In The Politics of Autism, I write:
When disabled people reach their 22d birthday, they no longer qualify for services under IDEA. ... People in the disability community refer to this point in life as “the cliff.” Once autistic people go over the cliff, they have a hard time getting services such as job placement, vocational training, and assistive technology. IDEA entitles students to transition planning services during high school, but afterwards, they have to apply as adults and establish eligibility for state and federal help. One study found that 39 percent of young autistic adults received no service at all, and most of the rest got severely limited services.
Essentially, the ruling by the appeals court means that 22-year-olds will be able to receive educational services this school year.
The state argued that even though schools provide adult education programs to nondisabled individuals 21 years and older, that the programs don’t constitute “public education.”
But the lower court found that children with disabilities remain eligible to receive a free appropriate public education until they reach the age of 22.
The state, including the State Board of Education, argued: “that because GED, AHSCD and NEDP constitute ‘very minimal secondary school completion programs,’ adult education in Connecticut does not provide the equivalent of a secondary school public education to general education students.”
A three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court did not agree and sided with the plaintiff in the case.
A spokeswoman for Attorney General William Tong said they are “reviewing the decision and evaluating next steps.”
In June, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Haight Jr. ruled that the Connecticut State Board of Education’s decision to limit services to special education students after their 21st birthdays violates the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.