To: Michael GreenFrom: Deb KernenDate: April 29, 2011Re: May Special Services Monthly Update
This year approximately 25 of our special education juniors and senior students have taken field trips to the following campuses:
Lower Columbia College
The intent of the visits is to inform and expose students to the post high school educational opportunities/choices they have in our local area. The field trip to the college campuses allows students to get a tour of the campus, meet with the person in charge of the department of disabilities to get information on how they can be supported through assistive technology and tutoring while attending school. They also have a chance to select certain classes they want to visit and areas of interest that a professor will speak about. Job Corps is an additional option for students who wish to go right into a paid on-the-job training program that includes housing.
Another enhancement our special education department has undertaken this year is to purchase evaluation tools and train our school psychologist team to provide an educational autism evaluation service for our district. After learning about an autism evaluation protocol school psychologists can administer at the School Psychology State Conference last October we began the task of purchasing autism diagnostic tools and began training specifically towards having our own school psychologists diagnosing educational autism disorder. In the past we have had to rely on parents to seek out a medical diagnosis of autism or have the district incur a $2,000-$3,000 cost to have students evaluated by a medical doctor. We discovered that school psychologists are able/capable of evaluating and diagnosing educational autism disorder. In fact this year ESD has created an autism evaluation team that charges districts $1,000 to do the same thing. These evaluations do differ from a medical diagnosis, as we are not using The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) that doctors use to classify disabilities and provide refined definitions of autism spectrum disorders. We are using a series of approved tests recommended by the National School Psychologists for this process. Our school psychologists will continue their training efforts this year and into the fall. We only anticipate a handful of students being evaluated each year. This information is very important to assist our staff and teachers to effectively program for the unique needs of autistic learners.