After 10 days without power due to Hurricane Sandy, I am once again ready to occasionally update the EC.com blog. I got to perform several PAC Assessments this week and it occurred to me that good assessment is a living flow chart full of if-then relationships. We call those “contingencies” in the ABA world. If the new athlete is verbal, what level of conversation is appropriate? If he/she is perseverating on a particular topic (cars, cats, cornucopias ), how much time until a gentle corraling is needed? (See also; a nice way of getting them back on task).
The physical assessment is probably the easiest of all three areas. Can the individual perform a squat to a medicine ball? Yes? No? At what level can they begin successfully? The adaptive assessment is the hardest, usually. Will they do it? For how long? Do they need an “added bonus” or reinforcer to comply? Is this one going to run out of the room or glue themselves to the floor in a most convincing fashion that seems to defy the average gravitational field of a suburban home?
Cognitively, how do I express what I want them to do (squat, Sandbell overhead press, star jump) and how do they receive that information? If I demonstrate it do they get it right away? Do they need me to guide them through it (physical prompt)? Is there a delay in the ability to understand and then act?
In 5 minutes of an assessment I probably ask myself about a dozen questions, half of which are answered and the other half requiring a little more time and information. This is good, though, because it lays a FOUNDATION upon which to build.
Being overwhelmed with any thing and all things autism is common. But avoiding action as a result is not a strategy that I would endorse, because it isn’t much of a strategy. Assessment seems like one of those grueling data collection deals that requires planning and thought and review and more planning. And it does. And it is entirely worth it.