According to the Centers for Disease Control (2011), Autism varies significantly in character and severity, it occurs in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups and affects every age group. Current statistics estimate that three to six children out of every 1,000 will have ASD. Males are four times more likely to have ASD than females. The current statistics indicate that Autism affects 1 in every 110 children and 1 in every 70 boys.
Autism is a lifelong neurological and developmentaldisability that affects these areas of development. Although these children may have impressive vocabularies, their expressive skills mask their comprehension problems.These children do not understand, idioms, sarcasm, and take everything literally. They will ramble about facts they know without understanding how others perceive them (Autism Speaks, 2011).
Diagnosis of ASD or any other developmental disability, is based upon the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), published by the American Psychiatric Association (Washington, DC, 1994), and is the main diagnostic reference of mental health professionals in the U.S.
In 1944 Hans Asperger, an Austrian pediatrician, studied a group of boys who obviously had trouble interacting with others and who did not act in a way that was accepted socially. The boys were very focused on self and kept to themselves. They were uncoordinated physically, yet the boys were articulate and communicated with strong vocabulary. The boys also were drawn to mechanics such as clocks and they all acted with repetitive actions. Asperger published his study and his findings are still the foundation of how this syndrome is diagnosed today.A contemporary to Asperger, Leo Kanner was doing similar studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. He selected the word “autism” to describe the same personality traits and habits. The word “Autism” is Greek for self. Kanner’s research became very well known while Asperger’s did not. The reason that Kanner’s findings became more popular and more widely distributed is because it was published in English. Asperger’s work was written and published in German. Unfortunately for Asperger, he died in 1980 before his findings were widely known and acknowledged.
Prior to 1980, when Asperger’s work really took off, there was a theory that became very widely accepted. It was known as the “Refrigerator Mother Theory.” As odd as this sounds, people believed that the actions of the mother caused Asperger’s in children. It seems ludicrous to us now that people would believe such a thing. This theory states that mothers who seemed aloof or indifferent to their children caused them to have autistic behavior.Dr. Lorna Wing, a psychiatrist from Britain, published research in 1981 that cited a lot of Asperger’s work. Her work documented autism in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). She was able to bring the two syndromes, Asperger’s and Autism, together as different degrees of the same problem. Dr. Uta Frith in 1991 published Asperger’s research in English which caused it to be acknowledged universally.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Studies have indicated as much as a 373 percent increase in the number of reported cases of autism spectrum disorders from 1980 to 1994. California's Department of Developmental Services reported an additional 100 percent increase in rates of autism from 1992 to 1997.” Furthermore, “According to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the incidence of an autism spectrum disorder’s diagnosis is 10 times more likely than it was 10 years ago. Currently, one out of every 150 children is considered to have some form of autism. Many experts believe that number may continue to rise”(Bright Tots, 2011). In eight years, Nevada's Clark County School District has seen the number of children with autism spectrum disorders increased from 96 to more than 1,000(American Psychological Association, 2004).School budgets are not growing alongside the increased rates of special needs diagnoses.“Special classes, therapists, aides, transportation, and facilities for an autistic student cost an average of nearly $19,000 a year, or roughly triple the cost for a typical child. When districts go beyond adequate to establish intensive one-on-one programs or support a full array of speech, play, and occupational therapies, spending can skyrocket to $75,000 or more”(Smith, 2008).Schools face even greater pressure to perform because parents don’t settle for the basics. According to Fran Smith’s 2008 article Educators Deal with the Growing Problem of Autism, “[Parents] want intensive, expensive services that offer the best chance to rescue their child from a lifetime of disability… Administrators face growing pressure from vocal and sophisticated parents who insist on state-of-the-art instruction, highly trained teachers, staff-to-student ratios as low as 1 to 1, and extensive support services such as speech and occupational therapy.”
Smith further states that “when districts don't deliver the programs parents demand, or pay for private school alternatives, families are increasingly willing to fight in administrative hearings and court.” She says that because IDEA isn’t fully funded “Free Appropriate Public Education” proves legally problematic since “ ‘appropriate’ can mean one thing to a parent determined to get the very best for a child, but something else entirely to an administrator juggling limited resources.” As such, the director of the University of California’s Autism Clinic reported that “autism is a leading problem on the radar now and a leading source of lawsuits,”(Smith, 2008).The current state of affairs is dismal. “Too often, good intentions collide with limited resources, and overloaded bureaucracies clash with parents driven by hope and anguish. The result is often a mess”(Smith, 2008). The founder of the New England Center for Children claims that “the way we treat and educate children with autism is a national disgrace”(Smith, 2008).Although the overall news may be bleak, “a small but growing number of districts are creating innovative programs based on the latest research in autism and modeled after some of the most highly regarded -- and expensive -- private schools. These pioneering programs may change the future for special-needs kids”(Smith, 2008).
