Eligible for Services? First “Yes,” then “No.” I’m Confused

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mom with preschool childrenThe evaluation report from our school says my 3 year old (with high functioning autism) is not eligible for services when he transitions from Early Intervention. The evaluation report says “no delay or disability” – “not eligible”.

Then, a copy of the “not eligible” report came with a letter saying our son was eligible for services and invited us to an IEP Meeting. Why did they plan a meeting if he isn’t eligible?

Transitioning out of Early Intervention can be confusing.

If you have questions and concerns, write a letter to the school.

  • Make your letter polite and business-like.
  • Describe the problem and your proposed solution.
  • Ask what the school plans to do for your child.

Create your paper trail. Keep a record of all correspondence with the school.  Document any conversation you have with school personnel, then follow-up with a letter confirming what you understood the school to have said.

Eligibility Meeting

Having a meeting to determine if a student is eligible or not for services is in accordance with federal regulations.

Parents are part of the team who make the decision that a child is eligible for services, or not.

20 U.S.C. Section 1414 (b)(4), Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, (Evaluations, eligibility), p. 96.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, “the diagnosis of autism can be made reliably in two-year-olds by professionals experienced in the diagnostic assessment of young children” with autistic disorders. Early diagnosis is crucial because education is the primary form of treatment, and the earlier it starts, the better.”

Academic Achievement and Functional Performance

Eligibility can be based on social skills and behavioral needs, not just academic needs.

Autism can affect every aspect of a child’s life – communicating with others, establishing and maintaining relationships, learning, and in the ability to express emotion.

If you feel that a social or behavior assessment is appropriate, you have the right to request these. If a social or behavioral assessment has not been completed – it’s time to request one.

The federal Department of Education monitors transition from EI programs to public schools. States and districts must handle transitions appropriately.

Since the school has done an evaluation, you have the right to access the state dispute resolution process, if necessary:

  • mediation
  • state complaint
  • due process hearing

Find more on the Eligibility page at https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/elig.index.htm

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law

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