Tips For Reaching Students With Autism

Teaching a student with autism can be a challenge. Their learning styles are often different from those of most other students, and it may even seem that they are taking no interest in the lessons. Usually, however, this is not the case, and the student is simply overwhelmed and needs lessons tailored to the way they learn. This article contains tips for reaching your autistic students and will help you understand their needs better. Before long, teaching a student with autism will be as easy as teaching a student who does not have autism.

 

Use Simple, Concrete Language

Due to the nature of autism, people with this condition do not always understand abstractions, idioms or figures of speech. They may take your words literally and attempt to do exactly what you said. This attempt on their part and your subsequent disappointment can be very frustrating. Simple, concrete language works better as there is no wording to confuse your student.

 

Put Tasks in Sequential Order

If what you are trying to teach is complex, put your tasks in sequential order. Some people with autism have difficulty recognizing the order in which things go, so it can be a help to give them the tasks in the order they need to be accomplished. Breaking down larger tasks into smaller chunks can also be a big help. This way, the student does not get confused or overwhelmed and can more effectively focus on their work.

 

Choices

Choices can be important to any child, but especially to a student with autism. However, too many choices can be confusing. If possible, give your students with autism only two or three choices. That way you do not overwhelm them. Further, do not leave choices open-ended. You are likely to get better results by asking the student whether they would rather read or draw than by asking them what they would like to do.

 

Avoid Distractions

Some students with autism can find colorful wall displays or noise to be distracting. If you are doing a task which requires concentration, allow your student with autism access to a quiet, distraction-free area. This minimization of distraction will help your students concentrate, and will make the task much easier for them.

 

Have a Clear Routine

Children with autism do best when there is a clear daily routine and clear expectations set for them. Avoid changing this routine. If your routine must change, then be sure to warn the child that there is a change in the routine so that they have time to prepare. Changes in routine can lead to anxiety for students with autism. This anxiety can then lead to outbursts and misbehaving.

 

Teaching a student with autism may seem daunting, but it does not have to be. With some preparation and patience and the tips listed above, there will be less frustration for both you and your student. They will have an easier time learning the material, and will not get nearly so anxious. The less anxious your student is, the fewer outbursts they will have and the more smoothly the school day will go. That is something

What is Autism?

Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with autism? Are you left confused, afraid and wondering what exactly this condition is? Are you stuck with media stereotypes about an autistic person’s lack of functioning? If so, keep reading. This article will explain what autism is, without invoking any of the stereotypes commonly associated with the condition, stereotypes which are not true for all or even most autistics while giving a plain-English definition of the features and symptoms of the condition. Do not give up hope. A diagnosis of autism is not a tragedy, though it may feel like it at first, and it is not the end.

 

Definition and Symptoms

When people talk about autism today, they are generally talking about Autism Spectrum Disorders. According to the DSM-IV, the Autism Spectrum Disorders are a set of five developmental disorders that effect the person’s ability to engage with others. These deficits in social interaction can vary in severity from very mild to extremely severe, and in type as well though all people with autism will have some of these core symptoms. People with autism tend to have trouble with developing or using nonverbal social cues. They do not like to make eye contact, for example, and may find it very overwhelming. Autistic children may also not want to make friends with children of the same age, or have any desire to share interests and achievements. People with autism also have delays in development of speech or never develop it at all. As many as forty per cent of autistic individuals never talk. Some people with autism also deal with echolalia, which is the repetition of a phrase they have previously heard. They will repeat this phrase over and over. Other symptoms of autism can include sensory integration difficulties and problems with processing stimuli, as well as atypical movements and fascination with sensory stimulation. These symptoms can make social contact very overwhelming and draining for them.

 

Diagnosis

The mean age of diagnosis for autistic individuals used to be between five and eight years. However, due to more sophisticated methods of diagnosis and the creation of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule by Catherine Lord, Ph.D the age at which autism is diagnosed has been significantly reduced. Most children are now diagnosed near their second or third birthday. This earlier diagnosis means that parents can be more aware of what is going on and can then help their children better adjust to their limitations and the expectations of the world around them. This early intervention to help these children can mean that the child gets the early education they need.

 

Causes

Over the years, many things have been thought to cause autism, everything from drinking milk to getting your children vaccinated. However, none of these is the real cause, and as of yet no one is sure what the cause actually is. The most prevalent theory seems to posit that autism is a very strongly inherited genetic disorder, probably with several genes being affected.

