Our bodies take in information from the world around us through our sensory systems. As this information comes in, our brain filters and processes it for use. This process, called “sensory processing”, all happens automatically and simultaneously without us realizing that it.When all of these systems work correctly, we are able to perform our daily activities smoothly and without a problem. When these systems don’t work as well as they should a person may be disorganized, clumsy, have attention difficulties, and become over responsive or under responsive. Individuals with this issue might just have trouble functioning day to day as well as they should.
When it comes to setting the stage for learning, individuals on the Autism Spectrum need to continue their learning experiences even after school. This requires responsibility from therapists, caregivers, and parents. Each must work together to help create a learning environment in the home that continues to provide opportunity to expand the vital skills a child is working on. This includes setting up a home environment, understanding your child’s classroom setup or making suggestions at their after school program.
Here are five goals to focus on when evaluating a school-related learning environment in the home for children with Aspergers or HFA.
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:
Are you ready for a treat? How about Eustcia Cutler (The amazing mother of Dr. Temple Grandin) interviewing Dr. Tony Attwood (premiere Psychologist specializing in Asperger Syndrome) discussing all things High-Functioning Autism and Aspergers! Though you will have just a couple of short steps to access the free interview…it’s well worth it as you receive over 2 hours of knowledge back and forth from these two experienced leaders in the field of Autism today.
Overview: Eustacia Cutler offers a series of webinars free to anyone wanting to gain knowledge on raising a child on the Autism Spectrum. She titles her interviews…Conversations with Eustacia Cutler and believe me, if there is anyone who know about successfully raising a child against all odds….it is Ms. Cutler. We share a link to the interview below as well as to her website here: Temple Grandin Eustacia Cutler Autism Fund.
Eustacia’s Guest: Tony Attwood is well known for sharing his knowledge of Aspergers Syndrome. He has an Honors degree in Psychology from the University of Hull, Masters degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Surrey and a PhD from the University of London. He is currently adjunct Associate Professor at Griffith University in Queensland.
Listen to the conversation here:
“Social Expectations: The inability to read facial expressions“
For neuro-typicals, reading facial expressions comes easy but for those on the spectrum this is near impossible. The difficulty that those with Autism experience in reading facial expressions is due to the different wiring in the frontal lobe of the brain. This Top of the Spectrum News video offers solutions and tools, such as observational learning.
The complexities of High-Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome may present themselves in behaviors that may be either excessive for specific situations or lacking.
Strategies developed to target such behaviors are often included in packages known as behavior intervention plans (BIP), behavior support plans (BSP), behavior management plans (BMP), positive behavior support plans (PBSP), and several others.
The primary purpose of a behavior plan is to outline and describe strategies that prevent problem behaviors, teach new behaviors that replace problematic behaviors and
A T-Chart can be made by placing a line down the middle of a page and labeling the left and right side of the page according to acceptable and unacceptable behavior. The T-Chart is then used to clarify acceptable or desired behaviors versus unacceptable or undesired behaviors by listing those under each of the categories.
I was visiting with a teacher about one of his high school students that was wreaking havoc with her profanity. They had many conversations with her and had a tried several other strategies, but the profanity continued to spew. I offered this as a possible strategy and the teacher immediately told me that she knows she is not supposed to say those words, but she just doesn’t care about that. He was trying to tell me that writing good words on one side of the T-chart and bad words on the other side was just too simple.
I’m pretty sure those of you who have discovered that your child has high-functioning autism went into some kind of state of shock when you found out about the diagnosis. My own mother felt the room spinning when they suggested the possibility of me having high-functioning autism.
But, at the same time, she also experienced a feeling of relief for finally having a diagnosis that explained the foreign behaviors.
It’s okay to feel shocked when the diagnosis comes in. It can be a lot to take in, but I can assure you that there is nothing to worry about. In fact, I’d consider the diagnosis to be a stepping stone towards a journey.
Now, some of you may be worried after getting the diagnosis that your child may not be able to drive, or to find a romantic love interest. Take a look at me; I have Aspergers and I’m driving to and from college every Monday through Thursday with no hitch, and I’ve even had some girlfriends in recent times.
Of course, there are going to be rough patches throughout the journey, but that’s what makes the journey all the more interesting. Because, let’s face it, normal is boring.
In conclusion, there’s no need to treat the diagnosis as a lethal disease, and I see no reason for the child not to know about their high-functioning autism. Take the time to explain what it is, and make sure they understand that high-functioning autism is far from anything even close to a disease.
By Samuel Allen
Reinforcement in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) focuses on the outcome of the behavior and increasing the likelihood of certain behaviors occurring in the future. There are two types of reinforcement: positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement is when a response is followed immediately by the presentation of a stimulus and, as a result, similar responses occur more frequently in the future. In other words, positive reinforcement means when a behavior has an increased likelihood of occurring again if something is given after it occurs.
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.