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School Psychologist Says There is No Educational Diagnosis of Autism

10/03/13
by Wrightslaw

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Parent 1 asks: Does the school psychologist have the right to make the statement that his impression is not that of a child with an autism spectrum disorder? He said there is no school documentation of any criteria that would indicate an educational diagnosis of Autism.

My 11 yr. old daughter has a diagnosis of ADHD, ASPERGER’S DISORDER, RAD. by a Board Certified in both General Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She was diagnosed last year.

I really don’t know what to do. Please help! Thank you.

Parent 2 responds: Sad to say, this happens around the country. Medical diagnosis does not equal educational diagnosis.

Try sending a letter to your school district saying that your child has been medically diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum.

Explain that you are concerned about the impact of this diagnosis upon her ability to access the educational opportunities offered by the school district. Ask that the district’s autism expert evaluate your daughter.

Girls on the Autism Spectrum demonstrate their difficulties differently from boys. They often “fly under the radar” in school and fall apart at home.

Parent 3 shares:  We went through the same thing with our district for our daughter, who was also 11 and diagnosed with Asperger’s, ADHD Inattentive Type.

We asked our district for an IEE because we disagreed with the school psychologist. The district argued with us for two months, but they finally “allowed” us to get an IEE.

We got a second ASD diagnosis, ADHD and a new diagnosis of an anxiety disorder.

We had been fighting with the district for a year. My daughter was not getting the support she needed and had regressed. It wasn’t easy and it took us over a year to get some of the support.

Start by asking for the IEE and put it in writing.

Tell the school you respectfully disagree with the school psychologist based on the diagnoses made. Tell the school you would would like to obtain an IEE.

Good luck and don’t give up! Keep us posted!

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7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jackie 04/08/14 at 7:42 pm

    Does a school psychologist have the right to diagnose a child with emotional disturbance?

  • 2 Cindi 12/04/13 at 1:50 pm

    We are going through this very thing with my 10yo son. We are on a medication holiday for the Ritalin that he has been on because the school did not see “significant” issues related to autism. He has Asperger’s, ADHD and a chronic genetic blood disorder. The educational diagnosis is only to show an “Adverse affect on educational performance”. Talk to your doctor. I highly recommend the books and trainings that are available on Wrightslaw. They have been very helpful to us!!

  • 3 Lori 11/20/13 at 3:52 pm

    School psychologists (or Licensed Specialists in School Psychology, as they are called in some states) are trained and qualified to make mental health diagnoses, such as ADHD, depression, anxiety, or autism spectrum disorder. However, just because a student has a mental health diagnosis does not mean there is an educational need for special education services. If the student has a mental health diagnosis, the IEP team / ARD committee must first determine if the student meets one of the categories of disabilities under IDEA (Autism is one of those). The committee must then determine if there is an educational need for special education services. Remind the committee that educational need does not only refer to academics (i.e., grades, test scores). Educational need also refers to social skills, emotional & behavioral functioning.

  • 4 Donna 11/03/13 at 6:02 pm

    Well i too have been in your shoes. The school wouldn’t test my son for autism because they didn’t feel he was autistic. they said he was mental disturbed and he was already diagnosed with bipolar and ADHD and it does run in the family. I did a lot of research found a web site called child brain .com. it does a online test, gives you an idea of what you think or are concerned about with your child. Just letting people know that may read this. For you, i don’t know your income, but they go by your income and that is MHMRA. Another web site is texas .gov that has programs and grant info and autism speaks.com ,nami.com.

    MHMRA will diagnose your child on paper if she has it. they do the testing too. The school had no choice but to put it on my child’s records at school. You should have your child’s hearing tested because inner ear hearing loss sometimes runs hand in hand. my son was tested at six months and he’s deaf in both ears.

  • 5 Maureen 10/30/13 at 10:22 am

    1. The school psych, like any other member of the team, has a right to express his opinion.
    2. Also there is no educational diagnosis category for autism.
    3. Using the appropriate diagnostic tools & training, a school psych can make an autism diagnosis, although the team makes the final decision.
    However, that being said…..
    1. Opinions don’t help the IEP process. Data/facts do. Since he said there is no educational data to support an autism diagnosis, what is he basing that data on? Was school information even look at by the outside psychiatrist. Were questionnaires/interviews done with school staff?
    2. Many students across the country with autism are somehow getting an educational diagnosis that allows them to get services.

  • 6 Robert 10/29/13 at 9:07 pm

    The school Psy is ONLY ONE MEMBER of an IEP team. of which you the parent are also. The school psych. many times administers tests to get baseline results to find a childs educational level, IQ level and many other criteria. None of these tests will give nor is the school psych. qualified to make a diagnosis of this sort. For a School psych to overstep their professional boundaries in such a way leaves them and the district open for serious liability to go against a certified physician who is licensed to make such a diagnosis.

  • 7 Liana 10/23/13 at 10:29 am

    We are presently in the same situation. Our daughter is nine and has diagnoses of Asperger’s, semantic-pragmatic deficit, and lack of coordination. We requested and received an IEE at school district expense. The IEE psychologist and speech language pathologist who observed and evaluated our daughter at school recommended an IEP; the school district disagreed. The district claims our daughter receives “reasonable benefit from general education” without specialized instruction and support. Meanwhile we provide private speech-language and occupational therapy services at our expense. Due process? We can’t afford an attorney. What next?