Category Archives: News

Knowledge IS Power!

Long Time No See…

Well, for blogging, I have gotten a big fat “F” this semester. I have tons of excuses… no really I do! School, work, taking on the role of caregiver for my brother-in-law’s kids…. there are more I am sure. I thought now was as good a time as any to get you all updated… and I hope to be better in the near future.

The Boys…

Holy crap batman! I love what I do. These boys are making HUGE strides daily! I am so very proud of all the hard work these kids are doing on a daily basis. Compared to when I started, these kids can sit for longer periods of time and do tasks that were almost impossible. They take fewer breaks and are more excited to learn. I truly believe it is because they know that we believe in them and know that they can accomplish anything we give them. I can see that in their eyes and expressions.

“J” – This kid is really getting the idea of the iPad and has increased his vocabulary a ton! There are times when he grabs the iPad and tells us something and we miss it, so he will repeat it until we hear him… just like a typical teenager! The other day, he brought me his iPad and requested Waffles (breakfast item he has frequently, but he wanted it in the middle of the day). The funny thing was, is that he had already dragged me to the freezer to point at the waffles and I had told him that those were for breakfast. The even funnier thing was that when he brought me the iPad to tell me he wanted waffles, he pushed the button over and over quickly which made it sound like a Rapper… waf-waffl-waf-waffle-waffles. After that, I couldn’t resist popping one in the toaster for him. I am a sucker for a funny kid.

“E” – Has had many successes this year. He is so bright and so talented. It is really cool watching him figure out this world. He would be happiest if we just left him alone, but we can also see that he really likes to learn… on his own terms. We really don’t let him get away with that and I think he likes the structure… but would never admit it. This kid loves to dance. We play YouTube videos as primers for academics and there are some really cool ones that he just LOVES to get up and dance to. We let him… IF… he is in the “dance circle”. It is nice to see him cut loose.

“D” – Oh man… this kid has improved socially SO much. He is my football field sized personal space kid and he is really allowing more people – especially the ones he knows – in his space for longer periods of time. He is starting to trust more. His behavior issues have plummeted for the most part. That is a wonderful thing for us because it allows for more learning to take place. He is also our personal “time-manager”. He knows when things are supposed to happen and makes sure that we ALL know.

“N” – Dang this kid is so smart. He is learning to use the iPad more for communicating his needs and wants. It is so fun to see how FAST he is catching on to using it. It is like we have unlocked a part of him that has been just waiting patiently for the teachers to catch up. He is also super helpful in the classroom and is able to follow directions for cleaning up, pushing in chairs, putting away things, getting things… etc. He really has come a long way too. I am super proud of him and his accomplishments.

All of these guys have come a long way. I am so lucky to be a part of their lives.

Knowledge IS Power…

I didn’t want to bust out right away with my thoughts on the shooting and how the shooter may or may not have a spectrum disorder. I needed to settle my anger and think things through. So, here goes… Whether or not that shooter had an ASD is really not the point. The point is, he massacred kids. Whatever your beliefs on gun control isn’t the point. The point is, he massacred kids P.E.R.I.O.D.

What I am really getting at is that the world needs educated about ASD’s. The world would understand that someone with JUST an ASD isn’t likely to premeditate a massacre. I read somewhere (I would give the proper source if I could remember it… and will if I find it again) that people with an ASD are not PRO-actively violent, but they are REactive. They will not sit around and premeditate a murder, but they may lash out in fear… and by lash out I mean tantrum and if you happen to get in the way of the tantrum, you may get hurt.

I work with a child that is still working on communication. When he is frustrated because he is unable to communicate his needs, he will “tantrum” and that involves pinching… a small violence… but reactive to his frustration… not PRE-meditated.

I don’t live in the shoes of parents with a child on the spectrum, so I can’t possibly know what it feels like to have your child stared at, mocked, or thought of as a monster. I do know from my outings with the boys that there are a lot of looks and snickers, but there are a lot of kind people too. I don’t know how many times you have had to say the words “he/she has autism” or the pain that you must feel, but I do know that the more we educate people, the better off these kids will be. People will finally understand that the person that walked in to that school that day MAY have had an ASD, but he surely had other issues as well. The ASD alone was not the culprit.

I hope that I got my point across and that I did it in a way that is respectful.

Last but not least…

Something is brewing… something really cool. I will share all of the details when I can. Just keep me in your thoughts and prayers. God knows what it is so just put in a good word for me.

Thanks for reading!

~Kari

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Filed under Autism, Lessons, News

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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