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FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education)

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Updated September 07, 2006

Definition: FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education)is the right of every American child. It means, simply, that all school-aged children (Kindergarten through age 21) must receive a free public education that meets their needs. If you have a school-aged child with autism, your child is entitled to FAPE.

Of course, the big concern for parents and school districts alike is -- "what is an appropriate education for a child on the autism spectrum?" There is no easy answer to this question, and it has become the subject of much litigation.

While schools correctly state that "we are required to provide your child with the Chevy of education, not the Cadillac," there is a lot of disagreement about what that basic "Chevy-style" education should look like. That's because, in part, there is no general agreement on which therapies are most appropriate, whether inclusion or specialized programs make the most sense, and how much of anything is enough.

Parents concerned that their child with autism is NOT receiving FAPE do have resources to turn to. They include seeking the support of an advocate, requesting mediation, and taking legal action.

Pronunciation: Fayp
Examples:
My school district placed our son in a specialized classroom and say he is receiving FAPE -- but we want to see him included with typical peers.

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