***Warning Long Post****
My DD is 4 1/2 and she is in the second year of our school districts special needs preschool. Her primary classification last year and this year was a speech delay. However, in the last year she has made huge strides with her language (when she started last year she maybe said 2 or 3 words and now she is talking 3 - 5 word sentences). With the language being there we have started to notice that she is having some social struggles especially with her peers and also just conversationally (like she talks now in the form of requests basically). That being said, she was never around kids until last year (and when I say never, I literally mean never). In hindsight I wish we would have put her in daycare while my DH and I worked, but she stayed with my MIL who kept her at home all day. Plus we didn't have any friends with kids, so it just ultimately ended on her never getting a chance to socialize with kids and I strongly feel like she is playing catch up on that. Her team at the special needs preschool has noticed this as well so we started her in ABA sessions this year, along with her speech goals being modified to focus less on forming the words but more on the use. Recently, her team expressed concerned that she might fall out of the "speech delay" classification and not be eligible for services. They requested to do an educational autism assessment to determine if she could fall into that category. They evaluated her in three different settings and we (the parents) filled out three questionnaires that her teacher also filled out.
We just had the IEP meeting and discussed her results. They feel she falls into the high functioning autism category. The team stressed that she was a really challenging little girl to pinpoint because she is so social and imaginative, but it was ultimately her fixations on activities or routines that landed her into that category (for example she loves birthday parties and they created a pretend birthday party that she had no problem playing but she couldn't move on to another game, in fact she turned everything else into something for the birthday party). The ABA specialist told us that she could fall out of this category later on because she is so high functioning.
All that being said, they were suggesting that we amend her IEP to have a primary classification as autism and secondary speech delay. However, when reviewing her IEP we saw that her speech classification was good through 2017. We asked if this new amendment would change her services (or add to them) and they said no. The only reason they could tell us as to why they wanted to change it now was that she could fall out of speech (in 2 years). Then the psychologist made a comment that they expect her to fall out of speech but she will likely remain autistic through her school career which is a direct conflict of what the ABA specialist told us (I wish I had questioned that there). So now we are kind of stuck because we can't figure out why they need us to make this change now. It's not that I even necessarily disagree but I'm reluctant to put a label on her that she may not be able to escape in her school career. For now we are holding off because we have a clinical evaluation scheduled for next week and then she also goes to a regular preschool 2 days a week so they are going to come evaluate her in that setting as well as get her other teachers feedback on her time there.
So bottom line, my basic question is why would they need us to switch her primary category at this time when her current primary category is good through 2017? What would hurt waiting even a year or 6 months to see where she is at (especially since she has made huge growth this last year)?