Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
My son Nicholas is ten years old and in the fourth grade with inclusion support. Here in California there is the Regional Center system where both my children are consumers, due to being on the Autism Spectrum. The Regional Center will fund respite, therapies and social groups for families.
Nicholas had his assessment back in October 2004, which was funded through the Regional Center, as well as the weekly sessions. Funding can be done on a yearly basis or six months; it depends on the subject being funded. The feeding therapy for Matthew is on an annual basis, as is the respite funding. All this is written into the Individual Program Plan known as the IPP for each consumer through the Regional Center.
The Assessor accommodated us by conducting the Social Skills Assessment in the same room as Matthew was having his Feeding Therapy. This way I was available to both therapists working with my children. An assessment is sent to the Regional Center to go through the funding process of the therapy being requested. A copy of the assessment is also sent to the family. Prior to the funding deadline a progress report is done and sent to the Regional Center and family to obtain additional funding.
The Social Skills Assessment consisted of four pages with the following topics:
Family – who the child lives with and any siblings
Health History – good or poor health
Allergies – any are noted
Diet – any specifics and concerns are listed here
Medication – these are noted as are vitamins
Sleep patterns – time wakes up/sleep along with any disturbances
Services – any other services through the Regional Center
School – name/hours, peer social experiences
Play – what type of toys and books are enjoyed – then goes over what was done during the assessment with the assessor, includes observations. “His eye contact was fleeting and his conversations seemed out of context at times. “
Sensory Responses - this will be monitored during social skills sessions.
Languages - Nicholas is able to verbally express his wants/needs/ideas using 5+ word phrases with good articulation. He is able to offer spontaneous verbal expressions, however, has fleeting eye contact and has difficulty checking to see if the other person is being receptive. During assessment, Nicholas was observed to make spontaneous expressions, however, had difficulty directing them at one specific person (e.g. Nicholas was talking to Facilitator without initiating social referencing while facilitator was speaking with mother). Nicholas is able to follow simple directions sometimes follow 2-3 step direction.
Self-Help Skills - Nicholas is able to independently feed himself and is toilet trained. He is able to independently dress himself and may need assistance with certain shirts. He requires assistance with tying his shoelaces.
Level 1: Interest in the World, Self-Regulation
This developmental milestone is achieved when a child shows interest in the world and is able to calm for 2 minutes at a time and recover from distress within 20 minutes from facilitation.
Nicholas is able to remain calm for 30+ minutes and recover from distress within 15-20 minutes independently. During the assessment, Nicholas entered the room and walked around, exploring the toys within the room. He showed much interest in the games and toys and immediately sat on the floor mat.
Level 2: Intimacy
This developmental milestone is achieved when a child will engage (i.e. smiling, frowning, vocalizations, etc.) to the overtures of others with an increase in sustained joint attention.
During the assessment, Nicholas demonstrated the ability to engage in conversation with his mother and the assessor. Nicholas maintained some eye contact with the assessor. He was able to respond to the facilitator’s overtures. He expressed joy and happiness when he was allowed to play with facilitator’s toys.
Level 3: Simple Gestural Interaction, Initiative
This developmental milestone is achieved when a child will form a relationship with special adults with increases in sustaining joint attention, initiation, and the ability to express more complex relations by opening and closing 5 circles of communication (two-way communication)
During the assessment Nicholas was able to close 5+ circles of communication when sharing his interests with facilitator about his favorite animals. Nicholas was able to initiate conversation with facilitator.
Level 4: Complex Communication
This developmental milestone is achieved when a child displays the ability to create complex gestures, to string together a series of actions into an elaborate and deliberate problem-solving sequence. Another point of reference for this level is when a child is able to complete 10 circles of communication consistently without adult facilitation.
Nicholas was able to complete 10+ circles of communication only during specific areas of personal interest (e.g. his favorite animals, favorite toys). His eye contact was observed to be fleeting.
Level 5: Emotional Ideas
This developmental milestone is achieved when a child displays the abilities to create pretend dramas with two or more ideas.
Nicholas was observed to create simple pretend ideas using animals. Level is emerging.
Level 6: Emotional Thinking
This developmental milestone is achieved when a child displays the ability to logically bridge and connect two or more ideas together.
Level is not yet present.
Impressions – He is emerging in complex communication and emotional ideas/
1. Nicholas will initiate play interaction with peers with continuous adult facilitation 3-5 opportunities.
2. Nicholas will independently engage and sustain interest in dramatic and pretend play, and be able to expand the complexity of the play, initiating new ideas for sequences when engaged with an adult or peer.
3. Nicholas will sustain reciprocal joint interactions with peers for 10-15 minutes with minimal adult support.
Recommendations - It is recommended that Nicholas participate in Social Skills Group 1x/week for 1.5 hour sessions. Within a group context, Nicholas will continue to improve his understanding of initiating peer interactions, co-regulation, and sustaining reciprocal joint play interaction with peers. He will receive support from Social Skills Facilitators who will facilitate and model interactions with peers. Weekly communication will occur with Nicholas’s mother. This facilitates an understanding of his progress outside of Social Skills Group and to assist Nicholas and his mother to utilize strategies in other environments.
By sharing this Social Skills Assessment my intent is that other families will now know more about what Social Skills Training involves and if it is worthwhile for their child on the Autism Spectrum to explore.
This data also gives ideas for how to implement something in your home for your child to work on and maybe recruit other families and work on this privately. I purchased a board game that Nicholas has enjoyed the last few years. He did work on it mostly with the Family Friends volunteer. It is entitled The Socially Speaking Game for 2-6 players ages 7 adn up. The time to play is about 20-30 minutes. For U.S. Residents this is available at Super Duper Publications I made the purchase at ebay from a Canadian seller for about $25.00
I gave a copy of this assessment to the school for his IEP and we read over some of the goals and levels in the meeting. If your child has other services they are receiving it is worth giving them a copy of all assessments so they can see the progress and areas where help is needed.
Six months later we received the Social Skills Progress Report.
The Pros and Cons of Assessments
Disabled Placards for the Autistic Child
Health Care Transitions for Youth with Diabilities
Book Review on Hygiene and Puberty
Attending Your First IEP Meeting
Educational Autism Tips for Families 71 page resourceful ebook for families entering the school system with a recent autism diagnosis. Find out what issues take place over the course of a school day and meet these challenges head on.