Can I get these services from the school? (US public school)

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Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

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22 Jul 2014, 7:58 pm

Finally was given the written report from the psychologist who diagnosed S1 with ASD and confirmed ADHD. She had 4 recommendations. Two of them were to continue doing what we were already doing in those two areas - medications and the IEP/speech (I gave her a copy of his existing IEP). These are the other 2 recommendations:

S1 "reported experiencing negative self-esteem and he should be afforded the opportunity to socialize in structured settings with supportive peers."

S1 "may benefit from participation in group-based social skills training."

The first one kind of confuses me - how exactly do you set that up? Grab a few kids he knows and hope they're supportive in a meticulously planned play date? Do we give them instructions? Do we pay them? Yes, that is sarcasm. I'm really confused as to how that is possible to do, from a practical standpoint. Actually, does Boys Scouts or our Kung Fu school count? They're structured, at least.

The second one makes more sense. But is this something that is offered with the services provided by the school system? I'm in the US public school system, in a good school district. And I have no idea if this is in their purview. Does a 504 cover something like this? Or do I need to go private?

I'm not going back to this psychologist because she read the testing results for the first time as she sat with us at the results delivery meeting, which means she had not yet written her report, which means she had not yet made any official recommendations, so she couldn't very well send us away with specific things to do or who to call, now, could she?

Any input or insight you would like to share would be greatly appreciated.


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22 Jul 2014, 8:14 pm

The first one could maybe be something like "lunch bunch", where a teacher or speech therapist organizes a group to sit together and talk (think about how awful lunch can be in middle and high school if you don't have a group to sit with), or some kind of club (chess club, literature club, etc.)

The social skills class (sometimes called "friends club" by private therapists) could be provided by the school's speech therapist.

No idea whether YOUR school has these programs available. You'd have to add goals to the IEP that would then drive the services of "lunch bunch" and "group social skills/social communication". Perhaps a talented advocate could find a way to get the school to pay for private services if their speech therapist does not have the training or the school doesn't have these kinds of things already.


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23 Jul 2014, 4:39 am

I think they are recommending a support group after school. They could set this up and someone could volunteer I guess.

The second sounds like something that needs to be provided by a place that treats autism. I know of these groups, but I don't think the school is required to do that. It would be like saying the school is required to treat someone's schizophrenia, you know?


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23 Jul 2014, 5:24 am

If he's having trouble in school academically or behaviorally because of the ASD and ADHD, in ways they can see, if it's having an educational impact, and if they have anything available they could choose to offer a social group. But a 504 Plan does not normally offer any specific services. Doesn't mean if they have it, they can't offer it.

He might qualify for an IEP. But there too, they don't have to provide a social group even though it's recommended he get that. The way it's written doesn't sound like anything is necessarily recommended for school. Unless he is a preschooler maybe where the point of school is social.


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23 Jul 2014, 8:03 am

I would ping whoever is in charge of setting up IEPs and 504s at your school and see what is available. If they have a social skills group make sure it actually is to improve social skills and not something that they put the behavioral problem kids into.

Lunch bunch that Zette mentioned is something that is commonly available for the middle school grades and up. They have that here, so I bet they have it by you.

I think Boy Scouts would count as a structured social group.

If I am understanding it right, they want your son to be able to access supervised socialization, in a circumstance where everyone is expected to be positive and get along. If it were only that easy, right? I know that there are private social skill groups with a therapist running it, but I also agree that many of those skills get worked on in speech.


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23 Jul 2014, 1:18 pm

The first one, to me, sounds a lot like what I simply realized I had to do with my son: structure his interactions with other children. Either holding play dates at our house where I would have an ear to what was going on, or picking an activity that was completely pre-set, like going to a museum. I also made sure his interactions were 1 on 1 instead of 1 on 2.

