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  1. 1. Through the Eyes of a Child Conference November 12, 2009 Brian Johnson, Education Consultant - Autism Marge Resan, School Administration Consultant Special Education Team Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Nuts and Bolts: Autism Spectrum Disorders
  2. 2. Meet WillMeet Will November 12, 20092
  3. 3. Meet Will November 12, 20093 Will is currently 7 years old, the middle child in a family living in an mid-sized community inWisconsin. Will was a content, quiet infant. Some described him as withdrawn. Will’s speech development was delayed; however, once he began to speak he exhibited advanced vocabulary.
  4. 4. Meet Will November 12, 20094 When he was 3 years old,Will began expressing extreme interest in carrots. He did not like to eat carrots; rather he liked to talk about carrots, hold carrots, draw carrots, make Play-Doh carrots, etc. Will REALLY enjoyed talking about carrots – all the time -to the exclusion of other topics.
  5. 5. Meet Will November 12, 20095 Will’s parents became concerned about his extreme love of carrots. Will also became easily frustrated, and would occasionally become so upset he hurt himself by banging his head or scratching his tummy until it bled. Will’s parents took him to see his pediatrician, who referred them to a pediatric neurologist.
  6. 6. Meet Will November 12, 20096 The pediatric neurologist took a health history, ruled out seizure activity, and administered some screening tests. Will was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.
  7. 7. Meet Will November 12, 20097 Will’s parents were told he might benefit from occupational therapy, speech therapy and other interventions. However,Will’s parents found out their insurance did not cover these kinds of interventions. Will’s pediatrician told his parents the county would help them obtain services.
  8. 8. Meet Will November 12, 20098 The county early intervention program assessedWill, and determined he was too high functioning to qualify for any kind of services. The county assuredWill’s parents their school district would helpWill.
  9. 9. Meet Will November 12, 20099 Will’s parents took him to a screening program through the school district. The schools learnedWill was a very smart little boy, but agreed he had some confusing behaviors. They placed him in aTitle I preschool program.
  10. 10. Meet Will November 12, 200910 EventuallyWill’s parents referred him for a special education evaluation by an Individualized Education Program (IEP) team at his school. Will’s parents provided the IEP team information from his pediatrician, the neurologist, and the county evaluators. The school staff conducted observations and did lots of testing.
  11. 11. Meet Will November 12, 200911 Will’s parents hoped he would finally get some of the therapies that could help him. However, the IEP team determinedWill did not qualify for special education and did not need services.
  12. 12. What’s the moral of Will’s story?What’s the moral of Will’s story? November 12, 200912 Support systems (medical, social, educational) operate for different purposes and often don’t speak the same language. Parents and families must learn “on-the-fly” to navigate complex systems, often without much help. This can lead to great confusion and stress for families and systems alike.
  13. 13. Autism Spectrum Disorders November 12, 200913 Continuum Wide variability Neurological Disorder Physical differences in the brain Wide Continuum Range of Severity Facts: Prevalence rate is dependent on study: National Children's Health Survey Report FindsAutism Prevalence Now 1 in 91 1 in 150 children (1 in 94 boys)
  14. 14. November 12, 200914
  15. 15. Video November 12, 200915 http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm? fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=10239671
  16. 16. Medical versus Educational Eligibility November 12, 200916 Medical Determination Not required to determine whether a student meets eligibility criteria for the educational impairment area of autism. If medical information is available, it should be considered as part of a districts evaluation but must not be the sole component. Not mutually exclusive Do not have to have a medical determination to have an educational determination nor do you have to have an educational determination to have a medical determination.
  17. 17. Educational Determination November 12, 200917 IEP teams make the eligibility determinations for an educational impairment of autism. IEP teams do not make medical diagnosis.
  18. 18. Characteristics November 12, 200918 Autism affects socialization. Autism impairs one’s ability to Communicate; affecting Receptive Language, Expressive Language and Pragmatic or Social Language abilities. Autism may affect motor development. Autism may affect the “thinking process.” Autism may affect the entire sensory system. Autism may affect behavioral repertoire.
