Autism Litigation Under the IDEA: A New Meaning of “Disproportionality”?

September 2013

About this Article

This article examines the disproportionality and overrepresentation of children with autism in litigation. It states that children with autism accounted for about one third of sample of published court decisions concerning the core concepts of free appropriate public education (FAPE) and least restrictive environment (LRE) under the U.S. Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.  The other major finding was that when comparing this litigation percentage with the autism percentage in the special education population for the period 1993 to 2006, the ratio was approximately 10:1.  The reasons for this disproportionality, or overrepresentation of children with autism in FAPE/LRE litigation, are complex.  Special education leaders need to pay particular attention to establishing effective communications and trust building with parents of students with autism and to optimize the use of various approaches of alternative dispute resolution.

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APA Citation:  Zirkel, P. A., (2011).  Autism litigation under the IDEA: A new meaning of “disproportionality”?.  Journal of Special Education Leadership, 24(2), 92-103.

Author: Zirkel, Perry A.

Title:    Autism Litigation Under the IDEA: A New Meaning of “Disproportionality”?

Year:   2011

Journal:  Journal of Special Education Leadership 

Publisher:  Council of Administrators of Special Education

Volume: 24

Issue: 2

Pages:  92-103

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Yes. NICHCY expresses its appreciation to the Council of Administrators of Special Education for its generous permission to post this article on our website.

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