Saturday, April 28, 2012

Symptoms of High-Functioning Autism

My first recollection of autism is connected to watching the 'Rainman' movie and thinking about what happened to that brilliant child on the screen. On one hand, so talented on the other so restricted. My next close encounter with the disorder took place when my daughter became a teacher for disabled kids ages seven through ten. I still remember that night when she came back home from school, I looked at her face and knew something tragic must have happen. She shared with me her experience with one of her students diagnosed with autism. Now she brings home the knowledge and awareness that I would not have otherwise. As with all critical occurrences, there is no one single description of the disorder or the cure of it.
Autism is in fact the core condition of a spectrum of disorders, which all share common characteristics and are demonstrated in very diverse ways within each individual.
Autism is a major disability, affecting communication and interaction with other people, but also with the world.
The degree of autism varies from severe to mild, but the consequence is always serious. Accordingly, someone with autism may have severe autism with severe additional learning difficulties, while others may have mild degrees of autism with normal or high levels of intelligence. The majority of those affected by autism have learning disabilities. Their language development varies greatly. Some may have very good speech, although lacking full comprehension, while a significant portion of those with autism will have no spoken language. Many may be hypersensitive to noise, light, touch or smell, and under-react to pain.
The particular causes of autism are not known; we do know however that it is a biologically based disorder affecting the brain development. The patterns of disorderly behavior do not emerge until the child is between 18 months and 3 years old. At times there is a period of seemingly normal development and then, between 18 months and 3 years, the child gives the impression to withdraw and lose skills. We do know that parents are not to blame for autism, but, actually, are the child's greatest resource.
As for the common signs of autism - those are social, communication and behavior. Autism is displayed in social settings, verbal communication, nonverbal communication, development of imagination and resistance to change of a routine.
Here are examples of such behaviors. Affected kid shows indifference; he or she joins activities with others only if adult insists and assists. The interactions in social settings are one sided. He or she indicates need by using an adult's hand, does not play with other children, talks consistently only about one topic, displays bizarre behavior. Very common is echolalia, when the child copies words. Laughing or giggling comes up in the most inappropriate times. There is no eye contact, variety is not spice of life, and there is lack of creative (pretend) play.
Some of the affected kids can do some things very well and very quickly, but those never involve social interaction. Early diagnosis of such condition is crucial in order to minimize the problems and maximize the full potential of the person.
I cannot tell if the explosion of autism since 1980 has been triggered by our ability to diagnose or by the actual changes in the fetus and baby development caused by the overdose of chemicals. I know though, that we managed to register 77,000 artificial food additives since 1940 and that an average American consumes 14 pounds of chemicals with their food per year. The results of these statistics cannot be ignored by our bodies. Simple reality check: if you would not put something into your fish tank, don't stick it in your body.
Maybe it will not happen to eliminate autism, but it will definitely help our health and the world.
In the mean time I would like to invite you to gain more information about the early detection of the disorder and ways to gain control of the situation.
Be am amazed with the value of experience that comes from a simple heart to heart conversation. Yes, when the words are missing, hearts talk. Breathe in the magnificence of life and breathe out the passion for love so others can be poisoned with it.
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The Perfect ABA Classroom

ABA is bigger than Autism.
ABA is not just a reputable and empirically supported treatment method for managing the symptoms of Autism. It's much larger than that.
B.F. Skinner, the father of Operant Conditioning wrote in the book "Walden Two" about a fictional society based on everyday application of behavioral sciences. Skinner spent most of his life trying to make people understand that applying behavioral principles to everyday life could only improve society. At the time, Skinner's writings were considered odd and unrealistic. Public opinion today hasn't changed that much.
People still have the misconception that ABA is just for people with Autism. Or ABA is just about making bad kids behave.
ABA is for anyone who wants to improve, manage, or reduce behaviors, and a behavior is any observable and measurable action. ABA is defined as: applying behavioral constructs and theories to significant social problems. So by definition, ABA is bigger than Autism because it is meant to address any significant social problem.
Behavior Specialists or BCBA's arent "Autism Experts". There are some BCBA's who have never worked with anyone with Autism and have no desire to. Being an ABA professional means you study and seek to understand behavior and you have a responsibility to share behavioral knowledge with anyone who could benefit from it. That could be a business, an adult with OCD, or a school district.
ABA at its core is a way to teach. I'm not a teacher, but much of what I do involves helping individuals learn. If I am working with a 5 year old who bites his fingers whenever he feels anxious, it is my job to teach that child replacement behaviors to handle his anxiety so he will stop biting himself. All great ABA therapists are great teachers. What would really be amazing is if all great teachers were also trained in basic ABA.
If ABA wasn't viewed as just an "Autism thing", maybe schools would realize how valuable ABA knowledge would be for ANY educator.
What would classrooms look like if ABA was just seen as a standard of excellence in education?
ABA Principle Reinforcement - All children would be motivated to learn based on the specific interests of that child. Internal as well as external rewards would be used so that children would have fun learning and enjoy school. Any time a child displayed learning difficulties or showed disinterest in school, their reinforcement package would be re-evaluated for effectiveness.
ABA Principle Differentiated Instruction- Children would have modified curriculum based on how they learn best. Some children may write vocabulary words on the chalkboard, while other children might type their vocabulary words on the classroom computer. It would depend on the way each individual child learns.
ABA Principle Environment is Key to Understanding Behavior- Children displaying behavioral issues would not be viewed as stupid, bad, or stubborn. The environment, such as teaching style, reinforcement, or an over-stimulating classroom, would be closely examined to look for factors maintaining poor behaviors. The ICEL method would be used so that the student is the last option to consider when learning problems happen.
ABA Principle Analysis of Data- Ongoing data analysis would be part of all curriculum, so teachers would know when a student needed new challenges or might need simpler tasks. Children in special education would be moved into inclusion classrooms based on performance data, and not based on administration preferences, or teacher opinion. This focus on not just collecting, but actually analyzing data would lead to higher accountability for teachers, districts, and administration.
ABA Principle Prompting & Fading- Prompting would be used to move a child from not knowing a skill, to knowing a skill. Prompt levels would vary depending on how much help the child needs, and reinforcement would increase as prompts decreased to encourage the child to desire to complete the task independently. All classrooms would use various prompting tools suited to the individual child so that each student in the classroom is performing to the best of their ability. For example students performing poorly in math would be allowed to take tests with calculators, and be paired with a higher performing student during independent task time. Any implemented prompts would be faded out eventually to prevent prompt dependency.
ABA Principle Conceptually Systematic- Conceptually systematic classrooms would have interventions and curriculum rooted in science. Science and research would drive critical decisions, not opinions, political hot topics, mandated testing requirements, or teacher preferences.
ABA Principle Behavior Management- ALL teachers would be trained in behavior management techniques. This would ensure more confident teachers who are thoroughly equipped to handle mild, moderate, or severe behaviors, and would reduce the need to shuttle children with behavioral problems into special education classrooms. All teachers would know how to conduct a FBA, create a behavioral intervention, and use EO to know when a student is highly motivated to learn.
ABA Principle Generalization & Maintenance- Curriculum content would be taught in multiple environments for all children to encourage retaining of information, and so the children can apply what has been learned. PE skills would be reinforced during recess time. English skills would be reinforced on field trips. Math skills would be reinforced in Art class. Review of previously learned skills would be embedded into the school day to ensure children are not regressing and to alert teachers if old material needs to be re-visited. Students who tend to lose old information more quickly than others will have their instruction modified to include more maintenance tasks.
ABA Principle 1:1 Ratio- Children would receive much of their instruction in a 1:1 or small group format (less than 5 children). The ratio would be kept small until the child has grasped the concept and is demonstrating learning, after that point large group instruction (more than 5 children) can be introduced for generalization, and social purposes. Classrooms would be smaller, and children would be divided into small groups based on ability and performance level.
ABA is for everybody. If educators, Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists, etc., all had even a basic understanding of ABA it would only improve upon the services they offer and increase the quality of their instruction.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Understanding School Autism Training

