Improving Individualized Education Programs for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Special education in the United States began with Public Law 94-142, now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA). This law created the Individualized Education Program (IEP), a document that must contain the personal education plan of each student in special education. There have been many parent complaints and lawsuits on the inadequacy of IEPs, specifically for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a highly prevalent neuro-developmental disability. Several investigations were done on IEP quality which resulted in poor outcomes, especially in areas of individualization for students with ASD, parental involvement, data collection, the present level statement, goals and objectives, and progress monitoring. The viewpoint of educators was lacking in the literature. This research examined the problems with IEPs for students with ASD, from the perspective of special education teachers. The goal was to uncover reasons for IEP problems and begin to develop solutions. 45 teachers from various districts in a rural and an urban county responded to a survey on IEPs. It was found that the IEP system is lacking sufficient teacher training, a rationalized universal form and process, and enough time and support for teachers to manage all responsibilities. The results were analyzed and ideas for improvement, as well as suggestions from experienced teachers, are included.



Autism, Autism spectrum disorder, Individualized Education Program, Special education