Experts disagree on Best Teaching Strategies.What does it mean to have the most effective autism program? “Many school districts cobble together a mishmash of methods that changes with each new fad, source of funding, special education director, or classroom teacher.”(Smith) “But experts agree on two things: Early intervention is critical, and the more hours devoted to learning, the better.”(Smith)... ABAA flexible and supportive environment play a key role in the success of a child with Asperger’s syndrome. These accommodations are intended to help the student learn in a positive and stress free environment.Often times children with Asperger’s can not read social cues.Due to the lack of social skills, some students may have a hard time coping or interacting with others. This can sometimes lead to emotional outbursts. They should know that there is a quiet place for them to go in the invent that this happens.
If possible use a SmartBoard for instruction. Changes in routine can cause much disruption. Transition before and after class for a set period of timewill give the student time to move about without the overstimulation of crowds in the hallway and provide time to prepare for class.Sometimes children with Asperger’s may not want to do assignments that hold no interest to them.Smaller assignments will not leave the student feeling overwhelmed
Dr. Temple Grandin is adoctor of animal science and professor at Colorado State University, bestselling author, and consultant to the livestockindustry on animal behavior. As a person with high-functioning autism, Grandin is also widely noted for her work in autism advocacy and is the inventor of the hug machine designed to calm hypersensitive persons. She is among the first with Autism to speak about the disorder from her perspective. Grandin’s work has been highly influential in the way we work with children in the Autistic Spectrum today.
History of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Asperger’s Syndrome<br />Hans Asperger, Austrian Pediatrician published study. (German, 1944)<br />Psychiatrist (1944) Leo Kanner similar study - Autism <br />5<br />Leo Kanner, downloaded 5/2/2011, Dynamic Therapy<br />Hans Asperger, downloaded 5/2/2011, Asperger Awareness <br />
History of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Asperger’s Syndrome<br />Refrigerator Mother Theory survived until 1980’s.<br />Dr. Lorna Wing (1981)concluded different degrees of same problem.<br />Uta Frith published Asperger’s work in English (1991). <br />6<br />Lorna Wing, downloaded 5/2/2011, Autism Research <br />Uta Frith, downloaded 5/2/2011, UCL<br />
Impact on Schools<br /><ul><li>Staggering Increases in Autism Diagnoses
Click “Autism at Schools” to view Video</li></li></ul><li>Impact on Schools (cont’d)<br />A Legal Nightmare<br />A Dismal Summary<br />A Glimmer of Hope<br />
Accommodations <br />Provide concrete rather than abstract directions, lessons, and instructions <br />Use pre-typed notes so a student may just fill in the blanks<br />Allow extended time to complete tests, assignments, classwork<br />Provide a supervised quiet place<br />Have a crisis plan in place<br />9<br />
Accommodations (Cont’d.)<br />Include instruction with auditory cues as well as visual cues<br />Create fewer transitions throughout the day<br />Prepare the student in advance for any changes in routine<br />Set firm expectations<br />Break assignments and projects into small parts<br />10<br />
Conclusion<br />"In an ideal world the scientist should find a method to prevent the most severe forms of autism but allow the milder forms to survive. After all, <br />the really social people did not invent the first stone spear. It was probably invented by an Aspie who chipped away at rocks while the other people socialized around the campfire. <br />Without autism traits, we might still be living in caves." <br />Temple Grandin<br />Thinking in Pictures, Expanded Edition: My Life with Autism<br />Click “A Conversation with Temple Grandin” to view the video about best practices for treating Autism. <br />
References<br />Autism Speaks, 2011. What is Autism. Retrieved from www.autismspeaks.org.<br />Bright Tots. (2011). Autism Rates. Retrieved from <br /> http://www.brighttots.com/Autism/Autism_rates_information.html<br />Centers for Disease Control, 2011. Facts about Autism Spectrum Disorders. Retrieved from<br /> www.cdc.gov<br />Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), 1994. <br /> Pervasive Developmental Disorders. Printed Washington, DC, 1994.<br />Grandin, T.(1995). Thinking in Pictures, Expanded Edition: My Life with Autism. New York, New York: Doubleday<br />Lovett, J. P. (2005). Solutions for adults with asperger's syndrome: Maximizing the benefits, <br /> minimizing the drawbacks to achieve success. Gloucester, Massachusetts: Fair Winds Press.<br />Mandell, D. S. (2005). Trends in Diagnosis Rates for Autism and ADHD at Hospital Discharge <br /> in the Context of Other Psychiatric Diagnoses . American Psychiatric Association. Retrieved from <br /> http://psychservices.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/56/1/56<br />
Shmukler, R. (2011, June 3). Shades of autism. Retrieved from Dynamic Therapy website: <br /> http://www.dynamictherapy.net/archives/index.php<br />Smith, F. (2008). Educators Deal with the Growing Problem of Autism. Edutopia. Retrieved <br /> From http://www.edutopia.org/autism-school-special-needs<br />Stillman, W. (2005). The everything parent’s guide to children with asperger’s syndrome: Help, <br />hope, and guidance. Avon, Massachusetts: Adams Media.<br />.<br />