Vision For Effective Theraputic Programing For Children With Autism

My Vision

People often negate what they do not understand. There is danger in that for these complex individuals. My suggestions revolve around staff education, collaboration between disciplinarians & parents, change of criteria & delivery models, & development of supportive environments. My suggestions are for school districts to ensure a maximum use of resources.

The objectives of my vision would be based closely on an Autism Bill of Rights.

• Each child has a right to a safe & nurturing environment.

• Each child’s discomfort & pain needs to be alleviated to the best of our ability.

• Each child deserves respect.

• Each child should be gently coaxed to be all he wishes to be.

• Each child deserves to find pleasure in his physical existence.

• Each child will be given a helping hand to his next step of accomplishment.

• Each child will learn to trust his environment & the people in it.

• Each child will recognize open hearts willing to join him on his journey.

• Each child will be assisted in adapting to the rhythm & flow of life.

• Each child will feel loved!

I would like to see experts in the fields of speech, occupational, physical, & vision therapy work with teachers to create a program specific for autism. Speech is dependent on sensory input & motor planning. Attempts to use augmentative communication devices, signs, or gestures are also complicated by movement, rhythm & sensory issues. These difficulties are often still being confused with cognitive or social dysfunction by staffers who lack appropriate training.

Selected personnel, appropriately licensed & motivated, should be sent to alternative healing training sessions. By example, speech therapists & occupational therapists should train in therapeutic listening, Tomatis, auditory integration training, interactive metronomes, binaural beats or other rhythmic entrainment programs. Occupational therapists should be trained in sensory integration. Alternative therapies should be brought to the schools, such as sacral cranial work, massage, aromatherapy, watsu water therapy, Feldenkrais, yoga, Brain Gym, acupressure, reflexology, reiki & possibly even hypnotherapy.

These therapists could then travel from site to site, training staffers & parents on how to implement these strategies on a regular basis. This would provide low-income children in urban districts with the same level of service provided by knowledgeable parents who have the resources, insurance, & fortitude to open all options for their kids.

Districts should enlist some one from the ASA to serve as an information source for parents concerning diet, enzymes, supplements, chelating procedures, & other myriad other options out there.

Environmental changes need to occur. Programs should be placed at sites that can best meet the children’s sensory & motor needs. Schools ideally should have:

• Quiet classrooms with natural light & adequate space for sensory equipment.

• Pools & playground equipment that provided for vestibular input

• Proximity to a variety of parks & nature walks

• Close access to community facilities allowing for cost-effective & flexible

community based programs.

Administrators & supervisors from the different disciplines need to come together & transform failing programs into a dynamic yet viable paragons.

Administrators need to arrange time for teachers & assistants to consult with the team & implement & refine strategies for continued optimum growth of each student. Parents should be encouraged to attend these meetings so they can provide follow-up at home. As teams develop, roles would overlap; sensory problems, movement difficulties, communication, behavioral concerns, & rhythm issues would be addressed in all areas of the curriculum throughout the day.

Teachers, assistants & parents would be more confident in their ability to deal with ongoing complex neurological & central nervous system dysfunction if they continued to consult & collaborate with experts in specific disciplines. Turbulence & stress in students would decrease as they took refuge in the support of a highly trained & confident staff.

A paradigm shift of this magnitude demands that little shifts continue to occur. As information about current practices is disseminated, collaboration increases & team building occurs. Current programs would be modified by innovations that improve overall function. During initial revamping, there will be periods of stress & challenge where teachers & therapists will have to eradicate many of their current beliefs in order to have the confidence, courage & knowledge to keep the agenda moving forward.

Committees made up of representatives from various disciplines should oversee & evaluate what’s currently happening & decide what changes need to be made. Responsibilities would include making sure that employees are receiving adequate training & that teams are continuing to collaborate on a regular basis. There is more. Teachers & therapists with strengths in methodology, passion — & intuitive understanding of how to meet the complex needs of these very complex children — would provide support to teachers, therapists, & teaching assistants in increasing effectiveness.

When supporting individual persons with autism, it is vital to refuse to be certain of anything. All assumptions have to be rigorously examined. What works for one child may have disastrous affects on another, or it may work now & cease to be effective later. The more I have learned, the more I realize I do not know. I would encourage virtually everyone to let go of self-interest, refuse to be complacent, remain flexible, be open to new ideas, take risks, & provide mutual support so that objectives & procedures continue to create a flow of progress. If we are motivated by openness & a willing to transform ourselves, the children will transform with us.

I have served as a teacher of individual persons with autism for 18 years. What they have taught me was to be sure of nothing, & open myself to the extraordinary. It has been & continues to be a remarkable ride.

