Surfing as therapy for autism: Ocean Heroes charity helps children find connection


Published by: ABC News
Written by: Eliza Laschon

Learning to surf is proving to be a tonic for children with autism, helping them become calmer and more confident after a morning in the swell on Perth’s coastline with volunteers from a surfing charity.

The organisation was set up by a group of surfing mates last year and parents of children who have participated have been blown away by the positive results.

Judi Barrett-Lennard said her son William had “very low-functioning autism”.

“There’s a huge improvement once he has been in the water,” Mrs Barrett-Lennard said. Click here to read the rest of the story

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Autism and Post-Secondary Education

According to the U.S. census, over a half million autistic students will turn 18 over the next decade/ Further studies show that many students diagnosed with autism are not prepared for the transition. Some and their families are opting towards a college education. More colleges are offering support services to autistic students including social, academic, and life skills.

The following resources provide information and articles on autism and college preparation:

11 tips for students with autism who are going to college (KFM)

20 great scholarship for students on the autism spectrum

College Autism Network (CAN)

College planning for autistic students (USC Marshall)

College students with autism need support to succeed on campus (Spectrum)

Families: Learn how to find autism-friendly colleges (U.S. News)

Going to college with autism (Child Mind Institute)

Helping students with autism thrive: College life on the spectrum (Madison House Autism Foundation)

Neurodiversity and autism in college (Psychology Today)

The transition to college can be tough, even more so if you have autism (Washington Post)

New report shows slight uptick in autism prevalence

Published by: Spectrum
Written by: Jessica Wright

About 1 in 59 children in the United States has autism, according to data released today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Four times as many boys as girls have the condition, according to the report1.

The data are based on a 2014 survey of 325,483 children across 11 states. The data were collected by the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDM).

These numbers show an increase of nearly 16 percent from the previous prevalence of 1 in 68 children. That estimate was based on data collected in 2012 and had a gender ratio of 4.5 to 1. Click here to read the rest of the story.

 

27 Facts On Stimming You Should Know

  1. “Stimming” is short for self-stimulatory behavior. (or stereotypical).
  2. It is common among people with developmental disabilities such as intellectual disabilities and Fragile X Syndrome.
  3. It is also prevalent among people on the autism spectrum.
  4. In fact in many cases, it is part of the diagnosis due to the repetition of stimming.
  5. Stimming is often used as a means to self-regulate, self-calm and for self-expression.
  6. The movements are repetitive and are used to self-stimulate the 7 senses.
  7. It is often described as a repetitive motor behavior that can disrupt academic and social and other activities.
  8. One of the theories behind stimming is that beta-endorphrins are released in the brain casuing an euphoric feeling which is generally a response to pain.
  9. Stimming behavior. based for self-soothing and to help a child or an adult regain emotional balance.
  10. Sensory Overload. Too much sensory information can lead to stress, anxiety and eventually a meltdown.
  11. It is observed in 10% of non-autistic children.
  12. common forms of stimming include spinning, hand-flapping and body rocking
  13. Benefits of stimming include the increased ability to remain calm, reduce meltdowns, and increased focus and time management skills.
  14. Love ones and society may consider stimming socially inappropriate
  15. Autistic people should be allowed to stim as much as needed
  16. Autistic people may bebefit from stress balls, fidget toys, and chewy jewelry.
  17. Stimming helps to relieve anxiety.
  18. Most people in the autistic community oppose attempts to reduce or eliminate stimming
  19. This is due to understanding that stimming is an important tool for self-regulation.
  20. Stimming can help block out excess sensory input
  21. Stimming helps provide extra sensory when needed
  22. repeated banging of the head actually reduces the overall sensation of pain.
  23. Visual. Repetitive movements such as fluorescent lights which tend to flicker.
  24. Smell (Olfactory) Includes repetitive behavior in licking, tasting objects,
  25. Tactile. Skin-rubbing, hand movement, and repeatedly grind teeth
  26. Vestibular. Moving body, rocking back to front, spinning, jumping and pacing.
  27. Vigorous exercise reduces the need to stim.

