Tag Archives: Distractions

Question?: What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder

Richard asks…

Is being in your own little world a part of autism?

I have autism spectrum disorder or aspergers syndrome and I am in my own little world most of the time. It distracts me form my learning I start thinking about star trek or videogames or something else. I wonder is this a part of AS? Because I can be looking at the teacher and daydreaming at the same time and not get the assignment. Are most kids with aspurgers syndrome in there own little worlds? How can I get out of there?

admin answers:

It’s quite common for people with autism spectrum disorders to be in their own world a lot, but not everyone on the autism spectrum is like that and some people who are not on the spectrum are in their own world too.

I think being in our own world a lot can probably be explained at least partly by our environment not being suitable for us. I have Asperger’s syndrome too and I’m in my own world most of the time and I seem to go there when there is either too little or too much stimuli in my environment. I go to my own world in attempt to regulate the stimuli to make it the way I need it to be.

When I was in school I was bored most of the time, because the things we were studying about were too easy for me, so I kept my mind busy by being in my own world a lot, dealing with something more challenging. When I felt lonely and didn’t really have any friends or family to feel close to, I went to my own world to spend time with imaginary, loving friends. At my current working place there is excessive sensory input and I go to my own world a lot to try to block out some of the sensory input and distractions around me. I don’t go to my own world when I’m in a good, suitable environment with an appropriate amount of challenges and sensory experiences and balanced emotions.

I’ve never really attempted to stop being in my own world, because I don’t consider it much of a problem, but I guess that if i wanted to, I’d try to do it by trying to make my environment more suitable somehow, for example by making sure I have something challenging and interesting to do, but a good sensory and emotional environment to do it in.

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Question?: Autism Signs In Toddler Girls

George asks…

Could this be a sign of autism?

My 2 year old niece has been living with me and my parents for about 8 months now. Her mother is in the Marines and her father left them as soon as he was out of the military and she was only 1 year old.
My mom really believes that the little girl is acting out because she is not with her parents. When her mother does come to visit during the weekend, she yells at her and says things like “what the f— do you want!?”…
The little girl has a real bad habit that at night, she throws fits when it’s bed time, if we say NO to her or she gets real angry (this happens when she doesn’t get her way or we take too long with her bottle, etc..) she bangs her head on the floor and bites herself. We have told my sister that she needs to take her to the doctor and explain to him what she does, all my sister says is that it’s not big deal “she’s just a brat.”
Could this behavior be signalling something more serious?
Olivia J.. It’s actually the girl’s mother who yells at her and says thing like “what the f— do you want” to her own child… The mother is no better than her father… She is an alcoholic who sleeps soundly at night while her little girl is living with us and acting out terribly.
Just this morning, we were all awake becuase she was having an episode. She was screaming, crying, rolling around the bed, throwing herself on the floor… My mom and dad had to finally just take her out for a drive… She went to sleep at 5 in the morning…

admin answers:

First of all,.. You are a very kind aunt and thank goodness this innocent child at least have you and her grandparents. Her behavior is not Autistic.. Just the terrible 2s.

I have a toddler and “NO” is something we try not to use since it is a sure trigger for a tantrum. We often use distractions instead of directly saying no. Also toddlers have zero patience and no idea about time so they always want instant gratification… So got to keep them occupied while waiting and give a lot of attention. They love/need to hear you talk to them and narrate what you are doing. This is how they pick up words and learn to talk.

I understand why you are still giving her the bottle at night. It is a soothing comforter for young children and she needs all the comforting in the world she can get.

I think what your niece really needs is stability and a warm loving environment. Her mom’s obvious lack of concern is making her very insecure and starved for loving attention. Throwing a tantrum until 5am, while her Mom sleeps, is a good example of her very real need to get mom’s loving attention.

Please ask your parents to talk to your sister about keeping away from her daughter if she can’t behave like a mother. This girl has been through enough turbulence so early in her life and her mother should know it very well. Maybe your sister needs professional counseling to get her life back on track.

May good fortune bless her and your family and give her a loving home..!

