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Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Alexis Mulcahy

on 23 November 2013

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Transcript of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Students with autism spectrum disorders often do not learn in the same way as their typically developing peers. A traditional approach to education often does not allow a student with ASD to maximize his or her true potential for learning. In order to maximize a student with ASD’s ability to learn it is
important to capitalize on strengths
. Universal design for learning provides the framework for educators to maximize student’s learning potential. Universal Design for Learning can provide students with autism
access to curriculum through multiple means of representation, engagement and expression.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Levels of Severity
Autism results in the impaired ability to communicate, understand language, play, develop social skills, and relate to others.
There is such a complex aspect to autism that there is no variable that can capture the extent of the impairment
Different Perspectives
For individuals with ASD, social skills are not easy. This is something that is very hard for people to understand.
Both fields of Neuroscience and Psychology have helped everyone understand Autism a little better.
Autism Awareness is evolving in our world today which is allowing more research and development to be done.
With the correct therapy and help, and individual with autism can grow and perform at the best of their ability.
IDEA Definition
A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction, usually evident before age 3, that adversely affects a child's educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual sensory experiences. The term does not apply if a child's educational performance is adversely affected because the child has a serious emotional disturbance.
- Leo Kanner described a group of children who displayed communication impairments, social interaction deficits, an repetitive behavior.
- Kanner developed a specific diagnostic criteria that would aid psychiatrists diagnose the condition.
- American Psychiatric Association added childhood schizophrenia as a diagnostic category to the DSM-II, with infantile autism as a subcategory.
- The DSM-III finally introduced the pervasive development disorders category and included within it was the autistic disorder subcategory.
High Severity
Have significant cognitive impairments and are often nonverbal.
Multiple levels of intellectual impairments.
Their social skills are minimal which often affects their education.
IQ's often below 70.
History Continued
- In Germany, Hans Asperger published his postgraduate thesis, "Autistic Psychopathy in Childhood", in which he described children with similar characteristics as children with autistic personality disorder.
-Wing introduced Asperger Syndrome to the English-speaking world, identifying similarities and differences in the findings of Kanner and Asperger.
- International professional recognition of the autism diagnostic category occurred when the World Health Organization included childhood autism and Asperger's disorder in the International Classification of Diseases.
Causes and Conditions
There is no known cause for Autism.
Thought to be caused by abnormalities in the brain structure or function.
Brain scans show differences in the structure and shape of the brain in children with Autism compared to children without.
Researchers are looking for irregular segments of genetic code that children with autism may have inherited.
Researchers are also looking for the possibility that a cluster of unstable genes that may interfere with the brain development.
Child does not babble or coo by 12 months
Child does not gesture by 12 months.
Child does not say a single word by 16 months.
Doe not say a two-word phrase by the time they are 24 months.
Student will have difficulty making eye contact with others.
Student may have difficulty developing relationships with peers.
Student may have difficulty communicating with speech or with gestures.
Student may have a hard time with starting or continuing a conversation.
Student may lack make-believe or pretend-play skills.
Most professionals believe that school-ages students respond well to highly structured, specialize education programs designed to meet individual needs.
When creating a plan, it is important to look at the social skill development, communication behavior, and sensory integration.
Some plans may consist of speech therapy., social skill development and medication.
Another plan may consist of social skill development, sensory integration, and dietary changes
Every child is different, therefore, plans are individualized. A plan for one students may not benefit another student the way that it should.
Case Study
Ryan's Story


Sensory (sensory diet, physical exercise, self-regulation)
Motor (visual cues, boundary indicators)
Communication (sign/gestures, communication boards, choice boards, speech generating devices, topic cards, greeting cards)
Academic (schedules, modified assignments, visual support strategies, notes given in advance, use of peer models, incorporate high interests, portable word processor)
Organization (in/out boxes, special folders, color coding, visual support strategies, memory strategies, PDA, timers, schedulers, watch with calendars/timers)
Behavior (social stories, visual cues, changes in proximity of adults, visual behavior management cards)
Social Interaction (Social Stories, comic strip stories, role playing, visual cues, video taping, audio taping, social rule cards, peer models, social scripts)
Transitions (object, picture, word schedules, visual auditory termination cues, visual/verbal reminders)

Technology Tools
TOBii-(True Object Based Icons)
Hands-on tool
Visual Representation such as shapes or outline of an item to represent something to the person being communicated with.
Helps the student be about to communicate verbally and non verbally.
Some students may not appear to have Autism at all.
Show an above-average intelligence, but lack social skills.
High Functioning Autism
Give students different options for presenting information
writing, typing, recording a video, drawing pictures, etc.
Present information in a variety of ways that interests them
Use creative methods to keep students interested in learning the content accordingly
History Continued
- The American Psychiatric Association's DSM-IV joined in establishing the diagnosis within the American Psychiatric community with the inclusion of both autistic disorder and Asperger's disorder under the category of pervasive developmental disorders.
-Bernard Rimland, a psychologist who was the parent of a son with autism, published "Infantile Autism: The Syndrome and its Implication for a Neural Theory of Behavior", asserting a neurobiological cause for the disorder.
- Rimland and others founded the Autism Society, a parent organization established to actively advocate for support for their children.
- Rimland founded Autism Research Institute.
History Continued
- Public Law 94-142 was passed, now call IDEA.
- The definition of serious emoitonal disturbance indentified both schizophrenia and autism as included diagnoses.
- Autism was removed from that category and added to the category other health impairments.
- As more students with ASD began to attend schools the public's exposure increased and the U.S. Congress finally added autism as a separate category of services under IDEA.
- Hit movie Rain Man provided opportunities for general public to get a glimpse into the lives of people with autism.

