Autism

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OVERVIEW  (BRIEF FACT SHEET: A legacy resource from NICHCY: AUTISM)

A developmental disability also referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  This disability significantly affects verbal and nonverbal communication, the understanding of pragmatics of language and social interaction, which adversely affects a child’s overall educational performance. Autism, a behavioral syndrome, is manifested and evident through a child’s exhibited patterns of behaviors and is generally evident before age three.  Other characteristics often associated with autism are engaging in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.  The term autism does not apply if the child’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance.

There are five disorders included in the definition of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Rett’s Disorder, and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. All disorders demonstrate significant aberrations in social language, communication, and behaviors, with the differences of each subgroup lie within the severity of the deficits.

Symptoms of General Autism

Social Interactions and Social Development

Difficulty having, understanding, maintaining, and developing:

  • Eye Contact
  • Facial Expressions
  • Body Language
  • Friendships with similar aged peers
  • Theory of Mind (sharing interests, enjoyments, and or achievements with other individuals
  • Empathy
  • Relationships with people

            Difficulty with verbal and nonverbal communication

             Difficulty with  

  • Learning to talk
  • Initiating conversation
  • Listener’s perspective
  • Social Negotiating

        Use of

  • Unusual speech patterns (grunting, humming)
  • Repetitive language
  • Echolalia
  •  Difficulty with receptive language
  • Understanding humor
  • Understands only literal conversation, not implied and/or ambiguous language (i.e., metaphors, idioms, etc.)

   Difficulty with Play and Routines

  • Extreme focus on specific pieces of a toy (i.e., wheels of a car)
  • Does not use toys in the conventional manner
  • Preoccupation with topics (i.e., train schedules, weather patterns, numbers)
  • Difficulty with changes in routines
  • Stereotyped behaviors (self- stimulating behaviors- rocking, flapping; self-injurious behaviors – head banging; and preoccupation with hands)

Temple Grandin, diagnosed with autism as a child, talks about how her mind works- sharing her ability to "think in pictures," which helps her solve problems that neurotypical brains might miss. She makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers and all kinds of smart kids. (Recorded at TED2010, February 2010, in Long Beach, CA. Duration: 19:44) http://blog.ted.com/2010/02/24/the_world_needs/

Temple Grandin is a professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. 

I also recommend to watch the 2010 film "Temple Grandin" starring Claire Danes as Temple Grandin.

Jake Math Genuis

VIDEO DISCUSSIONS

Children and Autism (27 mins:12 secs)

Child explains what it is like to live with autism (14min:21sec)

Children with Autism (27 min) A comprehensive look at childhood autism that takes a personal approach by focusing on two families faced with the challenge of raising an autistic child.

Our Autism Story -- The Porath Family -- Our Special Life -- Episode 4 (7 min) Published on Apr 26, 2012 Annabel is a 5-and-a-half year old girl with Isodicentric 15. One of the results of this condition is mild to moderate Autism. She is in school 4 days a week and has three occupational therapists, one physical therapist and one speech therapist. She also takes Hippotherapy in the form of riding classes at Ride On Therapeutic Horsemanship (www.rideon.org)

EVIDENCED-BASED PRACTICES

Effective Educational Practices for Students with Austism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

 Intervention options for Individuals with Autism

Effective and successful outcomes of any interventional method require the collaborative effort of skilled professionals with parents and families. An effective method must fit the needs of a particular student and must be carefully, correctly and consistently implemented by knowledgeable professionals (1-Simpson, 2005). 

No one single program can be deemed as the most effective and successful method for all individuals with ASD.  However, the most valid programs are those that incorporate a variety of practices and that are designed to support and meet the needs of the individual (2-National Research Council, 2001).

The following is a seven point guideline that frames the necessary practices that every program for children with autism should include:

  1. Positive behavior supports that target unwanted or challenging behaviors. Using functional analysis to determine the function of the unwanted behavior which is then followed by a positive teaching plan to teach functional (i.e., communicative) positive behaviors (NRC. 2001).
  2. Opportunities for building spontaneous functional communication skills should be weaved into the school routine and should occur frequently throughout the school day (NRC, 2001).
  3. Incorporate naturalistic teaching approaches that use individual choices and intrinsic reinforcers. These approaches foster self-motivation and the use of age-appropriate activities that lead to meaningful engagement with peers (NRC, 2001). 
  4. Three parts that are essential for successful progress (a) well-developed teaching plan that fits the individual’s current developmental level provided at a high-rate of occurrence throughout the day and across multiple settings; (b) ongoing progress monitoring and adjustment of teaching content and practices accordingly; (c) skills taught should be maintained and generalized in functional daily routines and natural settings (NRC, 2001).
  5. Opportunities for peer interactions with typically developing peers foster social growth.  These interactions should be in a natural and easily accessible environment occurring often and across multiple setting (NRC, 2001).
  6. Generalization of new skills and behaviors are important aspects of an effective intervention.  Individuals with autism should use these new acquired skills with a variety of people (children and adults) across a variety of settings and activities throughout the school day (NRC, 2001).
  7. As stated previously, parents and family members are crucial components of a productive program.  These family members can support the child’s new skills in the home and community.  Furthermore, they should receive training to effectively teach their children how to function within the family unit and how to be contributing citizens within their community (NRC, 2001).