  19. 19. Characteristics November 12, 200919 Social Participation The child displays difficulties or differences or both in interacting with people and events.The child may be unable to establish and maintain reciprocal relationships with people.The child may seek consistency in environmental events to the point of exhibiting rigidity in routines.
  20. 20. Examples November 12, 200920 This is NOT because the child doesn’t want social interaction JER: all I wanted was a girlfriend Rigidity in routine, following a schedule Communication difficulties Initiation or maintaining interactions http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zIY6DQSlbY
  21. 21. Characteristics November 12, 200921 Communication The child displays problems which extend beyond speech and language to other aspects of social communication,both receptively and expressively.The child’s verbal language may be absent or,if present,lacks the usual communicative form which may involve deviance or delay or both.The child may have a speech or language disorder or both in addition to communication difficulties associated with autism.
  22. 22. Examples November 12, 200922 Communication is everything! Non-verbal Echolalia Expressed through behavior Highly verbal with excellent vocabulary Problems may arise in both receptive and expressive language or individually
  23. 23. Characteristics November 12, 200923 Developmental Rates and Sequences The child exhibits delays,arrests,or regressions in motor,sensory, social,or learning skills.The child may exhibit precocious or advanced skill development,while other skills may develop at normal or extremely depressed rates.The child may not follow normal developmental patterns in the acquisit ion of skills.
  24. 24. Examples November 12, 200924 Usually involves splintering skills Clear strengths and weaknesses Usually do not follow a normal developmental pattern or progression Early signs No looking at faces and smiling back by four months No big smiles and joyful expressions with gaze by six months. No back and forth sharing of sounds, smiles, and other facial expressions by nine months of age No reciprocal gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving by twelve months of age. No babbling by twelve months of age. Any loss of language or social skills at any age.
  25. 25. Characteristics November 12, 200925 Cognition The child exhibits abnormalities in the thinking process and in generalizing.The child exhibits strengths in concrete thinking while difficulties are demonstrated in abstract thinking,awareness,and judgment.Perseverant thinking and impaired ability to process symbolic information may be present.
  26. 26. Examples November 12, 200926 Concrete and literal understanding Difficulty with executive functioning skills, i.e. attending, problem solving, organizing, prioritizing, and generalizing. Academic difficulties (despite intellectual ability) Critical thinking (comparing and contrasting, discerning main ideas, sequencing, organizing, etc.)
  27. 27. Characteristics November 12, 200927 Sensory Processing The child exhibits unusual,inconsistent,repetitive or unconventional responses to sounds,sights,smells,tastes,touch,or movement.The child may have a visual or hearing impairment or both in addition to sensory processing difficulties associated with autism.
  28. 28. Examples November 12, 200928 May exhibit hypersensitivity (over sensitivity or sensory aversion) May exhibit hyposensitivity (under sensitivity or sensory seeking) OT skills are critical! Inability to be able to function Can manifest through behavior Should be incorporated as part of day
  29. 29. Characteristics November 12, 200929 Behavioral Repertoire The child displays marked distress over changes,insistence on following routines,and a persistent preoccupation with or attachment to objects.The child’s capacity to use objects in an age-appropriate or functional manner may be absent,arrested or delayed.The child may have difficulty displaying a range of interests or imaginative activities or both.The child may exhibit stereotyped body movements.
  30. 30. Strategies for School and Home November 12, 200930 Communication Systems Social Stories Power Cards Predictability/Routine Use concrete and visual cues as much as possible Evidence Based Practices www.autisminternetmodules.org
  31. 31. Professional Development Building the Local Capacity for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders withinWisconsin Schools Webinars and Face-to-FaceTrainings www.dpi.wi.gov/sped/autism.html
  32. 32. Contact Information November 12, 200932 Brian Johnson Education Consultant,Autism brian.johnson@dpi.wi.gov 608-266-3648

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