IFSP’s and IEP’s are the mechanisms that drives our autistic children’s education in the school system. When your child is special needs you HAVE to educate yourself on the laws pertinent to advocating for your child’s rights to a free and APPROPRIATE educations. To get the right program for the unique and special needs of YOUR auttie, in most cases, you are going to have to fight for it. This fight with the school district will, in most cases, originate from the IEP process. Hiring representation in this fight is costly. Learning the ropes yourself takes a strong will, an unshakeable desire to keep plodding forward through your mistakes and frustration with the process, however, is necessary for your long term ability to advocate. For military service members, there isn’t much time and/or energy to fight the good fight, learn the ropes or hire representation to assist the IEP process. I know that organizations like Wrightslaw and others provide IEP clinics at different installations around the county, and local EFMP units will do their best to assist families in the process. Military families NEED a whole lot more legal assistance. I know that Marines and Air Force have and are continuing to make strides at having legal representation for their members at various installations to assist the IEP process and any mediation or due process that may result. But, I know that Army is sorely lacking in this right now. If service members were able to negotiate the IEP process with the assistance of an EFMP legal team at all installations, then I can assure you that the special care their children would get would increase in effectiveness by a definitive measurable amount. A proper IEP hat contains effective strategies like ABA with discreet trial training, BCBAs for oversight and when necessary center-based programs IN ADDITION TO the benefits provided under ECHO and the Autism Demonstration would be the on- two punch to really help our kids.
I am eager to hear how other service members have faired in the IEP process and if having legal representation would assist their ability to get the most appropriate education for their special needs children.