Monthly Archives: January 2012

NO!

DON’T! STOP!…

When someone says these words to us, it usually puts us on guard.

One thing that I have learned from being an aide in a classroom for kids with Autism (from an amazing BCBA) is that it is best to try to avoid those negative words to the best of our ability. If a child is in danger, then of course those would be the first words chosen.

I have seen, first hand, how changing our vocabulary from what we don’t want a child doing… TO what we want them to do, has a better outcome most every time.

For example:

Instead of saying “Stop running through the classroom”, say “I would like for you to come sit down.” using gentle redirection with the words.

Instead of saying “Don’t touch that”, say “Please put your hands down”, or “here so and so, take this”.

Instead of saying “No you can’t have that”, say “First we do this, then you can have that”, or “you can have that at _________(insert time)”.

These are things we can use with kids with Autism or NT kids. We all prefer a good redirection over an ass chewing any day!

~Kari

 

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Autism Diagnosis Changing?

For those of you that know me, you know that I am all for research. I totally understand (especially in the field of psychology), that things are continually being looked at, re-evaluated, and studied. If it weren’t for other researcher’s in the field of psychology, we all might still be stuck with what Freud thought about everything. Oy Vey!

I recently heard that the DSM-V is going to revise the diagnosis of ASD disorders such as Autism, Aspberger’s, and PDD-NOS. I decided to check in to this by reading an exorbitant amount of stuff on the internet.  I am very mindful of the fact that all things on the internet should be taken with a grain of salt, however, I also try to look in to “trustworthy sources”. As such, I will definitely give credit where it is due.

First, I will give the current DSM-IV criteria for diagnosis of Autism, Aspberger’s and PDD-NOS.

AUTISM (Austismwatch.org)

A. A total of six (or more) items from (1), (2), and (3), with at least two from (1), and one each from (2) and (3)
(1) qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:

  • (a) marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction
  • (b) failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
  • (c) a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest)
  • (d) lack of social or emotional reciprocity

(2) qualitative impairments in communication as manifested by at least one of the following

  • (a) delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language (not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through alternative modes of communication such as gesture or mime)
  • (b) in individuals with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
  • (c) stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language
  • (d) lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to developmental level

(3) restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

  • (a) encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
  • (b) apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
  • (c) stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
  • (d) persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

B. Delays or abnormal functioning in at least one of the following areas, with onset prior to age 3 years: (1) social interaction, (2) language as used in social communication, or (3) symbolic or imaginative play

C. The disturbance is not better accounted for by Rett’s Disorder or Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.

Aspberger’s (autreat.com)

(I) Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:

      (A) marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction
      (B) failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
      (C) a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interest or achievements with other people, (e.g.. by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
      (D) lack of social or emotional reciprocity

(II) Restricted repetitive & stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

      (A) encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
      (B) apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
      (C) stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g. hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
      (D) persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

(III) The disturbance causes clinically significant impairments in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

(IV) There is no clinically significant general delay in language (E.G. single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years)

(V) There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self help skills, adaptive behavior (other than in social interaction) and curiosity about the environment in childhood.

(VI) Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia.

PDD-NOS (firstsigns.org)

This category should be used when there is a severe and pervasive impairment in the development of reciprocal social interaction or verbal and nonverbal communication skills, or when stereotyped behavior, interests, and activities are present, but the criteria are not met for a specific pervasive developmental disorder, schizophrenia, schizotypal personality disorder, or avoidant personality disorder. For example, this category includes “atypical autism” –presentations that do not meet the criteria for autistic disorder because of late age of onset, atypical symptomatology, or subthreshold symptomatology, or all of these.

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I understand that all that information is a lot to take in, but if you have a child that falls into one of those categories, you kind of get the gist.

Now, from what I understand from this article, the DSM-V (coming out sometime in 2013), will drop Aspberger’s and PDD-NOS as their own separate diagnoses and lump them in to the Autism diagnosis.

According to Daniel DeNoon, “The researcher, Fred R. Volkmar, MD, director of the Child Study Center at the Yale School of Medicine, re-analyzed data from a 1993 autism study using a new definition of autism proposed for 2013.

