Autism in the Ontario education system has both a diagnosis given by a doctor or psychologist, as well as an identification given by a team of special education professionals and the family at an identification, placement, and review committee (IPRC) meeting (Ministry of Education, 2001).  The doctor or psychologist will often use a test of autism like the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) or the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), which are based on the definition of autism in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-V). According to the DSM-V, a diagnosis of autism is based on persistent deficits in three areas of social communication and interaction, as well as at least two of four types of restricted, repetitive behaviors.

Autism is defined by the Ontario Ministry of Education under the exceptionality category of “communication” as “a severe learning disorder that is characterized by disturbances in rate of educational development, ability to relate to the environment, mobility, [and] perception, speech, and language” as well as a “lack of the representational symbolic behaviour that precedes language” (2001).  A diagnosis of autism is required before an identification of autism is given.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th Ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.

Ministry of Education. (2007.) Effective Educational Practices for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Resource Guide. Ontario.

Ministry of Education. (2001). Special Education: A Guide for Educators. Ontario.

National Research Council. (2001.) Educating Children with Autism. Washington: National Academy Press.



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