When Rosalie was transitioning to Kindergarten, we had 2 options… put her in a regular Kindergarten class with no aide, or put her in a self contained autism classroom. I believed that there would be too much stress on the teacher and the students if she were put in a regular ed. class. So I pushed for the autism class. The ‘professionals’ at the school system didn’t think she was autistic and I had to push to get them to do a psych eval on her. The first thing they did was to give me the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale v.2 to fill out. Here are some of the long answers to the GARS. Keep in mind that this was completed in 2008 when she was 5 years old.
Section VII. Key Questions
- What behaviors does the individual display that causes you to think that she has autism? Describe these behaviors as specifically as you can. Repetitive questioning even after the question has been answered. Inability to wait. Invading others personal space, most particularly in the face area. Repetitive finger chewing, jumping, spinning and high pitched squealing, particularly in mildly loud or visually stimulating atmospheres (such as at home with the other 5 children talking or playing). Lack of remorse – hurting others and not showing any indication of understanding that her actions hurt others. Slamming into others, lightning fast darting movements when poking people in the eyes, occasional biting, body slamming, and hitting others. Unable to communicate her own feelings. Many times she is unable to answer simple yes/no questions. She looks at you as if she has no idea what you are asking. Lack of fear when in dangerous situations – such as when approaching growling dogs or hissing cats. Even after being repeatedly scratched and bit she will still try to manhandle pets. She is still unable to play appropriately with peers. In group situations (such as at the church we attend on a weekly basis) she seems to be unaware that people are speaking to her, and when she does know people are speaking to her she must be prompted to respond to them. She will make eye contact with just about anyone, but it is fleeting and not sustained even if they are speaking to her. Language delay. She has a history of ignoring her name, then avoiding eye contact, and as she has gotten older, she has started covering her eyes and looking away from the speaker when she wants to avoid interaction.
- When did these behaviors first occur? She has always been this way – since she was born.
- Does the behavior occur in all settings? Yes. Some of these behaviors occur much more frequently when she is overstimulated, but all occur in all setting and with all types of people.
- Could the behavior be the result of another disabling condition? Have other diagnoses been ruled out? How. Rosalie’s neurologist has done many tests on her. Her seizure disorder is NOT the cause of her issues.
- Who has evaluated Rosalie and what are the results? Psychologist & Neurologist both gave her the PDD-NOS diagnosis, along with Partial Complex Seizure Disorder – Epilepsy and Microcephaly. Dr. D (autism specialist) gave her a diagnosis of Encephelopathy, and has treated her with chelation therapy to remove metals from her system and Spironolactone 50 mg. once daily to counteract the brain swelling. Several SLP’s have diagnosed her with oral motor planning difficulties and language delay, and more recently, speech delays. She has sensory processing issues as per evaluation of several OT’s from the Early Intervention program and school system.
- What assessments or evaluations have been done? All assessments should be included in her school record.
- Are impairments noted in all three areas of the definition of autism? Yes.
- What diagnostic areas are most affected? Communication and Social Interaction are most notable. Her peers and siblings are very cautious around her – as she does not play appropriately. She is more likely to throw a toy up in the air than to play correctly with it. She hurts others while playing. She does not use her words in a conversational way as other 5 year olds would. Adults and other children have a very hard time understanding her, as even when she speaks words clearly the grammar or syntax may be off (such as “I stay here Gramma’s house?” or “play outside George you me?”).
- How severe are the symptoms? As a family we have fallen into a routine – we automatically know NOT to put Rosalie in the car next to someone. We know that we need to make her take her shoes off and get them away from her or she will throw them at someone during our trip. We do not take her to the store, restaurants or any other public places. Her symptoms are severe enough to affect every aspect of our lives.