A school psychologist works in various ways to enhance children's school experience. The psychologist may work with children from pre-school through age 21 and may:
*Work with school teams that provide special support in the regular classroom to children who have not profited from the regular education program
*Participate in the development and assessment of behavioral plans for students experiencing behavioral difficulties
*Identify children who might need specially designed instruction
*Help develop an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) for children receiving special education services
*Suggest special techniques and materials to the teacher
*Educate teachers on prevention efforts
*Help schools select empirically-supported prevention and intervention programs
*Participate in student assistance programs to help children who might have drug-related or emotional problems
*Counsel students and parents regarding learning and behavior problems
School psychologists consult with counselors, administrators and others about children's learning and adjustment. Most important, the school psychologist will consult with the child's parents and teachers to understand his or her needs and help develop a plan to address them.
How Would a School Psychologist Evaluate a Child?
The school psychologist develops recommendations for children's education by talking with parents and teachers, as well as the child; observing the child in the classroom; using multiple approaches to assess learning and social skills including administering standardized psychological tests; assessing the way the child is benefiting from the current school curriculum; and reviewing reports (if any) from other professionals.
This information is shared with parents and the other members of the evaluation team (such as the teacher, school administrator and counselor). Otherwise, these records are confidential and will not be shared with anyone without parent permission. Together, the team tailors an educational program that is appropriate for the child. A report of the team's conclusions and recommendations is given to the parent at the conclusion of the evaluation process. No evaluation will be scheduled without informed, written parental consent.
There are 13 different categories of educational disabilities in Pennsylvania. They are:
13 Categories of Disabilities
Autismmeans a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 3, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term does not apply if a child’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance.
Deaf-blindnessmeans concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational, needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.
Deafnessmeans a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, which adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Emotional Disturbancemeans a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
1. An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.
2. An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and
3. Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.
4. A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.
5. A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school
The term includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance.
Hearing impairedmeans impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness in this section.
Mental retardation/Intellectual Disabilitymeans significantly sub average general intelligence functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental; period, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Multiple Disabilitiesmeans concomitant impairments (such as mental retardation-blindness, mental retardation-orthopedic impairment, etc.), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. The term does not include deaf-blindness.
Orthopedic impairmentmeans a severe orthopedics impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by congenital anomaly (ex. Clubfoot, absence of some member etc.), impairments caused by disease (ex. Poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis, etc.), and impairments from other causes (ex. Cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures).
Other health impairmentmeans having limited strength, vitality or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that
1. Is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, led poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, and sickle cell anemia, and
2. Adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Specific learning disabilitymeans a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.
*Disorders not included. The term does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, culture, or economic disadvantage.
Speech or language impairmentmeans communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Traumatic brain injurymeans an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induces by birth trauma.
Visual impairmentincluding blindness means impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.
Special education services are provided according to the primary educational needs of the child, not the category of disability.
The types of services available areLearning Support is for students who primarily need assistance with the acquisition of academic skills
Life Skills Support is for students who primarily need assistance with the development of skills for independent living
Emotional Support is for students who primarily need assistance with social or emotional development
Deaf or Hearing Impaired Support is for students who primarily need assistance with deafness
Blind or Visually Impaired Support is for students who primarily need assistance with blindness
Physical Support is for students who primarily require assistance in the learning environment
Autistic Support is for students who primarily need assistance in the areas of affected by autism spectrum disorders
Multiple Disabilities Support is for students who primarily need assistance in multiple areas affected by their disabilities
Related Services are designed to enable the child to participate in or access his or her program of special education. Examples of related services are speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, nursing services, audiologist services, counseling, and family training.