The second one, to me, sounds like the lunch bunch the speech therapist at the elementary school organized weekly. That was completely her own thing; there was no formal mechanism in our district for it at the time. My son LOVED lunch bunch; it is a very useful way to work on social skills. AND it gives your child structured play time, which he will be more comfortable with.

I do consider Boy Scouts to be a version of structured play time. My son has thrived in scouting. Clearly defined rules and expectations, AND leadership (a type of social skill) training. He is an Eagle, active in the Order of the Arrow, attended national jamboree, has done some high adventure as a provisional with another troop, and is now working as an instructor at Cub Camp. The contacts he has made are amazing; he considers the OA guys "his people." He just loves it.

As for 504 and IEP requests - that will vary by school and district. Definitely bring the recommendations to the school and see what they are willing to do to address them.

Mom to an amazing AS son, who recently graduated from the university (plus an also amazing non-AS daughter). Most likely part of the "Broader Autism Phenotype" (some traits).


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24 Jul 2014, 2:31 am

Some schools have Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention, which is an evidence based practice. More info here: ... tervention

Other school have structured time set aside to practice social thinking skills, conversation, etc. There are many ways to incorporate those goals at school.

Here's a list of social/pragmatic goal examples for IEPs:

Social Skills / Pragmatics Goals:

Long Term Goal 1: Student will demonstrate appropriate use of conversational manners.

Short-Term Goals:
1. Student will maintain conversations by staying on topic and/or making appropriate topic transitions for up to 6 exchanges with both peers and adults in 4/5 opportunities.

2. Student will demonstrate appropriate turn-taking in conversations given a verbal cue and/or visual prompt with 90% accuracy.

3. Student will demonstrate understanding and use of appropriate tone of voice and volume with 90% accuracy given role-playing and situational cues.

Long Term Goal 2: Student will demonstrate understanding and use of a variety of strategies for effective comprehension and expression of language in social situations with 90% accuracy.

Short-Term Goals:
1. Student will correctly identify and label emotions and related non-verbal, tone of voice and situational cues using role play and videos in 8/10 trials.

2. Student will demonstrate the correct use of at least 5 relaxation techniques given situational and role-playing clues with 90% accuracy.

Demonstrate the ability to create (selecting relevant criteria) preparatory tools (i.e., spread sheets, bullets, flow charts) to facilitate natural speech (formulate a conversation and remain on task).

Demonstrate the ability to provide sufficient contextual information to be clearly or easily understood

Demonstrate the ability to plan and follow through with social pragmatic language tasks

Demonstrate the ability to comment on a conversation being discussed

Demonstrate the ability to utilize a contextual reciprocal response in given situations

Demonstrate the ability to repair communication breakdowns when expressing ideas (e.g., revision behaviors).

Demonstrate the ability to incorporate new content area curriculum vocabulary and phrases in conversation.

From a provided list of names of peers who are amenable to being contacted, the student will learn the steps and contingencies inherent in setting up/participating in a peer social interaction.

Q1: 1:1 after-school planning with assistance.

Q2: 1:1 after school planning independently.

Q3: plan/execute group activity with assistance.

Q4: Plan/execute group activity with minimal assistance. The student will demonstrate awareness of social cues and respond appropriately.

Student will demonstrate 3 appropriate verbalizations during game play (i.e., simple board or bingo game) with at least one other peer.

When greeted by peers and adults the student will appropriately respond within 3 seconds

The student will respond to her name by saying "what" while localizing the adult or peer calling her name

Student will imitate peer movements during group activities without an adult directive (i.e., line up, sit down, get a pencil).

Student will demonstrate the ability to request a desired item from a peer (i.e., ?I need _____? or ?Can I have the _____??)

Given a verbal label of a category, student will begin to name 5 familiar items that belong to that category within 3 seconds

Given an orthographic cue student will demonstrate the ability to verbalize what she needs help with (i.e. ?I need help with/to/for __________).

