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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Age Three: The Little Cliff

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss "the cliff," an autistic person's 22nd birthday, when IDEA services suddenly stop.  There is also a "little cliff," the third birthday, when relatively generous early intervention services give way to not-always-adequate school services.

At The Worcester Telegram, Susan Spencer begins a series on autism, using the case of three-year-old Teresa Lackey:
Grafton Special Education Administrator Arnold Lundwall said children coming to preschool at age 3 from early intervention programs are evaluated and the team determines what services the school will provide. "If a child needs it, you get it," he said.

Therein lies a big problem: Children younger than age 3 who are diagnosed with autism are eligible for extensive services, including ABA, based on a licensed developmental specialist's evaluation. But as of the third birthday, the child's development and education become the province of the local school district.

"There's a blurred line between the medical issue and education because this is where education is really health care," said Jacob Lackey, Teresa's father and a network engineer. "The problem I see with the situation is, you can have a health care practitioner say the child needs this and the teacher overrules it."