Tony Attwood: A Good Overview of Autism with Some Unrealistic Expectations

yuval-levental

Introduction by Yuval Levental: I am a person on the autism spectrum who critically analyzes autism advocacy. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State University and a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from ESIEE Paris. Other hobbies of mine include recreationally solving complex math puzzles, traveling, eating new foods, and learning about different cultures.

Tony Attwood: A Good Overview of Autism with Some Unrealistic Expectations

When I discovered in high school that I was autistic, the first book I read on the subject was “The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome” by Dr. Tony Attwood (https://corticalchauvinism.com/2015/01/14/visualizing-neurodiversity-breathing-for-treatment/). In light of an upcoming protest against Dr. Attwood (https://www.gofundme.com/autistics-to-attend-attwood-event), I was reminded of his book and realized that my opinion about his book has dramatically changed over time.

Tony Attwood summarizes the main points of his book on a single page on his personal website (http://www.tonyattwood.com.au/about-aspergers/what-is-aspergers). Although he claims people with Asperger’s/autism have a different, not defective, way of thinking, the listed characteristics are mostly deficits, such as “Delayed social maturity and social reasoning”, and “A need for assistance with some self-help and organizational skills.” He does list “advanced vocabulary and syntax” as one of the characteristics, but doesn’t indicate how common this characteristic is in autistic individuals (Attwood 33). Most of the examples involving academic performance in his book are examples of success. Nonetheless, Attwood does list the advantages of a diagnosis, but it is also important to provide support and realistic expectations early on to ensure maximum success later in life (53).

The sections Theory of Mind, Expression of Emotions, Movement and Coordination, and Sensory Sensitivity are well-written, but Attwood should be more careful with his section on Special Interests and Cognitive Abilities. Those interests may or may not be applicable to a real-world career, and sometimes, extra effort is required to adapt a special interest to the real world (199). The section on cognitive abilities does contain a wide variety of discussion on strengths and weaknesses that an autistic individual may face (256), but sometimes hinges on questionable assertions, such as claiming that Einstein might have been autistic because he failed his language tests, citing Temple Grandin (253). In fact, legitimate research shows that he did well in German, Greek, and Latin on his college entrance exam. He struggled with French on the exam, but that’s because although he was born in Germany, he took the exam in Switzerland, where the French language is taught from childhood (https://www.nytimes.com/1984/02/14/science/einstein-revealed-as-brilliant-in-youth.html).

The section on College and Career provides a wide array of possible resources and strategies for success. In other areas, it misses important information. Attwood says that “There is no career that would be impossible for a person with Asperger’s syndrome,” listing everything from the trades to managing an international company (295). Somehow, he doesn’t discuss the high unemployment rate, which to be able to deal with it, would at the very least require understanding of autism as a disability (https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/04/21/401243060/young-adults-with-autism-more-likely-to-be-unemployed-isolated). Because of the high rate of unemployment, it is crucial for most autistic people to seek help as soon as possible for this issue. Even special programs for autistic individuals may have low acceptance rates.

In conclusion, “The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome” gives a good overview of what Asperger’s/autism is, and covers a wide range of strengths and difficulties, but puts too much focus on the strengths in his examples and his statement that autism is a different, not defective way of thinking. His discussion on special interests and cognitive abilities should include statistical evidence to indicate how likely autistic individuals will succeed in those areas, instead of vague anecdotes. The most critical issue in the book is that the high rate of unemployment is not discussed. Overall, looking at both perspectives will lead to a more insightful discussion on Asperger’s/autism.

4 responses to “Tony Attwood: A Good Overview of Autism with Some Unrealistic Expectations

  1. Tony Attwood has also associated with some groups of people who have said very upsetting things. Very very disturbing things. It’s hard to know what Attwood really believes deep down.

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  2. Linda D. Montalbano
    3125 Elaine Dr.
    Lorida, Fl 33857
    352-282-2539
    Urania32@hotmail.com

    I am a special education advocate. The ADOS-2 is being used to deny children diagnosed by doctors and psychologist with autism classification under autism in school. I have in the transcript of a due process hearing where school staff are admitting they use the ADOS-2 to claim children “medically” diagnosed with autism don’t have “Education” autism.

    1. When school personal suspect a child may have autism the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-2 (ADOS-2) is a semi-structured assessment of communication, social interaction, and play (or imaginative use of materials) for individuals suspected of having autism or other pervasive developmental disorders. This is not how it is being used in public school districts. Instead school personal are using the assessment to determine if a “medically” diagnosed autistic child had “education” autism. No record of the child having “medical” autism is documented on the IEP.

