Special education services are available to eligible students ages 3 up to 22 in Massachusetts who 1) have a disability and 2) as a result of their disability require specially designed instruction or one or more related services (i.e., speech therapy) to access and make progress in the general curriculum. Your child may be referred by Early Intervention or you for special education services. The District will conduct evaluations and convene a “Team meeting” to determine if your child is eligible for special education services. You are entitled to a copy of the District’s evaluations at least 2 days in advance of the Team meeting, but you need to request a copy. If your child is eligible the Team, including you, will meet every year, and the District is required to do a re-evaluation every three (3) years.
In Massachusetts, if your child has autism spectrum disorder the Team is required to address each of the following areas; 1) the verbal and nonverbal communication needs of the child; 2) the need to develop social interaction skills and proficiencies; 3) the skills and proficiencies needed to avoid and respond to bullying, harassment or teasing; 4) the needs resulting from the child's unusual responses to sensory experiences; 5) the needs resulting from resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines; 6) the needs resulting from engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements; 7) the need for any positive behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports to address any behavioral difficulties resulting from autism spectrum disorder; and 8) other needs resulting from the child's disability that impact progress in the general curriculum, including social and emotional development. (G.L. c. 71B, §3)
These brochures are intended to help families and individuals better understand the types of resources that exist in the Commonwealth and which may be available to an individual with ASD.
Autism Support Centers
The mission of the Autism support centers, which are funded by The Department of Developmental Services, is to provide support for children, and adults with ASD, and their families throughout Massachusetts. The Autism support centers offer trainings, workshops, and activities to help connect families and help them to enable their children and adults with ASD to be integrated members of their communities. The link and the list below will guide you to the support center closest to your community.
The Children’s Autism Medicaid Waiver
The children’s autism Medicaid waiver is a program that provides intensive in-home and other services to children with autism. Families must apply for these services. Eligible children must be: 1) Medicaid eligible; 2) ages 0-8; and 3) at risk of institutionalization now or at some point in the future. The program is administered by the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS). At certain dates, DDS opens the application process for the program. There are a limited number of program slots. For more information on the
Children’s Autism Medicaid Waiver
You can link to information on the DDS Autism Services Waiver at http://www.mass.gov/.
- Mass. Advocates for Children, Autism Center, http://massadvocates.org/autism/
- Masslegalhelp.org, Children’s Autism Medical Waiver, http://www.masslegalhelp.org/school/childrens-autism-medicaid-waiver-alert
The Massachusetts Autism Insurance Law (ARICA): ARICA requires health insurers in Massachusetts to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is important to note that not all private insurance plans are required to follow the Massachusetts law requiring insurance to cover autism treatment. If you have private health insurance you will need to ask your insurance company what coverage exists in your policy for autism treatment, including coverage for ABA services and AAC devices. http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/eohhs/autism/arica-factsheet.pdf
The Autism Insurance Resource Center, part of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center at UMass Medical School
The Autism Insurance Resource Center provides information, technical assistance, trainings, webinars, and other resources for consumers, providers, educators, employers, and others on issue related to medical insurance for autism treatment. http://shriver.umassmed.edu/news/2015-05-13-124500/autism-insurance-resource-center-releases-new-tool-help-families-determine-insurance-coverage
MassHealth or Mass CommonHealth
MassHealth (as a primary insurance) or Mass CommonHealth (as a supplemental insurance)provides comprehensive health insurance - or help in paying for private health insurance – to more than one million Massachusetts children, families, seniors, and people with disabilities. http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/masshealth/ or http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/consumer/insurance/masshealth-coverage-types/masshealth-commonhealth.html
MassHealth customer service 1-800-841-2900
If your child has been diagnosed with ASD, they may be eligible for Applied Behavior Analysis Services (ABA), alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) devices, personal care attendant (PCA) services, or the children’s behavioral health initiative (CBHI) through MassHealth.
- Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
Children under the age of 21 who have been diagnosed with autism and are covered by MassHealth Standard, CommonHealth and Family Assistance are entitled to medically necessary ABA services. Coverage is also available to members who have MassHealth as secondary insurance. http://massadvocates.org/wp-content/uploads/MassHealth-ABA-Updated-QA-12-5-15.pdf
- Alternative and Augmentative Communication (ACC) Devices
- addition to insurance coverage for ABA services, the new law expands MassHealth coverage for medically necessary Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices. In the past, MassHealth covered AAC devices but did not cover electronic tablets, such as iPads, used for AAC. MassHealth now covers electronic tablets dedicated to use as AAC, along with related software, when medically necessary for communication. http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/masshealth/guidelines/mng-aac.pdf
- PCA Services from MassHealth
The PCA Program is a MassHealth program that helps people with permanent or chronic disabilities keep their independence, stay in the community, and manage their own personal care by providing funds to hire personal care attendants (PCAs). The PCA consumer (the person receiving PCA services) is the employer of the PCA, and is fully responsible for recruiting, hiring, scheduling, training, and, if necessary, firing PCAs. www.mass.gov/masshealth-personal-care-attendant-pca-program
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education & Department of Developmental Services (DESE/DDS) Program
The DESE/DDS program helps provide in-home and community based therapeutic supports and services to students ages 6-17. Eligible participants must show a need for services that prevent a restrictive, out of home residential placement. This program also helps support families with a child who attended a residential school and has returned to the home. http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/consumer/disability-services/training-education/edu-guidance/community-residential-educ-project.html
Federation for Children with Special Needs – A parent guide to special education
Federation for Children with Special Needs – Parent training
Parent Information – Special Education
Autism Speaks IEP Guide