Autism Seminar Notes Part 6

At the seminar, Beth Aune, an occupational therapist, presented behavior solutions in and beyond the inclusive classroom. 

  • The growing emphasis on the inclusion of disabled students into the general education population. 
  • Over the past few decades, U.S. students enrolled in special education programs has risen (National Education Association) 
  • Three out of every four students with disabilities spend part of all of their day in a general education classroom (National Education Association)  

 

 

Common Labels

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Asperger’s syndrome 
  • Sensory Processing Disorder
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Tourette’s
  • Learning Disability 

 

 

Common Characteristics:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Distractibility and inattentiveness
  • Impulsivity
  • Difficulty with self-control
  • Emotional instability 
  • Poor peer relations and social interaction
  • Low self-image
  • Weak expressive and receptive language
  • Poor handwriting
  • Poor organizational skills 

 

 

What do Educators Need?

  • Please? No more boring theory!
  • Help me understand what I am seeing
  • Help me understand why it is happening
  • Give me tools to help my student 

 

 

Sensory Processing—A Review by Dr. Lucy Miller

Sensory processing refers how the CNS and the peripheral nervous system manage incoming sensory information. The reception, modulation, integration, and organization of sensory stimuli, including the behavioral responses to sensory input, are all components of sensory processing. 

 

 

Sensory Systems

  • Sight (visual)
  • Hearing (auditory)
  • Taste (gustatory)
  • Smell (olfactory)
  • Touch (tactile)
  • Movement (vestibular) 
  • Muscle awareness (proprioceptive)

 

 

Visual System

  • Most relied upon a sense for orientation in space
  • Receptors are in rods and cones in the retina
  • Mediates number of protective and postural responses 
  • Perceptual—how the brain interprets visual information
  • Motor—how the extraocular muscles work, including binocular (two eyes), tracking, and scanning

 

 

Auditory System 

  • Receptors are in the cochlea, transmitted from hair cells through cranial nerve
  • Has own set of reflexes related to protective behavior
  • Connects to the reticular formation
  • Evokes responses in the autonomic nervous system  

 

 

Gustatory System

  • Receptors are located in the tongue, soft palate, and upper regions of the throat
  • Sweet, sour, salty, bitter 
  • Chemical and somatosensory experience for eating and protection 

 

 

Olfactory System

  • Receptors are the specialized epithelium in the roof of the nasal cavity
  • Stimuli go directly into the amygdala of the limbic system 
  • May elicit emotional responses or primal behavior associated with survival  

 

 

Vestibular System

  • Works as a team with the visual system
  • Receptors are in the semicircular canals
  • Sensitive to head movement 
  • Rotary acceleration or declaration 
  • Utricle and saccule sense the direction of gravitational pull 

 

 

Tactile System

  • Receptors in the skin
  • Works with the proprioceptive system to influence development and awareness of body scheme
  • Two functions:
  1. Discriminative—touch, pressure, vibration. Tactile discrimination identifies spatial and temporal qualities of stimuli    
  2. Protective—produces sympathetic arousal and directs input to reticular formation. Pain, temperature, tickle, itch 

 

 

Proprioceptive System

  • Receptors are deep in muscle spindles, Golgi tendons, and joints
  • Understanding of where joints and muscles are in space 
  • Works with the vestibular system to give sense of balance and position 
  • Works with the tactile system to coordinate posture and movement of limbs 
  • Neck joints and proximal limb joints give most feedback to CNS
  • Powerful therapeutic tool! 

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