You may know that teachers and educators are usually obliged to take ongoing classes or courses. This might fall under the description of continuing educational units, or even help them to qualify for an advanced degree. Interestingly enough, educators and even many parents can benefit tremendously from alternative training too. Just consider the immense value of school Autism training.
This is an organized way for educators to learn the best policies and practices for supporting their students with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders). School Autism training will usually help educators to understand the alternative approaches necessary for students with any of the Autism disorders. Remember, Autism is not a standard condition and it is found in a diversity of forms and levels of severity. Some students may have only a mild range of symptoms and others may have a wide range of difficulties with communications, socialization, and repetitive behaviors.
Clearly, the student who cannot learn in the same manner as a majority of the other students in a classroom is going to need teachers and classroom staff with additional skills. Because the standard guidelines for most schools are geared towards inclusiveness, it means that school Autism training can be easily seen as relatively essential.
A lot of teachers and educators worry, however that school Autism training will be too difficult to manage or too comprehensive to demand of their already busy teachers and staff. Fortunately, there are training systems that utilize today's most convenient technologies. For example, video instructional courses, printed manuals and workbooks and online access to questions and answers are all part of the best programs.
It is also important to note that a very good or high-quality program will make itself available to more than just the teaching or educational industry. For instance, many parents of children with ASD simply cannot afford the kind of extracurricular or advanced teaching and training that would be so beneficial to their child or their children. A good training system, however, will make all of the materials available to parents as well as teachers. In fact, some of the best actually design specialized courses for parents who hope to intervene as soon as a diagnosis is made.
This is actually one of the critical issues where ASD is concerned because the sooner the child begins to learn how to overcome the symptoms of their condition, the better the results. This usually means that parents who deal with pre-school age children are the most likely to have success, and a home-based program is a very powerful tool for them to use.
Garrett Butch is the father of a 6 year old with autism and the founder of Maximum Potential Group.
Maximum Potential has developed courses that train parents, therapists and school systems how to work with children with autism.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How To Write ABA Programs

The programs to be taught are the meat of any ABA program. WHAT you teach are the skills (which typically come from deficits discovered during assessment), WHO teaches is usually an ABA therapist or a parent, and HOW you teach are the actual programs. You need an ABA program if you are trying to teach a skill in a structured, intensive way.
ABA therapists aren't the only ones who need to know how to write programs. Parents also can benefit from this knowledge, especially if you are a parent providing ABA therapy to your child. I write programs for all kinds of skills: brushing teeth, greeting people, table manners, potty training, sharing, counting, reading, one step instruction, etc. I typically use the ABBLS-R assessment tool, which then guides my program writing. I will refer to the ABBLS-R in this post simply because it is the tool I use the most. Some people use other assessment tools, such as the VB-MAPP, or they just go straight into program writing without doing an assessment. If you are unfamiliar with assessment, check out my post about the ABBLS-R which gives a general overview. I have my own program writing style that has evolved over the years. It isn't unusual for 2 different professionals to take the same goal and teach it in two different ways. For every goal you can think of, there are multiple ways to take the child from not knowing the skill, to knowing the skill. Program writing is definitely a skill that takes time to learn, but understanding the basic steps makes the process much easier.
Program Writing Steps
Prioritize what to teach first: After you assess the child you are left with an inventory of their strengths and deficits. After completing the full ABBLS-R, you could have an inventory of 145 strengths and 160 deficits. This large inventory is then narrowed down into specific skills to begin teaching. This process is child specific, because it will vary depending on the child's age, level of functioning, issues most important to the family, is the child in school or not, etc. The programs I write for a nonverbal 2 year old will be very different from the programs I write for a high functioning 14 year old. How many skills you select will also vary, but typically you want to consider the child's ability to work for extended periods of time, and how many hours of therapy per week the child is receiving. If a child only gets 3 hours of ABA per week, they don't have enough time to work on 25 programs. Or if a child is 3 years old and isn't even able to sit in a chair yet, its unrealistic to write 30 programs for them. There also is somewhat of a hierarchy of needs to address. Its more critical that a child be able to communicate, than ride a bike. When in doubt, make skill deficits that impact communication or inhibit learning the most important. Be conservative when selecting programs, you can always add more later on. Consider all of these factors and narrow your skill inventory down to the programs you will start teaching first.
Write an objective for each program: Think of the objective as your long term goal, and keep it broad. The objective is what you ultimately want the child to be able to do. "Child will be able to share with peers" is an objective. "Child will allow a peer to touch an item they are holding for 3 seconds" is not an objective. Each program needs its own objective, or its own long term goal. The objective also leads directly into the specific active targets.
Each objective needs an active targets list: Now is when you think about small, specific goals. There are two types of targets: active and mastered. An active target is what you are currently working on, and includes skills the child does not know yet. A mastered target is a skill the child has been taught, or already knows at the time of assessment. If the objective is "Child will be able to share with peers", then the active targets are the small steps towards that goal. Look at the objective you created, and then think of how you can break it down into small, discrete steps. If you are using the ABBLS-R it will actually list an objective and a few active targets for each skill. There is also an appendix in the back of the ABBLS-R manual that lists sample active targets. For example, imagine you want to teach a child to know what her body parts are. There are two ways she can demonstrate "knowing", either receptively or expressively. For receptive identification of body parts, you would teach the child to point to their body parts on command. Your active target list could include: Head, Tummy, Leg, Knee, Foot, Ear, etc.
Decide on your measurement of mastery: In order to get a child to a point of mastery, you need to decide how they will demonstrate to you that they are competent in a skill. Typically, most ABA programs use the standard of "80% or higher across 3 consecutive sessions". This means that the child needs to get above a 79% out of 100% for three different ABA sessions before the target is considered mastered. However, sometimes you need to use a different measurement system. If I am teaching a child to brush his teeth using backward chaining, then I am going to measure mastery by how many prompts the child needs to perform the task. Or if I am teaching a child to play with toys appropriately, I am going to measure mastery by timing how long they interact with the toy appropriately without any prompting from me. Your objective will help you decide how to measure for mastery.
Plan for maintenance of mastered targets: It isn't enough to write a program, teach a skill, and then move on to the next program. A common characteristic of Autism is difficulty generalizing skills, which over time can cause a learned skill to be forgotten. When writing a program you need to be thinking "How will I generalize this skill to various settings, materials, people, etc?", and "How will I put this skill into maintenance, once it has been mastered?" There are many ways to plan for generalization and maintenance. A way I regularly plan for generalization is to "Teach Loosely". Teaching loosely means that I will intentionally vary where I teach, when I teach, the materials I use, and (if possible) who does the teaching. I will teach waving not just when I arrive at the child's house, but at the therapy table, during breaks, at the playground, when I visit them at school, and I will encourage the parents to work on this skill as well. All of these small changes when combined make it much easier for a child to generalize a skill. A favorite technique I like to use for maintenance is: Get a small card filing box. Take a stack of index cards and write a mastered target on each card. During each session, grab a few cards out of the box and ask the child a mastered target. If they still have the skill, move on to the next card. If they do not still have the skill, take the card out of the box as it may need to be taught again. At the end of the session put the cards you used in the back of the box so you will pull different cards the next day. The great thing about this technique is anyone can do it. I love using strategies that the whole household can implement. If the child gets a new babysitter who doesn't know how to engage them, give the babysitter the box of mastered targets and a few reinforcers. If you are taking the child to the dentist and know they will have difficulty calmly waiting for their appointment, bring along the box of mastered targets and a few reinforcers. This way you can work on maintenance of skills no matter where you are and everything in the box is mastered so it should be very easy for the child.
This may seem like a LOT of work, and it is:-)
However it isn't impossible to learn how to write programs. There are also many resources out there for parents or professionals to use that will guide program writing, or even write the programs for you. If you would like some web resources, or computer software programs that write the programs for you then I would suggest doing an internet search. Two resources I can recommend are the Catherine Maurice guide, and the webABBLS. The webABBLS is a completely online version of the ABBLS-R assessment tool, and you plug in your child's strengths and deficits and then print out pre-written programs. I know many parents who use this tool. These software and online tools can be very helpful for parents or professionals who have limited training and need to write ABA programs. However, problems can arise when using "automated" tools like these if you don't understand how to tweak or modify programs. I have clients who use software programs that allow them to print out fully completed ABA programs, but I look over their programs and realize they are teaching two hierarchical skills at the same time. Or the child is lacking the prerequisite skills to learn something, and that is why they have made no progress in 6 weeks. So in other words, don't expect shortcuts. It is fine to use software or books/manuals to help you write programs, but be aware that you still may need professional help from an ABA professional to fine tune or modify the programs...especially if the child regresses or gets stuck on a certain skill.
Here are some helpful program writing tips that I have learned over the years:
The program should be clearly written in simple language. It should be so easy to understand that someone who doesn't know your child could read the program and start teaching right away.
The objective and active targets should always be compared with same age peers. If you want to teach your 4 year old to sit and attend, your benchmark to setting goals should be other 4 year olds. Its unrealistic to try and teach a 4 year old with Autism to sit and attend for an hour, because you wouldn't expect that from a typical 4 year old. Especially with academic goals such as reading and math, I always consider what a typical child of the same age would be expected to do.
Do not underestimate the importance of maintenance. If your child has been receiving ABA therapy for 3 years, when was the last time you asked them a target that they learned 2 years ago? How about 1 year ago? It's important to continue to assess mastered targets (no matter how old), to make sure the child is retaining knowledge. Kiddos who learn skills very fast generally lose those skills very fast. So if you have a child or client who flies through their programs, be sure you are putting those mastered targets into maintenance.
For professionals, the parents should always be included in the program writing process. Think of them as another member of the team. It is normal to have differing ideas on what skills the child should learn first. When I am getting ready to write programs for a client, I ask the parents what concerns are most important to them. Then I share with them what areas of concern I see as most important. From there, it's a give and take process. Sometimes you may need to help convince the parents to see your point of view. For example the father may express to you he wants his son to play with his brother. From your assessment and observation you know your client has no toy play skills. So you could explain to the father that with no knowledge of how to engage with toys appropriately, his son's ability to interact with peers is very limited.
ABA programs have many things in common, such as making tasks step-by-step, very little distraction, focusing on one thing at a time, and repetition and verification of skills learned. For example, to teach a pre-school age child with Autism the alphabet you would make the letters uniform in font style, make the letters all only one color so there are no distractions, make the letters of the same cardboard stock, introduce each letter one at a time, and use repetition to make sure the letters are learned. Finally, use reward for all the hard work and the skills gained. "Teaching loosely" is for after the child is demonstrating competency of the skill and is making progress.
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Early Intervention With Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis

