CPHC Affiliated Service Site: San Mateo Office of Education – Public School Special Education Preschool, San Mateo, CA

From 1996 to 2002, CPHC trained and supervised existing teaching and psychology staff in a public school special education preschool class, in the San Mateo Office of Education, using Reflective Network Therapy to treat seriously disturbed preschoolers with developmental disorders.

Most of the children served were on the autism spectrum and/or severely retarded. CPHC staff supervised clinical treatment, implementation of research standards, and outcome data collection. Gilbert Kliman, MD, personally provided in-classroom individual psychotherapy to preschoolers in this milieu four to five days a week for the first year of this service project. It was highly successful, both clinically and economically.

Ten exquisitely matched children were followed for IQ and Children’s Global Assessment scores, with retesting demonstrating strong mental health improvements and IQ gains. Many of the children served became able to attend regular classrooms; a substantial archive of parent-permitted treatment videos evolved; and, the San Mateo Unified School District saved millions of dollars in special education costs.

Excerpts from a report on this six-year service project authored by (now retired) Jay S. Parnes, Ed.D., Senior Administrator, Special Education:

Report on an application of RNT in Public School Special Education Preschool

We now have a collaborative project in its sixth year for our special education preschool children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) and for those with Serious Emotional Disorders (SED) which interfere with their education. Under the leadership of Gilbert Kliman, MD, the Center [CPHC] has trained members of our teaching and school psychology staff to carry out a mental health service on our premises.

The techniques are far more economical to use than we have found with the Lovaas method, which we also implement for some students. We have also seen the techniques transmitted to special education teachers as well as inexperienced therapists. To my knowledge, among the 30 children served so far under the collaborative project, we are seeing cognitive, social and human gains which have decreased the gap between these children and their typically developing peers. We have not yet seen any failures.

The agency is showing measurable cognitive gains for our collaborative work [averaging] 20 to 28 points in independent WPPSI testing of the children. Several families and children are thriving with less intensive special education service or returned to regular education class. Not only has the family and child suffering been reduced, the burden to taxpayers is also reduced. The children have been able to remain in the community, and some who were functioning as severely autistic and retarded now appear to be developing within a somewhat normal range.

— Jay S. Parnes, Ed.D. Senior Administrator, Special Education, 12/03/2001