I recently was given guardianship of my 11 year old step-son. He is 5th grade and has Autism. He was moved from one school district to another when he came to live with us. During his IEP meeting, I was so confused. Now he is in a self-contained classroom and when I went to observe him I have found that he sits by himself most of the day. I know he deserves better, but I do not know what to do?
The first thing you want to do is take a deep breath! You had a lot to deal with in a very short amount of time. Here is what you should do:
1. Get a copy of his school file from the previous school he attended. You want the entire file known as the “cum” file. Put a request in writing that you would like a copy of the child’s cum file. There may be a charge for this. Once you have received the file you will want to go through it.
2. You may need some professional help from any of the following: a behavior analyst, occupational therapist, speech/language pathologist, licensed psychologist, educational consultant, or special education advocate. Take a look at his current IEP and decide if the goals are appropriate and what accommodations and modifications are currently in place. You will want to think about what you want for the child and write these down. Look at the goals for children with autism from the SeeMyIEP database and decide which are appropriate for your child.
3. Once you know what you think the child needs to perform at a higher functioning level in the classroom you will want to request an IEP meeting. Put this request in writing to the principal and hand deliver it if possible. At the new IEP meeting you will want to revise and update what you feel is necessary. I suggest that you include forms of communication on his progress on a weekly or bi-weekly basis from his teachers and therapists. This way you can monitor that they are complying with the IEP as well as making progress.