Mary Ann Harrington

http://web.mac.com/maharrington

Understanding The Differences Between Aspergers & Autism

Autistic Disorder or Autism is a developmental disability that has a crucial impact on the normal development of the brain. It affects the cognitive portions that are significant for social integration & every day living skills. People who suffer with Autism have deficits in the areas of social interactions & communication skills.

Children & adults alike who are diagnosed with Autism typically have difficulty with normal verbal or non-verbal communication such as eye-to-eye contact, facial expressions, body postures & general gestures associated with simple interactions.

Basically, normal peer relationships are diminished due to the lack of social skills. People with Autism tend to migrate toward exclusive activities. Unfortunately, this disease also affects self-help daily living skills. It affects toileting, feeding, dressing and/or brushing teeth, etc. Moreover, one person with Autism may experience very different symptoms & behaviors than the next.

Due to this broad range of symptoms, Autism has been called the “Spectrum” Disorder. Specifically, a person that is suffering with mild autistic symptoms is at one end of the spectrum. A person with severe autistic symptoms is at the other end of the spectrum. Autism is now often referred to as the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). One of the conditions of ASD is the Asperger’s Syndrome.

Asperger’s Syndrome is a form of the Autistic Disorder where people have relatively fewer developmental delays. Asperger’s Syndrome is actually said to be hereditary by researchers as it has been simultaneously diagnosed with depression & bipolar diseases. Asperger’s Syndrome is applied to identify the mildest & highest functioning end of Autism spectrum. It is a high functioning form of Autism. Therefore, it is at the mild spectrum of Autism. There is no prescribed regimen of treatment for this disease; howeveradults may live productive, independent lives.

Three basic aspects of development are affected by Aspersers. They are the use of language for communicative purposes & certain behaviors with stylistic characteristics, social relatedness & social skills, & a limited, but intense range of interest.

Interestingly enough, the language is lucid before age four. Even though speech is occasionally repetitive, the grammar is usually very good. Their voices tend to be flat & emotionless. Individuals with Aspergers are obsessed with complex topics & are often described as eccentric. Ironically, they are in the above-average range in verbal agility, yet many have dyslexia, writing problems as well as difficulty with mathematics. The Autism Asperger individual is socially aware, howeverdisplays inappropriate reciprocal interaction. Their movements may be clumsy or awkward & they present odd forms of self-stimulatory behavior.

The main characteristic of Aspergers Syndrome that makes its children completely unique & fascinating is their peculiar areas of “special interest”. This is very different from typical Autism in that those children’s interests are more likely to be objects or parts of objects.

The Asperger’s Syndrome children are fascinated with the intellectual dynamics of subjects. Even prior to attending school, these children will display an obsessive interest in areas such as math, science, reading or even some aspect of history or geography.

Another major characteristic that identifies Autism Aspergers from the typical Autism is the socialization deficit. In most cases, children with AS express a desire to fit in socially. Typical Autism victims suggest complete exclusion & seclusion. In actual fact, AS individual persons tend to become frustrated because they are not able to interact appropriately.

Lastly, the use of language skills is can be often used to determine if a child should be diagnosed with the Autistic Disorder or Asperger’s Syndrome. AS children have language skills that are very strong & tends to be very concrete. AS children have difficulty dealing with humor; tendency not to get jokes or laughing at odd times because they have difficulty with give or take with conversations, since their conversations tend to be self-oriented. Thus, these are differences that identify each disease as separate afflictions as they are very hard to diagnose.

For more insights & additional information about Autism & Aspergers please visit our web site at http://www.autism-explained.com

Typical Effective Teaching Strategies for Individuals With Autism

This is a conglomeration of preferred strategies, I have learned in classes & workshops, interspersed with my own preferences for effective programming.

Children with autism are individuals, first & foremost. Each one of them comes to us with an array of cognitive abilities, learning styles, sensory irritants & impairments, need for routine, visual or auditory preferences, movement disturbances, varied & intense communication disturbances, difficulties with social interactions & or commingling conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorder, dysphasia, hyperactivity, opposition defiance disorder, psychosis, acute anxiety, post traumatic stress syndrome — the list goes on. No one program will best meet the needs of all children. Intuition, flexibility & a willingness to use a variety of approaches will best insure progress of each individual child.

I prefer a combination of incidental teaching, child-directed activities, & a modified discrete trial format. I attempt for errorless teaching, prompting where necessary to keep the child from floundering. I use backward chaining of motored & visual prompts. All of these are to be ramped down as acquisition of skills develops. Communication, social skills & behavior are taught at different levels during all activities, dependent on each child’s communicative level & individualized motivational factors.

I start by addressing attending behaviors. I often attempt to make a connection with the child by sending out a dominant rhythm in hopes of establishing a relationship. I often elect to take a submissive role — I do this in an attempt to show the child that he has influence over his environment & that action creates reaction. I allow the child to use me as a tool; or, I might mirror his activity. Any communicative attempt to have his needs met is rewarded.

