New Autism Speaks Guide Helps Parents Better Understand and Navigate the IEP Process

New York, N.Y. (August 23, 2011) – Autism Speaks, the world’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, today released Individualized Education Program (IEP): Summary, Process and Practical Tipsa free, new online guide that provides parents with important and reliable information and advice about navigating the IEP process, created by a team of pro bono lawyers at Goodwin Procter. 

The 26-page guide includes an overview and timeline of key events in the typical IEP process, and clearly explains the steps parents need to take throughout – including how to contest an unfavorable decision. In addition to a list of questions to consider in developing a draft IEP,the guide also includes tips, resources, a checklist and answers to frequently asked questions, as well as a list of helpful web sites and other resources.

“The IEP process can be daunting, overwhelming and highly frustrating for parents who are trying to ensure their child is getting the appropriate educational opportunities,” said Lisa Goring, Autism Speaks vice president of Family Services. “We hope this guide will give families an effective roadmap that prepares them to make informed decisions and advocate for their child as effectively as possible.”       

"As the summer winds down and students and their families begin to focus on a new school year, many in the special needs community approach the new year with trepidation, facing the question of whether their child’s placement is appropriate, and what to do in the event it is not,” added JohnFerguson,a partner at Goodwin Procter and leader of the guide’s development team. “We are proud to have collaborated with Autism Speaks in preparing the IEP guide in the hopes that it can help de-mystify the process and help more folks receive the programs and services to which they are entitled."

Ferguson along with another Goodwin Procter partner, John LeClaire, have headed the firm’s team of attorneys who have provided pro bono support for Autism Speaks.To download the guide, visit Individualized Education Program (IEP): Summary, Process and Practical Tips

About Goodwin Procter
Goodwin Procter is one of the nation’s leading law firms, with offices in Boston, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. The firm's 850 attorneys provide corporate law and litigation services, with a focus on matters involving private equity; technology companies; financial services; real estate, REITs and real estate capital markets; intellectual property; products liability and mass torts; and securities litigation and white collar defense.  

About Autism
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 110 children in the United States, and one in 70 boys. The prevalence of autism has increased 600 percent in the past two decades. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception in 2005, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $160 million to research and developing innovative new resources for families. The organization is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. In addition to funding research, Autism Speaks has created resources and programs including the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, Autism Speaks’ Autism Genetic Resource Exchange and several other scientific and clinical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, which Autism Speaks celebrates through its Light it Up Blue initiative. Also, Autism Speaks award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council has received over $272 million in donated media. Autism Speaks’ family resources include the Autism Video Glossary, a 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit and a community grant program. Autism Speaks has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the government’s response to autism, and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to cover behavioral treatments in 27 states thus far, with bills pending in an additional 12 states. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 80 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.

About the Co-Founders
Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Senior Advisor at Lee Equity Partners and Chairman and CEO of the Palm Beach Civic Association. He served as Vice Chairman of General Electric; and as the Chief Executive Officer of NBC and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. He also serves on the boards of the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, Mission Product, LLC, EMI Group Global Ltd and the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Suzanne Wright is a Trustee Emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. Suzanne has received numerous awards, the Women of Distinction Award from Palm Beach Atlantic University, the CHILD Magazine Children’s Champions Award, Luella Bennack Volunteer Award, Spirit of Achievement award by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's National Women’s Division and The Women of Vision Award from the Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2008, the Wrights were named to the Time 100 Heroes and Pioneers category, a list of the most influential people in the world, for their commitment to global autism advocacy. They have also received numerous awards such as the first ever Double Helix Award for Corporate Leadership, NYU Child Advocacy Award, Castle Connolly National Health Leadership Award and The American Ireland Fund Humanitarian Award. In May of 2010 they received Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degrees from St. John’s University in Queens and delivered the commencement address as the first married couple to be bestowed such an honor.