The dramatic rise in autism spectrum disorder has leads parents to worry any signs of abnormality to their children. Symptoms such as not playing with other children, lack or no communication, being behind the development grid, and odd physical behaviors like toe walking can cause parents to contact the child's pediatrician. Sometimes these are just paranoia to the lifelong disability, other times it can lead to immediate intervention and positive outcome. The disorder diagnosis is usually done after symptoms of autism spectrum disorder have been noticed.
Psychologist, developmental pediatrician, or pediatric neurologist is the best doctors to do the disorder diagnosis. These doctors screen the child by observing the behavior, interviewing, and then evaluating the child. Since this kind of screening is a not definite test to confirm autism spectrum disorder, terms such "it looks like" or "it appears to be" are used by these physicians. The reason behind is that, the outcome of the screening is just the doctor's opinion and not yet conclusive.
A comprehensive autism spectrum disorder diagnosis by a multi-disciplinary team is followed to confirm the diagnosis. Several autism spectrum disorder diagnosis screening tools have been made to hasten the information gathering about a child's social and communicative development within medical setup such as the Checklist of Autism in Toddlers (CHAT), the modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT), the Screening Tool for Autism in Two-Year-Olds (STAT), and the Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ) for children age 4 and older. Another tool often used by the team is the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS). It helps in evaluating the child's body gestures, listening, and verbal communication.
The disorder diagnosis will make parents understand the condition of their children and what help is needed. The multi-disciplinary team can recommend programs for problems in speech delays, hearing impairment, and social deficits. Parents need to understand that once autism spectrum disorder is diagnosed, it is not the end of the world for the child. The diagnosis makes it easier for people concerning this disorder to move forward and for the child to live a normal life.
Want to know more about Autism Spectrum Diagnosis? Visit Michael Harrah's site at
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Monday, April 16, 2012

Autism - Beyond ABA Therapy

As a mother of a child on the autism spectrum and now a professional in the autism field, I am continuously struck by how little the "professionals" and the "decision - makers" really know about autism and its treatment options. Four years ago when my son was diagnosed, I too, as any new parent to autism, was scrambling around to find solutions and the best intervention for my child. I turned quickly to the professionals to seek the answers only to find that there were no definitive ones. How can this be? How can "they" not have all the answers leave me in a state of confusion and despair? I decided then and there that I was going to have to become the expert- and so I did. This is what I have learned.
The first thing that I always tell people whether they are a parent of a newly diagnosed child or a professional is that there is the good news and the bad news. The good news is that we know so much more about autism than we did even ten years ago. The bad news, however, is that there is still so much more to know and that we don't have all the answers.
I've learned that they call it "The Autism Spectrum" for a reason. It is indeed a spectrum. True as it is for typically developing kids, no two kids on the autism spectrum are the same. They can range from a child who is seemingly so unconnected to the social world that it is excruciating for a parent to witness, to a child who, without a background in autism, no one would think he or she was affected.
I ask you then, why would we want to use the same type of intervention for these two children? Yet this is what I see being done all the time. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the most traditional treatment option. It is the most widely used and continues to be a household word for professionals in the field. "Oh," says the doctor or autism specialist, "Your child has autism, you need to be doing ABA."
What they fail to tell you however is that ABA autism therapy is is not for everyone. It would not have been a good choice for my own son. Just as there aren't two children on the spectrum who are the same, there is no "one size fits all" type of approach to autism. As an autism professional I am tired of hearing and reading only about ABA. Don't get me wrong, I am not against ABA. In fact, it has proven to be a good choice for many Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) individuals. I am simply saying that it is high time that we as professionals in the autism field step out of our comfort zone and really educate ourselves what other intervention models are out there so we can begin to do justice to the families that seek our help and expertise.
Stacy Goresko, Ph.D. is a Relationship Development Intervention (RDI® program consultant) in private practice in Boulder Colorado. She is a respected lecturer in her field and has recently been hired to be a national speaker on autism. She has spent the last several years providing support to academic and home programs for pre - school aged through adulthood.
Autism Colorado, Denver, Boulder []
Autism Treatment
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The ABA Autism Method

ABA, or Applied Behavior Analysis, is a commonly used method for treating children who have autism. And most experts agree that this method is one of the most encompassing and useful treatments for helping the development of autistic children. The following article will give an introduction to what the ABA method is all about, and will direct you to some useful resources if you're interested in more information.
While Applied Behavior Analysis may be growing in popularity, it is by no means new. Research began back in the 60's, however it wasn't until the early 1980's that the ABA method became one of the most popular treatment methods. ABA also has a reputation for being a very comprehensive program, and offers behavioral teachings across a wide variety of situations.
Applied Behavior Analysis claims to have a very pro-active style of teaching. For instance, rather than just identifying poor behavior, and instilling a sense of wrongdoing in the child, the program identifies the actions that should be taken, instead of simply identifying what actions to avoid. This is just one of the reasons that ABA such a universally accepted teaching instrument.
The ABA method can also be used with a wide range of age groups. And while early intervention ABA has been the most studied with significant research into the effectiveness of the program, ABA for other age groups also offers ample material and endorsement.
Applied Behavior Analysis is a very complicated and difficult treatment method and by no means is it a cure-all for autism. ABA requires significant work and time by the child and family. But, this hard work can really pay off in the form of very positive, visible results.
There are a significant number of resources available that provide information on ABA. Probably the best resource is The Association for Behavior Analysis ( They have loads of valuable information regarding ABA., and are also good resources.
Doing a quick search online will expose more information than you can probably take in. There is even information about specific subcategories of the treatment method, so feel free to make your query as specific and detailed as possible for better results.
If you think you may be interested in taking advantage of the Applied Behavior Analysis treatment method, then you should know that experts recommend you do not attempt to teach your child the ABA method on your own, due to its complexity. It is recommended that you incorporate a professional into the learning process. These professionals must be board certified, so you can find one close to you by examining the registry of certified behavior analysts.
Again, ABA autism treatment is not a magic or quick fix to a complicated condition like autism. It will take hard work and patience on the part of all parties involved. But this hard work will likely yield some very positive results, which as we all know is an immeasurable benefit to the children who suffer from autism.
By Rachel Evans. Sign up for a free newsletter for more information on ABA autism. In the newsletter you'll find out more about the signs and symptoms of autism.
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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Understanding Autism: The World of Autistic Children

What is Autism?
Autism surfaces when a child is not psychologically developed enough to interpret situations around
them, converse or relate feelings. The ability to groom relationships is absent. Autism originates as a
brain malady that is recognized in the first three years of life.

