Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are characterized by:

  • Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts;
  • Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities;
  • Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period (typically recognized in the first two years of life) and,
  • Symptoms cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning.

The term “spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment or disability that individuals with ASD can have. Some individuals are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely impaired.

For students with a diagnosis of ASD, the diagnosis should be made by a qualified professional such as a psychiatrist, licensed psychologist, clinical social worker, or other mental health professional. The following guidelines will assist the professional in addressing the information the DRC needs to provide the student with appropriate accommodations.

  1. Prepare documentation on professional letterhead, with the dates of assessment, signatures, and license numbers or credentials of the diagnosing professional.
  2. Provide a diagnosis and corresponding code from the most current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
  3. Provide a summary of present symptoms and their severity. Please include the current level of functional limitations; evidence of symptoms in childhood with absence of general delay in early cognitive or language development; impairments in social interactions or situations; and any patterns of behavior, interests, and activities.
  4. Assess broad cognitive ability and language function using standardized assessment measures with age-appropriate norms.
  5. Describe medication prescribed and any effect on academic functioning.
  6. Recommend accommodations and provide a rationale for those accommodations.
  7. If there are substantial limitations to learning, a psycho-educational evaluation is recommended.

Mental Health Professional – Detailed Psychological Guidelines

Comprehensive and detailed documentation enables the Disability Resource Center to determine appropriate accommodations for individual students on a case by case basis.  Please address the following items.

A clear diagnostic statement and date of diagnosis

A description of the diagnostic criteria, evaluation methods, tests and dates of administration, and/or a clinical narrative (Diagnostic Interview, etc.).

Please provide information on how the diagnostic information was obtained.  Did you interview the patient, parents or significant others or use inventories, etc.?

A description of how the disability impacts the student and the severity of the functional limitations (distractibility, impulsivity, etc. – list all)

This area forms one of the key elements for determining the severity of the patient’s Psychological Disorders and how the Psychological Disorder impacts the patient’s ability to learn.  DSM-5 criteria for a psychological disorders would list some of the functional limits of the student.  Please list all of this client’s symptoms (functional limitations) thus lending more support that the psychological disorders impacts learning so that accommodations can be based on these symptoms or functional limitations.

Information on the cyclical or episodic nature of the disability and suspected environmental triggers to episodes

A description of current medications and any adverse side effects

Please list medications that may have side effects.  For example, some medications can make a person drowsy which could impact the speed for completing tasks which would support extended time for tests.

Recommendations for accommodations and support services that are logically related to the functional limitations (extended time on tests, low distraction environment, note takers, etc.)

This last part provides logical support for accommodations based on the patient’s functional limitations (symptoms).  For instance, anxiety could impact attention, concentration and processing speed so the student may need assistance with taking notes in class or extended time on tests in a low distract environment.  The more complete and detailed your report the better able we are in determining appropriate academic accommodations for your patient.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter. Please return this information in a letter that is typed, dated, and on letterhead to the address listed below or fax it to (706)542-7719.

If you have any questions, please contact the intake coordinator at 706-542-8719.

Last revised on 3 August 2016

Contact the DRC

Clark Howell Hall
825 South Lumpkin Street

VOICE: (706) 542-8719
FAX: (706) 542-7719
TTY: (706) 542-8778



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