Questions, questions, questions...

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by forkeeps251, Apr 9, 2013.

  1. forkeeps251

    forkeeps251 Member

    Just got off the phone with the school district psychologist. She's got a PhD and specializes in ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorders, and this is pretty much the pivotal person all of difficult child's accommodations are going to be based off of. I'm also looking into getting an advocate for our next ARD meeting.

    In our short conversation she wanted to know exactly what is triggering difficult child's self harm, and if he does it at school and at home (which he does not). She is going to observe him again soon.

    I mentioned that several therapists suggested that he be screened for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). She did say that he does have significant social problems and that is an indicator. She also said that right now he is receiving special services for being classified as "emotionally disturbed", and that he can't be classified as both. She said if she observed some indication of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) at her next evaluation of him, that we could get a formal team evaluation by the school, but that he couldn't be classified as both "Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)" and "emotionally disturbed", and it just depended on whichever one was the overriding condition. She said that his self harm was more of an indicator of an emotional disturbance than Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

    BUT, she said, it doesn't matter WHAT he is classified as, the accommodations would be the same for either classification.

    Does anyone know enough on here to confirm what she said? He doesn't have a formal medical diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), not yet anyway. Is it time to call in an advocate? I think if I actually had a diagnosis it might be easier but right now I don't, and it will probably be quite a while before I get one (due to wait times, right now our neuropsychologist appointment is in September)
  2. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    School psychologist is correct - classification does not drive the IEP, the student's needs drive the IEP. So his needs are going to be the same whether he's classified ED or Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or whatever, so the IEP would be the same (in theory and by law - in practice is always variable).

    I think states/districts do fund different classifications differently. My oldest was originally diagnosed as "developmentally delayed." In elementary school on the west coast, he was "other health impairment" Once we moved to Illinois, they changed the classification to some dreadful sounding thing.... "low incidence multiple handicap" or some such terminology. Basically, it just meant that the SD got more money from the state/feds for him because he required so many services. That makes sense - sped funding for a kiddo with "only" a comparatively minor Learning Disability (LD) would be less than a nonverbal/quad/visually impaired kiddo.

    The classification may have more benefit for the SD, but should have absolutely zero impact on the IEP or services offered for your son to get FAPE in LRE. A diagnosis also shouldn't (in a perfect world) impact the accommodations - whether you call it Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), ED, BiPolar (BP), or XYZ - the areas he needs support in are still the same.
  3. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    But in the real world... ED results in a different approach than Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), especially in school as they get a bit older. And it affects who you get lumped with.
    Until you have a diagnosis... you can work with what you have. They DO recognize that he has issues, needs accomodations and help, etc. That's a start.

    September isn't THAT far away. (I know, it feels like forever.)
  4. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    ICD - I'm going to disagree a tad bit. An ED versus Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) *classification* is an administrative thing, not one that drives the IEP. You still have a kid who needs support in A, B, C. Certainly how those needs are approached might be affected by a medical diagnosis (as opposed to administrative classification), but they are still needs.

    Sounds like it may be too early to worry about SD moving forkeeps' kid to a more restrictive placement (I'm assuming that's what you meant by "lumped with"?). And again, while my difficult child was always classified ED, at one point we looked at a private program designed primarily for autistic kids, at SD's suggestion and on their dime, because that kind of programming actually worked for him (sometimes).

    I actually like what the psychologist told forkeeps - to me it indicates a program that is focusing on the child and behaviors and strengths and weaknesses rather than on a cookie cutter approach based on classification or diagnosis.
  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    They tried to force us into an ED classification... which would have resulted in a highly restrictive placement... and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)-type kids tend to "pick up" the behaviours of those they are around. It would have been a disaster.
    But we are in Canada... no LRE concept, no FAPE...
  6. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Ahhh... yes, differences in countries. I actually just read an article about the effects budget cuts are having on sped in the city of Chicago - they're actually looking to *increase* the percentage of sped kids in mainstream classrooms in an effort to save $$$. A disaster in my humble opinion, but I think the days of fully self-contained classrooms are numbered, except for kiddos like mine - one too violent to be maintained in mainstream, and the other with too many overlapping disabilities to be "cost-effective" for the SD in a mainstream classroom.

