Thursday, June 28, 2012

ADD Autistic Spectrum Disorders - ASD

Autistic Spectrum Disorders
Lisa, a member of forum, has very kindly put together an Information Sheet with Information and Help for ASD - our thanks to Lisa for allowing us to use this on adders.orgAUTISTIC SPECTRUM DISORDERS.

1) Language and Communication.

Literal interpretation for e.g., "pull your socks up" "I'm dying to try that" "the road was jammed" "draw the curtains" "its raining cats and dogs"

Cannot understand sarcasm or double meanings, does not understand the "punch line" in jokes, but may have learnt to laugh along with others.

Body language and non verbal cues, cannot "read" social situations, seems insensitive or unresponsive to peoples needs, may laugh when someone is upset, cannot "read" body language such as frowning, arms folded, stance, facial expressions etc. cannot "guess" what someone else is feeling by body language.

Difficulty in processing and retaining verbal information, can hear perfectly well, but may appear to understand or recall one day but not the next. Poor listening skills, may respond better to visual aids to aid learning.

Recommended Action: speak clear and make sure the child understands what's expected of them, break down instructions, given one at a time and make sure the child has understood what is expected of them. A good rule of thumb is say what you mean and mean what you say.

2) Flexibility of Thought.

Finds changes to routine very upsetting, prefers sameness, feels safe with routine, theory of mind, assumes everyone feels, thinks, reacts same way he/she does, EG if the child needs help, may not ask for help as assumes people know what he/she is thinking/feeling. Inability to be able to "walk a mile in someone else's shoes" cannot guess what someone else is feeling by body language. Ridged concrete thinking, sees the world "in black and white" there are no grey areas. Cannot see they may be offensive even if they have offended, as it wasn't their intention.

Recommended Action: visual timetables, looking for non verbal cues that the child may be struggling and needing help, being aware that the child may not ask for help even if its required. Social skills groups learning about thoughts, feelings of others. Advance warning of change.

3) Social and Emotional.

Difficulty with friendships and relationships, has a "one track mind" sticks on one topic, unable to think through others peoples needs, or spotting when it might be someone else's turn to talk, has no idea the chosen topic may not be of interest to others, naive and tactless remarks such as "you smell" or "your fat" or "you look funny" causing offence which may cause social isolation. Unable to seek out and make appropriate friendships using body language or non verbal cues. Likes predictability so makes unstructured parts of the day extremely difficult for them, always likes to know what's happening from one minute to the next. Lack of understanding of rules in games so may say "games are boring" to mask their difficulty of the rules.

Recommended Action, a buddy system, a sympathetic adult to encourage friendships, social stories or groups learning about social skills, turn taking etc. encourage the child to participate in a game from the side line for a few minutes each day. Learn a method of communicating with the child that he/she may be becoming boring or not listening to someone else. Minimise unstructured parts of the day and make the day as predictable as possible.

4) Not Mentioned in the Triad is Sensory Issues.

may react violently to loud noises, may jump up or strike out, holds hands over ears, may even try to escape a situation. Bright lights can over stimulate. Recommended action: a quiet area for the child to retreat and calm down, be predictable and have advanced warnings if they are likely to be in an area where they may get sensory overload. Never force the child to participate in something they may be getting anxious about, doing so can result in meltdown.

Some children need to "stim" some stimming behaviours are twisting, rocking, spinning, hand flapping, flicking fingers in front of the eyes and tapping.

Recommended Action: identify the stimming behaviours and allow the child to stim. They are not trying to be disruptive. If possible, let them retreat to their quiet area, or allow them to fiddle with something like a piece of blue tac or a squooshie ball.

Of course, not all children will have impairments in all these areas. ASD is a huge spectrum with a huge umbrella of symptoms. They are all individual.

The key is to get to know the child and how their ASD impacts on them and those around them. Most important is to be sympathetic and understanding and not to punish them for any part of their ASD.

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