Focusing On Strengths Improves Social Skills Of Adolescents With Autism

Main Category: Autism
Also Included In: Pediatrics / Children’s Health
Article Date: 04 Aug 2012 – 0:00 PDT Current ratings for:
Focusing On Strengths Improves Social Skills Of Adolescents With Autism
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The junior high and high school years are emotionally challenging even under the best of circumstances, but for adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), that time can be particularly painful. Lacking the social skills that enable them to interact successfully with their peers, these students are often ostracized and even bullied by their classmates.

However, a new study conducted by researchers at the Koegel Autism Center at UC Santa Barbara has found that by playing on their strengths – high intelligence and very specific interests – these adolescents are as capable as anyone else of forging strong friendships. In addition, the research findings demonstrate that the area of the brain that controls such social behavior is not as damaged in adolescents with ASD as was previously believed. The findings appear in a recent issue of the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions.

“The problem is that their restricted interests can dominate their lives and further push away people they’d like to get to know,” said Robert Koegel, director of the Koegel Autism Center and the study’s lead author. He is also a professor of counseling, clinical, and school psychology and of education in UCSB’s Gevirtz Graduate School of Education. “They’re so highly focused on that interest, people think they’re weird. But by involving themselves in an activity around the interest, they not only make friends but also become valued members of the group. Their specialized skill becomes a strength.”

The research team, which also includes Lynn Koegel, the center’s clinical director, and Sunny Kim, a graduate student in education at UCSB, took a creative approach to helping three boys with ASD to interact with their peers. Rather than discourage their sometimes-obsessive interests, the researchers helped set up social clubs around them and invited students who do not have ASD to join. The clubs provided a venue for the ASD students to display their special interests and abilities, and helped them engage with their peers in a more meaningful way.

Koegel offered the example of a student with ASD who has a keen interest in computer graphics. The team created a graphic design club in which students would design logos for various companies and businesses. Because most of the students lacked the necessary expertise, they depended on their classmate with ASD to make the venture a success. “When he was able to interact on a topic in which he was interested, he was able to demonstrate more normal social behavior,” Koegel said. “He not only made friends with his fellow members, he was elected club president.”

According to Koegel, the findings are also significant because they indicate a higher degree of brain functionality than researchers had previously associated with ASD adolescents. “It has been commonly believed that the part of the brain related to social skills is so damaged that adolescents with ASD are incapable of normal social interaction,” he said. “We demonstrated that not to be the case. Once you can motivate kids to try things, they make dramatic and rapid improvement, which shows the brain is not as damaged as first thought.”

Conducted through the Koegel Center’s Eli & Edythe L. Broad Asperger Center, the study sheds important light on a period of growth and development that is presenting new issues as children who were diagnosed with ASD reach adolescence and young adulthood. “This study is so important because it suggests so much optimism,” Koegel said. “It shows the brain isn’t as damaged as people thought. And it shows that otherwise unhappy individuals can lead more fulfilling lives.”

He added that the research team was pleasantly surprised to see that the students with ASD became highly valued members of their groups, and were given a great deal of dignity and respect. They also noted that, without any instructions or encouragement from any of the researchers, many school peers enthusiastically joined in these club activities and had a great deal of enjoyment throughout and beyond the time frame of the study. “In short, this was a lot of fun for everyone,” Koegel said.

Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click ‘references’ tab above for source.
Visit our autism section for the latest news on this subject. Other researchers involved with the study include John Danial, a doctoral student at UCLA; and Rosy Fredeen and Derek Rubenstein, doctoral students at UCSB at the time the research was conducted.
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Autism In Teens – Teaching Social Skills Pays Off

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Main Category: Autism
Also Included In: Psychology / Psychiatry;  Pediatrics / Children’s Health
Article Date: 19 Jun 2012 – 11:00 PDT Current ratings for:
‘Autism In Teens – Teaching Social Skills Pays Off’
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In 2006, the UCLA Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS) clinic was established in order to help high functioning adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) improve their social skills to fit in better with their peers at school.

High functioning adolescents with ASD are considered healthy enough to be “mainstreamed” in school.

Although PEERS was shown to be effective in earlier studies, researchers were still unsure as to whether the new skills “stuck” with these adolescents after they completed the PEERS classes.

Now, results from a long-term follow-up study show that these teens maintained the skills taught, and in some cases even improved. The study is published in the current edition of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Approximately 1 in 88 children born in the United States has some form of ASD.

The disorder is characterized by impairments in communication and socialization.

