Based on the civil rights principal of equal educational opportunity, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantee an appropriate education to all students with disabilities. The 1997 IDEA amendments mandate that parents of children with disabilities have a right to be involved with the school district in education decisionmaking processes, meetings, and records of their children. Yet some parents of children in special education feel that schools do not welcome their participation. Parents of children with autism constitute one group of such parents who continually struggle with concerns about the poor quality of education that their children receive. Their perseverance to obtain not even an ideal--but "appropriate"-- education for their children requires continuous parent involvement. These parents often report feeling that the education system views them as demanding, hostile, and interfering adversaries (Hart, 1993; Jordan & Powell, 1995; Muskat & Redefer, 1994).
To improve parent/school relationships, fulfill educational rights, and improve services to children with autism in schools, it is important to gain insight into the lives of these students and their families. The purpose of this study was to explore the life issues (both home and educational) of a group of parents of children with autism. Information gathered on these issues form the basis of suggested concrete guidelines for teachers and administrators to follow to improve school/parent relationships and services for this population. A broader utility of this study is to inform educators and policy makers about the experiences of these parents to foster a better understanding of the viewpoint of parents of students in special education. Build...
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...rs represent an important first step in improving implantation of policies and services for this unique and growing population.
Autism Society of America (1999). Autism Society of America Homepage. [On-line]. Available at www.autism-society.org.
Bebko, J. M., Konstantareas, M. M., & Springer, (1987). Parent and professional evaluations of family stress associated with characteristics of autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 17(4), pp. 565-577.
Hart, C. A. (1993). A parent's guide to autism. New York: Pocket Books.
Jordan, R. & Powell, S. (1995). Understanding and teaching children with autism. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Muskat, L. R. & Redefer, L. A. (1994). Pitfalls in educational programming for autistic children in the United States of America. US Department of Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 406 794.
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