Thalia Thalia is an 8-year-old girl. She is attending an elementary school where she participates in mainly special education classroom. Thalia was diagnosed with autism at age 3. There are seven students in Thalia’s class, served by one teacher and one educational assistant. During the day, Thalia participates in group activities with same-age peers in an inclusive setting. She receives services from a speech-language therapist and an occupational therapist within the special education classroom setting. Thalia’s most recent assessment at school was her triannual at age 6. The school district accepted her developmental pediatrician’s diagnosis for autism when Thalia enrolled in preschool at 3- years-old. During the triannual evaluation, the team used the Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire (ASSQ), the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF-4), and the Adaptive Behavior Assessment System (ABAS-3). All of the assessments were used to substantiate the severity of Thalia’s symptoms. The ASSQ is scored using a T-score with scores at 40 or below considered low, 40-59 average, 60-64 slightly elevated, 65-69 elevated, and 70+ very elevated. Scores that are 65+ indicated that the behavior is affecting the student. Both the special education teacher and parent completed the ASSQ. In peer socialization, the teacher rated Thalia at 78 and the parent rated at 70. In adult socialization, the teacher rated Thalia at 78 and the parent rated at 65. For social/emotional reciprocity, both teacher and parent rated Thalia at 73. In atypical language, the teacher rated Thalia at 76 and the parent rated at 68. For stereotypy, the teacher rated Thalia at 71 and the parent at 70. Both raters agreed that behavioral rigidity is at 72. In sensory sensitivity, the teacher rated Thalia at 68 and the parent rated her at 75. For the final rating scale, attention, the teacher rated her Thalia at 74 and the parent rated her at 73. The CELF-5 is scored using a scaled score (SS) with a median of 10 and standard deviation of 15. She was able to use her communication device to help her with the assessment. Thalia’s data showed she was able to follow simple directions with a standard score of 4. The remaining scores were all in the extremely low range with standard scores of 1. The ABAS-3 data is presented with scaled scores (SS) with a median of 10 and standard deviation of 3. Thalia had extremely low communication (SS:2), low functional academics (SS:4), and low self-direction (SS:4). In the areas of leisure and socialization, Thalia has a scaled score of 2 for both. In self-care, Thalia has a SS of 3, health and safety an extremely low score (SS:2), school/home living is low with a SS of 4, and community use is extremely low at SS 1. © 2022. Grand Canyon University. All Rights Reserved. Cognitively, Thalia matches pictures to items and identifies basic pictures by name and function. She can identify familiar items by pointing to objects. Thalia can complete academic tasks with verbal and visual prompts, but not at grade level. Thalia is able to answer reading comprehension from simple books read aloud to her. She enjoys books about dogs or birds. Thalia is able to identify numbers 1 through 5 and can identify the days of the week. Thalia can follow short auditory directions with visual prompts. Thalia needs systematic prompting to complete activities, such as visual schedules to transition between activities, visual prompts to initiate tasks, and visual organizers to complete academic work. Thalia does her best work when she has a routine and is able to anticipate her daily activities. Thalia is functionally nonverbal; she uses gestures and visual cues to communicate. She vocalizes primarily using vowel sounds. Some vocal patterns are consistently used for items. For example, she makes an “umm” sound for requesting food. Also, she is able to use gestures to point to objects and express needs. Thalia uses gestures to respond to simple questions such as “Where is your blue jacket?” and is able to share toys and objects with verbal request. The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is used to improve Thalia’s communication. For example, when requesting a desired item, she assembles a phrase (I want + item) with a picture icon strip to request desired items from a communication partner. Thalia is working with the speech pathologist to improve her communication skills with the use of PECS. Thalia does not play socially interactive games such as tag or board games and does not engage in turn taking during play. In addition, she does not play creatively with toys. From a sensory standpoint, Thalia does not like her head/hair, or the back of her neck touched. Thalia keeps her hair short to avoid having to brush it. Deep pressure brushing is used to provide sensory stimuli. Textured balls and other fidget toys are usually a port of her calming strategies. Motorically, Thalia can chew food and use a spoon and fork. She can also pull the zipper on her jacket and make a knot with her laces, but not tie a bow. She needs assistance with gross motor movements such as climbing up/downstairs or a ladder to a slide. Thalia has goals for communication, reading, and math. Her communication goals target group activities that require social interaction, specifically to improve the integration with other peers and build upon her communication and social skills. Thalia is working on increasing her participation in interactive games and imitative play skills with peers. Thalia responds well to positive praise as reinforcement for desired behaviors. Her reading goals target identification of letters, identifying her name, and reading comprehension. Thalia is working on identifying her numbers to 10 and addition of numbers through five.
As an autism specialist, it is important to work with families to plan and regularly assess students’ adaptive skills. By applying knowledge of valid, reliable, non-biased assessment practices specific to adaptive behavior that can be used to identify the unique needs of individuals with ASD, you can work with families to plan student transitions from grade to grade and eventual transitioning into adult life and the workforce.
Review the “Thalia” case studies from the “Autism Programmatic Case Studies” and imagine that you are the special education teacher or autism specialist for this student. Using the information and data from the case study, create an adaptive skills transition plan for Thalia by completing the “Adaptive Skills Transition Plan” template.
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