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Christy:  6 yo 7month son with IEP, 3 year eligibility renewal meeting today. School speech therapist indicating new Virginia State Law has changed; my son’s secondary diagnosis of “lack of speech” will be taken away as it falls under his primary diagnosis of Autism. His lack of speech has to come from a source such as stuttering or apraxia; he has neither. RE: Lack of speech is a characteristic of autism, so it cancels out secondary diagnosis. I did not sign off on it as I feel it might set a precedence for future needs, ie: less speech therapy given at his public school, no need for additional 1 on 1 teaching assistance. He has received speech therapy outside of school for 3.5 years. Can you advise?

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03/03/2020 3:00 pm

I have a somewhat similar issue. My school’s team effectively wants a “do-over”. Dyslexia and APD and language processing disorders, such that they affect reading, writing, listening, speaking. For years denied services due to “no academic impact”. Finally got OHI almost two years ago. Protested that, but they documented that ADHD (which, as it turns out, was a misdiagnosis) was all they see in the classroom. Said would get what he needs once they determine what that is. ADHD was ruled out via IEE 5 months later. A year later, they re-eval, since they said their forms are changing and OHI no longer applies. Still no SLI, but now has SLD (and no OHI). They want to start an entirely new IEP, and leave off goals that weren’t met in the old one.

Jill G
01/08/2016 5:45 pm

Christy –

I encourage you to ask the therapist for a copy of this new law, just so you’re both on the same page. Aside from that, I wouldn’t worry too much about the removal of the secondary diagnosis.

As you noted, communication issues are characteristic of autism. Both the IDEA regs and your state regs note that autism impacts communication. Even if they didn’t, IDEA requires that schools evaluate and address all areas related to a child’s disability – whether or not they’re commonly associated with the disability category.

And OSEP has recently released a “Dear College” letter, aimed at schools districts and their IEP Teams, that addresses the potential need for speech language evaluation and services for students with autism.

Jill G
01/08/2016 5:44 pm

What I would suggest that you do do, is look at what the IEP says about your child’s disability. The IEP is supposed to include a statement about how the disability will impact your child’s learning. Make sure that this statement includes an accurate and informative description of how autism impacts your child’s communication.

In subsequent re-evaluations, advocate for your child’s communication needs to be sufficiently assessed. If the school proposes to reduce services, make sure that they have evaluated first.

And you may want to provide a copy of this the OSEP letter to the therapist and other Team members, just for their info – http://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/dclspeechlanguageautism0706153q2015.pdf.