Tales out of school update

For those who are following the progress of the book I am editing (this is Kate), an interesting update. I have been in correspondence with Amy Wetherby, the autism expert who chose VCS as one of several pilot districts for training and implementation of her SCERTS model. I was in contact because several chapters in the book mention SCERTS. VCS actively trained parents and professionals in SCERTS through Dr. Wetherby. On a side note, I went before the School Board several months ago and asked specifically how much money had been spent on both Dr. Wetherby’s and Dr. Diane Twatchtman-Cullen’s services.  Linda Costello asked Mr. Russell, following my remarks, to publicly disclose this information. Although he agreed, he has yet to do so. However, Theresa Marcks of VCS did contact me personally to discuss this and gave me the answer, which is upwards of $300,000. If you would like the exact figure, just contact me. It will be included in the book.

My job, as editor, is to put the chapters of the book together and to do a second fact-checking, although contractually the responsibility for individual authors’ chapters lies with the authors. I also, as a professional writer, line edit and make textural suggestions. I have been surprised the number of chapters in which SCERTS has come up. Parents, teachers, and administrators are writing about it. So, I contacted Dr. Wetherby for any supporting results specific to Volusia. She expects to publish those shortly, and since they are relevant to several chapters, and will add depth (I hope!) the publisher has agreed to hold the final draft until those results are public.

An SLP who is contributing a chapter, as well as one of the parents, both mention or concentrate on the professional language surrounding ASD. As Dr. Wetherby sent me an initial paper, I will share, here, one concern which cropped up when I read that. If you follow this blog, you know that I am concerned with the use of the lingo “medical diagnosis.” I find it misleading, as there is no other form of diagnosis. However, there is such a thing as educational eligibility. I wrote to Dr. Wetherby to discuss the passage in the paper she sent me, which reads,

“The sample reported in this paper included 196 students nested within 126 teachers. Participants were recruited for the Classroom SCERTS Intervention (CSI) Project, a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy of the SCERTS Model as a school-based intervention for elementary students with ASD. Participating students met the following criteria: (1) enrolled in kindergarten, first, or second grade at the beginning of the school year in either general education or special education classrooms; and (2) had a diagnosis, either clinical or educational, of Autistic Disorder, PDD-NOS, or Asperger Syndrome as defined by the DSM-IV (APA 2002) without the presence of severe motor delay/impairment, dual sensory impairment, or history of traumatic brain injury. In addition to the above criteria, a trained clinical or educational psychologist, who demonstrated research reliability, confirmed an ASD diagnosis using the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS; Lord et al. 2002) and administered a battery of measures for all participating students. Participating students were included in the current study if they had a video-recorded observation collected at the beginning of the school year. However there are some missing data on standardized and teacher report measures.” (Evaluation of Classroom Active Engagement in Elementary Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder Nicole Sparapani, et al, Springer Science and Business Media, NY, 2015)

The passage in question is highlighted, as it uses language contradictory to what I consider (and the authors in the book I am editing consider) best practices in professional language surrounding ASD and education. I asked Dr. Wetherby about it, she has yet to get back to me. She’s a busy person, for sure, and I will let you know her response. It may be educational as perhaps educational diagnosis does exist. I am excited that the results of this experience with SCERTS for VCS students will be back in time to inform this book.

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