Hersher Institute: Module on Ethical Reasoning in Developmental Disabilities

Kindergarten Transition: Case Scenario


Andy is a five year old boy with severe autism. He was diagnosed at 18 mo. when his pediatrician noticed developmental delays and recommended a birth to three evaluation. He received home-based services until age three, then began a preschool program at his local school. He has attended full school days 5 days/week since age 3 and receives one-on-one services throughout the day in a special education classroom that focuses on discrete trial instruction. He also receives speech-language and occupational therapy from the school clinicians. He eats lunch with the kindergarten class, but does not spend any time in the typical classroom. Andy is minimally verbal; he says a few single words and communicates some wants and needs with his PECs pictures. Andy’s progress in communication, social, self-help, and pre-academic skills has been very slow over the last two years. He is still not toilet-trained. Details about his recent assessments and current program are in the case materials. As he approaches age six, a decision must be made about his transition from a preschool to a school program.

Andy could remain in his current program, which is housed in an elementary school in his home town. He could continue with the teachers, clinicians, and aides who have worked with him over the last two years. The school district would like to continue to support their indivi dualized program with special services for him in the local school. However, his parents are unhappy about his rate of progress. They do not see sufficient growth in his current program. They feel the school personnel have ‘given up’ on making progress. They found a private special school where they would like to see him placed. The cost is over four times the cost of his current program in the local school. Parents are asking that the school cover the cost of this program on the grounds that he has not made sufficient progress in the local program. The Director of Special Education in Andy’s small town worries that if this level of funding goes to place Andy in a special school, there will be little left in the budget for other children with special needs. As a member of his IEP team, you will be meeting with parents to discuss Andy’s placement for next year. Decide on the program you would propose for him, based on the information in the case materials, regardless of whether he goes to the local or private school. What goals, methods, and social opportunities would you prescribe for him over the course of the next year?

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