Why Do They Do That? Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders Intermediate District 287 The A Team (Autism Consultants)
What are Autism Spectrum Disorders? Life long neurobiological conditions that prevent individuals from properly understanding what they see, hear and sense. This results in problems in social relationships, communication and behavior
Autism Spectrum Disorders Autism comes from the Greek word “autos” which means “self”, because of the tendency to be self-focused and self-involved. Characteristics include social isolation, unusual behaviors, and lack of communication skills.
Autism Spectrum Disorders There are several disorders under the Autism Umbrella and they vary in degree from mild to severe. People with ASD may vary in degree as to how they are affected in the areas of Social Interaction Communication Restricted range of behaviors - limited agendas - use things/see things in a limited spectrum
Autism Spectrum Disorders Autism is a ‘neurological’ disorder, there is something wrong with the nervous system and brain This neurological disorder affects the way the brain works and changes the way a person thinks The behaviors are normal, but they are abnormally extreme
Causes of Autism There are many theories about what causes Autism, however these are just theories. To date, none of the theories have been proven. Much research is still being done.
Facts about ASD Usually occurs during the first three years of life and does affect all races Interferes with social interactions, communication and sensory processing. Not all people with autism behave the same way. This is what is meant by the ‘spectrum of autism’ People do not grow out of Autism, it is a lifelong disability. The symptoms can range from mild to severe
What are the Statistics? Minnesota Early Autism Project February 2009: 1 in 81 children in Minnesota have autism Nationally 1 in 100 children is diagnosed with autism At least 1 to 1.5 million Americans have autism (CDC 2001) Autism is more common in males than females with a 4:1 ratio for ASD and a 10:1 ratio for Asperger’s Syndrome
Characteristics of ASD Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders have difficulty with 1. Social Skills 2. Communication Skills 3. Restricted, Repetitive or Stereotyped Behaviors (use things/see things in a limited spectrum)
Social Skills Of the three areas of concern for ASD, Social Skills is the primary area of concern Individuals with ASD may have limited social awareness May prefer to be alone and do things on their own
Social Skills May have difficulty making and keeping friends and may prefer to interact with adults Limited Joint Attention - alerting others to something, using nonverbal means such as an eye gaze or a point Shifting attention from one thing to another may be difficult
Social Skills May avoid making eye contact or looking directly at other people Limited use of facial expressions May be socially naïve, vulnerable and/or at risk for safety issues
Social Skills Lack Theory of Mind - the ability to understand what other people are thinking and feeling Do not realize that other people have a different set of experiences and information than themselves. Cannot predict what other people will do - that can feel Scary to individuals with autism. May feel the need to scan and keep track of all people around them because they cannot predict what others will do.
Communication May not point to draw others attention to things they are interested in Difficulty using and understanding nonverbal communication (gestures, facial expressions, voice tone) May lead others by the hand to what they want as opposed to asking or pointing May be nonverbal or language may be delayed
Communication May have difficulty understanding what others mean May have difficulty saying what they mean May have a difficult time starting and maintaining conversations May understand simple, direct sentences but have a difficult time understanding more complex language
Communication May talk like “a little professor” but they may be repeating scripts and not really understand the concepts May have difficulty answering questions Speech may sound odd, they may have difficulty with volume control, intonation, rate and rhythm May use Jargon and Echolalia (Immediate & Delayed)
Communication May learn concrete things more easily, and have more difficulty learning abstract concepts In play, may not imitate others or join in May lack imagination
Restricted, Repetitive or Stereotyped Patterns Of Behavior, Interests and Activities Insists on following routines or rituals Rigid rule bound thinking, for example needs to have the same predictable schedule and routine every day Resists change in activities or routines Becomes distressed or anxious when activities or routines are changed or do not go according to their plan
Restricted, Repetitive or Stereotyped Patterns Of Behavior, Interests and Activities Repetitive body, hand or finger mannerisms such as hand flapping, body rocking, head banging Reenacts things they have seen rather than using true imagination such as using action figures to recreate a video game Intense focused preoccupation on their own limited range of play, interests or conversation topics
Restricted, Repetitive or Stereotyped Patterns Of Behavior, Interests and Activities Overreaction or under reaction to things in their environment may behave as if deaf or be very sensitive to sound may be sensitive to how things feel such as glue and chalk May be sensitive to smells such as bad breath or cologne
Restricted, Repetitive or Stereotyped Patterns Of Behavior, Interests and Activities Overreaction or under reaction to things in their environment May be sensitive to lights or too many things on the wall May be picky eaters because of texture and taste May not recognize sensations of pain, or temperature
Restricted, Repetitive or Stereotyped Patterns Of Behavior, Interests and Activities Visual input is often the strongest channel for attention and learning
Strategies That Work USE THE VISUALS Provide and use a visual schedule (no it does not matter if they can tell you the schedule!) Provide a structured, predictable routine Limit Your Talking to students AND to each other, your voice can be annoying noise
Strategies That Work Use simple concrete language Offer Choices Do not take student comments or behaviors personally Be aware of sensory differences and needs
Strategies That Work Reduce Distractions (take extra stuff off your walls) Offer breaks before student becomes upset - Be Proactive Teach relaxation when students are calm
Remember! When working with individuals with autism, there is never a dull moment!