Children with Autism and Outside Agencies – Part 2

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In my last blog, I discussed how I took my son to an outside agency (by “outside“ I mean one that is not directly funded by the school district) to be tested for reading comprehension. He had scored low. Then, at his first fifth grade testing, he again scored low.

Right before his December IEP, however, he was retested and the numbers were significantly better. He had improved greatly. At the IEP, we decided to not push the school district to fund a program for reading comprehension with this outside agency.

What did I learn about working with an outside agency?

If you have the evidence and a reputable agency ready to go, then by all means press your child?s school district to fund a program. Call an IEP and find out how to properly apply for the funding.

Don’t give up, especially if you think it’s truly something that will help your child. If it?s a program that specializes and is not anything like something offered by the school district, then be diligent.

School districts will often balk at having to pay for services from an outside agency. But, if you yell loud enough, and you have support, then hopefully a compromise can be reached.

Can I pass on anything from my experience?

I’d like to pass on some thoughts that were discussed during the post-testing meeting with the facilitator.

I considered the meeting to be very valuable. On one level, I already knew a lot of what we discussed. However, some of it was new to me. I always love to reinforce my knowledge and learn even more.

*My contact said, “A learning difference, not a learning disability.”

*She also said that our kids “have uneven profiles due to possible test-taking issues. A bad day can throw test scores which can lead to misleading information.”

*She added, “Tests can be invalid if the deviation is too large which means a child scored well on a “good” day but not so well on a ‘bad’ testing day.”

*Here was a rather important one.  “Every parent has a right to look at their child’s educational record. With any academic testing done with our kids, you have the right to the RAW scores, not only the scores based on a curve. Raw scores for our kids are expected at different levels because ages matter, they’re important for our expectations. It’s like our kids verses typical kids and that has to be taken into account.”

*Lastly, she said, “You might need to fight to NOT lose a service based on standardized scores (and not raw ones with issues of test taking factored in). What can be done is you can ask for a ‘confidence internal.’ What that means is there are always errors and many scores are solely based on estimates. For example, if a child scores low on a visual test, like a block design test, the child might need future testing for visual processing issues.”

I brought up these specific talking points so they can help you understand the “language“ of discussing important autism-related issue, and one in particular—reading comprehension.

My contact?s answers made sense to me, the information and explanations were distinct, understandable, and experienced. The contact said some things were also useful in the general sense of how we deal with our kids within their school districts.

By sharing this with you, I?m hoping you go into IEPs and meetings as educated and as informed as possible. This person was inspirational and motivated to help our kids. I appreciated her openness and honesty. She wants to help. And, so do I.   

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