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Reference

Autism Asperger’s Digest

Child Mind Institute

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (2013). APA 5th Edition

Science Daily

The Importance of Hearing Young People With Autism

Published by: U.K. Youth
Written by: Maya Hattenstone

There are around 700,000  people on the autism spectrum in the UK, many of these are young people and I am one of them. And you don’t hear from us often enough!

Being a young person with autism you can get lost in anxiety; worrying that people are judging you, that you are not accepted, that you sound strange when you talk. Too often we end up silencing ourselves with our self-consciousness.

I was diagnosed with Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome (a condition on the autism spectrum) when I was seven years old.  People with PDA have communication and social interaction difficulties. I found school life and academic work hard. In fact I found a lot of life hard.

For a long time I didn’t know how to be a voice and didn’t want to be a voice. So, like many autistic people my instinct was to withdraw – into silence in social situations, or simply avoid those awkward situations in the first place. Click here to read the rest of the story

Anxiety On The Spectrum

Anxiety is one of the co-occurring  disorders that affect autistic children. A study published by the Journal of Child and Family Studies found that autistic children had higher anxiety levels compared to neurotypical children. It is estimated that 40% of autistic teens display signs and symptoms of anxiety.

Why Autism and Anxiety?

There are many reasons anxiety affects autistic children in large numbers. Bill Nason, moderator of the Facebook page, Autism Discussion Page and psychologist, explains that daily experiences that impact their nervous system including sensory, cognitive, social, and emotional vulnerabilities leave autistic children and teens with daily high levels of stress. He explains what comes naturally for neurotypicals, is hard work for them placing their nervous system on high alert even during its resting state. High levels of anxiety make take the form of mood swings, rigid and inflexible thinking and obsessive compulsive behavior.

What are the signs of anxiety?
Physical Signs

Complains about feeling sick

Complains about headaches

Difficulty sleeping

Fidgets and spins

Worrying

Worries about making a mistake

Difficulty in performing in exams

Is afraid of being placed in a new situation

Social

Apprehensive of meeting new people

Displays difficulty in joining new groups

Avoids interacting with peers

Worried about being laughed at.

Types of Anxieties

Anxiety of uncertainty- fear of anything new and unfamiliar
Social anxiety- difficulty interacting with others during social events
Sensory overload- Becomes anxious in settings that present strong sensory stimulation
Generalized  anxiety- non-specific ongoing pervasive anxiety

Strategies for Reducing Anxiety
  1. Rest
  2. Exercise or physical activity
  3. Allow time to participate in a favorite activity
  4. Self-stimulation can be used for calming purpose
  5. Relaxation techniques such as mindfulness and meditation
  6. Build structure into daily routines
  7. Review the day including what is expected of them
Additional Resources

Anxiety in autistic adults

Classroom ideas to reduce anxiety

Managing anxiety in children with autism

 

 

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

The Power of Paws: The Therapeutic Benefits of Dogs for Autistic Students

Guest Blogger, Jeremy Divinity

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:

Companionship

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.

Social Interaction

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.

Behavior Management

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.

Academic Performance

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.

Resource Articles

Autism and Pets: More Evidence of Social Benefits

Dogs de-stress families with autistic children according to research

How dogs help children with autism

Pets may help improve social skills of children with autism

 

 is an education blogger for Teach.com and freelance writer from Los Angeles. Read more at http://www.JeremyDivinity.com.

 

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.

 

Children with ADHD and Autism Are More Likely To Develop Anxiety

Website: News Medical Life Sciences

The study, which compares comorbidities among patients with ASD and ADHD, and ASD alone, is one of the largest of its kind.

A team of researchers from the Kennedy Krieger Institute used the data from a cross-sectional survey of children aged between six to seventeen years old with ASD. The study included 3,319 children, 1,503 of which had ADHD and were monitored by the Interactive Autism Network between 2006 and 2013. Click here to read the rest of the story