INDIVIDUALLY-BASED INFORMATION: Person-Focused Assessment
Don't you mean person-centered practice?
Actually no. In the world of Autism, people with Autism are not necessarily well-served by the typical best practice principle of person-centered practice. This positive model of more inclusive, empowering, and humane providership was designed for people with singular disabilities, but most often without Autism.Other kinds of disabilities do not involve pervasive disruption of sensory, communication and social information processing that makes it very difficult to easily include and empower persons with Autism. It can even be inhumane to allow a person with Autism to self-determine many aspects of their own programs, even as adults. This is because Autism most often involves faulty self awareness, social relatedness and practical reasoning. However, that said it is true that some people with verbal information processing and more mild Autism and Aspergers can participate in the practice of person-centered planning and even to become aware of when and why we may need help in certain problems and reasoning areas. However, many of the most cognitive able adults we work with report a great deal of frustration with this approach even when it is done with great care and sensitivity. This is why we refer to person-focused assessment and family-centered planning as a model that is more centered in best Autism community practices.
What could be better than having our program plans centered on ourelves as a person with Autism?
Don't misunderstand me here. Individualization of Autism intervention programs is critical. People with Autism are just more dependent on people without Autism to design best practice intervention programs and to determine the best individualized approaches through careful and caring (I call this caringful) observation that is person-focused. It takes time to know, engage, understand, and appreciate any one person with Autism, even for that same person. People with Autism need us to have an O.P.E.N. approach in what needs to be person-focused observations for informal assessment. This kind of observation and assessment can be even more critical to the success of a person with Autism than our initial diagnostic criteria tests and standardized evaluation work to determine services. When people with Autism experience the results of individualized observation, assessment, and program design, we often report a much greater sense of satisfaction and inclusion and self-determined living than when our providers try to follow our lead and the ways we feel and think things should be. It is no one's fault, it is just the nature of the mutual and global impacts of Autism. We need good leadership to help us discover our own functional empowerment.
What is O.P.E.N model of assessment?
This is an expansion and language translation of a model of informal assessment designed by the University of North Carolina, as part of a large longitudinal study of best practices across home, school, workplaces and communities. The UNC model had three component (P.E.F.) model of how to sort out passing; high, middle and low emergent; and failing, skills we will often observe in people with Autism Spectrum conditions throughout our lives. Threshold has found that by making this model easier to remember and more language friendly, family and service providers are more likely to use it. O stands for Observe, P still stands for passing skills, E still stands for the wide range of higher to middle to lower emergent skills, which is an atypically wide range at each stage and age of development for persons with Autism. This is because skill development is unusually splintered within a developmental stage, a skill set or even a single skill. This emergent tracking system helps us monitor and move along items in this zone. In the O.P.E.N version the N stands for Non-Emergent (formerly failing). We prefer this term not only because it is more positive, but also because it is more accurate. This can help us be more ethical and effective in who we proactively and productively work in relation to skills that are not yet available to be developed in a principled way. The most wonderful part of this model is that it can be fully transparent and shared with people with Autism and their families in ways that are mutually understandable and that can help some persons with Autism realized their true needs and to recognize that providers are working to meet them. This can realize the person-centered goals of inclusion, humane relations and realization of the fullest potentials of self for individuals across the Autism Spectrum who may not be able to participate in person-centered approaches. Why pretend if/when strategy is not possible? Why not replace it with a prosthetic approach that actually helps us reach the promise land of best Autism practice?
University of North Carolina/Division TEACCH sees informal assessment that is used to individualize best practice interventions as the backbone of any Autism program, and we have found this to be very true and important in our work at Threshold. O.P.E.N assessment practice is the backbone of our Adaptive Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Theory training sessions. This is not a new method, but the integration of complementary best developmental practices for individualizing programs. It begins with O.P.E.N. person-focused assesment.
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