Consent is a big deal. Written consent starts many important things such as: Will you marry me?
Will you have my child? Will you co-sign on a loan?
I consent that my child receive special education services. Yes consent is a big deal. For many reasons.
However, when it comes to consent, San Andreas Regional Center fails the sniff test. And this is probably true for other Regional Centers of which there are 21 in California.
Exactly how San Andreas Regional Center fails the sniff test is described below. First, some comments why consent is so important. Think about consent in general and why written consent is important:
Most people understand that consent matters and is a big deal. For example, everybody goes to the doctor. Everybody who goes to the doctor has to sign a consent for release of confidential information. Everybody knows that without written consent records cannot be sent electronically. Thus most people have some understanding that signed consents matter and are a big deal.
Another example: Many children get Early Start services. Early Start services are provided by California regional centers such as San Andreas Regional Center. Parents must sign written consent before assessment will start. No consent signed? Then no assessment and no services.
Many children who receive Early Start services improve considerably. Some children, however, make little or very slow progress in their social skills and how well they manage change.
Some of these slow developing children show substantial symptoms suggestive of autism. Early Start is required by law to contact the local public school and set up what is called a “transition” meeting.
Some children with autistic symptoms may be eligible for ongoing regional center services under the California Lanterman Act
Given the above, might think that before any assessment occurs for Lanterman eligibility for ongoing services that someone legally responsible must give written consent. That would logically follow. But, no.
Guess what! No written consent is obtained by SARC when children transition out of Early Start and may be eligible for ongoing services.
This is when CA Regional Center fails the sniff test.
San Andreas Regional Center SARC does not get written consent prior to assessing Early Start children who might be eligible for ongoing services.
This CA Regional Center only gets written consent one time — prior to assessment Early Start services.
So what? Does it matter that San Andreas Regional Center does not get written consent from Early Start children who might transition to ongoing services at age three?
Yes! No written consent translates into no current medical or school information will be obtained and thus not available forreview by the psychologist who assesses that child.
And, as a result a less than minimum report may be produced by CA Regional Centers based on limited or out of date records. Does this pass your sniff test? Nope.
This kind of behavior — where CA Regional Centers may meet the minimum requirements of the law but fails to implement best practice guide lines for the assessment of autism –should stop.
It is time that all CA regional centers meet the guidelines recommended by the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) for the assessment of autism in young children. San Andreas Regional Cener knows what those guidelines are. It’s time that this CA Regional Center met those guidelines willingly.
It all starts with consent. Yes, consent is a big deal. And consent leads to obtaining and sharing current information about young children some of whom have substantial autistic symptoms. And some of these children can and should be eligible under autism for ongoing regional center services at the age of three.
Should the public and parents require regional centers to get consent prior to assessing for autism? Yes. Consent if a big deal for many reasons. And then act on that consent. Get up to date, current medical and school records after getting consent. Yes, consent is big deal and matters.
What you can do: email your California representatives and say it’s high time that Regional Centers meet best practice guidelines for assessment of autism. Contact your local public schools and ask them to pressure the Regional Centers to get parent consent and use up to date standardized tests when testing children for autism and other developmental disabilities. And contact the California Department of Developmental Services to put pressure on specific regional centers such as San Andreas so that they will more fully meet best practice guidelines.
Did you know that the former boss of San Andreas Regional Center is now the top boss of the agency (DDS) that writes the best practice guidelines? He is Santi Rodgers and his email address is available on the DDS site. Let Mr. Rodgers know that you want best practices used when children are assessed for autism.