Special education services
Preschool — Grade 12
State and federally-funded special education services in Texas are delivered through local independent school districts and the public schools they operate. Children age 3 and older who have disabilities or developmental delays can begin receiving free special education services at the point a need is identified through the admission, review and dismissal process. Families with children age 3 to 5 who are experiencing developmental delays, or who have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other developmental disability, should contact their local school district to pursue early intervention services through a preschool program.
All independent school districts offer Preschool Programs for Children with Disabilities (PPCD) for children age 3-5. These early intervention programs are designed to improve daily living, social and academic skills to help prepare children for kindergarten and beyond. Children with ASD exiting a PPCD program are generally included in a regular education classroom with their typical peers, but often receive extra support in the classroom and additional services in other settings, such as a speech therapy room.
Special education supports provided by school districts for students with ASD (PPCD through grade 12) often include speech and occupational therapy, social skills training, teacher aides, assistive devices, curriculum modification, testing accommodations, tutoring, behavior supports, and other special accommodations, such as frequent breaks and quiet time to prevent sensory overload. As a student with ASD nears high school graduation, transition services, such as vocational training, are also provided to make the transition from high school to college, technical training or employment smoother. For information on topics related to special education in Texas, visit the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website.
All school districts in Texas have special education offices, with staff that have expertise in disabilities and special education matters. Special education offices work with school administrators, teachers and parents to ensure students' educational needs are met. To locate school districts and identify special education contacts within your child's school district, click here.
Texas Education Agency
The Texas Education Agency provides leadership, guidance and resources to help schools across the state meet the educational needs of all students, including those with disabilities. TEA has a department — the Division of IDEA Coordination — that is dedicated to special education. This division oversees special education supports and services in Texas, and division personnel specialize in policy, funding, internal support, complaints and other areas. For additional information about this Division, visit Texas Project FIRST, a website created by parents for parents.
Education Service Centers
Texas has 20 regional education service centers (ESC), each responsible for coordinating with the independent school districts within their region of the state. ESCs provide leadership, training and technical assistance to independent school district staff, parents and community members in their region, including assistance in the area of special education for students with disabilities. For comprehensive information on ESCs and their functions, click here.
Each ESC has a staff person who serves as a contact for education matters involving autism. These staff can assist parents, teachers and administrators with questions and coordination needs. Click here for autism contacts by region.
Education service centers also provide statewide leadership on special education related projects. The projects are funded by grants provided by the Texas Education Agency. Each ESC is responsible for developing a plan and implementing and evaluating statewide activities related to their project. For a list of these projects, click here.
ESC Region XIII's leadership project, Texas Statewide Leadership for Autism, provides a mechanism to access training, technical assistance, support and resources for educators who serve students with autism. This project also provides useful information (including a training series), for parents, families, community members and professionals serving students with autism. Visit the Texas Statewide Leadership for Autism Training website for more information.
ESC Region II sponsors and organizes the annual Texas State Autism Conference. The conference features nationally-known experts and speakers on autism and provides continuing education for educators, parents and service providers.
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Updated: October 31, 2013