; Autism Spectrum Disorders
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Autism Spectrum Disorders


  • pg 1

   A Parent’s Guide
        Presented by:

         Pamela Clay
    Semmes Elementary School
      What is the Autism Spectrum?

• The Autism Spectrum encompasses a
  number of childhood disorders to include:

  – Autistic Disorder
  – Rett’s Disorder
  – Degenerative Disorder
  – Pervasive Developmental Disorder-
    Not Otherwise Specified (NOS)
  – Asperger’s Syndrome
            Autistic Disorder

• Autistic Disorder (Classic) is the most
  severe form of autism.

• Nearly half are eventually diagnosed with
  mental retardation.

• A 2008 study indicated that “classic”
  autism occurs in about 4 of every 10,000

• “Classic” Autism is characterized
  extreme difficulty in the following areas:
  –   Social interaction
  –   Hyper-sensitivity to sensory stimuli
  –   Lack of empathy
  –   Verbal and nonverbal communication
  –   Repetitive behaviors
  –   Narrow interests
  –   Self-injurious behavior
  –   Perception of self
               More facts…

• In infancy, autistic children tend to be
  unresponsive to parents and people.
  Faces are unimportant.

• Older babies and toddlers do not respond
  when their name is called.

• They may show a reduced sensitivity to
  pain and hyper-sensitivity to sounds,
  smells, lights, touch and taste.
             Rett’s Disorder

• Rett’s Disorder is a neuro-developmental
  disorder that affects females almost

• Age of onset and severity of symptoms

• Rett’s Disorder is known to be cause by a
  specific gene mutation. Less than 1% of
  cases are inherited.
  Characteristics of Rett’s Disorder

• Lack of purposeful use of hands

• Slowed brain and head growth

• Gait abnormalities

• Seizures

• Mental retardation
    Progression of Rett’s Disorder

• Loss of muscle tone

• Hands become floppy and the child is
  unable to grasp and hold objects.

• Gradual loss of the ability to speak.

• Life expectancy ranges from early to late
         Degenerative Disorder

• Degenerative Disorder is similar to Rett’s
  Disorder in that there is continued and
  marked deterioration.

• Characterized by normal childhood
  development for the first two to three
  years of life followed by significant and
  rapid regression.

• Cause remains unknown.

• Degenerative Disorder is progressive and
  usually sequential.

  –   Loss of motor skills
  –   Loss of bladder and bowel control
  –   Loss of receptive language skills
  –   Loss of expressive language skills
  –   Violent behavior
  –   Psychiatric disorders
       Pervasive Developmental

• Children diagnosed with Pervasive
  Developmental Disorder-NOS possess
  characteristics that meet most of the
  criteria for a specific disorder that falls
  within the Autism Spectrum, but it can
  not be diagnosed with the highest degree
  of certainty.
         Asperger’s Syndrome

• Asperger’s Syndrome is much more
  common and is believed to occur as
  many as 20-25 children per 10,000.

• Range of the severity of symptoms within
  the syndrome. (Mild, moderate, sever)

• Mildly affected children often go
  undiagnosed and may just be considered
  odd or eccentric
   History of Asperger’s Syndrome

• Identified by a Viennese pediatrician
  named Hans Asperger in the 1940’s.

• Became officially recognized in the
  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
  Mental Disorders as for the first time in
       More Asperger’s facts…

• Asperger’s is much more common in
  boys than in girls. The ratio is 4:1.

• It is the mildest and highest
  functioning form of autism.
       Characteristics of Asperger’s

•   Difficulty with two-way social interaction

• Difficulty with verbal and nonverbal communication

•   Reluctant to accept change

•   Rigid thought patterns

•   Possess “all absorbing” narrow areas of interest

•   Appear physically awkward or clumsy.

•   No substantial delay in language development or

•   May possess higher than average IQ.
    Socialization in Asperger’s

• Inability to interact with peers in an age
  appropriate way

• Lack of desire for social interaction

• Inability to read social cues

• Display socially and emotionally
  inappropriate responses
     Communication in Asperger’s

• Language development is not delayed.
  Perfect expressive language.

• Odd or peculiar voice characteristics

• Impaired comprehension and
  misinterpretation of implied and literal
    Nonverbal Communication in

• Limited use of gestures

• Clumsy body language

• Limited and/or inappropriate facial

• Difficulty with personal space and
          Rigidity in Asperger’s

• Limited interests

• Hyper-focus and preoccupation with
  parts and pieces, toys, subjects, etc.

• Repetitive rituals or routines

• Inability to adjust to change
• Elementary –

 – Hyperactivity, inattention aggression
   and outbursts
 – Immature social skills
 – Underdeveloped fine motor skills
 – Obsessive areas of interest
 – Well developed rote learning skills
 – Academic progress may remain strong
• Middle and upper grades-

 –   Depression
 –   Behavioral flare-ups
 –   Poor attention and concentration
 –   Lack of organizational skills
 –   Anger and aggression
          How to help…..
• Keep classroom routines consistent,
  predictable and structured.

• Prepare student in advance for changes if

• Make sure rules are clearly stated and
  understood. (Literal verses implied

• Provide explicit, step-by-step instruction.

• Utilize visuals. (charts, schedules, lists,

• Practice rehearsing and practicing social
• Avoid figurative speech, idioms, sarcasm.

• Keep instruction concrete. Abstract
  thinking is difficult.

• Assign a non-Asperger peer person.

• Avoid power struggles. Behaviors can
  escalate quickly.

• Head off potential outbursts by taking
  preventative measures.

    • Encourage calmness
    • Negotiate
    • Present no more than 2-3 choices
    • Divert attention elsewhere
    Asperger’s Through the Years

• Preschool

 – Difficult to distinguish from “classic”
 – No evidence of developmental delays
   with the exception of possible
 – No delay in language development
 – Observed difficulty regulating social
   and emotional responses
               Diagnostic Criteria
               Asperger's Disorder

 A.   Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as
       manifested by at least two of the following:

       marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal
       behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression,
       body postures, and gestures to regulate social I

       failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to
       developmental level

       a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment,
       interests, or achievements with other people (e.g. by
       a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of
       interest to other people)

       lack of social or emotional reciprocity
B.   Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of
     behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at
     least one of the following:

     encompassing preoccupation with one or more
     stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is
     abnormal either in intensity or focus

     apparently inflexible adherence to specific,
     nonfunctional routines or rituals
     stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g.,
     hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-
     body movements)

     persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
C.   The disturbance causes clinically significant
     impairment in social, occupational, or other important
     areas of functioning

D.   There is no clinically significant general delay in
     language (e.g., single words used by age 2 years,
     communicative phrases used by age 3 years)

E.   There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive
     development or in the development of age-appropriate
     self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other than social
     interaction), and curiosity about the environment in

F.   Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive
     Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia

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