    Sorry forkeeps - we hijacked your thread. ;)
  7. TeDo

    TeDo CD Hall of Fame

    I agree, for the most part, with slsh. The diagnosis does not drive the IEP or determine what the needs and accommodations are. The difference will come in HOW they approach the needs and how much time/money they are going to "invest". An Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) approach is many times very different than an ED approach.

    As for the self-harm, it can be difficult child's way of dealing with extreme anxiety and/or frustration with school issues. That will need to be figured out and dealt with. He's going to need to be TAUGHT by school staff how to do that appropriately and provide appropriate accommodations. That should be a goal for his IEP with specific teaching methods and interventions.

    difficult child 1 had that problem at school because no one there believed he was on the spectrum and literally pushed him to do everything like a neurotypical kid and then when he couldn't, he'd get punished for "refusing" to do it. His frustration mounted (as the work became even harder and no one explained it to him so he could understand it) and he resorted to self-harm because he "must be stupid". He felt the need to "punish" himself for not "knowing" how to do things.
  8. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I have very strong feelings on this, of course my experience is based on my experiences in our area, so yours may be different. Of course others may be different.

    True in theory, the iep is individualized. In our area there are ebd/ed certified specialists and teachers who specialize in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). (there are certificates but no area of licensure). They set up their classes very differently.

    Programs are developed and classrooms specialize in methods of teaching and behavior modification that cater to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or ED. Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) need very specific, research based methods that are often not used in ED classes. The whole program usually is set up to accommodate sensory integration disorders, need for visual schedules,.Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) social skills training , etc. it is such a part of how those teachers operate that it happens all day not as an accommodation here and there. ED programs often use behavior sheets, assume the students have the skills but are not using them, etc. If that is true it works well! But if the student is really Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), it can be such a miserable experience.

    Also, Occupational Therapist (OT) and Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) are well accepted related services for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Not as big a deal when they are little, but as they get bigger it harder to get these sometimes, but it is often a part of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) programs, and easier to get individually for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) students.

    Self injury is very, very common in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). It is totally inappropriate to say it is more ED without a complete evaluation, in my humble opinion.

    As a sp ed case manager, it was much easier to get accommodations and to get teachers to use them for my Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) students than my ED kids and they both deserved them equally. Teachers treated ED kids more frequently as if they needed consequences and they were choosing to be naughty. I have fought many a battle for them.

    If Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is his true diagnosis,.my very strong opinion is to have him classified as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). You do not know that you will be in that district forever and if you moved, even if it isn't such a big deal there,.it could be elsewhere.

    No IEP covers a students whole school experience. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) programs are set up all day to accommodate and teach to their special needs. Not saying there won't be general ed, but those who"get it" for an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) student are in the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) field.

    Last thing,.as a mom of a child on an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) iep, he has twice been in programs that were supposed to be just for general neuro- behavioral conditions and the teachers were supposedly able to accommodate and teach to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and bi polar, and, and, and....well, those were the two years we lost ground. He not only didn't make progress but because he imitates and needed direct Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) teaching, he developed behaviors we are still fighting to get rid of many years later.

    Look, I full well know there are places where they can do a good job and there are students who can succeed with any good teacher. But from both the teaching and parenting side, I would fight to get the right label/category. You don't know how specialized a team he may need. It can be very hard to change categories. People dig their heels in.

    (my feelings have been renewed on this as I have q in an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) social skills teaching private program. They are former public school Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) teachers. The director said they won't hire ED teachers or aides. It doesn't work out. The philosophies and ideas are often really different. The skill sets are vastly different. Q is more successful in these weekly half day classes than's amazing)

    I'd get an advocate and set a president that you know you're child best and you want what you want. It's crazy to say they will only do an assessment if she sees X. If you want an assessment, request it in writing.

    If the argument is that it won't matter, then say you'd prefer Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) (again assuming you feel Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is the diagnosis).

    Just how it's been in my in my experience....for whatever it's worth.
  9. forkeeps251

    forkeeps251 Member

    All this is very good to know, thank you all.