2. What are some early symptoms of autism?
When a child is very young and just beginning to learn basic tasks such as forming simple words,
crawling and sitting up, parents of autistic children soon get an uneasy feeling that something is not going
as planned. Generally, autistic children cannot speak. If a child has a very mild form of autism, they will
probably be able to learn speech and attend a regular school system without too much trouble, but an
autistic child will not make eye contact and they tend to bounce their body forward and backward.

Because of this, parents often have difficulty trying to interpret what it is that the child is trying to convey.
Most times, parents may feel that their child is deaf, because the child does not acknowledge them.
Keep in mind that this must be difficult for the child too, because they cannot tell anyone what it is that
is upsetting them or making them unhappy or joyous. This inability to convey themselves often leads to
behavioral problems. Researchers do not know why autism occurs and are looking at all possibilities.

3. What are researchers finding in the way of treatment?
Teachers of special needs children are trying to capture the autistic child's attention through traditional
means and it is not working. Autistic children find this boring. Luckily, research has found that the iPad
is starting to play a significant part in the many autistic children’s lives. The iPad is somehow drawing
these children into its ability to help them communicate, because Apple has come up with a program that
speaks for the child. All child have to do is press a few buttons that are attached to pictures, and they are
on their way to communicating words and feelings. Researchers are finding that some of these children
have brilliant minds - they just do not know how to relate this to anyone.

4. What is expected long-term?
There is no cure for autism, but these days, there are many treatment options available to children. Since
every child is different (with varying degrees of autism), not every treatment is going to work for every
child. While some autistic adults can be independent, others may be independent in a semi-independent
living arrangement. Others may never be able to live outside of an institution. Thanks to advancements in
special education and a huge increase in awareness about autism, the sky is the limit. Expect big things
in the coming years – I will!

Bonnie Carter writes about education, personal finance & saving money at

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Asperger's and Genius Share Same Characteristics

A famous psychiatric, Michael Fitzgerald from Trinity College, Dublin has claimed that many geniuses in the fields of science, politics and the arts have achieved success because they had Asperger's syndrome(AS), a mild form of Autism.
Michael Fitzgerald said that lots of geniuses showed autistic traits, such as Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, George Orwell and H G Wells. According to the diagnosis after death, these people had Asperger's syndrome: Ludwig van Beethoven, Mozart Wolfgang Amadeus, Andersen Hans Christian and Kant Immanuel.
At a meeting of the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Academic Psychiatry, Fitzgerald argued that the gene linked to Asperger's syndrome were the same as those associated with creativity and genius. "Psychiatric disorders can also have positive dimensions. I'm arguing the genes for autism/Asperger's, and creativity are essentially the same. We don't know which genes they are yet or how many there are, but we are talking about multiple genes of small effect. Every case is unique because people have varying numbers of the genes involved."
"Asperger's sufferers can be so successful mainly because they are more focused and persistent, they do not get distracted and they are not interested in outside society." he added.
Michael Fitzgerald compared the charateristics of 1600 autism patients to some geniuses and found they have many traits in common. His book "Genius Genes: How Asperger Talents Changed the World" was pubilshed at the end of last year.
But there are also different opinions. Amanda Batten, of the national autistic society, said it is important to avoid stereotypes of people with autism as geniuses. Anyway, it is estimated that for every 10,000 people, there are 60 to 120 people with autism, and the percentage of genius is definitely less than that.
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Introduction to Autism - Factors Related to It