Elizabeth Laugeson, director of the PEERS Clinic and a UCLA assistant clinical professor of psychiatry, and colleagues found that the PEERS intervention resulted in considerable improvements in social skills among the teens.

In addition, reports from parents indicated that by the end of class and even at 14-week follow-up, adolescents’ ASD symptoms associated to social responsiveness significantly decreased. The researchers also found that the teens’ knowledge of social skills improved and they spent more time together with their peers.

Although the teachers did not know the adolescents who took part in the PEERS class, their ratings of the teens social functioning in class showed significant improvements at the long-term follow-up.

Furthermore, 14 weeks after the program was over, both teachers and parents reported fewer behavioral problems with the teens.

Laugeson, who also directs The Help Ground-UCLA Autism Research Alliance, explained:

“Teens not only showed better social competence and greater understanding of social skills, but they were having more frequent get-togethers with their peers because they had developed the critical skills needed to make and keep friends.”

Although earlier studies have shown that intervention during childhood and adolescence is vital, only a few evidence-based interventions focus on enhancing the social competence of adolescents with ASD, which makes findings from this study unique and important.

Laugeson said:

“This is exciting news. It shows that teens with autism can learn social skills and that the tools stick even after the program is over, improving their quality of life and helping them to develop meaningful relationships and to feel more comfortable within their social world. The fact that these social skills are sticking is critical, because we need them to thrive throughout our lives.”

According to Laugeson, the parents played a significant role in the effectiveness of the program. The PEERS classes, which focus on educating the teens about the rules of social etiquette, require parents to take part as well.

Parents were informed in separate meetings on how to be social coaches for their teens in the real world, for instance, how to avoid bullying or deflect taunts (“Yeah, whatever”), how to have a conversation (by trading information), and how to show good sportsmanship (“Hey, nice shot!”).

The 90 minute classes were held once a week for 14 weeks. During the class participants were given: role-playing demonstrationsbrief didactic instructionin-class coaching with performance feedbackbehavioral rehearsal exercisesIn addition, they were given weekly “homework” assignments, supervised by parents, such as inviting a friend over to their house for a get-together.

Laugeson concluded:

“The class is very structured, and the skills are broken down into small rules and steps of social etiquette that give the teens specific actions they can take in response to a social situation. This method of instruction is very appealing to teens with autism because they tend to think concretely and literally and often learn by rote.

Furthermore, the program teaches skills used by socially accepted teens – not what adults believe adolescents show do. For instance, if adolescents with ASD are teased, most adults will tell teens to ignore the person, walk away or tell an adult.

But when you ask teens if this works, they say no. So we want to teach our teens to do what kids that are socially accepted are naturally doing. In this case, that would be to give a short comeback that shows what the person said didn’t bother them – like saying ‘whatever’ or ‘yeah, and?’ They learn not to take the bait.”

Written By Grace Rattue
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today

Visit our autism section for the latest news on this subject. “Evidence-Based Social Skills Training for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders: The UCLA PEERS Program”
Elizabeth A. Laugeson, Fred Frankel, Alexander Gantman, Ashley R. Dillon and Catherine Mogil
Journal of Austism and Developmental Disorders, June 2012, doi: 10.1007/s10803-011-1339-1 Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

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Grace Rattue. “Autism In Teens – Teaching Social Skills Pays Off.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 19 Jun. 2012. Web.
20 Jun. 2012. APA

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‘Autism In Teens – Teaching Social Skills Pays Off’

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Teaching Social Skills To Autistic Teens Proves Effective Over Long Term

Main Category: Autism
Also Included In: Psychology / Psychiatry
Article Date: 14 Jun 2012 – 1:00 PDT Current ratings for:
‘Teaching Social Skills To Autistic Teens Proves Effective Over Long Term’
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Teenagers with autism spectrum disorder are in a bind. The disorder is characterized by impairments in communication and social interaction, but it’s a continuum, so some teens diagnosed with ASD are considered high functioning and healthy enough to be “mainstreamed” in school.

But without the proper social skills, even mainstreamed teens don’t quite fit into the general social milieu of middle school or high school. As a result, they suffer from all the slings and arrows of that world.

Since 2006, however, the UCLA PEERS (Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills) clinic has assisted high-functioning teens with ASD by literally teaching them the strategies they need to fit in better with their peers. And while previous research demonstrated that the program was effective, it wasn’t known whether the new skills “stuck” with these teens after they completed the PEERS classes.

