At the seminar, Beth Aune, an occupational therapist, presented behavior solutions in and beyond the inclusive classroom.
- 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 a disability spend part of all of their day in a general education classroom (National Education Association)
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Asperger’s syndrome
- Sensory Processing Disorder
- Learning Disability
- Distractibility and inattentiveness
- 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 to the way in which 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.
- Sight (visual)
- Hearing (auditory)
- Taste (gustatory)
- Smell (olfactory)
- Touch (tactile)
- Movement (vestibular)
- Muscle awareness (proprioceptive)
- Most relied upon sense for orientation in space
- Receptors are in rods and cones in the retina
- Mediates a 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
- 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
- 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
- Receptors are in 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
- 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
- Receptors in the skin
- Works with proprioceptive system to influence development and awareness of body scheme
- Two functions:
- Discriminative—touch, pressure, vibration. Tactile discrimination identifies spatial and temporal qualities of stimuli
- Protective—produces sympathetic arousal and directs input to reticular formation. Pain, temperature, tickle, itch
- Receptors are deep in muscle spindles, Golgi tendons, and joints
- Understanding of where joints and muscles are in space
- Works with vestibular system to give sense of balance and position
- Works with tactile system to coordinate posture and movement of limbs
- Neck joints and proximal limb joints give most feedback to CNS
- Powerful therapeutic tool!
Dr. Wendy Ross, a pediatrician founded a nonprofit company, Autism Inclusion Resources. The company teaches children with autism and their families skills that would make the world less scary. She was sad to hear stories about families avoiding social outings such as a ball game, a theme park, etc. in fear of having a disastrous outing. Ross also works with people who may encounter autistic individuals and their families. She educates stadium personnel, airline employees, and museum docents, making them aware of the challenges these families face.
For those who know or not, April is autism awareness month. People attend seminar, lectures, or festivals, raise money for awareness, teach the meaning of autism, etc.
This is a website about a shop worker who was isolated in a box for 100 hours to raise autism awareness:
Discrimination is wrong! People should be very tolerant of people with autusm and treat them with respect and dignity. People with autism are not animals or robots or weird people. They’re human beings, like us. Society should be more accepting.
High-functioning autism and Asperger’s Syndrome are both part of the autism spectrum. There are a few differences. In the language development dept., people with Asperger syndrome will not have had delayed language development when younger. Sometimes, the two diagnoses are given on an almost interchangeable basis.
The term ‘autism’ has an unusual history. It was originally coined by a psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler in 1911 to describe what he perceived as one of the key symptoms of schizophrenia, that of social withdrawal. Autism, literally meaning ‘selfism’, seemed to him to describe the active detachment which affected many of his patients. In the 1940s, when Leo Kanner in America and Hans Asperger in Austria were both beginning to identify the existence of autism they separately stumbled on this term which they felt described what they were witnessing in the children they were treating. Kanner started from the premise that these children were experiencing childhood schizophrenia. In time, he became aware that they were not exhibiting all the symptoms of schizophrenia and used the phrase ‘infantile autism’ to describe their condition. Asperger identified a personality disorder affecting some of the children referred to his child psychiatry clinic which he felt was described, albeit imperfectly, by the term autism. His acute identification of autism was extraordinarily ahead of its time considering he was among the first people to chart it. Unlike schizophrenic patients, children with autism do not show a disintegration of personality. They are not psychotic; instead they show a greater or lesser degree of autism.
Kanner, an American, wrote in English. His paper was published in the UK where it gained a lot of attention. The term ‘infantile autism’ became increasingly widely used in the 1950s and 60s, more and more children were diagnosed with the condition. In the English-speaking world, the work of Hans Asperger was largely ignored. However, in Europe, he continued to conduct research and have an influence over child psychiatry.
We don’t know if Kanner was ever aware of the work of Asperger, but we do know that Asperger in later years read about the work of Leo Kanner. He argued, albeit unconvincingly, that they had identified separate syndromes with a great overlap. Other academics began to argue that Asperger’s and Kanner’s autism were the same syndrome. Most notably Judith Gould and Lorna Wing in their ground-breaking study in Camberwell in the late 1970s came to the conclusion that autism existed on a continuum. In 1981, Lorna Wing used the phrase ‘Asperger syndrome’ in a research paper to describe a distinct sub-group of patients that she had been seeing. The term became much more widely used in the English-speaking world as a result. Some professionals have felt that Asperger syndrome is a more acceptable diagnosis from the point of view of parents. They argue that there is a social stigma attached to autism which is not attached to the term Asperger syndrome.
