Asperger’s or Autism Spectrum Disorder
Evaluators conducting assessments and summarizing relevant documentation materials for students with autism/Asperger’s spectrum disorder (ASD) must be qualified professionals. In particular, evaluators must have educational training and experience working with this population of students, especially with adolescents and adult students with ASD. Documentation materials presented pertaining to students with ASD must include the following:
A clear statement of how the student’s symptoms meet the DSM diagnostic criteria (and which specific DSM diagnosis is being made) is required. The evaluator should include measures used for diagnosis (e.g., the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Empathy Questionnaire, and/or the Adult Asperger’s Assessment). In addition, the evaluator should conduct a diagnostic interview, which must include evidence of differential diagnosis, as attention problems, sensory integration problems, seizure disorders, and anxiety disorders are not uncommonly associated with ASD.
An ASD evaluation should include cognitive, speech/language, and possibly sensory and/or motor (Sensory Profile) testing from batteries such as the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-IV, the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales, 5th edition, the Lieter Test of Nonverbal Intelligence-Revised, Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-4, Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals-4, Test of Adolescent/Adult Word Finding, Woodcock-Johnson III, Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration, tests of executive function (Tower of Hanoi, Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function, Trail Making), and so forth.
The evaluation should also include details from a parent interview (e.g., Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised, High-functioning autism spectrum screening questionnaire, Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire).
Record of Observations in Multiple Environments and Success of Prior/Current Interventions
In addition, detailed school/home observations should be provided that address the social component of the diagnosis, ideally including the student’s interactions with peers. Copies of the IEPs or 504 Plans from high school to examine methods used and progress may be helpful (although students will not likely receive all of the same accommodations and services in college as they received in high school).
Summaries from any clinician(s) such as occupational therapists, speech/language pathologists, developmental/educational specialists, and/or social workers who have worked with the student within the last five years should also be submitted.
Evidence of Current Need
Statements of the student’s current (within 3 years) functioning and needs and the evaluator’s related recommendations are essential for determining reasonable accommodations and services. This should incorporate updated testing, a social-emotional assessment, any current medications, and the student’s response to medication.
Because history, including age of onset and developmental progress, is an important element of ASD, a single, unified report may not be available or practical for determination of disability eligibility or of accommodations. Therefore, a number of documents, reports, and/or evaluations will likely need to be submitted in order for SSD to be most able to knowledgeably assist the student.