The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), revised in 2008, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, offer protections for students with diagnosed disabilities. The ADAAA defines “disability” as (a) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual; (b) a record of such impairment, or (c) being regarded as having such impairment.
The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), now identifies Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder as Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Accommodations requests based on the diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation . This documentation must meet the following criteria:
- It must be written by a professional (neurologist; neuropsychologist; psychologist; psychiatrist; development pediatrician, speech and language therapist) qualified and practicing in the field of developmental disabilities.
- It must contain descriptions of the way this diagnosis functionally limits the student especially in the academic and social environment of a university.
- It should suggest reasonable accommodations in the academic setting that are based on the observations/assertions made as a result of comprehensive evaluation.
- Documentation should also comment on the way this disability impacts overall independent living skills, where appropriate.
- No accommodation can be implemented retroactively.