"Autism spectrum disorders (ASD)" means a range of pervasive developmental disorders, with onset in childhood, that adversely affect a pupil's functioning and result in the need for special education instruction and related services. ASD is a disability category characterized by an uneven developmental profile and a pattern of qualitative impairments in several areas of development, including social interaction, communication, or the presence of restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities. These core features may present themselves in a wide variety of combinations that range from mild to severe, and the number of behavioral indicators present may vary. ASD may include Autistic Disorder, Childhood Autism, Atypical Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, Asperger's Disorder, or other related pervasive developmental disorders.
A multidisciplinary team shall determine that pupil is eligible and in need of special education instruction and related services if the pupil meets the criteria in items A and B. A determination of eligibility must be supported by information collected from multiple settings and sources.
An educational evaluation must address all three core features in subitems (1) to (3). The team must document that the pupil demonstrates patterns of behavior described in at least two of these subitems, one of which must be subitem (1).
The behavioral indicators demonstrated must be atypical for the pupil's developmental level. The team shall document behavioral indicators through at least two of these methods: structured interviews with parents, autism checklists, communication and developmental rating scales, functional behavior assessments, application of diagnostic criteria from the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), informal and standardized evaluation instruments, or intellectual testing.
Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as documented by two or more behavioral indicators, for example: limited joint attention and limited use of facial expressions directed toward others; does not show or bring things to others to indicate an interest in the activity; demonstrates difficulties in relating to people, objects, and events; a gross impairment in ability to make and keep friends; significant vulnerability and safety issues due to social naivete; may appear to prefer isolated or solitary activities; misinterprets others' behaviors and social cues.
Qualitative impairment in communication, as documented by one or more behavioral indicators, for example: not using finger to point or request; using others' hand or body as a tool; showing lack of spontaneous imitations or lack of varied imaginative play; absence or delay of spoken language; limited understanding and use of nonverbal communication skills such as gestures, facial expressions, or voice tone; odd production of speech including intonation, volume, rhythm, or rate; repetitive or idiosyncratic language or inability to initiate or maintain a conversation when speech is present.
Restricted, repetitive, or stereotyped patterns of behavior, interest, and activities, as documented by one or more behavioral indicators, for example: insistence on following routines or rituals; demonstrating distress or resistance to changes in activity; repetitive hand or finger mannerism; lack of true imaginative play versus reenactment; overreaction or under-reaction to sensory stimuli; rigid or rule-bound thinking; an intense, focused preoccupation with a limited range of play, interests, or conversation topics.
The team shall document and summarize in an evaluation report that ASD adversely affects a pupil's performance and that the pupil is in need of special education instruction and related services. Documentation must include:
an evaluation of the pupil's present levels of performance and educational needs in each of the core features identified by the team in item A. In addition, the team must consider all other areas of educational concern related to the suspected disability;
observations of the pupil in two different settings, on two different days; and
a summary of the pupil's developmental history and behavior patterns.
The team determining eligibility and educational programming must include at least one professional with experience and expertise in the area of ASD due to the complexity of this disability and the specialized intervention methods. The team must include a school professional knowledgeable of the range of possible special education eligibility criteria.
Pupils with various educational profiles and related clinical diagnoses may meet the criteria of ASD under subpart 3. However, a clinical or medical diagnosis is not required for a pupil to be eligible for special education services, and even with a clinical or medical diagnosis, a pupil must meet the criteria in subpart 3 to be eligible.
October 12, 2007
Copyright © 2007 by the Office of the Revisor of Statutes, State of Minnesota. All rights reserved.