If he continues to have difficulty, I continually analyze what I might change to increase attention. Are there too much environmental stimuli? Are sensory irritants overwhelming him? What can I do to make him more comfortable in his body? Can he attend to preferred activities? Can he attend during one-on-one interaction? Is he having difficulty switching attention? Does music help? Can I use a particular toy to engage him? What suggestions do his parents have? I keep asking questions until I have a feasible answer, & then determine an intervention. If that is ineffective, I remain flexible & attempt again.

The next major concern is the child’s ability to imitate. If he were unable, I would attempt to determine why. Is it a problem of attention? Is it a movement problem? If it were a problem of attention, I would attempt to go one on one with him in a quiet space devoid of sensory distraction. If it were a movement problem, I would attempt to have some one motor the child from behind during gross & fine motor activities. I would do the same when expecting the child to perform actions with objects. I would sit facing the child & attempt to engage him as I mirrored his movements. In time, I would attempt to entice him with the needed level of prompts to mirror mine.

Communication would be evaluated. Does the child demonstrate communicative intent? What is his communication mode? Does he demonstrate verbal capability? Does he respond to visual strategies? Does he respond to signs? Is he able to imitate them? When appropriate, I would incorporate either PECS or prerequisite adaptations as soon as possible.

Social skills would focus on interactive skills. Is the child seemingly aware of others? Does the child interact with me? Does he interact with other students? Does he give rote responses? Are his responses echolalic? I would use myself as the initial interacting agent, for it is easier to control my own responses than the behavior of another child.

Movement is a large component of my personal methodology. It gives needed sensory input & facilitates an organized use of their bodies. I feel strongly that there is a body-mind link to this disorder. An organized body leads to an organized mind; even language is dependent on motor skills. Exercise should be a combination of free play & motored prompts of designated body postures. I prefer exercises that cross the mid-line & engage both brain hemispheres.

I like to take the children on nature walks, as these tend to force them to attend to their environment & stay present. They follow trails; they walk, climb or run on uneven terrain, attempting to avoid or conquer nature’s obstacles. The sights & sounds of nature appear to have a calming effect — as opposed to the artificial sights, sounds, noise, & smells of the classroom environment.

Plays skills vary depend on the level of interaction with toys & peers. Does he interact with toys? Does he use them appropriately? Does he take part in parallel play? Does he engage in a shared activity? I would serve more as a facilitator than a teacher in these interactions, removing prompts as acquisition of skill develops. I would suggest working with him from the back, motoring his body as an extension of your own.

As the child gets older, it is vital to see how he operates in a home, school or community, & in vocational & recreational environments. It is important for schools & agencies to provide information & assist families with guardianship, financial planning, advocacy, outside therapies, peer relationships & counseling. If you are floundering, please contact the ASA for help or an advocate.

Keep asking yourself questions. Are his goals still effective or should they be changed to suit current needs? Do his classes have long-term significance? Does his participation enhance social relationships? Does he have friends or social activities outside of school? How are sexual issues being dealt with? Is the pace & scope of instruction adequate? Are sensory issues, motor adaptations, interfering communication challenges, transition & generalization issues being addressed in all environments. Are his social & emotional needs being met? What are his needs for predictability, repetitions, direct instruction, & generalization? What are his strengths & weaknesses? In short, what changes & adaptations need to be made?

Visualize where you would like to see him at 21. Match the work environment to his needs & style. Determine the level of support he will need & who will be responsible. Each individual is a completely unique blend of strengths & weaknesses. It is not easy to find the right fit. Remain flexible & keep trying. If the child is not suited for a typical work environment, continue to advocate for stimulating experiences to insure that he will be a life-long learner

Summary

1. Make sure the child is comfortable.

2. Let him know he is safe.

3. Address movement & sensory issues.

4. Form a relationship with the child.

5. Engage him in activities of joint attention & cause & effect.

6. Teach him to imitate, motor him when necessary.

7. Set up situation that encourage him to initiate.

8. Provide visual strategies.

9. Continually reassess behavior, learning rate & style 10. Stay flexible

I have served as a teacher of individual persons with autism for 18 years. What they have taught me was to be sure of nothing, & open myself to the extraordinary. It has been & continues to be a remarkable ride.

Mary Ann Harrington

http://web.mac.com/maharrington

Savant Syndrome & Severe Autism, Open Channels of Expression

Savant Syndrome- My opinion

I speculate Savant Syndrome is a gradient of exchange in which a receptive candidate opens up a vacant part of himself to ideas–a form of canalization that deepens & widens over time. The passage of information flows freely, uninterrupted by configurations of brain wave patterns that transpose higher-level thinking into constructs that configure themselves to the mechanism in place. In other words, savant syndrome is a free flowing river without the tributaries. The source of the information can be thought of as the ocean of the mind where all information is available. Random thoughts proliferate in a disorganized fashion, attuning to the frequency of the individual being used for expression. An open channel or receptivity occurs.

