Autism Spectrum Disorder

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism is a neurological disorder of development that causes differences in the way the brain
processes, integrates and organizes information. It affects an individual’s ability to understand
and use language to interact and communicate with people. Impacts their ability to understand
and relate in typical ways to people, events and objects in the environment. It also significantly
impairs their ability to respond to sensory stimuli. (pain, hearing, taste)

Characteristics of ASD:

Impairments in Communication:

May or may not use verbal language, may not understand the function of language, repetitive language or echolalia, unusual voice characteristics, literal use and understanding of language, poor understanding of non-verbal communication such as gestures and facial expressions, limited eye contact, communications focus on own individual interests.

Impairments in Social Interaction:
Poor reciprocity; turn taking, decreased social smile, eye contact and use of gestures, poor understanding of social cues and social rules, may want friends but lack the ability to make or keep them, difficulty taking listeners perspective, difficulty with group and team activities.

Unusual Responses to Sensory Stimuli:
May demonstrate self-stimulatory behavior, over responsive or under responsive to sensory stimulation, strong preferences or aversions to certain clothing, foods, or smells, attention difficulties, slower processing time, poor motor coordination, difficulty with fine motor tasks.

Repetitive and Stereotyped Behaviors:
Very few interests and very intense, inflexible adherence to routines and rituals, stereotyped and repeated mannerisms, difficulty sequencing and organizing tasks, difficulty with changes in routine and transitions between activities, variable performance from day to day, rule bound.

Autism Spectrum Disorder Services


The High Desert Education Service District’s Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) specialists partner with school district staff to provide comprehensive evaluations for children and students who may have ASD. Evaluations include:

  • Developmental profile
  • Behavioral observations
  • Direct interactions with children/students
  • Communication assessment
  • Medical statement
  • Any other assessment necessary to determine educational impact


Services are available to children and students who are identified as having an educational eligibility for ASD services and have been referred by the local school districts or EI/ECSE program.


For school age children referrals for an evaluation are made by a student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team or their district’s special education office. For children Birth to Five referrals are made through their early intervention or early childhood special education team.

Consultation Services

The High Desert Education Service District partners with schools to provide support in the following areas:

  • Development of Individual Education Plans (IEP) or Individual Family Support Plans (IFSP)
    • Curriculum adaptation
    • Environmental modifications
    • Social skills
    • Behavioral supports
    • Self advocacy
    • Daily living skills
    • Transition support
    • Communication
  • Trainings for Teachers & Staff
    • Individual and group training to support teachers and school staff who work with students who have ASD is also available through the High Desert Education Service District.

Areas Served

Areas served include Deschutes, Crook, Wheeler, Jefferson, Harney, Gilliam and Sherman Counties, as well as the The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.