In the current edition of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Elizabeth Laugeson, director of the PEERS Clinic and a UCLA assistant clinical professor of psychiatry, and colleagues report that in a long-term follow-up study, they found that the skills taught and learned stayed with the kids – and in some cases even improved.

ASD includes a range of pervasive developmental disorders characterized by problems with communication and socialization; it’s estimated that one in 88 children born in the United States has some form of ASD.

The researchers’ findings show that the PEERS intervention resulted in significant improvements in social skills, as reported by parents and teachers using standardized measurements of social functioning. Reports from parents also suggested that teens’ ASD symptoms related to social responsiveness decreased significantly by the end of the class and even at the long-term, 14-week follow-up. In addition, the teens’ knowledge of social skills improved, as did the frequency of their get-togethers with their peers.

Teacher ratings of the teens’ social functioning in class also showed significant improvements at the long-term follow-up – an important finding, since the teachers did not know the teens had participated in the PEERS class.

Both parents and teachers also reported there were fewer problem behaviors with the teens 14 weeks after the program was over.

“Teens not only showed better social competence and greater understanding of social skills, but they were having more frequent get-togethers with their peers because they had developed the critical skills needed to make and keep friends,” said Laugeson, who also directs The Help Group-UCLA Autism Research Alliance.

Studies on the effectiveness of social-skills training for individuals with ASD indicate that intervention during childhood and adolescence is critical. However, very few evidence-based interventions focus on improving the social competence of teens with ASD, which makes the present findings unique and important, Laugeson said.

“This is exciting news,” she said. “It shows that teens with autism can learn social skills and that the tools stick even after the program is over, improving their quality of life and helping them to develop meaningful relationships and to feel more comfortable within their social world. The fact that these social skills are sticking is critical, because we need them to thrive throughout our lives.”

Laugeson attributes the power of the program to the parents. The PEERS classes, which focus on teaching the rules of social etiquette to teens, require parents to participate as well. In separate meetings, the parents are also provided with information on how to be social coaches for their teens in the real world. Many of the social skills taught are those most of us know intuitively: how to have a conversation (by trading information), showing good sportsmanship (“Hey, nice shot!”), and how to avoid bullying or deflect taunts (“Yeah, whatever”).

The classes meet for 90 minutes once a week for 14 weeks and include brief didactic instruction, role-playing demonstrations, behavioral rehearsal exercises for teens to practice newly learned skills, in-class coaching with performance feedback, and weekly “homework” assignments, supervised by parents, such as inviting a friend over for a get-together at home.

“The class is very structured, and the skills are broken down into small rules and steps of social etiquette that give the teens specific actions they can take in response to a social situation,” Laugeson said. “This method of instruction is very appealing to teens with autism because they tend to think concretely and literally and often learn by rote.”

What makes this program even more unique, Laugeson said, is that it teaches the skills used by socially accepted teens – not what adults think teens should do. For example, if teens with ASD are teased, “most adults will tell teens to ignore the person, walk away or tell an adult,” she said. “But when you ask teens if this works, they say no. So we want to teach our teens to do what kids that are socially accepted are naturally doing. In this case, that would be to give a short comeback that shows what the person said didn’t bother them – like saying ‘whatever’ or ‘yeah, and?’ They learn not to take the bait.”

Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click ‘references’ tab above for source.
Visit our autism section for the latest news on this subject. Other authors of the study included Fred Frankel, Alexander Gantman and Catherine Mogil, all of UCLA, and Ashley R. Dillon of the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology. The research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (grants U54-MH-068172 and U54MH068172).
The authors report no conflict of interest.
University of California – Los Angeles Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

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University of California – Los Angeles. “Teaching Social Skills To Autistic Teens Proves Effective Over Long Term.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 14 Jun. 2012. Web.
15 Jun. 2012. APA

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‘Teaching Social Skills To Autistic Teens Proves Effective Over Long Term’

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Asperger’s Syndrome Child: Developing Social Skills at Home and School by Teaching Empathy

Many parents feel notice that their child with Asperger’s syndrome of high functioning autism shows little if any empathy for others which inhibits their social skills. These children can seem aloof or selfish and uncaring.

But any parent with a child on the autism spectrum knows that outward appearances can be deceiving. Our loved ones with Asperger’s syndrome of high functioning autism are very caring and feeling beings. But they often have difficulties understanding the feelings of others which is a contributing factor to the well known autism symptom — lack of social skills. Often times, we see this inability to understand another person’s feelings as a lack of empathy.

