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.

 

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100 Things To Know About Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2018

Guest Post: Action Behavior Centers

  1. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) represents a group of developmental disorders: autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and childhood disintegrative disorder.
  2. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 68 individuals are affected by ASD.
  3. Autism Spectrum Disorders can be diagnosed as early as 18 months to 2 years of age.
  4. Although reliable diagnoses can be given at 18 months to 2 years, the average child isn’t diagnosed with autism until 4 years of age.
  5. Scientists are discovering more innovative ways to diagnose autism. In 2017, a team of researchers were able to use brain scans and artificial intelligence to predict which 6-month old infants would go on to be diagnosed with ASD. Impressively, they performed at a 96 percent accuracy rate.
  6. No case of autism is exactly the same as another. Each person on the Spectrum is a unique individual.
  7. People of all races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic groups are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  8. Individuals on the Autism Spectrum range from having very mild symptoms to very severe developmental delays.
  9. Autism is about 4.5 more common in males – data shows that 1 in 42 boys have autism compared to 1 in 189 girls.
  10. New Jersey has the highest rate of autism in the U.S., with 1 in 28 boys being affected.
  11. In autism terminology, milder cases of the disorder are said to be in “high functioning” individuals while more severe cases are said to be in “low functioning” individuals.
  12. Autistic disorder typically describes those who are on the “low functioning” end of the Spectrum.
  13. Individuals with autistic disorder often struggle with severe deficits in speech, communication, social skills, motor functioning, and adaptive skills.
  14. Adaptive skills are the practical, day-to-day skills needed to live independently: bathing, getting dressed, brushing teeth, feeding oneself, and more.
  15. Asperger’s syndrome typically describes those who are on the “high functioning” end of the Spectrum.
  16. Children and adults with Asperger’s syndrome commonly struggle with social interactions or restricted interests, but don’t usually have difficulties with language or cognitive development.
  17. Sometimes referred to as ‘atypical autism,’ PDD-NOS is often thought of as being in between Asperger’s syndrome and autistic disorder. It’s common for those with PDD-NOS to struggle with communication, social behavior, and repetitive movements.
  18. Childhood disintegrative disorder, also known as disintegrative psychosis, is the rarest of the Spectrum disorders. It’s characterized by severe development deficits, often in children who were developing normally but then quickly regressed between ages two and four.
  19. These disorders were all placed under the umbrella term of Autism Spectrum Disorder in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).
  20. Restrictive and repetitive behaviors are a common sign of ASD. These might include hand flapping, rocking back and forth, and fixations on certain objects.
  21. It’s common for individuals on the Spectrum to have difficulties with language or be completely nonverbal.
  22. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder might show typical language development and then quickly lose their ability to speak in words or phrases. This is called regression.
  23. Many children who are nonverbal at the age of four go on to overcome their severe language delays, according to a large study of 535 nonverbal children with autism.
  24. Children with autism often struggle with transitions. A slight change in routine can lead to meltdowns or temper tantrums.
  25. Echolalia describes a behavior involving repetition of words or phrases. It’s a common sign of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  26. Children on the Autism Spectrum often avoid eye contact.
  27. Some children with autism may engage in aggressive or self-injurious behaviors, like head banging against walls or floors when upset.
  28. Sensory sensitivities to lights, sounds, and textures are commonly seen among those with autism.
  29. Many people with autism are extremely gifted in certain areas, like mathematics, music, or art.
  30. Micah Miner, a young gymnast with autism, is a prime example of this. By the time he was nine years old, Micah competed in the gymnastics National Championship for the third time.
  31. Epilepsy is common among individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, seen in up to a third of the autism population.
  32. April is Autism Awareness Month.
  33. Back in 2007, the United Nations named April 2nd as international Autism Awareness Day.
  34. To help raise autism awareness, Autism Speaks launched the Light It Up Blue campaign.
  35. To show support for autism, landmarks like the White House, the Empire State Building, the Great Pyramid of Giza and more will light up blue on April 2nd.
  36. There’s no single cause of autism.
  37. Some of the high-risk factors for autism include genes and genetic mutations, chromosomal conditions, family factors, environmental influences, prenatal influences, and birth complications.
