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What is Autism?

Autism is a complex neurological disorder that typically appears during the first two years of life and affects the functioning of the brain and interferes with normal development of verbal and nonverbal communication, social interaction and sensory development. Autism is a spectrum disorder meaning it affects each person in different ways and can range from very mild to severe and is often referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD . !elow is a general overview of tendencies shown by individuals with autism from the "enters for Disease "ontrol and #revention. $very individual with autism is different and may show some of these signs%

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'ot responding to their name by () months 'ot pointing at ob*ects to show interest by (+ months 'ot playing ,pretend, games by (- months Avoiding eye contact #referring to be alone .rouble understanding other people/s feelings or tal0ing about their own feelings Delayed speech and language s0ills 1epeating words or phrases over and over 2iving unrelated answers to 3uestions 2etting upset by minor change 4bsessive interests 5lapping hands, roc0ing body, or spinning in circles 6nusual reactions to the way things around sound, smell, taste, loo0 or feel

Autism occurs in all racial, social and socioeconomic groups but is more li0ely to occur in boys than in girls. 7n a )88- study conducted by the Autism and Developmental Disabilities 9onitoring (ADD9 'etwor0, a collection of groups funded by the 6nited States "enter for Disease "ontrol, data collected

from health and special education records of children living in (+ areas of the 6nited States during )88- were used to estimate the prevalence of Autism in children. 1esults found that approximately ( in -- children have been identified as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Among families that have one child with an ASD, recurrence of ASD in another sibling is between ) and

- percent. 7n addition, almost : times as many boys were identified with ASDs than girls (( in :+

compared to ( in ):) . .his disorder is the third most common developmental disorder, more common
than Down Syndrome.

.he 1ole of the School "ounselor .he role of the counselor changes depending on the grade level. 7n elementary schools, counselors can help facilitate the implementation of social s0ills lessons, as well as classroom lessons to educate the other students of their autistic classmate. .his can be combined with lessons about appreciate of individuals and their differences. .he school counselor at the elementary level can also help with routines and chec0lists. .hey can be a point person for the student to chec0 in with. As students transition from elementary to middle, and then from middle to high school, the counselors should wor0 with each other to facilitate a smooth transitions. 5or autistic students, this means getting them a3uatinted with their new environment and teachers and explaining and practicing their schedule and routine. 7n grade school and middle school a large focus should be put upon helping the student develop peer relationships. .his is crucial to have by the time the student has entered adolescence. At the high school level, although social s0ills and peer relationships remain important, the school counselors focus should be transition planning for post;secondary life. Although it seems that this could wait until ((th or ()th grade, transition planning should begin in <th grade. .his is a collaborative process between teacher, parents and students. .he school counselor should wor0 with the student, parents and teacher in discovering and deciding the following details%

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7ncome support opportunities 1esidential options 9edical needs $mployment opportunities #ost;secondary training options "ommunity and leisure options 9aintenance of family and friends Advocacy=2uardianship

7n order to decide between these options it is important to evaluate the students strengths and wea0ness and their desired outcomes. .he school counselor can play an important role in supporting the student as they decide the path they wish to ta0e by% encouraging volunteering, providing wor0 experience options, encouraging participation in extracurricular, helping with dress and interview s0ills, and continued support on social s0ills.

#ersonal and Social Development Although personal and social development can vary depending on where a child falls on the Autism spectrum, all disorders share similar challenges. #roblems with social interaction are a shared characteristic of the autism spectrum disorders> it?s especially present in Asperger?s Syndrome, as it?s a predominant characteristic. Among other social challenges, individuals with autism have a difficult time interpreting others emotions and this can often ma0e social interactions with peers, teachers and parents difficult. @4ne aspect of the difficulties people with Autism is illuminated in the Atheory of mind? hypothesisB (#etters, pg.-( . According to #eters, theory of mind means the ability to read a person?s hidden or implied emotions although something else may be directly portrayed. .his means they have difficulty understanding irony or sarcasm. As one autistic student told me with a dead pan expression, @7 have difficulty emotingB. 7ndividuals with Autism and Asperger?s also struggle with the idea of reciprocity. .his is the bac0 and forth pattern and flow that ma0e up all social interactions. .hey will often respond in a short, blunt manner or do not respond at all. .his can be interpreted as rude, although it?s almost always unintentional. 4bviously, those autistic children who are none verbal don?t ta0e part in conversations at all. #arents often report they feel they carry on the whole conversation and relationship. Autistic students don?t understand how to as0 3uestions and engage another person in conversation. .he Autistic child doesn?t understand how to initiate or maintain a conversation with other individuals. .his limits the child/s ability to ma0e friends and develop valuable social s0ills. Autistic children often lac0 eye contact, may not smile and their posture may not convey interest. .hese characteristics inhibit them from ma0ing friends and engaging in social interactions. .hey may also not interpret or give encouraging gestures and nodding. All these physical signs can give off negative messages to those around them. #eer relationships during childhood and adolescence play an important role in being able to practice social s0ills and will become part of a person?s identity. 7n this respect, social development then affects personal development as children either see themselves as a person able to have social relationships or not. Due to the nature of autism, autistic children often discourage peer interaction. .he use of evidence based practices can provide autistic children with the s0ills to overcome these challenges. #ost School 4utcomes #ost school outcomes for students with autism vary greatly depending upon where they fall on the spectrum. 5or many students the post school outcomes are 3uite positive, evidence shows that there is a high rate of post;secondary school attendance as well as entrance into the wor0 force. #ost school outcomes also vary depending on transition preparation and *ob readiness, or readiness for further education. Post School outcomes according to The National Longitudinal Transition Study (2009) C<.CD of individual with autism attend some sort of post;secondary school (vocational, )yr, +yr +).:D received a degree, license or certificate

from a post;secondary institution. EC.<D received a degree, license or diploma from a +yr university. C<.:D Wor0ed for pay other than around the house. !est #ractices for .eaching Student with Autism

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4rganiFe the student?s activities; daily schedules, mini schedules, chec0lists, choice boards (this is a best practice for many students. Gisual instructions or directions in addition to verbal. $xplain things directly. !rea0 down verbal instructions into small cues, step by step. Assist the child in understanding the organiFation of the environment. Habeling bins and supplies boxes, 0nowing where things go. Support and encourage appropriate behavior. .each social s0ills. .his can be done through stories depicting social cues and responses and pictorials. .each self; control. .his can be done through rewarding expected behaviors and the use of pictorials. "hoose age appropriate materials even if they have to be modified.

