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My son has autism and needs assistive technology tools. The school does not have anyone on staff that can help with AT decision-making or training and instead has students help each other. Is this acceptable? How can I talk to my son’s school about getting more support for assistive technology?

The 2004 update of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) requires that Individualized Education Plan (IEP) teams consider the appropriate assistive technology when determining what accommodations, services, and aids your child may need to be successful in school. Check out Considering Your Child’s Need for Assistive Technology and Knowing Your Child’s Rights for more information on this subject.  You may also want to review the relevant sections of IDEA(opens in a new window) related to assistive technology and the parent resources on IDEA 2004(opens in a new window) from Great Schools. Both resources can provide valuable information to bring to meetings with school staff.

In your email, you don’t say whether the school has considered the benefits of assistive technology to support your child.  If the school has not made this decision, you have the right to request an assistive technology evaluation. This evaluation should be provided at no-cost. According to IDEA, the school should offer both devices and services, including training and support for the teacher and school staff who work with your child.

While peer support from the other kids in your child’s class may be beneficial, their help does not replace needed assistive technology devices and training. It is important to discuss these concerns with your son’s IEP team, as you have the right to disagree with their decisions regarding the use of assistive technology for your son. If you think that your son is not getting access to the appropriate tools and services, or you think that additional supports might be warranted, you should arrange a meeting with his IEP team to address your concerns.

For more information about special education law, check out the expert advice from Matt Cohen, Esq. on this site.

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