The student in this case study has autism. His name is Adam. Adam is seven years old. He is in a Special Day Class for Severely Handicapped students. Adam's 3-year evaluation needed to be completed to determine eligibility for his special education services. Adam has an advocate and parents who are intensely involved with his education. When the assessment plan was presented to the parents, they requested additional assessments including a functional analysis, occupational therapy and an assistive technology assessment. A copy of the signed assessment plan was given to the appropriate specialists: psychologist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, speech therapist, nurse and special education teacher.
The school psychologist observed Adam on several occasions before administering the psycho-educational profile revised (PEP-R). The PEP-R covers a variety of developmental areas. The test items are presented with simple, concrete instructions and most of the expected responses are nonverbal. The PEP-R provides information on developmental functioning in imitation, perception, fine motor, gross motor, eye-hand integration, cognitive performance and cognitive verbal areas. The PEP-R consists of a set of toys and learning materials that were presented to Adam within structured play activities. The psychologist recorded Adam's responses to the test. His scores were then distributed among seven developmental and four behavioral areas. The resulting profile revealed Adam's strengths and weaknesses in the different areas of development and behavior.
Adam's portfolio was used as an assessment tool. Included in his portfolio were work samples, progress reports, behavior reports, notes from parents and daily reports. The teacher sent home daily reports that included performance, compliance and prompt levels on Adam's tasks and goals/benchmarks. His parents signed and returned the daily reports and became part of his portfolio. The daily reports were used to assist in the assessment of Adam.
The school psychologist also conducted the functional analysis to determine why Adam was exhibiting disruptive behaviors. Questionnaires were sent home for the parents to complete. Screaming and biting were behaviors his parents and teacher were concerned about. The classroom teacher was responsible for collecting data on the behaviors. The psychologist and the teacher created a data collection form. The teacher recorded the occurrence of the undesired behaviors. The information from the parents, psychologist observations and teacher were compiled by the psychologist and the report was written.
The occupational therapist observed Adam, assessed him and wrote a report. The school nurse tested Adam with a special device. She was able to determine that his hearing appeared to be normal. Adam's parents reported no problems with his vision and hearing. The speech therapist, who worked with him over the past year, also assessed him.
Other tests that can be used to diagnose and assess students with autism are the Autism Behavior Checklist (ABC), Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R), Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) and Pre-Linguistic Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (PL-ADOS). These tests are individual autism assessment instruments that have been specifically designed to assess children with autism. Furthermore, these tests rely on either historical information about the child's behavior (usually provided by a parent), direct observation of the child by a professional or a combination of these methods.
Adam's assessment for his 3-year evaluation was extensive and comprehensive. This assessment gave the team information on Adam's development, behavior, communication, health, coordination and cognitive levels. With this information, the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team determined that his placement was appropriate. Occupational Therapy (OT) services were recommended. The occupational therapist wrote several goals and will provide services for Adam. The functional analysis concluded that Adam's undesired behaviors occurred during transitions. The assistive technology assessment revealed that Adam excelled in this area. No recommendations were needed. Although Adam's assessment was extensive and required hard work for the IEP team, valuable information was provided that assisted the team in making recommendations for Adam's education. The assessment also revealed that Adam was making great progress in his special day class setting.