Autism Spectrum Disorder- ASD Karyn Anspach Lutheran Special Education Ministries What is ASD?? Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder have an impairment in their ability to: • Understand and use non-verbal and verbal communication • Understand social behavior • Think and behave flexibly – Made-up of subgroups – Well-known subgroups include • Autism • Aspergers – Many have a mixture of features from different subgroups COMMON FEATURES OF AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS Although these features may be common in ASD, not every child will demonstrate these features: • Generally, well developed gross and fine motor skills • Unique mechanical ability • Special or unusual interests • Rote Memory skills - detailed lists, dates, schedules, scenes from movies, songs, etc. • Cognitive Impairment • Unusual response to sensory stimuli • Distractible or high activity level • Unusual mood swings • Self-injurious behaviors • Insistence on sameness • Limited food preference • Sleep disturbances • Lack of danger awareness • Depression • Seizures • Various levels of anxiety Current Facts About ASD • Incidence / prevalence is 1:150 • Poor short term and working memory children are being identified • 50-80% have a co-existing disability • Michigan is 4th in the nation with the highest number of students • There is no known cure diagnosed with ASD • May or may not have a cognitive • ASD is a lifelong developmental impairment disability • Atypical functioning in various parts • Occurs in more males than females of the brain (approximately 8/10) • Speech-language delays • It is hereditary with a genetic link • Socialization delays • May appear within the first 2-3 years • May have fine and gross motor of life delays • May have sensory delays Three Areas of Development Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder Communication Socialization Behavior Sensory Integration COMMUNICATION • Delay, loss or lack of verbal language • Difficulties initiating and sustaining conversations • Stereotyped / repetitive language (echolalia, pronoun reversal, jargon, commercials, books, movies) • Poor or limited expressive, receptive and pragmatic language skills • Monotone or limited variability in vocal inflection • Poor, limited or lack of nonverbal communication (point, gesturing) • Difficulty with humor, figurative language or metaphors • Pronoun reversal or speaking in the third person sense SOCIALIZATION • Difficulty with non-verbal social cues (eye contact, facial expressions, body space, body posture, gestures) • Difficulties or lack of social and emotional reciprocity (taking in consideration of the other person’s feelings, may not notice / respond person is losing interest) • Impaired perspective taking (considering another person’s point of view, assume people are interested in what they have to say i.e. “Intricate parts of a space ship or engine”) • Difficulty or lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment or interests with other people • Difficulty initiating and maintaining relationships with peers and sometimes adults. (Better relationships with adults than peers) • Lack of pretend or imaginative play • Limited in the ability to use toys symbolically (baton as a magic wand) • Difficulty with play and games - rote pattern, repetitive, rigid, inflexible • Difficulty with sensory input that interferes with the ability to respond and participate with social interactions (sight, tactile, auditory) BEHAVIOR • All encompassing preoccupation with stereotyped patterns of interest that are intense in focus (color interests, cartoon characters, Sega) • Inflexible adherence to routines or rituals (distress at change, dressing routine, driving rituals, specific path to walk) • Self stimulating behaviors - hand flapping, finger flicking, tapping, whole body movements, repeating phrases • Persistent preoccupation with objects (pipes under a sink, wheels on a toy car, TV Guide books) • Difficulty with play skills - rigid, routine, understanding the rules, not being a winner • Self aggression - picking at skin or hair, causing harm to own body • Aggression towards others - related to sensory and social difficulties • Lack of varied, developmentally appropriate, spontaneous, make believe play or social imitative play (lining up blocks, spinning tires, fixated on certain games, videos, build same Lego structure over and over) • Their strong willfulness may appear to be “lack of compliance” but is not • High anxiety and stress especially when change occurs, unpredictable, new situation, or not enough time to process The Goals of Educational Programming for Students with ASD • Independent Functioning • Socialization Skill Development How do we put it all together? Integrate academic, behavior, social, and communication into the educational plan. Behavior Is Communication Don’t Take it Personally! • Behavior is communication and serves a function! • Watch for times when student appears stressed and anxious • Avoid verbal overload • Use visuals supports/strategies • Avoid Sarcasm • Problem behaviors are not the same as behavior problems • Monitor your own reactions, as your anxiety increases so will theirs • Be direct, tell them what needs to be done and what they need to do • Ultimate goal is to improve independent functioning and socialization skills Anxiety Indicators May include, but not limited to: • Inappropriate laughing •Excessive itching or scratching • Flush appearance •Withdrawal or daydreaming • Changes in breathing patterns •Unusual posturing • Body Language •Unusual hand / finger movements • Clearing of the throat •Rocking • Repetitive Language topic focus/litany •Chewing motion or sucking on lip • Retreating to a fantasy world •Sweating (character’s, movie, plots, etc.) •Aggression towards self / others • Covering face, eyes, ears STRATEGIES FOR THE CLASSROOM Visual Supports: • pictures • written words • choices • classroom schedule • personal schedule • mini schedules • checklists • rules • prompts • labeling of objects, containers, signs, lists, charts, and messages Visual Schedule Visual Rules and Story Visual Schedule Visual Schedule and Rules Personal Schedule Strategies cont.~ Visual Modalities: • planners • visuals for transitions • organizers for a specific task • visual structure for less structured time • material and desk top organizer • visual display of classroom assignments • file cards with directions for specific tasks and activities or pictographs and written instructions for learning new information Visual Organizer Strategies cont.~ Social-Type Stories: • describes a situation, skill, or concept of relevant social cues • perspectives • social scripts • rules • social coaching • common responses Strategies cont.~ • Pre-warn the student of change: use a visual timer, you have 5 minutes until we go to gym, verbal cue Strategies cont.~ Written Choices: • use a choice board • offer choices in the form of pictures, words, post-it notes, etc. Strategies cont.~ Auditory: • break down oral instructions into small steps • reduce or warn student of external sounds fans, loudspeakers, fire alarms, several people talking at once, air conditioners, bells, etc. Sensory Activities: • use fidgets, koosh balls, bean bags, etc Strategies cont.~ • Structure unstructured events: provide a clear beginning and end, (Now we will have snack Next we will play a game) including on the playground • Fine Motor: graphic organizers, dictate to scribe, take notes, highlight notes, tape recorder, alpha smart, other low or high tech devices • Break System: allow the student to take a break in order to prevent a melt down or to de-escalate anxiety, protects dignity, let others use area as well What about Peers? • explain what you student with Autism is going through • encourage peer mentoring • involving the student in shared learning arrangements • pairing the student with buddies for walking down the hall, on the playground, and during other unstructured times • varying peer buddies across time and activities, to prevent dependence on one child • arranging cross-age peer supports/buddies by assigning an older student to assist the student with Autism • pairing students while attending special school events such as assemblies and clubs Questions?
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