The Autism Education Center's work on promoting the placement of students with autism into the general classroom setting to the greatest extent possible has dovetailed with a renewed Michigan Department of Education focus on the same concept.
That work is just one of the efforts to highlight for the center during this Autism Acceptance Month, according to center staff members. They are also enhancing their efforts to emphasize the importance of inclusion for autistic students and their families, and have made inclusion the focus of their May 1 annual conference in East Lansing.
The Michigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education is focused on what is known as the Least Restrictive Environment. This concept emphasizes the practice of placing students in the general education setting and to receive supports and services determined by the team overseeing the child's education, said Kellie Fitzgerald, strategic communications, design and development specialist.
The center has historically worked with its statewide network to instill the importance of that practice to ensure placements are based on the needs of the child, said Stephanie Pulido, program evaluation and resource development specialist.