Psychoeducational/behavioral Approaches

TEACCH (The Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children) is a comprehensive intervention plan that includes individuals from the age of early childhood through adulthood.  TEACCH is not a single intervention but a complete program of services that is founded on the notion of understanding the culture and world of individuals with autism. This program’s main goal is to maximize a student’s ability at all levels of functioning so that he/she can become as independent as possible. TEACCH incorporates several techniques and several methods in various combinations depending upon the individual’s needs and emerging capabilities (i.e., diagnosis, parent training, social skills and communication development, vocational training, and supported employment placements). There are four main prongs within the TEACCH framework; (a) understanding the culture of autism, (b) developing individualized and family-centered plan instead of using a standard curriculum, (c) structuring the physically layout that is most beneficial for the individual, and (d) using visual supports and visual cues for better understanding of tasks and daily activities (Francis, 2005 & http://teacch.com/about-us/what-is-teacch).

Behavioral Approaches

Approaches that are referred to as behavior intervention are those that are predominately Skinnerian based, that is to say, the core features of these programs are behavioral treatments.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): ABA (developed by Dr. O I Lovaas, 1987) is a behavioral intervention approach, focused on increasing positive behaviors and decreasing or eliminating unwanted behaviors.  A vital component of ABA is to determine a child’s current level of functioning and to identify specific challenging behaviors, noting the specific triggers of problematic behaviors.  All skills are initially broken into discrete components and are taught on a one-to-one basis using behavioral techniques of reinforcement (i.e., positive, backward chaining, shaping, prompt and prompt fading). The desired and correct response of a skill is repeated (with reinforcement) until it is unquestionably embedded within the child’s framework (Francis, 2005).

Discrete Trial Training (DTT): DTT is an instructional strategy that teaches skills on a one-to-one basis in a planned, controlled, and systematic manner.  Using DTT allows for a learning opportunity in which the student’s correct response is reinforced.  This method is based within the model and framework of the ABA approach and is presents a learning opportunity in which the student’s correct response will be reinforced.  DTT had a definitive beginning and end that contains three major component: antecedent (directive), the behavior (student’s response), and the consequence (reinforcement).  Antecedents and consequences are planned and explicitly implemented using positive praise and/or tangible rewards to reinforce the desired skill or behavior (Bogin, 2008-5).

Naturalistic Approaches

Typically developing children use self-motivation and self-initiation to respond to social and environmental stimuli, however children with ASD are generally lacking in this area. Thus incorporating methodologies within the child’s natural environment can lead to increase of motivation, spontaneity and generalization of a particular skill (Koegal, Koegel, & McNerney, 2001-6). The basic premise of this model has six basic thematic components: (a) unstructured learning environment; (b) learning occurs throughout ongoing interactions of the teacher and child; (c) child initiates the learning; (d) child selects teaching material; (e) target behavior is explicitly prompted; (f) a distinct relationship between the child’s response and the reinforcer; and (g) child is reinforced for attempts to respond regardless if the response is correct or not (Delaprato, 2001-7).

Alternative/Augmentative Communication Approaches

Since individuals with ASD have extreme challenges in understanding both social communication and pragmatics of language; and are visual thinkers and learners, applying visual supports to teach these skills can aid in the process of communication and social competence. These visual methods, sometimes referred to as augmentative communication, are used in combination with other interventions (e.g., TEACCH, ABA, DTT, etc.).  These visual supports can assist overall learning, especially in the areas of understanding, language, and expression of desires and needs (Francis, 2005-3).

EARN A BADGE

Test your knowledge and earn a REACH Badge:  Autism

REACH Badge                     REACH Badge

       Autism-Basics                                   Autism-Advanced

REQUIRED RESOURCES FROM NEW YORK STATE FOR ALL AUTISM WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS

 

This is a list of required resources to be provided to ALL participants taking training or course work in the needs of students with autism.  It is expected that the approved provider will provide ADDITIONAL resources to workshop participants. In the space below this list, provide the list of additional resources to be provided to participants.  Attach additional resources if necessary.

 

New York State Health Department:

http://www.health.state.ny.us/community/infants_children/early_intervention/autism/index.htm

 

New York State Education Department – Part 200 or the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education:

http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/lawsregs/part-200-201-complete-july-2015.pdf

New York State Education Department Autism Home Page:

http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/autism/

 

New York State Education Department – Autism Program Quality Indicators:

http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/autism/apqi.htm

New York State Regional Centers for Autism Spectrum Disorders:

http://www.albany.edu/psy/autism/RCASD.htm

University at Buffalo/Summit Educational Resources:

http://wnyautismcenter.org/

University of Rochester:

http://www.urmc.edu/childrens-hospital/autism/index.cfm

University at Albany:

http://www.albany.edu/psy/autism/autism.html

Westchester Institute for Human Development:

http://www.wihd.org/RCASD#.VTpCUiHBzGc

Hunter College:

http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/school-of-education/special-programs-and-centers/regional-autism-center

Queens College:

fbrowncuny@aol.com

Positive Behavior Supports

Autism Learning Goals from NY State

Autism Awareness

Doing What Works Learning House

Evidenced Based Practices

Resources from Fordham University Library - must log in with Fordham user identification

Book: Autism's False Porphets [electronic resource]

Handbook of autism and pervasive developmental disorders [electronic resource]. VOlume 2, assessment, interventions, and policy.

Videos to Think About:

Everyday Autism

Video of Child #1: Blue's Clues

New York State Profile from Easter Seals

ASD Overview Powerpoint

Autism Overview


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