Alternatively titled: Navigating the World of Special Services in the Public School System
Navigating, ha! Double ha. Ha ha. Navigating would suggest I have a map. Or saw a sign. Or knew whether I was a driver or a passenger.
Elliot was diagnosed with PDD-NOS. For those not well-versed in your acronyms, it’s Pervasive Development Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified. In short, he’s on the Autism spectrum but doesn’t meet enough of the criteria for an Autism diagnosis.
Here’s the thing about the Autism spectrum … it’s a spectrum. As humans, we all have traits on the spectrum. For example, we look for patterns – it’s what we do. Whether or not you can use that pattern matching to count cards in Vegas or just to sort your M&Ms is whether or not you’re diagnosable or just human. It’s whether or not they’re pervasive or debilitating. Elliot’s are not debilitating. Well, not often. He’s rigid. He can be rigid. His tendency toward rigidity can make other things impossible.
He’s so completely typical sometimes.
Two weeks ago I made a request for evaluation for special education services. Elliot would really benefit from some OT and some behavior modification programs. This isn’t your mother’s special ed, y’all. This is 21st Century special ed. Where kids are mainstreamed and kept with their peers as much as possible. Which is good. Because Elliot’s issues? They’re all social. If he were a grown up we’d call him a Software Engineer*.
So, I made a request 14 days ago. Today I’m told that our diagnosis from an outside agency is unacceptable. That the diagnosis “needs to be written by an individual with prescriptive authority like physician assistant, certified nurse practitioner or a physician.” I am having a hard time collaborating this assertion. The Autism Society says a clinical psychologist can diagnose. In Colorado diagnostic services can be provided by a “professional person” meaning “a person licensed to practice medicine in this state or a psychologist certified to practice in this state.” Why an Autism diagnosis needs to come from someone with prescriptive authority is baffling – there is not a pharmacological treatment for Autism.
Tomorrow I’ll fight the good fight using my words, making phone calls and asking questions. Hopefully it will result in something that helps Elliot.
*We’re not taking his diagnosis or his need for intervention lightly. But honestly? At the end of the day, when I’ve done all I can to help ensure his success I have to be able to laugh. If I don’t laugh I’ll cry. And that won’t get Elliot the services he needs.