How Can a Person with Asperger’s Syndrome Develop a Sense of Empathy and Improve Social Skills?

Lack of emotional readiness, sensory overwhelm, and lack of relevant experiences can all contribute and help explain why your child with Asperger’s syndrome may seem distant or uncaring of others feelings.

In this article, we will talk about the process of developing empathy — an important ingredient in improving social skills. Below, a young adult with Asperger’s syndrome shares her experiences and feelings to help us understand how those with Asperger’s syndrome feel and cope.

If a child with Asperger’s syndrome or high functioning autism is disconnected from people when he is young, due to different brain wiring, this sense of difference is likely to persist and cause him to withdraw from people and experiences over the years. The more he thinks of himself as a person who can’t connect with other people, the less likely he will be to try.

In order to develop social skills, one must practice. But if a child continually fails in his or her social interactions, they will eventually become discouraged and give up.

Experiences of a Young Adult with Asperger’s Syndrome –

I moved to a house with a 94 year old, very vibrant and active roommate two years ago. This woman, Madeline, has the most welcoming smile and presence I have ever felt. I immediately felt calm and comfortable in her presence, which never happens for me. I started spending more and more time with her, watching TV and talking about nothing important — just soaking up her gentleness and positivity, her utter acceptance of me. Every time she smiled at me, it made me happy.

I thought this behavior — willingly spending time with another person — quite out of character for me, but I kept doing it. Madeline was always happy to see me. Merely entering the room could make her face light up. Therefore I started feeling a sense of connection to her.

Some of these principles, especially high affect — Madeline was a very passionate speaker with highly evident emotions — as well as pure acceptance, gentleness and meeting someone on common ground are some of the very principles of the autism therapy floortime. (Floortime is a therapy designed to increase emotional and cognitive connections in an autistic person’s brain, and to bring the person slowly into the world around them by first joining them in their world.)

Madeline had wonderful social skills. She had the ability to make me feel welcomes and to draw me out.

My Relationship with My Roommate Increases My Empathy and Improved My Social Skills –

After I had been living here about seven months, Madeline had to go to the hospital for about two weeks because of a problem in her leg. The first night she was there, I worried about her constantly. I kept thinking “But she was always talking about how much she hated hospital food!” I hoped she had something good to eat and was being well taken care of.

This probably sounds quite unremarkable, except I had never before worried about someone on quite an emotional level before. I had always expressed sympathy (when I remembered) and felt intellectually things like “I hope so and so gets better soon. That’s terrible. Well, I hope it works out,” but never really on a gut stabbing, stomach hurting, almost visceral emotional level before.

It rather took me by surprise. While the feelings were of a negative nature, I was so happy to have them (upon later reflection) because they made me feel so much more connected to the human race! I didn’t feel so isolated inside myself when I had those feelings.

So That’s What They Were Thinking!

Later on, at different times, two of my friends began having severe health problems of the same sort that I had experienced a few years ago. They were both long distance, so I was limited in what I could do to help them.

I had many long phone conversations with one friend, Elaine, trying to provide both emotional support and practical solutions. After the often hour long conversations, I was drained and in emotional turmoil. I felt helpless. I wanted to ease her pain so much. I wanted to make things better for her. I did what I could, but it wasn’t much. It almost felt like too much to deal with, but I would never walk away from her.

After a few phone calls like this, I got an epiphany. So THAT’S what my parents and friends were feeling during all of my crisis phone calls to them! Years before I had called them during my own health crisis in tears. They tried to help, but I just felt more alone. I kept telling them “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!” I was convinced they didn’t care, because they often had a hard time showing their emotions about the situation and I had an even harder time reading what they did say.

I would mention something that was bothering me and be hurt when my grandfather would change the subject without any response. “Why didn’t you say anything?” I would ask him. “You know how I feel,” he would say. “No, I don’t!” I would tell him. “Come on, you know I feel bad for you,” he’d say. “No, I don’t!” I’d repeat.

I truly felt isolated from those that were trying to help me because I couldn’t imagine how they were feeling towards me. Why? Because I had never felt that way towards anyone else. How could I even know those feelings existed, or at least know what they felt like?

Relationships Develop Empathy for a Person with Asperger’s Syndrome –

If you can understand how others are thinking, you can feel more connected to them. You can understand their needs more and feel the desire to fill them. This, as I understand it, is empathy. Without the kind of interactions and friendships that foster this awareness (that so many on the autism spectrum don’t have), you’re stuck pretending to be functioning in a world you don’t understand one bit, longing for emotional connection and having everyone around you think you’re self-centered and uncaring about others. Without these emotional connections you never really can have sufficient social skills to develop deep and nurturing relationships.