Savant syndromes include direct expression of an extreme area of competence. The ego of the savant does not interfere with the process. This subjugation of objective self occurs, as the dominant force is the expression of the idea. The savant is able to turn himself over to another source for expression. It is not unlike trance channeling. Unlike most of us, who self monitor, the recipient’s gate to the emanating force is wide open.

The savant may not have full awareness of what he has produced; however, he is aware that he is in flow. It is a meditative state for him in which his system feels relaxed & at peace. His accomplishments, though not entirely his own, could not occur without him. It is a dance so to speak. He is a tool to express areas of consciousness that would otherwise be unavailable. It is a process that affirms the completely unique aspects of the individual’s connection to universal knowledge & the knowledge base of others individually & collectively.

Many individual persons with severe autism I have met I suspect are intellectual & spiritual savants. Their process differs– they need an agent/facilitator to serve as a catalyst for expression. The preconceptions & knowledge base of the agents/facilitator limit their expression since they interpret the autistic savants unmitigated free flowing thoughts. Some agents, I believe reside on the perimeters of knowing but fear of taking the plunge holds them back. Balance of self with soul & complete surrender to the process demands ultimate trust & courage. If the agent makes a concerted effort to incorporate new knowledge with past understanding, the circle will continue to widen.

Engagement in this process manifests its own rewards for both the autist & the agent experience flow each influencing the other in a meditative dance of possibilities.

Mary Ann Harrington

I have served as a teacher of individual persons with autism for 18 years. What they have taught me was to be sure of nothing, & open myself to the extraordinary. It has been & continues to be a remarkable ride. Please recommend this article to anyone you know who might be interested. Questions & comments are appreciated.

Mary Ann Harrington

http://web.mac.com/maharrington

MMR Controversy Doctor Faces Disciplinary Charges

The doctor who caused a worldwide drop in childhood immunisation nearly ten years ago by suggesting there was a link between the measles, mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine & autism is facing a disciplinary hearing with his two fellow researchers. Dr Andrew Wakefield, Professors Simon Murch & John Walker Smith, are accused of serious professional misconduct in relation to ethical aspects of their research.

The charges relate to the time when Wakefield & his two colleagues were employed by the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine with Honorary Clinical contracts at the Royal Free Hospital, in the years leading up to the publication of their research in the Lancet in 1998. Dr Wakefield has since left the UK & lives in Texas, in the US. Murch & Walker Smith still work at the Royal Free, an NHS hospital based in northwest London.

The three doctors have been summoned before the General Medical Council’s fitness to practise panel in London to answer over 40 charges of serious professional misconduct in relation to vaccine research.

When the hearing opened yesterday it was made clear that it was the doctors’ conduct that was under scrutiny, & not the link between autism & MMR.

Wakefield, a 50-year old former surgeon who became a gastroenterologist, was accused of taking blood samples from children at his son’s fifth birthday party & paying them 5 pounds.

The allegation centres on the fact that he chose an inappropriate social setting in which to collect the samples, & showed “callous disregard for the distress & pain” he may have caused to the children, while offering them a financial inducement.

The blood samples were used in the research that led to the paper published in the Lancet in February 1998 claiming a link between the MMR vaccine, childhood autism & inflammatory bowel disease. The title of the paper was “Ileal-Lymphoid-Nodular Hyperplasia, Non-Specific Colitis & Pervasive Developmental Disorder in Children”.

The allegations state that “the three practitioners inaccurately stated in the Lancet paper that the investigations reported in it were approved by the ethics committee”.

Many of the charges against Wakefield, Murch & Walker Smith involve giving children medical interventions they did not need, including colonoscopies, lumbar punctures & barium meal tests. There is more. The panel was told they did not have the requisite pediatric qualification to do this & that the procedures were not “clinically indicated, when the Ethics Committee had been assured that they were all clinically indicated”.

Outside the hearing, campaigners & parents of children with autism waved placards & chanted in support of Wakefield & his colleagues. One large banner read “We’re with Wakefield – crucified for helping sick kids”. Flowers lining the pavement were sent by supporters from the US.

Another allegation mentions that Wakefield gave one of the 12 children at the centre of the research paper, child number 10, an experimental drug being tested as a measles vaccine when he was not qualified to administer it & did not have the requisite ethical approval. The father of the boy, a colleague of Wakefield, was going to set up a company, with Wakefield, to make & sell the vaccine, it was alleged.

