Understanding Inclusive Practices for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder Through the Individualized Education Plan Process

Understanding Inclusive Practices for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder Through the Individualized Education Plan Process

Karina Becerra-Murillo (Jurupa Unified School District, USA & American College of Education, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7732-5.ch002
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Students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often display atypical behaviors which general education teachers may not know how to handle. As a result, students with ASD may not get the opportunity to be educated alongside typical peers in the least restrictive environment. Segregated settings often become the most recommended setting for students with ASD. The way to change this practice is if the child's parent is willing to speak up and request an inclusive, less restrictive setting. Working together with the school site, as an equal partner, parents can collaboratively prepare the student for an inclusive setting. Inclusive environments can be overwhelming to a student with ASD, if they come from a smaller classroom environment. Preparing the student and teacher for the transition can help to eliminate potential barriers in the inclusion process. Barriers can be identified through the individualized education plan (IEP), and solutions can be devised within that process.
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The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA, 2004) states that all students with disabilities must be educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE). The LRE for each student will depend on their individual needs, but the goal is to get all students with disabilities as close as possible to the general education environment with supplementary aids and supports. Supplementary aids and services must be unique and tailored to meet the child’s individual needs (Kurth et al., 2019). They can include the support of a paraprofessional for one-on-one support or the use of specialized equipment. Inclusive practices are essential for students with ASD because they ensure that students are educated alongside nondisabled peers who serve as role models (Saunders et al., 2019). When a student turns three years old, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team will determine what supports may be appropriate for the student. There should be fluidity in the IEP process, and revisions should be made if supports are not appropriate for the student.

Inclusive practices are not only a federal requirement per IDEIA (2004), but also an important part of a student’s education because they push students out of their comfort zone, such as a restrictive, segregated environment. Restrictive environments tend to be self-contained classrooms with a small number of students and often have a high adult-to-student ratio. While supports are important for students, building co-dependence with adults will not help the student reach their full potential and be independent in the long term (Kurth et al., 2019). Students must be pushed to their limit to be productive in a general education classroom environment, which the student may find difficult to deal with from a social perspective (Reiner, 2018). Independence skills must be taught early on for students to have the skill set to solve social problems they may encounter in an inclusive setting and to not rely on an adult to solve problems for them.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): A law passed in 1990 with the intention of ensuring that individuals with disabilities have equal access to resources and services and receive equal treatment.

Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE): The provision of special education services, individually designed to meet a student’s educational needs.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): One of 13 disability categories used in an educational setting to determine eligibility for special education services. ASD is defined by two categories: impaired social communication and restricted or repetitive behaviors.

Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA): Assurance for students with disabilities that they would receive a FAPE in the least restrictive environment.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): A federal requirement that allows students with disabilities to be educated alongside nondisabled or typically developing peers as much as possible.

Inclusive Practices: Providing students with disabilities the opportunity to learn alongside nondisabled peers in a general education classroom.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL): An approach to teaching that gives all students an equal opportunity to succeed.

Individualized Education Plan (IEP): A contract between the district and the family that delineates educational services that will be provided for the student based on their unique needs.

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