Appeal approved by Commissioner on March 16, 2006
Keyword: Brain abnormality, executive function difficulties, vocational assessments
Hearing Officer: Deirdre Rosenberg
Counsel present for Appellant: Robert Hamel, Esq.
Counsel present for DMR: Allegra Munson, Esq.
Appellant present: No
Hearing Officer Decision on February 12, 2006
The appellant applied for DMR services on April 30, 2004. The DMR Regional eligibility team determined that he was not mentally retarded and thus not eligible for the services. The appellant appealed the decision and was denied on July 1, 2004. He requested a fair hearing, which was held on October 17, 2005.
The appellant was born with a small, abnormal brain and with additional unusual medical and mental conditions. He suffers from a chronic and progressive disorder of the peripheral nervous system. His doctor stated that he would continue to deteriorate.
The appellant's cognitive abilities have been tested several times since he was five years old. In every evaluation, the full scale IQ was not calculated because there was an extreme discrepancy between high verbal scores and low performance scores, for example, 91 in verbal and 68 in performance. The test examiner attributed the low performance score to the appellant's severe executive function difficulties.
The final assessment was made in February 2003, when the appellant was 18 years old. WASC-III was administered by a school psychologist. He received verbal score of 82 and performance of 65. Despite the significant discrepancy between the two scores, the clinician computed a full scale IQ of 72.
According to two vocational assessments, the appellant required a job coach on an ongoing basis to complete his task. In addition, on his first ABAS-II, the appellant's General Adaptive Composite was 60. He also scored very low in self-direction, community use, and health and safety. On his second test, conducted in June 2004, he received a 57 on the General Adaptive Composite. His score in health and safety this time was also especially low.
Applying AAMR standards, the hearing officer found that the appellant had significantly sub-average intellectual function. She also found that the evidence clearly showed that the appellant needed specialized support, at least in work and in health and safety, among the seven adaptive skill areas. Lastly, she found that the appellant had demonstrated that he met those two criteria before the age of 18. Therefore, the hearing officer concluded that the appellant met the eligibility for DMR services.