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

 

 

Troubleshooting Common Problem Areas in Children with Autism

Troubleshooting Common Problem Areas in Children With Autism
Source: Durham Region Autism Services

When dealing with a child on spectrum, the presence of sudden or chronic behaviours that are aggressive, odd, or socially inappropriate can present challenges one may feel ill-equipped to understand and deal with. Being prepared ahead of time can help a great deal in managing these issues in the calm, logical way. The following questions and answers cover some of the most common problems that arise with the behaviour of children (and some adults) who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Click here for the rest of the story.

Shopping Center Teaching Activities For Children and Adults With Special Needs

Shopping Centers (or malls as we call them in North America) provide a great way for customers to walk from one store to another without the hassles of having to leave one store in order to go into another. Through the years, Shopping centers  have added on movie theatres, arcades, and food eateries. This has led to a variety of ways of teaching children and adults with disabilities a number of skills.

 

Money Management.

Increasing money skills can be used in almost all areas of a shopping mall. Opportunities include stores such as banking, clothing , restaurants, etc. examples of items to teach include:

  • Will identify coins
  • Will identify money
  • Will count change
  • Will create a budget
  • will fill out deposit slip
  • Will fill out a withdrawal slip
  • Will use an ATM
Sensory

A shopping center provides a low-cost and effective way of arousing more of  more of the five senses (hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch). Yankee Candle offers candles with a variety of fragrances including apple pumpkin, apple spice, beachwood, black cherry, etc.  Bath and Body Works also provides samples for both olfactory (smell) and touch. Samples of fragrances include lotions, cream, massage oils and fragrance mist. Window shopping is an additional opportunity to enhance visual cues with teaching a number of basic skills.  Other places include day spas, massage chairs and nail salons. Examples of sensory teaching activities include:

Window Shopping (Visual)
  • Will describe the color of the outfits
  • Will identify which items cost the most
  • Will describe how many of the outfits are the same, different
  • Will describe the various shapes (circle, square, triangle, rectangular)
  • Will count the number of items in the window
Olfactory (Smell)
  • Will identify a good smell
  • Will identify a bad smell
  • Will identify the smell (i.e. smells like apples)
Tactile (Touch)
  • Will identify the object
  • Will tolerate hand massage
  • Will touch the object
  • Will describe the shape of the object

***  Be mindful some children and adults may have sensory processing issues and can be oversensitive to sights, textures, flavors and smells.

Social Skills

Teaching social skills involves communication, decision-making, self-management and relationship building. Locations in a shopping center to develop these skills includes, eatery and restaurants, banks, department stores and movie theatres. Samples of teaching social skills includes:

  • Will greet the store associate
  • Will say thank you
  • When promoted, will ask for help
  • Will wait patiently
  • Will make eye contact
  • Will use appropriately voice tone
Teaching Prompts

A few guidelines in teaching new skills:

  • Teach a new skill at least 2-3 times. The shopping center allows multiple opportunities to work on a number of skills including money management, and social skills.
  • Allow the person to think for themselves use prompt levels to help navigate levels of independence: Independent, verbal, gestural and physical.
  • Allow for real choice-making. Choice is more realistic when it involves at least 3 items or more. Choosing a new outfit or an item from a menu are perfect examples.
  • Always remember to praise!

 

 

16 Must-Read Training Resources In The U.K.

There are around 700,000 people on the autism spectrum in the U.K.- An estimated 1 in 100 people are affected. Studies also show that 60% of teachers in England do not feel they have adequate training to teach children with autism.

Thankfully across the U.K., a number of trainings that focus on autism help parents, professionals, caregivers and educators learn more about the autism spectrum disorder. below are links to trainings in the U.K.

England

Autism West Midlands
  • Autism West Midlands supports families and people with autism. Seminars and workshops are offered as well as an annual conference on autism.
Child Autism U.K.
  • Child Autism U.K. provides information and support for parents of children with autism. Training courses for parents includes beginner ABA and social skills.
The National Autistic Society- 
  • Leading U.K. charity for autistic children and their families. Provides information, support and services. NAS offers scheduled training events, in-house training and online training modules including training modules on communication, sensory experiences, stress and anxiety and physical activity.

