Call Us: 412.856.7223
  • For more information on our "Autism Takes Flight" airport training program, click on this slide.

  • Please Join Us for the
    South Hills Parent Support Group and Discussion

    Summer Strategies
    Presented by Maura Rodgers of Casey's Clubhouse/The Miracle Baseball League

    7:00 p.m., Tuesday, May 7, 2014
    Whitehall Public Library
    100 Borough Park Drive

    For more information, please call Heidi Hess at 412-856-7223 or 412-915-4492
  • Run for Autism

    WVU's Alpha Phi Omega undertook the 43rd Annual Run for Autism on
    Saturday, November 2, 2013.

  • The Autism Society of Pittsburgh is the local chapter of the Autism Society of America.
    Our objective is to improve the lives of those struggling with autism.

  • S.P.E.A.K. Summer Program begins July 1, 2013.

  • 2013 Cope Fazio Memorial Golf Tournament Winners

  • Myron Cope (1929–2008) — parent, writer, broadcaster, Autism Society of Pittsburgh charter board member, booster, fundraiser since 1967.

  • S.P.E.A.K. Family Day 2012 Performance

  • The proceeds from the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix benefit the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Valley School. Courtesy Matthew Little Photography

  • Serafino "Foge" Fazio — (1938–2009).
    Accomplished football player, coach,
    parent, autism fundraiser, founder (with Myron Cope) —
    longest running charity golf event in Pennsylvania.

Plan Now for Your Child’s Upcoming IEP


You’ll benefit from Sharon Lutz’s advice, as published in the February 4, 2014, edition of Wrightslaw Way. You will know areas wherein your intervention can help make your child’s education plan the best possible.

  1. Knowledge is power. I learned as much as I could about the law. I used the internet, library and support groups. There is a wealth of support groups online. Find one right for you. Use your knowledge to even the playing field with the school.
  2. Prepare for the IEP meeting. I always requested a DRAFT version of the IEP, 5 days in advance, so I would have time to read it. I had a professional (physician, neurologist, advocate, attorney) review it as well prior to the IEP meeting. This allowed more time for discussion at the meeting versus wasting time reading the IEP. It also helped me to be ready to discuss items that were well-written or important items that were not included.
  3. Request any evaluations the school gave your child. I always requested a DRAFT copy of all of my child’s evaluation results, 5 days in advance, to review with any professionals I deemed necessary.
  4. Carefully review the IEP. I always had a rule never to sign the IEP at the meeting until I took it home to look at it “one more time.” I have appreciated this rule many times. In every IEP meeting there are always changes based on discussions, information from other teachers, etc. If you try to “write” the IEP during these discussions, you will list information incorrectly or miss information or just plain misunderstand. The school would have everyone sign the IEP and give me a DRAFT version without the last page. Once I was satisfied with the draft, I would return it and sign the last page. Then I would get a final copy of the official IEP to take with me.
  5. Create a paper trail. Write request letters and follow-up letters on important issues (i.e., specific items promised, discussed requests for evaluations or follow-up). Document everything.
  6. Use expertise from other professionals. I have requested letters from professionals (math tutors, speech tutors, reading tutors, etc) who knew my children. I asked them to come to the IEP meetings in person on various occasions. This adds much professionalism to the meeting. They “speak the same language” as the teachers and get their point across regarding my children better than I can. Be prepared to pay for these people to come in person. It will cost less money than hiring an attorney and is less adversarial.
  7. Tape record meetings. I always bring a good digital tape recorder to the meeting. I let the IEP team know in advance that I am bringing one. The main reason is I don’t have to be a note taker versus an active participant. Having the meeting on tape makes it clear what everyone said. I find that people act more professionally and do not make incorrect statements when you record meetings.
  8. Make sure your child’s teachers have a copy of the IEP. I go to the school with several copies of my child’s IEP on the first day the teachers are with my child. (I always ask permission before I show up.) I have found that many teachers never get a copy of my child’s IEP. They are unaware of what supports or modifications/ accommodations my child requires. If my child acts badly when the proper supports are not in place, the teacher gets a bad first impression of my child for the rest of the quarter. Very often the entire year goes badly after that.
    I take my child and the IEP. We meet for just a few minutes, discuss informally some items, and leave a copy of the IEP. His teachers are usually grateful to know what is going on and what to expect. It starts the year off much better. If I cannot meet with the teachers for some reason I give the copies to the school secretary at the office and request that a copy be put in each teacher’s mailbox with a note attached.

