Autism educational placement is done after the child has been found with an autism eligibility. In most school districts a multidisciplinary team of school staff members will review the results of the child’s testing and evaluation with the parents. The team will often explain to the parents what special education options are available to children in the school district. The staff will then help the parents to see what type of program might be best suited for the child based upon the results of the testing, assessments and observations. Each special education program will vary in regards to class size, the number of staff working with the child, the amount of time provided for support and direct assessment with the child. Some children have significant medical needs as well and may require a home based program so that medical care can be facilitated with the educational needs of the child. Some children with autism may need home support for a while and then are able to make a transition to a school setting. The educational team will work with the parent to make sure supports are in place if the school needs to provide medical care, special accommodations, dieting restrictions, allergy alerts or anything else that will help the child succeed in the school setting.
The area of autism educational placement draws many questions from parents in the educational assessment process. I think placement really revolves around both the skills and abilities of the child as well as the deficits or delays of the child. Some children have multiple or severe delays and need more intensive intervention in a full day specialized autism program. Other children with autism may be placed in a half day program with children who have developmental delays. Yet other children are placed in a type of half and half program where the child may spend half the day in a specialized autism program and the other half in regular education program with special education support. This is often done to see if the child would be able to make a transition to a least restrictive type of setting. There are also students with autism who can handle a full day regular education program who only need monitoring or consultation from a special education teacher. I think since each child is unique and has individual issues autism placement can be approached from a number of creative angles in diverse school districts and educational programs.