    Right now we have the whole "behavior plan" in place. It isn't working, and it never has. It isn't incentives or punishments that drive difficult child to act the way he does... I don't know WHAT it is. Probably environment, stress, expectations, etc. of the situation. In that moment, I KNOW it doesn't matter to him what he will get if he behaves or what will happen to him if he doesn't. It doesn't matter what he looks like in front of his peers, either.

    The principal said that what they don't have at that school are what they call "transitional classes" and they have them in other campuses in the district. I'm not sure what that means, but I DO know that difficult child would probably be better in a smaller class, or a class with an aid, and with more social and behavior training than what he gets in the mainstream class. Is anyone familiar with a "transitional class"?

    Kind of a funny side story, since most of what I write on here is doom and gloom... the school set up an incentive that if he was good for 8 days (in a row?? never going to happen), the would bring him McDonalds for lunch. It really is sweet and I know that they care, but difficult child told the principal yesterday "Well, I really don't like McDonalds..." (which is totally untrue), to which the principal replied "Really? That's good to know, what DO you like?"... difficult child: "Red Lobster"... o_O ...
  10. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Back to original question... if they are treating him as ED (their approach sure looks that way) and it isn't working, then you do not want the ED label. JMO.
  11. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Yes, from what you just don't walk from the ed label of he is Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). That is a perfect example of a plan that is useless when the child is having problems with regulation, or sensory issues, or communication challenges (example: can't express feelings or problem solve).....

    And, i love the red lobster idea, smart boy!
  12. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    And no he doesn't really need "transitional classes" either.
    It's not about finding what "box" to stuff him in. Or trying 25 different "existing" programs.

    It's about figuring out HIS needs and what the SCHOOL has to do to provide accommodations and/or interventions that WORK.
    Then, if some existing program actually is a good fit, great.
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I get tired of saying "I agree with you, IC." :)

    Actually it makes a great deal of difference. Although the acommodations MAY be the same, and I'm not sure he'd get any Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) accomodations if he is labeled as emotionally disturbed (what the hello does THAT mean anyway????), he will be seen by his teachers as "bad" rather than differently wired. And if he needs any Special Education they will probably put him in the behaviorally disturbed class, which is a class I would never want my kid in for any reason.

    Unfortunately, the schools tend not to hire the best and brightest diagnosticians. I'd fight the ED label. The ED label certainly won't help him with, say, Occupational Therapist (OT) or PT like Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) will and if he does something wrong the teachers will think, "Well, of course. He's the crazy one" instead of "he has autism."

    Just my opinion.
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't want the ED label period. Every parent and child at school will know he is ED. He will not be treated the same as if he had Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). That's the theory, but it doesn't work that way. You don't want your kid to be labeled the same as a bunch of behavior problems at school. Those kids probably also have diagnoses driving their behavior, but they are undiagnosed and the teachers think very poorly of them. So do the other kids. My bestie has worked in an ED classroom for twenty years and it's not pretty, even though she's a tough cookie as is the teacher who lauds over the classroom. Both have been assaulted many times (this is middle school). What if your kid ended up with these kids??? Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is treatable. Because "emotionally disturbed" has no real concrete meaning, it's not treatable other than to often segregate them with each other and hope for the best when they are given work. Don't buy it.

    I would go to court to avoid that label.

    JMO :)
  15. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    The kinds of kids I've run into in an ED classroom include diagnoses such as Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)/Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE), and acknowledged but un-diagnosed MH issues such as major depression, bi-polar, childhood-onset Schizo... and the local thug whose parents were hardened criminals and teaching him to be the same.

    "ED" really does exist. But I sure wouldn't want my somewhere-toward-the-spectrum kid to be lumped in with those. Because the types of problems don't mesh at all. Not that the various types of ED mesh either...
  16. TeDo

    TeDo CD Hall of Fame

    difficult child 1 was lumped with the ED kids even after he was diagnosed on the spectrum. The school staff flat out refused to accept that diagnosis (when their own Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) specialist agreed, they badmouthed her and "pushed her out the door"). They continued to treat him as the bad kid that refused to cooperate which really did some damage. When I threatened legal action (we were in mediation at the time) they conceded to change his category to Severely Multiply Impaired which was ED AND Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) (with educational focus on the ED of course). I pulled him out of that school before they could totally destroy him. Once they had the ED, there was no way in hades they were going to change it.