Search Close Search
Page Menu

Education and School Related Services


Early Intervention (EI) in MA

EI is a program for children less than 3 years old who have a developmental delay, or have a medical or social concern that might put them at risk of developing a developmental delay. If a child is evaluated and meets the criteria for EI services, EI can provide free services by an Early Intervention Specialist until a child’s third birthday.

For additional information, please see Family TIES. Family TIES is a program of The Federation for Children with Special Needs.

Educational Advocate

You can obtain an educational advocate to support you in advocating for school services for your child. The Special Needs Advocacy Network (SPaN) maintains a directory of professional advocates: Special Needs Advocacy Network, Inc. | Boston, Massachusetts. It is sometimes possible to obtain a volunteer educational advocate who is completing their requirements to becomes an advocate by going here or by contacting them at 617-236-7210.

504 Plan

A child may have a disability other than ASD and need accommodations in school to make adequate progress. Accommodations are documented in a 504 Plan, if a student meets criteria. The parent may request a 504 Plan in writing, or the school may suggest a 504 Plan. A 504 Plan has individualized accommodations for a particular child, which they need to make adequate progress in school. Examples of accommodations include being seated in the front of the classroom, being able to take movement breaks, or having extra time to take tests. For more information on 504 Plans and disabilities, please see Section 504 and ADA: Protecting Children with Disabilities from Discrimination.

IEP (Individualized Educational Plan)

An IEP, or Individualized Educational Plan, is a plan for specialized supports and services for a child/youth with a disability who has turned three years old and is not yet 22-years-old or older.

To explore if a child meets criteria for an IEP: 

  • The parent can discuss the topic of special education services with their child’s PCP, or take the next steps themselves to see if a child meets criteria for special education services provided by the school system.
  • A parent can request that the school district provide an evaluation(s) (ex. occupational therapy, speech and language, physical therapy, neuropsychological evaluation, or a combination of evaluations) for their child, ages 3-22. Please make these requests in writing and submit the letter to your town’s School Department of Special Education. There is a legal process protecting the rights of children, but it must be started with a request in writing.
  • For information about requesting and advocating for services for a student, please see the ASD & the IEP Process Toolkit or call the National Autism Association at 888-622-2884 to request a copy of this free resource or attend a free workshop at HMEA’s Autism Resource Central 
  • The FCSN and the MA Department of Education created a booklet about the special education system in MA; please see “A Parent’s Guide to Special Education” at Parents Guide – Federation for Children with Special Needs. It is also available en Español and Português. This pamphlet has the current information for the process of requesting/obtaining services for a child who has ASD or another special need. FCSN also offers free workshops related to special education which can be a benefit to families.