Simon is a three year old boy who has been recently diagnosed with Autism. He and his family-which include his single father and two teenaged siblings are new to Toronto. As an ECE in Simon’s preschool room ,I have been asked advice about services in the area. Through my research I hope to provide resources for the family and ways in which I can support Simon and his family through this transition.References: Class notes
Simon’s communication difficulties can be seen in his primarily echolalic speech. Echolalia refers to the repetition of words. His behavioural challenges are seen in his low impulse control, which basically means he has a difficult time self-regulating behaviours and often acts before thinking his actions through.
All photos courtesy of Royalty Free Images- www.shuttershock.com
The severity of the impairment can range from individual to individual but classic Autism is generally considered the most severe developmental disorder on the Autism Spectrum.
References for Autism and the 5 Categories:www.autismsocietycanada.ca www.connectability.ca.
Often infants with RettSydrome develop typically and then stop developing some time during infancy and often lose previously developed skills.References for Autism and the 5 Categories:www.autismsocietycanada.ca www.connectability.ca.
I once heard this saying and it really struck me, “Once you’ve met one child with Autism, you’ve met one child with Autism.” This saying basically means that we should not and cannot place children into categories based on their diagnosis. Although it is important to do the research and be aware of typical aspects of the specific disorder, it is equally important to take the time to get to know each child individually in order to provide adequate and conducive support that will be beneficial to child and his or her family.
I believe that it is very important to listen to the parents regarding their children because they know their children better than anyone and they can provide us insight about their child that we may not otherwise get.
Some different observation strategies I may use are running record observations, time samples and event samples. From class discussions I have learned that event samples can be very beneficial when working with children who have special needs, especially ASD because many times certain behaviours are triggered by events such as transitions which can be especially difficult for children who have Autism.Resources: Class notes, www.connectability.ca
Many times these people will work together to create a profile of the child and their strengths, needs and characteristics and create a plan in order to support the child’s learning.Resources: www.connectability.ca
Through our observations we may be able to understand Simon’s learning style, whether he’s an auditory or visual learner and make adaptations to meet his needs.
Through class notes and discussions we have discussed the use of tokens or tangible objects as a “reward” system when working with children who have special needs, I think it is especially helpful to know what interests the child in order to maintain his interest.
These two characteristics were provided in Simon’s case study.References: www.connectability.ca
These characteristics are pretty common among many young children but especially heightened when considered many children with ASD.References: www.connectability.ca
I would work with Simon’s father and find out what he finds soothing at home and try to create a similar area in the centre for Simon to use if he feels over stimulated or wants some quiet time.References: Class notes, www.connectability.ca
The Geneva Centre for Autism can be contacted at http://www.autism.net/, or Tel: (416) 322-7877. Generally when contacting this centre you will go through an intake worker and they will assess eligibility and availability.
This website can be accessed at :http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/topics/specialneeds/autism/programs.aspx
A Little About AutismAutism Spectrum Disorder refers to a widerange of developmental disorders which rangefrom mild to severe or high to low functioning.There are five disorders that fall into theAutism spectrum and some commonalitiesbetween the five are :difficulties with socialinteractions, communication and behavioralchallenges.
5 Categories of Autism SpectrumDisorder• Classic Autism- This disorder can relate toimpairments in socializing and communication aswell as pose emotional and behaviouralchallenges. Symptoms are usually apparent bythree years old.• Pervasive Developmental Disorder- PDD isusually diagnosed when a child showsimpairments in a specific area but they don’tmeet a general classification of anotherdiagnosis.
• Asperger’s Syndrome-People who haveAspergers Syndromecommonly displayimpairments in socialinteractions and facechallengesunderstanding socialcues.• ChildhoodDisintegrative Disorder-This disorder occursbetween 2-4 years oldwhen children begin toregress and losepreviously acquiredskills such as pottytraining, social, motordevelopment andcommunication skills.5 Categories Continued…
• Rett Syndrome- Which most commonly occursin females is a disorder that is marked by poorhead growth, loss of motor skills, clapping handsand lack of eye contact.
Once you’ve met one child withAutism….You’ve met one child with Autism.
Ways in which we can support Simonand his family.• First it is important to understand the form ofAutism Simon has been diagnosed with andhis personal characteristics.• It is also very important to communicate withSimon’s father and learn about some of hisstrategies, suggestions, wants and needs forhis son.
ObservationI believe that observation is a crucial toolwhen working with all children but possiblyeven more important when working withchildren who have special needs. I will firstbegin by conducting formal and informalobservation strategies to gain a deeperunderstanding of Simon’s strengths,challenges and learning styles.
Building a Support TeamThere are many people that can worktogether to support Simon and his family.These people can include :Simon, Simon’s family, the ECEs who areworking in the child care centre, socialworkers, Simon’s physician, resourcespecialists, occupational therapists and speechtherapists.
How Simon LearnsIn Simon’s case study it was mentioned thathe is fascinated by wheels and cars, I thinkthat we could incorporate wheels and carsinto our activities and even use them as areward for attempting certain tasks.
Characteristics and Adaptations• Low impulse control• Echolalic Language• Use puppets, other propsor cues such as socialstories to help Simonunderstand how tocontrol his impulses andregulate his emotions.• Simon uses mainlyecholalic language andmay be responsive tovisual cues paired withverbal instruction andshort concise messages.
Other Common Characteristics andAdaptations.• Difficulties withtransitions• Feels most comfortablewith structure androutine.• We can create pictureboards that show Simonwhat is going to happennext and help preparehim for the transition.• Keep on task with dailyroutines and structuresand let Simon and hisfamily know ahead oftime if there will be anychanges.
Adaptations to the PhysicalEnvironmentConnectability.casuggests reducingdistractions in thephysical environment.We can also createcalming areas suited tochild where he can relaxand regroup.
Supporting Agencies in the G.T.AThe Geneva Centre for Autism is an agencythat provides fee based services to children,adults with ASD and their families in theToronto area.This agency provides many services such as,instructional therapy, speech therapy,physicians and more.
Ontario Ministry of Children and YouthServices.This is offered through the OntarioGovernment and available upon a doctor’sreferral. The services offered by the OntarioMinistry of Children and youth services aregovernment funded and include: AutismIntervention Programs, support services,information about summer camps andinformation, resources.
I think it is also important to consider Simon’s fatherand older siblings and provide the family withresources on localcommunity teen groups as well as adult communitygroups.Kerry’s Place Autism Services provides social supportgroups to families and caregivers of children withAutism.
Self EvaluationThis assignment was very interesting to me because Iam extremely interested in Autism Spectrum Disordersand I hope to one day work in the field of supportingpeople who have ASD. I found my greatest challengewith this assignment was time management because Ididn’t accurately predict the time that would go intoresearching ways to support Simon. Autism is very nearand dear to my heart and I was pleased to find so muchinformation was out there and available in regards toASD. I think my greatest strength in this assignmentwas my ability to consider Simon first and his diagnosissecond.