Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
This school year marks the end of middle school for my now eighth grade son Nicholas. It also happens to be the designated year for his Triennial IEP and the first one within California Virtual Academy, known as an Online School utilizing K12 Curriculum.
Back when Nick was in Elementary School I waived the option of a re-evaluation since he was also graduating. However, this was not an option through the current school, plus I wanted to get a sense of where he is academically and socially.
The purposes of the psychoeducational assessment are to discover the student's learning strengths and needs, recommend supportive educational strategies and assist the IEP team in determining the student's eligibility to receive special education services. No single test or score will determine a student's eligibility. Test results are examined in conjunction with all available sources of information by the IEP team, including teachers, parents, specialists and others. Assessments utilize formal and informal tools, observation, interviews, and file reviews. Assessment procedures are selected so as not to discriminate on the basis of gender, culture, language, ethnicity or disability.
This process with an Online School went a lot smoother than with the brick and mortar schools. I was more involved in the assessment as the testing took place in the home and I was given the Vineland-II form to fill out in another room while Nick took other tests that were timed.
I gained much insight into the areas Nick struggles with and what skills we need to work on by filling out the Vineland-II. I even tried to get a blank copy but was told that is not allowed. I wanted the lists to have sense of what his deficits are and where we need to focus.
Prior to the assessment date I received forms to take Nick to the Pediatrician to have his hearing and vision checked along with height and weight to be noted. Both tests indicate normal limits, as well as his height and weight for a fifteen year old.
I received the assessment report via email a few days later in time for the IEP that is done as a conference call with teachers, administrator and psychologist. The report included a section on behavior during examination, intellectual development domain, perceptaul development domain, academic/pre-academic achievement domain, language development domain, social-emotional adjustment and development domain, adaptive skills development domain, eligibility criteria according to the California Department of Education, intellectual and perceptual development domain, PASS Scale Standard Scores, Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration, Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement, Vineland-II Adaptive Behavior Scales and The Childhood Autism Rating Scale.
The Psychologist had given me some feedback based on her visit with Nicholas. She said he comes off as timid, paces often, constant eye blinking, looks down when telling a joke, does not use gestures when talking, his voice is the same pitch regardless of topic or conversation. His spelling is good, no foreshadowing, he is not assertive, made no effort in math, careless errors, not motivated to do math, deficit is in attention, auditory is weaker, a fact based kid.
The behavior during examination has the following subsections with options. There are seven boxes between the two sides:
Personal appearance and hygiene
Appropriately or Inappropriately Dressed
Well groomed or Poor Hygiene
Attitude towards examiner and test situation
Cooperative or resistant demanding
Relaxed or Anxious
Self Assured or Self Critical, Needs Validation
Self Motivated or Needs Encouragement, Lackadaisical
Socially Engaging or Withdrawn, Intrusive
Activity Level and Attention Span
Appropriate Activity Level or Hyperactive, Hypoactive
Attentive or Distractible, Inattentive
Good Articulation or Poor Articulation
Communicates Clearly or Difficulty Communicating, Vague Responses, Poor Topic Maintenance
Problem Solving Skills
Deliberate or Impulsive
Flexible or Inflexible, Perseverative
Logical/Organized or Disorganized, Haphazard, Illogical
Follows Directions or needs Elaboration /Repetition
Perseverates Diligently or Low Frustration Tolerance/Gives up Easily
Appropriate Response Time or Long Response Latencies, Responds Impulsively
Relationship of observed behavior for academic functioning
Positive or Negative
Relationship of observed behavior to social functioning
Positive or Negative
For the Perceptual Development Domain -
Visual, Auditory, Sensory-Motor, Attention and Memory have boxes for Normal or other. Nick has a deficit in auditory and attention. The Academic/Pre-Academic Achievement Domain compared to the scores earned by others at his age level. His overall achievement is average, as well as his academic and reading. His fluency and math are in the low average range.
In the Language Development Domain the sections are expressive and receptive. Both for Nicholas were checked in normal. It stated that he can express his needs and desires verbally, but he is still learning to fluidy integrate tone, verbal and nonverbal gestures to emphasize meaning.
Social-Emotional Adjustment & Development Domain
This data comes from parent report and the Vineland-II. Nick has significantly low socialization skills compared to same age peers. He is still learning to understand that others do not know his thoughts unless he tells them. He is still learning when and how to speak to not appear rude. Nick presents with a sense of humor and this continues to develop.
Hopefully this information will help other parents know what areas are covered in a psychoeducational assessment for a triennial IEP. This is a great list of skills and behaviors to work on during the summer to help an adolescent on the autism spectrum.