Some children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may qualify to be served under the special education criteria of ASD. Meeting the educational criteria for services, or having an educational determination of ASD, is different from a medical diagnosis.
Parents and caregivers have options when it comes to treatment and supports for children with ASD. Supports and services will vary depending on the child’s needs and availability. The Overview of Medical Identification and Educational Determination of ASD provides information about the similarities and differences between the medical and educational pathways to services and supports for ASD.
Help Me Grow provides resources for families to learn more about developmental milestones and identify any concerns.
Minnesota special education services are provided in ALL public schools to children who qualify. Services will vary depending on the child’s unique/or specific needs and will be outlined in their individualized education plan (IEP). An evaluation is the first step to receiving Special Education Services. For further information contact the Special Education Division by emailing email@example.com or calling 651-582-8616.
There are a wide range of non-public schools in Minnesota. For more information, see the Department of Education Office of Non-Public Education.
In Minnesota, charter schools do not have tuition. Charter schools provide students and families with alternatives to traditional public schools. Charter schools must welcome and be open to all students. Charter schools are operated and governed by licensed teachers, parents and community members.
Minnesota families also have the option to homeschool their children. Minnesota Department of Education provides information and resources for families who are considering or choosing to homeschool. Students who are homeschooled or attend private schools may also be eligible for special education services from their resident districts.
MDE also offers information on online learning providers.
The Next Stage: Pathway to Transition and Long-Term Services and Supports for ASD, DHS-6751K, (PDF) outlines resources available to young adults and adults as they transition into independent living and the work world.
Minnesota Disability Law Center created a Special Education Transition Planning Fact Sheet (PDF).
Post-secondary training can be a four-year college, a community college, a technical school, an internship or other learning opportunity that allow young adults to gain knowledge and skills that will help them transition. Students are encouraged to explore these and other resources with a vocational rehabilitation counselor, school guidance counselor and others. Visit MN Autism Resource Portal: Intervention and Services – Transition and employment for more information.
Post-secondary program options
Minnesota Independence College and Community: a nonprofit vocational and life skills training program for young adults with learning differences and autism spectrum disorders.
Bethel University’s Build Program: provides a supportive and comprehensive educational experience for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
Central Lakes College Occupational Skills Program: a post-secondary educational program for students with disabilities
Ridgewater College Occupational Skills Program: helping students with documented intellectual disabilities transition to entry-level employment.
Individualized education plan (IEP)
The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) outlines the unique needs of the student and the specialized goals, objectives and related services that will help the student make progress on academic skills in school. The person, parents and caregivers are a critical partner in every phase of identifying a student for special education and in establishing the IEP.
Related services are defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) as “transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education.” Some examples of related services include physical therapy, speech and language and occupational therapy. MDE provides a full list of information and resources to assist related service personnel to meet the needs of students receiving special education services in the child’s IEP.
PACER has a guide (PDF) that will help you better understand the IEP process and emphasizes how important your participation is in developing your child’s IEP. You are a required member of your child’s IEP team, and your ideas must always be considered in any decisions the IEP team makes.
Person-centered practices are a continuum of strategies and activities that support the informed choice of students and families to make or have input into both major transitions and everyday life decisions. Person-centered practices focus on the interests and needs of the person receiving instruction or support. They emphasize each person’s strengths and dreams rather than weaknesses or deficits.
These are documents available for those who want to implement person-centered practices on their own in IEPs and everyday practices.
Positive behavior intervention supports (PBIS)
The Minnesota Department of Education’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) provides districts and individual schools throughout Minnesota with training, coaching, technical support and evaluation to improve student behavior generally, with special emphasis on students with challenging social behaviors. PBIS school teams establish clearly defined outcomes that relate to students’ academic and social behavior, systems that support staff efforts, practices that support student success, and data to guide decision-making.
MN PBIS has a guide to help schools begin their PBIS journey as well as additional resources for school teams. The Center for PBIS has materials and resources for teams. The purpose of the Center for PBIS is to improve the capacity of state educational agencies (SEAs), local educational agencies (LEAs), and schools to establish, scale-up, and sustain the PBIS framework.
When parents and schools cannot agree on how to best meet a child’s needs, procedural safeguards become important. You should be informed by reviewing your rights as every school is required to provide you with these rights yearly and have you initial indicating you received them. Formal complaints are part of parental protections. To file a formal complaint about educational services you can email the Minnesota Department of Education, Division of Compliance and Assistance or send a fax to 651-582-8725
The Minnesota Department of Education has a section primarily for teachers and school administrators with legal/technical information on Individualized Education Programs (IEP), Evaluations and Eligibility.
Contact the MDE Compliance and Assistance Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-582-8689. Team members who are familiar with special education compliance and parental rights are available during regular business hours.
