I am actually a school psychologist in CA and LOVE my job. I actually am the psychologist that works with children on the autism spectrum prek-6th grade. I work very closely with the families and truly respect them AND their children.
I just spent the last 45 minutes reading every post in this thread and I just want you to know that I sooooo appreciate parents like all of you. Being a parent is challenging but being a parent of any child with different needs can be hard but so rewarding.
Someone had asked about the school district making a diagnosis vs physician. This is soooo confusing for parents as it does not seem real streamlined. My job as a school psychologist is to determine if a child qualifies for services based on educational code criteria...I do not look at the DSM criteria at all. I am in CA and the law dictates that my job is to look at the ed code and determine eligibility based strictly on ed code. Many many times, I may be the first person that sees a child at 2 1/2 and identifies them as mtg "ed code criteria for autistic like behaviors". At this point, they are placed on an IEp and INDIVIDUAL (yes...that is my pet peeve...too many "program IEP's and goals out there") goals and objectives are written. Once I determine this, I always recommned that the parents obtain a medical evaluation. What becomes confusing is that I have had cases in which the child meets ed code criteria for autistic like behaviors but does not meet DSM/medical criteria for autism. Ed code criteria is much "looser" than the DSM criteria.
Not sure if this makes sense. I actually just did an inservice for school psychologists in the area as it is confusing for everyone. As the numbers of children with autism increases, currently 1 in 165 births, we all need to make sure that we do as much as we can for these children.
I hope this answered the mother's question re: education vs medical as I always try to explain the difference and for a parent, all you want is to understand what is happening and for your child to have the services they need.
As to the parent that was expressing concern about moving to a new district who was not offering services. Just remember that your child is an "individual" and the IEP team needs to consider the needs for your individual child. Schools often have programs and procedures that may meet 99.9% of the students needs as they are written, the goal of the IEP team is to provide the supports necessary to make the child listed on the IEP successful...this is why goals and objectives are SOOOO important. The goals and objectives guide the service delivery and then the IEP team must discuss supports necessary to meet those goals.
Ok..as you can tell, I am passionate about this topic and have been to over 350 hours of training just on autism, not to mention working it with it everyday. I believe that if the district and parents are both advocates for kids, we may have disagreements at times but in the end it always finds a way of working out. Parents should always walk away feeling like they were heard and that they were respected afterall, they know the child the best!
Great thread to discuss great kids!!!!!