Letter written by Suzy of Phoenix, Arizona
(Permission is given to parents to use any or all of this letter)
Letter to the Special Education Coordinator:
Per your request, we are submitting a written statement asking for testing of our son, 7th grade, age 14, using the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale (VABS), that the school administer that test and why.
The rationale for having the Vineland test done is that the scores on the Vineland for children who have FAS/E are much lower than the IQ scores. IQ tests look at verbal skills, reading and math skills, vocabulary and comprehension. The VABS looks at three areas of functional ability: Communication, Daily Living and Socialization.
Dr. Edward Riley has done research on the functional abilities of children with FAS/E and he believes from the results that the social development is ARRESTED in children with FAS/E because their scores in the area of socialization remain very low, regardless of their IQ or age. (Thomas, SE; Kelly SJ; Mattenson SN; Riley EP. "Comparison of Social Abilities of Children with FAS to Those Children with Similar IQ Scores and Normal Controls." Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 22(2): 528-533, 1998.
Thomas, Kelly and Riley state that... "in older children with FAS, there was an increased discrepancy between their ages and their age-equivalent scores, a discrepancy that was not present in children in the control groups. These results suggest that social deficits in children with FAS are beyond what can be explained by low IQ scores and indicate the there may be arrested, and not simply delayed, development of social abilities in children with FAS."
This is important information to have in order to formulate a plan that is effective for a child. In order for the child to experience success in school, or any life situation, there needs to be reasonable expectations. If a child with FAS/E has a normal or near normal IQ, as my son has, then the expectations are that the child can function at age level. But the brain damage to the corpus callosum, basal ganglia and frontal lobes render the child not capable of functioning at age level. The child may have a "normal IQ" with good expressive language skills, but still be unable to control impulses or use good judgment, things that don't show up on am IQ test. (Roebuck TM; et al. "A review of the Neuroanatomical Findings in Children with FAS", Clinical and Experimental Research 22(2): 339-344, 1998.
"Using the Personality Inventory of Children (PIC)... findings indicate that in addition to previously reported cognitive impairment, FAS is related to significant impairments in psychosocial functioning... Because impairments of this nature can interfere with functioning across multiple domains, effective early intervention programs should be considered for families of alcohol-exposed children." (Roebuck TM, et al; "Behavioral and Psychosocial Profiles of Alcohol-Exposed Children". Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 23 (6): 1070-1076, 1999.
Dr. Anne P. Streissguth confirms these finding in her 14 year study published in Psychological Science, 10 (3): 186-190, 1999. She further developed her own Fetal Alcohol Behavior Scale, (FABS), which demonstrated high item-to-scale reliability and good test-retest reliability over an average interval of 5 years.
Given that there are three possible tests for measuring Michael's social functionality, that is VABS, PIC and FABS, I believe that the Vineland test (VABS) is the most accessible, considered technically sound, the cheapest to administer and adequately meets my son's needs. For these reasons, we believe that he needs to be tested using the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale.
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act, (IDEA), Sec. 300.532, Evaluation Procedures, Par. 2, (g), "The child is assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability, including, if appropriate, health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative status and motor abilities. (i) The public agency uses technically sound instruments that may assess the relative contribution of cognitive and behavioral factors, in addition to physical or developmental factors."
Sec. 300.533, Par. (a)(1)(i) "Determination of needed evaluation shall include information provided by the parent of the child. Par (c) The public agency shall administer tests and other evaluation material as may be needed to produce the data identified under Par (a) of this section. Par (d)(2) The public agency is not required to conduct the assessment described in the previous paragraph unless requested to do so by the child's parent."
For these reasons, we are requesting that the school administer the VABS. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.
cc: Principal, Special Ed. Teacher, Center for Disability Law
More About the Vineland Test Here
Comparison of Adaptive Behavior Assessments
FAS Community Resource Center