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Benefits of Small Class Size for Students With Disabilities

One of the students referred to us spent a whole year sitting and staring before he was even referred. Another used to scream at a high pitch for hours before he was referred. Still another used to run around the room an not focus on anything. Another used to beat up his mother and get away with it before he was referred. Because we had a small classroom size and support we were able to deal with the behavioral challenges these children have with learning. It is extremely important to have a child’s attention and focus to learn. Also, distractions should be kept to a minimum. This simply does not happen in the average American classroom, which is busy, noisy, bright and overwhelming to a lot of children with learning challenges.

The importance of relationship building for children with autism can not be overstressed. Social skills building needs to be a priority and children need much help in learning proper social skills and behavior. Because the behavior is challenging and difficult and learning and change does not happen rapidly, teachers without the understanding, experience and training just often give up. Believing the child can learn and will learn if one is persistent and does not give up is a necessity. The individual child has to be a priority. This simply does not happen in the mass production concept of American education.

Another difficulty in American education is that children with the same problems are dumped together but not given anymore help than if they were in the average American classroom. Thus, inappropriate behaviors are reinforced by children seeing other inappropriate behaviors. The Lord of the Flies concept happens with children leading the classroom rather than a strong adult leader. This is not a teacher’s fault. If a teacher has to spend all of their day correcting behavior, it leads to very little time for learning. That is why I am against classroom sizes of fifteen to twenty for children with autism. Even eight students is too many. I as a teacher have had my greatest success with children with autism in a classroom with no more than four students and one aide.

As you can imagine, education can get very expensive when one does the right thing by a child. I have not even included the therapy and other services that autistic children can benefit from. Moreover, the special schools that autistic children need are often denied as school districts often refuse to pay for the private non-public schools that autistic children benefit most from. Thus, policy has to change and doors have to be opened for parents to be able to pick what works best for their child. Small class size is a start. And parents being allowed to pick non-public schools that work well is also a great start.

Give children a chance to learn and enroll them in a school that insists on a small student to teacher ratio.
The way you learned is not the way your child with autism will learn. They will be lost in the shuffle in most classrooms and then be blamed for not learning or their behavior. I have seen what children can accomplish when given what they need and I hope you will veto the mass education high number classroom that is usually the American way.

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Using An Environmental Check For People On The Autism Spectrum (Part 1)

Introduction

Working in the field of autism for many years, it has continually surprised me that many practitioners and carers had not fully considered the impact of the environment on people on the autism spectrum. Some had thought the only sensory difficulty in autism was hypersensitivity to noise. Other professionals such as teachers or occupational therapists knew environments were not ideal, but were not sure where to start looking to change this.

Whilst visiting a school one day I had a conversation with a teacher who was very knowledgeable about the needs of children on the autism spectrum and very aware of the environmental impact on her class of eight children. She told me that she had been slowly completing sensory profiles on all her pupils using Olga Bogdashina’s book as a basis (Bogdashina, 2003). We agreed that these individual profiles were excellent and very thorough, although they took a long time to complete.

 We discussed how the classroom was not ideal in sensory terms. Space was at a premium, noise and other distractions were numerous, and I admired how she coped and was able to get any teaching done at all. I therefore decided to consider how the environment might be assessed.

 Review of the literature

 Attwood (1998) argues that

 “…40% of children with autism have some sort of sensory sensitivity…the incidence may be the same for Asperger syndrome”

 and there are a number of other books that focus on the sensory issues for children on the autism spectrum (e.g. Godwin, Emmons and McKendry, 2005). There appears to be less literature on the impact of the sensory environment. The leaflet by Nguyen (2006) for the National Autistic Society entitled Creating an autism-friendly environment was probably the most accessible and easy to read for carers and professionals Morton-Cooper (2004) also has a chapter highlighting the clinical environment, although this was tailored particularly for health professionals.

 Whitehurst (2006) described the design of a new building for children on the autism spectrum and Humphreys (2005) looked at this topic. This literature provides good background knowledge but none had an assessment tool that I could use to determine how suitable a setting was. I therefore decided to develop a checklist myself.

