What Are Autism Spectrum Disorders?
Autism is one of a group of disorders known as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). These disorders are marked by substantial impairments in the three core areas of: social relatedness, verbal and nonverbal communication and rigid, repetitive and restricted patterns of behaviors and interests. Many people with an ASD may also have difficulty with emotional regulation, cognitive impairment, motor and sensory disorders. There are five subcategories of ASD: Autistic Disorder; Asperger’s Syndrome; Rett’s Syndrome; Childhood Disintegrative Disorder; and Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified. Each subcategory has specific diagnostic criteria, which are described in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-TR).
Academy District 20's approach to programming for Students with Autism:
Academy District 20 encourages collaborative partnerships with families and professionals to address the widely varying needs of children and youth with autism spectrum disorders. As with any student qualifying for special education services, the Individual Education Plan (IEP) will direct the program. Services are provided in a continuum of environments based upon the needs of the individual student.
In order to meet the diverse needs of each student in the district, use of current research-based strategies and interventions are used to develop educational programming that meets each student’s unique educational needs. Continuing staff development opportunities are offered that focus on the skills that are needed to provide quality programming for students with autism spectrum disorders. Academy District 20 will continue to examine in-service opportunities that focus on research based methodologies that have proven to be successful for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Does a student with a medical diagnosis automatically qualify for services?
Students with a clinical diagnosis of an ASD or any disability do not automatically qualify for special education. Information from several sources must be considered in the determination of an educational disability and a clinical diagnosis may be one source. An IEP (Individualized Education Program) team must determine if the student meets the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) eligibility requirements for special education.
What can families do if they suspect an Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Parents who have concerns about their child’s development should seek the advice of their pediatrician or physician. For children birth through five, parents should request an evaluation by contacting the Academy District 20District's Child Find Office at 234-1750
Autism Assessment and Training Team:
This team of professionals has expertise in the area of Autism Spectrum Disorders. The team acts as an internal consultant to departments, schools and individuals within the district to provide support in assessment and program planning.