Even children on the low end of the autism spectrum can fall a little further behind their peers in school every month unless they receive proper educational accommodations and supports early on.
Scientists aren’t sure what causes autism, which is a childhood brain disorder. However, some researchers have found certain environmental factors, such as maternal Tylenol use, may increase the risk of autism.
If you took Tylenol during pregnancy and your child is autistic, you may be entitled to financial compensation. More importantly, legal action could ensure that these autistic children get the support and educational accommodations they need to shrink, or even eliminate, the aforementioned gap.
Types of Educational Accommodations
Autistic children have varying needs, so available educational accommodations vary as well. In most cases, the school has a legal duty to prepare and execute an action plan that includes proper accommodations.
Simple environmental accommodations go a long way. For example, it’s well-known that children (or sponges) at the back of the room may find it different to concentrate. However, when autistic children sit at the front of the room, they usually focus better. Other environmental accommodations include visual daily schedules and distraction reduction (e.g., not sitting near the door or window).
Instructional accommodations often make a big difference as well. A few extra days to complete a project or a few extra minutes to finish a test could be the difference between a low grade and a high grade. Additionally, many autistic students respond better to instruction that suits their unique learning styles. Many times, school instruction is designed for mass consumption.
Sometimes, tests and projects don’t accurately assess an autistic student’s progress. A child could get high marks but not learn anything, giving students and caregivers a false sense of security. The opposite is true as well. An accommodation like oral responses to test questions often helps ASD children demonstrate their knowledge and skills more effectively.
Specialized Supports and Services
These interventions are the next step up. In these situations, attorneys often need to step in because some schools resist these measures for cost reasons.
Some examples of specialized services and supports include:
Individualized Education Program: IEP meetings, or ARD (admission, review, and dismissal) meetings, match a child’s educational goals with necessary services and accommodations. In most states, public schools must hold IEPs or similar parent/teacher meetings at least once a year.
Applied Behavioral Analysis: Difficulty interacting with others might be the most damaging autism symptom. ABA therapy helps ASD children improve social and communication skills. When they feel more comfortable at school, they do better in school.
Speech and Language Therapy: ASD children often have facial tics or other unusual physical movements that inhibit communication. They also often repeat phrases or say inappropriate things. Certified therapists help ASD children eliminate these habits, improving their verbal and nonverbal communication skills.
Attorney representation at the individualized education program meeting may be key. If the ARD committee recommends certain specialized support services, the school should make it happen.
Promoting Social Inclusion and Peer Support
Social skills groups are usually roleplaying groups (e.g., what would you do at the doctor’s office). These groups are proven to boost social development in ASD children. An educator or therapist usually leads these groups. Peer mentor groups not only help ASD students improve their social skills. They also help non-ASD children better understand their autistic classmates.
ASD children have needs beyond the classroom. Schools should educate teachers, staff, and students about autism. Such efforts usually create a supportive and inclusive school environment for children with ASD. These efforts should also include the community as a whole. A brief talk to a community group helps ease the school-to-work transition that, ideally, every autistic child must make.
Implementing appropriate educational accommodations and supports promotes the academic success and social inclusion of children with autism. If you feel that taking Tylenol during your pregnancy may be related to your child’s autism, contact Action Matters to find out how an attorney can help you get the support you and your child need.