    Tip: Follow-up with a phone call or email just in case.

  9. Maintain a professional image. Please remember that dealing with the school is a “professional business style relationship,” not a friendship. If you are friends in the end that would be a bonus. Many parents are surprised when school personnel do not want to provide certain services or act inappropriately. When I became more knowledgeable about the IEP process and started asserting my child’s rights, I often became friends with a teacher. What happened at the IEP meetings stayed in the meetings and teachers never took it out on my children.
  10. Don’t hesitate to request an IEP review when needed. The minute things started going wrong (i.e., grades dropped, the IEP was not being followed, supports were not put in place or sporadic, my child telling me there are issues, etc.) I would request an IEP meeting. I sent a letter to the principal or special ed director to request a meeting, explained why, and suggested what dates and times would work. They always responded. We were able to resolve the issues before they got worse. My children were the type that if I allowed anything to continue or fester it would only make things worse. Some parents only think IEP meetings are once a year. You may request an IEP meeting anytime your need to.

Nothing is foolproof and nothing is perfect. I just did the best I could for my children. These tips and tricks worked well for me most of the time.

I hope that some of these ideas are helpful to you.

Sharon Lutz, Parent Contributor

See more at:

Of Immediate Interest:

BAS Mini-Grants March 31st Deadline Fast Approaching

The Bureau of Autism Services of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare is pleased to announce the availability of mini-grants to support children and adults with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and families that include an individual with ASD.

A focus of this project is to reach out and serve individuals and families that are not able to access existing support systems for various reasons (for example: eligibility criteria, age, waiting lists). The term “family” may include an immediate family member or other relative, a person providing foster care or a legal guardian or custodian, but does not include a person or entity who acts in a paid employment capacity. These grants are funding opportunities that will only be offered once and are time limited.

Applicants meeting eligibility requirements may apply for up to $500 in grant funds. Priority will first be given to applicants age 18 or older who did not receive a Bureau of Autism Services Mini-Grant in any previous funding year (2007-2013). Total funding for these mini-grants is limited and is on a first-come, first-served basis. Not everyone who applies for this grant will be funded.

In order to be eligible, applicants must:

  1. Be a Pennsylvania resident.
  2. Have a family member with autism (of any age) or be an individual with autism.*
  3. Not be currently receiving any family support services (including Base Funding) for the past 12 months.

* Family members can submit an application on behalf of their family member with autism but cannot apply on behalf of themselves or for family members that do not have autism; the only exception is for respite.

The following supports and activities are eligible for funding if they occur between March and August 2014. See application for exact dates.

For Grant Applicants of any Age (Children or Adults):

  • Respite care
  • Summer recreation and skill development programs
  • Autism or advocacy related conferences, workshops or training opportunities
  • Community programs such as karate lessons, swimming lessons, dance classes, art classes, cooking classes, private driving lessons
  • Safety modifications or adaptations for home and/or community integration. For example: door locks, alarms, fencing or other items to increase or ensure a person’s safety

For Grant Applicants Age 18 and Over Only:

  • College-level coursework
  • Personal job coaching
  • Public transportation to organized support group meetings, organized social activities, community programming, conferences or trainings, or place of employment

How Do I Apply?

Mail your completed application and supporting materials, which may include brochures, printouts from the Internet, statements on sponsoring organization letterhead, or statements of cost to the address on the application. Incomplete applications will not be considered. The full application packet including the application, instructions to apply, and frequently asked questions is available to download and print by visiting or under “2014 Family and Individual Mini-Grant.”

Important Dates:

  • The deadline for submission is March 31, 2014.
  • Notification of awards will be sent by mail on a rolling basis beginning on or about May 1, 2014 until June 30, 2014.

What if I have questions or need a copy of the application packet mailed to me?

  • Visit or to see the Frequently Asked Questions included in the Mini-Grant application packet.
  • E-mail

    or call the Mini-Grant Help Line: 717-425-5689.

Contact Information

Call us at 412.856.7223, or email us at . For our address or more specific contact information, or if you'd like to fill out our simple contact form, go here.

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