    November 18, 2014 Highlands County School Board Heather McLelland program staffing specialist page 39-40 lines 25,1-4: “Q. Okay. And as a team member, did you incorporate into the IEP what are the medical diagnoses that were diagnosed on CHILD in Massachusetts? A. That is not written into the IEP, to my knowledge.” page 43 lines 12-16: “Q. All right. At the October 24, 2014 IEP meeting, did the parent bring out the information that Dr. Crum and Dr. Desponde had diagnosed CHILD with autism? A. She did.”

    2. When a parent brings into the school a diagnoses of autism school staff looks for ways to dump the diagnoses.

    November 18, 2014 Highlands County School Board Heather McLelland program staffing specialist page 43 lines 12-16: “Q. All right. At the October 24, 2014 IEP meeting, did the parent bring out the information that Dr. Crum and Dr. Desponde had diagnosed CHILD with autism? A. She did.” page 92 lines 18-23: “Q. Does — do you have any evaluation that shows that he has an impairment in social communication? A. In the document that you handed me written by Dr. Crum says CHILD has autism, CHILD diagnosis is autism spectrum disorder without accompanying intellectual or language impairment.”

    November 19, 2014 Highlands County School Board, Florida School Psychologist Brenda Powell-Broomfield page 488 lines 15-25: “Q. How did that medical doctor’s diagnosis come into — factor in your decision? A. It was considered. It was considered. We always have to consider what the parent brings to us. Just like the other documents that you gave me were considered. page 486 lines 7-13: “Q. Okay. Can you explain to me — well, first, are you — do you have any kind of licensing that qualifies you to make medical diagnoses? A. I didn’t make a medical diagnosis, ma’am. THE COURT: Ma’am, the question is, do you have a license? A. No, ma’am. Ung-ugh.”

    November 19, 2014 Highlands County School Board Florida Phil Walter, school psychologist page 422-423 lines 23-25,1: “Q. Looking at Parent’s Exhibit 11, is this a typical kind of report that the school district would receive from a parent who has had an outside evaluation? A. Just glancing at it, I would say yes. page 423 lines 2-5: “Q. And is there any reason as the school psychologist that you would reject or disregard this document? A. We have to consider the document.” page 423 lines 6-10: “Q. Okay. You have to consider it. What does to consider mean? A. Take it under advisement that — make a determination of whether we would like to do our own evaluations or accept the report.”

    3. A school is supposed to have programs to address the needs of children with autism but they refuse to implement any of the proven programs. The school districts are using the ADOS 2 to claim children diagnosed with autism by medical doctors and licensed psychologist don’t have “Educational Autism” so they refuse to classify the child under autism. A child can be “medically diagnosed autistic” and not be “educationally autistic”.

    November 18, 2014 Highlands County School Board Heather McLelland program staffing specialist page 39-40 lines 25,1-4: “Q. Okay. And as a team member, did you incorporate into the IEP what are the medical diagnoses that were diagnosed on CHILD in Massachusetts? A. That is not written into the IEP, to my knowledge.” page 43 lines 12-16: “Q. All right. At the October 24, 2014 IEP meeting, did the parent bring out the information that Dr. Crum and Dr. Desponde had diagnosed CHILD with autism? A. She did.”

    November 19, 2014 Highlands County School Board, Florida School Psychologist Brenda Powell-Broomfield page 490 lines 8-15: “Q. Can CHILD be medically diagnosed autistic and educationally not autistic? A. In the clinical setting there are times when doctors may say or will say that the child is autistic and in the — when we look at criteria to be special education, a lot of times the students do not fall under the criteria for special education. Two different fields.”

    4. School personal claim “medical autism” is when a child is diagnoses by a doctor and the medical diagnosis only has to be considered and does not meet the requirements to classify a child in school under autism.

    US Dist Ct, Southern Dist of NY 930 F.Supp. 83 (S.D. NY, 1996) Catherine Evins, Parent of a Disabled child, F. Z., Plaintiff,v. Board of Ed Rhinebeck Central School Dist Defendant. #95 CV 10102 6/10/96 “Detailed procedural provisions lie at the heart of the IDEA. These processes are designed to guarantee that each handicapped student’s education is tailored to his unique needs and abilities.”

