Lurie Center for Autism: School Aged (3-13)

The Lurie Center is a multidisciplinary program designed to evaluate and treat children, adolescents and adults with a wide variety of conditions including autism, autism spectrum disorder, Asperger syndrome and developmental delays.

In the state of Massachusetts, once a child reaches the age of 3 years, the public school system becomes the agency responsible for providing special education services. If a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder had been receiving Early Intervention (EI) services, the EI providers generally guide families through the transition process from EI to the public school. When entering the school system, keep in mind that services are moving from a family-centered model to a student-centered model. The eligibility process for services is described in "A Parent's Guide to Special Education" and other helpful information can be found on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website and in the Autism Consortium Parent Information Packet

If a child is determined to be eligible for special education services, an Individualized Education Program or “Plan” (IEP) is developed by the child’s IEP team which includes the parents or legal guardians of the child and the special education staff. Navigating the public school system can be a daunting task for many parents and services offered through the school system may not be the same as those that had been provided through Early Intervention Program  Parents have the option to seek independent evaluations and guidance from professionals regarding the needs of their child. IEP teams will consider independent evaluations in determining appropriate support services. There are organizations (link to helpful websites) that can provide support and guidance about special education and the IEP process. Some parents choose to join their local SEPAC (Special Education Parent Advisory Council) and/or parent support groups to obtain information from other parents facing similar questions and concerns.

If a child is not found eligible for special education services through an IEP, a Section 504 plan may be appropriate.  A 504 plan lists accommodations related to the child’s disability and required by the child so that he or she may more successfully participate in the general classroom setting and educational programs.

Each child with ASD has his or her own unique strengths and weaknesses and challenges tend to shift over time. As a child grows older, some social, behavioral and academic challenges may become more apparent as others become less concerning. The most appropriate school services or program for the child may also change over time.

There are a number of helpful resources and websites that offer information about the special education system and laws and supports for families.


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