I believe empathy lives in every single person — but the right experiences and circumstances have to be present to bring it out.

Tips for Parents and Those with Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism

Try to expose your child to social situations and experiences that they haven’t had before, within the limits of their abilities. Social groups, summer camps, anything that will offer the ability to foster these forms of relationships. Make sure the programs are well matched to your child’s needs, though.
For children, social stories are also a good way for a parent to focus on development of social skills and empathy. You can create your own social stories with your child by drawing pictures of people and events and adding captions to the stores. Perhaps a relative that your child knows was in the hospital. Maybe a friend fell off their bike and scraped their knee. Think of an event that your child can relate to. By developing a story around this event, you can help your child fill in the emotions that the people in the story felt — worry, fear, sadness — to help your child with Asperger’s syndrome practice empathy.
You can also purchase books that are specifically designed to teach empathy and feelings. Check out Amazon.com which has arrange of these books.
Many therapists can help your child with Asperger’s syndrome learn social skills by focusing on developing empathy. Check with your school or a local Asperger’s syndrome or autism support group. There may be a class offered by your local education department. So many children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome need this type of training that classes are common.
Consider purchasing videos or audio tapes. Many companies sell videos specifically geared to children to help them understand the feelings of others. After all, practice makes perfect. One good thing about videos is that they can help your child read facial expressions. Children with high functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome often have challenges reading facial expressions. Videos can make a point of highlighting the aspects of facial expressions. And by allowing your child to watch the video many times, they can pick up a lot of clues to reading the feelings expressed by a person’s mannerisms, gestures and facial expressions.
For adults with Asperger’s syndrome, try to expose yourself to different social opportunities. Also consider therapy to try to help you work through these issues.

And for further tips and techniques to help your children with Asperger’s syndrome live a happy and fulfilled life, go to the web site AspergersSociety.org and http://www.autismparenthood.com/. There you will be able to sign up for the free Asperger’s and Autism newsletter as well as get additional information to help your loved ones thrive on the autism spectrum.

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Can You Improve Your Conversation Skills With Your Autistic Child?

Every child with the disorder of autism has varying degrees of communication skills. Do you want to improve the conversation skills for your child who has the disorder of autism? If you do, how can it be accomplished?

Many children with autism can be confused with certain phrases we use in our every day language. For example: “Pennies from heaven,” or it is “raining cats and dogs,” “money grows on trees, when blooming,” “to save for a rainy day, you will be sure of a drizzle.”

Trying to have your child understand and interpret this kind of conversation and language, is a challenge for your child. Can this be improved, to have your child better understand this type of communication?

Have you ever tried to comprehend some of the conversations you have had or are having, with your child who has autism, in addition, to his or her peers?

Some individuals use phrases with a large amount of chatter and talk that only they seem to understand and it means something to them. Someone else trying to listen and communicate with their conversation, it makes no sense and it is confusing.

Some individuals who have autism, will use a monologue and not quit talking. They are not aware of the fact, people are bored with their conversation. Parent(s) become confused as to how they can improve the skills of communicating with their child. You may be in that category.

I have a friend who has an autistic child and he is constantly using gestures. They are powerful with his conversations, but his gestures are extremely confusing for other people to understand what they mean.

You as parent(s), caregiver(s), must understand that your child does want to have a conversation, with you or other individuals. You have the challenge to improve it. Improving conversation skills with your child who has autism, requires patience.

In the past, I have used flash cards to help with conversation skills when children have a difficult time expressing or formulating conversations with other individuals.

Practice spending time to show an interest in what your child is saying and expressing, to improve a conversation that makes sense and is understood.

You may want to use pictures, word games,gestures, puppets, flannel boards, videos, books, go for walks in the park, the library, etc.

Keep communication open and current with your child. Do not be afraid to talk to your child as you would with another child who does not have autism.

During conversations with your child, be aware of what your child understands and has difficulty with. You can change and improve the conversation skills by being alerted to the needs of improvement to develop new conversation skills.

* Keep your conversations simple. Use appropriate language, speak clearly, slowly and have a desire for your child to respond.

* Praise, smile encourage your child for the efforts of improving skills for their conversations.

I have discovered that role-playing is a helpful part of improving conversation skills for your child.

Are you willing to take an interest in improving the conversation skills of your child? Start today.