X will use modeling and scripts to express anger and frustration during structured activities

X will use scripted language to introduce a topic with a peer and maintain two more conversational turns

X will infer the feelings and ideas of others during role-play activities

X will adjust language style and choice of topics for different conversation partners (e.g., peers, authority figures, girls, etc.)

Given an oral or gesture cue, X will respect personal space and adult conversations in various settings by stepping back, saying ?excuse me,? and waiting for the listener to acknowledge him

X will keep his hands and feet to himself when interacting with peers in informal situations, given verbal or gestural cues

Given modeling and scripts, X will use language to express frustration, problems, and disagreements

Given modeling and scripts, X will role-play cause-effect problem solving for difficult social situations (e.g., sarcasm, choices, frustration/failure, etc.)

Goal I. Given a structured social activity ?Student? will use language in an age appropriate manner to communicate with peers and teachers without conflict and with the opportunity to have all ideas conveyed accurately.

Goal II. ?Student? will understand and follow rules for expected behavior in the classroom environment.

Goal III. ?Student? will demonstrate modification of impulsiveness to interrupt, answer for others and not participate in turn taking.

Benchmarks P1. ?Student? will monitor the content of spoken language, remaining on topic for three conversational turns within a structured social language opportunity.

P2. Given a visual cue, ?Student? will identify instances where the conversation has strayed from a topic with 80% accuracy.

P3. ?Student? will initiate two conversations during one thirty minute structured inclusion setting with typical peers.

P4. ?Student? will monitor eye contact, body language, and tone of voice during conversation.

P5. ?Student? will practice and utilize register shift during conversations with adults and peers with 80% accuracy.

P6. ?Student? will use novel statements to enter into play activities in two out of three opportunities when provided with faded models and/or cues.

P7. ?Student? will stay on topic while engaged in a conversation with one or more peers in two out of three language activities when provided with faded models and/or cues.

P8. ?Student? will engage in two novel topics of conversation with one or more peers when provided with faded models and/or cues.

P9. ?Student? will make requests using polite language (e.g., "Can you help me?") in two out of three language activities when provided with faded models and/or cues.

P10. Given a class setting, ?Student? will initiate interactions with another student in one activity throughout the day.

P11. Given a class setting, ?Student? will join a small group of students in one activity throughout the day.

P12. ?Student? will exhibit the pragmatic skills of active listening, commenting, asking questions, and appropriately entering and exiting conversations.

P13. ?Student? will ask a peer a question in 3 out of 5 opportunities following faded models and cues.

P14. ?Student? will respond to a peer's question or statement in 3 out of 4 opportunities maintaining focus on the question.

P15. ?Student? will utilize politeness markers (e.g. please, thank you, excuse me).

P16. ?Student? will change communication style depending on listener and situation.

P17. ?Student? will ask questions appropriate to the conversation or discussion.

P18. ?Student? will participate in discussions and role-plays to resolve difficult social situations (e.g. disagreements, assertiveness).

P19. ?Student? will ask for clarification when directions are unclear.

P20. Given instruction, ?Student? will take into perspective the conversational partner through using specific language during structured activities with fading cues.

Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

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24 Jul 2014, 7:47 pm

Thank you, SC 2010!! That list is awesome. I've printed it out in prep for our meeting. Thank you so much!


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25 Jul 2014, 8:31 am

Don't let them tell you they don't have this! We didn't know it existed or how to ask for it, and DS didn't get the support he needed until 4th grade.

Often, this kind of support will fall under the heading of "pragmatic speech" which is the social aspect of communication. There is a specific set of testing tools your school may want to use (the standard is the TOPL) before they offer these services, but don't worry, your doctor's recommendation has weight. My son gets services from BOTH the speech therapist and the school social worker for this (and be careful, if he's awarded "minutes" make sure they are given separately - DS was supposed to get 1/2 hour of speech and 1/2 hour of social skills and we didn't find out until we brought a lawyer that both half-hours were being "delivered concurrently," meaning he was only getting 1/2 hour per week instead of an hour.