands-on practical information.