Department of Exceptional Student Education


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where can I find information about autism and related disorders?
There are many internet resources which provide information on autism spectrum disorder.  The M-DCPS website, www.dadeschools.net, describes characteristics of and educational services for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) website, www.umcard.org, provides information related to characteristics, current research, and family/community resources.

2. Do I get to choose my child’s program/school?
A multi-disciplinary team consisting of specific educational professionals, as well as the parent and others with particular knowledge of the child, develops a student’s individual educational plan (IEP).  Parents play an important role by providing additional information regarding their child’s abilities and limitations in the home and community environment, as well as personal information such as interests and medications. Your child will be assigned to a school based on your home address.  You may also apply for your child to attend an Autism Intensive Communication Academy if they meet the criteria for admission.  For additional information and an application please visit:  http://ese.dadeschools.net/autism/autism_academy.asp.  You may have limited choice options through the McKay Scholarship Program (www.floridaschoolchoice.org/Information/McKay) or a transfer request made to the SPED Center serving your child’s home school.  Your SPED Center can be located by using the following link: http://spededservices.dadeschools.net/sped_centers.asp.

3. I am moving to Miami-Dade County, where will my child go to school?
Your child’s home school will be assigned based on your home address.  In order to determine your home school, please use the following link: http://www.dadeschools.net/guidek-12/default.asp.  If your child is enrolled in general education or VE classes, then they would typically attend the home school.  If your child is assigned to a self-contained program, you can then call the SPED Center which services your home school to ascertain which school serving that home school has a self-contained program.  The SPED Center which services your home school can be located by using the following link: http://spededservices.dadeschools.net/sped_centers.asp.

4. I am moving to Miami-Dade County, where can I send my child’s IEP?
You can send the IEP to the SPED Center to which your child’s home school belongs.  The SPED Center which services your home school can be located by using the following link: http://spededservices.dadeschools.net/sped_centers.asp.

5. I have concerns about my child’s educational program, who should I call?
You should first discuss any concerns directly with your child’s teacher.  If you still require assistance, contact the ESE chair, assistant principal, or principal at your child’s school.  Should you continue to have unresolved concerns, please contact the Instructional Supervisor for ESE at the SPED Center which services your school.  The SPED Center which services your school can be located by using the following link: http://spededservices.dadeschools.net/sped_centers.asp.

6. Do you have a program for high functioning autism?
Programs for students with high functioning autism vary and are dependent upon the individual educational plan of each student.  All students are educated in the least restrictive environment in which they can access an appropriate education.  For students with high functioning autism, this will take place in all general education classes at the child’s home school, or in a combination of general education and varying exceptionalities settings. 

Two programs that are specifically geared to students with high functioning autism and/or Asperger’s Syndrome are MAPS-North West (Hialeah Senior High) and MAPS-South (TERRA Environmental Research Institute).  These sites provide education in the general education setting with wraparound services for teaching organization skills, social interaction skills, and coping mechanisms for managing stress.

7. My child is in a self-contained program for students with autism but he doesn’t have significant behavior problems and he is able to talk. Why does he have to be in a classroom with students who have behaviors or don’t speak?
Placement in a self-contained program for students with autism is made based on individual student needs as defined by the IEP team, including the parents.  If a student placement is later deemed ineffective for the student in question, the team can re-convene to discuss student needs and further options for placement.

8. Is the school required to implement my child’s private OT plan?
The IEP team is required to consider any information or outside evaluations that a parent brings to the meeting. They also need to consider the input of anyone who attends the IEP meeting with the parent. However, the IEP team is not required to adopt the recommendations of the outside professionals. Often, outside professionals (OT, PT, Speech, CBAs) write recommendations consistent with community standards, which often exceed the requirements of the school system. Related services in school are those services, which are required in order for your child to access their education.

9. How do I get Autism Support Services on my child’s IEP?
If your child is in a self-contained classroom, they would not require autism support on the IEP.  Teachers qualified to meet the needs of students with autism staff self-contained classrooms; and they receive routine support from the District Office.
If your child is in an inclusive (general education) setting, you should address your concerns at an IEP meeting.  Autism Support Services are not direct services to students.  The service is provided to the teacher working with your child to address accommodations and understanding of the disability.

10. I have autism support on my IEP.  How can I be informed on the strategies that the Autism Support Teacher is sharing with my child’s teacher?
The Autism Support Teacher from the school district provides support to your child’s teacher and not to individual students.  However, you can inquire with your child’s classroom teacher what strategies have been provided to him/her from the Autism Support Teacher.  Please note that since the role of the Autism Support Teacher is to support the classroom teacher, and not an individual student, parents will not be notified of the times and dates of the Autism Support Teacher’s consultation.

11. Is my child required to take the FSA?
The criterion for exclusion from the FSA is set by the state; it is not a matter of parental or school choice. Generally, if your child is accessing a general education classroom and does not have a significant cognitive handicap, they will be required to participate in the FSA.

12. How can I arrange for my outside professional to observe my child in school?
You should arrange for a mutually convenient time directly with the administrators in your child’s school.  We recommend that observations be limited to ½ hour whenever possible in order to avoid disrupting the learning environment.



Under Florida law, e-mail addresses are public records. If you do not want your e-mail address released in response
to a public records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact this office by phone or in writing.