Autism is a name given to a developmental disorder in children whereby their communication and interactions are impaired, and though many are able to stay in the mainstream of society, there are others who lead very restricted lives. Males are four times more likely to have autism than females, and out of every thousand children, at least 3-6 are likely to be autistic. Autism is limiting and restrictive, often preventing autistic children and their families from leading normal lives.
Autism can be by birth or manifest itself within the first two and a half years of a child's life. It is believed to be due to some prenatal abnormalities the causes of which have not yet been found. The physical appearance of the child is normal, but behavior is different and communication and interaction rather puzzling. Many are able to speak normally, and this makes recognition of other symptoms all the more difficult. The condition prevents most children from having normal educative learning though some can work towards joining mainstream educational activities.
Typically autistic children are self-absorbed, uncommunicative and cannot participate in creative activities. They are impaired in several areas of development. Autism is one of the 5 neurological disorders that fall under the category of Pervasive Developmental Disorders, and also the most common. There are no racial ethnic or economic boundaries for autism, the causes of which are yet unknown. It can afflict any child from any background, anywhere, and remains a lifelong problem.
Problems Created by Autistics
Autistic children do not misbehave intentionally as is often the case with normal children. Some external factors trigger specific actions.
- It is difficult for them to sit for long periods of time.
- They take everything literally;
- Matters that do not interest them will not hold their attention at all.
- They do not make eye contact and leave the other person wondering whether they have been heard and understood.
- They are aloof and unsocial.
- Many perform repetitive tasks, and strange actions like hand flapping, blinking, biting, head-banging, fiddling with things, and certain spontaneous movements.
- They sometimes lack the ability to understand emotions but can display anger and reveal their displeasure in violent ways. While many are able to express themselves with repetitive coaching, those who cannot talk resort to physical expression of their unhappiness.
- They are likely to develop some obsessive interests.
- Some are less sensitive to pain and can end up hurting themselves badly without realizing it.
- On the other hand they are hyper sensitive to touch, taste, hearing and smell.
These traits become difficult to handle especially for those who spend the maximum time with them. Parents find themselves constantly watching over them and trying to protect them outdoors. Caution cannot be forfeited at any cost with an autistic child. This can become a major encumbrance for the parent and attendant.
Causes of Autism
The exact cause or set of causes that lead to autism are unknown. It is a question that torments parents of autistic children who often tend to blame themselves for the neurological disorder that leads to this condition. Extensive research has led to multiple theories being presented about what leads to autism, though each has its set of critics trying to refute them.
- One set of scientists believes that certain vaccines given to the child especially, MMR (Mumps-Measles-Rubella) cause intestinal problems, which can lead to autism.
- Some believe the culprit to be thimersol contained in certain vaccines.
- The genetic cause of autism is widely accepted, as it is possible that autism has some genetic root, running in some families more than others. However, autism is not caused by a single gene, but is rather a consequence of several genetic differences as well as some form of environmental "insult".
- Some researchers are exploring the differences in a typical brain and autistic brain and are convinced that the autistic brain is wired in a different manner, besides being larger in size.
Research is continuing and it is clear that autism cannot be attributed to a single cause, but is perhaps the outcome of a combination of unfavorable factors like food allergies, environmental toxins leading to adverse reactions in the child's body, and immune deficiencies.
How To Identify Autism
Autistic children appear normal in appearance and the first signs can manifest themselves around twelve months, but they become very conspicuous by the time the child is three years old. Many seem to have impaired speech, never look in the eye, exhibit strange behavior and movements, not wish to play with others, seem engrossed in one particular thing or activity. It is not unusual for parents to shake off these early signs as those of an introvert or late learner. But pointers to an autistic condition include:
- The child does not point to things and objects at twelve months
- He child does not pick up even one word by 18 months
- He cannot make two word sentences at age two
- He does not respond to his own name
- He stays away from people and peers
- He does not make eye contact
- He may not laugh and smile and may not seem to hear
- He constantly flaps arms, bites, bangs his head
- He is unable to shift focus from one object to another
Parents are the first to notice some or most of these signs and must take immediate advice to be able to help the child and in case remedial measures can be taken in borderline cases, the sooner the better.
Educating an Autistic Child
The toughest part for parents is coming to terms with the autistic condition of their child. Once they are able to accept it, they become anxious to educate the child to make him acceptable in the mainstream of society. This is the toughest part as their symptoms manifest themselves all the time.
- They are different from other students, as they cannot relate to people and emotions, have some difficulty in comprehending what hey are being told.
- They are unable to identify differences in tone and speech, gauge facial expressions, or relate to reactions of peers.
- It becomes important for the teacher of autistic children to know about their condition.
- If the child is in a special school with others like himself, he will benefit from specially created learning modules, which include visual schedules that autistic children find easier to follow.
- Working in pairs is immensely beneficial as well.
- In case the child studies in a regular school, his teacher needs to know about his condition so that she can make the extra effort that may be required to explain certain things to him.
- In many schools an additional aide is provided to the teacher to help such children.
- Autistic children resent being forced to do certain things, and would rather make choices as it gives them a sense of control.
- It is better to encourage interests that they seem to prefer, for instance, many have a flair for cooking. This can become a vocation in later years.
Treatment for Autism
Treating autism is not easy as no prescribed, standardized line of treatment has yet been found, despite millions of dollars being spent on research in this field. The only generalization that can be made is linked to helpful therapies like:
- Applied Behavior Analysis
- Occupational Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Speech Language Therapy
However, before the child can be started on any of these, the following steps need to be followed:
- An early diagnosis of autism an immediate intervention and treatment is imperative for the child. Parents must not ignore unusual behavioral traits that the child may exhibit in the second year of his life.
- The first step is to find good physicians and specialists who can guide parents about what is best for the child.
- Most treatment has to be behavioral and parents have to ensure that the child is not pressurized.
- This can be done by giving him clear instructions that are easy for him to follow.
- He must be prompted encouragingly to perform certain tasks, and praise and applause for actions well done.
- Parents must make a distinction between good and bad and gradually increase the complexity of instructions to encourage him to do better. Parents need instruction in behavioral techniques to accomplish this.
- Self help techniques have to be taught to the children so that they can eventually become independent.
- However, there are various types of autism, and each child has specific needs. His treatment also has to be custom made for his requirements.
Treatment with medication is only for symptoms like seizures, extreme mood swings; sleep difficulty, tantrums or injurious behavior patterns. One set of doctors fell that additional diet supplements like minerals and vitamins may be helpful, and also secretin infusion, but none of these treat the underlying condition.
At present, Risperidone is the only drug that has been approved for treating children in the 5-16 age group for aggression and irritability due to autism. Finally, the present treatment prescribed by medical specialists includes a gluten-free and casein-free diet. Gluten is contained in wheat, barley and rye, and casein in milk and dairy products.
Improving Autism Communication
Communication and social interaction are the biggest problems associated with autism. The autistic child struggles in the fields of language and being able to express him. Communication is crucial as it helps the child understand people around him, comprehend environment cues, follow directions and instructions, perform organizational tasks and also express himself. Communication is much more complicated than mere speech, requiring multiple skills like attention, absorbing information, interpreting that information and finally formulating an appropriate response.
A lot of research is being done in this field, and some drugs have been developed that improve communication behavior and increasing attention spans. Mineral and vitamin supplements, psychotherapy and medication related to it have all been tried, but there is no documented evidence of significant improvements.
Autistic children understand better when information is provided to them verbally as well as visually. Studies conducted on children who were instructed verbally and with sign language, revealed that they responded with greater vocalization, mastered signs and used them appropriately, and were able to communicate better with their peers. Visual tools include body movements, use of pictures, objects and environment cues. Step-by-step instructions are also important. Autistic children relate best to models, objects, signs and boards explaining the verbal communication.
While no standardized treatment has yet been developed to improve communication abilities of autistic children, some amount of success has been achieved by studying individual requirements. Treatments first necessitate an in-depth analysis of needs and then seeking therapy from speech-language pathologists, from occupational and physical therapists to modify unacceptable social behavior.
Another research reveals that participation of the father in teaching the child showed a marked improvement in the child's ability to communicate. This was especially true in verbal communications with the child's usage of vocabulary revealing a 50% increase.
Structured behavior modification programs like Applied Behavior Analysis are beneficial for some, while others benefit from informal coaching in a familiar home environment. Music therapy and sensory integration therapy attempt to enhance the child's ability to respond to information using his sense organs. Social stories narrated to children time and again have also helped many improve their social skills.
Yet another specialist has found that early intervention with peer directed interaction helps autistic children communicate better. Less adult directed communication and greater participation from trained peers in an informal, natural setting helped in maximizing the results of communication improvement.
The Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) has been rated as one of the best innovative treatments for handling communication issues of autistic children. Based on 20 years of research by Robert and Lynn Koegel, this has helped advance children's communication abilities, foster friendships and social interactions and improves school performance besides controlling disruptive behavior. PRT works with every child's natural motivation promotes functional learning and helps him develop skills that can be used in the world outside. Rote learning is discouraged and the child's cognitive abilities are enhanced. Prompting him to respond gives him the impetus to do so.
Treatments have to be personalized but starting sooner will yield far better results than delays in taking action by the parents.
How to get Autistic Children accepted by other Children
Autistic children do have communication and behavioral issues which are often unacceptable to others. They are therefore the target of criticism, made fun of, teased, ignored and neglected. But all autistic children are not retarded and with help and support can become part of mainstream society. The role of the parent and the teacher becomes important in gaining social acceptance for their child. They need support not pity, sympathy and a bit of care. It is important for the school to reinforce its commitment to these children and explaining to others how they can reach out to these special children. They need to be told that autism does not explain the whole character of the child-it is only one aspect and the child in question is blessed with other far more acceptable traits. He can think too, get hurt and upset and he struggles with things he cannot do. Acute hearing, sight and smell compensate for his language limitations. Children can be made to see the good in the child, what he can do and with that focus, help him. Often if one child comes forward to help the special child, others follow suit and the result is that he gains friends from whom he is able to learn much more than parental training.
How do I help in Emotional Circumstances
Children with autism are often highly emotional, getting hurt and upset about small things. Unfortunately, it takes them longer to overcome them and it is challenging for parents to help him cope. In an emotional state, the child first needs to be calmed, and this can be accomplished by helping him take a few deep breaths. This must be practiced with him before and becomes useful during stressful times. It is best to remove him from the scene where he has got upset and talking gently in a manner that he comprehends, is helpful. The child needs encouragement, reinforcement of affection and loving reassurance. If the child can talk, hearing him out also helps. Many of them are overly sensitive to others' emotions, seeing another child cry, makes them cry as well. They need to be taught that another person's feelings must not be mixed up with their own.
A few steps that can help the child include, first understanding his emotional needs, speaking in a language that he understands, he must also get the facts correct, and not have any false notions. It is important to look for warning signs that reveal an emotionally disturbed state like facial expression, nervous tics, speech variations, sweating, avoidance and irritability. Social stories narrated to children may help them feel they are not alone in feeling in a particular manner, and others are like them too. The bottom line is keeping the child calm and secure.
The Child's Future
A child being diagnosed as autistic is one of the worst nightmares for any parent. The first thoughts after the why's and how's is the anxiety about his future. His future is largely determined by the type of autism he has, and his intelligence level, which may assist him to practice some vocation and even be gainfully occupied. Many are able to lead near normal lives and become responsible, independent individuals. Others with more serious problems may never be able to lead a normal life and be independent. In such cases the future of the child is largely determined by the parents, how they plan for times ahead. They need to make the child functional and ensure that adequate resources are put aside to sustain him. Researchers believe that parents need to be responsible for providing them with a social world in which they can build meaningful relationships. Those alone can sustain them, despite the fact that the child may never go to work, earn, and do other adult things. Special education can help him do better than lack of any education. It may suffice to have him occupied and happy rather than stressed and agitated, provided for and having someone.
With over 4 years in the field of content writing, I have written numerous articles covering various niches. Presently I am maintaining 2 blogs at COFFEE TABLE TALKS and WEIGHT LOSS TIPS.
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The Asperger's Checklist

