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Ensuring use of applied behavior analysis in an IEP

Success in school is not something you as a parent want to leave to chance. The future well-being of every Alabama child depends on each being able to develop to his or her fullest potential. To achieve that, most people agree it's important to develop good study habits. That can be hard to foster in children with qualifying disabilities. Included among those are the characteristics identified as autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is one of a limited number of therapies recognized as scientifically valid for managing the learning and living environments of a child with ASD. The practice involves applying psychological methods to encourage desired behaviors and discourage negative ones. The problem in the context of education is that some school systems consider ASD a health matter, not an issue they are obliged to address under education law. This can make advocating for your child's rights difficult, but not impossible.

Whether health or education, it's still a matter of law

Children with disabilities recognized by federal and state laws are entitled to a free appropriate public education. If you have found that ABA strategies help your child, it is reasonable to expect that those practices should be employed by educators as part of your child's individualized education program plan.

To ensure your child has an equal educational opportunity, it helps to understand the options of your advocacy powers. Perhaps the most important thing to appreciate is that while ASD is established as a qualifying disability, diagnosis can be difficult. Additionally, the details of your child's diagnosis can influence what the school system decides it is obliged to deliver in the way of services.

If you want to make the case for including ABA in your child's IEP, evidence is crucial. Elements that have been shown to be useful include, but are not be limited to the following:

  • Specific recommendations in writing from qualified therapists or other service providers.
  • Evaluation reports documenting that experts agree ABA has contributed to the child's educational success.
  • Supporting documentation that other educational methods have been unsuccessfully tried
  • Clear proof that, absent ABA, progress in school has faltered.

Even if you are still working to find the right ABA methods that work for your child, experts recommend incorporating them into the IEP. That's because IEPs can be adjusted as the ABA methods change.

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