  38. There are treatments that can help ease the symptoms of ASD, but there is no cure for autism.
  39. Applied Behavior Analysis therapy is the leading treatment option for young children on the Spectrum.
  40. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) involves figuring out the motivation behind certain behaviors, and then applying this to reduce undesirable behaviors and increase positive ones.
  41. Decades worth of scientific research shows that ABA therapy is effective at helping children with autism make significant strides to overcome their developmental delays.
  42. One of the main techniques used in ABA is DTT (discrete trial training). Basically, DTT breaks down tasks into small components. Children build up skills by tackling each smaller component one-by-one.
  43. Another main technique used in ABA is NET (natural environment training). Children might work on many of the same goals as in DTT, but in a more natural play environment.
  44. Generalization is a common term used in ABA to describe a child’s ability to naturally implement behaviors and skillsets in a variety of settings.
  45. ABA therapy is endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Autism Society of America.
  46. The earlier ABA therapy is started, the better the outcome. Children who start receiving ABA therapy at 2 years old make more significant changes than those who start ABA at later ages, according to research.
  47. Ole Ivar Lovaas is known as the pioneer of Applied Behavior Analysis.
  48. ABA therapy used to be seen as controversial due to aversive therapy techniques. However, nowadays, there are no aversive procedures used in ABA.
  49. ABA therapy focuses largely on positive reinforcements. ABA therapists will reinforce desirable behaviors with a child’s favorite toys, snacks, and social praise.
  50. ABA therapy is an all-encompassing approach to overcoming the deficits associated with autism. Target areas of ABA therapy include speech, nonverbal communication, social skills, play skills, adaptive skills, toilet training, food therapy, and much more.
  51. Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) are Master’s level health practitioners. They create the child-specific treatment plans implemented in ABA therapy centers.
  52. ABA therapists provide one-on-one therapy for children in ABA autism facilities.
  53. Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) are ABA therapists who have gone on to complete 40 hours of training and pass the RBT exam.
  54. Other autism therapies include speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, art therapy, and music therapy.
  55. There is currently no scientifically proven link between autism and vaccines.
  56. Individuals with autism are particularly vulnerable to being bullied. Studies have found that over 60 percent of children on the Spectrum have experienced bullying.
  57. Data shows that the most severe bullying tends to occur among children in 5th to 8th
  58. There are a number of tips recommended by autism experts to help a child on the Spectrum who is being bullied, including identifying emotions and creating bully-proofing plans. See them here.
  59. Unemployment rates are a big issue in the autism community. A report out of the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute found that a third of young adults with autism didn’t have a job or educational plans.
  60. Integrate Autism Employment Advisors is a program that helps adults on the Spectrum lock down jobs through job coaching boot camps and networking opportunities. The organization also reaches out to employers to encourage more hiring of autistic individuals.
  61. Rett’s Syndrome is often confused with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Rett’s Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that mainly affects girls, is characterized by a rapid loss of speech, coordination, and use of the hands.
  62. Research has shown that parental interactions with babies can ease the signs of autism as the baby progresses to toddler age.
  63. Temple Grandin, one of the most prominent voices in the autism community, didn’t speak until she was three and a half years old.
  64. Temple Grandin went on to become an author and speaker on autism and animal behavior, as well as a professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. Many people view her as showing the world the true potential of those on the Spectrum.
  65. Temple Grandin has inspired many with her well-known quote, “Different, Not Less.”
  66. Some other well-known people considered to be on the Spectrum include Susan Boyle, John Elder Robinson, Daryl Hannah, and Andy Warhol.
  67. Technology can be a huge help for individuals with autism who struggle with communication. There are a number of iPad apps designed to help nonverbal children communicate their wants and needs.
  68. There are also daily scheduling apps for iPads to help ease the anxiety associated with transitions.
  69. Some common autism assessments for an autism diagnosis include M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers), CARS (Childhood Autism Rating Scale), ASQ (Ages and Stages Questionnaire), and ADOS-2 (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule – 2nd edition).
  70. The ADOS-2 is largely seen as the gold standard of diagnostic assessments for autism.
  71. Autism Spectrum Disorder can be diagnosed by developmental pediatricians, pediatricians, neurologists, and psychologists.