 

Autism may seem like a nightmare. The person with autism may seem unresponsive and hard to reach. However, with some learning on both your parts, and understanding of the person’s abilities and limitations, this condition does not have to be a nightmare.

What Are Special Needs?

As of the 2012-13 school year, 14 percent of all public school students were receiving special education services, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. But what does it mean for a child to have special needs?

Broadly speaking, “special needs” is used to describe children who require any kind of special support due to a physical, mental or emotional issue, beyond the average student. It’s a term that covers a wide variety of needs—one student may simply require a ramp to access the building from a wheelchair, while another may need special therapy.

Classifying the many different kinds of special needs can get complicated—the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) identifies 13 separate categories. At a broader level, special needs can be broken into four general types: physical, behavioral, emotional, and sensory. 

Physical Special Needs
A physical special need is a physical limitation that permanently makes typical mobility or bodily control more challenging. It often requires special equipment like a wheelchair. Examples of physical special needs include children with muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, or chronic asthma.

Sensory Special Needs
Sensory impairments are conditions that limit one or more of a child’s senses. This includes blindness, deafness, visual impairments, and more.

Developmental Special Needs
Kids with developmental disabilities experience challenges with skills needed for certain aspects of life, such as language, mobility and learning. These include conditions such as dyslexia, Down syndrome or autism.

Behavioral/Emotional Special Needs
This type of special need refers to disorders that affect a child’s ability to respond to traditional discipline or struggle with psychological conditions. These include conditions such as ADHD, bipolar disorder, and oppositional defiance disorder.

Empowering Special Needs Kids to Take On Challenges

While children with special needs all have one thing in common—a need for a little extra support—this term refers to a broad range of unique needs. But special needs kids are much more than this label. Understanding the challenges these children face is a great first step to helping them overcome them for full, satisfying lives.

Take Action: Wear Your Cause

From ribbons to bracelets to t-shirts, it seems there is gear for every cause and every style these days.

And sure, it’s great to join in when it comes to a cause you believe in, but does sporting your awareness swag really make a difference to researchers and patients? Sometimes it can feel like a hollow gesture.

But don’t be deceived! When you wear your cause support, you take positive action on behalf of your cause awareness in three important ways.

1. Honor Survivors and Remember Those Lost
By wearing your awareness gear, you’re honoring those who have fought against that cancer, disease, or other struggle.

In 2015, the American Cancer Society projects an estimated 1,658,370 new cancer cases in America alone—not to mention the millions of loved ones impacted by each patient’s fight. Even if no one says anything to you, it’s likely that your act of support touched someone personally impacted by the fight against cancer.

2. The Positive Side of Peer Pressure
Peer pressure isn’t just for teens with attitude. In its simplest form, peer pressure just means that people tend to go along with what those around them are doing. By advocating for a cause, you tilt those mainstream currents in a positive direction of informed support and action.

3. Trigger Conversations
Be careful—if you’re wearing awareness swag, it’s likely someone will ask you about it.

When they do, it’s a fantastic opportunity to share about a cause you’re passionate about. Tell a little about why awareness matters to you, and if you’re willing, share your personal story. Before ending the conversation, tip them off on where to learn more about the cause, donate, and get their own support gear.

One Easy Action, Many Ripples of Impact
Because wearing your support for a cause is so easy to do, it can be easy to think that this action doesn’t matter. But in reality, wearing your support can make a big difference to others affected by the cause and trigger a chain of awareness in those around you.

So what are you waiting for? Pick up your swag and start a positive chain today.

What is PDD?

Pervasive developmental disorders (often shortened to PDD) is a term used to refer to a group of conditions that cause a delay in the development of basic skills. These basic skills most commonly include the ability to socialize, communicate and use imagination. People who have a PDD often struggle to understand the world around them. 

Examples of PDDs include:

  • Autism
  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder
  • Rett syndrome
  • PPD, not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS)

Though PDDs are typically present in a child very young, but most commonly become evident around the age of three, when it becomes clear that the child is not keeping up with their peers’ development milestones.

PDD symptoms can range from mild to severe. They often include difficulty with communicating verbally, difficulty with gestures and facial expressions, difficulty relating to others, difficulty adjusting to changes in routine, repetitive behavior patterns or movements, sensitivity to sounds, and more.

