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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Important SPED Advisory for Children with Autism Spectrum Diagnoses

From the Federation for Children with Special Needs via the MassPAC List Serv

August 5, 2013

Technical Assistance Advisory SPED14 confirms that,

"...changes in the DSM-5 diagnostic categories do not alter a student's current eligibility status or IEP, nor do they change any of the federal and state laws or regulations related to the determination of special education eligibility or services."

For students on the autism spectrum, readers are also reminded that G.L. c. 71B, §3 requires IEP Teams to consider seven areas of need when developing the IEP of a student on the spectrum:

  • The verbal and nonverbal communication needs of the student.
  • The need to develop social interaction skills and proficiencies.
  • The needs resulting from the student's unusual responses to sensory experiences.
  • The needs resulting from resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines.
  • The needs resulting from engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements.
  • The need for any positive behavioral interventions, strategies and supports to address any behavioral difficulties resulting from autism spectrum disorder.
  • Other needs resulting from the student's disability that impact progress in the general curriculum, including social and emotional development (e.g. organizational support, generalizing skills, practicing skills in multiple environments).

Conclusion

If a student has a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, his or her eligibility for special education services in Massachusetts does not change due to recent changes in the DSM-5 related to children on the autism spectrum.

The DSM-5, although widely used, is only one diagnostic tool. Additionally, federal and state special education laws and regulations, not the DSM-5, prescribe the criteria for the listed definitions of disability, such as autism.

For additional information, please see:

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NESCA FAQ: What's the best way to make an appointment?

The fastest, most convenient way to arrange an appointment at NESCA is to complete our completely confidential online intake form, a brief questionnaire accessed under the Intake Fact Sheet tab at the far right end of the menu bar at the top of our website home page. The information you enter is delivered directly to our administrators via secure email, and helps them to identify the clinician most appropriate for your child given his/her age and your expressed concerns, and available according to your schedule. They will contact you promptly.

Alternatively, you can call NESCA anytime at 617-658-9800 and speak to, or leave a voicemail message for, administrators Amanda Renzi or Melissa Jensen. They generally respond to messages during business hours on the day they are received. 

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