The
federal government, through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(IDEA ’04)—the national special education law—defines disabilities and funds
special education services for only those students who are eligible (Smith,
2007, p. 11).  The government restricts
who is entitled to special education, since providing services for students
with disabilities is so expensive (p. 11). 
One of the 14 special education categories named by the federal
government is autism spectrum disorders (p. 11).  I am lucky to say that I get to work with
these beautiful learners on a daily basis.                                                                      

            One significant indicator
demonstrating the success of people with disabilities is their presence in
communities as independent adults who adopt their places alongside people without
disabilities (p. 13).  This
accomplishment is not yet fully achieved, but progress has certainly been made
(p. 13).  I see the advancements in the
field of special education every day at my school.

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            My school’s autism
program is devoted to providing children with an individualized
education that looks at each child’s strengths, as well as specific deficits,
and teaches them the skills they need to enhance their ability to communicate
and function as independently as they are capable of.  The program works with school districts across Long Island, which
refers students to us.  While the program
receives money from the districts, which covers the costs of educating the
students, it relies on fundraising dollars for the supplements, such as providing
higher teacher to student ratio in the classrooms. 

            Today, parents and family members of people with
disabilities, special education professionals, and people with disabilities commonly
insist that the rights of people with disabilities be protected and that needed
services be offered (p. 14).  Parents are greatly involved in the fundraising committee at
my school and donate thousands of dollars each year.  The school uses fundraising dollars to provide
extra training for the staff.  The money
also goes towards Smartboards and iPads/devices to further improve the students’
communication and functionality.                                                                                                                                                          Some
of the most significant advancements in the field of special education happened
because of individuals coming together with the purpose of fighting for the
rights of people with disabilities.  I am
proud to be an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Teacher Assistant who works
alongside kind-hearted teachers and parents who wake up every morning thriving
to make a difference in a child’s life. 
It certainly takes a village to raise a child.