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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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)

 

Helpful Braille Resources You Should Know About

January is Braille Literacy Month.  Invented by Louis Braille, at the age of 15 years old while attending the National Institute for Blind Youth in Paris. Braille lost his sight during a childhood accident at the age of 4. Braille is not a language, rather it is a code that uses symbols formed within units of space that consists of six raised dots , 2 across and 3 down. Below are resources on braille information.

 

Braille Resources for Special Education Teachers

Path of Literacy Website for students who are blind and visually impaired. Includes teaching strategies on tactile production various braille designs.

Teaching Students with Visual Impairments Provides resources necessary to teach visual impaired students including teaching strategies and professional development opportunities.

Teaching Strategies

Beginning braille skills

Instructional strategies for teaching braille literacy

Teaching beginning braille reading- Some teaching strategies.

Teaching braille to young children

The following organizations focus on braille resources and information that serves children and adults with visual impairments including developing teaching materials.

Braille Authority of North America he purpose of BANA is to promote and to facilitate the uses, teaching, and production of braille. Pursuant to this purpose, BANA will promulgate rules, make interpretations, and render opinions pertaining to braille codes and guidelines for the provisions of literary and technical materials and related forms and formats of embossed materials now in existence or to be developed in the future for the use of blind persons in North America.

Braille Institute   Is a non-profit organization that offers a broad range of services serving thousands of students of all ages to empower themselves to live more enriching lives with blindness and vision loss.

National Braille Association National Braille Association, founded in 1945, is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing continuing education to those who prepare braille, and to providing braille materials to persons who are visually impaired.

The following laws and regulations authorize the provision of library services to people who are blind, visually impaired or have a physical disability:

Act of March 3, 1931 Authorization of the Library of Congress to provide books for the use of adult blind residents of the United States.

Public Law 89-522 Amends the Acts of March 3, 1981 and October 9, 1962 relating to the furnishing of books and other material to the blind.

U.S. Code Sec. 135a– Authorizes books and sound reproduction records for blind and others with physical disabilities.

Title 36, Code of federal Regulations, 701.10 Provides books in raised characters (braille) on sound reproduction recordings or in any form.

Workplace

The American Disability Act (ADA) requirements for effective communication in the workplace to provide accommodations for people with visual impairments are able to communicate with people effectively.

  • For people who are blind, have vision loss, or are deaf-blind, this includes providing a qualified reader; information in large print, Braille, or electronically for use with a computer screen-reading program; or an audio recording of printed information. A “qualified” reader means someone who is able to read effectively, accurately, and impartially, using any necessary specialized vocabulary.
  • For people who are deaf, have hearing loss, or are deaf-blind, this includes providing a qualified note taker; a qualified sign language interpreter, oral interpreter, cued-speech interpreter, or tactile interpreter; real-time captioning; written materials; or a printed script of a stock speech (such as given on a museum or historic house tour). A “qualified” interpreter means someone who is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively (i.e., understanding what the person with the disability is saying) and expressively (i.e., having the skill needed to convey information back to that person) using any necessary specialized vocabulary.
  • For people who have speech disabilities, this may include providing a qualified speech-to-speech transliterator (a person trained to recognize unclear speech and repeat it clearly) , especially if the person will be speaking at length, such as giving testimony in court, or just taking more time to communicate with someone who uses a communication board. In some situations, keeping paper and pencil on hand so the person can write out words that staff cannot understand or simply allowing more time to communicate with someone who uses a communication board or device may provide effective communication. Staff should always listen attentively and not be afraid or embarrassed to ask the person to repeat a word or phrase they do not understand.

In addition, aids and services include a wide variety of technologies including 1) assistive listening systems and devices; 2) open captioning, closed captioning, real-time captioning, and closed caption decoders and devices; 3) telephone handset amplifiers, hearing-aid compatible telephones, text telephones (TTYs) , videophones, captioned telephones, and other voice, text, and video-based telecommunications products; 4) videotext displays; 5) screen reader software, magnification software, and optical readers; 6) video description and secondary auditory programming (SAP) devices that pick up video-described audio feeds for television programs; 7) accessibility features in electronic documents and other electronic and information technology that is accessible (either independently or through assistive technology such as screen readers) .

