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Educating Children with Autism
task force of professionals knowledgeable in the field of autistic spectrum disorders, to review and periodically report on basic and applied research programs to the parent agencies and to track program implementation through the State Interagency Coordinating Councils or relevant state agencies. Administrative support for these efforts should be provided by the appropriate department of the Secretary’s office.
States should have regional resource and training centers with expertise in autistic spectrum disorders to provide training and technical support to local schools. States should also have a mechanism to evaluate the adequacy of current support systems to local schools and recommend ways for improvement. One such mechanism could be an autistic spectrum disorders support systems task force that would examine the relevant provisions for personnel preparation, technical assistance, and demonstration of exemplary programs and would make recommendations as to what would be needed to bring a state’s support systems into alignment with quality education for children with autistic spectrum disorders. States should monitor coordination among and transitions between service delivery systems and should develop ways to facilitate these processes.
Families should have access to consultation and legal knowledge such as provided by an ombudsman who is independent of the school system and who could be a standard part of Individualized Educational Plan planning and meetings. The ombudsman should be knowledgeable about autistic spectrum disorders and about relevant law and court decisions. The ombudsman’s role should include attending IEP meetings, interpreting the school system’s communications about a child to parents, and proposing, at the parents’ request, alternatives to those presented by the school system. Professional and advocacy groups should work together to provide this service, with the Governor’s Council for Developmental Disabilities or the Autistic Spectrum Disorders Support Systems Task Force responsible for ensuring funding for training and support of this service.
State and federal agencies should consider ways to work with and support professional and advocacy groups to provide up-to-date, practical, scientifically valid information to parents and practitioners.