Northern Ireland

Autism Initiatives
  • Provides a range of person-centered services throughout the U.K. Autism Initiatives Northern Ireland includes a learning and development department which is designed to meet the needs of all professional staff. Upcoming training topics for July includes, Understanding Autism, Epilepsy Awareness, and Keeping Children Safe. E-Learning courses are also available.
Autism NI
  • Northern Ireland’s longest-serving autism charity and training provider. Autism NI  provides family support workshops and discussion group. Training topics include, Fundamentals of Autism, Understanding Social Skills, Sensory Processing, and PECS training courses are held off-site.
Centre For Autism
  • Provides a wide range of training for professionals working with autistic children to parents, educators and caregivers. The organization also publishes a research bulletin designed to meet the needs of professionals working in education with autistic children. Trainings for parents include topics on, transition, sensory processing and life skills
PEAT
  • PEAT provides a wide range of training services for parents of children with autism and professionals involved with individuals with autism. PEAT provides in-house training and tailors made programs to meet the needs of parent groups and specific organizations.
The National Autistic Society, Northern Ireland
  • Provides information, support and training for autistic people, families, and professionals. Offers a variety of scheduled events, courses and online training modules.

Scotland

Autism Forth Valley
  • The Autism Forth Valley Website includes a table which contains information on training providers and courses including university courses on autism, professional organizations and social service agencies.
NHS Education for Scotland
  • NES offers a wide range of education and training support for both clinical and non-clinical staff in Scotland. Formats include e-learning, workbooks, publications and blended learning.
Scottish Autism
  • Provides a wide range of support services across Scotland for individuals with autism, their families and professionals. Scottish Autism offers external training core courses including, Introduction to Autism and Autism Profiling.

Wales

ASDinfoWales
  • An E-learning introductory course on autism spectrum disorder. Participants will be asked to answer a series of 20 questions. Once completed, participants will receive a certification.
Awares
  • Provides a library with a wealth of information on autism topics from previous conferences in Microsoft PowerPoint format. Geared towards professionals however this are also useful information for parents as well. Sample topics include; psychosexual development in ASD, A guide for practioners and resources for families living in Wales.
Learning Disability Wales
  • Training program includes a range of person-centered and practical courses for people in the public, voluntary and private sectors as well as parents and caregivers. Courses include a fee at an onsite facility. Training topics include, An Introduction to Mindfulness and Making Information Easy to Read and Understand
Ringway Training

A training provider delivering online courses on autism for professionals working with children, young people and adults on a host of topics including, Autism Spectrum Condition Advance Level Training and Autism and ADHD

The National Autistic Society/Wales
  • Offers a host of free one-hour webinars for teachers, professionals and parents. The website includes two series of one hour webinars on various topics such as, promoting inclusion, preventing bullying, and neurodevelopment and social competence in autism spectrum disorder.

October Special Needs Article Links

specialneedslinks

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

4 ways parents of children with special needs can prepare for a natural disaster (Think Inclusive)

10 lessons I learned while parenting through sensory processing disorder (Scary Mommy)

10 things people with autism want you to know (Autism Speaks)

A year later, how Microsoft’s job program for people with autism is working (Geek Wire)

Adults with sensory processing disorder, you are not alone (Sensory Spectrum)

Artists with autism encounters people to see the world differently (Evening Standard)

Autism and Anxiety: 15 things to know about dealing with a double diagnosis (The Autism Site)

Clever ideas to make classes ADHD friendly (Blog Talk Radio)

Exercise gives children with autism a jump on social skills (Spectrum)

Girls with ADHD may face higher risk for more severe mental disorders (UPI)

How I’ve made progress with my love-hate sensory relationship with socks (The Mighty)

The world I see as a person with autism spectrum disorder (The Mighty)

Top things parents should know about autism (Natural News)

You’re autistic. You know you can do a good job, but will employers listen? (The Washington Post).

Special Needs Expo

specialneeds.expo_nj

If you are in the New Jersey area, The Special Needs Expos will be hosting an event in New Jersey on September 18th, 2016 from 11:00am to 4:00pm. The expo will be held at Teaneck Marriott at Glenpointe.

The free event is geared towards delivering information to parents, caregivers, professionals and children. Resources and information include special needs schools, camps, recreational sports, respite programs and social service groups. Additional exhibitors include non-profit organizations, special needs trust information and non-traditional therapist.

For further information, click here

Asperger’s Syndrome Resources

aspergers blog

What is Asperger’s Syndrome?

According to NINDS, Asperger syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized be an impairment in language and communication skills and repetitive behavior with typically an IQ of 70 and above.

