Learning Types

During inventory and work assessments, one thing that we as employment specialists learn, and sometimes the individual with Asperger’s/HFA learns as well, is what learning type they are. With school starting this week, this is an important topic. During the initial stages of assessing our individuals’ best possible work environment, we also discover their learning types: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. I will now break down these types of learners and how they can affect employment.

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Visual learners prefer using images, pictures, colors, and maps to organize information and communicate with others. They can easily visualize objects, plans and outcomes in their mind’s eye.

Neuroscience Imaging the Asperger Brain

Neuroscience Imaging the Asperger Brain

Guest(s): Dr. Janessa Manning, Dr. Chris Plauche

The Asperger brain is different in both function and it’s anatomy as shown in MRI brain scans. This medical study explains why people diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome cannot read social cues thus ‘acting’ differently. It is NOT bad behavior…it comes from a brain that is different!

Practical Solutions for College Success

It’s that time of year! Students are preparing for college – gathering items for dorm living, buying textbooks, and saying one last so-long to high school friends as the summer winds down. Colleges and universities across the U.S. are preparing for the fall term too. At Marshall University, (and many colleges across the country), incoming freshmen arrive on campus several days before classes start to adapt to the campus community.Lonely male student posing while his classmates are talking

Acclimation to campus can be especially difficult for students diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder. Taylor and Colvin, in their article “Universal Design: A Tool to Help College Students with Asperger’s Syndrome Engage on Campus” (2013) provide helpful suggestions to institutions of higher learning that could make the orientation for students with ASD more effective.

Using Topic Cards to Develop Social Skills

Topic cards are similar to scripts in that they can help students engage in a variety of topics, beyond their own interests. They are different in that they include just a few words that describe a topic that launch a student or group students in a particular direction. Using Choice to Increase Academic Success

A teacher had created a special lunch group to help a student at the middle school level engage in appropriate teen conversations. She had one main interest and it would dominate every conversation. Her interest was in princesses and everything having to do with them. For most young teen girls, princesses were not much of an interesting topic for them. This narrow conversational topic had also narrowed her circle of friends to almost none. While the teacher had good intentions, simply creating a lunch group to help her engage in other topics had not been successful. The students needed some supports to be effective in their role as peer teachers. The teacher chose topic cards as the best strategy for this situation.

Work Assessment

If you were given the chance to work at a job you were interested in for a few hours to assess your skills and abilities, and to decide if you are comfortable and really enjoy it before starting the application process would you do it? For me, I would with no hesitation, but there were no opportunities like that available when I started working. However, there can be for individuals with Asperger’s/HFA.

This is called a work assessment, and it is imperative to future success. A work assessment also work in tandem with the inventory assessments.

Work assessments are very beneficial. They allow an individual to work in a simulated or actual work environment for a few hours to decide if it fits the negotiable and non-negotiable parts of their inventory assessment. It allows an opportunity to observe the individuals interaction with others, hard and soft skills, physical capabilities. Work assessments will also allow the individual the opportunity to decide if it is a job they think they would enjoy. More and more companies are opening their doors for work assessments, because it allows the company to have volunteer help with their product. This is also a crucial time for the employment specialist. During the assessments, if it is concluded that a site is a good fit, the employment specialist will start the process of setting up the supports for future potential employment. If it is not a good fit then arrangements will be made to complete a work assessment in another environment of the client’s choice. One of the most important things to remember during a work assessment is the client has a choice and a voice…and out of everyone’s it is the most important.

If you are interested in having a work assessment done you can contact your local vocational rehabilitation office and inquire about their services, and who they contract with that provides these invaluable services.

AuTalkz: Emotions

An amusing moment I recall is when I was home from school once in high school, and had the TV on as stimulation in the background.  It was running an episode of “Blue’s Clues”, and they were covering emotions.  I actually got one of them wrong on the section of matching up body language with an emotion.

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However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t comprehend or understand emotions, or what other people are going through.  In fact, I tend to use some of my experiences to help other people if they’re having a rough time.  I enjoy helping people…that’s one of the biggest reasons I started to make AuTalkz, in fact!

Using Scripts to Develop Social Skills

Actors use scripts to help them memorize dialogue as part of their performance. Once they have memorized the script, then they can recite the words from memory adding meaning through inflection, tone and pauses. One of the common strengths of students with an autism spectrum disorder is that of rote memorization.

Nervous Actors

Therefore, a script may be an excellent tool to build conversational skills. Scripts are written sentences or paragraphs that individuals can memorize and use as supports in social situations. From greetings to asking for help to engaging in a conversation, a script can be a simple and discrete visual support.

Motivation: Using Reinforcement Effectively

Motivation is key when using reinforcement to change the behavior of individuals with Aspergers or HFA.

When you think about it, it makes sense that motivation is at the center of it all. If a child or individual is motivated, they are more willing to make certain changes in their behavior and do what you want.

Highway road going up

Using motivation as a behavioral tool for change occurs for neurotypicals as well. For example, if there is a position available at work that someone wants, the individual will modify their behavior to increase the chances of obtaining that position.  The specific change in behavior is a direct result of motivation (as in wanting the position).  If the position was not available, the person would less likely be engaging in the changed behaviors.

That said, there are two ways to manipulate motivation: