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"... the most important considerations in devising educational programs for children with autistic spectrum disorders have to do with recognition of the autism spectrum as a whole, with the concomitant implications for social, communicative, and behavioral development and learning, and with the understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the individual child across areas of development."
—Educating Children with Autism2001


Montgomery County public school administrators refer to placements as services, even when those services are provided at select locations. If services are available only at select schools, those schools are listed.

Least Restrictive Environment
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that all students with disabilities be educated with children who are not disabled “to the maximum extent appropriate.” This setting is known as the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). The least restrictive environment is a student’s neighborhood school, and therefore the first placement the IEP Team typically will consider for a student with disabilities. Students on the autism spectrum vary in the amount of support they need, and sometimes the services documented by the IEP (Individual Education Program) are greater than those that the student’s neighborhood school can provide. When this is the case, the IEP Team will consider services available at schools other than the student’s neighborhood school, and are considered “more restrictive environments” for that reason.

Observing Special Education Services
Parents should consider carefully the appropriateness of services for their child and visit each location. Services that are successful for one student might be unsuccessful for another, depending on the specific needs and personality of the student and the staff providing the services. Tours of the locations can be arranged by request through your child’s IEP Team. In addition, parents should plan one to two years ahead. Visiting potential schools during Back to School Night programs in September is a valuable opportunity to talk with teachers, staff, and other parents.

Autism Consults
Schools have access to additional supports within MCPS, such as an Autism Consult, provided by staff from the Autism Unit. Requests for an Autism Consult must be made by a student’s IEP Team. A staff member from the Autism Unit can observe the student and provide written recommendations to assist the classroom teacher with behavior strategies to help improve a student’s social and behavioral functioning in the classroom. Staff may receive on-site professional development and training from MCPS resource teachers and specialists, and staff may attend professional development courses offered by MCPS administrators.

State Assessments
The PARCC Assessment
Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, all diploma-bound students in the state of Maryland will participate in the PARCC Assessment. This assessment is aligned with the Common Core State Standards, and measures what students should know at each grade level to be on track for postsecondary success.

The NCSC Assessment
Beginning with the 2014–15 school year, all nondiploma students will participate in the NCSC Assessment, based on alternate achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. The goal of this assessment is to ensure that these students achieve increasingly higher academic outcomes and leave high school ready for postsecondary options.

Preschool Services

Elementary Diploma-bound Services (Grades K–5)

Secondary Diploma-bound Services (Grades 6–12)

Nondiploma Elementary Services (Grades K–5)

Nondiploma Secondary Services (Grades 6–12)

Improving the educational experiences and outcomes of students on the autism spectrum in grades K-12.

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