IDEA is a law that gives rights to students with disabilities, and stands for “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.” IDEA is for schools that get money from the government.

Not every student with a disability gets rights from IDEA. Autistic students do get rights from IDEA, but to get these rights, you need a diagnosis.

IDEA says you have the right to:

  • Get a diagnosis for your disability
  • Go to school
  • Go to school for free, like everyone else
  • Learn things in school
  • Learn the same things as everyone else
  • Be in the same classroom as non-disabled students
  • Get the help you need to learn

IDEA says you can get services to help you learn in school. Schools need to make a plan called an IEP for each student with a disability. IEP means Individualized Education Plan. The IEP has to say:

  • What you know how to do right now
  • What you need to learn
  • What your goals at school are for the next year
  • How the school will know if you are learning
  • The services the school will give you
  • Accommodations the school will make for you

Some students don’t end up in the same classrooms as everyone else, or take the same tests as everyone else. If these things happen, the IEP needs to say why.

When you turn 16, you also get a transition plan. It helps you figure out what you will do after high school, and how you’ll meet your goals after high school. You have the transition plan until you are done with school.