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IEP FAQs Pop-Up
Special Factors in IEPs

Question 10.

My child has autism, is nonverbal, and the school claims he cannot be taught. Should the school teach him a way to communicate?

Answer

Communication problems have a negative impact on a child's ability to learn. Your nonverbal child must have a way to effectively communicate.

Speech is a way to communication that takes place in a social context. For children with autism, communication and social skills are interdependent.

Before the IEP team can develop an appropriate communication program, they must obtain a comprehensive assessment of your child's communication abilities. Your child needs services from a specialist who can teach him a functional method of communication.

An appropriate intervention program includes several elements:

  • Develops communicative intent
  • Establishes an efficient and appropriate way (form) to communicate
  • Expands the range of communicative functions or purposes
  • Develops the ability to respond to and initiate communication
  • Develops strategies to repair breakdowns in communication

Legal Resource

Wrightslaw: All About IEPs Chapter 7 - Special Factors in IEPs

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition

IDEA

20 U.S.C.§ 1414(d)(3)(B)(iv) and (v)

IDEA Regulations

34 C.F.R. §300.324(a)(2)(iv) and (v)

Additional Resources

Developing Expressive Communication Skills for Non-verbal Children with Autism by Susan Stokes, Autism Consultant, under a contract with DESA 7 and funded by a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. http://www.specialed.us/autism/nonverbal/non11.htm

Assistive Technology Devices and Services

National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS)

National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM)

AIM for Families

NIMAS Technical Assistance Center at CAST

Essential Guide to Assistive Technology
http://www.greatschools.org/special-education/assistive-technology/784-parents-guide-to-assistive-technology.gs?page=1

Evaluating Assistive Technology Products
http://www.greatschools.org/special-education/assistive-technology/783-evaluating-consumer-AT-products.gs?page=1

Assistive Technology Checklist from the Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative
http://www.wati.org/content/supports/free/pdf/form/Checklist-Form.pdf

Strategies for Assistive Technology Negotiations
http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/at.strat.edyburn.htm

Glossary of Assistive Technology Terms
http://www.fctd.info/factsheet/glossary

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