School Psychologist Says There is No Educational Diagnosis of Autism

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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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19 Comments on "School Psychologist Says There is No Educational Diagnosis of Autism"

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Leesa
02/18/2016 4:41 pm

I’m really worried and anxious about my sons situation. he has a clinical evaluation in two weeks but the schools team of diagnosticians said he didn’t qualify for anything under the autistic spectrum. Just under the ADHD. It scares me especially because the clinic wants those test results. I’m worried it means hes not autistic, or he wont show up on the spectrum in the clinical evaluation. Its stressful because he’s been kicked out of 3 after school programs because of his behavioral issues and i feel he needs to be in a facility that can handle autistic outbursts. I’m hopeing that just because the school says “hes not autistic” ……that he still could be clinically diagnosed as autistic or HFA.

Kim
04/12/2015 1:38 am

Can school psychologist make a diagnosis of autism?

Jazmyne
06/21/2014 12:14 am

Jackie – a school psychologist can diagnose a child with an emotional disturbance. A school psychologist is one of the eligibility team members but more often than not they are the only team member to fully understand eligibility criteria for special education. I strongly feel like the whole team should by aware of criteria but it has been my experience that this is not the case.

Jackie
04/08/2014 7:42 pm

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

Cindi
12/04/2013 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!!

Lori
11/20/2013 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.

mary
05/17/2015 4:55 pm

Just wanted to point out Lori that only a licensed school psychologist or Dr. can make a medical diagnosis of Autism. School psychologists don’t have to be licensed, at least in NY.
mary

Libby
01/27/2016 2:15 pm

In GA a school psychologist does not have to be licensed. Additionally you can run into a problem if the school insists on doing theirs first, (since 11th Cir. said they have that right if a re-eval has not been done in over 3 yrs.,) and then when you are getting your private provider ready for the IEE, if there are a limited # of assessments used on an older child with Autism, (almost adult), cannot do the evaluation. I had to get the licensed provider to agree to do a diagnostic letter, so a child would still have what was needed for colleges. It is a mess.

Donna
11/03/2013 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.

10/30/2013 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.

Robert
10/29/2013 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.

Liana
10/23/2013 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?

Libby
01/27/2016 2:25 pm

My son had a very similar diagnosis, Aspergers and Movement Disorder, and struggled with language based courses. I had to fight for services in the correct placement. He was stuck in an SEBD placement, denied a FAPE, and DOJ has all of this on file. Now he is taking 4 AP classes after a year of private school, a year of OT paid for by GA Cyber Academy AT MY OWN HOME AFTER SCHOOL. I threatened a complaint against Fulton County Schools for the Child find eval and got my private eval paid for while he was in the private school for Autism. He was finally able to attend his neighborhood school and thrive with a great principal, an IEP that gradually implemented inclusion, reading instruction, extra help with writing, and he had advanced Math by 8th grade, and is taking AP Calculus, AP Physics, AP English, finished AP Macroecon, and is taking AP Govt.

Friend
12/03/2015 8:48 pm

I’m not saying that the school is right or wrong, but there is a major difference for providing school based services vs outside services

Friend
12/03/2015 8:46 pm

Schools do not diagnose. They only determine eligibility. Students can have any outside diagnosis and disorder, but that does not mean they automatically need special education services. Special education does not take the place of outside therapy and counseling. Two vastly different areas of targeted support

Tammy
05/18/2016 1:36 pm

I’m in the same situation. My 6 year old son shows a lot of behavior of Autism, I requested that the school did some testing to make a determination. At his IEP meeting the school psychologist told me that because he talks ( even off topic and frequent rambling ) that he doesn’t fit the criteria for autism. And told me that he has ADHD. I talked to sons therapist and pediatrician about possible ADHD and the both told me that he does not have ADHD and he needs to be reevaluated. I feel like the school downplayed his symptoms so they don’t have to provide special services to him. I really don’t know what to do at this point.

Chuck
05/18/2016 2:19 pm

One option is to request that the district pay for an independent educational evaluation (IEE). Your state parent training & information center can help you in understanding this & other options you have. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/

Tammy
05/18/2016 5:53 pm

I just received a referal for a clinical psychologist. My sons therapist wants him evaluated by a more qualified professional. She said it is very common for schools to misdiagnose autistic children as ADHD. I’m just not sure if the school will listen to me if I do get a clinical diagnosis. My son needs help. And the school system is failing him

Chuck
05/19/2016 12:12 pm

The state parent training & information center will have staff that can assist & support you. You can try to get the state education agency involved to assist you.

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