Definition of Autism Spectrum Disorders Characterized by impairments in: –Communication skills –Social interactions –Repetitive behaviors Autism: –Resistance to change –Unusual responses to sensory experiences –Usually manifests before age 3 –Severe cognitive deficits Asperger’s syndrome: –“mild” autism
Definition of Autism Spectrum Disorders Childhood disintegrative disorder: –Normal development up to 10 years followed by significant loss of skills –Much more prevalent in males Pervasive developmental disorder: –Milder, onset later than 3 years Rett syndrome: –Normal development up to 4 years followed by mental retardation –Much more prevalent in females
Psychological and Behavioral Characteristics Autism: –Impaired social interaction –Impaired communication Communicative intent –Repetitive and stereotyped behavior –Impaired cognition –Abnormal sensory perceptions Asperger syndrome: –Impaired social interaction –Impaired communication skills
Historical Context Leo Kanner’s: 1943 –Autism different from schizophrenia Never made social connections Unique language patterns No deterioration over time Hans Asperger’s Paper: 1944 –Autistic psychopathy: Asperger’s syndrome Average intelligence, normal language Obsessive preoccupation in narrow pursuits
Causes Neurological –Several areas of the brain are implicated as causes. Cerebral cortex, basal ganglia, hippocampus, cerebellum. –Excessive brain growth in the first 2 years. Hereditary –When one family member is diagnosed with Autism the chances are 50 to 200 times higher that another family member has Autism.
Assessment Psychiatrists use criteria of American Psychiatric Association: –Communication skills –Social interactions –Repetitive and stereotyped behaviors Behavioral Observations Relatively easy to diagnose: –Asperger syndrome harder to diagnose
What are the needs of students with Autism? Desire for routine Limited social awareness Restricted range of interests Problems focusing on toys, people’s faces, or information Poor motor coordination Academic difficulties Emotional vulnerability
How can teachers address those needs? Create a predictable environment with routine Teach them how to read and respond to social cues Encourage other students to engage the student with autism Create rules for allowing activity that is of student’s limited interest Use positive reinforcement to shape desired behaviors Divide instructional tasks into meaningful components and create external stimuli to guide the student Create academic experiences that build upon success Teach coping mechanisms to use when confronted with stressor anxiety
When teaching these students, it is important to use: Direct instruction Behavior management –Functional behavioral assessment –Positive behavioral support Instruction in natural settings Specific to Asperger Syndrome: Social interpreting Coaching
Where are most students with autism generally educated? 50% - self-contained classroom 20-25% - general education classroom 15% - resource rooms 10-15% - separate schools 2% - residential facilities *There is a push towards general education classrooms to encourage natural interactions but this is difficult because of the necessary one-on-one instruction.
Early Intervention Entry into the program as soon as the child is diagnosed Active engagement in program full time (at least 25 hours per week) Structured, one-on-one teaching time Family Involvement 2:1 student-teacher ratio Ongoing assessment with adjustments as needed
Transition to Adulthood Essentially the same as those with other disabilities Person-centered planning Living in a community residential facility or in supported living Working in competitive employment or supported competitive employment
True of False Autism is a single, well-defined category of disability.
False Autism is a wide spectrum of disorders and ranges from very severe to very mild. Autism spectrum disorder includes conditions that can be difficult to identify with great accuracy.
True or False All people with autism are impaired in some cognitive areas but are highly intelligent or geniuses in other areas.
False Only a very few people with autism have extraordinary skills.
True or False Asperger Syndrome is more difficult to diagnose than classic autism.
True Since the symptoms of Asperger Syndrome are milder, and therefore harder to assess.
True or False Causes of autism are mainly neurological and heredity plays NO role in causing the disorder.
False Both hereditary and neurological causes play a role in austim.
True or False It’s most likely that there are multiple genes involved in diagnosing autism.