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Autism Spectrum Disorder

"Autism Spectrum Disorder" (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder ranging from mild to severe and characterized by core features of social/communication deficits, repetitive/restrictive behaviors and a lack of emotional reciprocity. The source for understanding the exact nature of ASD is the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The DSM-5 combines into one category previously distinct but overlapping subtypes (i.e., autistic disorder, Asperger's disorder and pervasive developmental disorder). While all people with ASD share the core features of the disorder, specific manifestations in developmental, cognitive, emotional and behavioral domains are unique to each individual.

  1. Qualified Professional
    • Professionals must have comprehensive training and experience in diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and appropriate licensure/ certification.
    • The name, title, signature, and credentials of the professional making the diagnosis should be clearly listed on the documentation.
    • Ideally, a team of trained professionals including a psychologist, psychiatrist, speech-language pathology therapist, and an occupational therapist would be involved in assessing and evaluating the individual.
    • Other professionals involved in making a diagnosis could include neuropsychologist, school psychologists, and clinical social workers.
  2. Currency of Documentation
    • ASD is a development disorder which is pervasive across the life span. However, the individual’s symptoms may change with time or with the environment. Given that, appropriate documentation needs to be timely and relevant to the individual’s current experience. Documentation should be from within the last 5 years or more current.
  3. Documentation Criteria
    • Documentation should be comprehensive and the evaluator may need to gather information from the individual’s parents about early manifestations of symptoms in childhood and history of the disability.
    • Specific diagnosis or diagnoses, as well as any co-occurring conditions, should be listed.
    • Documentation should provide information on current symptoms across a variety of settings (i.e. high school, employment, or daily activities).
    • Use of prior educational accommodations as well as current treatment and the impact of the interventions.
    • A comprehensive psychoeducational or neuropsychological assessment should be provided to identify the current impact on academic performance.
    • Evaluations often used in making a diagnosis of ASD include: cognitive assessment; executive functioning; expressive and receptive language and communication; psychiatric, personality, and behavioral assessments; sensory-motor integration; attention, memory, and learning; and visual-perceptual motor skills.
      • A link must be established between the requested accommodation and the limitations or symptoms associated with the ASD.
      • Medical history and information should be included. Documentation of currently prescribed medication, compliance, and side effects should be noted.
      • Documentation should recommend academic accommodations and provide a rationale on why these provisions will ameliorate the effects of the disability.