According to WebMD, an estimated one in 88 children has a PDD, and it is more common in boys than girls. The outlook for a person with a PDD can vary significantly depending on how severe the individual’s symptoms are. However, though most will have some issues with socialization throughout their lives, many can reduce their symptoms and enhance their functionality with therapy and early intervention.

Bringing Out The Best In Your Special Needs Students

Every student has the potential to succeed. But in a traditional classroom, it can be harder for students with special needs to tap into that potential.

Special needs students’ success can be limited by the unique challenges they face. It can require a thoughtful effort from teachers to ensure that special needs students thrive in the classroom.

 

How can teachers help special needs students thrive? Offer them the support they with these tips for classroom success:

 

Create a Safe, Welcoming Class Environment
From how a teacher talks to the posters on the walls, make sure that all of the cues in the classroom are positive and accepting of diversity from day one. Be clear that all different kinds of people have unique gifts.

Be Clear and Consistent About Rules
Set classroom expectations early, and adhere to them consistently. When a student understands what is expected and can count on the consequences, good or bad, being the same every time, it offers an important foundation and sense of order.

Look for Students’ Strengths
Speak with the previous teachers of special needs students, and the students’ parents. Ask them about the child’s strengths and challenges. Also talk to each special needs student one-on-one—what do they perceive themselves to be good at? What do they perceive themselves to be bad at? These conversations can offer a wealth of information to give each student appropriate support.

Tap Into Students’ Interests
As you engage with students, learn about what their interests and passions are. Then, find ways to incorporate their interests into the lessons. For example, instead of a typical math problem about trains, can you make one about hockey for a sports fan?

Arrange Desks in Groups
When students are grouped in a way that encourages engagement, it can foster an inclusive learning environment. All students benefit when they interact with individuals who are different from them, but it can be especially helpful for special needs students, who will benefit from working together on class activities.

Show Students Their Career Potential
Students with special needs can struggle to see themselves fitting into the adult world, as there is very little imagery available in mainstream culture to model success for them. Encourage them by making links between their interests, strengths, and specific career paths. For example, a dyslexic student who loves art could find success as a graphic designer.

Break Large Tasks Into Smaller Goals
This can serve two purposes. First, it helps students who struggle to bring large tasks to completion a sense of accomplishment. It also helps teachers measure individual students’ productivity and pinpoint specific struggles.

Follow the IEP
Every student with special needs is required to have an IEP—an individual education plan. This document includes goals, objectives and support services specific to each child for their entire academic career. Knowing the IEP for each student helps teachers ensure they stay on track for their education goals.

Communicate With Parents
Keep parents and caregivers informed of what the class is learning, how their child is doing, and especially notify them of any problems or areas of concern. Working together with parents and caregivers can stem concerns before they become serious issues.

 

With Support, Every Student Can Thrive

Students with special needs may have face more challenges within the confines of a traditional classroom setting, but with patience and support, every student can find success. To help yours reach their potential, establish a positive, consistent learning environment and support their learning process with the appropriate tools, goals and interests.

Are Children Conceived in Winter More Likely to Develop Autism?

Expecting parents are always concerned with whether or not there is something they can do to ensure the health of their children.  Recently, studies have turned toward the subject of autism, and whether or not the time of year when a child is conceived has any effect on its mental health at birth.  There is compelling evidence to show that babies conceived in the winter may in fact be more likely to develop autism, and if you are trying to conceive, you may want to pay close attention to the recent information that has been discovered on the matter.

 

Illness

It is no secret that environment has a lot to do with a baby’s development while still in the womb.  According to a California-based study that focused on 7 million birth records in the 1990s and 2000s, wintertime viruses and other illnesses may be a major influence on whether or not a growing baby develops autism.  Of course, this could be less of a problem in parts of the world where viruses do not spread as rapidly during the winter due to warmer temperatures, but in the United States, where the study was conducted, this environmental factor did have a pronounced effect on the outcome of the children in question.