    November 19, 2014 Highlands County School Board Florida Phil Walter, school psychologist page 428 lines 21-24: “Q. Okay. Is — can a child be diagnosed by a medical doctor and a licensed psychologist as autistic spectrum disorder and not have autism in school? A. Yes.” page 428 lines 7-13: “Q. Dr. Crum has identified CHILD as having autistic spectrum and the other doctor, Dr. Desponde has also identified CHILD as autism spectrum disorder. Does the school district recognize with these two documents that CHILD is diagnosed with autistic spectrum? A. I don’t know what the school district — I can only say that –” page 428 lines 16-20: ” Q. You’re there, you’re the school psychologist and the head school psychologist. Having these two documents, do you now recognize that CHILD has autism spectrum disorder? A. I recognize that we have to consider these.” page 424 lines 19-21: “Q. All right. And a medical doctor’s diagnosis you only consider; correct? A. Correct.” page 423 lines 14-17: “Q. Okay. Looking back at Parent’s Exhibit 8, would you question a medical doctor’s diagnoses and report? A. I might.” page 429 lines 11-17: “Q. A licensed Florida psychologist can say CHILD has autism spectrum and the school district says CHILD doesn’t have autism; is that correct? MR. LOBOZZO: Objection. Redundant. THE COURT: The objection is overruled. You can answer the question if you can. A. We might disagree.” page 422-423 lines 23-25,1: “Q. Looking at Parent’s Exhibit 11, is this a typical kind of report that the school district would receive from a parent who has had an outside evaluation? A. Just glancing at it, I would say yes. page 423 lines 2-5: “Q. And is there any reason as the school psychologist that you would reject or disregard this document? A. We have to consider the document.” page 423 lines 6-10: “Q. Okay. You have to consider it. What does to consider mean? A. Take it under advisement that — make a determination of whether we would like to do our own evaluations or accept the report.” page 423 lines 11-13: “Q. Okay. And would you question that doctor’s diagnosis because you haven’t spoken to that doctor? A. I might.” page 423 lines 14-17: “Q. Okay. Looking back at Parent’s Exhibit 8, would you question a medical doctor’s diagnoses and report? A. I might.” page 423-424 lines 24-25,1-2: “Q. Okay. A licensed clinical psychologist. Is that, to your knowledge, in their scope of practice that they can do diagnoses? A. Yes.” page 424 lines 3-4: “Q. Okay. And can you question their diagnoses? A. I might.”

    5. School personal decide if the medical diagnoses of doctors meet the SP&P’s criteria for classification of autism. The child receives nothing to address autism.

    November 18, 2014 Highlands County School Board, Florida ESE Behavior Specialist Suzanne Ather page 168 lines 11-13: “MS. MONTALBANO: Yes. Petitioner’s 45. THE COURT ALJ John D. C. Newton, II: That’s the diagnosis by Susan Crum. MS. MONTALBANO: Yes.” pages 230-231 lines 20-25,1-5: “Q. Okay. So you were shown two documents purportedly executed by Dr. Desponde and Dr. Crum? A. Uh-hum. Q. Did you see any supporting data –A. No. Q. — or information –A. Ung-ugh. Q. — that would support those diagnoses that they allegedly made? A. No. I’m — when it comes SP&P’s, I’m not sure that meets the criteria.”

    6/26/03 Highlands County School Board Florida lawyer James V. Lobozzo, Jr. Page 886 5-18 “Your Honor, the IEP doesn’t necessarily address those matters. Those are just things that parents want to see worked on. It doesn’t necessarily mean they get incorporated. They’re the parents’ desires.” THE Administrative Law Judge Carolyn B. Holifield: “The objection is sustained.” James V. Lobozzo: “Nice try. You thought it was that easy?”

    Doe v. Ala. State Dep’t. Of Educ., 915 F.2d 651, 662 (11th Cir. 1990).Procedural violations that interfere with parental participation in the IEP formulation process undermine the very essence of the IDEA. An IEP which addresses the unique needs of the child cannot be developed if those people who are most familiar with the child’s needs are not involved or fully informed.

    6. Only educational professionals acting as the ADOS team can determine if a child had “education” autism.

    November 18, 2014 Highlands County School Board, Florida ESE Program Staffing Specialist Heather McClelland pages 97 lines 13-18 ”Q. THE COURT: What were the assessments or evaluations completed since October 24th? MR. LOBOZZO: I think we had the ADOS, the autism spectrum evaluation has been completed by the psychologist. THE WITNESS: The ADOS team.”

    November 18, 2014 Highlands County School Board, Florida ESE Behavior Specialist Suzanne Ather pages 225 lines: 15-21 ”Q. Okay. What is the function of the ADOS team? What do you do? A. We meet, we go over files, and the purpose of the team is to go through files and determine if criteria — first we have to make sure the criteria is met for educational — the educational criteria of autism and –” pages 260 lines 15-17: “Q. Do you know if a school psychologist is allowed to do diagnoses in their scope of practice? A. No. They don’t do that.”

