The Basics of AutismSpectrum Disorders Training Series RAAC Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders Task Force
Adult Training Series Modules Module One: Autism Defined, Autism Prevalence and Primary Characteristics Module Two: Physical Characteristics of Autism Module Three: Cognition and Learning in Autism Module Four: Autism and Sensory Differences Module Five: Communication and Autism
Adult Training Series Modules Module Six: Behavior Challenges and Autism Module Seven: Understanding Behavior in Persons with Autism Module Eight: Functional Behavior Assessment Module Nine: Autism and Leisure Skills to Teach Module Ten: Special Issues of Adolescence and Adulthood Module Eleven: Safety and Autism
Challenges of Adolescence and Adulthood: BehaviorBehavior: Generally adults with ASD do not acquire new behavior problems but old ones may reappear. During adolescence there may be an increase in aggressive behaviors. Adults with ASD are more likely to have behavior problems than many other people with developmental disabilities.
Challenges of Adolescence and Adulthood: Anxiety• Anxiety often gets worse as the person gets older.• A quiet time or a quieting routine may be helpful if anxiety seems high.• Teach relaxation exercises as part of the daily routine.• Let them know when there are changes in schedule or activities.• Medications for anxiety may be prescribed.• Physical exercise may be calming.
Challenges of Adolescence and Adulthood: Sexuality Some behaviors may be seen as sexually inappropriate even if the person didn’t intend for them to be. For example, the person with ASD may not understand how staring, undoing pants on the way to the bathroom, leaving the bathroom door open, staring in windows, saying inappropriate things bothers others. We will have to teach behaviors that are acceptable.
Autism and Sexuality Sex and sexuality is a hard topic, especially related to individuals with ASD, and one that we might rather avoid. Sexuality is an integral part of the personality of everyone. Avoiding discussion and active teaching about sexuality can hurt individuals in the long-term if it is not addressed openly and honestly. As with other social skills or interactions, the individual with autism is not going to learn the cultural rules or norms about sex without being directly instructed. Program staff need to be in partnership with family members as sexuality issues are addressed.
Big IdeaInappropriate sexual behavior needs tobe treated as we would any otherbehavior. We need to be matter-of-factwhen dealing with these behaviors. Weneed to teach appropriate behavior.
Myths About Sexuality and the Individual with AutismPersons with ASD have little or no interest in sexuality.Persons with ASD are hypersexual, or have an higher than normal interest in sex.Persons with ASD are solely heterosexual.
The Truth Is….. Persons with ASD are sexual beings, as are all of us. Individuals with ASD may have sexual feelings that are out-of-sync with their level of social development and awareness. As individuals with autism grow older, their social and sexual skills sets are likely to show a wider difference from their chronological age and appearance. Other people will base their expectations on their chronological age, NOT their developmental age.
Guidelines to Teaching Sexuality Think ahead and be proactive. Do not wait until the individual demonstrates an “inappropriate” sexual behavior. Be concrete. Be serious, calm, and supportive. Break larger areas of information into smaller, more manageable ideas. Be consistent and be repetitive.
Big IdeaSexuality Education increases thelikelihood that people with disabilitieswill either have the skills to staysafe, or will be more likely to reportvictimization after it occurs.
Challenges of Adolescence and Adulthood: Medications There is no “Autism” medicine. Medicine is used to target specific symptoms. Doctors may use a trial and error approach to find the right medicine and the correct dose.
Challenges of Adolescence and Adulthood: MedicationsSymptoms that are sometimes targeted: Obsessive-compulsive behaviors Anxiety Aggression Seizures Hyperactivity/Attention
Big IdeaYou need to clearly describe thesymptoms in order to help thedoctor know how to treat theproblem.
Challenges of Adolescence and Adulthood: Regular Check-ups The person with ASD needs regular medical check- ups. Vaccinations need to be up-to-date. Blood pressure needs to be checked yearly (more often if the person has a blood pressure problem). Weight needs to be checked regularly to make sure there are no rapid weight gains or losses.
Challenges of Adolescence and Adulthood: Regular Check-ups Women need to have yearly visits with the gynecologist. Regular dental check-ups are important. Special arrangements may have to be made for these visits. Procedures like drawing blood or medical tests may need special planning.
Challenges of Adolescence andAdulthood: Everyday Precautions Skin should be examined for unusual growths or moles (make sure the person wears sunscreen). Any changes in bowel or bladder habits should be reported. Listen for loud snoring and gasping for breath during sleep. Many people with ASD have sleep apnea. This may need to be treated.
Big IdeaPeople with ASD will experience many ofthe problems of aging that we all face.The challenge is that they may not beable to tell us about the symptoms theyare experiencing.
Challenges of Adolescence and Adulthood: Physical Activity Some people with ASD may not be self-motivated by physical exercise but may be motivated by a favorite activity. The person may like certain activities such as swimming, horseback riding, Karate. A daily walking program could provide necessary physical activity.
Big Idea Physical activity isnecessary for a healthy life style.