Rain Man Video Clip
Student may show interest in very few objects or activities and play with them in repetitive ways.
Student may spend time in repetitive movements (waving hand in front of their face).
Student may seem uninterested in sharing experiences.
Student may engage less in give-and-take social interaction with caregivers, siblings, and other close relations.
Students may have difficulty understanding what others are saying to him/her.
Book: Learners With Mild Disabilities: A Characteristics Approach
Technology Tools Cont.
TOBii Communicator is a tool that allows you to easily find personal solutions to improve communication. It is a software platform that serves as a basis for language and it allows users to optimize access to communication aids through their own individual skills. TOBii Communicator runs on all hardware types and allows for multiple modes of communication in order to best fit the user’s needs.
View when TOBii is in Use

Ryan is a healthy, active two-year-old, but his parents are concerned because he doesn’t seem to be doing the same things that his older sister did at this age. In the classroom he’s not really talking, yet; although sometimes, he repeats, over and over, words that he hears others say. He doesn’t use words to communicate, though. It seems he just enjoys the sounds of them. Ryan spends a lot of time playing by himself. He has a few favorite toys, mostly cars, or anything with wheels on it! And sometimes, he spins himself around as fast as he does the wheels on his cars. Ryan’s teacher is really concerned, as he’s started throwing a tantrum whenever his routine has the smallest change. More and more, his parents along with his teacher feel stressed, not knowing what might trigger Ryan’s next upset.

Ways to help Ryan
Provide Ryan with various technological tools such as the TOBii to allow Ryan to communicate both at home and in the classroom.
The classroom should be structured and organized so the classroom routine can be predictable for Ryan.
Consistency and continuity are very important so that the same tools, approaches, and techniques are the same both at home and within the classroom.
What are some ways and methods that you might help Ryan?
Visual Stimulation: It is vital for educators to be aware of mobiles and art projects that hang from the ceiling and the clutter of pictures, words, and designs within the classroom. These visual items, that others think may enhance the environment, distract many students with ASD. Some individuals are highly distracted by colorful rugs or mats, and are not able to effectively attend to a story or directions when this highly distracting item is present.
Staff Voice Volume/Tone: Noting and attempting to vary the voice quality used by the staff (e.g., reducing the tension and volume; using soft, easy speech) may calm students prone to tantrum at stressful times of the day. Observing the students’ reaction to various staff members may also reveal that one person’s voice is more disturbing than the others, simply because of pitch, volume, or rate.

Allow gum or water: Some individuals with ASD may frequently make noises or engage in “self-talk” which annoy others. A strategy that may help is to allow the student to chew gum or to keep a sports bottle with water close at hand to provide self-regulating oral stimulation in a more socially appropriate manner.

Staff Placement: Staff may want to experiment with proximity to the student with ASD. Some students with ASD are negatively affected by the close proximity of a teacher, paraprofessional, or another student. While other students may seek this “hovering” and find it supportive, the individual with ASD may need more space to maintain focus and comfort. For some students, challenging behaviors are known to decrease when staff members recognize and respect this need.


Being Rolled in a Mat: Some individuals with ASD that seek deep pressure may find comfort in being rolled up in a mat, provided firm pressure with pillows, or being given a firm “bear” hug. An occupational therapist with training in sensory integration can help determine if and when this might be helpful.

Weighted Vest: Some occupational therapists find that using a weighted vest or weighted blanket for short periods helps to calm an individual with ASD and will allow the student to sustain focus on tasks during and after wearing the weighted item. It is important to note that consultation with an occupational therapist is essential for determining initial use of these tools. If the weighted item is worn for too long, habituation may occur, decreasing the effectiveness of this tool.


Alternative Seating Choices: Provision of a variety of chairs (bean bag chairs, chairs with springs, cube chairs, etc.) may help a student with ASD to maintain focus for a longer period of time. Changing to a different type, feel, height, or width of chair may provide a different sensory input that helps the individual remain on task. Inflatable seat cushions (like the Disc-o-sit) can provide some "motion" to help a student sit in a typical seat.

Other Alternate Seating
Therapy Balls and Swings: The use of therapy balls as an alternative seating choice has shown to be an effective means of maintaining attention and focus for some students with ASD. Allowing students to “sit” on a therapy ball while working on a task or listening to teacher direction provides the student with some movement opportunities and stability to the legs and feet by maintaining balance as they sit. Swinging for periods of time between activities has also proved to be effective for some individuals who benefit from vestibular stimulation.
Stephen Wiltshire
An Autistic Artist.
Drew this 20 minuets after a helicopter ride over New York City.
He drew it all from memorization.
When over stimulated, children with ASD may benefit from taking a break. Allow children to use symbolism to initiate when students need a break at appropriate times. This will help avoid behavioral issues and provide student with a feeling of independence.
Make sure not to over-use the break card.
Give me a break!
Self-Regulation and Representation
Some children can benefit from the use of visual representation. The use of symbolize to allow teachers to know how their feeling helps prevent children with ASD from being over-stimulated along with shutting down.
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