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Disability Benefits for Autism

What are the signs and symptoms of ASD?

Not all people with ASD will show all of these behaviors, but most will show several.

People with ASD may:
  • Repeat certain behaviors or have unusual behaviors
  • Have overly focused interests, such as with moving objects or parts of objects
  • Have a lasting, intense interest in certain topics, such as numbers, details, or facts
  • Be upset by a slight change in a routine or being placed in a new or overstimulating setting
  • Make little or inconsistent eye contact
  • Tend to look and listen less to people in their environment
  • Rarely seek to share their enjoyment of objects or activities by pointing or showing things to others
  • Respond unusually when others show anger, distress, or affection
  • Fail or be slow to respond to their name or other verbal attempts to gain their attention
  • Have difficulties with the back and forth of conversations
  • Often talk at length about a favorite subject but won't allow anyone else a chance to respond or notice when others react indifferently
  • Repeat words or phrases that they hear, a behavior called echolalia
  • Use words that seem odd, out of place, or have a special meaning known only to those familiar with that person's way of communicating
  • Have facial expressions, movements, and gestures that do not match what they are saying
  • Have an unusual tone of voice that may sound sing-song or flat and robot-like
  • Have trouble understanding another person's point of view, leaving him or her unable to predict or understand other people's actions

People with ASD may have other difficulties, such as sensory sensitivity (being sensitive to light, noise, textures of clothing, or temperature), sleep problems, digestion problems, and irritability.

People with ASD can also have many strengths and abilities. For instance, people with ASD may:

  • Have above-average intelligence
  • Be able to learn things in detail and remember information for long periods of time
  • Be strong visual and auditory learners
  • Excel in math, science, music, and art

Reference: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/autism-spectrum-disorder/index.shtml

Essential Medical Documentation of Autism Needed for Disability Benefits:
  • How long has the condition affected you?
  • What medication is prescribed and effects of the medication?
  • How does the condition impact you in your daily life? (substantial impact?)
  • How does the condition impact your ability to concentrate, follow directions, stay focused and on task? (substantial interference?)
  • How does the condition impact your ability to interact with others? (substantial interference?)
  • Have you required any hospitalizations for your condition?
  • Have you been fired or reprimanded from work for your condition?

SSA utilizes the term "Impairments" (and resulting "limitations" - why you cannot work) are the essential bits of information that must be clearly and consistently documented throughout your medical history by the treating sources (medical doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists).

SSA additionally utilizes the term "Residual Functional Capacity" (RFC); this is a key concept related to the resulting physical and/or mental impairments from conditions for which the disability claim is based upon and the impact upon ability to work. 

SSA has its own forms that are used for Mental RFC here. These forms can be filled out by the treating source who has the opportunity to examine the patient and understand the limitations which result from his/her condition and thereby document with specificity in the language of SSA disability.

 SSA "Listing" or "Blue Book" description for Autism for children (under 18) here (see 112.10)

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