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3 Tips When Evaluating Autism

by | Oct 18, 2022 | Eligibility | 0 comments

Tip #1:  Understand Your State’s Critera for Autism

When school psychs are evaluating students and Autism is being considered, one tip to keep in mind is understanding your state’s eligibility criteria, regulations, or any additional requirements your state has. Equally as important, is knowing what DSM-5 Autism criteria states. While an outside diagnosis does not automatically qualify a student for special education, it is important to have a good understanding of the medical definition so psychs are able to explain to parents why the outside medical diagnosis may or may not be in alignment with educational criteria. Let’s take a closer look at additional tips to help you feel prepared to complete a thorough Autism evaluation. If you are interested in watching a replay of the live recording where I discuss these tips, please click here.

Tip #2:  Your Speech and Language Pathologist 

In many states, eligibility criteria for Autism requires school teams to evaluate verbal and nonverbal communication skills. Since this is the speech and language pathologists’ area of expertise, they are included in the assessment team. During the evaluation, it is helpful to have ongoing communication with the speech pathologist to see how the information from their standardized and informal assessments align with yours. Here are some suggested questions you could discuss with your speech and language pathologist: 

  • During your observations, did you observe deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication?
  • In what areas did you have elevated scores? Are there any areas where scores are elevated for the school psych but not for the speech pathologist? What could explain those differences?
  • What do the speech pathologist’s standardized tests specifically look at? Does that data align with the data collected from my rating scales?

Tip #3:  Rating Scales are Only One Piece of the Puzzle

While rating scales provide valuable information about a student, there are other areas we consider when explaining rating scale information. Remember, not all of our students present with Autism in the same way and it’s essential that school psychs are able to explain this not only in their reports, but to parents and teachers in IEP meetings as well. 

  • Does the rating scale information align with our other data sources? 
  • Does the rating scale data align with the speech and language pathologists data?
  • Does the data align with classroom observations? 
  • For a triennial, is the information consistent with data collected during previous evaluations? 
  • For an initial, does the rating scale information coincide with teacher and parent concerns? 

The Newer School Psych is now The Prepared School Psychologist (PSP)! This community focuses on helping school psychs feel prepared to work effectively at their school sites. Now is a great time to join because coming up in the month of October, members will gain access to our brand new Autism RIOT document! This document has sample parent and teacher interview questions, specific behaviors to look for during observations, and much more! And the best part is, we are releasing a new RIOT document each month for all 13 eligibility categories! 

By becoming a member, you will also gain access to hundreds of resources, test templates, hundreds of hours of replays from conversations with school psychologists, exclusive training, opportunities to ask questions, the chance to be part of book clubs, and much more! So click on the link below, begin your journey as a prepared school psychologist, and make this your best school year yet! 

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