Other Known Names
  • High Functioning Autism
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Aspies
  • Autistic
  • Neurodiverse
Comorbid Attributes
Characteristics
  • Difficulty in forming friendships
  • A preference for playing alone or with older children or adults
  • May be socially awkward
  • May not understand conventional social rules
  • Limited eye contact
  • May not understand the use of gestures or sarcasm
  • Obsessive preoccupation with objects
  • Normal physical growth and development
  • Need for sameness.
Statistics
  • 1.5:1 to 16:1 per 1,000
  • Males more likely to have Asperger’s syndrome than females
  • Females with Autism Spectrum Disorder (high functioning may be underdiagnosed
  • All racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups are impacted.
History
  • Leo Kanner, an Austrian-American psychiatrist in 1943 published a paper entitled, Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact, which described 11 children who were highly intelligent but displayed an ‘obsessive insistence on persistent sameness.’ He later named the condition- “early infantile autism.”
  • Hans Asperger’s, a Viennese child psychologist published the first definition of Asperger’s syndrome in 1944. He noted in four boys, a pattern f behavior and abilities including a lack of empathy, little ability to form friendships and clumsy movement.
Online Community Support

Wrong Planet– A web community designed for individuals (and parents/professionals) with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, PDD and other neurological differences. The website provides a discussion forum, articles, how-to-guides and therapy services.

Teaching Strategies – The following articles are for teachers and service providers on techniques and strategies when teaching or providing services to a child with Asperger’s Syndrome.

6 steps to success for Asperger’s syndrome

AS teaching strategies

Classroom tip for students with Asperger’s Syndrome

Teaching Asperger’s students: 32 tips for educators

Teaching strategies for Asperger students

Organizations

Asperger/Autism Network (AANE). Founded in 1996 by a small group of concerned parents and professionals. AANE works with individuals, families and professionals and provides information, education, community support and advocacy.

Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Association (AHA). AHA helps families and individuals become more informed self-advocates.

Selected Articles on Asperger’s Syndrome

A powerful identity, a vanishing diagnosis (New York Times)

Autism and Asperger’s not easily understood (Fort Madison Daily Democrat)

Autism can be an asset in the workplace, employers and workers find (NPR)

My lifelong struggle with Asperger’s (Policy.Mic)

Navigating life with Asperger’s (Voice of Muscatine)

Program created to help EMT’s with autistic patients (EMS1.com)

Unmasking Asperger’s syndrome (Business Standard)

What It’s like to live with autism as an adult (Good Housekeeping)

Articles For Parents of Children with Asperger’s Syndrome

8 tips for parents of kids with Asperger’s syndrome

Ask Dr. Sears: Coping with Asperger’s syndrome

Raising a child with Asperger’s syndrome

Understanding Asperger’s syndrome disorder- Parent Guide

Book Review: I Am Aspien Woman

 

I Am Aspien Woman: The Unique Characteristics, Traits and Gifts of Adult Females on the Autism Spectrum.
Tania Marshall.
July, 2015.
150 Pages.
The number of articles written on Asperger’s syndrome and people living on the autism spectrum has mushroomed over the last few years. Most articles and research studies focused on the typical characteristics of males, that is, until now. New evidence shows that women diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome are quite different than their male counterparts. Females for instance are more likely able to imitate social skills and are better at masking certain traits and characteristics. As a result, many been misdiagnosed thus leading to years of depression, anxiety and psychiatric visits.
One author hoping to shed more light on the subject is Tania Marshall, a psychologist and author with extensive training and experience in neuro-developmental conditions including Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD and sensory processing disorder. Based on her professional practice experience, anecdotal evidence, and current research, Ms Marshall weaves a story of validation, self-discovery and self-awareness through a visually stunning book.
The book is full of personal stories and quotes directly from Aspien Women with added commentary from parents, former teachers and therapist. The book is divided into 3 sections. Part one describes the various characteristics and traits. Part two introduces the reader to “real-life Aspien women superhero mentors” including Dr. Temple Gradin. Each mentor describes their strengths and top tips.
The author successfully accomplishes her goal in introducing through this book, the characteristics, traits and gifts of adult females on the spectrum. Ms. Marshall’s book is an excellent book for anyone wanting to learn more about Asperger’s from the perspective of women on the spectrum. While the book on the surface seems to be intended as a form of self-discovery, I equally recommend this book to parents, educators and employers. I do believe this book is only the start of a conversation that is long over-due.

To learn more about I am Aspien Woman and Ms. Marshall’s additional resources and information, I have included the following Resources:

Amazon
Facebook Page
Tania Marshall’s Website
Aspian Girl Blog
Tania Marshall on Twitter

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder Resources

Childhooddd

Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD), also known as Heller’s Syndrome is a developmental disorder that is characterized by aggression of previously acquired skills such as language and social abilities. Symptoms include:

  • Lack of play
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Loss of social skills
  • Delay in language

The following resources provide an overview of Childhood disintegrative disorder including prevalence, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders
Mayo Clinic
Medline Plus
WebMD
Wikipedia

Books

The Blessing of Autism: one family’s journey through childhood disintegrative disorder

When Autism Strikes: Families Cope with Childhood Disintegrative Disorder