Funding for Academic Services
Additional services are available for children who have been diagnosed with autism (and/or other learning disabilities), as mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This is a federal program that guarantees access to public education for individuals ages three to 21. States implement IDEA through state departments of education, county offices of education and local school districts to provide guidance and financial resources that ensure each child has an opportunity to fulfill his or her academic potential. For more information on IDEA, visit their website at idea.ed.gov
Families seeking access to public education for their child should contact their local school district’s Department of Special Education to initiate the required evaluation process. Similar to the process used by regional centers, the local school district will conduct an assessment to determine if a child is eligible for services. The eligibility criteria for school districts, as mandated under IDEA, is broader than those utilized by the regional centers, so a child who may not be eligible for funding through the regional centers may still be eligible for services through their school district.
Once IDEA eligibility is determined, the IEP team and the family work together to develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for the child, which outlines specific educational goals and required services. Under IDEA, the school district must provide a “fair and appropriate public education” (FAPE), which may include services provided directly by district personnel or through contracted outside vendors, such as private schools or other service providers. Many different services are available, including behavioral therapy such as Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). AST has contracts with many school districts to provide behavioral services to students in both school and home environments.