Today is the last day to recognize Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
You can download a free printed copy of the Down syndrome fact sheet, providing information on the types, prevalence, definition, signs and symptoms, and teaching strategies. Further information includes a list of Down syndrome organizations and foundations.
Click here to download
Teaching individuals to count is an early prerequisite to working on money skills. Before starting to work on a counting goals, students should be able to count numbers 1- 100. Make sure to break any counting activities into short, easy-to-manage steps and provide clear expectations.
6 methods for teaching money counting-Thought Co.
7 ways to teaching counting to 100- Raising Da Vinci
10 tips to teach numbers and alphabets to children with autism– The Learning App
Counting Strategies– National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
Easy way to teach preschool children to count– VeryWell
Math: Counting and Comparing– The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity
Skip Counting for Autism– Autism Educators
Teaching Counting- The Autism Helper
Teaching Counting Skills– The Autism Helper
Teaching Counting– National Center on Intensive Intervention
English pediatrician, Dr. Harry Angleman first described Angelman syndrome in 1965 when he observed 3 children who had similar features including unusual happiness, developmental delays and similar facial disorders. He originally called it the “Happy Puppet Syndrome” based in a 17th century Italian painting by Gian Francesco Coroto. In most cases, a gene located on chromosome 15 is generally missing or damaged, in some cases, the individual may have 2 copies of the paternal chromosome 15. It is considered a developmental disability where children and adults will require ongoing services. Click the link below to download the factsheet.
Download factsheet here
February is Turner Syndrome Awareness Month. It is a rare disease that occurs in between one and 2,000 birth only affecting females. Turner Syndrome has several names including Ullrich-Turner Syndrome, Bonnevie-Ullrich-Turner Syndrome. gonadal dysgenesis and 45X. This rare disease is the result of the absence of one set of genes from the short arm of one X chromosome.
Special Needs Challenges
While girls and women with Turner Syndrome usually have normal intelligence, there is a risk of learning disabilities involving spatial concepts including math and memory and ADHD
Young girls diagnosed with Turner Syndrome during their early development may have delays in learning the alphabet, speech, difficulty in following one command at a time and conceptual difficulties such as up and down. Signs and symptoms of math or dyscalculia challenges include difficulty with counting money, estimating time, losing track when counting and remembering phone numbers or zip codes. The following strategies should be used when teaching students diagnosed with Turner Syndrome:
- Use flashcards to aid in memory as well as workbooks, games and video’s.
- Break learning into smaller steps by using a task analysis framework.
- Administer probing and feedback as a check in
- Model instructional practices
- Provide prompts
- Use visuals such as diagrams, graphics and pictures.
- Give clear directions
- Use multiple models including visual and auditory learning models
- Make sure directions are clear
- Allow time to process and take notes
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders as a group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank during pregnancy. The effects of the fetal alcohol disorders includes many learning challenges including hyperactivity, poor attention span, memory issues, coordination challenges, anxiety, speech and language delays, problem-solving issues, difficulty staying on task, behavioral challenges and social interaction.
Some children with FASD have co-occurring disorders or are often mis-diagnosed.
The following are the most common disorders:
- Oppositional Defiant Disorders (ODD)
- Attention Deficit Hyperactive/Inattentive Disorder (ADHD)
- Learning Disabilities
- Speech and language delays
- Anti-Social Personality Disorder
The following are Accommodations that will help students succeed:
- Use a multi-sensory approach to learning
- Allow extra time for testing assessments
- Chunk the test into parts
- Reduce distractions by using preferential seating
- Allow the student to take breaks
- Use oral test
- Provide oral instructions
- Use a checklist for the student to use
- Allow the student to use a timer
- Use repetition
- Check in with the students for understanding and provide feedback
- Teach calming strategies
- Use assistive technology
- Use social stories
- Teach social skills
Williams Syndrome also known as Williams-Beuren syndrome was discovered in 1961 by J.C.P. Williams, a Cardiologist from New Zealand. Williams Syndrome is a rare disorder with a prevalence of in 7,500 to 20,000 caused by the deletion of genetic material from chromosome 7. Williams syndrome symptoms include heart problems, low birth weight, l problems and developmental delays. 75 are diagnosed with mile to moderate intellectual disabilities or a learning disability.
Click here to download PDF article
Physical characteristics include:
Almond shape eyes
Longer upper lip
Puffiness around the eyes
Small upturned nose
- Enjoys music
- Developmental delay
- Excellent long-term memory
- Learning disability
- Poor fine motor skills
- Tactile defensiveness
Students with Mild intellectual disabilities will have difficulty with abstract thinking, executive functioning including planning, prioritizing, and cognitive flexibility. According to the Williams Syndrome Association Website, Children with Williams Syndrome face challenges with processing non-verbal information and displays difficulty with attention to detail.
Strategies should include:
- Using short sentences
- Repeat directions
- Break task into small steps
- Use concrete examples when introducing new words or concepts.
- Teach one concept at a time
- Use a multisensory approach which will help to stimulate learning
- Utilize visual learning style including the use of flash cars, pictures, images, handouts and colors.
Williams Syndrome Association
Angelman Syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects the nervous system, characteristics that include developmental delays, intellectual disability, and speech impairments. Angelman syndrome generally go unnoticed until the age of 1 year. Children typically have a happy demeanor and have a fascination with water
- developmental delay
- intellectual disability
- short attention span
- happy demeanor
- tongue thrusting
- feeding problems during infancy
- sensitivity to heat
- frequent drooling
- attraction to water
Angelman Syndrome is a rare disorder and affects 1 in 12,000 to 20,000 a year. Equally to less than 200,000 case a year. Affects all ethnicities and sexes equally.
