SOESD / Learning Matters / Newsletter Archive / December 2006 / January 2007 / A Day In the Life of an Autism Consultant
A Day In the Life of an Autism Consultant
Blanche McKenna MS, Autism Consultant, SOESD
As an Autism Consultant for Southern Oregon Educational Services District it is my job to provide evaluation, consultation, and training to educators regarding students who experience Autism Spectrum Disorders. We serve individuals from birth to 21 and across all educational programs. It is not atypical to spend the morning with a high school student who is in honors programs, has an exceptional IQ, but is considering dropping out of school because of anxiety due to social skill deficits. Then, that afternoon we may be consulting with someone who has autism, is nonverbal, and experiences severe intellectual disability.
Last week I started Monday morning with an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) meeting for a high school student with mild autism and severe social anxiety. Next was a meeting at a school district office with a large support team which also included the special education director, school psychologist, principal, special education teacher, and counselor to discuss a response to a studentís progress and our response to an attorney. Then it was on to a school to observe two students in regular classrooms who were referred for an autism evaluation. My observations took place in a school cafeteria, the playground, library, math class, reading class, and a Bible study group across the street from the school. I sometimes feel like a private eye on my job. In mid-week I provided training to a STEPS classroom on a range of methodologies in autism for a specific student. The next morning I modeled the techniques with the student who we discussed the afternoon before. There were several more observations to determine eligibility throughout the week. In between there were a couple of eligibility reports typed. I consulted with a variety of other specialists including Special Education Teachers, Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists, other Autism Consultants, and School Counselors to gather additional information for eligibility. Thursday and Friday afternoons were filled with Individual Educational Plan meetings for students who are on my caseload.
At home in the evenings I went online to listen, learn, and ask questions to people all over the world who are currently a part of the AWARES Autism Spectrum conference. To be able to have free access to experts from all parts of the field was one I couldnít pass up. Autism Spectrum Disorders is a very dynamic field with new information, studies, and controversies every day. The diversity of the students I serve, the places I travel to, the people I meet, and the ever-changing information keep me challenged and interested in my diverse job.