For Those With Autism, Eye Contact Isn’t Just Weird, It’s Distressing

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Published by: Science Alert
Written by: Mike McRae

For many people with autism, avoiding eye contact isn’t a sign that they don’t care – instead, it’s a response to a deeply uncomfortable sensation.

Researchers have discovered a part of the brain responsible for helping newborns turn towards familiar faces is abnormally activated among those on the autism spectrum, suggesting therapies that force eye contact could inadvertently be inducing anxiety.

Autism spectrum disorder is a term used to describe a variety of conditions that make communicating and socialising a challenge, and is often accompanied by restricted and repetitive behaviours.

A defining characteristic of autism spectrum disorder is a difficulty in making or maintaining eye contact, a behaviour that not only makes social interactions harder, but can lead to miscommunication among cultures where eye contact is taken as a sign of trust and respect. Click here to read the rest of the story

11 Resources on Teaching Personal Safety Skills To Special Needs Children and Adults

Studies show that both children and adults with developmental disabilities are vulnerable to incidents of abuse and injuries. Personal safety includes learning about being safe and dangerous environments. The following articles focus on teaching tips in both the community and in the home.

5 tips on teaching safety skills to children with autism

A guide to personal safety

Community safety skills

How to help individuals with disabilities be safe in the community

Personal safety programs for children with intellectual disabilities

Safety First: Teaching safety skills to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Teaching people with intellectual disabilities about fire emergencies

Teaching safety awareness skills to children with autism

Teaching stranger safety skills to children and adults with disabilities

Safety Activities

Activities that teach safety

Safety worksheets from Teacher Vision

Executive Dysfunctions of ADHD Persist Into Adulthood: 25-Year Study

Published by: ADDitude
Written by: Nathaly Pesantez

Executive functioning deficits persist well into adulthood for individuals with ADHD, according to a new study1 in the Journal of Attention Disorders that affirms the clinical theory that executive dysfunction is a core symptom of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The small Norwegian study looked at attentional processing capacities — namely pre-attentive and executive functioning — in a group of people with and without ADHD over a 23- to 25-year period. Pre-attentive processing — the basic, preliminary stage in the brain whereby auditive and visual stimuli is analyzed — is not as well understood in relation to ADHD as is executive functioning — the controlled brain processes (like working memory) that allow us to integrate information and select optimal actions — the researchers said.

These two processes, according to the researchers, exist on “contrasting ends of [the] ‘attentional processing continuum.’”  Because pre-attentive processing deficits may be precursors for brain function deficits of a higher order (like executive functioning), the study aimed to “gain insight into the long-term changes in attentional capacity” for “a clearer conception of attention dysfunction in ADHD.” Click here to read the rest of the story.

Inside Dollywood’s ‘Incredible’ Calming Room for Children with Autism

Publisher: Yahoo News
Written by:Rachel DeSantis

A day at the Dollywood Family Amusement Park is filled with enough sights, sounds and colors to overstimulate anyone ⁠— especially those with autism.

That’s why Dollywood safety manager Judy Toth, who noticed an influx of families with children on the spectrum at the Tennessee park, decided to take action to help make their trip all the more memorable.

The result? A first-of-its-kind calming room that serves as a refuge of sorts for families seeking a break from the non-stop hustle and bustle of the 150-acre theme park.

“[It’s] sensory overload when you come to a theme park,” Toth tells PEOPLE. “And I couldn’t quite grasp at the beginning, you know, why are they coming? Knowing that something could potentially trigger their child. But realistically, it was just that they want their child to do what any other child does.”

The calming room first opened in the spring of 2016 after Toth observed that families with children on the spectrum were having to either end their trip early or slip someplace quieter, like a bathroom or a first-aid tent. Click here to read the rest of the story

Study Reveals Increased Prevalence of Mental Illness in Adults with CP

Source: Cerebral Palsy News Today
Written by: Marisa Wexler

A recent study found that adults with cerebral palsy have a higher risk of developing mental health conditions, highlighting the need for better holistic care in this population.

The study, “Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders Among Adults With Cerebral Palsy: A Cross-sectional Analysis,” was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Most research on cerebral palsy (CP) focuses on children because, until relatively recently, it wasn’t that common for people with CP to live through adulthood. That paradigm is rapidly changing, so it’s necessary for researchers and clinicians to understand the challenges adults with CP face so they can be given the best possible care and support to have not just a longer life, but higher quality of life. Click here to read the rest of the story.

