Autistic Students

Today, the CDC has now announced new numbers in autism prevalence: 1 in every 68 children under the age of 21 has autism, 
including 1 in every 42 boys. This is a 29% increase since the last update (1 in 88 in 2012).

The last time that I was able to get the information, Lee's Summit had 17,559 students. 150 of those students had an educational diagnosis of autism.  Another 250 had a medical diagnosis. If the CDC is correct it would mean the Lee's Summit would potentially have 258 students with autism.  


This means that there are potentially 158 autistic students that are not being served.  Following is the law in Missouri and the facts on how well educated the persons making decisions are.  In Missouri a person designated as an autism specialist decides your child's educational diagnosis regardless of how many doctors disagree or have diagnosed otherwise.


Best Practice Guidelines: There are currently no best practice guidelines to 
help bring consistency in the therapies and methodologies used by local 
school districts. However, the lack of such guidelines is a symptom of a larger 
problem – the absence of a database and statewide data collection system to 
help classify the specific issues faced by each individual child. The database 
could also be used to identify helpful treatments and to scientifically support 
the appropriate use of various methods of intervention, treatment, and 

teaching. 

Eligibility: All public education programs for special education students 
contain eligibility criteria. IDEA Part B allows school districts to determine 
eligibility of students for services. Although students may already have 
received a formal medical diagnosis of ASD, some districts insist on 
performing their own assessment to determine eligibility for services, which is 
often labeled an “educational diagnosis.” Some parents and providers 
testified that they view the educational diagnosis as a bureaucratic method for 
the school district to deny services to some children. 
Program Conflicts: For students with ASD with more severe behavioral 
issues, parents testified that some school districts have failed to address and 
consider a student’s neurological and mental health status, and have 
employed methods intended for students whose behaviors are not the result of 
a disorder like ASD. Such methods include isolation or suspension from 
school under the criteria established by the Safe Schools Act. 

The Blue Ribbon Panel recommends that the Department of Elementary and 
Secondary Education solicit proposals to design a data collection system to 
support analysis of ASD intervention across the lifespan (evidence-based therapies 
or teaching practices) and costs of serving children with ASD organized by 
appropriate classifications. 
It is recommended that the data collection system be created for all students with 
ASD using the state-wide identification number and be submitted to the Department 
of Elementary and Secondary Education. Access to the data should be granted to 
appropriate public school personnel, qualified researchers in the field, and 
individuals specifically authorized by statute or rule. 

The Blue Ribbon Panel recommends that local school districts inform parents of 
the importance of having a service coordinator from the Department of Mental Health present at the IEP meeting that takes place around the fourteenth birthday 
of a child with ASD. The Department of Mental Health can begin to develop 
transition goals for the child, and determine which state agencies should be 
contacted while fostering stronger relationships with the child and his or her 
family. The child’s family or legal guardian would have the right to exclude this 
individual from the IEP meeting. 

The Blue Ribbon Panel recommends that the state of Missouri develop and 
implement best practice guidelines for educational assessments and interventions. 
Evidence-based best practice guidelines for effective educational assessment and 
interventions for ASD should be developed and disseminated broadly to act as a 
resource for Missouri school districts. 
B. Missouri’s Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement 
Act 

The Blue Ribbon Panel recommends that Missouri allow equivalent funding to 
follow the student to the provider of the parent’s choosing. Having options for 
treatments or services empowers parents and encourages the General Assembly to 
explore models of choice in educational services. The General Assembly should 
investigate the merits of ASD scholarships, open enrollment for students with 
ASD, public and private partnerships, and any other educational opportunities for 
students with ASD, students with developmental disabilities, or students with 
developmental delays. 
F. Educational Diagnosis 
While it is clear that the evaluation of children conducted by educators is not done to 
“diagnose” the child, but rather to see if and how the diagnosis of ASD adversely 
impacts the child’s education, there is considerable misunderstanding created by the 
requirement to “make an educational diagnosis.” 

In Missouri, there are two ways for a child to be eligible for services under the federal 
IDEA. First, a child can have characteristics of a particular disorder, such as ASD, 
that grants automatic eligibility. Second, children can be eligible for early 
intervention services between the ages of birth and 36 months by having a 
developmental delay, defined as functioning at half the developmental level that 
would be expected for a child developing within normal limits and of equal age. The 
Blue Ribbon Panel heard numerous concerns about this requirement, including the 
perception of how it limits high-functioning individuals with ASD, who need the 
social and communicative services that are not otherwise available to them. 

Public education programs for special education students require students to meet 
eligibility criteria to qualify for services. Some children come to the school district 
seeking services with a medical diagnosis of ASD. Under IDEA, the school district 
is to consider the medical diagnosis and determine whether that diagnosis requires 
any educational intervention or supports. Testimony indicated a perception problem 
and semantics issue involving this process. Although the school district is not to 
dispute that a medical diagnosis has been made, many special educators and school 
districts use the term “educational diagnosis” to describe the process by which they 
determine whether educational intervention is required. In this way, it appears to 
parents that the school district is conducting its own diagnosis of the child and is 
making a different decision than the multi-disciplinary diagnosis team previously 
reached. 

AUTISM CONSULTANT: Missouri does not have such an educational designation.  However, there is a three-tiered system of Project ACCESS autism educational consultants described below.
IN-DISTRICT AUTISM CONSULTANT (IDAC):  A certified teacher with a minimum of two years classroom experience is selected by his or her school district’s administration to attend the Introduction to Autism training either in a face-to-face format or the online format through Project ACCESS’ Community of Practice site. In addition to the Introduction to Autism training, attending the Working with Autistic Students in the Schools (WASS) OR Early Intervention for Young Children With Autism (EIYCA)training is also required. These trainings enable the teacher to attend the Autism Consultant Training (ACT). An administrator must send an endorsement letter indicating the school district’s intention to use that person as their In-District Autism Consultant (IDAC). School districts may have as many IDACs as is deemed appropriate for the district’s needs for a staff member to consult with colleagues serving students with ASD in their own districts. Project ACCESS will provide each IDAC with a nametag and maintain a participant database.  If the IDAC moves to another Missouri school district, the new district can make a written request to Project ACCESS and the IDAC status can be transferred to the requesting district.
Each person attending the In-district Autism Consultant training must complete a separate registration form.  Candidates may register online using My Learning Plan. 
  • Training Dates: June 16, 17 and 18, 2014.
  • Training Times: Registration is from 8:00 to 8:30 on the first day and training begins at 8:45 and lasts until 4:00.  On day two and three, training begins at 9:00 and ends at 4:00.

You can do the math.  Three days of training 

and you are in charge of making decisions 

that will affect a person's entire life.  Forget 

the eight years of school that the doctor 

attended.



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