Medical Diagnosis vs. Educational Verification

A medical diagnosis of autism is usually given by a doctor or clinical psychologist. The diagnosis is guided by criteria in the DSM-IV and based on a medical model.  An accurate diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder must be based on observation of the individual’s communication, behavior, and developmental levels.  Because many of the behaviors associated with autism are shared by other disorders, various medical tests may be ordered to rule out or identify other possible causes of the symptoms being exhibited.

An educational verification is a process conducted by a school district to determine eligibility for special education services.  If the process indicates that a student has a disability, a plan will be made to provide appropriate services that address the student’s individual needs at school. The verification process will reflect assessments done by a multidisciplinary team.  Determining eligibility for an educational verification is based on an educational model.

Verification criteria are defined in Nebraska Rule 51.

Why is this important?

It is important to understand how autism is diagnosed and/or educationally verified so parents or caregivers understand what autism is and what services are offered in order to be an effective advocate for their child.