- Level of cognitive functioning: The view that Asperger syndrome is autism without any additional learning disability is helpful from the diagnostic point of view as it is fairly easy to make a distinction in these circumstances. However, Asperger himself said that there might be unusual circumstances where a person could present the symptoms of Asperger syndrome with additional learning disability. It is widely recognized that high-functioning autism cannot occur in someone with an IQ below 65-70.
- Motor skills: In recent years, the view that Asperger syndrome can only occur when there are additional difficulties with motor skills has become more prominent. Certainly Asperger himself was well aware of the prevalence of motor skill problems in the group of people he tried to describe. It seems likely that most children with Asperger syndrome experience poor co-ordination and difficulties with fine motor control. However, many children with higher functioning autism will also have difficulties in these areas.
- Language development: This is the area that probably causes the greatest controversy. Both ICD-10 and DSM-IV1 state that for a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, spoken language development must be normal. Children with high-functioning autism may have had significant language delay. However, Asperger’s original descriptions of the condition stated that speech and language peculiarities are a key feature of Asperger syndrome. Often diagnoses of Asperger syndrome are made when a child is quite old and they or their parents may have difficulty remembering the details of their language development.
- Age of onset: A diagnosis of high-functioning autism and one of Asperger syndrome can be made in the same individual at different stages of development. Occasionally, a child has been diagnosed with high-functioning autism in early childhood and this diagnosis has been changed to Asperger syndrome when they started school. Some diagnosticians are clearly of the view that Asperger syndrome cannot be diagnosed before a child starts school. However, this is largely because areas such as social skills deficits may not become apparent until a child spends a lot of time in social settings.
- Both people with high-functioning autism and Asperger syndrome are affected by the ‘triad of impairments’ common to all people with autism.
- Both groups are likely to be of average or above average intelligence.
- The debate as to whether we need two diagnostic terms is ongoing.
- However, there may be features such as age of onset and motor skill deficits which differentiate the two conditions.If you or your son or daughter has recently been given a diagnosis of either high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome then it is worth checking what criteria the diagnostician was using.
- Although it is frustrating to be given a diagnosis which has yet to be clearly defined it is worth remembering that the fundamental presentation of the two conditions is largely the same. This means that treatments, therapies and educational approaches should also be largely similar. At the same time, all people with autism or Asperger syndrome are unique and have their own special skills and abilities. These deserve as much recognition as the areas they have difficulty in.
- What distinguishes Asperger’s syndrome from autism is the severity of the symptoms and the absence of language delays. Children with Asperger’s syndrome may be only mildly affected and frequently have good language and cognitive skills. To the untrained observer, a child with Asperger’s syndrome may just seem like a normal child behaving differently.
- Children with autism are frequently seen as aloof and uninterested in others. This is not the case with Asperger’s syndrome. Individuals with Asperger’s syndrome usually want to fit in and have interaction with others; they simply don’t know how to do it. They may be socially awkward, not understand conventional social rules, or may show a lack of empathy. They may have limited eye contact, seem to be unengaged in a conversation, and not understand the use of gestures. However, the fact that some persons with Asperger’s may make eye contact does not rule out the diagnosis for them. Therefore, a child who can make eye contact could still have Asperger’s syndrome.
- Interests in a particular subject may border on the obsessive. Children with Asperger’s syndrome frequently like to collect categories of things, such as rocks or bottle caps. They may be proficient in knowing categories of information, such as baseball statistics or Latin names of flowers.While they may have good rote memory skills, they may have difficulty with abstract concepts.
- One of the major differences between Asperger’s syndrome and autism is that, by definition, there is no speech delay in Asperger’s. In fact, children with Asperger’s syndrome frequently have a large vocabulary and can talk a lot; they simply use language in different ways. Speech patterns may be unusual, lack inflection, or have a rhythmic nature or they may be formal, but too loud, too quiet, or high pitched. Sometimes their speech can be informal when it needs to be formal, or vice versa. They also may not be able to communicate the message that is most important, especially when they are stressed or upset.
- Children with Asperger’s may not understand the subtleties of language, such as irony and humor, or they may not understand the give and take nature of a conversation. Another distinction between Asperger’s syndrome and autism concerns cognitive ability. While some individuals with autism experience cognitive delay, by definition a person with Asperger’s cannot possess a “clinically significant” cognitive delay and most possess an average to above average intelligence. While motor difficulties are not a specific criteria for Asperger’s, children with Asperger’s syndrome frequently have motor skill delays and may appear clumsy or awkward.