Wakefield admitted that there was a plan to set up a joint company with the child’s father & other parties, but he denied giving the child the drug as an experiment & failing to get approval, not being qualified to administer it, not informing the child’s GP, & not recording the dose.

Another allegation against Wakefield involves a donation of 50,000 pounds from the Legal Aid Board to support claims by parents who were trying to get compensation. The money was paid into an account used by the hospital to pay for Wakefield’s research, but the allegation is that he applied for it to pay for five children to stay in the hospital during tests when those costs would have been met by the NHS. Wakefield was accused of dishonesty & misleading conduct, because he used the money “for purposes other than those for which he said it was needed”.

All three doctors deny the charges. If found guilty, they could be struck off the medical register. The hearing is due to take 15 weeks.

http://www.autism-world.com/index.php/2007/07/18/mmr-controversy-doctor-faces-disciplinary-charges/

MMR, Autism, And Who Should Really Be On Trial

Unless you have been living on a different planet for the past ten years or so you will have heard of autism & the possible connection with the MMR vaccine. It is a debate, which will not go away.

Thousands of parents, myself included, are convinced our children were fine until given the triple measles, mumps & rubella injection.

Whilst we all agree it does not affect everyone, we all know deep down it was the reason our normally developing children took a totally devastating & irreversible path. The problem is proving it… Within the health authorities there appears to be a gagging order in place.

Autism was described on the news the other day as a “living nightmare” & certainly it does affect virtually everyone concerned, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty two weeks a year until eternity.

Not surprisingly, therefore, we would like to ensure other families do not have to suffer in the same way.

Another person who felt the same concern was Doctor Andrew Wakefield who first highlighted the possible connection back in 1998 when he published an article in the Lancet. It was based closely on the research he & his fellow researchers Professors John Walker-Smith & Simon Murch had carried out at the Royal Free Hospital in London & suggested a link between the MMR, autism & bowel disease.

However, far from being pleased the reason for the autism pandemic (which has shot up from 1:2500 in 1993 to 1:100 in 2007) might have been discovered, the powers that be took umbrage & not only discredited & belittled his findings but hounded him out of UK.

So why were they so annoyed?

The establishment does not like anyone who stands up against them & dares to suggest their policies do not suit everyone. As a consequence of the Lancet report the uptake of the MMR vaccine plummeted.

Since you can no longer get single jabs in most areas parents were not having their children vaccinated. However – when I was a child they did not exist anyway & it was an accepted part of life that at some stage we would catch measles, mumps & chickenpox .

No-one I have ever heard of caught all three at the same time.

Vaccines have been developed to eradicate preventable, communicable diseases & the single jabs for measles, mumps & rubella had worked perfectly well up until 1988 when the triple was introduced.

However, some one somewhere decided rather than ask parents to take their young children for three different injections they would just combine the three live viruses & save time, money & stress.

The problem is the safety of the triple was never properly tested & many senior clinicians felt the decision to license it was premature. Just because they worked well separately did not mean combining the three live viruses would be a wise move.

Even if the safety data tests for the MMR were carried out for up to 63 days as we are led to believe that is still not long enough to establish autism, as often the symptoms form part of a gradual process.

The few people involved in the trials were asked to report “significant illness”. Since autism is a multi-factorial disorder it affects each completely unique individual differently & we know it does not affect everyone. Also, back then autism was quite rare so people would not have been searching for the same symptoms which are so common today.

The safety trials were flawed & the whole thing smacks a bit of not what you know but who you know. An article in the Sunday Times in 2001 revealed one third of the government committee advising on the safety of the MMR had financial interests in the drug companies making the vaccine so it is not surprising 😮 the MMR was licensed.

Since then the autism rate has rocketed & now Dr. Andrew Wakefield is on trial by the General Medical Council. He may be struck off if found guilty.

And what’s he guilty of exactly?

Well, it is not for challenging the health authorities to get their heads out of the sand & admit the possibility there could be a connection between MMR & autism for some children. Instead it is for being “irresponsible & unethical”in the way he carried out his research.

It seems to me the case for being “irresponsible & unethical” is being targeted at the wrong person even though I do not suppose the 1988 British Committee on Safety of Medicines would agree, do you?

Jean Shaw is the author of I am Not Naughty – I am Autistic & Autism, Amalgam & Me which details why she believes MMR to be partly responsible for her son’s autism. http://www.jeanshaw.com

Autism Combined With ADHD

My son was born June 12,2000. He seemed like a normal little baby boy. My son had his feedings & everything just fine. When he was a year old his Father & I was wondering why he was not saying anything except for Mommy & Daddy. When he was 2 years old he still was not able to say much, so as any normal parent would be it was very concerning. At age 3 he said a few more words, but not much.

