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

[+] 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 child is determined to have autism when:
  1. Through an 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:
    1. Disturbances of speech, language-cognitive, and nonverbal communication: The child 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.
    2. Disturbance of the capacity to relate appropriately to people, events, or objects: The child 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 child may seek consistency in environmental events to the point of exhibiting rigidity in routines.
  2. The condition adversely affects the child’s educational performance.
  3. The autism is not a result of an emotional disability as defined in this document.
Other behaviors the child may exhibit include:
  1. Disturbance of developmental rates and sequences: The child 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 child’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 child may respond to stimulation inappropriately and in repetitive or non-meaningful 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 Office of Autism Services

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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