Have you thought about receiving your FREE WEEKLY NEWSLETTER? Get the full story. Go to>>> http://www.autismintoawareness.com/ and leave your name and email address. Bonita Darula wants you to learn, grow, gain knowledge about autism. Take immediate action now.

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Effects of water exercise swimming program on aquatic skills and social behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorders

Effects of water exercise swimming program on aquatic skills and social behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorders Sign In to gain access to subscriptions and/or My Tools. sign in icon Sign In | My Tools | Contact Us | HELP SJO banner Search all journals Advanced Search Go Search History Go Browse Journals Go Skip to main page content

Home OnlineFirst All Issues Subscribe RSS rss Email Alerts Search this journal Advanced Journal Search » Effects of water exercise swimming program on aquatic skills and social behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorders Chien-Yu Pan

National Kaohsiung Normal University, Taiwan, chpan{at}nknucc.nknu.edu.tw Abstract The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a 10 week water exercise swimming program (WESP) on the aquatic skills and social behaviors of 16 boys with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). In the first 10 week phase (phase I), eight children (group A) received the WESP while eight children (group B) did not. A second 10 week phase (phase II) immediately followed, with the treatments reversed. Both groups continued their regular treatment/ activity throughout the study. Improvements were seen in aquatic skills for both groups subsequent to the WESP. Following phase I, significant social improvements were seen in group A. Following phase II, social improvements were seen for group B, whereas group A merely maintained the improvements they attained through the implementation of the WESP during phase I. Results indicate that the WESP improved aquatic skills in the participants, and holds potential for social improvements.

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Social StoriesTM to improve social skills in children with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review

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Home OnlineFirst All Issues Subscribe RSS rss Email Alerts Search this journal Advanced Journal Search » Social Stories™ to improve social skills in children with autism spectrum disorder A systematic review Mohammad Karkhaneh

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada Brenda Clark
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada Maria B. Ospina
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada Jennifer C. Seida
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada Veronica Smith
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada Lisa Hartling
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, hartling{at}ualberta.ca Abstract Over the past 20 years a variety of treatments have been developed to remediate deficits associated with autism. Since the early 1990s, Social Stories™ have been suggested to positively affect the social development of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Despite much research, there remains uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of this modality. We conducted a systematic review of the literature using pre-defined, rigorous methods. Studies were considered eligible if they were controlled trials evaluating Social Stories™ among persons with ASD. Two reviewers independently screened articles for inclusion, applied eligibility criteria, extracted data, and assessed methodological quality. A qualitative analysis was conducted on six eligible controlled trials. Five of the six trials showed statistically significant benefits for a variety of outcomes related to social interaction. This review underscores the need for further rigorous research and highlights some outstanding questions regarding maintenance and generalization of the benefits of Social Stories™.

autism spectrum disorders systematic reviews Social Stories™ © The Author(s), 2010. Add to CiteULikeCiteULike Add to ConnoteaConnotea Add to DeliciousDelicious Add to DiggDigg Add to FacebookFacebook Add to Google+Google+ Add to LinkedInLinkedIn Add to MendeleyMendeley Add to RedditReddit Add to StumbleUponStumbleUpon Add to TechnoratiTechnorati Add to TwitterTwitter What’s this?

« Previous | Next Article » Table of Contents This Article Published online before print October 5, 2010, doi: 10.1177/1362361310373057 Autism November 2010 vol. 14 no. 6 641-662 » Abstract Full Text (PDF) All Versions of this Article: current version image indicatorVersion of Record – Dec 13, 2010 1362361310373057v1 – Oct 5, 2010 What’s this? References Services Email this article to a colleague Alert me when this article is cited Alert me if a correction is posted Similar articles in this journal Similar articles in PubMed Download to citation manager Request Permissions Request Reprints Load patientINFORMation Citing Articles Load citing article information Citing articles via Scopus Citing articles via Web of Science Citing articles via Google Scholar Google Scholar Articles by Karkhaneh, M. Articles by Hartling, L. Search for related content PubMed PubMed citation Articles by Karkhaneh, M. Articles by Hartling, L. Related Content Load related web page information Share Add to CiteULikeCiteULike Add to ConnoteaConnotea Add to DeliciousDelicious Add to DiggDigg Add to FacebookFacebook Add to Google+Google+ Add to LinkedInLinkedIn Add to MendeleyMendeley Add to RedditReddit Add to StumbleUponStumbleUpon Add to TechnoratiTechnorati Add to TwitterTwitter What’s this?