    November 19, 2014 Highlands County School Board, Florida School Psychologist Brenda Powell-Broomfield page 444 lines 22-25: “Q. Could you tell us your name, please. A. Brenda Powell Broomfield. Q. Ma’am, what is your occupation currently? A. School psychologist.” page 487 lines 9-17: “I made a decision based on multiple sources of data, parent input, the ASRS from five teachers at Sebring High, the mom’s interview, ADIR, and the actual ADOS assessment. I did not have these documentations that said anything about mood, anxiety, or ADHD. I just had autism spectrum. And we recognize this is a clinical diagnosis, a medical diagnosis and they made it. I’m not that person. I’m a school-based psychologist.” pages 481 lines 6-13: “Q. Okay. Could many of CHILD symptoms be manifestations of autism? A. Well, you know, the autism is very complex and it has a lot of comorbidities, behaviors that go with it, all of those different things. I cannot answer whether it could be because our team did not find CHILD–we didn’t have data like this. Our team found CHILD non-spectrum is what I have.” pages 482-483 lines 21-25,1-2: “A. Okay. Now, based on our findings from the ADOS team, we found CHILD to be non-spectrum. But when I went back and read other information, I saw a lot of the documentation did talk about PDDNOS. Q. You said you found CHILD on the spectrum? THE COURT: Let the witness finish the answer. A. Non-spectrum.” pages 483 lines 5-9: “Q. That you did not find CHILD on the spectrum or you did? A. Non-spectrum. We found CHILD non-spectrum. Q. Not on the spectrum? A. That’s what non-spectrum means.”

    November 19, 2014 Highlands County School Board Florida Phil Walter, school psychologist page 423 lines 18-19: “Q. Okay. Are you a medical doctor? A. No.” page424 lines 5-8: “Q. Okay. And you — are you a licensed psychologist? A. I’m certified through the Department of Education.” page 424 lines 9-13: “Q. Okay. Is a certified school psychologist a licensed psychologist in the State of Florida? A. Some individuals could have a licensure. Q. But do you? A. No.” page 424 lines 14-18: “Q. Okay. Do you have a right really or the qualifications to question a licensed psychologist’s evaluation and diagnoses? A. I have to consider their report. It doesn’t mean that I have to accept it as the gospel truth.” page 426 lines 18-20: “Q. This is Dr. Susan Crum, a Ph.D.; correct? A. Yes. But this says physician, so I’m not quite sure that this meets the requirements.” page 429 lines 18-20: “Q. Who in the school district is licensed and qualified to diagnose autism? A. We don’t — we classify students.” page 430 lines Q. Can you name the school staff that has the licensing and scope of practice that they have the authority to diagnose autism? A. Again, we don’t diagnose, we classify students. And the group that is conducting the evaluation has many, many, many years of experience.”

    7. Parents are not a member of the ADOS 2 team and the decision the child has or does not have education autism is made only by school staff.

    §300.327 Educational placements Consistent with §300.501(c), each public agency must ensure that the parents of each child with a disability are members of any group that makes decisions on the educational placement of their child. (Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1414(e))

    November 18, 2014 Highlands County School Board, Florida Qualified Representative Linda D. Montalbano answers questions ALJ John D. C. Newton, II asked pages 97-98 lines 21-25,1-5: “THE COURT John D. C. Newton, II: Were you aware that an autism evaluation had been conducted, Ms. Montalbano? MS. MONTALBANO: The autism evaluation is being done by a secret committee that the parent is not a participant, which is a violation of IDEA and none THE COURT John D. C. Newton, II: Were you aware that an autism evaluation had been conducted, Ms. Montalbano? MS. MONTALBANO: The autism evaluation is being done by a secret committee that the parent is not a participant, which is a violation of IDEA and none of these people are doctors. They’re supposed to –THE COURT John D. C. Newton, II: That’s enough. MS. MONTALBANO: They have already told us that CHILD’s not autistic and I’ve got two doctors who say CHILD is.”

