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Autism

Definition in State Rule: Autism

Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting a child's social interaction and verbal and nonverbal communication, generally evident before age 3, that adversely affects learning and 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 child's educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance. PI 11.36 (8)(a), Wis. Admin. Code

Incidence and Disproportionality

Incidence

For the 2020-2021 school year, 13,398 students (1.6%) of total public school enrollment (829,935 students) were identified as having autism. The 13,398 students with autism made up 11.4% of all students with IEPs (117,969). In Wisconsin, IEP teams are not required to identify secondary or tertiary impairment areas and thus the number of students identified as having a secondary or tertiary autism is not reflected in this data. Approximately 82% of all students identified with autism were male and 18% were female.

To view additional data including district level information, go to the WI DPI public WISEdash portal.

Disproportionality

In Wisconsin, like many other states, we see district data demonstrating race-based patterns of identification for some impairment areas compared to others. Although districts rarely demonstrate these patterns in the area of autism, as an equity issue, we strongly encourage all districts to disaggregate their special education data to ensure evaluation practices and procedures are culturally responsive and address bias when conducting and analyzing assessments used to make eligibility decisions. Go to the DPI Culturally Responsive Problem Solving web page for more information.

Autism Criteria

Criteria

§300.304 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) outlines two purpose of special education evaluations (i) Whether the child is a child with a disability; and (ii) The content of the child’s IEP, including information related to enabling the child to be involved in and progress in the general education curriculum (or for a preschool child, to participate in appropriate activities). The disability category criteria worksheets only assist IEP teams with (i) and are not sufficient in completing an evaluation and developing a student’s IEP. To ensure compliance with implementing a full, individual, and comprehensive evaluation, go to the WI DPI Comprehensive Special Education Evaluation web page.

Worksheets and Guidelines

Other Special Education Resources


Comprehensive Special Education Evaluation (coming soon)

We encourage you to sign up for our email list. Directions on how to sign up can be found on the DPI email lists web page. Scroll down to Special Education and click on “collabsupportlist."