Note: This letter is an example based on a fictitious student profile.
Mr and Mrs. Jones,
Thank you for the opportunity to work with your son, Eric. The assessments, observations and interviews we conducted were extremely helpful in being able to gain a better understanding of Eric’s current levels of receptive and expressive communication skills. We, at Gibson Academy, believe that every child has unique abilities and we strive to help each student reach their full potential.
As you know, Eric’s physician evaluated him for possible autism spectrum disorder. We appreciate you giving us a copy of his findings. His evaluation was helpful as we began to assess Eric’s communication skills.
We gained knowledge about Eric by using the Autism Diagnostic Interview- Revised along with the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (Lord, Rutter, DiLavore, & Risi, 2005). These two assessments are considered the gold standard of diagnostic processes. These interviews/observations are used with toddlers through adulthood. They gave us an accurate idea of both Eric’s strengths and weaknesses in communication. Once we understood where he was functioning, we created a communication profile that will help him to meet his educational goals with success. We observed Eric’s words, phrase speech, and fluent speech. He was observed playing, his responses to joint attention, construction type tasks and descriptions of pictures. He was asked questions about friends, emotions and stories. We also gathered information from the observations of Eric’s teachers pertaining to these same types of things already mentioned. Eric’s teachers, saw him on a daily basis, and gave us insight into his behaviors and skills in the classroom setting. As Eric’s parents you were also asked to answer some questions about your sons ability to communicate, socialize, and whether you observe that he has restricted types of behaviors. You were asked to complete the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales. Your insights into your son’s behavior was so valuable. Thank you so much for your assistance.
At his previous school, Eric was receiving speech and language services three times a week for thirty minutes each time. These speech and language classes were in small groups of 3-5 children in the speech room. After looking at the data collected and obtaining valuable input from Eric’s teachers, therapists, and you, his parents, we believe Eric would benefit from having two small group classes in the speech room to work on specific skills, and one period of working on language in his second grade classroom, with his peers. This would allow for him to engage in age appropriate, real life, opportunities in language. He would also continue some direct instruction language programs with his special education instructor Mrs, G.
Eric was spending much time standing in the outer boundaries of his physical education class. He did not appear to understand the rules that the coach was explaining during structured play. Mr. T, the physical education teacher, has agreed to practice some instructional support strategies to assist Eric in his class. Since visual memory is a strength for Eric and learning through auditory is a weakness, Mr. T will begin using more visuals in his class, such as using markers on the floor to show Eric where he needs to be standing. He is also going to have a peer buddy help Eric learn the rules of the games and partner with him to help him stay connected.
Eric had been receiving occupational therapy twice a week for thirty minutes each time. Eric appears to be very anxious in most school situations, so Mrs. H is going to work with Eric’s special education instructor to incorporate more heavy work tasks into Eric’s time at school. Making muscles and joints work, can help with focus, increase on task behavior and most importantly can be calming. Mrs. H has many creative ideas to use with Eric. She feels he will really enjoy these new ways to work.
Mrs. G, Eric’s special education instructor, will be working closely with Mrs. W, Eric’s general education teacher, in order to allow smooth transitions from one classroom to the other. Both teachers will have a consistent behavior management plan in their classrooms. Eric will continue using a picture exchange communication system. His routine will be kept simple, with only two tasks given at a time. As Eric is able to use his schedule/picture exchange more consistently and show success, more tasks will be added. There will be consistent rewards and consequences, to allow for predictability. This scheduling will allow for Eric to work on cause and effect and on attending skills.
Since Eric is passionate about numbers and counting, we would also like to try having Eric participate in his second grade classroom for math instruction. Eric will be allowed to use the classroom computer to type his answers to math problems.
When Eric becomes stressed by his environment he requires some quiet time. These sensory breaks will consist of a place where Eric can go to be alone. He likes to sit in a bean bag chair during these times. The occupational therapist will also provide “stretchy cocoons” for him to use, Eric appears to like the pressure from these pieces of stretchy nylon. It is like getting a hug.
Eric enjoys using technology in the classroom. We feel that this will be an excellent reinforcer for your son, when he finishes the tasks on his picture schedule. These reinforcers will be built into his schedule.
Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, for your participation in creating Eric’s communication profile and for your continued confidence in his abilities. Autism brings with it many challenges, but we believe that if we all work together Eric has a bright future ahead. We look forward to watching Eric progress at our school!
Lord, C., Rutter, M.A., DiLavore, P.C., & Risi, S. (2001). The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.