State Board of Education Approves Revisions to ASD Eligibility Criteria

Posted by OCASD Staff on 6/21/2018

On June 21st, the State Board of Education approved revisions to the Oregon Administrative Rules (OARs) regarding the criteria school districts and early childhood programs utilize to determine eligibility for special education under the category of autism spectrum disorder (ASD); 581-015-2000 (definitions) and 581-015-2130 (eligibility criteria and evaluation components). These changes reflect the first overhaul in the eligibility criteria and required evaluation components in over 25 years. The new rules go into effect on January 1, 2019 providing school districts with time to familiarize staff with the new criteria, required evaluation components, and eligibility forms. The delay also provides Oregon’s Regional Programs with time to develop training and technical assistance materials to assist school-based professionals with implementation.

A central feature of the revisions is alignment with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th Edition (DSM-5) criteria for diagnosing ASD. While a medical diagnosis of ASD remains distinctly separate from an educational eligibility, adoption of the DSM-5 criteria brings medical and educational definitions into closer alignment. As a result, parents and caregivers are less likely to be confused by two widely different ways in which ASD is defined. Oregon has joined only a handful of states nationwide who have taken this important step forward since the DSM-5 was released in May of 2013.

The rule revisions represent the culmination of nearly ten years of study, effort, and advocacy. The Oregon Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders (OCASD) produced a 2010 Report to the Governor that called for better alignment of medical and educational ASD identification criteria. Members of the Screening, Identification, and Assessment (SIA) subcommittee of the OCASD worked tirelessly to further the recommendations of the 2010 report, pouring countless hours of effort into developing proposed changes in the criteria. Their work was then presented to Oregon Department of Education where the final proposed revisions were crafted following extensive input from a wide range of stakeholders, including parents.

The OCASD supported the rule revisions and we anticipate the changes will improve the quality and accuracy of ASD evaluations and eligibility determinations. We also hope the changes ease the reciprocal use of evaluation information across medical and educational systems thus reducing barriers to services.