For many people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), obsessions, repetitive behaviours, and routines that might appear overly rigid or unhealthy to neurotypical individuals are actually a source of comfort and self regulation. Like all things, however, when used too much, these behaviours may detract from other things or cause distress to the person with ASD, so understanding these needs and knowing where to draw a line is important. To help a person with ASD learn how to manage these issues, it’s vital to understand the behaviours’ function and how to respond to them.
Why People with ASD Develop Obsessions and Repetitive Behaviour
People with an ASD may have any number of obsessions (some of them as common as certain TV shows), but often they center around a “technical”, academic, or mechanical skill-set, such as computers, trains, historical dates or events, or science. Obsessions can become quite odd and particular, however, involving specifics about numbers or certain shapes (things like car registration numbers, for example, or bus or train timetables, and the shapes of body parts or stones). People with ASD can feel quite strongly about these things, no matter how mundane they may seem to others.
Children with ASD develop obsessions as they help to give them a sense of structure, order, and predictability, which counterbalances the chaos they may feel is inherent in the world around them. They also give a solid, sure base on which to begin conversations and break the ice with others. For these reasons, it’s vital to not label these obsessions as unhealthy by default, but rather to allow the child with ASD to explore them. One should try to understand the function of the behaviour and remain observant for signs of things going too far. Such signs include the seeming distressed while partaking in their chosen hobby, signs they wish to resist engaging in it but cannot (it’s become a compulsion), or signs it is making the child withdraw socially more than he or she normally would. Similarly, it may need to be managed if it becomes seriously disruptive to others. Click here to read the rest of the story.
Dyscalculia is defined as a learning disability specifically in math and numbers including the inability to understand the concept of numbers and applying math principles to solve problems. The following are signs and symptoms of dyscalculia:
Difficulty in counting backwards
Difficulty in recalling facts
Slow in performing calculations
Difficulty with subtractions
Difficulty using finger counting
Difficulty with the multiplication table
Poor mental math skills
Difficulty with understanding the concept of time
May show signs of anxiety when conducting math activities
May have a poor sense of direction (i.e. north, south, east, west)
Early signs of dyscalculia include:
Delays in learning how to count
Delays in recalling facts
Difficulty with time
Displays a poor memory
May lose track when counting
Difficulty sorting items by groups include color, shape, texture and size.
According to the Department of Labor, in 2019, 19.3 percent of people with disabilities were employed. Across all groups, the employment population ratios were much lower for persons with a disability than those without a disability young adults with autism are more likely to be unemployed and isolated.
The following articles provide information to employers looking to employ individuals with disabilities.
People with Asperger’s Syndrome have difficulty with the social aspects of life and often have inappropriate responses to social situations. One of the major problems for children with Asperger’s Syndrome is understanding social cues in a given situation. Parents often struggle trying to find the best ways to help their Asperger’s child; it takes time, patience, practice and compassion.
While many parents notice something unusual in their child quite early, most try to explain “unorthodox” behavior of their child by all possible reasons except for the most likely one. When the fact that something is wrong becomes obvious, parents bring their child for psychological assessment. Accepting the diagnosis is a very difficult step. Denial that your child has Asperger’s will not help, the sooner you accept the reality, the better for you or your child.
The following tips can be useful for parents of Asperger’s children:
Do not coddle or shelter your child from any situation that might set him/her off. Exposing your child to social situations will allow opportunities for both of you to work through them. With your guidance and over time, your child will be able to learn what the appropriate behaviors are in various situations. In addition, learn what your child’s triggers are to better prepare yourself to diffuse or alter a possible meltdown or display of undesired behavior(s).
Be clear in your explanations of expected and/or desired behaviors when the situations arise. Do not expect that your child should know how to behave in different social situations and settings. Walk them through (thoroughly, but with the use of age-appropriate language) appropriate behaviors as well as emotional responses in accordance with the given social situations. You will have to repeat your explanations, but with time, your child should have a better understanding of the social skills necessary to achieve positive social interactions in diverse situations.
Embrace your child’s passion, creativity, humor and energy when he/she exhibits it. With so much attention on changing your child’s behavior, you have to remember to celebrate the amazing traits of his/her personality. Children will notice the negative attention they are receiving as well as how much work they need to do to be able to enjoy a social life. Use every opportunity to admire your child for the qualities that make them special, talented and loveable. You may forget how important positive reinforcement is when you’re preoccupied with anxiety over the next Asperger’s instance.
Your goal should always be to diffuse the situation. Going head to head with your child will never yield constructive results. If your child has an outburst in any social setting, do not yell at them because that will only make it worse. For example, if you are in a restaurant and the waitress gives your child the wrong meal, don’t yell at your child to stop screaming, crying, banging on the table or for whatever reaction he/she has in response. Ask your child to come with you and take a walk. After you’ve been successful in helping your child regain composure, have a discussion to convey to one another your child’s thoughts and emotions throughout that particular experience. Use this teachable moment to work through your child’s emotions together while coming up with different ways that they can handle a similar situation (or even the same one) in the future. Click here to read the rest of the story
New research suggests nonverbal learning disability (NVLD), a poorly understood and often-overlooked disorder that causes problems with visual-spatial processing, may affect nearly 3 million children in the United States.
A new study by led by Columbia University Irving Medical Center is the first to estimate the prevalence of NVLD in the general population. If accurate, the prevalence of NVLD makes it one of the most common learning disorders.
The study appears online in JAMA Network Open.
“NVLD is a huge and hidden public health burden,” said Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chair of psychiatry at the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and Director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute.
“This important work might never have come to light if not for the support of dedicated advocates and their philanthropic support. We hope that these findings raise awareness of the disorder and lead to an understanding of its neurobiology and better treatments.”
The name of this neurodevelopmental disorder may be part of the problem. Children with NVLD are not nonverbal, as the name suggests, and have no difficulty reading. Instead, children with NVLD have difficulty processing visual-spatial sensory information, which can cause problems with math, executive function, and fine motor and social skills.
“Children with this disorder might shy away from doing jigsaw puzzles or playing with Legos,” said lead author Amy E. Margolis, Ph.D., assistant professor of medical psychology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. Click here to read the rest of the story.
According to the American Speech Language Hearing Association, there are over 2 million people with significant expressive language impairment who use AAC. AAC users including people with the following disorders; autism, cerebral palsy, dual sensory impairments, genetic syndromes, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, hearing impairment, disease, stroke, and head injury.
According to the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication Organization. AAC is a set of tools and strategies that an individual uses to solve everyday communicative challenges. Communication can take many forms such as: speech, a shared glance, text, gestures, facial expressions, touch, sign language, symbols, pictures, speech-generating devices, etc. Everyone uses multiple forms of communication, based upon the context and our communication partner. Effective communication occurs when the intent and meaning of one individual is understood by another person. The form is less important than the successful understanding of the message.
The types of AAC includes both low-tech and high tech. Low tech AAC includes symbol charts, PECS, and communication boards, while high tech AAC include electronic devices such computers, tablets and devices.
The following information provides resources, articles and tips on using AAC: