Down the Rabbit Hole

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.

6 smart people left their mark:

  1. pamela, 18. January 2011, 22:13

    Ugh. That sort of semantics-dancing is maddening.
    I will envision you kicking ass tomorrow.

  2. Kelly O, 19. January 2011, 12:07

    Elliot is lucky to have you as an advocate. Go get ‘em, tiger.
    Kelly O´s last blog ..Huddled around the warmth of the iPadMy ComLuv Profile

  3. Lanna, 20. January 2011, 11:31

    See if you can find a local support group. Other parents who have already gone through the system would be great resources for you.
    Lanna´s last blog ..Getting my hands dirty- at long lastMy ComLuv Profile

  4. Lanna, 20. January 2011, 11:38

    My neighbor had to fight the system so hard to get her now-16-year-old the services that he needed as a child that she started her own company to help others through the red tape. She incorporated her business in 2005 (info at Access and Inclusion); it would be awesome if there were folks in Colorado who could lead the way for you!
    Lanna´s last blog ..Getting my hands dirty- at long lastMy ComLuv Profile

  5. Catherine, 21. January 2011, 12:04

    thanks for the information, I will be sure to look into it!

  6. Beth Partin, 28. January 2011, 11:40

    So sorry you have to deal with all the red tape idiocy. I hope the phone calls went well.
    Beth Partin´s last blog ..What My Back Tells Me About TravelMy ComLuv Profile