Category Archives: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

 4. How would technology help school professionals assist students with ASD?

According to the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 (Public Law 100-407), an assistive technology means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, off-the-shelf, modified or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. Technology supports can be used for alternative and augmentative communication, or as a motivating teaching tool or strategy designed to increase both skills and to increase independence. Smart technologies such as the iPad and iPod are helpful for students with higher functioning autism.

Assistive Technology

A resource explaining how various types of assistive technology might be used for students exhibiting symptoms of ASD can be found at:

The Wisconsin Assistive Technology Institute (2009) provides a manual to help professionals in gathering information to choose useful assistive technology for a particular student; and provides an environmental observation guide, a decision making guide with directions, and a tools and strategies section. This resource can be located at

From MA DESE Eligibility and Assessment Guidelines (Draft)

 3. How does DSM-5 impact identification under IDEA?

IDEA provides an educational definition of autism. Schools cannot require a family to obtain a medical diagnosis of autism for their child. Given this, a child can qualify for IDEA’s autism definition without a medical diagnosis of ASD and receive appropriate services to meet needs. IDEA’s definition of Autism does not exactly match with either the DSM-IV or DSM-5 criteria for ASD. Legal precedent and regulation supports including Asperger’s within IDEA’s autism category in a school-determined eligibility determination for services.

From MA DESE Eligibility and Assessment Guidelines (Draft)

 2. How is the assessment and diagnosis of ASD affected given the updating of DSM?

Autism spectrum disorder is a new DSM-5 name that reflects a scientific consensus that four previously separate disorders are actually a single disorder. This single condition has different levels of symptom severity in several domains. Deficits in social communication and social interaction PLUS restricted repetitive behaviors, interests, and activities are required for the diagnosis when using DSM criteria. If the student does not exhibit restrictive repetitive behaviors interests, and activities, a professional using DSM-5 would diagnose social communication disorder.

From MA DESE Eligibility and Assessment Guidelines (Draft)

 1. Can a school team determine that a child fits the category of “autism,” or does a medical provider need to make this determination?

A medical diagnosis of autism is not required for a school team consisting of professionals such as school psychologists, who are qualified to make this determination, to identify a child as demonstrating the symptoms of autism and requiring appropriate services.

From MA DESE Eligibility and Assessment Guidelines (Draft)