UN Leader Calls for 'Access and Opportunities' on World Autism
In recognition of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, the United Nations
General Assembly called for "greater access and opportunities"
for those suffering from autism and for "full integration of persons
with autism into society."
"[L]et us join forces to create the best possible conditions for those
with autism, so that they can make their own contribution to a future
that is fair and sustainable for all," UN Secretary-General, Ban
Ki-moon, writes in a
special message about the event.
The Secretary-General focused his message especially on providing autistic
children with equal access to educational opportunities.
What Is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that is identified
in roughly 1 out 68 children, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. The condition can hinder a child's ability to communicate
and interact with others and to control his or her behavior. The degree
of impairment caused by autism can vary greatly among children.
Unfortunately, delays in diagnosing the condition frequently occur and
keep children from receiving the treatment and services they need, including
special educational services.
As Ban Ki-moon notes, despite their disability, those suffering from autism
have "enormous potential," including "remarkable visual,
artistic or academic skills."
"Recognizing the talents of persons on the autism spectrum, rather
than focusing on their weaknesses, is essential to creating a society
that is truly inclusive," the Secretary-General writes.
Educational Services for Autistic Children in Florida
Florida provides special services for children with autism through the
Department of Education's exceptional student education (ESE) program.
A child's eligibility to participate in this program is determined
in a special evaluation.
"The purpose of ESE is to help each student with a disability progress
in school and prepare for life after school," the
Florida Department of Education states in a guidebook for parents. "ESE services may include special
teaching methods and materials, technology devices, therapies, special
transportation or other supports. There is no cost to parents for these
In theory, the ESE program in Florida is in step with the UN's call
for "schools to open their doors to students with autism." It
provides a way for autistic children to be integrated into school communities
while also recognizing the special care and attention they need in order
In practice, however, teachers and staff members in Florida too often fail
to properly provide the ESE services that autistic children are legally
entitled to receive.
abuse of special needs children can occur when school employees respond poorly to autistic children with
Florida's Autistic Children Deserve Legal Protection
On this World Autism Awareness Day, it is important to remind parents of
children with autism spectrum disorder that they can and should take steps
to ensure that Florida schools fulfill their duties.
The Maher Law Firm is committed to ensuring equal access to education for
children with disabilities, and we are dedicated to helping the parents
of disabled children who have suffered from abuse or neglect in school.
To learn more, please call or
contact us online.