Having a child with autism means that he or she will require special services when they attend school. In some states, an ARD, or Admission, Review and Dismissal is conducted prior to the child’s first year of school and in advance to their needs being addressed in an IEP. With an ARD, the parents sign paperwork for admission of their child to a special needs program in the school. The teachers and staff who will be working with the child test and review the child’s needs and delays. If the child is deemed as high functioning enough not to need support they are dismissed and spend their time in a mainstream classroom. Because of the very nature of autistic disorders, it is very rare that they would be dismissed during this phase of seeking out supportive services.
The next step, or perhaps the step every state takes to support children with special needs, is the IEP, or individualized education plan. This is a formal write up of all the areas where the child is having difficulty and the goals that will be worked on in the mainstream classroom as well as the special needs classroom. The child may also have several hours of speech, physical, occupational and mental/ emotional therapy in other rooms in the school. The expected duration, if any, of the child’s daily time in the mainstream classroom is listed and is required by law to be listed.
As the child spends the year working on these goals, progress is well-documented. At intervals and at parent teacher conferences, the child’s progress is discussed. They may or may not meet or exceed all of their goals during the course of the year, in which case a new IEP is drawn up for the following school year. Most IEP’s attempt to follow what a child would be expected or able to do if he or she were not a special needs child, with some moderate adaptations.
The BIP, or behavior intervention plan, is developed after the child has spent some time in a mainstream classroom. It’s here where the child with autism will have the most difficulty because of the interactions with others, the length of time spent in a classroom, and the added stimulation all around him or her. Fatigue and frustration are constantly at the center of most autistic outbursts, and the BIP helps parents and teachers work together to better manage the behaviors, the environment and the triggers for the child’s behavior. Since the child has probably only attended a pre-k or special needs intervention program prior to kindergarten, little is known how they might react to full days of school in a regular classroom, which is why the BIP might not be on the table for discussion until after the child has been in school and has had a few behavioral issues first. Some high functioning children with autism may only need a BIP until they have gained some self-regulation skills, and then it’s discontinued. BIP’s may be revisited if the child with autism experiences an uptick in behaviors again later on.
“Why Is Autism Considered A Spectrum Disorder?”