Pathway to individualized therapies

by rickcolosimo on June 10, 2013

While the I in “IEP” mean “individual,” many parents question how individualized educational and treatment programs are. When every child in a class has the same amount of classroom time, PT, OT, and speech therapy, they wonder where the I comes in.

One problem I see as a parent is what seems to be a disconnect between diagnostic, analytical, and assessment tools on the one hand and specific treatments/programs on the other. A physical therapist can assess a range of motion problem on a post-surgery shoulder and has a suite of exercises known to improve range of motion. A speech therapist can identify a lisp and use specific exercises to teach proper teeth, lips, and tongue placement. But in the more nebulous world of cognitive processing, it’s a world of best guesses.

IQ tests yield many subset scores, but no one has yet been able to explain to me which programs would be more appropriate for my son given his individual mix of skills and evident difficulties. For example, he is a great speller with a good memory for words. Teaching spelling seems like an unnecessary use of his classroom time, and his teachers certainly agree.

But other, more complex issues, such as breaking down his reading comprehension skills, do not, at present, have such tailored answers — at least, none that I’ve been able to uncover. It’s as if the psychologists who divine these distinctions have never corresponded with teachers who teach these skills

This article describes an early age (2) experiment that might create a diagnostic tool to classify kids with autism into different groups related to the way their brains function. The author correctly surmises that these sorts of precise tools may help guide children into treatment/program paths that will better address the precise nature of their difficulties with language.

It’s my goal that we learn how to match each assessed weakness with a specific set of programs and therapies to address that exact weakness. 

I wish research on things like the n-back “game” to improve executive function crossed over into the world of our kids. 

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