    November 19, 2014 Highlands County School Board, Florida School Psychologist Brenda Powell-Broomfield page 500 lines 1-6: “THE COURT John D. C. Newton, II: You were asking about the ADOS team; correct? MS. MONTALBANO: Correct. THE COURT John D. C. Newton, II: The question is, was the parent present in the meetings at the ADOS team? THE WITNESS: No, the parent was not.” page 500 lines 18-25: “THE COURT: You’re talking about the team that evaluated CHILD; correct? MS. MONTALBANO: Right. THE COURT John D. C. Newton, II: Talk about the specific team. Q. The team that makes the decision that you made, is the parent invited to come with you and sit down with the team members of the ADOS team? A. No, ma’am.” page 500 lines 11-17: “Q. Okay. Is the parent a member of the ADOS team? A. That’s a very good question. Because remember I told you originally there are five modules, right. The toddler module, parent has to be present, the module one parent has to be present. THE COURT John D. C. Newton, II: Hold on. We’re trying to –Q. It’s not the question.” page 501 lines 2-3: “A. The parent was not in there while the evaluation was going on.” pages 451-452 lines: 18-25,1-3: ”Q. What’s involved in doing the assessment with the student? A. Okay. Well, a lot. First the student — first we as a team meet and we make some decisions about the module. The module means that the ADOS has five modules from toddler to adulthood. the expressive language ability of the student and you have to look at the chronological age of the student based on CHILD expressive language ability based on CHILD chronological age. Then you make a decision on which module because the modules have toys in them.” pages 458 lines 4-15: “Q. What’s the rest of the team doing while you’re conducting the interview? A. Okay. I’m doing the interview and the rest of the team, they’re listening and recording and they’re making like shorthand. Like, EC, eye contact or dot, dot, dot if he asks me a question. So they’re making notes of things that maybe — because when you’re involved with the student, you’re actually doing the assessment, you’re not able to really write so many things down. So a lot of things that I wasn’t able to write down the team was able to write. But most of the time you’re doing abbreviations.” pages 461 lines: 2-13 ”Q. Aside from what you’ve already talked about, the interview, et cetera, what else does the ADOS team consider in reaching its determination? A. Oh, gosh. It’s multi-facet. We do a coding issue. Q. What’s that? A. Coding is algorithms. That means that CHILD, after CHILD’s taken back to his class, each person independently scores. And the coding measures — zero means nothing, that is atypical, normal. A one means slightly, a two means somewhat abnormal, three means very significantly abnormal.”

    8. The parent is not told of the results of the ADOS 2 team’s decision their child is not educational autistic until the IEP meeting. Since only school staff is accepted as determining education autism requesting an independent evaluation by doctors and licensed psychologist will not change the decision of the ADOS 2 team and the IEP team so the child receives no services to address their “medical” autism.

    §300.305 Additional requirements for evaluations and reevaluations (d) Requirements if additional data are not needed. (1) If the IEP Team and other qualified professionals, as appropriate, determine that no additional data are needed to determine whether the child continues to be a child with a disability, and to determine the child’s educational needs, the public agency must notify the child’s parents of (ii) The right of the parents to request an assessment to determine whether the child continues to be a child with a disability, and to determine the child’s educational needs.

    November 18, 2014 Highlands County School Board, Florida ESE Program Staffing Specialist Heather McClelland pages 51 lines 6-7: “Q. Is the parent part of that team? A. The parent provides information to that team.” pages 51 lines 8-9: “Q. Is the parent part of that team? A. Not per se.” pages 51 lines 10-14: “Q. Is the parent a member of that team that gives input and votes on the decision on whether CHILD’s autistic or not? A. I don’t know. They’re not on the team. I’m not — I don’t know.”

    9. The ADOS written report is only done by the School Psychologist Brenda Powell-Broomfield no other members have written input.

    §300.311Specific documentation for the eligibility determination (b) Each group member must certify in writing whether the report reflects the member’s conclusion. If it does not reflect the member’s conclusion, the group member must submit a separate statement presenting the member’s conclusions.

    November 18, 2014 Highlands County School Board, Florida ESE Behavior Specialist Suzanne Ather pages 229 lines 1-4: “A. Well, I know — I know what the outcome was of an observation. I don’t know the ultimate outcome. Q. Okay. Brenda would know that? A. Yes.” pages 228 lines 17-22: “Q. Who writes the final report on that? A. That would be Brenda Powell. Q. Do you know if she’s done that? A. I know she was — I know she was getting close to working on it. She was getting close to it, but I don’t think she’s completed it yet.”

    November 19, 2014 Highlands County School Board, Florida School Psychologist Brenda Powell-Broomfield pages 462-463 lines: 18-25, 1-25 ”Q. Whose responsibility is it to write the report? A. I am the school psychologist. I write all the reports for the entire ADOS team. Q Has that been done in CHILD’s case? A. Yes. I just finished it today. Q. Today? A. Yes, sir. Q. Okay. And what was the result if you can tell us.” A. Well, it’s a lot. I’m looking at the beginning of my report is I went back and reviewed lots of data because there’s so much data. And I had met with the mom, she asked me to review data for previous evaluations. I’m not sure, I’m thinking that there was a Dr. LaMonica, Dr. Capson (phonetic), I’m not sure if I’m saying all their names correctly. There’s something from Massachusetts Middle School, a school psychologist did some work there. So in the first part of my report it’s all reviews — Q. Yes. A. — of everything. I also included in that because that’s what we have to do, you know, I included the occupational brief statement. I put a brief statement from the language pathologist, the physical therapist. I included in that report — it’s so long, I apologize for that — the behavior ratings that came from the middle school and mom, I included that. I included the Vineland from the middle school and the mom. I included all of the ASRS’s from mom and the five teachers and I had interviewed mom on, I’m not sure of the exact date. I would say maybe October 17th, but I’m not sure. It’s not in front of me. I interviewed mom with the scale that’s called the autism diagnostic”

    10. The child has no functional behavior assessment(FBA) that recognizes the child has “medical” autism. The Positive behavior intervention plan(PBIP) has nothing to address autism because the child has no educational autism. School staff have no idea what the child’s disabilities are causing behaviors.

