should be interacting on a regular basis with children without autism, if at all possible, and within a regular classroom, with reverse mainstreaming or in other supervised settings. When recommending another placement, a school must explain in writing why a child is not being placed in a regular classroom.

The appropriateness of the placement has received much attention for children with autism. Some general ways that the courts have used to settle such placement issues is to pose the following questions (Richmond Community Schools 301DELR 208 ([SEA IN 1999]):

  1. What are the educational benefits to the student in the general education classroom, with supplementary aids and services, as compared with the educational benefits of a special education classroom?

  2. What will be the nonacademic or personal benefits to the student in interactions with peers who do not have disabilities?

  3. What would be the effect of the presence of the student on the teacher and other students in the general education classroom?

  4. What would be the relative costs for providing necessary supplementary aids and services to the student in the general education classroom?

  1. Due Process. Due process is a set of legal procedures to ensure the fairness of educational decisions and the accountability of both professionals and parents in making those decisions. For a child with an autistic spectrum disorder, this means that the parents can call a hearing when they do not agree with the school’s plans for their child, they can obtain an individual evaluation from a qualified examiner outside the school system, and they can take other actions to ensure that both family and child have channels through which to voice their interests and concerns.

  2. Parental Participation. Parents are to be included in the development of the IEP, and they have the right to access their child’s educational records. For a child with an autistic spectrum disorder, this means that parents can obtain the test results and educational evaluations of their child and can participate as an equal in the development of the IEP.

    This IDEA law is an entitlement, meaning that all citizens with disabilities have access to its provisions. Other relevant laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (P.L. 101–336) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C., Sec. 794) are designed as protection against discrimination or unfair treatment because of a disability. They come into play when discrimination can be documented. A substantial number of due process hearings and court cases have resulted from the concerns of some parents of children with autistic spectrum disorders that the legal rights of their child and family have not been observed.

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