2018 Disability Awareness Month and Observances

Annual awareness observances are sponsored by federal, health and non-profit organizations. Awareness campaigns serve the purpose of informing and educating people on a certain causes. Each year, the number of special needs organizations bringing awareness to specific disabilities and disorders seem to grow. Awareness activities range from one day to a month.
Here is a calendar of major special needs awareness months, weeks, and days. Most websites include awareness toolkits, promotional materials and fact sheets. Since it is still early in the year, some of the campaigns still have 2017 campaigns on their websites. I will add new information once the changes are up on the websites.

January

National Birth  Defects Month

January 4- World Braille Day

January 24- Moebius Syndrome Awareness Day

February

February 15- International Angelman Day

February 28- Rare Disease Day

March

Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Multiple Sclerosis Month

Social Work Awareness Month

Trisomy Awareness Month

March 1- Self-Injury Day

March 1- International Wheelchair Day

March 20- Brain Injury Awareness Day

March 21- World Down Syndrome Day

March 26- Purple Day for Epilepsy

April

April 2- World Autism Awareness Day 

May

Better Hearing and Speech Month

Mental Health Awareness Month

National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

Prader Willi Awareness Month

Williams Syndrome Awareness Month

May 15- Tuberous Sclerosis Global Awareness Day

May 5-12- Cri du Chat Awareness Week

May 8-14- Brain Injury Awareness Week

June

June 17- CDKL5 Awareness Day 

June 23- Dravet Syndrome Awareness Day (Canada)

Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month

July

Disability Pride Month (NY)

July 12- Disability Awareness Day (UK)

July 16- Disability (ADA) Awareness Day

National Fragile X Awareness Day

September

Craniofacial Acceptance Month

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Awareness

Hydrocephalus Awareness Month

National Spinal Cord Awareness Month

Sickle Cell Awareness Month

October

ADHD Awareness Month

Down Syndrome Awareness Month

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Dyslexia Awareness Month

Occupational Therapy Awareness Month

October 6- World Cerebral Palsy Day

OCD Awareness Week

National Physical Therapy Month

Rett Syndrome Awareness Month

Special Needs Law Month

Spinal Bifida Awareness Month

November

22q Awareness Month

Epilepsy Awareness Month

November 1- LGS Awareness Day

November 7- National Stress Awareness Day

November 15- World Ohtahara Syndrome Awareness Day

December

December 3- International Day of Persons with Disabilities

 

 

 

How To Spot A Learning Disability In Your Child

Learning curve: one fifth of Aussie kids have difficulty with their school work. Image: Getty
Written by: Melinda Ayre

If your child seems to be struggling with their school work, it’s difficult for parents to know if perhaps there’s something else going on.
If your child is regularly ‘losing’ their homework, skipping words or whole sentences while reading aloud or getting into trouble regularly at school, it could be time to examine the situation further.
It’s now estimated one fifth of Australian children experience difficulty reading, writing or doing maths at their age level, and some internatio      nal studies say up to 10 percent of children suffer from dyslexia, one of the most common learning disorders. Click here to read the rest of the story

Anyone With A Disability Should Relate To Finding Dory

Anyone with a Disability Should Relate to Finding Dory
Source (Cerebral Palsy News Today)
Author: Jessica Grono

Movies are usually liked because they are relatable. Seeing many movies that portray a character with cerebral palsy isn’t very common. There are some, but the character is either sick, dying or wants to die. Either way, they’re unrealistic. However, I felt very positive about the movie Finding Dory.

As a child in the late seventies and early eighties, movies about people with disabilities were scarce. I remember seeing one on television that showed a man falling for a woman in a wheelchair, but she ended up dying in the end anyway. Not very positive. More recently, there is a movie about a man who, despite being well-loved, educated and having a great life, commits suicide because he’s in a wheelchair. Again, it was a terrible representation of people with disabilities. Please click here to read the rest of the story.

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