    6/26/03 Highlands County School Board, Florida Marian Turner Florida 30 year licensed mental health therapist Page 871-72 lines 15-25, 1-13 “Q. Would you state for everyone what are CHILD disabilities, all of them. A. I don’t have any idea. CHILD an excellent student. Q. Looking at P-3 that you have in front of you, would you tell me what CHILD disabilities are. A. “Developmental speech or language disorder,” that? “Medicaid”? Oh, “Other, hearing impaired, language impaired, speech impaired”? Q. What is CHILD other health impairment? A. I have no idea. Q. What is CHILD language and speech impairment? A. I don’t know. Q. Are those items that you just read in the section “Exceptionalities,” are those classifications, or are they disabilities? A. I don’t deal with that, so I don’t call it any certain label. I mean, I just deal with kids who are ESE. If there’s an ESE child with a need, then-”(NOTE: child has Asbergers)

    November 18, 2014 Highlands County School Board, Florida ESE Behavior Specialist Suzanne Ather pages 229 lines: 5-16: “Q. But you kind of combined your observations to fit both purposes, the ADOS team and FBA? A. Yeah. I mean, I looked at characteristics of autism when I was doing my observations. I just have to — Q. Did you see any? A. No. Q. Any at all? A. No. What I looked for, I saw CHILD using gestures, I saw him using eye contact, he’s got good eye contact. I saw him interacting with peers. I saw good interaction, a lot of friends, a lot of conversation.” pages 227 lines 13-20: “Q. Okay. And would you be collecting data? A. There would be — there would be some observations. We would ask usually a couple different people to go and observe CHILD. Q. Teachers? A. Yes. Q. Administrators of the school potentially? A. Could be. Could be.” pages 227 lines 21-25: “Q. Did you do any observations personally? A. I went ahead and included a little information, just I did my observations I was doing anyway, and I just went ahead and looked in the social situations in case we were lacking any information.” pages 228 lines 1-4: “Q. Were you doing observations for another purpose? A. Well, I did my observations for — behavioral observations for the functional behavior assessment.” pages 229 lines 1-2: “A. Well, I know — I know what the outcome was of an observation. I don’t know the ultimate outcome.” pages 229 lines 1-4: “A. Well, I know — I know what the outcome was of an observation. I don’t know the ultimate outcome. Q. Okay. Brenda would know that? A. Yes.” pages 228 lines 17-22: “Q. Who writes the final report on that? A. That would be Brenda Powell. Q. Do you know if she’s done that? A. I know she was — I know she was getting close to working on it. She was getting close to it, but I don’t think she’s completed it yet.”

    11. Administrative law judge John D. C. Newton, II considers it within the law and appropriate for the school staff “team” not including a parent made the decision to do the ADOS 2 the gold standard and made the decision a medically diagnosed student can be found not to have educational autism.

    February 20, 2015 administrative law judge John D. C. Newton, II Finial order “71. The team members were: Ms. Powell; Suzanne Ather, the school district’s behavior specialist; Joyce Stern, the autism scale disorder program specialist; Chris Struck, the occupational therapist; and Vicky VanDam, the speech and language pathologist. The team followed an established and careful process that included obtaining, compiling, and reviewing a significant amount of data. It also included a 90-minute interview of Petitioner by Ms. Powell observed by all team members. 22 72. The data included autism spectrum reading scale questionnaires completed by five of Petitioner’s high school teachers and Petitioner’s parent. They also included a Vineland evaluation.” “73. The data included the Vineland evaluation of adaptive functioning from middle school at the parent’s request. It was completed by Petitioner’s middle school language arts teacher and an American history teacher.” “74. The data also included an Achenbach assessment. That assessment includes evaluation of adaptive functioning and behavior functioning. It, too, was from the middle school years.”

