Autism Spectrum Disorder
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong developmental disability that affects a student’s academic, behavioral, and social functioning in the educational setting. Although Autism disorder is typically manifested before 36 months of age, a child who first manifests the characteristics after age 3 may also meet criteria. Autism disorder is characterized by qualitative impairments in reciprocal social interaction, qualitative impairments in communication, and restricted range of interests/repetitive behavior.
School Social Workers are the lead professionals on the evaluation team for each student suspected of having an ASD. The initial assessment includes a record review, comprehensive assessment, observations, and a review of response to (pre-referral) interventions (RTI). Evaluations include both formal and informal assessment methods.
DPSCD staff use best practice methods when evaluations are performed. This means that they assess for all possible disorders under the ASD instead of just Autism.
Least Restirctive Environment (LRE)
The ASD Program Support Office Staff provides for students - preschool through Post-secondary, ensuring access to the general education curriculum in varied educational environments across the LRE continuum.
- First step on the continuum is the general education classroom with or without special education support. Students may receive needed accommodations by the general education teacher. General education teachers may receive strategies/ accommodation support from special education staff.
- Second and Third step on the continuum offers more support from special education. Special education staff may provide anywhere from 1-3 hours of direct or indirect support to a full day of special education programming with other students with disabilities (not only ASD).
ASD Center Programs offer two levels of programming:
- Fourth step. ASD classroom located in a general education building with special and general education students assigned to the building (designated for students who exhibit moderate to severe characteristics of ASD).
- Fifth step. ASD classroom located in a separate facility with only special education students assigned to the building (designated for students who exhibit severe characteristics of ASD).
Interventions for Students with ASD
Once a child becomes eligible under ASD, the School Social Worker provides direct and indirect services to address the individuals’ social and learning difficulties.
Types of Social Work interventions may include:
- Social Skills Training
- Referrals to outside resources (advocacy, etc.)
- Consultations with teachers
- Functional Behavior Assessment/Behavior Intervention Planning
- Individual, Group, and Classroom Interventions
- And many more, as needed
School Social Workers are the links connecting all of the support persons (i.e. teachers, family, doctors, community, etc.) addressing the needs of each ASD individual.