Beginning School: My Sensory Overloads

When I started school, I noticed that I did not like certain things around me. For example, the fire alarm for the monthly fire drills unnerved me to no end. The feeling that it could happen at anytime almost drove me insane.

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Some other problems I would have would be certain smells in the cafeteria would make me ill or the loud noises in the hallways would make me cover my ears because it was too loud. This is called a sensory overload, where certain everyday aspects of life can be uncomfortable for a child with Aspergers. Now, the main question is “What can I do for my child?”.

Well, my mother got involved with the school. She talked to the school staff about my Aspergers and how some sounds or smells can cause a sensory overload. By doing this, they were able to accommodate me i.e. taking me out before the fire alarm went off.

The first thing you can do is do what my mother did:

Talk to the school staff that knows your child and tell them about Aspergers and sensory. Don’t be afraid to tell them the details! Then, see if they can accommodate your child like they did with me.

by Samuel Allen

Using Graphic Organizers to Improve Your Child’s Academic Success

Continuing with instructional supports, this week’s blog will focus on a simple, yet powerful strategy: graphic organizers. “Graphic organizers are tools that help your brain think.” – Kylene Beers

Child, Graphic Organizer

Most teachers use graphic organizers, but might not be fully aware of the comprehensive benefits of this visual support. Graphic organizers can accomplish the following key elements toward instructional success:

Academic and Campus Accommodations for College with Aspergers

Autism and Higher Education

Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has risen significantly since first described in the 1940s; the Center for Disease Control estimates currently 1 in 68 children in the United States lives with an ASD diagnosis, and that 46% of those diagnosed have average to above average intelligence.

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A large body of literature describes the significant, life-long difficulties faced by many individuals diagnosed with ASD. The support needs for college students diagnosed with more traditional disabilities are well documented. There is a dearth of information, however, in regard to effectively supporting the college instruction of students with Asperger’s Disorder, and how to support their navigation of a campus society.

“Please,” “Thank you,” and “You’re Welcome”: Essential for Those with ASD to Excel in the Workplace

Social skills are especially difficult for teens on the autism spectrum, but many of these skills can be learned, and with practice, can become habit. Social skills are critical to make friends, get a job, and to live a fulfilling life. Research from Harvard University says social skills are the top factor for getting a job.

Share the following book excerpt with your son or daughter to give them a head start in mastering these important social skills.

Finding the Functions of Behavior in ASD Children

When a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism demonstrates challenging behaviors, we tend to blame the child’s autism. However, these challenging behaviors are not a byproduct of autism, rather learned due to ineffective means to get needs met—especially when there are barriers to communication.

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Bottom line: if an individual does not have a way to communicate appropriately, he or she will find a way to communicate in another way (e.g. screaming or hitting).

Keeping in mind the ABCs of behavior from our previous post, let’s discuss the key to changing behavior.

Using Scripts to Develop Conversational Skills for Students with ASD

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.

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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.

Employment Resources for College Students with Disabilities

ASTEP - Asperger Syndrome Training & Employment Partnership

ASTEP offers an important list of resources for college students with Aspergers, who are looking for employment or internship opportunities. Read through the summaries of what each organization offers, and click on the names listed to go to their websites. You can find the original post on ASTEP here.

Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities is a professional association comprised of more than 600 colleges and universities, and over 500 major national employers. COSD’s mission is to improve the employment rate of college students and recent graduates with disabilities on a national basis, by forming collaborative relationships between campus’ Disabilities Services and Career Services offices, and assisting employers in providing internships, recruiting, and hiring college graduates with disabilities.

AuTalkz: Mainstream

Though it can be inspirational to hear that a celebrity has Asperger’s, it tends to be more annoying than anything else. Especially in the cases where someone admits it and was diagnosed long ago, but hasn’t come out and said it until now.

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There are a lot of breakthroughs being made in autism research, and psychologists are starting to understand it more and more. I feel it’s become “mainstream”, even.  The diagnosis rate is going up, and people are either getting diagnosed as adults or coming out and saying they’ve had it all their lives.

Adults with Aspergers and Social Techniques: Learning Personal Space

Q&A with Ken Kellam

Q: Could you go into detail on other types of relationships (friends, co-workers, acquaintances, etc.) that you have had? Do you have a specific example of a misstep? Or situation that you were able to handle because of something you had been taught?

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A: Years ago, I was asked to help lead songs for a college-age Bible study (I was 30). Eventually, some of the women in the group went to the leader and told him they were uncomfortable with the way I looked at them. I was asked not to come back. I was in complete shock, and kept trying to figure out where I went wrong.

College Students with Aspergers Speak Out: Take Our Advice

Important advice from students who have 'been there and done that'

Colleague and friend Andrew Nelson, a coordinator in the West Virginia Autism Training Center’s Family Focus Positive Behavior Support program, supports individuals with ASD in their transition to college as part of his day-to-day duties. In his work, Andrew began to notice similar questions and issues were being raised by various students. Many of the questions were about basic procedures of higher education, such as how one applies to and gets into a university. Other questions – like “Do I have to do my own laundry?” – were about campus living.

To help answer these questions, Andrew went straight to the experts: college students on the spectrum!

In his video interview with three Marshall University students, Andrew explores in brief the topics of: college admission, financial aid, effective support strategies, independent living, and the importance of building on-campus relationships. 

All in under 6 minutes!