Classroom Accommodations for Austistic Students


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:

10 tips for making middle-school work for kids with autism

14 possible IEP accommodations for children with autism/ADHD

20 classroom modifications for students with autism

23 classroom accommodation suggestions for kids with autism and Asperger’s syndrome

Accommodations and supports for school-age students with autism

Asperger syndrome/HFA and the classroom

Common modifications and accommodations

IEP considerations for students with autism spectrum disorder

Recommendations for students with high-functioning autism

Supporting learning in the student with autism

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Autism Timeline: A History of Autism

In the 110 years since Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuer coined the term autism, much has changed over the years. The journey of understanding autism continues to grow and while the autism has changed over the years, there are still many more things to discover. Hopefully we are moving from awareness to getting to a place of simply accepting people who bring special gifts to the world.

1908- Swiss psychiatrist, Eugene Bleuer is the first to use the autism to describe individuals with schizophrenia who lost contact with reality.

1912- Dr. Bleuler publishes “Das Autistische Denken” in a journal of psychiatry and presents his thoughts on how a person with autism experiences the world.

1938- Dr. Hans Asperger presents a lecturer on child psychology. He adapts Bleuler’s term “autism” and uses the term “autistic psychopathy” to describe children showing social withdrawal and overly intense preoccupations.

1938- Beamon Triplett writes a thirty-three page account of his 4 year- old Donald’s unusual behavior and sends it to Leo Kanner.

1943- Dr. Leo Kanner describes a childhood disorder involving social and language impairments and the presence of restricted or repetitive behaviors. The account of 11 children leading to a distinct syndrome.

1944- Dr. Hans Asperger reports on 4 children with a pattern of behavior he terms autistic psychopathy- behaviors include reduce empathy, difficulties with forming friendships, impairments in the ability to maintain reciprocal conversations.

1952- The first edition of DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) is published.

1959- LSD is used as treatment for autistic schizophrenic children.

1962- The National Autistic Society was created- The first autism organization.

1965- National Society for Autistic Children was founded.

1966- South African psychologist, Victor Lotter publishes the first prevalence study on autism in England.

1966- 4.5 in 10,000 are diagnosed with autism in the United States.

1966- Childhood autism rating scale introduced.

1967- Bruno Bettlheim publishes infantile autism and the Birth of Self becomes bestseller; blames mothers for autism.

1969- Dr. Kanner exonerates parents of responsibility for their children.

1970- Lorna Wing uses the term autistic spectrum to describe a concept of complexity rather than a straight line from severe to mild.

1972- Dr. Eric Schopler founds Division TEACCH  at the University of North Carolina.

1977- National Society for Autistic Children added sensory processing as one of the definitions.

1979- Autism spectrum first used by Lorna Wing and Judith Gould

1980- The prevalence is estimated 4 in 10,000

1980- Autism added to DSM-III

1980- Autism is listed as a mental disorder for the first time in the DSM.

1986- Temple Gradin publishes Emergence: Labeled Autism

1988- The movie Rainman popularized and awareness of the disorder increases among the general public.

1991- Sally Ozonoff suggested executive functioning impairs individuals with autism.

1994- The American Psychiatric Association adds Asperger’s disorder to DSM.

1996- Australian sociologist, Judy Singer coins the term Neurodiversity

1998- Andrew Wakefield reports an association between autism and MMR and bowel disease.

2000- 1 in 50 children according to the CDC are diagnosed with autism

2006- Autistic Self-Advocacy Network founded. A non profit organization run by and for autistic people.

2009- 1 in 110, children according to the CDC are diagnosed with autism

2012- 1 in 88 children are diagnosed with autism.

2013- Asperger’s disorder is dropped from the DSM-5

2014-1 in 68 children in the U.S. have autism.

 

Signs of Autism and Down Syndrome

Studies show that 5 to 39% of children with Down syndrome are also on the autism spectrum. There are overlaps in some of the symptoms which delays the signs and symptoms of autism. This observation is slowly growing and informing parents to look for specific signs and symptoms.

The importance of getting the diagnosis
Most often children with Down syndrome are treated for the characteristics of having Down syndrome which overlooks giving children the appropriate treatment for Autism such as social skills and sensory issues. A child or young adult with both diagnosis will likely experience aggressive behaviors, meltdowns, and show signs of regression during their early development. The following are signs and symptoms to look for in your child, or student:
  • Hand flapping
  • Picky eater
  • Echolalia
  • Fascination with lights
  • Staring at ceiling fans
  • History of regression
  • Head banging
  • Strange vocalization
  • Anxiety
  • Seizure Disorder

If you suspect your child is dual diagnosed, make an appointment for a medical work up which should include:

  • audiological evaluation
  • lead test
  • complete blood count (CBC)
  • Liver function test
  • EEG

The Myth of Autism and Exceptional Intellect


Published by: Neurology Times
Written by: Heidi Moawad, MD

There are a number of stereotypes about autism, including the widespread belief that autistic people are endowed with extraordinary intellectual capabilities. There may be some highly intelligent individuals who display some characteristics that casual observers deem as autistic, but studies have not pointed to a structural or functional link in the brain between exceptional intellect and autism. In fact, recent studies that measure intelligence in autism point to a tendency toward lower than average objective measures of cognitive aptitude among those with autism. Click here to read the rest of the story

Helping Children Understand Person First Language


Pubished by: ASD
Written By: Nicole Dezarn

Person first language is an important ethical matter often discussed in the field of special education and disability advocacy. The idea that the important descriptor for a person is not their disability but that the disability is something that the person has is fundamental in framing the mindset that having a disability doesn’t mean that a person is less or incapable of success. It can be challenging enough to broach this subject with adults but how do we help children to understand what person first language means and why it is so important? I felt it might be helpful to share an approach with which I have had success. Click here to read the rest of the story

July Special Needs Article Links

Welcome to the July article links. These are articles that I tweeted and or received from viewers during the month of July on special needs and developmental disability topics. A special thank you to Kathleen Carter for the additional special needs links!