As currently proposed — the new definition won’t be final until later this year — the diagnosis of Asperger’s disorder will go away. So will pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and childhood disintegrative disorder.

Instead, those diagnoses will be “subsumed” into the single diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder or ASD.

Volkmar told the NYT that this means fewer than half of the higher-functioning kids now diagnosed with autism would meet the new diagnosis. Some 75% of kids with Asperger’s would be excluded, he says, as would some 85% of those with PDD-NOS.”

I agree that Autism and other ASD disorders are sprouting up everywhere these days and in my opinion, it is because doctors and psychologists are more aware of what these disorders encompass. However, my HOPE is that those with Aspberger’s and PDD-NOS will not be left out when it comes to educational and medical assistance. Each of the children on the spectrum deserve the best treatment and coverage possible whether they be at the high or low end of said spectrum.

If you get a chance, take a look at the article.

Hope this helps explain things a bit.

~Kari

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Goosebump kind of day!!

Working with kids with Autism causes a lot of goosebump moments. Today was a goosebump on your goosebump kind of day!

As I mentioned in this post, one of the kids in my class is learning how to use a speech/speaking program called Proloquo2Go. He is non-verbal, so we have been working with him daily to teach him how to speak with this program. He has made some good progress touching “yes” when appropriate, “no”, “I’m done”, “I need a break”, “Ready to work”, and a few other things when we prompt him. These are all baby steps and it is wonderful to see him take those.

Today however, this beautiful child, UNPROMPTED, SAID (using his iPad) – “I want, to eat, snack, fruit rollup”!!!! 

Now, to better understand the magnitude of this feat, you need to understand Proloquo.

Each set of words that he said are like folders in a computer. “I want” is a folder, “to eat” is a selection in the “I want”  folder, “snack” is selection in the  “to eat” folder, and “fruit rollup” is a selection in the “snack” folder. This child had to know where to select each item from each folder and he FLIPPIN DID IT ON HIS OWN!!!

We went ape-shit!! We praised him.. rewarded him with tons of praise, high-fives, and the fruit rollup! You should have seen his smiles. He actually got up from the table and ran around happy, smiling, and thrilled with himself. He must have felt so proud that he was able to SPEAK! To let us know what he wanted!

Skip ahead to later in the day…

This beautiful child … once again… SAID… “I want, to eat, snack, Christmas Goodies”once again.. UNPROMPTED!!!!

I am so excited for him! I am so proud of him!! I am so proud of us!!

Goosebumps on my goosebumps!!

Now I am going to chillax and gloat…

~Kari

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1st Day Back…

… was an excellent day!!

Only one kid had issues with readjusting back to school and I was shocked that it was just one kid. Normally the day after a long holiday is rough on our kids. It just is… but today was a good day. Lots of smiles and hand claps and wonderful participation.

It just goes to show that when you love these kids as much as we do,  that they feel safe and secure in going to school. They need the routine and the structure. We have a great group of very smart boys!!

Promised I would fill you in on how the day went… and it was good!!

~Kari

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I am so ready…

…to go back to school!!

I am pretty sure that all of you parents are ready for school to start back up too! AND… hopefully the kids are just as ready!

I wondered a lot this past couple of weeks what the boys were up to. Wonder if they had a good break. Hope that they had a great Christmas with their families. I am sure they did.

I had a pretty good break myself. There were definitely a few hiccups, but nothing that a positive attitude and God can’t fix. I needed the relaxation and to refill my “cup”.

BUT!!!… I am so ready to:

  • Hear – Good morning Ka eee
  • See – their smiling faces
  • High Five – their wonderful hands
  • Work – harder than we ever had

Tomorrow can not get here fast enough. Heck… even the teacher called me today excited to get back to work. We have a great team and I am so very blessed to work with such amazing people. And, I am so very blessed to work with such amazing boys!

I will let you know how it goes.

~Kari

 

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Corey Foulem – Moves Like Jagger – YouTube

I am always inspired by kids with Autism breaking out of their shell and doing things in front of “average” kids. This teaches those kids that although kids with Autism are different, they can be completely amazing.

Corey and one of the teachers from his school put on this amazing show. It is long, but well worth the watch!!


Carly Fleischmann posted this on her FaceBook page today. Thanks girl!!

~Kari

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