Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are characterized by:
- Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts;
- Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities;
- Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period (typically recognized in the first two years of life) and,
- Symptoms cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning.
The term “spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment or disability that individuals with ASD can have. Some individuals are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely impaired.
For students with a diagnosis of ASD, the diagnosis should be made by a qualified professional such as a psychiatrist, licensed psychologist, clinical social worker, or other mental health professional. The following guidelines will assist the professional in addressing the information the Disability Services needs to provide the student with appropriate accommodations.
- Prepare documentation on professional letterhead, with the dates of assessment, signatures, and license numbers or credentials of the diagnosing professional.
- Provide a diagnosis and corresponding code from the most current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
- Provide a summary of present symptoms and their severity. Please include the current level of functional limitations; evidence of symptoms in childhood with absence of general delay in early cognitive or language development; impairments in social interactions or situations; and any patterns of behavior, interests, and activities.
- Assess broad cognitive ability and language function using standardized assessment measures with age-appropriate norms.
- Describe medication prescribed and any effect on academic functioning.
- Recommend accommodations and provide a rationale for those accommodations.
- If there are substantial limitations to learning, a psycho-educational evaluation is recommended.