    November 18, 2014 Highlands County School Board, Florida ESE Behavior Specialist Suzanne Ather page 169 lines 12-15: “Q. Okay. Do you consider the medical diagnoses that a child has when you’re doing a functional behavioral assessment? A. Well, this isn’t a medical.” pages 230 lines 9-11: “There are lots of tools out there. The ADOS is considered a gold standard at least for educational diagnostic.” pages 623 lines 2-7: “Q. You said that the ADOS is the gold standard for determining autism? A. I said it is the gold standard and has been the gold standard for determining the educational exceptionality of autism spectrum disorder. They continue to train using this.” pages 228 lines 11-16: “Q. You are attempting to determine if CHILD is on the spectrum –A. Yes. Q. — of — autism spectrum? A. Yes. You’re noting any behaviors that might be characteristic of somebody on the autism spectrum.” pages 246 lines 14-25,1-4: “Q. What’s the purpose of the scoring? What’s the end result? A. The end result is we go through and everybody, you know, calls out their score and they come to a consensus. And then we come up with a score and we fill in the score sheet. There are only certain parts of it that count towards whether or not it’s an autism spectrum disorder. And then that number, you go back and you check another scoring area where you — it’s based on an age range and you match it up and you see if it falls within the autism spectrum. Q. Did you come up with the results — have you come up with a result in this case yet? A. In that situation for that part of it we had. Q. And what is it? A. It came up non-autism.”

    12. School staff claimed only the ADOS-2 done by the educational professionals, not including any parents can make the determination a child has “educational” autism. A parent should be part of the “team” but not in Highlands.

    From: Patricia.Howell@fldoe.org To: urania32@hotmail.com
    Subject: your voice-mail message Date: Fri, 14 Aug 2015 13:27:54 +0000
    Hi Ms. Montalbano – I received your voice-mail message and can only reiterate what State Board of Education Rule 6A-6.0331(6) requires regarding determination of eligibility: “A group of qualified professionals determines whether the student is an exceptional student in accordance with this rule and the educational needs of the student. The parents of a student being considered for eligibility as a student with a disability shall be invited and encouraged to participate as equal members of the group…”

    November 19, 2014 Highlands County School Board, Florida School Psychologist Brenda Powell-Broomfield pages 448 lines: 19-21 ”Q. Did the ADOS team perform an evaluation for CHILD? A. Yes, we did.” page 500 lines 1-6: “THE COURT Administrative Law Judge John D. C. Newton, II: You were asking about the ADOS team; correct? MS. MONTALBANO: Correct. THE COURT Administrative Law Judge John D. C. Newton, II: The question is, was the parent present in the meetings at the ADOS team? THE WITNESS: No, the parent was not.”

    November 18, 2014 Highlands County School Board, Florida ESE Behavior Specialist Suzanne Ather pages 224-225 lines 20-25,1-14: “Q. And what was the make-up of the team for CHILD? A. Make-up of the team? Q. Who was on it? A. School psychologist. You want names? Q. Yeah. A. The school psychologist is Brenda. I can’t ever get her –Q. Powell? A. Yes. Brenda Powell. Christine Struck who is an occupational therapist. Q. OT? A. Yes. And Vicky VanDam, speech therapist. And Joyce Dean who is a program staffing specialist. Q. Program staffing specialist like Heather Mclelland? A. Yes. Q. Same job? A. Only she’s over the autistic program. Q. She does the autism? A. Programs, the autism programs.” pages 261 lines 21-24: “Q. Are you — are you licensed in the State of Florida to diagnose autism? A. I have my training to do the ADOS for an educational label of autism spectrum disorder.” pages 261-262 lines 25,1-7: “Q. Okay. In your certifications and training, is it in your scope of practice to be able to determine whether a child has autism or is on the autism spectrum or not? A. I have been trained and have been certified that I’ve been trained to administer and score the ADOS for education — for the educational autism spectrum disorder label.” pages 262 lines: 8-13 ”Q. So it is your scope of practice that you have the right to make the determination whether a child is on the autism spectrum or has autism? A. For the exceptionality — educational exceptionality of the autism spectrum disorder I have the certification, the training. Yes.” pages 262 lines 8-13: “Q. So it is your scope of practice that you have the right to make the determination whether a child is on the autism spectrum or has autism? A. For the exceptionality — educational exceptionality of the autism spectrum disorder I have the certification, the training. Yes.” page 169 lines 12-15: “Q. Okay. Do you consider the medical diagnoses that a child has when you’re doing a functional behavioral assessment? A. Well, this isn’t a medical.” pages 230 lines 9-11: “There are lots of tools out there. The ADOS is considered a gold standard at least for educational diagnostic.” pages 623 lines 2-7: “Q. You said that the ADOS is the gold standard for determining autism? A. I said it is the gold standard and has been the gold standard for determining the educational exceptionality of autism spectrum disorder. They continue to train using this.” pages 228 lines 11-16: “Q. You are attempting to determine if CHILD is on the spectrum –A. Yes. Q. — of — autism spectrum? A. Yes. You’re noting any behaviors that might be characteristic of somebody on the autism spectrum.” pages 246 lines 14-25,1-4: “Q. What’s the purpose of the scoring? What’s the end result? A. The end result is we go through and everybody, you know, calls out their score and they come to a consensus. And then we come up with a score and we fill in the score sheet. There are only certain parts of it that count towards whether or not it’s an autism spectrum disorder. And then that number, you go back and you check another scoring area where you — it’s based on an age range and you match it up and you see if it falls within the autism spectrum. Q. Did you come up with the results — have you come up with a result in this case yet? A. In that situation for that part of it we had. Q. And what is it? A. It came up non-autism.”

