IEP Requirements for Children on the Autism Spectrum

MEMORANDUM

To: Whitted, Cleary & Takiff Clients
From: Brooke R. Whitted, Lara A. cleary & Neal E. Takiff
Date: September 15, 2007
Re: Revision of Illinois special education regulations re: Autistic children

 


Synopsis As Introduced:

 

Amends the Children with Disabilities Article of the School Code. Provides that, in the development of the individualized education program for a student who has a disability on the autism spectrum, the IEP team shall consider and shall specifically address certain factors. Provides that consideration of these factors shall result in the clarification of a school district’s responsibility to deliver appropriate educational services for children with disabilities on the autism spectrum, but shall not be construed to require or mandate any specific services. Effective January 1, 2008.

Senate Committee Amendment No. 1

Removes language that requires the IEP team to specifically address certain factors in the development of the individualized education program for a student who has a disability on the autism spectrum. Removes language providing that consideration of these factors shall result in the clarification of a school district’s responsibility to deliver appropriate educational services for children with disabilities on the autism spectrum, but must not be construed to require or mandate any specific services.

In the development of the individualized education program for a student who has a disability on the autism spectrum (which includes autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, childhood disintegrative disorder, and Rett Syndrome, as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV, 2000)), the IEP team shall consider all of the following factors:

(1) The verbal and nonverbal communication needs of the child.

(2) The need to develop social interaction skills and proficiencies.

(3) The needs resulting from the child’s unusual responses to sensory experiences.

(4) The needs resulting from resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines.

(5) The needs resulting from engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements.

(6) The need for any positive behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports to address any behavioral difficulties resulting from autism spectrum disorder.

(7) Other needs resulting from the child’s disability that impact progress in the general curriculum, including social and emotional development. This amendatory Act of the 95th General Assembly does not create any new entitlement to a service, program, or benefit, but must not affect any entitlement to a service, program, or benefit created by any other law.

The proposed changes to the Illinois special education regulations were accepted by JCAR on June 19, 2007, and were finalized and published on June 29, 2007. A full copy of these regulations can be found at:

http://www.isbe.net/rules/archive/pdfs/226ark.pdf

To a large extent, the changes made to Illinois’ regulations were completed to have Illinois’ law mirror the new federal regulations, (34 CFR Part 300) which were published on August 14, 2006 and can be found at:

http://idea.ed.gov/download/finalregulations.pdf

A summary of the most significant changes to the Illinois regulations follows:

23 Ill. Admin. Code 226.75:

Disability: IDEA identifies 13 disabilities as the basis for students’ eligibility for special education and related services. These disabilities (autism, deaf-blindness, deafness, emotional disability, hearing impairment, cognitive disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, specific learning disability, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, and visual impairment) shall be defined as set forth in 34 CFR 300.8(c). In addition, for purposes of this Part, “autism” shall include, but not be limited to, any Autism Spectrum Disorder that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

34 CFR 300.8(c)

c) Definitions of disability terms. The terms used in this definition of a child with a disability are defined as follows:

(1)(i) Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.

(ii) Autism does not apply if a child’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance, as defined in paragraph (c)(4) of this section.

(iii) A child who manifests the characteristics of autism after age three could be identified as having autism if the criteria in paragraph (c)(1)(i) of this section are satisfied.