- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 12, 2019

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Montana public education officials are holding a public hearing on proposed changes to the criteria for identifying students with autism.

The hearing at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Office in Public Instruction in Helena gives the public a chance to comment on the proposal that would create a checklist of characteristics that officials say incorporate the latest knowledge about the developmental disability.

Children would have to meet at least 14 of the 30 criteria to be identified as having autism and be eligible for specialized individual education programs under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

OPI officials say the change is being made to better identify students with autism. Disability Rights Montana officials are concerned that the criteria would create a restrictive system that would exclude many children who need the services.

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