Thursday, September 4, 2014

What is Autism?

     In a recent blog, titled, "What is Special Education" I explained that  Special education is defined under the federal law , Individuals with Disabilities Act  (IDEA) as "Specially designed instruction at no cost to the parent, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability." Special education law has thirteen categories of special education. Each category has its own detailed requirements. Special education pertains to students ages 3-22 who attend a public school. Tonight, I am going to explain the first category, autism, in a little more detail. 
     Autism as defined by the "National Autism Association", is a bio-neurological developmental disability.  Autism generally displays before the age of three. In the regressive type of autism, the child generally appears to have normal development until the age of 1 or 2 but then all of a sudden lose language and/or social skills that they previously had. Autism is generally characterised by impaired social interactions, limited or impairments in communication, and repetitive behaviors. Often those with autism have restricted interests and atypical eating preferences. Sometimes they also have sensory issues with types of fabrics, textures, and or temperatures.
     Those who represent with autism often have social and communication impairments. Often the person does not respond to one's own name, does not smile or make eye contact, and lack's a response to social stimuli. Social stimuli are things like: hand clapping, shaking a rattle, or following a gaze. They also, often lack the ability to pretend play, do not have imitation skills,  or they act aloof like they do not hear.
     Often those with autism have repetitive behaviors such as hand-flapping, making sounds but not words, head rolling, and body rocking.  Persons with autism also have compulsive behaviors such as having the need to arrange items in a certain order, in stacks and piles, or in a fixed line. Any change made to this order will be met with the person's need to fix it.
     Those with autism often have restricted interests .  The individual may need to watch a television line-up in the same order and same time ever day. The person may fixate on a single television show or character, a toy, an object such as helicopters, airplanes, water or perhaps a game. 
     Self-injurious behavior is not uncommon in those with autism. The person may head bang on a wall or with their hand, poke their eye, bite themselves, or pick their skin. I've also seen an autistic person poke his ear and head with a thumb nail showing no response to pain.
    Often those with autism have odd sleep patterns which can include insomnia, early morning wakening, and night time awakening. Also they often walk in their tip toes.
   Autism effects 1 in 68 children; more often boys than girls. Children with autism can make progress. Early intervention is an important key.
   This blog is simply informative only, since autism is one of the thirteen categories included in the federal law IDEA. If you suspect your child may have autism then see your pediatrician or family doctor for advice. In future blogs I will give more detail of the other twelve categories included in IDEA. To restate, the other twelve categories are: deaf/blindness, developmental delays, emotional disturbance, intellectually disabled, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairments, other health impairments, specific learning disabilities, speech and language impairments, traumatic brain injury, and visual impairments.

Daily Educator Links:

Be Proactive in your Communications with Parents

Why we Should Rethink Homework for ADHD Kids

Daily Parent Link:

Healthy Play Outdoors After School

Children's Book Review:

     Papa, please get the moon for me, is Eric Carle at his finest. In the books simplest terms this gorgeous picture shows the great lengths a father will go for his child. The books design is unique and fascinating for a child with it's pull up pages and expansions. I would personally love being able to climb a ladder to the moon! This is a story that will warm your heart.


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