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.
In addition to the changes related to individuals with Aspergers and HFA, the DSM-V introduced a new condition in the diagnostic category of communication disorders: Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder (SCD). SCD is marked by difficulties with pragmatics—aka practical everyday use—or the social use of language and communication. Therefore, SCD is concerned with an individual’s use of verbal and nonverbal social communication in everyday life.
The condition is of particular interest to individuals with Aspergers or HFA because, in the DSM-V, it specifically states that individuals who have marked deficits in social communication but whose symptoms do not otherwise meet the criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) should be evaluated for social (pragmatic) communication disorder.
We’re often asked if individuals on the spectrum should disclose at work. While we at ASTEP have our personal views on this topic, what we do is help each individual think through their situation and come to a decision that is comfortable for them. The below blog post is one of the best we’ve seen by an individual sharing their experience about being someone with autism in the workplace, and what that means when disclosed and when not disclosed.
Not everyone wants to be a part of the office Secret Santa. Photograph: Getty Images
A late diagnosis of autism meant I struggled with the alien codes of small talk and office politics – until I started work at an autism charity.
I was sitting in a doctor’s office, describing yet again how a day at work could be hell. I told him why sharing the same space, listening to my colleagues’ music/small talk/breathing drove me mad and why someone saying “good morning” could feel like a personal invasion. The doctor was new, young; he gave a nod of recognition and then he said something strange: “I think you may be autistic”.
I had a lot of problems growing up because I felt socially awkward and did not fit in with my peers. My challenges mainly were with social issues. Getting along with people, reading facial expressions, and body language all seemed completely foreign to me.
I was finally diagnosed with High Functioning Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome when I was 17 years old. Most people in Texas didn’t know what Asperger’s Syndrome was at that time. I’ll be 32 in December so over ½ my life I didn’t even know I had Asperger’s. Since then I have learned how to function in a world with people.
As parents, you have expectations of improving your children’s behavior. Behavior analysts, on the other hand, need to make sure improvements in behavior occur within the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) guidelines.
These seven guidelines are called the defining characteristics of ABA:
Summer can be a challenging time when your teen or young adult just hangs out at home, sleeping late, watching youtube, and playing video games. OR it can be a period of growth and challenge. I am going to highlight a program I am involved with that provides a wonderful mix of learning and fun for teens with ASD.
The residential college experience at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas is called “Summer on the Hill”. Knowing that cost or location may be a problem for many of you, I will also include some “Do it Yourself” ideas for activities this summer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dr. Temple Grandin once told my son Sam: “when you’re looking for employment, you must show your work“. Indeed! For someone diagnosed with High Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome, you must rely on the merit of your work, because oftentimes challenging social cues can override a large portion of the interviewing process.
Asperger Syndrome Training and Employment Partnership provides a very good checklist to review before you go through the interview process.
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.