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Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)


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Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before the age of three, which adversely affects a child’s educational performance.  Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.  

Autism does not apply if a child’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has a behavior disorder, as defined in 281--Iowa Administrative Code 41.50(2).  

A child who manifests the characteristics of autism after the age of three could be identified as having autism if the criteria in the first sentence of this subrule are satisfied.  This term includes all conditions described by the term “autism spectrum disorder,” which adversely affects the child’s educational performance. 281--Iowa Administrative Code 41.50(1)

Autism Spectrum Disorder

The term Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) refers to a group of five disorders that all have autistic-like features.  Autism and its related disorders are medically diagnosed from a pattern of behaviors.  ASD includes the following medical diagnoses:

  1. Autism- also referred to as autistic disorder, infantile autism, or childhood autism
  2. Asperger’s Disorder- also called Asperger’s Syndrome
  3. Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) sometimes termed atypical PDD or atypical Autism
  4. Rett’s Disorder- also called Rett’s Syndrome
  5. Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD) sometimes referred to as Heller’s Syndrome

Services and Placement

A medical diagnosis is not required for educational services to begin.  The diagnosis of Autism does not dictate a specific placement.  Autism may occur by itself or in association with other disabilities.  Educational placement decisions must be based on the assessments of strengths and weaknesses of the student and the educational needs rather than on reactions to the label of Autism.  Students with autism may be served in a variety of settings.

Educational Description of Autism and ASD

This educational description identifies Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders as a lifelong, developmental disability which typically appears in early childhood years.  Students with Autism may exhibit varying degrees of atypical behavior that significantly interferes with the learning process in the following areas:

  • Communication
  • Social participation
  • The repertoire of activities, interests, and imaginative  development
  • Developmental rater and sequences
  • Sensory processing
  • Cognition

Documenting on the IEP

The Web IEP requires a disability coding (beyond eligible individual) specific to Autism or its spectrum disorders.  This is entered in the Required Systems Data section on Page A, in the Disability section.  

It is important to enter this data correctly, as it helps determine the number of students with this disorder.

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on April 20, 2014 at 12:06am.