One of the challenges of ASD is that autism is a spectrum. As I understand it, instructional and behavioral strategies that work for one child may be different for another — individualized instructional design is crucial. In addition to broader training of teachers, even with an IEP, an advocate within the school is important to ensure compliance with the plan. I think the state should explore some expanded initiatives along these lines.
The other challenge is that there is so much we don’t know about ASD. But, the scientific literature seems to be pointing towards early intervention in the classroom. I found this recent study interesting: Merit In Classroom-Based Autism Therapy.
I know that ABLE accounts are hardly a full solution. The costs to families of things like supplemental instructional resources unavailable in the schools are a big part of the burden. Again, it all comes back to resources in the schools.
Identifying the problems is the easy part. The rubber hits the road in constructing workable policies that will be effective in solving them.
I am by no means an expert. Most elected officials’ understanding of Autism doesn’t go a whole lot deeper than what they learned from Rain Man. Policymakers are going to need the help of the ASD community to figure it out. I look forward to working with you to do so.