The autism intervention journey – Evaluating successful outcomes
Rose Akinsehinwa – March 2016
The Autism journey, a journey of hope can be a very slow, sometimes stressful one. But recording some form of progress and seeing positive changes in a child can be very rewarding and a source of encouragement to keep at it. A parent needs to be aware of some key indicators to look out for to be assured that they have the best interventions and knowing when to seek change and try another. Some simple steps through the journey are:-
Assessment and IEP: Before a child is put on an intervention/Individualized Education Plan (IEP), they must first of all be assessed based on some key developmental indicators such as – speech, behavior, social interactions and academics. The level of the functioning of the child determines what the content of the IEP will be. Drawing out the IEP is usually a meeting between the school and parents based on the results of assessments and parents expectations at the end of the day. Also, learning goals are derived from the IEP and are usually set fortnightly based on specific issues that will arise on observation during implementation.
Implementation: Experience has shown that the best implementation is the one-on-one teaching setting (one teacher to one child in one space). Some children are enrolled into mainstream schools. Whatever method you choose, ensure that the school/center where you are enrolling your child is fully equipped and staff is well trained and motivated. You might want to enlist a private teacher who comes to the house to work with your child. You must take time to supervise accordingly. It is important to keep in mind that a beautiful well put together IEP will be useless if not properly implemented. Where there are no observable changes after a while, methods of implementation can be changed or modified from time to time until a suitable and impactful one is found for the individual child.
Reporting: A written weekly report is necessary to evaluate the progress or otherwise of the child. Clearly defined criteria are to be used to guide evaluative judgments about the processes and performances related to the overall goals identified at assessment and IEP stages. This clarity provides a well-defined criterion and helps to make a judgment-based process as consistent and defensible as possible when evaluating a child’s progress. Reports should also come with a S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis so parents are aware of how to complement/continue the work of the school and also what to expect in the coming week.
Observation: personal observation is the most important source of evaluation. A parent can clearly and easily notice changes in their child without being told. Clear positive changes in communication, behavior and other achievements in areas of delay or challenges are indications of progress. More careful and observant parents can even notice some changes not in written reports.
It is when a child has made progress that the IEP is upgraded and the journey starts all over again to surmount another set of challenges. Bit by bit, the child is making progress and the journey, not static but highly progressive is encouraging.
In all of this, consistency, consistency and more consistency wrapped in love and patience is a vital ingredient in getting and seeing the desired result in autism intervention.