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Autism: Putting the Pieces Together
Transcript of Autism: Putting the Pieces Together
A presentation by Ashley Augustine, Nicole Leonick, Georgina Fuentes, and Maria Balazy
What is Autism?
"Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. People wil ASDs handle information in their brain differently than other people." (1)
The Autism Spectrum has five clinical conditions that fall within it:
1. Autistic Disorder
2. Asperger's Disorder
3. Rett Disorder
4. Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)
5. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD-NOS)
ASD's are "spectrum disorders." That means ASD's affect each person in different ways, and can range from very mild to severe.
People with ASD's share some similar symptoms, such as problems with social interactions, but have differences in when symptoms start, how severe they are and the nature of their symptoms.
Here's a look at some of the most commonly diagnosed ASD's...
affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people
People with the condition have difficulties in three main areas. They are:
is a rare developmental disorder that
affects girls almost exclusively
It is characterized by
normal early growth and development
followed by a slowing of development
, loss of purposeful use of the hands, distinctive hand movements, slowed brain and head growth, problems with walking, seizures, and intellectual disability.
Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)
is also known as Heller's syndrome.
It's a very rare condition in which children develop normally until at least two years of age, but then demonstrate a severe loss of social, communication and other skills.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)
diagnosis applied to children or adults who are on the autism spectrum but do not fully meet the criteria for another ASD such as autistic disorder or Asperger's Syndrome.
Its defining features are significant challenges in social and language development.
PDD-NOS remains relatively new, dating back only 15 years or so. As a result, some physicians and educators may not be familiar with the term
Here are some statistics about Autism Spectrum Disorders...
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify around
1 in 68
American children as
on the autism spectrum
four to five times more common among boys than girls
An estimated 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States.
over 2 million
individuals in the U.S.
and tens of millions worldwide.
Autism costs a family
a year on average
for Teachers: How to reach your ASD Students.
Understand your student's diagnosis.
The writers of our Inclusion text book say that:
"The biggest obstacle in meeting the needs of students with ASD is that many teachers lack sufficient knowledge about the disability."
Having a basic understanding about where your student has difficulties can help you can plan lessons that will meet the students needs.
Create an inviting classroom environment.
Many students with ASD can become upset because of bright colors and strange noises, so making minor changes in the classroom could improve your students well-being.
Be aware of potential visual, auditory, or olfactory stimulators.
Many people with autism find it difficult to filter out background noise and visual information. They are also very detail-oriented.
Several authors have created trade books that introduce ASD in a kid-friendly way and can be used as interactive read-alouds, such as:
I Am Utterly Unique
: Celebrating the Strengths of Children with Asperger's Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism
The Autism Acceptance Book
: Being a Friend to Someone With Autism
My Brother Charlie
All About My Brother
My Friend Has Autism
Maintain structure - establish a consistent routine
Break activities into smaller steps and define when each step should be carried out.
Make sure the students know what to do if they finish ahead of time and minimize time between activities.
Have a set schedule
Students with autism like order and detail so schedules will help these students feel secure and know what to expect.
Make sure the schedule is visible and referred to within the classroom.
Verbal instruction or using a timer can let students know how much time is left and reduce the stress associated with the change.
Use simple, concrete language
Try to get your point across in as few words as possible.
Avoid sarcasm or idioms.
In order to clarify understanding, ask a student to rephrase the statement.
Tell the student what should be done rather than what should not be done.
Be creative when teaching
Approach topics with different perspectives.
Engage students by integrating their interests in lessons.
Teach with lists
Lists can be used to set expectations or order information
Visuals help maintain a child's interests and focus.
Educating the Class
Your most important task is to
create a social environment
in which positive interactions between the child with autism and his/ her peers are facilitated throughout the day.
Raise awareness about diversity
Inform students about Autism
Illustrate main features of autism using various resources
Provide student-specific information
Describe how Autism affects the student with autism in their daily life
Give suggestions and strategies
Provide specific ideas on how they can get to know and help the student with autism
Allow for open questions
Children with autism are
: children, experience the world in different ways, have their own way of communicating, have feelings, need and want friends, and are important members of our class
Autism is NOT contagious or fatal
Approaching Behavioral Challenges
Students who call out in class
Potential Reason due to ASD: challenges with social understanding and impulsivenes
on who will be called on to talk and when
, possibly with a visual cue
If off topic, then schedule a specific time for him to share with you or the class
Give the student a specific number of poker chips each day, have him pay to talk
Students who come across as rude, insensitive, or offensive
Potential Reasons due to ASD:
difficulty taking the perspective of others, indiscriminate honesty, disinterest in responding
Model and teach appropriate social responses
something is considered offensive
Reevaluate social situation
observed: discuss what happened and what can be done in the future
Students Who are Inflexible with Change:
Possible Reasons due to ASD:
need for predictability, structure, and control
Provide a consistent schedule
which the student can refer to and
write-in any changes
If possible, warn the student of absences and have good substitute plans available
Pair verbal warnings with timers
Create process for unfinished work
Don't sweat the small stuff.
Don't be afraid to make mistakes.
Don't take it personally.
"Anxiety in School" Real Look Autism Episode 1. (2011, April 4). YouTube. Retrieved April 2, 2014, from
ASD Classroom Practices. (n.d.). United Kingdom Education. Retrieved March 27, 2014, from http://www.deni.gov.uk/asd_classroom_practice.pdf
Autism in the Classroom A Child's Perspective. (2013, April 16). YouTube. Retrieved April 2, 2014, from
Childhood disintegrative disorder. (n.d.). Definition. Retrieved March 28, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/childhood-disintegrative-disorder/basics/definition/con-20026858
Educator's Guide to Dealing with Autism. (n.d.). Research Autism. Retrieved March 27, 2014, from http://www.researchautism.org/uploads/OAR_EducatorsGuide.pdf
PDD-NOS. (n.d.). Autism Speaks. Retrieved March 27, 2014, from http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/pdd-nos
Rett Syndrome Fact Sheet. (n.d.). : National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Retrieved March 29, 2014, from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/rett/detail_rett.htm
What Is Autism?. (n.d.). Autism Speaks. Retrieved March 29, 2014, from http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism
What is Asperger syndrome?. (n.d.). -. Retrieved March 30, 2014, from http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/autism-and-asperger-syndrome-an-introduction/what-is-asperger-syndrome.aspx