We had took him him on June 9,2004 3 days before his 4th birthday to have him tested to see what was wrong. Do you follow? That was the day we had wished for better news, but he was diagnosed with autism. He was functioning as a 17 month old. We knew from that point that we had a very hard road ahead of us. Right. Well, that was not all. When he started Kindergarten we had to take him to a behavioral facility to be tested. At that point he was also diagnosed with Adhd combined with autism. He has a very big heart. He has went from making some I’s (Improving) to making straight A’s going into the second grade.

We are still working with him & always will work with him to help him improve on language & understanding. He is in an autistic unit at his school. He loves to draw & I am sure you may know who Blues Clues is well that is what he enjoys doing. We are still working on the potty training issue. I believe that has been the hardest part of it all. Right now they have him on a medicine in the morning & a medicine at night to have him go straight to sleep. If not he would not go straight to sleep. As of today, he is doing great & we are taking one day at a time.

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Atypical Teaching Strategies Using Mental Prompts for Individuals With Autism

This page is devoted to my personal opinions & strategies for working with a subgroup of individual persons — primarily with severe regressive autism — who are nonverbal & demonstrate significant motor & sensory impairments. I have also found some of these strategies effective with those with some verbal capability who have difficulty accessing their words.

What do I do when I encounter a child with these enormous gifts & obvious challenges? I establish trust. I tell them that I know of their competence & that I am willing to serve. I view myself as a bridge to help them understand & utilize our communication system. At the same time, I acknowledge them as my teachers. Most importantly, I attempt to keep my own energy, calm, peaceful, yet assertive to insure they feel safe & protected, as they appear to be very sensitive to my energy.

When teaching, I attempt to set a dominant rhythm, encourage the kids to stop self-stimulatory behaviors, & deliberately send mental prompts. I do this to limit the focus of the child & keep him on track. I feel it improves the student’s ability to categorize, organize & access information. If the child is facing me, I send the mental prompt in mirror image. This is especially true when I am using word cards. I also say the answer sub-vocally. I speculate that a type of entrainment of brain wave frequency is occurring during my interactions. There is more. There is a sense of trust established. The children do not react to things that might normally bother them, but rather just go with the flow. I speculate that it is easier to entrain brain wave frequency when the discrepancy is not too great. I believe these children are vibrating at a high frequency. I speculate that those they are now able to initially join with are vibrating higher than normal also. After initial entrainment occurs, I attempt to lower my own frequency by becoming present or aware, in hopes that they will lower their own frequency to match mine. Over time, I have noticed that the individual can respond to individual persons he normally would not relate to. I speculate that this method is at least partially responsible for increased receptive language skills.

To see if a connection has been made, I might show the child two picture or word cards & see if he will select the one I ask for. This may be a child who had not shown any prior ability to read, or even negligible receptive language skills. If so, & the connection was successful, I think of the word card I want & speak it sub-vocally. When facing students, remember that I visualize in mirror image. When possible, I prefer working with students from behind so I am moving in unison with them.

This is also true when I engage a child in facilitated writing or drawing, as we are moving in tandem using a typical right to left progression. Unlike hand over hand, I hold the writing or drawing utensil in my hand & instruct the child to copy or draw a particular shape or letter. When working, I often start the child at the top & stop when a switch in direction is needed. I often also stop him at the bottom, as many of the children obviously have difficulty starting, switching & stopping movement. If a variety of individual persons are working on assisted writing or drawing, I would suggest they all use the same top to bottom, left to right progression, unless a student signals a different precedent.

I always say the letter, shape, or object at the same time I am sending the image and/or sub-vocalizing. If I am facing the child, images are sent in mirror image. I like to get rid of mental prompts as receptive language skills improve, explaining to the individual what I am trying to do & why. This is tricky in a group setting where the students’ needs for prompts vary.

I find that giving the student a limited choice of possible responses & then slowly expanding the field gives him a vehicle to demonstrate his competence. It puts him on track & increases his ability to filter, organize & categorize information on its own. Stimulus response-type instruction seems to increases the fluidity as opposed to inactive listening.

In direct contrast to teaching typical children or verbal, concrete-thinking autistic children, I tend to work with individual persons with this type of autism starting with the abstract, moving to the representational & then to the concrete. I meet them in areas of abstract thought (words). Once they appear to be easily able to read a word by selecting it from a field of choices, I would then have them select the word when the function was given. (i.e. what do you color with?) Next I might ask them “who/what/where/when/why” questions & again have them select the correct word card — not only to check comprehension but also to narrow their focus & hopefully help them form mental categories. By example, if I ask a “who” question, hopefully they begin to process that I am searching for a person. If I ask a “where” question, then I am searching for a place. “What” would signal an object. “What” are they doing would signal a verb. If a child has difficulty labeling, then I often start with actions, because there’re less of them & their meaning is potent: i.e. eat, drink, play, jump.

