For 6-year-old Macey, lunchtime at school is not so much a break from reading and math as it is an hour rife with frustration.
Here’s how Macey’s mother, Victoria, describes Macey’s typical lunch break: In her special-education classroom an hour north of San Francisco, Macey’s classmates gather at a big square table, chattering away and snatching one another’s food. Macey, meanwhile, is sequestered away at a small white table in a corner, facing a bookshelf. She grabs the handle of a spoon using the palm of her right hand, awkwardly scoops up rice and spills it onto her lap. She wants to be at the big table with her peers, but she sits with an aide away from the other children to minimize distractions while she eats. (Victoria requested that we use her and Macey’s first names only, to protect their privacy.)
After lunch, the children spill out onto the playground. Macey, wearing a helmet, trails behind, holding her aide’s hand. She can walk, but she often trips on uneven surfaces and falls over. She tends to misjudge heights, and once pulled a muscle while climbing on playground equipment. When she was 3, she tripped and fell headfirst out of a sandbox, scraping her face, chipping one tooth and dislodging another. Click here to read the rest of the story
Published by: Fragile X News Today
Written by: Vijaya Iyer
Social anxiety and autistic traits are prevalent in males with fragile X syndrome and these behaviors overlap with those observed in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) without a known genetic syndrome, a study reports.
The overlap of traits between the two clinical subgroups makes their measurement extremely challenging, researchers said.
The study, “Biobehavioral composite of social aspects of anxiety in young adults with fragile X syndrome contrasted to autism spectrum disorder,” was published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics. Click here to read the rest of the story
It should have been a perfect day. Lauren Primmer was hosting an annual party at her home in New Hampshire for families that, like hers, have adopted children from Ethiopia. On the warm, sunny July afternoon, about 40 people gathered for a feast of hot dogs, hamburgers and homemade Ethiopian dishes. The adults sipped drinks and caught up while the children swam in the pool and played basketball. It was entirely pleasant — at least, until the cake was served. When Primmer told her 11-year-old son Asaminew that he couldn’t have a second piece, he threw a tantrum so violent it took three adults to hold him down on the grass.
The Primmers adopted Asaminew from an orphanage in Ethiopia in 2008, when he was 26 months old. They had already adopted another child from the same orphanage in Ethiopia, and they have four older biological children. From the beginning, Primmer says, “He would only go to me, not anyone else.” That tendency, she later learned, may have been a symptom of reactive detachment disorder, a condition seen in some children who didn’t establish healthy emotional attachments with their caregivers as infants.
About a year and a half later, the family adopted three more Ethiopian children — siblings about Asaminew’s age — and he became aggressive. “When they first came, Asaminew was very abusive,” Primmer recalls. “He’d bite and scratch them.” The Primmers had to install gates on all of the children’s bedroom doors for their safety. Soon after he entered preschool, Asaminew began lashing out at his classmates, too. His teachers suggested that he be evaluated for autism. Doctors at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Clinic in Manchester, New Hampshire, diagnosed him with the condition. In addition to his violent episodes, they took note of his obsession with lining up toy cars and flushing toilets, his habit of taking his clothes off in public and his tendency to not follow rules at home or school. Asaminew is intellectually disabled and speaks in short, simple sentences. Click here to read the rest of the story
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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