How to do it?

The main purpose of developing the environmental checklist was to create a tool that was quick and easy to use. It needed to be accessible by all parents/carers, professionals and people on the spectrum. I wanted it to be used to improve or enhance good practice.

The categories addressed in the checklist needed to reflect the frequently reported  issues.  I wanted the checklist to indicate how friendly the environment might be to someone with on the autism spectrum, and a catalyst for change.

 I decided to divide the checklist into four areas:

 

Sensory -The sensory areas covered include touch, sight, smell, hearing, taste, balance and body awareness
Communication systems
Escape (how and where can people escape from stressful situations)
Other (factors such as financial constraints)

 

 Each of the four areas has a number of questions that need to be answered

Yes or No

Not all questions are relevant to all environments. I decided that after each question, examples could be given and solutions suggested.

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I decided not to give too specific solutions and for these to be  generated through discussion. For example, carers may need to look at the mix of needs of other children or adults. Teachers may need to consider learning and the practicalities of a school day.

 Everyone is an individual

There has been some criticism that each individual on the autism spectrum is different so how can you create an environment totally ASC friendly?

I would recognise this however think a check to see if all is being done to recognise the effects of the environment can only be beneficial.

In saying this however I would recognise that on occasions there can be opposing sensory preferences and sensitivities experienced by 2 or more people making the creation of an ideal environment more difficult.

 An example of a completed section of the checklist is given below to illustrate its use.

 Sight/Visual

 

Are the colours in

the environment low arousal,

such as cream and pastel shades

and not red or vibrant.?                                                Yes or  No

 

Consider whether all rooms /spaces need

need a change of paint or wallpaper?

 

Current situation

There are a variety of colours in our

room.

 

Approximately half of the walls are

bright pink and maybe too vibrant

for someone with autism

 

Suggested solution

Re-paint walls with pastel green

and ask students with

autism to choose

the colour.

 

Is the environment cluttered

with furniture?                                            Yes or No

 

 

” It has been suggested that people

 with ASD find it helpful if furniture is

 kept to the sides of a room and the

 central space is kept clear”

 

(Nguyen, 2006)

 

 Current situation

Most of the room is uncluttered,

although

sometimes activities are

not tidied away properly and

materials are left out.

 

Suggested solution

Ensure room is left tidy at all times.

 

 Implications for practice

As a nurse myself I can see the impact of an unfriendly environment on the wards and in the community. Patient care can be compromised and people on the autism spectrum can suffer as a result. In education, teaching staff can find themselves unable to teach and more importantly, students on the autism spectrum may be unable to learn. An environmental check has the potential to empower carers and professionals to assess their homes, wards, classrooms and other settings in relation to the individuals with autism they are living and working with to consider whether changes may be beneficial.

*There has been an initial pilot of the checklist  which has been used in schools and community health teams with very positive feedback. This will continue and be further evaluated over the coming year.

 Concluding comments

 It would be very useful to conduct a small study to evaluate the use of the checklist and its effects. For someone on the autism spectrum, the sensory environment can have a profound effect on behaviour, stress levels, learning and task performance.  Sensory profiles on the children and adults on the autism spectrum are recommended in addition to this environmental checklist, such as that provided by Bogdashina (2003).

The very nature of autism means that changing the environment may be upsetting for some people on the spectrum. However, this should not deter staff and carers from change if it is felt to be beneficial, as disruption to the environment may be minimal and short lasting. There will be practical considerations (e.g. money, time) and sometimes a clash of individual sensory profiles that need to be discussed and resolved (e.g. a person who likes the light and someone who likes the dark sharing a room).  I hope this paper will prompt others to consider the environments they create and the effects on those who live and work within these.

 References

Attwood.T (1998) Asperger syndrome: a guide for parents and professionals, London. Jessica Kingsley publishers.

