One of the first problems you may face with your school district is The Proper Identification of your child’s disability.
The Proper Identification of Autism. IDEA defines autism as:
A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, which adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.
The definition includes all autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger’s Syndrome and other pervasive developmental disorders. It is a shorter version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) classification. Some of the disputes regarding a spectrum classification come about because of disagreements over the DSM IV language.
If you believe that the school district’s evaluation of your child was wrong, the IDEA gives you the right to have an independent evaluation of your child. This may be paid for by the school district, or possibly insurance. In some circumstances, you may need to go to a hearing to ensure that your child is appropriately classified, and that he or she gets the IEP that they need. Look at the DOE’s Identification and Assessment Process.