  72. Autism is becoming more included in pop culture, with shows like Atypical and The Good Doctor making their ways to Netflix and ABC.
  73. In April of 2017, Sesame Street debuted Julia: a new four-year-old character with autism. The goal was to familiarize children with the differences they might notice in their classmates who have autism – and to know that different is okay.
  74. Some people believe that autism is the result of bad parenting or child neglect. This is not the case.
  75. It’s common for children with ASD to only like eating two or three foods. Therapists can work through a slow process of introducing new textures and foods to build up to a more nutritious diet.
  76. The autism community has a strong online presence. Many parents, therapists, and individuals on the Spectrum run blogs to educate and connect with others. Check out some of the most outstanding autism blogs here.
  77. Weighted blankets can be an anxiety-reducer for some kiddos on the Spectrum. Weighted blankets provide a gentle pressure that eases the sensory issues associated with ASD.
  78. Sensory swings provide a number of benefits. They can encourage motor planning, balance, and core stability.
  79. The largest-ever study on twins and autism found that if one identical twin has autism, there is a 76 percent chance that the other identical twin will also have autism
  80. The same twins study found that same-sex fraternal twins have a 34 percent chance of both having an autism diagnosis, while opposite-sex fraternal twins share an 18 percent chance of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  81. Autism was first described by Dr. Leo Kanner in 1943.
  82. Reporting on 11 children, Dr. Kanner’s initial observations on autism described the children as having “a powerful desire for aloneness” and “an obsessive insistence on persistent sameness.”
  83. Before Dr. Kanner’s work, autism was often confused with schizophrenia.
  84. Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disorder. The prevalence of ASD in children increased by 119.4 percent from 2000 to 2010.
  85. In 2014, researchers identified a whopping 60 genes with more than a 90 percent chance of increasing the risk for autism in a child. Previously, just 11 genes had been linked with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  86. Just last year (2017), an analysis published in Nature Neuroscience identified 18 new genes linked with autism.
  87. In September 2018, the National Institutes of Health awarded nine research grants to the Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE) program. The grants totaled nearly $100 million.
  88. The nine research grants will delve into improving autism treatments, identifying the early signs of autism by studying social interaction, how autism differs between girls and boys, and more.
  89. The Autism Science Foundation (ASF) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to further scientific research on Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  90. ASF provides funding and other resources/assistance to organizations and scientists conducting autism research.
  91. Many top colleges and universities offer degree programs in Applied Behavior Analysis. Some of the best ABA programs can be seen in this list.
  92. There are a number of books on autism that have made the New York Times Best-Seller List, including Look Me in the Eyes by John Elder Robison and The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida.
  93. Jordan Keller, a 12-year-old on the Spectrum, published a book called Jumbled Pieces: Autism. His mission is to help others understand what it’s like to grow up with autism.
  94. Insurance oftentimes covers the majority of the cost for ABA therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy.
  95. Unfortunately, in some states, Medicaid provides no coverage for ABA therapy. This leaves many families in need of autism services with little to no options.
  96. Congress passed the ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) act in 2014.
  97. Under the ABLE act, individuals with disabilities are given the opportunity to open tax-free savings accounts without risking eligibility for Social Security and other government programs.
  98. Many children sit on waitlists to see a developmental pediatrician for 9 months or more. This delays the start of therapy and can significantly hurt a child’s ability to overcome developmental deficits.
  99. Waitlists are also an issue at many ABA centers.
  100. People on the autism spectrum are extraordinary, gifted, and loving human beings!

How To Decode Teacher Comments For Signs

Parent teacher conference

Written by: Amanda Morin

Published by: Understood

Have you ever gone to a parent-teacher conference and felt like the teacher’s comments meant something more than what she actually said? Or that she was vague about a concern she has? Sometimes a teacher isn’t as direct as she could be—or would like to be.

There are many possible reasons for that. She might be bound by official (or unofficial) school policies that limit what she can say to parents. She might not know much about how special education works and may worry she’s going to give incorrect advice. Or she might be uncomfortable saying something negative about your child. Read the rest of the story here.

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

 

 

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