 Bogdashina. O (2003) Sensory perceptual issues in autism: different sensory experiences – different perceptual worlds, London. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

 Clements, J. and Zarkowska, E. (2000) Behavioural concerns and autistic spectrum disorders: explanations and strategies for change.  London Jessica Kingsley Publishers

 Godwin Emmons, P. and McKendry Anderson, L. (2005) Understanding sensory dysfunction: learning, development and sensory dysfunction in autism spectrum disorders, adhd, learning disabilities and bipolar disorder. London. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

 Howlin, P (1998) Children with autism and Asperger syndrome: A guide for practitioners and carers. Chichester. Wiley

 Jordan .R (2001) Autism with severe learning difficulties: a guide for parents and professionals. London. David Fulton

 Humphreys, S (2005) ‘Autism & architecture’

www.autismlondon.org.uk/pdf-files/bulletin­

_feb-mar_2005 accessed 16 March 2006

 Morton-Cooper, A. (2004) health care and the autism spectrum –a guide for health professionals, Parents and Carers, London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

 Nguyen. A (2006) Creating an autism-friendly environment,London. National Autistic Society.

 Plimley. L (2004) Analysis of a student task to create an autism-friendly living environment. Good Autism Practice Journal 5, 2, 35-41

 Schopler. E (1995) Parent Survival Manual; A guide to crisis resolution in Autism and related Developmental disorders. New York and London, Plenum Press

 Whitaker.P (2001) –Challenging Behaviour and Autism-Making sense, making progress; A guide to preventing and managing challenging behaviour for parents and teachers. London. National Autistic Society.

 Whitehurst, T. (2006) The impact of building design on children with autistic spectrum disorders, Good Autism Practice Journal, 7, 1 31-39

 Wing.L (1996)-The Autistic Spectrum; a guide for parents and professionals. London. Constable and Robinson.

 Stephen Simpson B.Phil (Autism) RNLD

Stephen is an Autism specialist based in the UK.
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Autistic Communication – How to Interact With an Autistic Child Through the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

Autistic Communication

Picture exchange communication system (PECS) is a brand of alternative communication which uses pictures as a substitute for expressions to aid children amid autism to communicate. It is attained truly for kids in autism who are delayed in speech development. Autistic Communication

This kind of program provides exchange and repetition, as well as prompts to enhance and emphasize the benefits of interaction and ability to express oneself to the point that these children could eventually become verbal. When learning to use PECS, the child is first given a series of pictures of his favorite toys or food. If the child favors one picture, he gives it to a communication partner. This can be a parent or a therapist. Autistic Communication

In turn, the communication partner gives the child the specific toy or food. This form of exchange strengthens communication. PECS may also be used when a child wants to make comments pertaining to his environment. For instance, if the child sees a bike, he hands a picture of a bike to his parent. The child will then comprehend the importance and usefulness of communicating, and will probably use natural speech eventually. How is this done? Autistic Communication

First, you have to look for pictures that your child can really relate to. Have it laminated, you can make your own binder, or purchase a working PECS binder. Second, make sure that there are minimal distractions. Then lay out 2 to 3 picture cards. Third, tell your child to choose from the cards by saying “you choose.” Fourth, stretch out your hand and open your palm, then patiently wait for your child to choose and place the card on it. Autistic Communication

Next, prompt your child to give you the picture card after they pick it up. This demonstrates that he wants the particular food, or toy. Lastly, give him a reward. It can be a portion of the food in the picture, or his favorite toy, or you can engage him in a round of game. Repeat the process with the use of different cards. Use a variety of activities, choices and rewards. Autistic Communication

According to recent studies, this form of communication is effective in giving the learner the necessary tools to equip him in making communication smoother. It can also minimize negative behaviors caused by frustration and build spoken language abilities. Indeed, PECS is a priceless learning tool. Don’t let your love ones suffer anymore! Lead them out through Autistic Communication program now!

