After School Special: The Experiences of Special Needs Children and Their Families in ICCSD Before and After School Programs

After School Special 

The Experiences of Special Needs Children and Their Families in ICCSD Before and After School Programs

Dina Bishara and Laura Crossett
Mental Health, Special Education, and Disability Advocacy Group |
September 2021

This document contains personal accounts of families’ experiences attempting equal access for their children in before and after-school programs, or BASPs, in the Iowa City Community School District. Children who need specialized supports or accommodations based upon their disabilities often are not adequately supported, or they are simply not accepted into these BASPs. This contains testimony of families recounting some of the barriers they have faced.


“The Interagency Agreement paints a portrait of BASPs that is truly open, inclusive, and
supportive of all children. The reality for the parents of children with special needs, however, is quite different. We present below the stories of some of the many special needs children in our district with its BASPs. From children who were bullied or neglected, parents who had to take on extra jobs in order to pay for aides that a BASP required, and children who were simply kicked out of programs, leaving parents scrambling to find and pay for after school childcare, many special needs kids have a very different experience than their peers, and their families face additional and undue burdens. These are some of their stories.”


Access the document here –  After School Special 




Iowa Autism Services and Supports Survey

Iowa Autism Services and Supports Survey:


The Iowa Regional Autism Assistance Program Expert Panel and Iowa Autism Council would like to hear from parents, family members, individuals, and providers. We want to know how Iowa can improve services and supports for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families. Please take a few minutes to fill out this quick survey, which will close 10/8/2021. Thank you!




Background:  In early 2015, a strategic planning committee was tasked with developing a statewide strategic plan to improve services and supports for individuals with ASD and their families. The committee included family members along with educational, medical, and community service providers. The committee identified five focus areas and 13 strategies for the 5-year strategic plan with a vision to “ensure that all Iowans with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to live independent and interdependent lives within their community and to reach their full potential.”  Responses will help with the update of Iowa’s Strategic Plan 2016-2021: To Improve Services and Supports for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their Families.

CARE Looking for New Board Members

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ARE YOU INTERESTED IN HELPING CONNECT PARENTS/GUARDIANS and AUTISTIC ADULTS TO AUTISM/NEURODIVERGENCE-RELATED RESOURCES? The Corridor Autism Resource Expo (CARE) is in need of a couple new Board Members as we are planning our October 8, 2022 event. We need people who are 1) responsible AND reliable, 2) energetic, 3) motivated to support and advocate for parents/guardians and autistic adults. The kinds of things we need help with are marketing, managing exhibitors, planning and executing the event, etc. Monthly meetings most of the year, becoming more frequent as we get closer to the event. The number of people doing this work (and other advocacy work) is very small- and honestly we are getting burned out and need help. Please consider if you might be able to commit to this work. Comment below or email me with questions:

UAY Neurodivergent Teen Hangout Resuming


United Action For Youth is resuming their hangout for neurodivergent teens! All members of the neurodivergent community are welcome to attend the Swaim Youth Center’s Low Stim Night on the first Wednesday of each month from 4-7pm. There will be reduced lighting and volumes, weighted blankets, and noise-canceling headphones available. A caregiver should accompany any teen who may need 1:1 support as UAY staff is limited during these events. Snacks provided.

For more information, please contact UAY.

Connect With Others Via Zoom

Sue Askeland is currently hosting groups for autistic high schoolers, grandparents of autistic individuals and for autistic self-advocates. Please click the links for more information about how to sign up and for meeting times.


Autism Society of Iowa Support Group for High School Students with Autism

  • When: Wednesday Nights at 7:00 PM
  • Where:  Zoom links will be sent to those registered prior to weekly meetings
  • Facilitator: Sue Askeland
  • Click here for more information and to register for the group.


Autism Society of Iowa Self- Advocates FB Group

  • Click here to register to receive information on upcoming Self- Advocates meetings.
  • Click here to join the Self-Advocates FB group.
  • Online support for self-advocates to discuss issues with other self-advocates throughout Iowa

Iowa City: Grandparent Support Group

COVID Update

Due to rising COVID numbers in our community, we are still exercising caution when organizing activities. Many of our usual events, such as library browsing hours, continue to be placed on hold for the time being. We hope that you and your family are well during this difficult time and we look forward to seeing everyone again soon.