(1) The student may be identified as having autism if documentation supports the existence of a developmental disability that was generally evident before the student was three years of age and if the student has communication difficulties in verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction.
(2) Assessments shall document the presence of significant delays in verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction.
(a) Significant delays in verbal communication are manifested by at least one of the following:
(i) delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language (not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through alternative modes of communication such as gesture or mime);
(ii) in students with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others.
(b) Significant delays in nonverbal communication are manifested by a marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye to eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, or gestures to regulate social interaction.
(c) Significant delays in social interaction are manifested by at least one of the following:
(i) failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental levels;
(ii) lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., lack of showing, bringing or pointing out objects of interest);
(iii) lack of social or emotional reciprocity;
(iv) lack of varied, spontaneous, make‑believe play or social imitative play appropriate to developmental level.
(3) Other characteristics often associated with autism may include restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, as manifested by one or more of the following:
(a) Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus;
(b) Apparently inflexible adherence to specific nonfunctional routines or rituals;
(c) Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements);
(d) Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects.
(4) A student who manifests the characteristics of autism after age three could be identified as having autism if the criteria in (2) and (3) are met.
(5) The student may not be identified as having autism if the student's educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the student has an emotional disturbance.