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Legal Rights of Children with Autism | LegalMatch Law Library

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What is Autism?

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a range of conditions that are characterized by difficulties with social-interaction skills, communication challenges, and repetitive and restrictive behavior.

There are many types of autism, which are considered to stem from genetic and environmental influences and combinations. Since the disorder is a spectrum of challenges and strengths, each person with autism will have differ from the next.

Commonly, the most-obvious signs of autism appear between the ages of two and three. Experts encourage early intervention, as an evaluation and treatment can make a significant difference in the lives of the child and his or her parents.

What are the Common Factors in Autism?

There are common characteristics that occur in children with autism, and it is important to take into consideration the wide spectrum of symptoms. Below are a few of the more common early signs of autism. An individual with ASD may:

  • Not respond to their name;
  • Not demonstrate interest, or they may not point at objects;
  • Avoid eye contact;
  • Want to be alone;
  • Avoid or resist physical contact;
  • Have difficulty socializing, and they may have no speech or delayed speech;
  • Get upset with minor changes; and/or
  • Have obsessive interests.

There are many other symptoms of autism, which is why consulting with a healthcare professional is highly encouraged.

What Educational Opportunities are Available?

The Individuals with Disabilities Act was renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) , and is in place to ensure that all eligible children may receive free and appropriate public education that meets their individual needs. If your child has been diagnosed with a form of autism, this is typically sufficient to gain access to the rights provided by IDEA.

A “free and appropriate education” relates specifically to the special needs of each child. This means that a child will be afforded an education that is tailored to his or her needs in order to continue making educational progress.

Children are also entitled to receive their education in the “least restrictive environment.” This is often accomplished by placing children with special needs in an environment that he or she can interact with children that do not have a disability. This type of situation may or may not be suitable for your child.

The IDEA also provides federal grants for early intervention programs. If a child younger than three has shown a developmental delay, they should be eligible to receive early intervention services. Additional educational services, and more information is available online and through the superintendent’s office of your school district.

Before You File a Lawsuit, You Must Exhaust IDEA

Every state is different when it comes to how they treat people with disabilities. It is important to keep excellent records, which will give you a stronger case. If services are not being provided like they should be, then you must first exhaust all remedies an options under IDEA.

Learn more, here, about what steps to take and how to exhaust all remedies under IDEA.

Should I Contact an Attorney?

If you need help filing an IDEA claim or have an IDEA hearing and need representation, then it is in your best interest to hire an administrative lawyer. They specialize in government hearings and internal decisions.

If you already exhausted all the remedies under IDEA, and believe that your child is still not receiving adequate educational opportunities, you should speak with a local civil litigator. Your lawyer will be able to advise you of your rights, and assist you in gaining the necessary services to which your child is entitled.

Photo of page author Sarah Tipton

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 05-25-2018 03:15 PM PDT

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