#rovide opportunity for choice. Students with autism often have a hard time ma0ing themselves understood> additionally much of their life is structured by adults. .o facilitate social development they need practice in ma0ing choices. Do not give open ended choices at first, but rather one or two options then build from there. #ay attention to processing and pacing. Students with autism may need more time to process and respond. 6se concrete examples to teach abstract ideas.

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.ips for managing challenging behavior


7dentify the behavior, where and when it occurs? What happens before it and how people react? 7t?s important to understand that some challenging behavior may not be harmful to the student are others. Decide if the behavior is truly a problem. Does it interfere with learning of the student or others? Does it result in diminished peer interaction? .ry to find the reason or motivation behind the behavior. 7t can help to include the parents in this discussion. #erhaps slightly changing the environment can aide in eliminating the behavior. 7dentify and describe alternative behavior to the student.




1eward positive and appropriate behavior.

7nterventions .he 'ational #rofessional Development "enter ('#D" have identified )+ separate evidence; based practices ($!#s used as intervention techni3ues for children and youth with autism spectrum disorders. Some of the practices are categoriFed by their more general intervention goals. 4ne group is referred to as behavioral teaching strategies. .hese are based on the foundation of applied behavioral analysis and are closely associated with the use of the functional behavioral assessment. .hese strategies relate to teaching students about antecedents and conse3uences of behavior. .hese techni3ues include%

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#rompting I .eaching the student about the antecedent of particular behaviors which will help them prepare for the behavioral situation when it arises. 1einforcement I .eaching the student about the conse3uence of particular behaviors, helping the student prepare for that particular situation when it occurs. .as0 analysis and chaining I similar to prompting, this strategy uses a behavioral education model that teaches the student about antecedents by brea0ing them down into steps and lin0s those steps together. .ime delay I antecedent teaching that focuses on effortless learning for the student.

.here is another category of interventions that are focused on helping to reduce or eliminate interfering behaviors. .his category of strategies is based primarily on the principals of positive behavior support which rely on individual interventions surrounding functional behavior assessments. $xamples of positive behavioral support strategies include%

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5unctional !ehavior Assessment (5!A I 6sed in determining the function of a student?s behavior by focusing on the antecedent, the behavior and the conse3uences. Stimulus "ontrol= $nvironmental 9odification I .his involves modifying a student?s environment so as to best fit the learner?s behavior. 1esponse 7nterruption= 1edirection I .his refers to the bloc0ing of interfering behavior by redirecting the student towards appropriate behavior. 5unctional "ommunication .raining (5". I5". tries to implement more appropriate behavior in the place of interfering behavior by focusing on the function of the behavior and seeing that the appropriate behavior serves the same purpose for the student. $xtinction I by withdrawing a reinforcing stimulus for an inappropriate behavior, extinction wor0s to reduce or eliminate that behavior. Differential 1einforcement I .his strategy wor0s to replace an inappropriate behavior with more appropriate behaviors by reinforcing alternative or less inappropriate behaviors. Self;management I Students learn to monitor their and reinforce their own behavior by recording and reporting on their behaviors.

7n addition to these categories of evidence based interventions to be used in wor0ing with individuals with autism spectrum disorders, there are a number of other non;affiliated strategies to use as well, including%

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Discrete .rial .raining (D.. I 6tiliFing a methodical strategy of one;on;one instruction for teaching various s0ills 'aturalistic 7nterventions I 5ocuses on utiliFing typical settings and scenarios for teaching particular s0ills so as to ma0e those s0ills translatable to the student?s actual life. #arent;implemented 7nterventions I .hese interventions are based on the belief that the parent is the most effective teacher for their child. #eer;mediated 7nstruction= 7ntervention (#977 I .his strategy is designed for peers of students with autism, teaching those classmates how to initiate and carry on interactions, thus aiding more social interactions for the student with autism. #icture $xchange "ommunication System (#$"S I focused on facilitating functions of communication, this strategy involves the student and teacher actually handing pictures and symbols to one another for the purposes of communication. #ivotal 1esponse .raining (#1. I .his strategy is aimed at teaching the student ta0e advantage of learning by see0ing out opportunities for learning in their everyday life. Social 'arratives I 6sed to help the student to ad*ust their behavior or ad*ust to the situation, the student writes narratives that describe specific examples of social situations. Social S0ills .raining 2roups I Small groups that maintain the goal of learning, practicing and getting feedbac0 for social s0ills. Structured Wor0 Systems I with the goal of practicing s0ills that have been taught already, the student utiliFes structured settings that provide visual and physical constants. Gideo 9odeling I using observation via assistive technology, the student practices behavior through pre;rehearsal. Gisual Support I these are tools that the student can use to record events and activities independently. "omputer;aided instruction G4"A=Speech 2enerating Devices (S2D I portable electronic devices used for communication for non;verbal students, also used to teach students communication s0ills.



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