Thefederal government, through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act(IDEA ’04)—the national special education law—defines disabilities and fundsspecial education services for only those students who are eligible (Smith,2007, p. 11). The government restrictswho is entitled to special education, since providing services for studentswith disabilities is so expensive (p. 11).
One of the 14 special education categories named by the federalgovernment is autism spectrum disorders (p. 11). I am lucky to say that I get to work withthese beautiful learners on a daily basis. One significant indicatordemonstrating the success of people with disabilities is their presence incommunities as independent adults who adopt their places alongside people withoutdisabilities (p. 13). Thisaccomplishment is not yet fully achieved, but progress has certainly been made(p. 13). I see the advancements in thefield of special education every day at my school.
My school’s autismprogram is devoted to providing children with an individualizededucation that looks at each child’s strengths, as well as specific deficits,and teaches them the skills they need to enhance their ability to communicateand function as independently as they are capable of. The program works with school districts across Long Island, whichrefers students to us. While the programreceives money from the districts, which covers the costs of educating thestudents, it relies on fundraising dollars for the supplements, such as providinghigher teacher to student ratio in the classrooms. Today, parents and family members of people withdisabilities, special education professionals, and people with disabilities commonlyinsist that the rights of people with disabilities be protected and that neededservices be offered (p. 14).
Parents are greatly involved in the fundraising committee atmy school and donate thousands of dollars each year. The school uses fundraising dollars to provideextra training for the staff. The moneyalso goes towards Smartboards and iPads/devices to further improve the students’communication and functionality. Someof the most significant advancements in the field of special education happenedbecause of individuals coming together with the purpose of fighting for therights of people with disabilities. I amproud to be an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Teacher Assistant who worksalongside kind-hearted teachers and parents who wake up every morning thrivingto make a difference in a child’s life.
It certainly takes a village to raise a child.