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
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Autism and Sensory Overload

Even more challenging, it can be difficult for people with autism to “just ignore” sensory information as it comes in.So, unlike people with typical sensory systems, people on the spectrum may not be able to, for example, notice a car alarm going off and then decide not to listen to it. Some of the environmental challenges that can negatively impact people with autism include Click here to read the rest of the story

Strategies In Training Autistic Employees

Researchers estimate around 50,000 young people with autism turns 18 every year. Is your organization read to train these new employees?

What is Autistic Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurological disorder that includes a wide range (spectrum) of skills, symptoms and levels of support. Although no two people are alike, characteristics may include ongoing challenges with social skills that include difficulty and interacting with others. For those on the higher end of the spectrum, characteristics may include:

  • ·         A normal to high intelligence and good verbal skills
  • ·         Trouble understanding what someone else is thinking or feeling
  • ·         Difficulty understanding non-verbal cues
  • ·         May suffer from anxiety or depression
  • ·         Strong long-term memory
  • ·         May have executive functioning difficulties 
  • ·         Being highly creative
  • ·         A high sense of justice and fairness

It is important to note that autistic employees vary in the workplace. Younger employees may have received a diagnose very early their childhood while those in their 30’s to 50’s were more than likely diagnosed as adults. Many in fact may not realize they are autistic due to lack of information during their formative years. This rings true especially for women who did not fit the typical stereotype of autism.

Challenges Training Autistic Employees

The use of idioms, sarcasm, irony, metaphors and figure of speech may be difficult since most are literal thinkers.

Due to sensory sensitivities, harsh lighting and certain smells may be intolerable.

May feel anxiety working with groups during an activity, which includes role-playing and case studies.

Discomfort with noise

Coping with the unpredictable

Strategies In Training Autistic Employees
  • ·         Structured breaks- give notice in advance
  • ·         Give visual instructions. Verbal instructions are difficult to remember
  • ·         Do not assume that the employee is not listening or paying attention
  • ·         When explaining, use explicit and concrete language
Accommodations

A diagnosis of autism also qualifies under the American Disability Act (ADA).  While some may not want to disclose their diagnosis, It’s always a good idea to make sure each person is comfortable in the training. The following are some suggestions:

  • ·         Provide advance notice of topics to be discussed if possible
  • ·         Allow employees to use items to hold such as hand-help squeeze balls 
  • ·         Allow use of a noise-cancellation headset
Tips to Remember

Some autistic employees have a history of being bullied, which for many have carried over into the workplace.  Set rules in the beginning of the training that all participants should be respected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hyperlexia: What You Need To Know

Hyperlexia is described as a syndrome where children have the precocious ability to read words and sentences far beyond their chronological age. Some children read as early as 15 months old. Although these children can read words at an early age, they are unable to comprehend its meaning and also lag in speech and social skills. Children with hyperlexia also have an obsession with letters and numbers including writing numbers and drawing shapes in letters.

Dr. Darold A. Treffert, through his research identified three subtypes:

Hyperlexia Type1: is described as neurotypical children who learned to read early through words and pictures.

Hyperlexia Type 2: children who are able to memorize words in a book and may have what is referred to as splinter skills including the ability to display remarkable gifts in the area of art, music, calendar calculations, sensory and reading. Typically the child will also have a diagnosis of autism. Hyperlexia is not considered a disorder, rather it is part of the autistic diagnosis. While symptoms of hyperlexia in autistic children tend to disappear as they grow. Many autistic adults report still having hyperlexia.

Hyperlexia Type 3: children will show autistic-like characteristics including sensory processing disorder and communication which led to being misdiagnosed with autism. Although they have a fascination with words and numbers, challenges arise with language and social skills. Some may begin to regress after the age of 24 months.

Rebecca Williamson Brown, describes hyperlexia as having two types:

Type 1: children display excellent visual memory however often display expressive language challenges and tend to have a lower verbal IQ due to lack of meaning of words. These children tend to have a lower verbal IQ and tend to show similarities to autistic children.

Type 2: Language appears to be normal however, the child seems to have difficulty with expressive language and shows challenges with visual motor integration skills.

Symptoms Associated With Hyperlexia
  • Literal thinkers
  • Social skills deficits
  • Echolalia
  • The ability to memorize words without the ability of understanding its meaning
  • Learns to read early compared to peers
  • Strong memory skills
  • Challenged in using verbal language

Teaching Students with Hyperlexia

Children with hyperlexia learning language without understanding the meaning of words. According to Katz, (2003), children with hyperlexia typically:

  • Learn best visually
  • Seek patterns
  • Demonstrate significant difficulties processing what they hear
  • Have extraordinary verbal limitations
  • Learn expressive language by echoing or memorizing sentence structure
  • Have strong auditory and visual memory
  • Think in concrete, rigid and very literal terms
  • Demonstrate an intense need to keep routine
  • Have highly focused interest
  • Have difficulty with reciprocal interaction.