5 things I would advise myself post autism diagnosis (HuffPost)

10 great autism books for autistic kids (New Horizon Professional ABA Services)

11 insightful tips for parents of ASD adults for getting the most out of vocational service providers (Think Inclusive)

17 things to love about ADHD (ADDitude)

ADHD and addiction- What is the risk (Discovery Place)

Creating the optimal living environment for a child with ADHD (Home Advisor)

How to create an autism friendly environment for kids (Redfin)

How to discuss puberty with your child who has special needs (Friendship Circle)

Make this summer safer with safety and wandering prevention resources (Autism Speaks)

My son made me a better teacher (ADDitude)

Parenting tips for ADHD: Do’s and don’t (Healthline)

Parents encourage early therapy for kids with cerebral palsy (Fox17)

Party planning and sensory processing disorder (Sensory Spectrum)

Secrets of your ADHD brain (ADDitude)

Seizures and seizure dogs (Epilepsy Foundation)

Strategies to triumphantly improve your autistic student’s peer interaction (Think Inclusive)

Teacher shortage leaves special education classrooms with inexperienced, first-time educators (Bakersfield.com)

Teens with ADHD: Recognizing signs of depression (Health Central)

The importance of self-esteem for kids with learning and attention issues (Understood)

The price of special education as autism rates surge (Bakerfield.com)

Understanding dyslexia (Child Mind Institute)

March Special Needs Article Links

Welcome to the March article links. These are articles that I tweeted and or received from viewers during the month of March on special needs and developmental disability topics. Enjoy!

3 key lessons no one told about dyslexia (The Pavlovic Today)

7 key social skills to help children with autism cope with bullying (Upbility)

7 signs adult ADHD might be interfering with your performance at work (Techco)

7 tips for motivating kids on the autism spectrum (PopSugar)

11 signs of autism in girls (Very Well)

Helping Asperger’s teens transition to college (My Asperger’s Child)

Helping your ADHD child with homework (Healthy Place)

Is sensory processing disorder the same as sensory processing sensitivity? (The Highly Sensitive Person)

Organization and attention challenges related to sensory processing disorder (The O.T. Toolbox)

Parents: Don’t hide your children’s autism diagnoses from them (Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism)

Sensory processing disorder at home ideas (Kids Activities Blog)

Sleep strategies for kids with autism and sensory needs (And Next Comes L)

What an autistic shutdown is like for me (The Mighty)

What teachers should know about ADHD and ASD (Edutopia)

 

What’s the Difference Between High and Low Functioning Autism?

Teacher helping student in classroom
Source: (Very Well)
Author: Lisa Jo Rudy

People with autism are often described as being “high functioning”  or ” low functioning” But there are no such diagnoses in the diagnostic manual.

In 2013, new diagnostic criteria for autism were created to describe three levels of autism. These levels are supposed to describe the level of support each individual requires.  But there is nothing in the criteria that describes which strengths or challenges would slot an individual into a particular level.

And of course the level of support required by any individual varies based on the situation and setting.

So what is meant by these terms? The answer isn’t obvious. Click here to read the rest of the story.

Social Skills Resources for Parents and Special Education Teachers

For some autistic children, social situations can be overwhelming and cause a great amount of anxiety. One of the characteristics of having an autism spectrum disorder is social interaction. Dr. Lorna Wing described social interaction as:

  1. not paying attention to others
  2. being aloof, distant and uninterested
  3. being alone and withdrawal
  4. difficulty in making and sustaining relationships
  5. a lack of social skills

social-skills

Social skills vary from conversation to friendship skills. The following links provides social skills resources on a variety of topics:

5 tips for running a social skills group ages 7-11. This site provides tips on increasing social skills via working in a group.

12 activities to help your child with social skills. This article by the Friendship Circle describes 12 ways to help improve social skills

101 ways to teach children social skills. Written by Lawrence Shapiro, this ready-to-use reproducible activity book (pdf) contains information on communication, being part of a group, caring about yourself, and problem solving.

Building social skills through activities. Danny Pettry created an e-book that focuses on various activities that will increase social skills for children.

Kind words sensory lesson friendship activity. This article includes information on why kind word are important through sensory play.

More tools for teaching social skills in school. Examples of role-plays, worksheets and student behavior.

Social skills activities. Free printable activity sheets on developing and practicing social skills.

Social skills lesson activities. Developed by special educator Angela Cardenos, this website includes various lessons on social skills and friendship

Social skills lessons on friends. A lesson plan and activity on identifying the qualities of a friend and naming behaviors that a friend may exhibit.

Social Skills Worksheets. This site includes printables for social skills designed to develop appropriate social skills.

Why “High Functioning” Autism Is So Challenging

Man with head in the clouds
Source:(Very Well)
Author: Lisa Jo Rudy

The autism spectrum is very large.  If you think of it as a rainbow (or a bell curve), you’ll note that there’s an awful lot of the spectrum that is at neither one end nor the other — but somewhere in the middle.

At this point in history, we don’t have good information to tell us whether MOST people on the autism spectrum are “somewhere in the middle,” but it is clear that the lion’s share of media attention goes to folks at the high and the low ends of the spectrum — that is, the profoundly disabled and the very high functioning. Please click here to read the rest of the story.