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Strategies For Teaching Autistic Children – 15 Autism Strategies For Managing Autistic Children

Strategies For Teaching Autistic Children

Managing an autistic child can be difficult at times, that is why invested in autism strategies in place can make the difference between coping and feeling overwhelmed. The strategies don’t have to be difficult or complex, it’s so much simply a matter of ensuring the present your child feels secure, comfortable, and calm, so that properties can grow and develop in a positive environment. Strategies For Teaching Autistic Children

It’s important to remember that a number of the behaviors autistics display are those that they have developed in order to provide security and certainty to the world that surrounds them. Some of the behaviors that an autistic child naturally develops are designed to shut out situations they find too difficult to cope with. Thus applying the right approach can help a parent reach their autistic child instead of being shut out.

The following is a list of 15 different autism strategy suggestions parents can utilize to help them manage their children with autism spectrum disorders:

1. Provide a predictable environment and daily routine

2. Prepare your child in advance for any changes that need to occur to the routine, don’t spring surprises on them. Keep in mind changes should only be made when absolutely necessary.

3. Activities should have structure.

4. Distractions should be kept to a minimum, especially when communicating, so don’t try competing with the TV or lots of background noise when giving instructions.

5. Ensure you have your child’s full attention when trying to communicate with them.

6. When giving instructions they should be simple and direct so there is no room for misunderstandings.

7. When instructions are given, you need to allow enough time for your child to process them. Autism strategies require patience – don’t rush your child. Strategies For Teaching Autistic Children

8. Try using visual aids like flash cards or picture books when communicating as these can help get your message across and cement understanding.

9. Try to be as consistent as possible with everything you do involving your autistic child. This includes punishments.

10. If an autistic individual is not coping, he/she requires a “safe” place where they can retreat in order to calm down and de-stress.

11. If your child is not coping with a situation, consider if underlying causes (I.E. confusion, stress, fear, pain or over-stimulation) could be a factor and try to remove that cause.

12. When the stress levels of an autistic have reduced, encourage them to return to group activities or situations.

13. Speak to the school to see if a buddy system could be introduced to help provide academic and social support. This involves pairing autistic kids with non-autistic peers.

14. Before attempting to alter or discourage a behavior that you think is inappropriate, carefully consider if this is necessary, as the behavior you are trying to diminish may be replaced by something worse. Strategies For Teaching Autistic Children

15. Don’t take autism behaviors personally, find ways to de-stress yourself and remember that laughter is often the best medicine when you’re at your wits end. Don’t let your love ones suffer anymore! Lead them out through Strategies For Teaching Autistic Children program now!

Feeling lost without solutions? Strategies For Teaching Autistic Children is a proven Autism Solution for your Child. Try The Program and change child’s life forever!
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How To Cope With Aspergers – Parenting Aspergers

Asperger’s syndrome is within the autism spectrum. It affects a child or a person to communicate effectively and to socialize with other people. Special attention is needed in this syndrome. It requires much understanding from people who surrounds a person with this syndrome most especially parents, family, friends and teachers.

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More institutions and organizations are willing to help out people afflicted with this syndrome. The goal of these therapies and treatments are to manage emotions, behaviors and how to live a near normal life. In order to help a child or a person with this syndrome, here are some things which can help in how to cope with Aspergers:

1) Get a good amount of knowledge. Learn more about the syndrome. Educate yourself as much as possible. 2) Know where to get these information from. This can be from your child’s physician, organizations, materials and other institutions that can help you achieve what you want. 3) Since children with Aspregers cope well and do repetitive movements, teach your child on how to do things, daily activities independently, catch their attention with colorful visual aids.

To continue. 4) Avoid confusion and distractions to your child. 5) Understand a child at the level of their understanding. 6) Form a bond with your child. The more you are with your child the more you will be able to understand his or her world. 7) Let him or her feel loved without giving in to his or her tantrums. 8) They can be emotionally draining but if you let them understand it is wrong, in time their emotions can be controlled.

Helping your child on how to cope with Aspergers have a great impact on your life. For you as a parent has a huge responsibility to fill in. Taking care of a child with Aspergers requires much dedication, patience and understanding. You must let go and love your child as a person. No one else will be able to help your child better than you can do. Always be hopeful and never ever give up on your child.

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This author writes about Parenting Aspergers and Parenting A Child With Aspergers.
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