GAO on Autism and Special Education
The Government Accountability Office issued this report (really a series of powerpoint slides) today on autism and special education. The key points:
The number of children diagnosed with autism served under IDEA has increased by more than 500 percent in the last decade. In 2002, data collected for the Department of Education indicated that nearly 120,000 children diagnosed with autism were being served under IDEA. This substantial increase may be due to a number of factors, including better diagnoses and a broader definition of autism.
The services provided to children with autism depend on the needs of the child. These services may include speech therapy, occupational therapy, and the services of special education teachers. As with other children with disabilities, children with autism are eligible for special education services under IDEA in accordance with their individualized education programs (programs established by a team familiar with the needs of the child).
The average per pupil expenditure for educating a child with autism was estimated by SEEP to be over $18,000 in the 1999-2000 school year, the most recent year for which data were available. This estimate was nearly three times the expenditure for a typical regular education student who did not receive special education services and was among the highest per pupil expenditures for school-age children receiving special education services in public schools.