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Decoding Supports

Article: Examining the Reliability and Validity of the Supports Intensity Scale-Children's Version in Children with Autism and Intellectual Disability. By Shogren and others. In Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 2017, 32 (4).

It is a challenge to make this particular article relevant to the casual reader, but I do think that is a challenge worth attempting. The reader may know that the medical community (A.K.A., DSM-5) has been struggling to define Autism for a while now. The most recent attempt (i.e, DSM-5), many have argued, achieved more political and economic outcomes than clinical outcomes, but this is not to say that it was a complete waste of time. In fact, it looks as if it has given the research community new life in trying to measure some of the things the DSM claims. You would be fair in asking if this is a little bit of a backward approach-to proclaim it and then back it up with evidence-especially for scientists.

Researchers added a Level system where the diagnosing clinician judge the Level of outside support the ASD individual needs for "typical" functioning. This article describes data to support the use of the Supports Intensity Scale to aid in helping clinicians make a determination about what Level to place their client (Levels 1, 2, or 3). Prior to this I suspect clinicians were using a range of methods to determine the appropriate Level that are best described as "educated guesses".

Here is a take-home for the casual reader: you might be surprised at how often your medical or mental health provider is making a "guess" when it comes to your care or the care of your child. This, in and of itself, is not a problem because medicine, and more recently psychology has been open about the art AND science of their discipline. Where you should start to worry is when you discover your provider making guesses when they have access to actual data and research. It is true that I have met medical and psychological professionals who are more artists than scientists, regardless how they present themselves.

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