Teaching Strategies

The following strategies are helping when teaching children with hyperlexia:

  • Use rote learning
  • Use examples rather than explanations
  • Use visual list
  • Pair oral with visual instructions
  • Offer choices
  • Use repetition
  • Provide relaxation tools
  • Use high-interest activities
Adults with Hyperlexia

While little research exits on adults with hyperlexia. Most research indicate that children will outgrow hyperlexia which is not the case for all children self-reporting adults indicate mis-diagnosed with ADHD and often Asperger’s. In adulthood, adults still struggle with the “W” questions and continue to have social and sensory issues. As children, they had the ability to read words above what was expected at their age. Socializing is still a challenge  as well as thinking in concrete and literal terms. Many also expressed that they are echolalic and will repeat back a question asked of them.

Workplace

The following may be helpful for an adult with hyperlexia:

  • Harsh light may be difficult to work under. Provide a quiet workspace with soft lighting.
  • Do not force team activities and office events can cause anxiety for people with hyperlexia
  • Be specific in your request
  • Visual job aids are helpful
  • Write down instructions.
  • Allow time for processing verbal information

Resources

Katz, Karen (2003), Hyperlexia: Therapy that works: A guide for parents and teachers. The Center for Speech and Language Disorder

 

 

A Closer Look at Sleep Disorders with Autism

The inability to get a good night’s sleep is experienced by most people at one time or another. However, recent studies show sleep concerns are more prevalent with people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).


Author: Autism Parenting Magazine

For many people with autism, it can be a challenge to get to sleep and stay asleep, which can have a negative impact on certain aspects of autism, such as repetitive behaviors, which can, in turn, lead to more sleep problems. If sleep issues are not properly addressed, the problem can become an endless cycle for many. Click here for the rest of the story

The Link Between Sensory Sensitivity And Anxiety No One Talks About

Sensory Processing Disorder anxiety

Published by: Learning Minds

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by your environment? Do sights, sounds, smells or textures sometimes exhaust you and make you feel anxious? You could be suffering from Sensory Processing Disorder.

Our brains take in information from our five senses through our eyes, nose, ears, skin and taste buds. We use this information in order to be able to function in the world. However, if during the intake of information our processing goes awry, it can then affect us in different ways. Read here the read the rest of the story.

20 Task Box Resources To Use In Your Classroom or Home

Task boxes (also known as work boxes) are structured work systems created by Division TEACCH t the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. This system allows the student to work independently on a task for a specific time in a supportive environment.  Task boxes are now used for students with a variety of disabilities including students required pervasive levels of support.

 

There are 3 types of task boxes: stacking- Helps with eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills; sorting- may break activities by size, color, texture, shape and flavor and fine motor- strengthens the smaller movement in the wrists, hands and fingers.

The following sites include information on how to set up a task box system in your classroom or in your home.

How I Set Up My Task Box System ( Delightfully Dedicated)

How to Set Up An Independent Workbox (Breezy Special Ed)

How to Start a Task Box System (Autism Adventures)

Task Box Set Up- (Autism Adventures)

Websites that will give you ideas on creating task boxes, and the material needed.

Autism Classroom Workbox System (Teaching Special Thinkers)

Fine Motor Morning Work Bins (Differentiated Kindergarten)

Assembly Work Task (Autism Classroom News and Resources)

Free Math Printable Task Box for Special Education ( My Creative Inclusion)

Higher Level Academics in Task Boxes (Mrs. P’s Specialties)

How I Use Workboxes in My Classroom (Creating and Teaching)

Pre-Vocational Work Boxes (SPED Adventures)

Quick and Easy Task Box Ideas (Little Miss Kim’s Class)

Task Boxes: A Hands On Approach to Life Skills (Therablog)

Task Boxes for Autistic Children (Love to Know)

Structured Work Boxes (University of Mary Washington)

Ways to Up the Ante in Your Work Task System (The Autism Vault)

Winter Task Boxes (You Aut-aKnow)

Work Boxes in Autism Classrooms (Noodle Nook)

Work Box Task Ideas (The Autism Helper)

Work Task (Breezy Special Ed)

 

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

Eleven Ways You Can Make Your Autistic Child’s Life Easier


Published by: Thinking Person’s Guide To Autism
Written by: Shannon Des Roches Rosa

Loving your autistic child with all your heart is a wonderful, precious experience. If you’re not autistic yourself, though, even the purest love can’t always help you intuit how being autistic affects your child’s body, their senses, and how they interact with the world.

You don’t want to inadvertently make your child’s life harder than it has to be, so please consider the advice below—advice I’ve gleaned about autistic experiences, gathered during thirteen years of listening to autistic people, professionals, and parents. Some of these factors are common knowledge in autism communities and circles, but others are really not talked about enough, and every last one bears repeating. Click here for the rest of the story.

Growing Up With Autism and ADHD, I Had To Adapt My Own Education


Published by: Ravishly

I had a dream about writing this. In my dream, I got an email from one of the Ravishly editors, someone who I’ve worked with before but who didn’t assign me this piece. The email popped up in my Gmail inbox, alerting me with a little bold (1) that I had to open and read it. The message was something to the effect of: “Hey Alaina! I see you didn’t turn in your piece to Jenni on time, which was due yesterday. We’re going to have to remove you from the schedule permanently, effective now.” Click here to read the rest of the story