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What is autism?
Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal or nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 3, that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.

The term does not apply if a student’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the student has an emotional disability as defined by Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education eligibility criteria.

A student who manifests the characteristics of autism after age 3 could be identified as having autism if the criteria are satisfied.

[+] Read about the specific criteria used to determine eligibility in the educational category of autism.

Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education – Criteria for Eligibility in the Educational Category of Autism

A student displays autism when:

  1. Through evaluation that includes a review of medical records, observation of the child’s behavior across multiple environments, and an in-depth social history, the following behaviors are documented:

    A) Disturbances of speech, language-cognitive, and nonverbal communication: The student displays abnormalities that extend beyond speech to many aspects of the communication process. Communicative language may be absent or, if present, language may lack communicative intent. Characteristics may involve both deviance and delay. There is a deficit in the capacity to use language for social communication, both receptively and expressively.

    B) Disturbance of the capacity to relate appropriately to people, events, or objects: The student displays abnormalities in relating to people, objects, and events. There is a deficit in the capacity to form relationships with people. The capacity to use objects in an age appropriate or functional manner may be absent, arrested, or delayed. The student may seek consistency in environmental events to the point of exhibiting rigidity in routines.

  2. The condition adversely affects the student’s educational performance.

  3. The autism is not a result of an emotional disability as defined by Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education eligibility criteria.

Other behaviors which the student may exhibit include:

  1. Disturbance of developmental rates and sequences: The student may also exhibit delays, arrests, or regressions in physical, social, or learning skills. Areas of precocious skill development may also be present, while other skills may develop at normal or extremely depressed rates. The order of skill acquisition frequently does not follow normal developmental patterns.

  2. Disturbances of responses to sensory stimuli: The student’s behavior may also range from being hyperactive to being unresponsive to people and objects in their environment and can alternate between these two states over periods ranging from hours to months. Disturbances may be apparent in auditory, visual, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, and kinesthetic responses. The student may respond to stimulation inappropriately and in repetitive or nonmeaningful ways.
[+] Books, journals and other publications on autism

The SSD Family & Community Resource Center (FCRC) offers books, videos and other resources on autism (PDF). Materials may be sent home through school mail to families whose children receive SSD services. Others may come into the FCRC to check out materials.
[+] Other local, state and national resources related to autism

Local Resources
MO-FEAT (Missouri Families for Effective Autism Treatment)


Easter Seals Midwest

Judevine Center for Autism

State Resources
Missouri Family to Family

Missouri Department of Mental Health — Division of Developmental Disabilities

Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council (MDDC)

Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders

National Resources
Autism Society of America

Autism Speaks

Autism NOW

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12110 Clayton Rd, Town & Country, MO 63131  /  314.989.8100  /  314.989.8552 – 711 (Missouri Relay)

Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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