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Definition from IDEA:
• A developmental disability affecting verbal and
nonverbal communication and social interaction,
generally evident before age 3, that affects a child’s
performance. Other characteristics often associated
with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and
stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental
change or change in daily routines, and unusual
responses to sensory experiences. The term does not
apply if a child’s educational performance is adversely
affected primarily because the childe has serious
emotional disturbance.
Focus on Autism

• Characteristics
• Prevalence
• Causes
• Facts
• Signs of Autism
• Simulations
Autism Characteristics

• Impaired social interaction

– Picked up/cuddled
– Smile/laugh
– Objects vs. people
• Impaired communication
– 50% thought to be mute
– Robotic, parroting or reverse pronouns
• Repetitive and stereotyped patterns of
– Twirling, flapping of hands, rocking
– Restricted range of interest
Autism Characteristics
• Impaired cognition
– Remember location in space rather than
concept comprehension
• ie. “shopping”
– Autistic savant: splinter skills
• ie. Rain Man
• Abnormal Sensory Perceptions
– Hyperresponsive or hyporresponsive
– Synaesthesia: the stimulation of one sensory
or cognitive system results in the stimulation
of another

Autism is the most

prevalent of the ASD’s
and the second most
common is PDD-NOS
SOURCE: Interactive Autism Network which is a less severe
form and/or later onset.
• Neurological
• No single, known cause
• Genetic Problems
– Depending on the gene, a child may be more
susceptible to the disorder
• Can affect the way brain cells communicate
• Can affect the severity of the symptoms
• Environmental Problems
– Causes many other health problems
– Exploring whether or not trigger autism
• ie. air pollutants and viral infections
Vaccines and Autism

• No reliable study has

shown a link between
the MMR vaccine and
• Avoiding vaccines
can place your child
at risk for catching
serious diseases
• Approximately 1 in 110 children are diagnosed
with autism.

• Over the last 30 to 40 years there has been

great increase in the number of diagnosed

• Autism is the fastest-growing serious

developmental disability in the U.S.

• Sometimes students can be identified as LD or

DCD when if fact they have autism.
More Facts

• Autism is more prevalent in boys than girls

– Approximately 3:1 or 4:1

• Autism is more prevalent in siblings of those

with ASD

• Autism is more prevalent in those with other

developmental disorders such as Fragile X
syndrome, Developmental Cognitive Delayed,
or Tuberculosis.
Early Signs of Autism

• 6 months
– No big smiles or warm, joyful expressions
• 9 months
– No back and forth sharing of sounds, smiles, etc
• 12 months
– No consistent response to his/her name
– No babbling
– No back and forth gestures, such as pointing showing,
reaching, waving, or three-pronged gaze
• 16 months
– No words
• 24 months
– No two-word meaningful phrases (without imitation or
What can we do as teachers?

• Research programs
• Accommodations in the Lesson
• Accommodations in the
• Assessment Practices
Curriculum of Programs
The program should teach the child:
• Ability to attend
• Imitate others
• Comprehend and use language
• Play appropriately with toys
• Socially interact with others
Accommodations in the

1. Choose or make materials with clear, visual

completion criteria.
2. Tasks that have visually clear instructions.
3. Provide students with visual aids for lectures.
4. Prepare students for transitions.
5. Use the student’s interests in lesson planning.
6. Use clear, concise language.
7. Modeling.
8. Incorporate the strengths of students with autism in
your lessons.
9. If student has difficulty with handwriting, for some
assignments, allow alternative ways to respond.
10. Reinforce positive behavior.
Teaching Strategies
• Direct Instruction
• Behavior Management
– Find ways to support positive behaviors rather
than punish negative behaviors
• Instruction in Natural Settings– settings
and interactions that non-disabled children
• Teaching one-on-one or in small groups
Assessment Practices
• Testing accommodations vary on case to
case basis
• Extended time and small-group of
individual administration are common

• Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) is a

developmental disability that is defined by
impairments in social relationships, verbal
and nonverbal communication, and by
restrictive, repetitive patterns of behaviors,
interests, and activities.
• 48 out every 10,000 children (Kadesjo,
Gillberg, & Nagberg, 1999)

• Identified in 1944 by Hans Asperger.

• Brought to the attention of the English-
speaking world in 1980 by Dr. Lorna Wing.
• Was not added to the Diagnostic and
Statistics Manual of the American
Psychiatric Association until 1994.
• “Autism’s Shadow”
• Genetics (still a lot of research in Progress)
 Family inheritance on father’s side

• Studies of brain
 Right lobe studies using MRI’s
o Research done in 1994 and 1995
o Disability with right hemisphere
o Right front lobe especially deals with “social rules”

• Other Findings
 Birth problems, lack of oxygen
 central nervous system dysfunction

• Emotional deprivation
• Bad parenting
• Marked delay in non-verbal behaviors
• Impairments in establishing peer
• Delays in social reciprocity
• Preoccupation with one restricted area of
• Inflexibility or rigidity, sticking to a set,
sometimes non-functional routine; stereo-
typed and repetitive motor movements
• Preoccupation with parts of objects
• Peculiarities in speech
Symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome

• Impairments in social interaction, narrow

interests, an insistence on repetitive
routines, speech and language
peculiarities, non-verbal communication
problems and motor clumsiness

• Avoid interactions
• Mute
• Behavior the main means of
• Fascination with sensory experience

• Approach adults for assistance with

objects and for physical stimulation
• Prolonged solitary play
• Speech requires an external prompt,
(echolalia, seeing an object/picture,
dialogue “borrowed” from a favorite video)
• Fascination with symmetry and collecting
specific objects
Active but Odd

• Often initiates interactions of short

• Repetitive questions (social echolalia,
script, alternative meaning, reassurance)
• Lack of social play with others
• Fascination with a specific topic or person.
Instructional Ideas
• Be careful in classroom seating assignments
• Use the “peer buddy” system
• Avoid self-selection in group work
• Carefully consider the maturity of the group
members involved
• Provide “safe haven” or quiet area
• Explain metaphor and sarcasm use concretely
• Use “social stories” for providing directions
• Vigorously but respectfully maintain class rules
and other boundaries
Other treatments
• Parent education and training
• Social skills training
• Language therapy
• Sensory integration training for younger children,
usually performed by an occupational therapist,
in which a child is desensitized to stimuli to
which he is overly sensitive
• Psychotherapy or behavioral/cognitive therapy
for older children
• Exceptional Learners by Daniel P. Hallahan,
James M. Kauffman, Paige C. Pullen
• MN Dept. of Education
• How to create an inclusive classroom
• Good resource to help identify autism
• Autism Speaks organization
• Promoting Social Interaction: 4 strategies