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November 29, 2023 Meeting Minutes - Neuropsych Evals, RAE, IEP Goals & Meetings

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

PALS Meeting Minutes

November 29, 2023 9:30 a.m.

Virtual Meeting using Zoom

Open Forum

Open Forum is an opportunity for participants to come together and discuss a variety of topics, offer resources, and ask questions related to special education.

Neuropsychological Evaluations

In September we discussed dual diagnosis ADD & ASD and neuropsychological evaluations. Today we touched on the possibility of a six to twelve month wait from initial contact to evaluation including insurance approval, completing evaluation informs and providing data to the evaluator prior to the evaluation.

It is common for ADD, ADHD, and ASDers to mask. Masking, also known as camouflaging, involves a person concealing traits they see as identifying them as different than their peers by replacing them with traits they believe will make them appear neurotypical. In addition, girls tend to be "better" at masking than boys which is likely the reason for the gap making for more boys diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, and ASD than girls.

Masking has the ability to interfere with the outcomes of a neuropsychological evaluation resulting in a missed opportunities of support. It is important to address the practice of masking within the pre-evaluation questionnaire and provide clear examples of masking. For instance, masking can look like (but is not limited to):

  • constantly preoccupied with how others perceive you and striving to meet their expectations

  • diligently adjusting your body language to appear interested and engaged in conversations

  • heightened awareness of the impression you make on others, leading to self-consciousness

  • continuous monitoring and adaptation of your body language and facial expressions to fit social norms

  • overly focused on managing your own facial expressions and body language in social situations

  • feeling compelled to make eye contact, even if it feels uncomfortable or overwhelming

  • persistent vigilance in monitoring and adjusting your body language to project a relaxed demeanor

  • purposefully saying less so you will not talk too much or interrupt people

  • writing everything down so you can remember it later

  • suppressing strong emotions

  • having difficulty focusing because you’re trying hard to hide excess energy

  • feeling unable to relax before an upcoming appointment because you might lose track of time

  • feeling the urge to organize a task or project rather than work on it

  • experiencing irritability from having to focus on a low-interest activity

  • maintaining perfectionist standards to hide your self-perceived flaws

  • mimicking other people in social situations so you’ll fit in

  • helping others with their work rather than your own

Additionally, ask if a CAT-Q or equivalent is a used as a part of the neuropsychological evaluation process. The CAT-Q, Camouflaging Autistic Traits Questionnaire, is a 25-item self-report measure of social camouflaging behaviors. It is used to identify individuals who compensate for or mask autistic characteristics during social interactions and who might not immediately present with autistic traits due to their ability to mask. This can be especially relevant for girls/women with Autism.

The CAT-Q measures the degree of use of camouflaging strategies among people with Autism. The more an individual can camouflage, the more of their autistic inclinations they are likely able to suppress. As such, a high camouflaging score can also account for lower scores on standard Autism psychometric scales.

Additional resources on masking:

River Academy of Excellence

Cherie River, owner and CEO of River Pediatric Therapies, joined the meeting to share information on a new sister company, River Academy of Excellence, an private academic school in the Fox Chapel Area. RAE "prioritizes building positive relationships with students and families as a basis for a healthy working partnership. Open communication between our teachers, therapists, and parents encourages the most efficiency and progress for each student. RAE has a positive track record of staying on course with educational goals, providing fast turn-around on evaluations, reports, and IEP development."

River Academy of Excellence is currently a K-8 school accepting eight students this school year. RAE staff meets Pennsylvania state criteria with current certificates and licensure, clearances, and educational requirements. As an approved academic school, enrollment is generally initiated by a school district for a student as an alternative placement in the IEP. This process takes five to fourteen days depending on the district's ability to execute the change of placement within the IEP. Families can also initiate enrollment which requires the approval and same process as a school district. Because this initiation may not have the data and observations required to immediately change the placement within the IEP, it could take thirty to ninety days to enroll.

River Academy of Excellence also provides Extended School Year (ESY) services. Contact RAE to learn more about regular school year enrollment, ESY services, and schedule a tour.

Check out this article on RAE from Trib Live!

Addressing Incorrect Data Collect for IEP Goals

IEP Goals are set with using baseline data for progress monitoring toward a projected goal. It is important that all participants of the IEP Team and those responsible for collecting and monitoring data have the same expectation of how the data is retrieved. Example:

Goal: Student will complete 80% of classwork in the classroom

Parent Monitoring: 30% of the classwork is completed in the classroom while 70% is brought home where it is completed and returned to the classroom late

General Education Teacher: grades and inputs the returned work in the digital grade book without comment of it being late or not done in class

Case Manager/Special Education Teacher: retrieves data from digital grade book and provides progress report indicating the student has completed 70% of their classwork, however without any exact monitoring in place (indication of late or not done in class) this is not a true accounting of progress toward the goal.

Steps to resolve this type of issue can be as easy as an email exchange between home and school, but what do you do when no one responds? You resend the email and include the next person up, i.e., first email to IEP Team, second IEP is a simple follow-up to the same members of the IEP Team and includes the Director of Special Education of the school district. Still no response? Resend the second email which now includes a request for an IEP Meeting. With that request the mandated Special Education Timelines take effect and a meeting should be held in ten business days during the regular school year and not to include days when the school is closed.


Next Meeting: December 20, 2023 9:30 a.m. Virtual Meeting using Zoom.

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