NCSA Position Statement

Educational Placements

Decisions regarding goals, services, and placements for students with severe autism are governed by the framework of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Students are entitled to be educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE) “to the maximum extent appropriate…with children who are not disabled.” However, where the “nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily,” then “special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment” may occur.

To access the LRE, NCSA supports the addition of supplementary aids, training, and services to the regular education environment. For individuals with severe autism, however, it is often necessary to provide, in whole or in part, alternative and specialized programming delivered in environments outside of regular classrooms. For some individuals, needs can only be appropriately met in private, specialized autism schools, residential schools, hospitals, or other alternative settings.

NCSA takes the position that each local educational agency has the obligation to offer a broad spectrum of educational supports and services to meet the unique needs of individuals with autism that are evidence-based, follow best-practice recommendations, and meet individualized goals. Such goals may be non-academic in nature, emphasizing self-help, adaptive skills, and vocational skills – particularly as the child gets older. When insufficient program options exist and/or placement in specialized settings is refused, children with severe autism are denied their fundamental rights to free public education.

Adopted by NCSA Board of Directors December 10, 2018

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