I joined Facebook in 2006 when it was still a relatively small community. One thing I loved about Facebook is that the social norms were different from in-person interaction, and often times made things easier on me. I can connect with people and not be criticized for my lack of eye contact or vocal tone.
For individuals on the autism spectrum, a diagnosis from a medical professional is necessary in order to qualify for medical services. One main difference in the assessment is in how the child is evaluated and whether the evaluation is done by an individual or a team.
At ACN, we conduct interdisciplinary autism assessments where a number of specialists participate in the evaluation and all of them are present at the same time from start to end.
The team consists of a developmental pediatrician or psychologist, a behavior analyst, a speech-language pathologist, and an occupational therapist. We believe that a comprehensive evaluation gives parents a clearer sense of the skills and deficits in their child and a clearer direction for seeking therapies.
The following is an illustration of the pathway to a diagnosis at ACN:
Aspergers101 continues the Medical Vlog series on Sensory Processing. In this clip Adrienne Gaither, OTR, C-SIPT with the Autism Community Network, answers the question: What are the Symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)?
The Autism Community Network is located in San Antonio, Texas USA with an emphasis on collaboration with autism service providers, early diagnosis, and providing services to underserved young children and their families.
As many of you already know, individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder may experience significant differences in how they perceive the world through their senses. Over the course of the next several blogs, we will take a closer look at each of the senses and explore possible strategies and techniques to help reach homeostasis or deal with the sensory difference. Not all children with ASD have sensory sensitivities, but some children might have several.
This week, we will begin with the sense of sight. Approximately 70% of information about the world is taken in through the eye. Firstly, it should be noted that research exploring the brain of individuals on the spectrum has found that there is generally a heightened awareness of visual details. Also, the brain processes information and makes decisions/plans in the visual region of the brain. The sense of vision is critical for all individuals and the implications for differences in this sense is especially important to understand.
I remember how years back, I had a cap with a tag on the underside that claimed, “One size fits all!” At the time, even as a child, this was puzzling. Did it have some kind of elastic property to it that wasn’t immediately obvious? Did it have a strap on one side that could shrink or enlarge the fitting? Or was it something else beyond my understanding? It turned out there was nothing particularly special about it and it most certainly will not fit properly on everyone who tries to put it on. Autism refers to a very broad spectrum. There are people within the spectrum who are fully capable of registering and understanding the materials I read and write on a regular basis, there are others far beyond my own level of language and comprehension, and then there are others who barely register their immediate surroundings at all.
There’s no one, singular face of Autism. We are many, and there’s not one, nice, neat little way of summing up what an Autistic person that you meet will actually be like. This is a hard truth for researchers and scientists, no matter what their field of expertise: trends and labels are convenient and easy to read, but they aren’t always truly reliable.
Once a child is becomes more competent in his or her ability to think multi-causally, the next focus of higher level social-emotional thinking is the capacity to understand the gray areas of life. Adolescents and young adults with Aspergers or HFA are especially prone to hitting an emotional rut when speaking in terms of “never” and “always”—hallmark terms associated with “black and white” thinking.
“He never calls on me during class” or “She always gets to play the game first” are common phrases that parents or peers hear when the speaker’s ability to think and feel in more varied degrees is constricted. Not only is this harder to negotiate socially for the partner, but it’s not a very fun state for the black and white thinker either. Such polarized patterns of thinking can lead to social isolation brought on by the extremity of the speaker’s emotional response.
Though driving with an Autism diagnosis is not for everyone, many do decide to obtain their driver license and go on to live independent lives. Aspergers101 teamed with Dr. Temple Grandin to provide helpful information when considering if driving is for you, or your teen.
Long before driver education, Temple suggests first mastering your skills by practicing on a bicycle (coordination, motor skills). Then tackle driving in a safe remote area such as the country or large parking lot. You’ll begin mastering such challenging tasks, such as multi-tasking, prior to any driving on congested roadways.
One suggestion she has is that before you take a driver education course, you need to find a safe place and practice, and after that, practice even more! Getting the ‘knack’ of driving includes working on your coordination, motor skills, and multi-tasking which all come into play when learning to drive, even more so for those on the autism spectrum.
So, what exactly is ABA, or Applied Behavioral Analysis?
ABA is an intervention therapy that specifically addresses behavior. ABA is one of the proven best practice therapies for children on the autism spectrum, including Aspergers. Thousands of research articles have documented the effectiveness of ABA in individuals with autism across behaviors, settings, and specialists. The behaviors that ABA seeks to address could relate to academics, communication, challenging behaviors, and other daily living skills.
For much of my life, I have had a hard time understanding not only the non-verbal communication of others, but how my own non-verbal communication affected others. Sometimes, if I was irritated at someone, I would simply keep my mouth shut, the rationale being “They can’t hold me accountable for something I didn’t say.”
What I failed to realize was that sometimes silence speaks louder than anything you could say, or that you could say one thing, but your facial expressions, actions, and certainly body language tell the real story.
As with the senses of sight and hearing, sometimes one or more of the senses are either over- or under-reactive to stimulation. This is also true for the sense of touch. For some persons with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, certain textures feel uncomfortable or even painful. For these individuals, the idea of a hug or even accidentally brushing up against something may be highly stressful. In order to prevent this negative tactile experience, much energy and focus is spent avoiding situations that increase the likelihood of such events.
Imagine lining up where there are others in front of you and behind you. The chances of being accidentally touched by either person may cause the simple act of lining up to be highly stressful and anxiety provoking. For individuals that do not like the feel of certain textures or things, parents and teachers may consider the following types of supports: