Recently, Dar did a once-in-three-years evaluation to ascertain his qualifying for services. The tl;dr version goes like this: yes, he still qualifies.
One thing that was new for this IEP was something the district calls a “Psychoeducational Assessment Report.” I’m glad that Microsoft red-underlines “psychoeducational” so that I know I’m not crazy.
You may recall from last week’s entry that wifey and I had some issues with the “Psychoeducational Assessment Report” – 22 of them. Now, to be a little nicer to the person who put it together, I thought I might show you the parts that she mostly did right. Plus, I think this is helpful for those of you who want to know more about Dar’s day-to-day. So here we go:
The following information is based on a review of student records, interviews, and a developmental health questionnaire completed by the student’s father, Daniel Smith-Rowsey.
Dar is a sweet, sensitive 7 year old boy. He lives at home with his parents and younger brother, [redacted]. His primary language is English, which is the language of instruction. Dar utilizes a communication device with adult facilitation and is having some success. His father described Dar as quiet, shy, and good-natured. He is always sweet, if no one demands anything of him. Dar gets frustrated and screams with lessons, but is not violent. His father shared that Dar’s interestes include “tee-tee-teeing,” which is vocalizing the sound and pacing, and stimming on some objects. He also noted that Dar does well with the Proloquo2Go application on his iPad and is excellent about things he knows and wants, especially nouns. His father expressed concerns that Dar touches others head, hair or hands without warning and that he will occasionally bite when frustrated. He indicated that Dar met 7 of his 13 assessed goals from 10/2015 to 10/2016, which he further described as the equivalent to an “F” grade in high school. Dar’s family hopes to continue his development in potty training and functional communication (e.g. saying yes/no, indicating when and where he feels pain, counting 1-10). There does not appear to be any known environmental, cultural, or economic factors interfering with academic progress at this time.
Dar’s current teachers, Teacher Becky and Teacher Suzanne, describe him as friendly and affectionate. They noted that he is engaging more with students. Teachers reported that Dar participates in read alouds, art, community circle, calendar, breakfast, choice time, and reading workshop. Sometimes, he has tantrums with loud screaming and, at times, lays on the ground kicking while screaming. His teachers hope to support Dar be successful, reach his IEP goals, and be happy in class.
Classroom: 1/23/2017, 9:20am
Dar was observed in the classroom setting for thirty minutes. During the observation, fifteen students and seven adults, including student teacher, speech pathologist, full inclusion specialist, instructional aide (IA), classroom teacher, and art teacher, were present in the classroom. He was noted to follow one-setp directions, respond to verbal praise, comply with verbal directions, choose and express preferred item or activity on communication device. He took self-directed and scheduled breaks as needed. He was also noted to present facial expressions in accordance with his mood, engage willingly with familiar adults, and interact with peers with adult facilitation.
An the onset of observation, the class was engaged in an art activity which involved creating a self-portrait of construction paper and glue. Dar worked with the IA on his project. Some students were milling around the room and stopped to talk with him about his work. He smiled in response. The IA was using hand-over-hand model with Dar to glue paper for hair. Once he affixed the paper hair to his project, he sat back and looked at IA. She asked him, “All done?” He got up quickly and she prompted him to return to the desk and said, “Your turn,” and presented the communication device. Dar made a choice and walked to the window; IA followed. After looking outside, he approached his classroom teacher. Teacher prompted him to show her his art work and he walked hand in hand with her to his desk. The art teacher directed the group to start cleaning up their materials. Dar began to pick up paper scraps and brought them to the trash can as directed by classroom teacher.
As the class cleaned up art materials, two students walked into the classroom with the breakfast bin. Dar followed the students with the bin and then sat down at a table in the back of the classroom. The IA asked him what he wanted and prompted him to use his communication device. He indicated “cheerios.” The IA put a package of Cheerios in front oh him. Then Dar walked over and opened the bin. The IA prompted him to eat the Cheerios in front of him. He returned to his seat and ate. He then asked for “Teddy Grahams.” IA said, “Not available.” Dar smiled and continued to eat the cereal. As he ate, he looked at a picture of an ocean wave. IA prompted him to say “water.” He whispered an approximation of the word.
