Can school district say Asperger's is NOT autism?

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by svengandhi, Jan 6, 2008.

  1. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    I am trying to help out a friend of mine with a 4th grader. My own son is classified OHI and attends a special HS for autistic kids, although he has no formal diagnosis.

    My friend's son is very bright but struggles with school and has ping-ponged between self-contained and some version of mainstreaming his entire school career (we do not have inclusion classes in elementary school and have one, with 6 kids, in middle school).

    She is trying to get him placed out of district and was told the following by the school district assistant head of Pupil Personnel " The (X) consortium of schools got together and decided to not include Aspergers in the autistic classification because they have so much more hope and expectations for Asperger children" X consortium is an informal group of districts which is NOT centralized but does contribute to some jointly run schools, including the one my son attends (which would be perfect for my friend's son - in five years!)

    She feels that her son would get more services if he had a formal classification of Apergers (which has been diagnosed on several occasions and, honestly, this child is a textbook example of it) and I agree but told her that the school district does not want to pay for the increased level of services an autism diagnosis inspires.

    I thought the autism was a separate classification category and that Aspergers falls within autism, so that the school district is violating the law if they persist in refusing to classify Aspergers as autism because "they have hope for better outcomes!"

    My school district is the type that will react to parents who put pressure on them. I threatened to press charges after a teacher physically assaulted my 2d son and they changed his classroom and put him in honors math. I threatened to sue them for an arbitrary and capricious denial of entry into honors science for the same child and after a two hour meeting with the school district atty and the head of Pupil Personnel, he is in there. I got my 6th grader an out of district private school placement because they know I am watching them. Other kids, whose parents don't or can't fight for them, get squat.

    I do what I can for people I know, behind the scenes, but I can't come forward for people like my friend as I need to protect my own children. As it is, I am part of a group that is meeting with the district head to discuss the teacher who assaulted my son (although he has not gotten physical with other kids, he is verbally abusive) and I know I face retaliation through my other kids, but it is a risk I take for MY kids. I am already planning on private school for my now 3rd grader when he hits middle school if the same principal is still there.

    Anyway, sorry to ramble but there must be a short answer to my question about Aspergers' classification.
  2. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Technically, Autism and Aspergers are one of the five Pervasive Development Disorders. See .

    As always, however, it is not the label that drives IEP/services. Students should not be pulled from one predesigned curriculum and placed into another. IEP = Individual Education Plan; services should be based on the unique needs of the student.
  3. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Sheila. It appears from what you posted that autism and Asperger's are considered two separate disorders whereas I had always thought that Asperger's was the high functioning end of autism.

    The issue is that the school district does not want to classify him as Aspergers because they don't want to provide autism-related services, which are more costly than those for "mere" OHI, or which can be. Under the definition you posted, I think this boy could be considered impaired by autism in ways that my own son is not. I don't want to discuss it on the web as this is not my child,but I have experience with this and I see it. Also, if he was to get the Autism/Asperger's label, he would be eligible for more programs that might benefit him.
  4. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Regardless of whether or not he has the label, if he has the issues and an IEP he should be receiving the same services based on need. My district did come through with the needed services even though difficult child was borderline but I know that isn't always the case. There is no educational label of Asperger's--that is the medical diagnosis. She needs a label of Autism.

    She should do some hunting around because often the state will have specific guidelines--based on IDEA--for the label that the school district cannot upsurp.
  5. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    Thanks, she had her meeting today and I am waiting for her update.

    My own son is classified OHI but is treated as if he is Aspergers. There is a difference in the services offered to some degree as autism services are more intensive, but my son does not have the autism label. However, he attends a school geared for Aspies, where he is one of the highest functioning. I believe he is the only 17 year old at the school to actually have a driver's license.

    My friend's son is much more affected than my own. Her son has been in and out of self-contained since K; mine only went to a sped HS for Aspies in grade 10 because I insisted. Before that, he was completely mainstreamed in every subject.

    I just can't figure out why her son isn't getting the same treatment mine did - the only thing I can think of is that MY son was put in his plan BEFORE the recent changes in the law.
  6. aslmovies

    aslmovies New Member

    Please, please, please always remember this it helped me with my daughter who is Aspergers...."My child is guaranteed a free education on an INDIVIDUAL basis"....not compared to what other students get or don't get.
  7. jbaybayx3

    jbaybayx3 New Member

    aspergers is a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) but not part of the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)...Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or Autism is just a subcatorgory of the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)

    Aspergers is NOT Autism for THESE MAIN REASONS...

    -People with Aspergers are capable of the basic life skills (writing and balancing a checkbook going to collage driving a car living independly) that people with even high functioning autism may need help doing in the future

    as far as the social skills impairment goes Aspergers is way more abstract while autism is very concrete...while aspergers misses social cues autism can't even engage in a basic conversation...they do not have the moral sense of knowing the difference between right and wrong saftey and danger...if someone with autism were to go walking down the isles at a store and saw a group of people shoplifting and not getting caught...they would think that it's ok...they don't have the sence to know that it's wrong to steal...they don't know better...someone with aspergers has that capability...

    another thing to concider is that while even higher functioning people on the autistic specrtum are capable of verbal skills they can't engage in a basic conversation.

    and while aspergers is focused on interest they are not completly obivlious to the people around them while autism is.l
  8. Superpsy

    Superpsy New Member

    Alot of good information here already. Some things to add:
    1. The school district has to consider outside evaluations (diagnoses) it does not automatically have to accept an outside agency's diagnosis. As a school psychiatric I've gotten tons of "diagnoses" from MDs written on a prescription pad. The team considers this information but is not mandated to accept it.
    2. Individual needs are what determine services.
    3. School district has to determine whether or not student's education is adversely impacted and what the least restrictive environment is for student. e.g. student with formal ADHD diagnosis but doing well in all other areas of education and behavior may not be pulled out for resource room/specialized instruction time.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2008
  9. Calista

    Calista New Member

    You should also look at It is geared toward IDEA and has excellent information on the legal ins and out of SPED. It also discusses academic need based on the effects of a child's behaviors on the education of his or her peers.
  10. Peace 123

    Peace 123 New Member

    After your son is evaluated by the IEP team, they will decide if your son is qualify for services. No matter what you have, the disorder has to have impacts on your son's education to qualify him for services. If he is gifted like my son, ADHD plus Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified with an IQ of 147, get good grades, the school did not give him any services even thought he was struggling to complete his classwork and homework. The teachers think that he is lazy. He is so depressed and he started to develope behavior problem. I fught with the school for 3 years to get them evaluate him. He finally did it when he was acting out at school. THen they found that his IQ was 147 with a very slow processing speed. that's why he knows everything before they teach him. but he struggles to do the work on paper.

    Anyway, before they start or offer any services, they have to classify him. Autism is one of the classifications. It includes Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified, Autism, Asperger, ... They are all grouped under Autism.
  11. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    Just came upon this update for my long ago post.

    My friend finally got an out of district placement and her son is doing well in grade 5. Sadly, the school ends this year and she doesn't know where to put him yet.

    My own son finished HS, went to college for a half semester and is now doing nothing. He's still 18, he has till the summer to get back in school or get a job with health insurance benefits.