Friday, July 30, 2010

Back to School: Best Practice Recommendations

As our scientific knowledge and thinking about ASD continues to develop, professionals such as school and clinical psychologists, speech/language pathologists, behavior interventionists, social workers, special educators, and occupational therapists will be expected to play an important role in the educational planning of children with ASD by providing support, information, and recommendations to teachers, other school personnel and administrators, and families.

“A Best Practice Guide to Assessment and Intervention for Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Schools” features 50 best practice recommendations for screening, assessment, and treatment/intervention. Each provides the guidance needed by school and clinical professionals to make informed and scientifically-based decisions regarding the assessment, identification, and treatment of school-age children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). The following “best practice” suggestions are adapted from the text.
  • A standardized screening tool should be administered at any point when concerns about ASD are raised by a parent or teacher or as a result of school observations or questions about developmentally appropriate social, communicative, and play behaviors. 
  • A comprehensive assessment should include evaluation of multiple domains of functioning in order to differentiate ASD from other conditions and provide a complete profile of the child to facilitate intervention planning.
  • A thorough speech-language-communication evaluation should be conducted for all students referred for a comprehensive assessment. Deficits in pragmatic language functioning may not be detected on formal language tests and require nontraditional assessment procedures.
  • No one methodology is effective for all children with autism. Generally, it is best to integrate approaches according to a student’s individual needs and responses.
  • Advocacy should not interfere with being a scientist. School professionals should focus on empirically-based strategies and outcomes and not attempt to prove that one intervention is better than another.
  • Children with any identified ASD, regardless of severity, should be eligible for special educational services under the category of autism spectrum disorders, as opposed to other terminology used by school systems (e.g., other health impaired, developmentally delayed, neurologically impaired).
Adapted from Wilkinson, L. A. (2010). A best practice guide to assessment and intervention for autism and Asperger syndrome in schools. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Copyright 2010 Lee A. Wilkinson. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.

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