Current Issue January 2012, 16 (1) Current Issue Alert me to new issues of Autism Submit a ManuscriptSubmit a Manuscript Free Sample CopyFree Sample Copy Email AlertsEmail Alerts Rss FeedsRSS feed More about this journal About the Journal Editorial Board Manuscript Submission Abstracting/Indexing Subscribe Account Manager Recommend to Library Advertising Reprints Permissions society image The National Autistic Society Most Most Read Social StoriesTM to improve social skills in children with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review Peer interaction patterns among adolescents with autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) in mainstream school settings Emotional, motivational and interpersonal responsiveness of children with autism in improvisational music therapy Evidence-Based Practices and Autism Inclusion for toddlers with autism spectrum disorders: The first ten years of a community program » View all Most Read articles Most Cited Diagnosis in Autism: A Survey of Over 1200 Patients in the UK The Prevalence of Anxiety and Mood Problems among Children with Autism and Asperger Syndrome Anxiety in High-Functioning Children with Autism The CAST (Childhood Asperger Syndrome Test): Preliminary Development of a UK Screen for Mainstream Primary-School-Age Children Outcome in Adult Life for more Able Individuals with Autism or Asperger Syndrome » View all Most Cited articles HOME ALL ISSUES FEEDBACK SUBSCRIBE RSS rss EMAIL ALERTS HELP Copyright © 2012 by The National Autistic Society, SAGE Publications Print ISSN: 1362-3613 Online ISSN: 1461-7005

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Study Indicates That Autism Affects Motor Skills

Main Category: Autism
Article Date: 17 Feb 2012 – 1:00 PST

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Children with autism often have problems developing motor skills, such as running, throwing a ball or even learning how to write. But scientists have not known whether those difficulties run in families or are linked to autism. New research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis points to autism as the culprit.

Their findings were reported in the journal Autism.

“From our results, it looks like motor impairments may be part of the autism diagnosis, rather than a trait genetically carried in the family,” says lead author Claudia List Hilton, PhD, assistant professor in occupational therapy and an instructor in psychiatry. “That suggests that motor impairments are a core characteristic of the diagnosis.”

The researchers studied 144 children from 67 families in which at least one child had a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder as well as at least one biological sibling in the same age group. Of the children families, there were 29 in which two had an autism spectrum disorder, including six identical twins; and 48 in which only one child had an autism spectrum disorder.

The children were observed performing a range of motor skills, including placing pegs in a pegboard, cutting with scissors, copying forms, imitating movements, running, throwing a ball and doing push-ups. Researchers used a standardized measure of motor proficiency widely used in children with disabilities that measures fine manual control, manual coordination, body coordination and strength and agility.

The Washington University study is the first to evaluate motor impairments in children with autism spectrum disorder and their siblings who don’t have the disorder.

Hilton, along with co-author John Constantino, MD, and their team also studied the link between motor impairment and the severity of the autism spectrum disorder.

Testing showed that 83 percent of children with autism spectrum disorder were below average in motor skills. Their siblings without an autism spectrum disorder generally scored in the normal range, with only 6 percent below average.

In addition, identical twin pairs had very similar scores. Non-twin siblings who each had autism spectrum disorder also had similar scores. And siblings in which one child had an autism spectrum disorder and one didn’t had very different scores.

“The data suggests that genes play a role in the motor impairments observed in those with autism spectrum disorder,” Hilton says. “This is further evidence that autism spectrum disorder is a largely genetic disorder.”

“It’s possible that developmental processes in the brain which give rise to motor coordination and social responsiveness are shared by both systems,” says co-investigator Constantino, the Blanche F. Ittleson Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics and director of the William Greenleaf Eliot Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Washington University. “This could explain their association in autism and provide new ideas about intervention strategies to help affected children, such as innovative methods for promoting motor development.”

In addition, the study showed that the lower motor proficiency score in children with an autism spectrum disorder, the greater the degree of social impairment and severity of the disorder.

“Kids who have difficulty with motor skills might have trouble with what we think are simple things like brushing their teeth, buttoning, snapping or starting a zipper – things that are so basic to being independent, but would cause other problems at school,” Hilton says. “They would need to have an aide or someone helping them, and that would set them off as different from the other kids.”

These impairments can lead to bigger problems later on, Hilton says.

“Some kids aren’t socially aware enough that it bothers them, but others are aware, and they feel bad about themselves,” she says. “They may have low self-esteem, so even if they have delays only in the motor skills, there is a lot of impact on their well being into adulthood.”

Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click ‘references’ tab above for source.
Visit our autism section for the latest news on this subject. Hilton CL, Zhang Y, White, MR, Klohr CL, Constantino J. Motor impairment in sibling pairs concordant and discordant for autism spectrum disorders. Autism. Published Jan. 18, 2012.
Washington University School of Medicine Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

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Washington University School of Medicine. “Study Indicates That Autism Affects Motor Skills.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 17 Feb. 2012. Web.
9 Mar. 2012. APA

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‘Study Indicates That Autism Affects Motor Skills’

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Motor Skills Affected By Autism

Editor’s Choice
Main Category: Autism
Article Date: 21 Feb 2012 – 10:00 PST

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Often, children with autism have difficulties developing motor skills, such as throwing a ball, learning how to write, or running. However, a study published in the journal Autism, suggests that autism itself, not genetics, may be to blame. The research was conducted at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Claudia List Hilton, Ph.D., lead researcher of the study, assistant professor in occupational therapy and an instructor in psychiatry, explained:

“From our results, it looks like motor impairments may be part of the autism diagnosis, rather than a trait genetically carried in the family. That suggests that motor impairments are a core characteristic of the diagnosis.”

144 children from 67 families, in which at least one child had a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, in addition to at least one biological sibling in the same age group, were enrolled to participate in the study. 48 of the families had only one child with the disorder, and 29 had two children with the disorder, including six identical twins.

The study is the first to assess motor impairments in children with autism, and their siblings without the disorder, as well as the association between motor impairment and the severity of the disorder.

Using a standardized measure of motor proficiency, commonly used in children with disabilities that measures strength, agility, fine manual control, body coordination, and manual control, the researchers asked participants to perform a variety of motor skills, including, push-ups, cutting with scissors, running, imitating movements, placing pegs in a pegboard, copying forms and throwing a ball.

The team, including co-author John Constantino, M.D., found that 83% of children with the disorder scored below average in motor skills, compared with only 6% of their siblings without the disorder. Siblings without the disorder generally scored in the normal range.

Furthermore, the researchers found: The scores for siblings in which one child had autism and other did not, were very different. Identical twins had very similar scores. Scores were very similar among siblings who each had the disorder. Hilton, explains:

“The data suggests that genes play a role in the motor impairments observed in those with autism spectrum disorder. This is further evidence that autism spectrum disorder is a largely genetic disorder.”

Co-author Constantino, the Blanche F. Ittleson Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics and director of the William Greenleaf Eliot Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Washington University, said:

“It’s possible that developmental processes in the brain which give rise to motor coordination and social responsiveness are shared by both systems. This could explain their association in autism and provide new ideas about intervention strategies to help affected children, such as innovative methods for promoting motor development.”

Results from the study indicated that the lower the motor proficiency score in children with the disorder, the greater the severity of the disorder and the degree of social impairment.

Hilton continued:

“Kids who have difficulty with motor skills might have trouble with what we think are simple things like brushing their teeth, buttoning, snapping or starting a zipper – things that are so basic to being independent, but would cause other problems at school. They would need to have an aide or someone helping them, and that would set them off as different from the other kids.”

According to Hilton, these impairments can result in larger problems in the future.

Hilton explains:

“Some kids aren’t socially aware enough that it bothers them, but others are aware, and they feel bad about themselves. They may have love self-esteem, so even if they have delays only in the motor skills, there is a lot of impact on their wellbeing into adulthood.”

Written by Grace Ratue
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today

Visit our autism section for the latest news on this subject. Source: Washington University in St. Louis Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

MLA

Grace Rattue. “Motor Skills Affected By Autism.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 21 Feb. 2012. Web.
9 Mar. 2012. APA

Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.


posted by Dayna Anderson on 24 Feb 2012 at 1:55 pm

I would like to see research into motor speech disorders in this population. Because fine manual and fine oral coordination are closely localized in the sensory motor strip it seems likely that speech would be affected as well.

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‘Motor Skills Affected By Autism’

Please note that we publish your name, but we do not publish your email address. It is only used to let you know when your message is published. We do not use it for any other purpose. Please see our privacy policy for more information.

If you write about specific medications or operations, please do not name health care professionals by name.

All opinions are moderated before being included (to stop spam)

Contact Our News Editors

For any corrections of factual information, or to contact the editors please use our feedback form.

Please send any medical news or health news press releases to:

Note: Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional. For more information, please read our terms and conditions.


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