Documentation Guidelines: Autism Spectrum Disorders

To receive accommodations for College Board exams, students with autism spectrum disorders must make a request to College Board’s Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD)—even if they have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), a 504 plan, or already receive those accommodations for school or state tests.

All requests should meet seven key criteria.


  1. The diagnosis should be clearly stated.

    The diagnosis should be made by someone with appropriate professional credentials, should be specific, and should reference the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5 or whichever edition was current at the time of diagnosis).

    These DSM-IV diagnoses are acceptable if the student received a well-established diagnosis prior to DSM-5:

    • Autistic disorder
    • Asperger’s disorder
    • Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified
  2. All information should be current.

    Because disabilities change over time, documentation must be up to date. Academic testing should be no more than five years old. Cognitive testing may be older than five years, but testing performed before third grade may not provide a valid indication of the student’s current ability. Medical or psychiatric testing should have a current update, completed within the last year.

  3. History should be presented.

    Provide relevant educational, developmental, and medical history in support of the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and the functional limitation. Information about the student’s history of receiving school accommodations and current use of accommodations helps College Board understand the nature and severity of the student’s disability and the need for accommodations. Teacher observations are often helpful as well; they may be recorded on the Teacher Survey Form.

  4. The diagnosis should be supported by testing.

    A medical note is usually not sufficient to support the need for accommodations. Documentation should demonstrate that a comprehensive assessment was conducted and include:

    • A summary of current symptomatology, treatment, and ongoing needs.
    • A narrative summary of evaluation results with clear evidence of clinically significant impairment in an academic setting.
    • Comprehensive cognitive and academic testing (particularly when requesting extended time) such as those found on our page of commonly used diagnostic tests.
  5. Functional limitations should be described.

    Explain how autism spectrum disorder currently impacts the student’s academic functioning and ability to participate in College Board exams. Functional limitation can be documented in a variety of ways:

    • Psychoeducational evaluations, including standardized test scores and narrative. Use national norms to support both the diagnosis and functional limitation.
    • Summary of the student's developmental, educational, and/or psychiatric history.
    • Descriptive information from the school, such as teacher observations, which can be recorded on the Teacher Survey Form.
  6. Recommended accommodations should be justified.

    Provide a detailed rationale for requested accommodations, focusing on:

    • The connection between the student’s diagnosed disability and the requested accommodations.
    • Current academic needs of the student, including functional impairments and use of accommodations in school.
    • A detailed description of the student’s current symptoms, including frequency, duration, and intensity.

    For example, students requesting extended time should document difficulty taking timed tests and include standardized scores on timed and untimed or extended time tests.

    See documentation guidelines for frequently requested accommodations for requirements specific to extended time, breaks, reading and seeing accommodations, recording responses, use of a four-function calculator, and assistive technology.

  7. Evaluators' professional credentials should be listed.

    To ensure valid testing and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, evaluators must be licensed by the state in which they practice.