 

Deficiency

A lack of vitamin D also prominently raised the chances of autism in wintertime babies.  During the winter months, when the sun is less visible and people are less likely to spend time outdoors due to colder temperatures, it is natural that vitamin D deficiency increases.  Although quite common, this can be very detrimental to the health of unborn children, and may severely impair their mental growth while still in the womb.  Vitamin D deficiency in the children studied also increased as the season wore on.  December conceptions led to about an 8% increase in autism, while March conceptions showed up to 16% more cases of autism in the children that were surveyed.  All winter months were compared to July conceptions for the purpose of this study.

 

Other Possibilities

Of course, it is important to judge all studies with a grain of salt.  While the study undertaken by the University of California did prove a connection between month of conception and risk of autism, other studies conducted in Japan, Canada, and the United Kingdom have proven that spring is the more likely season to trigger autism.  Research in Sweden and Denmark, however, agrees with that of the United States, and these countries have reported March as the highest risk month of conception.  Bear in mind that the original United States study might also prove another environmental factor, such as exposures that take place during the second or third trimester, so it is somewhat inconclusive in that regard.

 

 

When you are trying to conceive, you may be worried about a lot of things, including the risk of autism in your child.  Do not let studies scare you, but do take them into consideration and use the information they provide to make your own decisions when it comes to conception. As with anything, it is important to be as informed as possible, and to consider all relevant information.

Autism Awareness Shirts

About 1 in 68 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

ASD is a developmental disability that causes social, communication and behavioral challenges. The degree of these challenges can vary widely person to person, depending where they fall on the spectrum.

To date, there is no known cause and no cure. However, with therapy and treatments, individuals with ASD can live full, meaningful lives.

Why Spread Awareness?
There is a stigma around ASD that causes some to stereotype, avoid or even bully individuals with ASD. Negative stereotypes about the abilities and disabilities associated with ASD can make it harder for individuals on the spectrum to find jobs, join in social situations, and live the full lives they are capable of and deserve.

When you support autism awareness, you promote a better understanding of what ASD is, what those on the spectrum need in terms of therapy and support, and stave off these negative associations. You also help promote and fund research that could help scientists gain a better understand of how to prevent and treat ASD.

Sport Your Support
With such good reasons to wear your autism awareness support, why not get started now?

Here are some t-shirts that promote autism awareness:

autism awareness

AutismTee4

autism awarenessautism awareness

Check out more Autism Awareness tees.

Autism Awareness Matters
Therapy, treatment and care for individuals with ASD is estimated at $90 million each year, and is only expected to rise dramatically. But with early intervention, the cost of this care can decrease significantly—and also gives the individual receiving the treatment an opportunity of a better, fuller life.

When you spread autism awareness, you help more people understand it better and help raise funds to prevent and treat autism in the future.

 

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Check out our limited time Autism Awareness design, available until January 7th!

Help Your Special Needs Children Get Back to School

The back-to-school season can be a rough transition for any child—especially when they’re headed for a new school. But when your child has special needs, a new environment can cause extra anxiety.

Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to prepare your special needs child for a new school now to lessen your child’s stress when that first class bell rings.

Talk About It
It’s important to discuss the new school and any feelings caused by the change with your child. Let them know they’re not alone—it’s normal to feel nervous when making a big change like this, and even to feel sad if there are old friends they won’t see every day anymore.

But also talk about the positive opportunities ahead—a new school is an opportunity to learn new things and meet new friends. By focusing on the positive, you can help your child ease anxieties and get excited.

Get Teachers On Board
It’s also a good idea to talk to the teachers and support team that will help your child at the school, if possible. Take advantage of these conversations to make expectations and needs for your child clear up front, and establish a line of two-way communication to remain open throughout the year, so that you can your child’s teachers can work together for your child’s interests throughout the year.

Explore Early And Often
Do all you can to familiarize your child with the new environment early – play on the playground, walk the halls, and spend time in the classroom if possible. Return to these spaces frequently in the weeks before school starts so they become familiar for your child.

Much less overwhelming when the halls are crowded and bustling that first day if they already know how to get from their locker to home room.

Get On Schedule
If the new school’s schedule will require significant changes to what he or she is used to—such as getting up significantly earlier—why not transition to that schedule a few weeks ahead of time? By reducing the amount of change he or she faces on that first day of school, you can make the overall experience easier.

The anticipation of a new school can be intimidating for anyone, and for special needs children in particular. But there’s a lot you and your child can do before the year starts to reduce the challenges and stress. Take these proactive steps now and help your special needs child take on their new environment more confidently.