Sarah Sparks at Education Week writes about an autism screening bill in Nebraska:
If the bill is approved, Nebraska would become the first state to require autism assessment as part of pre-school health screening, though special education advocates have long fought for better and earlier screening. While federal law requires districts to identify and evaluate all children with disabilities, it does not specify `how early or often states must screen for disabilities.
That means Nebraska’s bill could become an experiment for states and districts facing an all-time high in autism.“Autism used to be a low-incidence disability ... but it is no longer considered low incidence; schools are seeing it [regularly]. In any typical 3rd grade class, we can expect to see at least one kid with autism,” said Jennifer Hall-Lande, a psychologist and research associate at the Institute on Community Integration and Masonic Institute on the Developing Brain, both at the University of Minnesota....If passed, Omaha Sen. Jen Day’s bill, known as LB997, would add autism screening to the standard physical and vision screenings required for all children before kindergarten or when transferring from another state. The proposal would require a trained screener—including a doctor, school nurse or psychiatrist, among others—to use an evidence-based and developmentally appropriate screener.
The screening proposal is based on a program developed in the 24,000-student Millard public schools in Omaha. Jean Ubbelohde, early education coordinator at Millard, said the district began autism screening before the start of school and at 18, 24, and 30 months, after surveys found a significant portion of pediatricians and family physicians in the area were not following guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which call for autism screening at 18 and 24 months.
“Even more disappointing was [doctors] who were using it and were getting a high score [indicating the potential for autism] on that screener didn’t know what to do with the information with families,” Ubbelohde said.