Expanding the Role of School Psychologists for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders
Steven R. Shaw
Students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have become a large and growing population of interest in the practice of school psychology. What used to be a specialized area of practice is now mainstream. Many school psychologists have received preservice and inservice training in diagnostic instruments such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R). Many others use a variety of instruments and techniques to diagnose ASD. School psychologists are becoming sophisticated in the application of advances in assessment and diagnoses, yet remain behind when it comes to intervention. Just like other populations with whom school psychologists work, diagnosis of ASD is simply the beginning. Understanding of the complexity and heterogeneity of children and adolescents with ASD adds much to our assessment and intervention strategies. Moreover, moving from an assessment/diagnostic role to a complete role of assessment/diagnosis informing the selection, implementation, and evaluation of interventions mirrors the evolution of school psychology for other types of developmental disabilities.
The Winter issue of School Psychology Forum brings two excellent and detailed papers on the topic of ASD. A valuable paper by Jillian Bellinger, Emily Perlman, and James DiPerna provides a systematic review of literature on social skills interventions. This paper not only provides a strong review of the extant literature, but provides specific ideas concerning the linkage of social skills strengths and weaknesses with specific methods of social skills instruction. Joseph Mahoney and Linda Caterino have contributed an important paper on sleep disorders in children who are low functioning and have ASD. There is a significant rise in the number of research publications considering the value of sleep assessment and intervention of children with developmental disorders. This article represents new information concerning the differences between children with ASD and children who are typically developing.
Please consider listening to the interview with the authors, and ask questions and make comments on the NASP Communities page. And, as always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or have an idea for a paper that would fit nicely into School Psychology Forum at SchoolPsychForum@naspweb.org.