We support core principles of access, quality and enforcement of legal safeguards. In support of these principles, we work to increase the investment in educational research and encourage states and school districts to begin official transition planning by age 14.

We work to ensure meaningful access to quality education services for all students with autism. We advocate on initiatives based not only in the classroom or school building, but also in local communities, and at all ages. These initiatives range from Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment benefits to PreK-12 special education, postsecondary transition, career and technical education and higher education.

We believe all students with autism must be safe, supported and ready to learn - no matter the specifics of their race, gender, socioeconomic status or disability. All students with autism are unique individuals and deserve individualized supports.

Our advocacy on education is undergirded by 3 core principles:


  • Increasing access to educational services is a critical piece of our advocacy work. We strive to make sure that all students with autism can avail themselves of a spectrum of supports and receive the guidance to choose the most suitable services for them.


  • Increasing the number of students who access services does not truly help anyone if those services are not appropriate for the specific individual in the specific situation, or if those services are not of high quality. We work to promote quality in education in several ways:
    • Improve the professional educator pipeline so that the next generation of educators is well-versed in ways to support students with autism;
    • Ensure that services are consistently individualized to the student, accounting for their wishes, strengths and needs. While the process to ensure delivery of services can and should be standardized, the services themselves must never be born from a cookie-cutter process;
    • Increase the continuity of educational services over time. Over the course of a student’s life, they will encounter many different school personnel and systems, especially during times of transition. We work to improve continuity of services from the student’s and family’s perspective.


  • The legal rights of all students are laid out in a large number of federal laws, their respective regulations and their analogues at the state level. Students with disabilities share in these rights and protections but also benefit from a separate body of law designed to ensure they do not face discrimination based on disability and that their special education rights are protected. We work to ensure that students with autism can learn, supported by the full panoply of legal safeguards available to them, and to improve those legal safeguards.
  • Part of this work is ensuring that students with autism are safe in schools. Issues of school safety can take many forms, such as questions related to inclusive emergency preparedness, wandering prevention and response, seclusion and restraint, bullying, response to challenging behaviors and disproportionality. We strive to share evidence-based, practical responses to critical safety issues.

Consistent with these principles, we focus on increasing the investment in educational research

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) supports autism-related services, supports and research through programs administered primarily by the Institute of Education Sciences and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. Growth in educational research supported by ED will redound to the benefit of the autism community.

We also focus on encouraging states and school districts to begin official transition planning through the creation of an individualized transition plan by age 14, as allowed but not required by federal law, which sets 16 as the age by which such services must begin. For many young people on the spectrum, the transition to adult life is complex and challenging, filled with potential but fraught with uncertainties. Early transition planning better enables students to access the services and supports needed for adult life.

Autism Speaks has developed a number of resources to help improve educational outcomes for people with autism and support them in the classroom. Learn about Autism Speaks education resources