Named after Hans Asperger, Asperger's Syndrome, also known as AS, is a lifelong disability that is manifested by different symptoms associated with autism but still exhibits normal intelligence and language development. There may be a lot of similarities between a person with autism and one with AS, however they are completely different.
What is AS?
Asperger's Syndrome is a lifelong disability that belongs in the autism spectrum. The autism spectrum is a classification of autism-like symptoms that vary from a combination of symptoms and severity. One person with AS, may exhibit intense aloofness while another may not.
AS was discovered by Hans Asperger while noticing that most of his patients exhibit symptoms of autism. Individuals with AS still have the normal capacity or intelligence of an average person, and language development. It is estimated that approximately 2 out of 10,000 children have AS and it is more prevalent in males.
A checklist of Symptoms
Since Aspergers Syndrome is considered to be a spectrum disorder, it may be hard to classify them based on the symptoms. However, there are three areas where individuals with AS have a main problem with. These areas are social communication, social interaction and social imagination.
In social communication, though individuals with Aspergers have no deficiency in language development, they have a hard time in communicating their thoughts and feelings. They also have a difficulty in understanding other people's thoughts, expressions, gestures, tone of voice and sometimes people's rationale. They are able to learn and use complex words and they may use it in a sentence but, they will fail to understand the meaning of the word or sentence they just said. People with Aspergers will also fail to recognize jokes, sarcasms and idioms, for they will take it literally which will eventually confuse them.
Many individuals with Aspergers try to be sociable, but most often they fail to establish and maintain relationships. They would struggle to interact and make friends. If they succeed in making friends they would fail to maintain them. They have little understanding about social rules and boundaries. They are oftentimes withdrawn and would prefer to be alone. People with AS behave in a peculiar manner and perceive others to be unpredictable, thus, a fear of socializing manifests.
In social imagination, people with AS find it hard to predict and understand other people's thoughts and actions. Common sense isn't that common to them. They have a limited imagination, thus inhibiting creativity and produce more repetitive and rigid activities. The checklist above can be use to determine the likelihood of person having Aspergers syndrome. Not all of the items of the checklist are necessary but they do serve as indicators.
Is There a Cure?
As of the meantime, no cure is known to treat Asperger's Syndrome. However, there are therapies and interventions available for people with this disability. Early diagnosis with the use of an Autism Spectrum Quotient or AQ test may help in early intervention. These interventions and therapies can help these individuals to reach their optimum growth and potential, for them to live their everyday lives. People with AS may grow to become responsible adults, and can have regular jobs, have a family and lead normal lives, with the help from therapies and especially with support from their families.
Mark Henry Blakey is a blogger and contributor of the Aspergers Test Site. He regularly contributes and writes on the subject, helping others to understand the nature of Aspergers Symptoms. Check out the website for more resources and articles on Aspergers.
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Am I Spoiling My Child With Autism or Pushing Too Much?

We all want to be confident that we are doing our best as parents but confidence can be difficult to maintain when our well intentioned friends and relatives sometimes judge us to be too demanding or too indulging where our children are concerned. Their declarations and suggestions come from the non-Autistic world - a perspective that has limited knowledge of raising a child with Autism and therefore is difficult to accept. Our job is to help educate them otherwise but that takes time and parents of children with special needs don't have much of that.
Parents of children on the Autism spectrum are focused on finding their way through this unpredictable journey of Autism, learning as they go. Finding the right balance when parenting any child is a challenge but exploring uncharted waters such as these takes extra energy as well.
A good parent is always examining his or her skills and evaluating them for effectiveness while being open to make adjustments along the way. Getting stuck in default mode or a pattern of responding that might be a bit too indulgent is easy to fall in to and difficult to get out of at times. Avoiding a dilemma such as this requires being open minded and receptive to creating new ways of relating to your child.
With this in mind, I always encourage parents to keep the end goal in mind because it will help you stay on the most direct path to your child's best future.
Occasionally ask yourself:
What type of person do I want my daughter to be?
What type of skills and values do I want my son to have as an adult?
And the most important question of all,
Is what I am doing right now as helping my child get to where I would like them to be as an adult?
If the aim is to have an independent individual blossom, have the courage to ask yourself if you are doing too much to keep your child dependent? Yes, sometimes it is easier and quicker to do things yourself but it may be robbing your child of learning and mastering a crucial daily living skill. A child who is not able to care for himself adequately is one thing but being able to and having someone else do it for him is another.
How much we enable our children or encourage them to do for them selves will depend on where they are on the Autism spectrum. The one thing that will differ from child to child is the starting point. But wherever we begin from, we should always be moving our children forward towards the person we know they can become. Sometimes all they can manage is baby steps and other days they may even regress backwards but the question should always be; How have I moved my child towards her potential today?
Every parent wants their child to reach for the stars and grab the ones they can and parents of children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder are no different. Just how accommodating do you need to be in order to help your child grab the stars within reach and how forceful do you need to be in order for your child to stretch a bit further for more? For any child to accomplish all he is capable of and more, finding just the right balance between not enough pressure and too much is extremely important.
Finding the best way to motivate your children without unknowingly discouraging them can be tricky. And just as Goldilocks did, every parent needs to find a method that is "not too easy, not too tough, but just right" for each child.
How does a parent find just the right touch? Here are six strategies to keep in mind for discovering just what your child needs to blossom.
• Take baby steps - Pacing one's self and finding a rhythm are the first things that come to mind when knowing just how much to push or not. Breaking things down into small and attainable steps is always wise. If you want your child with Autism to become more social, then gradually expose him or her to small chunks of time in a social setting. Start with five minutes, and then add one or two minutes more after each success.
• Motivate your child internally. On of the best indicators of success is how self-motivated a person is. Unfortunately, parents sometimes spend too much time trying to get their children to comply with the use of external rewards. To help your child acquire a way to self-motivate, it is always better to focus on using praise - and praise for effort more than you do on outcome. The sooner a child gets a sense that they have power and control over their own learning by the amount of effort they put into it, the less likely you will have to prod them along.
• Tap into interests - Always try to tie in one of your child's favorite activities or pastimes into the experience when you are gently nudging her towards a goal. This will help stimulate her internal motivation to stretch herself as much as possible. When your goal is to reduce a repetitive behavior, distracting your child with another activity or task that they really favor is helpful.
• Watch for signs of stress or success - Always be on the alert for signals of distress and have a plan B on hand that is ready to put in place. Stress is counterproductive to progress and can easily lure your child on the Autism spectrum into a state of frustration and anxiety that can lead to a negative experience making it unlikely that your child will want to pick up again where she left off. On the other hand, if you see success, celebrate it!
• Create enjoyment - Who doesn't like fun? Find a way to keep things light and humorous. Not only will your child delight in the process more but the contagious nature of laughter will spread throughout your child and help create a positive and powerful energy that is bound to increase his stamina towards his goal.
• Make adjustments as needed - Paying attention to your child's ability to transition is important here. When you know an adjustment has to be made begin shifting gears as gently as possible considering what you know about your child's tolerance for change. The skill and finesse at which you make this happen will directly correlate to paving the way to success
Connie Hammer, MSW, parent educator, consultant and coach, guides parents of young children recently diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder to uncover abilities and change possibilities. Visit her website to get your FREE resources - a parenting e-course, Parenting a Child with Autism - 3 Secrets to Thrive and a weekly parenting tip newsletter, The Spectrum.
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Is ABA the Right Approach For School Systems Teaching Autistic Children?

Children are very diverse. If you walk into any classroom and ask students to tell you what they most enjoy doing, you are going to get a very wide range of responses. What most of these children will have in common, however, is the ability to easily learn concepts taught by their educators. For children with autism spectrum disorder, even this basic ability is hampered by the fact that their brains simply work differently. In order to learn in a classroom, they must first work on learning how to learn. ABA therapy is a proven method of doing just that.

The brain of a child with autism spectrum disorder works very differently than the brain of most children. Essentially the neural pathways that help children make connections between behaviors and consequences are simply not there. One thing that science has taught us, however, is that the brains of these children are not simply stuck in this state. With proper ABA therapy, these connections can be developed and these students can often learn to perform as well as or possibly even better than their peers in a classroom setting.