The word needs to be connected with a picture & the picture (representational) with the object (concrete). It has been my experience that students are often able to pick out the word “glue” or the picture of a bottle of glue before they can pick out the actual glue bottle from a field of choices. I wonder if this, too, can be explained by vibration frequency and/or image consistency. Does a two-dimensional image of the word “glue” vibrate at a higher frequency than its three-dimensional counterpart? Does the student perceive three-dimensional objects as we do? Is it possible that a three-dimensional object vibrates so slowly that it is not being perceived in the same way by sender & receiver? Or is it simply that actual objects vary so much in terms of attributes?

Words are constant, as are many communication pictures used in the classroom. Whatever the reason when teaching, I believe the individual should be encouraged to demonstrate concrete correlation & awareness. Integration, correlation, transfer, & backward chaining of underlying skills needs to occur. Even though the lights (abstract) are on in the attic, the foundation (concrete) is often very weak. In contrast, when I am joining for them to give me information & increase my level of awareness of the spiritual side of life, I just let it flow, as they are the ones teaching me. I believe the two can coexist if virtually everyone would be honest with the student, the parent, & the community.

I facilitate gross & fine motor movements in all areas & slowly get rid of prompts, using backward chaining — whether it be buttoning, tying a shoe, throwing a basketball, cutting food, selecting a correct response, drawing, writing or typing.

I am open & aware of the influence I can have over their communications. Either intentionally or not, I supplement this form of communication with PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). PECS encourages spontaneity & is less dependent on a connection with me. PECS also serves as a preliminary step to augmentative communication devices & programs. Adept students do not need their partner to be within certain proximity to use it… However – PECS restricts the student’s higher-level communications & astounding demonstrations of intelligence or access to it.

Often when using PECS, I have the child type the word on the picture & hand me the communication device. Once they have demonstrated that they understand that the word, picture & object are the same thing, I let them type their request on a voice output communication device. If they are not using a voice output device, I have them hand me the communicator. At this point, they may also switch to augmentative communication programs such as speaking dynamically. I have worked with a few who demonstrate this level of independent competence; with no agent present, they demonstrate similar language deficits as moderately functioning verbal individual persons with autism. Though these particular students were nonverbal & had significant motor impairments, they appeared to have less difficulty initiating.

It has been said that individual persons with autism use one sensory channel at a time. It has also been said that there is a delay between visual & auditory processing. I would like to add that I have noticed that some individual persons demonstrate disconnected sensory channels. Often they will lose their accuracy in selecting a correct response if they have to get up & move. Giving a visual prompt, picture, sign or gesture usually remedies the problem, but it does not explain the break. Is it going from listening to moving that cause the thought disruption? Or is it because they have lost their connection with me?

Of course, then there was the nonverbal student who never looked at the table to scan the array of answers — not even a quick peripheral glance, yet, his selection of responses was invariably correct! It appeared as if he were seeing & controlling his body from outside himself.

Some of my more severely affected students were not actually be easily able to match an object presented visually with an object they could touch but not see. By example, I put a crayon, bottle of glue, scissors & a ball in a bag. Then I showed a student a crayon & asked him to reach in the bag & find the same. He appeared unable to do it… I then put one of the objects in his hand, & he had no difficulty reaching in the bag to find the same object. He was successful at tactile to tactile, but not visual to tactile. Other students who showed the same difficulty eventually picked it up with practice, but he continued to have difficulty.

When students are engaged in self-stimulation, such as hand flapping, I encourage them to stop when we are in the process of direct instruction and/or joining, because it appears to interfere with our connection. Tapping the child alternately on the right & left side of the body to establish a rhythm seems to calm the student down & cut down on his need to self-stimulate. When not involved in direct instruction, I let them re-engage in self-stimulatory activities if they are not dangerous. I attempt to replace dangerous ones rather than fade them.

Many of the children appear to lack an internal rhythm. I would suggest that parents keep babies & young children very close to them so the child can feel the heartbeat & rhythm of the mother. I have noticed that by alternately tapping the right & left hand, shoulder, or arm calms the kids down & lessens self- stimulatory behavior, as many appear to be used to provide self regulation or rhythm. I might also have them listen to ocean waves to help attune them them to the rhythm of the earth. As they matured, I would encourage them to take part in group meditation, holding hands with calm individual persons with even breathing. Listening to binaural beats, & musical entrainment CD’s, new age music, & nature sounds all seem to have a positive effect.

