One of the hardest things for me to deal with as an autistic person is people not understanding what life is like on a daily basis. Nobody has any idea how much energy goes into ensuring I don’t mess up too badly or that I “get things done” when they need doing. Well, they might, but many people in my life didn’t until I received my diagnosis, and even then, it’s hard for them to understand sometimes.
Ever been so tired after a busy day that you sit down and before you know it, you’re waking up out of nowhere and it’s the next day already… when you weren’t even finished with the day before? This has been my reality since I was young. A few hours of an activity that didn’t involve being at home, and for the next day or even two, I’m so tired I can’t do anything except lay around and sleep. The exhaustion of autism is real and tangible in my everyday life. Click here to read the rest of the story.
Moving our bodies throughout our day to day lives is something most of us do without giving it much thought — but it actually takes a considerable amount of skill.
The central nervous system controls both fine and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills include small movements, such as writing and drawing. Gross motor skills include larger movements such as walking and throwing a ball.
Motor development in autistic children has been the subject of study for years. The reason why is because autism is a neurological condition without any defining physical characteristics. Differences in brain functioning in autistic children are not easy to detect, so professionals will often observe behavioral patterns such as those exhibited by the development of motor skills.
Professionals also find it beneficial to observe motor development in autistic children because it can be measured over time, and results of testing can be easily reproduced. Observing motor skills can help professionals discover brain functioning differences, even in cases of high functioning autism. Click here to read the rest of the story
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak to a parent who voiced her frustration with her daughter’s school. Although her daughter is diagnosed with autism, she falls on the mild range of the spectrum meaning her deficits are ignored. This becomes challenging for a teacher who may not recognize the signs and symptoms of an autistic child.
Girls, in particular, often develop the ability to disappear in a large group. Imagine the amount of energy it takes to pretend you hold the same characteristics of others. This leads to both depression and anxiety in children with autism. There are also sensory challenges a student with autism may face including auditory, visual and tactile.
Reading non-verbal cues forces a child and even some autistic adults to work harder everyday which causes exhaustion and can possibly lead to anxiety.
There are a number of ways to accommodate a student with autism. If you are a teacher, read as much information as you can on autism. each child is different so it will help to get feedback from parents who can help provide the right accommodations.
The following articles provide great information on both modifications and accommodations which can be put into the child’s IEP:
The classroom is a social environment where student success is dependent on the ability to interact well with others. Whereas, 72% of students on the autism spectrum have additional mental health needs that cause challenges in the classroom.
Although the learning disabilities that are associated with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) are unique to each child many autistic students share the same development problems: social interaction, language, and behavior.Autism can hinder a student’s ability to communicate and share experiences with others. Compared to their peers, autistic students are four times more likely to need extra learning and social support. This lack of social-emotional competence leads to a decrease in their connection to the learning environment and academic performance.
ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) treatments for autistic children have proven that the behavior of autistic students can be changed. Studies have demonstrated that ABA techniques produce improvements in communication, social relationships, and school performance.With the right accommodations, including proper modifications to the educational environment, along with the addition of positive reinforcement, autistic students can overcome the many barriers to learning.To put in place effective ABA techniques, educators need a better understanding of autism and how it may affect learning. Teachers are being called upon to be innovative and creative due to the unique challenges that students with ASD provide, this includes modifying their education programs.
One ABA treatment that is growing in popularity is the use of therapy dogs. If you are unfamiliar with therapy dogs and the benefits of therapy dog treatment, here is a brief history lesson: Smoky, a Yorkshire terrier, and World War 2 veteran was the first official therapy dog whose service on and off the battlefield would pave the way for future therapy dogs. Injured soldiers relied on Smoky, their canine companion, for entertainment to boost their morale. Today, therapy dogs act as a safety net, guardian, and friend who are trained to respond to a child’s most repetitive behaviors. Due to their calming influence, therapy dogs are becoming popular in the autism community. The special relationship between the therapy dog and child stimulates positive changed behavior. For children with ASD, their furry companions are not only their best friend but also offer therapeutic benefits.
Teachers and therapists have found that therapy dogs not only act as “social catalysts” that promote social interaction but also increase the activity levels of autistic students. In a study of 22 children, kids who engaged in therapy dog sessions were more talkative and socially engaged, while also less aggressive.The calming demeanor and influence of therapy dogs aid autistic students in managing the sensory challenges of the school environment. Therapy dogs can mitigate the impact of autism in the classroom by providing stability in what may seem like an unfamiliar environment.The relationship a therapy dog has with a child extends deeper than just companionship, therapy dogs can provide both practical and emotional support. Here are some of the most common therapeutic benefits that therapy dogs provide for autistic students:
Therapy dogs show unconditional love, and often times, a loving friendship develops. Both therapy dog and patient enjoy each other’s company in nonverbal ways which assists with everyday life. For example, therapy dogs de-escalate emotional meltdowns by gently interrupting any self-harming behaviors.
The biggest challenge faced by students with autism is social interaction with peers. When introduced to the classroom, therapy dogs can increase a child’s participation and functional level. After interacting with their canine companions, students with ASD transfer over their new-found social relationships with other students.
Another benefit of therapy dogs is that they can assist with behavior management by their comforting and calming demeanor. Many therapy dogs are specifically trained to decrease inappropriate behavior by acting as a source of comfort, such as leaning against a child or gently across their lap.
The most important benefit that therapy dogs can provide for students is an improvement in academic performance. After introducing therapy dogs, you will find that your students are more attentive. While also being better behaved with a new-found self-confidence – which is key to academic success. Autistic students face many challenges in the classroom. To help autistic students overcome barriers to learning school administrators, teachers, and parents must be equipped with the right accommodations. Therapy dogs mitigate the impact of autism and assist in managing the sensory overload of the school environment, and provide students with autism with the stability needed to be successful in the classroom.