Fragile X Syndrome Teaching Strategies Resources

Fragile X Syndrome is a genetic disorder and is the most common form of inherited intellectual and developmental disability. It is estimated to affect 1 in 4,000 males and 1 in 8,000 females. Characteristics include learning disorders, sensory issues, speech and language and attention disorders.

Learning challenges include, difficulty in processing information, understanding concepts, poor abstract thinking and cognitive delays. The following sites provide information on teaching students with Fragile X Syndrome.

Best Practice in Educational, Strategies and Curricula (National Fragile X Foundation)

Education Planning for Fragile X Syndrome for Patients (UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburg)

Fragile X in the Classroom (TeAchnology)

Fragile X Syndrome Teaching Strategies and Resources (Teacher’s Gateway to Special Education)

General Educational Guidelines for Students with Fragile X Syndrome (National Fragile X Foundation)

Student Teaching Tips: Helping your students with Fragile X (Magoosh)

Strategies for Learning and Teaching (National Council for Special Education)

Ten common signs and symptoms of ADHD in adults

Many adult responsibilities require focus, organisation and composure, as a person is expected to juggle different tasks to effectively manage their career, family and home.

An adult with undiagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can struggle with some of these responsibilities. For example, they may underperform academically and professionally or have trouble maintaining relationships. These issues can then leave a person battling with low self-esteem as they question why they encounter such difficulties when other people don’t seem to.

If you think that someone you’re close to has undiagnosed ADHD, or if you are looking to get information for yourself, we have listed the common symptoms of ADHD in adults, and outlined the steps a person needs to take to receive a diagnosis and any necessary support. Click here to read the rest of the story.

Toe Walking – When to Seek Help

Source: Dr. Dina

I work in a multidisciplinary office, meaning that there are always kiddos running around who are working with other therapists – occupational therapists, speech therapists, behavior therapists, and preschool teachers. In such a busy environment, I’ll often get pulled aside by another therapist to take a look at a child who is walking on their toes. This is always an interesting scenario, since toe walking can range from a totally normal developmental phase to a larger issue.

What is toe walking?

Toe walking is a very common developmental phase that most children go through as they learn to walk. From when your child learns to walk until around 2 years old, it is not out of the ordinary to see your toddler up on their tip toes, and taking steps with their heels not touching the ground. Concerns may arise when the child continues to walk on their toes beyond that age range. In these cases, it can simply be a habit that the child has developed, a sensory seeking behavior, or a sign of a larger issue. Click here to read the rest of the story.

On the Autism Spectrum and Career-Ready: How We’re Preparing Students for Life After College

Source: Adelphi University

Adelphi students with autism or nonverbal learning disorders will have even more resources at the University this year, thanks to a $50,000 grant awarded to the Bridges to Adelphi program.

The Bridges to Adelphi program has helped students on the autism spectrum and those with nonverbal learning disabilities navigate the college experience since 2007. The new funds, from The Disability Opportunity Fund (DOF) of Rockville Centre, New York, will be used to expand the program’s vocational services and better prepare students for their postcollege careers.

The grant allows the program to hire a transition coordinator who will work with seniors and alumni looking for job placements and a community partnership developer who will help recruit organizations interested in making jobs or internships available to Bridges students.

“We need to be out in the community looking to build new partnerships because our graduating classes are growing,” said Mitch Nagler, MA ’06, director of the program. “This May, we’ll graduate 22 students, and this is a huge challenge for us to put them out there and get them into the right place.” Click here to read the rest of the story

When Autism and Anxiety Go Hand in Hand

Source: Lifestyle Yahoo

Written by: Molly D. Dann-Pipinias

Which came first? The anxiety or the autism? For me, anxiety and autism have always gone hand in hand. I have heard from multiple people, including past agoraphobics, that my anxiety is the worst they’ve ever experienced. My anxiety manifests in many different ways. My panic attacks can range from a five-minute crying spree to not being able to breathe correctly for a week. I also have a relatively new type of panic attack that feels like an actual heart attack. I have a lot of trouble with highway driving anxiety as well, especially when I’m going through a difficult time. It can cause me to become disassociated and make me feel unsafe.

When I get anxious, I can get really fixated on things. I need to complete the task or find the object before my anxiety can go away. This can lead me to do the same things over and over again, even when I know it won’t work. I can usually tell when something actually needs to be worried about vs. my irrational anxiety, but I don’t have the capacity to stop the irrational anxiety. Click here to read the rest  of the story