So, why ABA therapy? There are a number of different therapies available for students with autism, after all. The difference, however, is that ABA is proven to work on many levels. Not only does it teach the fundamentals of learning, but it can help to condition behavior, teaching these students how to act in a social setting and what to do in a certain scenario. These are skills that will have a lifelong impact on your child. With ABA therapy, your child can learn how to react to other students, what to do if they ever get lost, and even how to form social bonds with new people.

Applied Behavior Analysis has been around for a few decades and is considered to be the most effective form of treatment for autism. While other methods show success in some areas, studies show that children taught using ABA therapy at a young age exhibit greatly improved social and educational skills well into their adult lives. In other words, ABA is about permanently teaching children with autism spectrum disorder. While many methods offer temporary solutions, teaching ABA in schools can equip students for a lifetime of learning. The use of DVD training programs and classroom materials can be a highly effective way for any school system to provide educators with the tools necessary to give these students a head start on the rest of their lives.

Garrett Butch is the father of a 6 year old with autism and the founder of Maximum Potential Group.

Maximum Potential has developed courses that train parents and school systems how to work with children with autism.

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Autism: A Hopeful Heart In The Midst Of Pain

Autism is the most damaging truth that an individual could ever face. It gives parents of autistic children a lifelong responsibility to take care of their own future. They begin to question destiny and wonder what is in store for their children's lives. They have the darkest future ever. Will they ever experience the beauty of nature? Or just remain isolated their whole life? Will they ever find their one true love? Or just forever stay under the care of their parents? Will they ever pursue their dreams? Or just have no dreams at all? Well, these are just some of the heartbreaking questions that keep lingering in the edges of their minds and hearts.

To be able find answers to these queries, let's take a careful glance at this medical condition. Autism is a lifelong developmental disability in which its causes can be rooted to genetics and environment. But even during this modern technology, there are no solid grounds to establish the primary cause of the disease. An autistic child doesn't enjoy the thrills of his atmosphere. He has a world of his known and his interests just revolve around the world he created. He remains isolated from the rest of the world and unfamiliarity causes him to freak out. In short, he only finds comfort around familiar people in his life. Truly, we can fairly conclude that autistic children don't find delight with environmental surprises.

Autistic children have difficulty in speech and communication. They find difficulty in expressing their feelings and understanding others as well. Their language and vocabulary skills are really poor. They speak in languages that only they can understand. At times, they also tend to have echolalia. This means they tend to repeat other people's words. Because of this, they have impaired social interactions and imagination. They lose track of the society they are in. They cannot sustain building relationships with others. This may actually scare them. They only love routines. And a disruption in their usual schedules may break their hearts so deeply and may result to tantrums. They also have compromised learning skills. It's difficult to instill new knowledge or information in their usual world. But, what is amazing with autistic children is that at most times, they have unique talents. They stand out at in a particular field and they are extremely excellent in that endeavor.

What is the treatment available?

Treatment methods for Autism is currently widespread. One of these is the hyperbaric oxygen treatment. This therapy basically helps the patient breathe in extra Oxygen through a pressurized chamber. According to studies, patients who have received at least 40 hours of therapy for more than a month were observed to be more tolerable and quick to respond when being talked to. There is no explanation as to the improvement of this kind of treatment. What is believed is that the pressurized Oxygen could reduce the inflammation which have been said to constrict the flow of blood to other areas of an autistic child's brain which controls speech.

Being good stewards of the human race, we should not take autism as a curse but as a special responsibility. It is not the autistic children's fault why they are made that way. So, the best thing to do is to provide emotional and social support to them. Never look at them in a judgmental way and never turn your back away from them. They need our love and acceptance. In that manner, you'll truly nurture hope in their seemingly hopeless condition. It's true that there is still no cure for autism. But, do you know what the best cure for these autistic children is? It is our longtime support, unconditional love and nonjudgmental impression to them and their parents as well.

Francisco Perry is an enthusiastic writer of who likes to share information on HBOT therapy and Portable Hyperbaric Chambers as well as related products.

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Childhood Epidemic Rises 6,000% What Can Be Learned About Autism?

The latest tallies show that over three million people in North America alone carry some type of autism diagnosis. With this increase the biggest question people are asking is why. Over 20 years ago the incidence was estimated to be 1 in 10,000. Now it's a whopping 1 in 166 according to the U.S. Center for Disease control and is still expected to rise. With the life long care of someone with autism costing approximately 2.2 million per person according to the MIND Institute, we need to start committing proper resources to early intervention now to enable this population to lead fulfilling and productive lives as well as contribute to society

The frustrating point in the above scenario is the lack of interest and resources allocated through government and other agencies towards a solution. This includes actively determining the cause and implementing adequate research towards curative and helpful measures. The US Government will happily spend 1.9 billion dollars for a single Trident nuclear submarine in a fleet of around fifty, yet is only spending 66 million on the entire special education area, which includes special teachers, training and proper equipment and supports.

While hosting an autism conference in Hawaii last month I received a call from a grandmother asking if I could help her thirteen-year-old autistic grandson who was still in diapers. This just shouldn't be happening in this day and age. Whether there is a cure for autism or not, there are programs and interventions that help all children with autism grow up to be productive community citizens especially through early intervention practices as mentioned earlier. This can happen when parents put their own egos aside and recognize very early that their child has autism, accept the diagnosis and get the treatment the child deserves allowing them to use their inborn strengths and talents to live to their fullest.

Methodologies also need to be more visible and understood. Yes there are successful ways to approach autism like Applied Behavioral Analysis, Greenspan, Daily Life Therapy, Miller Method, the SCERTS method and Relationship Development Intervention which may all sound Greek to some, however, most parents just hear of one and go with it. This could be due to the nature of the beast so to speak, in that many parents of children with autism even show signs of autism themselves such as structured, literal thinking. This forces them to have limited beliefs and be less willing to consider other options in a more abstract manner. Many of these methodologies and belief systems have become rigid and unchanging even though many more options are now available and even more are on the horizon.

As to the cause, many speculate that mercury in addition to other heavy metals could be a strong culprit though the proof is not in the pudding yet. Books like "Evidence Of Harm" by David Kirby, a New York Times writer clearly organizes all the facts for others to draw their own conclusion surrounding the issues around immunizations. Perhaps it's in the dental amalgams, the fish we eat or other environmental surroundings.

Then still others are pointing to the gene pool saying it is passed on from one generation to the next. I know in my case, I believe my Aeronautical Engineer father has a high functioning form of autism and I grew up thinking he was "normal". I was therefore attracted to someone who also has many symptoms of autism such as the lack of social skills in certain situations, an egocentric focus, and perseveration (doing the same thing over and over again), especially when it comes to working 7 days a week 12 hour days. And then, there's me. The more I learn about autism, the more I certainly can see signs in myself.

The best, most proven hope of helping children with autism to lead fulfilling and productive lives I know of, is early intervention. Also, many experience reduced symptoms in their children with autism when gluten and casein are removed or reduced from their diets. Other dietary strategies are being successfully implemented such as a modified Atkins type diet or even sugar and milk free diets. Even if it isn't perfect, it's a step in the right direction. Others are having luck by adding vitamins, minerals and glyconutrients back into their systems. Glyconutrients are the sixteen essential sugars missing from our diets due to the poor cultivation processes with our natural fruits and vegetables.

Our Sherwood Park, Alberta based firm, Autism Today is Western Canada's leading provider of autism conferences. Parents, teachers and professionals can go to: to learn about our upcoming "Keys To The Treasure Chest" conferences and workshops. Upcoming speakers include: Dr. Lori Ernsperger and Nick Martin, March 2005, Stephen Shore, June 2005, Dr. Steven Gutstein, October 2005, and Dr. Temple Grandin, Dec 2005. Autism Today also hosts online education and Tele-classes as well as a broad selection of books, videos and other learning material.

To wrap up, more studies need to be in place to prove the validity of certain hopeful interventions. Parents need to know what options are available to them instead of hopping on the first methodology train that comes along. Through we are implementing two such programs. The first is an unbiased study for glyconutrients in a predetermined group of children with autism. The second part of the effort involves devoting a portion of our site, which will be geared to offering a way for parents to sample some different methodologies for their children before deciding on a particular approach of treatment for their child.

Karen Simmons, known to many as “The Autism Lady” is the mother of six, one of which as autism, author of “Little Rainman”, “The Autism Experience”, “Artism”, “Surrounded By Miracle’s and “Peace of Mind for Autism” (CD). She has been featured in local media as well as Woman’s World Magazine, CBC Radio, The Donna Seebo Show and The Vicki Gabreau Show. Also she is the CEO and founder of Autism Today Online Magazine at, which is host to the top autism experts in the field today.

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Closing the Door on the Autism Epidemic - Early Prediction and Successful Intervention Now Possible

Closing the Door on the Autism Epidemic

In order to rid this nation and the world of autism we must first know the cause for these neurological disorders. With the cause understood, we can predict which individuals will be at the highest risk for developing the symptoms of autism. This test covers the entire age range as individuals have been known to incur these risk factors at any age. The prediction of autism is now possible by completing a simple survey. This survey is based upon fifteen environmental and dietary markers for autism that have been shown to be accurate more than 95% of the time in a study involving more than a thousand individuals. It is believed this test, with early intervention for those found to be at high risk, will allow us to close the door on the autism epidemic thus stopping the development of more children with autism.

Early Prediction
The recently developed screening test has been shown to identify the greatest risk factors for developing autism and it is now being implemented on a limited basis. The symptoms of autism are simply an expression of the various nutritional deficiencies associated with picky eaters or those who fail to eat an adequate diet for good health. The expressions of autism are many and include any or several of the following: toe walking, rocking, tantrums, meltdowns, repetitive speech, lack of eye contact, tics, speech impairment or non-verbal, etc. that pose social problems plus many other symptoms. Some individuals express amazing abilities in math, art, or music but the cause for these talents are not well understood.

The incidence of autism in the U.S. is about 1% of the population or 1 in 88 children and is reported to be increasing at the rate of 10-17% per year. This survey is appropriate in all cases to predict the risk of developing autism. The survey will identify if the individual is in a high risk category even though symptoms are not yet present.

Successful Intervention
Once the survey is completed and the level of risk has been identified, the type and extent of early intervention will depend upon the analysis of the survey results. The appropriate intervention will totally eliminate the risks identified in most cases and at a fraction of the cost associated with searching for a medical solution. The primary treatments generally employed by the medical professions for autism, are for the treatment of medical problems. Autism is not a medical problem but having autism can lead to numerous medical problems.

Dr. Rongey is a Food Scientist & Nutritionist. His niche is in identifying the cause of chronic disorders. The cause of chronic disorders has been researched for the past sixteen years and autism for almost five years. Several books concerning the cause of chronic disorders are available in ebook or paperback format. His recently developed screening test is being implemented on a limited basis so that the success of the various interventions can be more accurately confirmed. For more information on this research or the availability of the books on autism or healthy living, you can contact him as follows:
Harold Rongey, Ph.D. email: Phone: 858-740-7272 or his web site at

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Monday, April 2, 2012

The Power of Positive Self-Talk for Kids With Autism

What type of messages do you think are going on inside your child's mind? Children with special needs such as Autism will intuitively grasp that they are different and pick up on the less than positive judgments from others - however subtle they may be.

Do you pay attention to that voice inside your head? I am not talking about auditory hallucinations here. I am referring to the things we say to ourselves everyday. That continuous chatter of our inner dialogues that typically never stops unless we actively meditate.

Experts tell us that we are constantly talking to ourselves, using between 150 and 300 words a minute to be exact. We plan what needs to be done next or we review things that just happened. Most of this self-talk is harmless yet some of it is detrimental to our self-worth. "That was so stupid of me." or "I will never be popular... thin, smart, pretty, etc." You know what I am talking about. We battle with this every day.

Having some negative self-talk from time to time is to be expected but it is important to be mindful about how often we do this so that it doesn't become our default mode. Unfortunately, these malicious little voices can be even more powerful than positive affirmations because we often find them easier to accept.

Each pessimistic thought or word is a negative affirmation and has the capacity to do a lot of damage if allowed to continue. Self-fulfilling prophecies are built from the thoughts that run inside our heads so repeating positive messages makes better sense if we want to create optimistic possibilities.

We will begin to accept whatever our conscious mind comes to believe, it's that simple. But turning off the negative isn't really that simple to do and if it isn't easy for us as adults think of how difficult it is for our children.

Solution: Teach kids positive affirmations at an early age.

Regardless of your child's challenges and abilities - ALL children will benefit from learning to listen to the positive voices inside their heads and if they don't have many, we need to help them develop some. The more we help our children focus on positive self-talk the more it will minimize the self-blame and doubt that sprouts from paying too much attention to the negative.

As adults we can prevent them from creating a broken record of negative self-talk that gets in the way of progress. We can give our children a jumpstart by teaching them positive affirmations while they are young, setting the stage for good habits to take hold.

For those of you who saw the movie, The Help, there is a powerful example of helping a child develop positive affirmations when Aibileen, a third generation housemaid, who has helped raise seventeen children, teaches Mae, the little girl currently in her care, to repeat the words, "I am smart, I am kind, I am important."

When we encourage our kids to speak and believe such statements instead of "I can't... " or "I should..." etc we are giving them the best gift there is to help them reach their full potential and experience success in life.

In order to get these statements to soak deep into their subconscious mind we can also write these affirmations down and post them in places that our child is apt to run into on a daily basis. The bathroom mirror, their bedside table, the refrigerator, the TV or computer screen and their lunchbox are all good examples of where to place affirmations.

Depending on where your child is on the Autism spectrum, he or she may be more visual and think in pictures. Therefore, find visual pictures that represent the affirmation you want them to absorb and cut them out. Have them look for pictures of what is important to them or what they are good at (or want to be good at).

You can then use these photographs and pictures to make a vision board with your child. This is a great tool to create a positive atmosphere in a child's bedroom, a place where they can refer to it often. Doing this activity together will not only enhance your connection to your child but it will also give you insight into their likes and dislikes, their passions and interests.

They sooner we can help our children to acquire a habit of dismissing the negative dialogue inside their heads and replacing it with positive and affirming self-talk, the sooner our children will be on the road to maximizing their potential. It is a well-known fact that maintaining good thoughts about one's self creates a mindset conducive to growth and an attitude and spirit that is ripe for blossoming. What better gift can you give a child with Autism?

Connie Hammer, MSW, parent educator, consultant and coach, guides parents of young children recently diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder to uncover abilities and change possibilities. Visit her website to get your FREE resources - a parenting e-course, Parenting a Child with Autism - 3 Secrets to Thrive and a weekly parenting tip newsletter, The Spectrum.

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Occupational Therapy For Children With Autism

Everybody has things that they do in everyday life that are important to them. These are called meaningful occupations, because they have a particular importance to the individual. For children, a meaningful occupation is that of a player, learner, friend and son/daughter. In order for a child to engage in these roles, there are many skills and abilities the child needs to develop. For example, for a child to be a friend to someone, he must be able to communicate, empathise and negotiate. The areas that children with Autism often present with difficulties is in communicating, maintaining eye contact, responding to the feelings of others, maintaining appropriate levels of alertness, screening out irrelevant information, and the use of fine motor and gross motor skills. These difficulties when combined can cause the child to struggle maintaining friendships, learn at school, or communicate how he/she feels.

Occupational Therapists work with children with Autism to find out what is meaningful to the child, identify barriers, and facilitate for the child to engage in those meaningful occupations. Occupational Therapists often work on the sensory processing difficulties that children have. This includes tactile defensiveness, where the OT gradually introduces new textures so the child can maintain alertness and not be distracted by particular sensations. Other areas that OT's work is building the child's skills in recognizing the feelings of others, and the skills required for self care tasks such as eating, dressing, playing. Education is important for the family and teachers to ensure they understand the learning, sensory and communication needs of the child.

Want to learn more about child development and parenting? Eileen Simoni invites you to find the BEST help for your child. Get access to our competitions and discounts, and find out whats hot on the family calendar. Child Of Mine is Australia's largest video directory for parents. Come and join us CELEBRATE the abilities of all children. Sign up for a free membership today at []

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