Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Social Awareness for Autism Spectrum Disorder

In my mundane life I teach students who are on the Autism Spectrum Disorder.
What is autism? We hear a lot about it in the media. Here is what the Autism Society of America has to say and this definition comes from the site. http://www.autism-society.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_whatis
What is Autism?

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.

Autism is one of five disorders that falls under the umbrella of Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD), a category of neurological disorders characterized by “severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development.”

Autism is the most common of the Pervasive Developmental Disorders, affecting an estimated 1 in 150 births (Centers for Disease Control Prevention, 2007). Roughly translated, this means as many as 1.5 million Americans today are believed to have some form of autism. And this number is on the rise.

Based on statistics from the U.S. Department of Education and other governmental agencies, autism is growing at a startling rate of 10-17 percent per year. At this rate, the ASA estimates that the prevalence of autism could reach 4 million Americans in the next decade.

Autism knows no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries; family income levels; lifestyle choices; or educational levels, and can affect any family and any child.

And although the overall incidence of autism is consistent around the globe, it is four times more prevalent in boys than in girls."

As a teacher, I found that the most difficult part of this disability is teaching them basic social skills. What we take for granite, like social cues, body language, tone of our voice, innuendos, jokes etc, they find difficult to comprehend and process.

We are putting a program into place at my school that is in its infancy. We have found that students who have been given consistent social skills training, teaching and modeling for navigating the world they are much more successful. But, unlike most disabilities "the books is still being written on autism."

Part of the goal of this blog is to create a forum for discussion on autism. This includes Asperger's Syndrome and related disabilities.

1st. Question: As a parent, teacher, sibling or just an observer, what social skills instructions do think has worked? What hasn't worked?

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