I allow ample time for spinning, swinging or jumping on a trampoline & have found that saturation lessens the need for vestibular input over time. Many of my students liked rhythmic pressure to the sides or front & back of their heads. It has been particularly help-fulfor students who are self-abusive, anxious, or exhibit auditory defensiveness. I believe that brushing, deep-pressure, massage, joint compressions, meditation, reiki & reflexology all have their place in helping the child feel more comfortable in his body.

To summarize:

Attitude:

1) Open your heart & join. Keep your emotions & energy calm, open, & loving.

Truly love them & feel blessed in their company.

2) Approach with respect. Assume competency. Acknowledge intelligence.

3) Make sure they are comfortable. Be aware of internal & external sensory irritants

and attempt to alleviate them. (lights, sounds, smells, erratic interfering thoughts)

4) Provide positive sensory experiences. (deep pressure, massage, spinning, swinging)

5) Realize that many self-stimulatory behaviors & movements are used to get their bodies, sensory systems,

and brains to function. Help them establish an internal rhythm.

6) Understand & organized body leads to an organized mind. learning appropriate & varied

movement patterns enhances all areas of function.

7) Let those who chose to use you as a tool. It is often a step along the way.

8) Understand some individual persons with severe autism benefit from an agent with a strong rhythm to

maintain their attention & override other interfering stimuli. Use this strong rhythm to deter

interfering self -stimulatory behavior during direct instruction.

9) Accept the fact that a form of telepathy or joined or entangled energy is occurring.

10) Empower them! Promote independence with dignity! Accept the unexpected!

Strategies:

1) Meet each child at his level.

2) Provide visual strategies, motoring, & mental prompts as needed to insure errorless

teaching. Remove as needed using backward chaining techniques.

3) Teach through out the day. Include children in all conversations. Provide slow relaxed visual and

auditory input throughout all activities.

4) Narrow focus. Start with a field of two & broaden.

5) Use sentence closure techniques for non verbal or those with limited verbal capability.

6) Teach categories to help them develop an internal filing cabinet that limits choices.

7) Provide motivating activities specific to each child to increase initiations.

8) Make sure the child correlates the abstract (word, sign) representational (picture) concrete (object).

Remember, With severe students with a propensity toward hyperlexia & or telepathic prompts the word

may be learned first.

9) Teach simple understanding of parts of speech by having the children answer simple “wh” questions about a

sentence in hopes of internally limiting possible responses, thus promoting easier access.

10) Repetition is key, particularly if movement is involved. Yet, be willing to move on if the children indicate

the need.

I have served as a teacher of individual persons with autism for 18 years. What they have taught me was to be sure of nothing, & open myself to the extraordinary. It has been & continues to be a remarkable ride. Much of my work is based closely on the premise of thought transfer or shared energy. Mary Ann Harrington MS

http://web.mac.com/maharrington

Aspergers and Autism – What is Asperger’s?

Asperger’s Autism is a type of Autism that affects the neuro development of the individual. It is named after a children’s doctor by the name of Hans Asperger. He completed many studies in 1944 relating to abnormalities found in some children. His published material helped build the foundation for the concepts of Autism. Many of the concepts he implemented in 1944 are still being used to uncover the mysteries of Austim today.

The technical term for this disorder is Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PPD). It is similar to Classic Autism when you compare it to all other types under the spectrum of Autism. There are five different PPD’s that are classified differently than other types of Autism. The sooner a child with Austim starts interventions & therapies, they less likely they will suffer from Autism as they get older.

In 1932 Apserger was assigned to the position of director of the Vienna University Children’s Clinic. He observed four children with very similar traits. There is more. They were all unable to interact on a social level with their peers even though they had the same levels of intelligence as any average child. They were not able to show empathy or other emotions to others. There is more. They lacked non verbal communication skills & they were very accident prone.

The group of children did speak, but it was in a different context than other children. He also observed that whatever they were talking about at any given moment became the most important topic to them. He coined their behaviors as Autistic Pyschopathy due to the characteristics of social isolation & poor communication skills. He would eventually observe more than 400 children with similar traits to base his writings upon.

Some people continue to debate the classification of Asperger’s Autism. There are clinicians who called it High Functioning Autism (HFA). These individual persons feel it is only a mild form of Classic Autism. Many individual persons who show signs of Asperger’s Autism have learning problems but they also seem to excel in their mental abilities as they get older. Helping children with Asperger’s Autism will help them be easily able to use their skills to the fullest.

Asperger wrote many articles about the concept of teaching individual persons with Asperger’s Autism in a specific type of learning environment so that their development would be benefited. He believed that since they are often obsessed with a particular topic, this gives them the chance to achieve in those areas that capture their attention. The two most common areas that they excel in are art & science. Many individual persons are surprised 😮 to find that Albert Einstein was diagnosed with Asperger’s Autism.
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If you found this information on aspergers autism useful, you will want to read this article about autism statistics.