Angelman Syndrome-Bridges for Kids
Angelman Syndrome Educational Material
Angelman Syndrome– Ontario Teachers Federation
Angelman Syndrome– National Association of Special Educators
Angelman Syndrome in the Classroom- Puzzle Place
Communication strategies for children with Angelman Syndrome– Cleveland Clinic
Education Resources- Angelman Resources
Some Angelman Tips– Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs
Working with a child who has Angelman Syndrome– St. Cloud State University
Writing instruction for students with Angelman Syndrome– PracticalAAC
Lowe Syndrome also known as Oculocerebrorenal Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that affects the eyes, brain and kidneys. It has a prevalence of 1 in 500,000 and mainly affects males.
Click here to download PDF version
Signs and Symptoms
- Congenital cataracts
- eye abnormalities and eye disease
- kidney abnormalities (Renal Fanconi Syndrome)
- abnormal acidic blood
- progressive kidney problems
- feeding problems
- bone abnormalities
- weak or low muscle tone (hypotonia)
- joint problems
- developmental delays including motor skills
- short stature
- intellectual disability
- behavioral issues
Children and adults diagnosed with children and adults may also show the following signs and symptoms due to an intellectual disability:
- decrease learning ability
- delays in crawling
- delays in sitting up
- difficulty solving problems
- lack of curiosity
- language and speech delays
- poor memory
- behavior problems
The following strategies will help when teaching a child or an adult diagnosed with Lowe Syndrome:
- Use short and simple sentences to ensure understanding
- Repeat directions
- Teach specific skills when possible
- Use strategies such as chunking, backwards shaping, forward shaping and role modeling.
- Use concrete information
- Provide immediate feedback
Image thanks to Robert Thomson on Flickr.com (creative commons)
National Organization for Rare Disorders
Genetics Home Reference
Nonverbal Learning Disorder is a disorder you may or nay not heard of. It shares similar characteristics to autism such as the challenge in reading body language but is also quite different. By learning the signs and symptoms of nonverbal learning disorder, the better chance you have in using effective teaching strategies.
Nonverbal learning disorder is defines as a person who has difficulty in interpreting and understanding non verbal cues in the environment If 93% of how we communicate is nonverbal, a person with nonverbal learning disorder is only getting 7% of daily communication.
Dr. Byron P. Rouke of the University of Windsor developed the following criteria to assess nonverbal learning disorder:
- Perceptual deficits usually on the left side of the body. The child has difficulty understanding or perceiving information through the skin of both hands but the left hand has more difficulty than the right.
- Tends to be clumsy
- Difficulty with visual-spatial organizational skills. Finds it difficult to organize notes.
- Difficulty when encountering new information.
- Difficulty in knowing what is expected of you and hard to see the bigger picture
- Distort sense of time. Time is abstract and non-linear
- Well-developed, rote and verbal capacity
- Repetitive way of speaking
Signs and Symptoms
- Excellent vocabulary and verbal expression
- Excellent memory skills
- unable to see the bigger picture
- Poor motor and coordination skills
- Difficulty with reading
- Difficulty with math reading problems
- Fear of new situations
- May have symptoms of anxiety, depression
- Misreads body language
- Well-developed vocabulary
- Better auditory processing skills than visual processing skills
- Focus on details
Teaching Strategies For Parents and Teachers
- Give assignments in chunks
- Give constructive feedback
- Create a daily class routine and stick to them
- Write the class schedule on the board
- Provide several verbal cues before transition
- Give the student time to preview and prepare for new activities such as group projects
- Minimize transitions
- Offer added verbal explanations when the student or child seems confused
- Teach in sequential steps
Rondalyn Varney Whitney/OTR, Nonverbal learning disorder: Understanding and coping with NLD and Aspergers: What parents and teachers need to know (2008)
Woliver, Robbie (2008) Alphabet Kids: From ADD to Zellwer Syndrome.
Learning Disabilities of America
Studies show that epilepsy are more common in individuals with autism than the general population. Studies show that in some cases, 20% of people diagnosed with autism also have an epilepsy disorder. Other studies indicate epilepsy prevalence estimates between 5% to 46%.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts social, speech, behavioral and motor skills. It is a spectrum disorder meaning it varies from person to person. No two people have the same symptoms. It is estimated that 1% of the population is diagnosed with autism.
Epilepsy is a brain disorder which occurs when neurons in the brain experience a brief interruption causing a seizure to occur. Seizures vary from mild to severe and affects over 3 million Americans. There are different types of seizures:
- Generalized Tonic/Clonic- A seizures where the whole brain is affected.
- Absence Seizures- Generally start without any warnings. It affects children and last only for a few seconds.
- Myoclonic Seizures- Are abrupt jerks of the muscle groups which originate from the spine.
- Partial Seizures- The person may look as though he or she is in a trance.
There are many unanswered questions as to why epilepsy is more common in people with autism. There is some evidence the common underlying cause may be both are related to genetic and environmental causes and are both related to some type of brain disorder. Evidence does shoe however individuals with autism and epilepsy have worse behavioral and social outcomes than individuals diagnosed with autism only including issues with motor and daily living skills.
Signs for parents to look out for
- May be difficult to determine especially in children diagnosed with severe autism spectrum disorder. Red flags include, staring episodes, stiffening of the body and shaking movements.
- A medical evaluation will include brain imaging and an electroencephalogram (EEG).
If you are an educator, be aware that after a seizure, the student will become tired. Allow the student an opportunity to rest.
Medical News Today: Epilepsy and autism: Is there a link?
Neurologist Disorder Treatment. Epilepsy in patients with autism: Links, risks and treatment challenges. Frank McBesag- Published online 2017 Dec 18
Synapse- Autistic Spectrum Disorder Factsheet