Special Needs

Parents can be surprised to learn that a medical diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) does not automatically entitle a student to special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Eligibility for special education services is based on an educational determination of a disability, which includes meeting not just the criteria for a specific disability (such as autism), but also finding that a student is in need of special services. Understanding the differences between a medical diagnosis and an educational determination of eligibility for special education services can help parents become better advocates for their children.

Special Education that can be overwhelming to learn what your rights are and what steps you can take if you feel your child’s rights have been violated. It can also be difficult for parents to know if they should seek special education advocacy services or handle a contentious situation themselves. We have compiled a list of helpful resources. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact our Resource Specialists at (951) 220-6922 or

The Special Education system is often a stressful and confusing maze of laws, acronyms, and rights. How do you ensure that your child has the supports and services they need to be successful in their educational endeavors? Knowledge and understanding of the rights guaranteed under the Federal IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) is key and the best weapon you can have in your advocacy tool kit.

One of the best resources is from Disability Rights California is a federally mandated, non-profit organization established to protect and advocate for the human, civil and service rights of Californians with developmental disabilities. Staffed by attorneys and advocates, they have the most comprehensive collection information related to California Special Education, including an online version of “Special Education Rights and Responsibilities”. Publications available in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Spanish and many other languages. See the link below.

Equity and the Impact of COVID on Special Education

The impacts of the COVID-19 fell disproportionately on students who went into the pandemic with the fewest educational opportunities, many of whom are from marginalized and underserved communities including those in special education. Lack of internet, computers, special education services, and the inability to attend to online learning were just a few of the challenges. The Autism Society Inland Empire continues to advocate with local and state policymakers, and educate families on services they have access to.


Federal Report (June 2021) Education in a Pandemic – Education in a Pandemic: The Disparate Impacts of COVID-19 on America’s Students (PDF) Observations from the report include impacts of the pandemic on both K-12 and postsecondary education students, including how COVID-19 has deepened pre-pandemic disparities in access and opportunities facing students of color, multilingual learners, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ students, with significant impacts on their learning.

special education alphabet soup chart
family with autistic kids
A Parent’s Dictionary
parents and autistic daughter
Assignment of Educational Rights
kid attending home school
Charter & Homeschooling
kid and adult playing with toy
Educational Therapies Tutoring
girl in therapy with teddy bear on lap
Educational Assessments
student smiling
Non Public Schools
teacher and students
Navigating the Systems
autistic student in class
Special Ed Fundamentals
student and teacher
Private Schools
teacher and autistic students in the classroom
Special Education Rights
woman and autistic kid reading a book together
Special Education Advocacy
woman and autistic kid drawing together
What Is An IEP?
Tips for a Successful IEP
Student and tutor reading a book
Kid in math class holding a stack of books and an apple
Twice Exceptional or Gifted

Autism Society Options Policy

This Resource Guide was developed to provide families and professionals with an opportunity to find resources related to autism in the Inland Empire in one place.

All information provided or published by the Autism Society Inland Empire is for information purposes only. Specific treatment, therapy or services should be provided to an individual only at the direction of the individual’s doctor, caregiver, or other qualified professional. References to any treatment or therapy option, program, service, or treatment provider are not an endorsement by the Autism Society. References of treatments, therapies, programs, services, and/or providers are not intended to be comprehensive statements. You should investigate alternatives that may be more appropriate for a specific individual. The Autism Society assumes no responsibility for the use made of any information published or provided. The Autism Society Inland Empire provides information, but it does not constitute medical or legal information. Referrals provided are suggestions to organizations that might help, but do not constitute a recommendation. The Autism Society Inland Empire cannot be held responsible for consequences that arise from individual dealings with a professional or organization. The inclusion of any organization does not imply endorsement, and omission does not imply disapproval. The Autism Society Inland Empire may add or remove organizations from this list at its discretion.