I have been living and working in Arizona for the past 13 years. Something has come to irritate me to the point that I just have to get on my soap box for a bit and let the world have my thinking - so pardon the soap box... but here I go anyway
At the behavior health services building once a child is processed to see a psychiatrist for a dianosis it is via video. The problem here is that although it is two way video often the child is disengaged, hiding under a table or having a bloody melt down because how can the person on the other side of the screen really see them anyway since it is just a tv. The total time to process and analyze this child is about 15 minutes, a few questions are posed to the parent in the room, a label is applied to the child and medicine ordered. "NEXT"
That is how the process works... for them. They ask for no input from other care providers, no input from counselors, teachers, principals or services providers at school, or special education directors. They do not come and observe the child at all in their regular setting at home or in the classroom. That 15 minutes is all they need to change the course of the life of a child forever. I think that is a bunch of bull shit. As an autism specialist I know there are tools to use to help figure out these kids - there are questionnaires for all family members, teachers and aides. As the specialist I spend numerous hours observing the child in their school setting and home, analyzing behavior, making scatter plots, doing ABC charts and FBA in order to get a complete picture of the child. Then we do sensory profiling and that takes even another few days. Based on all this information I can then state what characteristics of autism I see in the child or don't see. If there are characteristics in three or more categories we move into the next phase of analysis using the Ziggurat and CAPS models of behavior. At no time are meds distributed. I may recommend that they take the information to a private provider for a specific review and diagnosis and I often attend those meetings so that I can explain the results. Often what happens is that the child has been misdiagnosed by our wonderful Behavior Health System and actually given medications that can be deadly combinations. I have seen the look in private providers eye's and heard their statements although not specific enough to file a complaint enough for a parent to know something is fucked up.
Then of course the Behavior Health System assigns a "Case Manager" and a "Worker" to the case to monitor progress based on their 15 minute diagnosis. Most of these people have never attended a day of college or a single training session on any of the disorders they are treating or providing feed back on. They do no further analysis because they have no knowledge of what to do. They do little to no research on the different issues that face these kids because they have too many kids.
Yet, they have the guts to call CPS because a child with fetal alcohol syndrome decided to ride his bike to school one morning. Heck I'm happy he found the school, we were able to find him and take his bike away for awhile. The principal of said school however flips out and calls CPS accusing the parent even though the parent is the one who ran in the office explaining what had happened and that she had to make sure her child was on campus and ok (10 minutes after she noticed he left the house)... Really, I have to wonder who is neglectful here. I have worked in schools where kids come to school daily for weeks on end without meals. I've talked to their parents and the parents have no money for food - what good would my calling CPS do for them? Instead I choose to buy the necessary things to make sure those kids have a healthy lunch so they get a good meal each day. I make sure that someone from our school delivers a full thanksgiving dinner to them. I make sure that there is a rotating dinner delivery for them. Just turning them into a system that doesn't work anyway doesn't do anyone any good.
Is any of that done for a gold star behind my name or the school's name. Absolutely not! It is done because it is what is right and what Jesus would expect us to do. So stand up for what is right. Take a look at how your tax money is being spent in this area. Raise your voice for change, but be prepared to be blackballed at the same time, labeled a trouble maker, stepping into bounds that have nothing to do with you and what you do - in short know that the system is strong no matter how weak all the links of it appear to be.