misdiagnosis in the classroom

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by ciounoi, Dec 7, 2012.

  1. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    Dec 7, 2012

    Just to preface my post, I am well aware that teachers do not diagnose students, and I'm not saying that we should. However, I see no problem in speculating whether or not a particular given diagnosis may be correct and doing what is possible to adjust teaching to meet that child's needs. Just so we're clear on that. :)

    I've been noticing more and more kids in the classes I sub in often do not fit the particular disabilty group that class is designed to accommodate. For example, I know quite a few students in autistic support classrooms who do not strike me as autistic... they strike me as children whose first language is not English who also have some developmental delays. I'm not alone in my thoughts... the classroom staff agrees. It bothers me when I see children who are quite capable of handling higher-level work being given tasks that are more appropriate for students with much less ability, simply because they're in a class for autistic kids and that's what the program is in that classroom.

    Does anyone have kids in their classrooms who (in your opinion) might be in the wrong place? Do you know how they got there?
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 7, 2012

    As a sub are you privy to the accommodations and modifications made for all students? Do you know each student's history? Do you know the assessments each chid has been throught to arrive at their classification / placement?
     
  4. ecteach

    ecteach Devotee

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    Dec 7, 2012

    First of all, thank you for your concern. It shows that you truly care about the students. The EC Team must always consider the ESL factor in meetings. If the child's first language is not English, then the team must talk about whether THIS is why the child is behind. If the team determines that this is not the reason, then the child could possibly be given a different label.

    Regardless, the teacher should be differentiating in the classroom. Each child's work should make sense for that child.
     
  5. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    Dec 7, 2012

    Just to clarify, I'm talking generally here. From my observations, some students are misdiagnosed. From talking to other staff members in the classrooms I am in, they tell me that they feel some students are misdiagnosed. I'm curious whether others might have kids they feel are misdiagnosed or in the wrong place, that's all. :)
     
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 7, 2012

    If I have questions about a child's placement/ needs, I have no issues with going to my child study team and asking for clarification. As a classroom teacher, however, I'm privy to more information than a sub might be. In most cases, at least in my district, there's a good rationale for the placement of students with special needs...was there a specific case you encountered as a sub that you questioned.?
     
  7. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Dec 7, 2012

    A few thoughts:

    1) First, I do think it's valid if you are seeing a discrepancy between what an intervention plan tells you to do and what you, as a teacher, find would be the best course of action. That doesn't mean ignore the intervention plan, but it does mean follow up, share concerns, and reach some level of shared understanding. It may be very possible that either the intervention plan/diagnosis is wrong, or that you don't have a full understanding of the child or the disability. Whatever the case, you wouldn't know unless you follow up. That being said, if you're a sub that may not make sense, but - speaking generally - I think it's appropriate for a teacher to ask questions.

    2) Some of the difficulty lies in available diagnoses in schools. It may well be that a child needed services, and was "made to fit" into that particular service category (e.g., Autism) in order to access services, when in reality the true diagnosis is different. You see this especially with things like placement in emotional/behavioral disability (EBD) program - there isn't such a diagnosis as EBD, and more often than not the label "EBD" doesn't really describe the actual issues the child faces, but is just a means for being able to provide additional services.

    3) Depending on the diagnosis, sometimes very little goes into it, such as with ADHD. Many students with ADHD saw a doctor for an hour or less and, along with a rating scale or two, were given this diagnosis. ADHD may be misdiagnosed sleep disorder, bipolar, some other mood related issue, some other behavioral issue, some issue with executive functioning not technically ADHD, etc. - however, often times meds will help so the diagnosis sticks.

    4) Sometimes parents push for particular diagnoses over others because of related stigmas or benefits of certain diagnoses.

    5) "Diagnoses" related to special education aren't really diagnoses - they are service placements. So, if a team places a child in special education under the "Autism" category that doesn't count as a diagnosis of Autism, just a finding that the child meets categorical criteria for services under that label.

    6) Diagnoses are, in general, not very helpful in terms of actual classroom intervention, as there really aren't uniform interventions for children with particular diagnoses - rather, interventions should be tailored around specific behaviors, and different kids with the same (accurate) diagnosis will present differently. So, even if the child is misdiagnosed, that really shouldn't present an issue with intervention (in the classroom at least) as interventions are based on behaviors, not diagnosis.
     
  8. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    Dec 7, 2012

    They key word here is "benefits" to the school and the family. Sad.
     
  9. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Dec 10, 2012

    Regarding autism, there is a very broad spectrum, so you may encounter kids with a variety of characteristics.

    As a high school sped teacher, I read IEPs that have evolved over the years. They are not static documents. I have seen students start off with initial designation of autism or intellectual disability and end up designated as learning disability or other health.

    In my mild-moderate classes, the disability does not drive my instruction or accommodations, so in a way, the designation isn't significant.
     

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