    13. Sometimes instead of the ADOS-2 school staff will do the Autism Spectrum Rating Scales (ASRS). As of October 2018 school staff in Highlands County School Board has decided instead of the ADOS-2 the school staff can now do the Autism Spectrum Rating Scales (ASRS) to determine if a “medically” diagnosed child has “education” autism. The results are children who are diagnosed by a doctor are being denied classification under autism and don’t receive any therapy, services and accommodations that will address their autism.

    November 18, 2014 Highlands County School Board Heather McLelland program staffing specialist page 47-48 lines 17-25,1: “Q. Does this document identify that CHILD has pervasive development disorder? A. In the first paragraph it says: There have been a number of very good providers, including ART, psychiatry, neuropsychology, school psychologists and others who seem at odds with each other. There are a number of parties that are pointing to PDDNOS. Q. What is PDDNOS? A. Pervasive development disorder not otherwise classified.” pages 48 lines 21-25: “Q. When the parent and I asked to change CHILD classification on August 14th to consider the Massachusetts doctors have identified CHILD with PDD, did the IEP team refuse to change CHILD classification based on the Massachusetts diagnosis?” pages 49 lines 5-9: “A. We did not refuse to change the classification. We explained that in order to change a classification, we must go through the reevaluation process. Therefore, we opened a full battery of testing that you guys requested that included a specialized ASD eval.” pages 49 lines 16-18: “A. At the IEP meeting I explained to her we would open an evaluation to consider a specialized autism spectrum disorder evaluation.” pages 51 lines 2-5: “Q. Who evaluates for autism in the Highlands County School District? A. There is a team of multi-disciplinary professionals.” page 107 lines 6-13: “Q. What reevaluations did the team agree to? A. On that day? Q. Yes. A. I believe, reciting from memory, we did specialized ASD eval. Q. What is that? You’re using an acronym. A. Specialized autism spectrum disorder evaluation.”

    14. School staff refuse to identify children with autism and convince a judge Asperger’s Syndrome is not on the autism spectrum.

    Judge Carolyn B. Holifield decision, dated 12/3/03 states: 27. “According to the credible testimony of Dr. Sassatelli Asperger’s Syndrome is a pervasive developmental disorder and there are autistic qualities, but it is not an autistic disorder. This distinction is not without significance in that autism is a disability included in IDEA, and Asperger’s Syndrome is not included as a disability within the purview of IDEA. 28. Throughout the 2002-2003 IEP meetings, PARENT remained convinced that, with the diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, CHILD should be classified as autistic. However, with the exception of PARENT, the IEP Team members were concerned that CHILD did not appear to meet the State and district eligibility requirements to be identified as autistic. In several march and April 2003 IEP meetings, some members of the IEP Team explained to PARENT that based on data available at the time, CHILD did not meet the eligibility criteria to be classified as autistic as set forth in the School Board policies and procedures, which adopted the relevant rules of the State Board of Education. 29. pursuant to Highlands County School District Special Programs and Procedures for Exceptional Students, in order to be identified as autistic and eligible for a special program for such students, there must be evidence of the following: (1) the onset of the disorder at birth or during the first three years of life; (2) severely delayed or absent speech and language skills; (3) impaired or complete lack of emotional/social relationships; (4) abnormal responses to stimuli, which may involve any or all of the sensory modalities; and (5) a severe functional retardation, which may be accompanied by normal or superior abilities in some areas. 30. In order to be classified as autistic, a child must meet all, not some, of the eligibility requirements. 31. Again, except for PARENT, the members of the IEP Team were particularly concerned that they had observed no behavior in CHILD, which indicated that CHILD was severely functionally retarded.” (NOTE: right after this decision child moved to Idaho and classified the child autism with no fight)

    The goal of the school staff is to not identify children with autism. The ADOS-2 is a tool that can be used to deny children classification under autism. School staff must make a decision to be there for the children or there for the school system.

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