The classroom teacher asked the class to finish cleaning up and get ready for recess. IA prompted Dar to indicate “coat” on his communication device. He indicated “socks” and smiled. Then he indicated “coat” and got his coat. He returned to the IA and she helped him put it on. The IA asked Dar, “Where are we going?” She held out the communication board. He indicated “outside” and “playground.” Then he joined his peers in line. He touched a peer’s face as other students lined up. Dar approached the IA and attempted to zip his coat. She helped him zip it up and they walked out with the class. The IA prompted Dar to say “bye.” He waved at his observer and ran to the playground. After a few steps, he stopped and turned to look at IA. Then ran off with peers.
Outside play: 1/25/2017
Dar was observed during morning recess for fifteen minutes. He was being monitored by an IA as he navigated the playground area. At the onset of observation, a peer was engaging Dar in various activities. He followed the peer and participated in activities willingly. The IA assisted the peer in taking care when interacting with Dar (e.g. directing child to not get too close to his face, etc.). The peer intermittently held Dar’s hand and walked with him around the play yard. An adult facilitated a hoop activity and then a tetherball game. Dar held the ball, then watched the peer hit it. He then wandered over to watch kids on the swings. Later, he and the peer played chase for a few minutes until the end of recess.
Dar was accompanied by instructional aide to multiple testing sessions with this examiner. He came without reluctance and easily engaged with this examiner. He was given breaks as needed. Verbal praise and drawing activities were used as reinforcers. During the first test session, Dar made attemptes at each presented task. After twenty-five minutes (including break times), he indicated he was all done and wanted to go back to class. Testing ended at that time. During the second test session, Dar played with test manipulatives and engaged in self-directed activity. He threw test manipulatives in the air and grabbed this examiner’s glasses off the face. He was not responsive to redirection from the examiner or IA. The testing session was discontinued at that time. During the third test session, a teacher, the speech pathologist, and another student were also in the room. Dar worked for 10 minutes before requesting a break. He was easily distracted and exhibited refusal behaviors when asked to return to task. Based on his behaviors during testing, the results of this assessment should be interpreted with caution, as possibly underestimating his true abilities.
[Test results] (too hard to transcribe here)
Parents and teacher ratings indicate that Dar exhibits behaviors and symptoms characteristically associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Across home and school settings, he demonstrates challenges with peer socialization, social/emotional reciprocity, attention, and self-regulation, as compared to peers. According to parent and teachers responses, across home and school environments, Dar has difficulty using appropriate non-verbal communication for social contact, has problems with inattention and/or motor and impulse control, has difficulty relating to children, has difficulty providing appropriate emotional responses to people in social situations, and has difficulty focusing attention. These results are consistent with his current diagnosis of ASD.
According to parent responses, within the home environment, Dar does not engage in unusual behaviors, relates well to adults, does not engage in stereotypical behaviors, tolerates changes in routine well, and reacts appropriately to sensory stimulation, any more than same age peers. Teachers ratings indicate that Dar has more difficulty in these areas within the school environment, as compared to peers. They reported that he frequently becomes fascinated with parts of objects and often spins or bangs objects. He frequently insists on keeping certain objects with him at all times, becomes obsessed with details, and has a strong reaction to any change in routine. Teachers also report that Dar frequently smells, tastes, or eats inedible objects and at times resists being touched or held.
It was this most recent paragraph that really threw off wifey and me. And actually, you’re now looking at the edited version. After I’d emailed the team this person’s 22 errors, I honestly expected her at the meeting to apologize and say that she had confused Dar with another kid. But nope, she stuck to her guns. She modified some language, including in the above paragraph. But she didn’t want to change the questionnaire results, even though in many cases we’re talking about me giving Dar a 3 and teachers giving him a 2 on the same scale of 1 to 5. I don’t like what you just read in the above paragraph; I don’t like that it’s in black and white that wifey and I think that Dar never behaves autistically (we HARDLY think that), and I don’t like that the teachers supposedly think of Dar as some kind of stereotypical autistic kid, with the spinning and the banging and the eating and the detail-obsessing. (Also, every kid “at times resists being touched.”) Neither of these two pictures – ours or the teachers’ – is an accurate one of Dar. But after taking up a half-hour of the IEP on this paragraph, I had to let it go.
But I don’t like how inaccurate that is.