Additional resources and contact information for educational advocacy and legal services include:
Expulsions and suspensions
Education is a very important right for every student. The Minnesota Department of Education has a variety of Parent resources to help families understand the rules and regulations around student discipline including suspension, expulsion, and data reporting. Many resources are available in different languages. When a student is expelled or excluded from school, the result is a serious loss for the student, the family, and society. The Pupil Fair Dismissal Act (PFDA) is the state law that governs student discipline.
Legal authority for special education services
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a four-part (A-D) piece of American legislation that ensures students with a disability are provided with Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that is tailored to their individual needs. IDEA requires that each public school provide services to eligible special education students in the least restrictive environment (LRE) and in accordance with each student’s individualized education program (IEP).
The U.S. Department of Education’s Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) brings together IDEA information and resources.
PACER CENTER offers multicultural services and currently employs several members of diverse cultural groups to work with parents and caregivers. Multicultural staff work with all PACER projects and help families understand and access education, health, mental health, transition, and other services.
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) ensures educational equity and access for English learners (ELs) through high-quality language instruction.
Minnesota Education Equity Partnership uses a race equity lens to transform educational institutions, organizations, and leaders to ensure that students of color and American Indian students achieve full academic and leadership success.
Immigrant Children and Youth information through the Minnesota Department of Education provides information on safeguarding the civil rights of all students and families when collecting information.
World Languages prepares students to communicate and collaborate with people of diverse backgrounds at home and abroad.
Language Immersion Programs is a method developed to teach people a second language, in which the language being taught is used for instruction processes. The Minnesota Advocates for Immersion Network provides a list of immersion programs in Minnesota.
The Office of Indian Education provides information, resources, support and oversight to district, charter, and tribal contract schools throughout the state of Minnesota.
The Office of Equity and Inclusion through the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system consults, advises, trains, and provides policy development in the areas of equity, inclusion, diversity, equal opportunity, and affirmative action. The office provides programs and services to support its colleges and universities, as well as the system office. In addition, the office partners with communities, businesses, and civic and educational organizations to impact student success, procurement practices, and campus climate.
This joint memo (PDF) issued by the MN Department of Human Services and the MN Department of Education outlines how Early Intensive Developmental and Behavioral Intervention (EIDBI) providers and school districts can collaborate to provide coordinated supports. This infographic summarizes how EIDBI providers and school districts can collaborate together to best meet the needs of children and families.
DHS and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) created EIDBI service decision tool, DHS-6751U (PDF) to help people with ASD and their families decide what combination of EIDBI and/or special education services may be a good fit. Services and supports offered by the medical system and public school district are not one-size-fits-all. They should be chosen to meet the needs of each child and their family.
How to use the tool
Parents and caregivers can use EIDBI service decision tool, DHS-6751U (PDF) to decide when to use the state EIDBI benefit or services and supports through a public school’s special education program (or a combination of both). The decision tool is most useful when reviewing the results of clinical evaluations, educational evaluations and referrals or recommendations from a child’s care team. Review EIDBI Manual – Comparison of special education services and EIDBI for more details.
The purpose of these collaboration resources is to increase effective collaboration and genuine partnerships across families, educators, and multi-disciplinary providers. Effective collaboration is critical for children to successfully transition across activities and environments, be ready to learn in the most inclusive and thrive in the least restrictive environment. Further, genuine partnerships between families, schools and providers create a consistent foundation for children to successfully respond to change as they grow and develop, ultimately increasing independence, long-term outcomes, and quality of life.
For people with autism, transitions can be particularly challenging. Access to services and supports may vary drastically for children and families. Services and supports are often provided across a wide variety of settings and professionals with different qualifications and experiences. Transitioning from an environment with intensive, targeted supports to one with new variables, routines and expectations should be intentionally planned for.
The Role descriptions of providers, educators and other professionals (PDF) resource outlines the roles and responsibilities of all people involved in a student’s treatment planning. This will help clearly define the role of each person and ensure that all parties involved understand and agree on their role and responsibilities, as well as what is out of scope for their position.
The Early Intensive Developmental Behavioral Intervention (EIDBI), School and Children and Families with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Give-and-Get Agreement (PDF) outlines what providers, schools, as well as children and families give and get during a collaborative partnership. This person-centered planning resource will help teams come together and identify the shared best outcomes for the child and family.
The Early Intensive Developmental Behavioral Intervention (EIDBI) Template for Provider/School District Agreement (i.e., memorandum of understanding) (PDF) is an agreement between the provider and the school district to transition the student from EIDBI medically necessary services into the school environment. This is a template that can be adapted to meet the specific needs of the provider or school district. The resources helps address ethical, legal and privacy requirements.
The Ultimate Resource Guide for STEM Students With Autism offers resources to support a child, youth or young adult who is interested in learning more about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).