The state of Texas has many different accommodations for children with special needs or disabilities. It is important to explore all of the different options for your family, especially if you have a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Divorce can create a great deal of stress for children, and their struggles with autism may become even more pronounced during the process. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your child is getting all of the support that he or she needs.
There is federal funding available for all children with disabilities through funding under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA gives funding for all eligible children from birth until the age of 26. It also guarantees all students a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). This means that they will be assessed to determine the best educational path for them to learn and live independent lives as adults.
Request an evaluation for special education in Texas
IDEA makes it the responsibility of public schools to identify and assess each child who might have disabilities. You can request an evaluation of your child by submitting a written request to your child’s school. If he or she is too young to attend school, you can instead submit a written request to the school district’s Special Education director.
Eligibility for support from IDEA
If it is determined that your child has a disability — whether it is a brain injury, visual impairment, or an ASD — and if it can be shown that the presence of this disability will affect the child’s school performance, your child will be eligible for IDEA services.
Creating an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
All children of school age in Texas who qualifiy for special education should have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in place. Your child’s IEP details the ways in which their learning environment should be tailored to address their specific needs. IEPs contain measurable goals and address academic performance and vocational considerations.
There must also be an IEP team, consisting of the child’s classroom teachers, a psychologist, a special education teacher, the parents, and often the child. The team must meet at least once per school year to discuss the plan and any proposed changes.
During a divorce, you may feel that your child’s IEP needs to be reassessed in order to support him or her through this difficult time. It is within your rights as parents to make a request for this, and IEP participation should be discussed in any parenting plan that you draft with your divorcing spouse.
If you are having difficulties navigating the differing levels of support from IDEA, it is important to take advantage of additional support offered by educational institutions. Those who are still struggling to get the support that you need during the process of divorce may want to consider family therapy or mediation.