How tablets can aid in education for people with Autism.
Autism Spectrum disorder was once considered a rare condition, but now it is the most encumbering and common childhood disorder. Individuals with Autism appear similar to other people who are not suffering from Autism, which has caused them to have different treatment in the world. There has been an increase in the number of persons diagnosed with Autism hence a significant change in informative standards and the knowledge that has allowed accessibility and affordability of tablets. The tablet is considered a phenomenon teaching device for people with Autism, particularly individuals with special needs, societal and emotional skills deficits, and Autism. Tablet is a multisensory device that has helped kids conquer the struggle of using a mouse and the supercomputer by moving and dragging things with their hands. Our tablets will help Autistic individuals to have the capability to improve emotional and social abilities and giving them more motivation to learn while using tablets. The tablet is aimed at empowering our loved ones with life-improving skills.
Children with Autism learn differently globally. They easily get distracted due to their condition, so our app will help children learn to better engage and concentrate in learning activities. The tablet is preloaded with our Autism 2 Tower app for nonverbal users. The kids with Autism will learn to identify better and regulate anxiety, communication, emotions, managing time and routines, and practicing a successful social exchange. Tablets hold a promise to learners with Autism in maintaining Autistic features, communication, and access to the curriculum when the tablet is personalized. Tablets lead to a standard shift towards using technology in the classroom, especially for individuals with Autistic disorder. The tablets will replace a couple of tools for the therapists, educators, parents, and children since it is an easily affordable alternative compared to other steadfast amplified-communication devices which nonverbal kids use to communicate.
A tablet is a particular need community is very significant since it acts as a communication feature for those who have a complex communication disorder. The graphic display is highly stirring and appealing for learners with Autism. This photographic display has enhanced expressive and amenable communication and getting attention in children with Autism. Tablets help children with Autism intensify the understanding of linguistic concepts, endorsing memory recollection in Autistic kids, and enable societal commencement and emotional commitment in children with severe incapacities and kids with Autism. The app on our tablet has camera features, and it has more visual options to offer to children. The kids can use the tablet and tap letters onto the screen designed for the proficient apps. It voices them and takes personalized videos and photos, and modifies them. The app makes it easy to customize according to the unique need of the user. The tablets will positively impact the community since it inspires personal information about individuals with Autism. Our organization is mainly aimed at making life easier and better for our family members with Autism, and the use of tablets is just one of the good things that will make life easier for them.
Bullying in the Autism Population
The years of a person’s childhood goes by so fast. These years should be some of the best years of their life, filled with fun, discovery, memories and enriching experiences. However, although that is the ideal case, many persons experience the opposite. Pain, hurt and trauma fill what should have been a blissful period. For some children, mental, emotion, physical and sexual abuse plague the memories of their younger years. Many face scrutiny and rejection during their school years from their peers. Constant rejection, name calling, labelling, physical assault and humiliation within the school system from peers is called bullying. Children on the autism spectrum receive a very large amount of this treatment in mainstream schools, thus negatively affecting their mental health, self-esteem and social outcomes for years after the incidents are behind.
Children who are diagnosed with Autism struggle socially, due in large to the fact that their disorder entails social-communication impairments and difficulty. This means that communicating, making friends, exchanging ideas, understanding facial expressions, gestures and figures of speech, giving and receiving affection, understanding personal boundaries and other social skills become hard to navigate and sometimes impossible to do if the child is on the severe end of the spectrum. This may make them standout among their peers as different. Since children are not capable of understanding sensitive issues at a young age, they may react immaturely. They resort to name calling, not eating with the child, leaving them out of games and activities and sometimes physically abusing them by hitting, punching, kicking and stealing their items. This can be very hurtful and hard to experience, as well as heart breaking to parents who then must ensure their child receives a great amount of affection and reassurance at home and through other means.
If you are wondering what signs to look for to tell you that a child is being bullied, we list some below:
- Excessive Crying
- Wanting to avoid attending school
- Unexplained marks, cuts and bruises
- Anger and Aggression
- Mood Swings
- Complains of stomach aches or other sickness
- Not wanting to talk about what’s bothering them
- Bullying other children
- Low grades
- Missing Items
- Damaged Items
- Torn up Clothes
Other ways of discovering whether your child is being bullied or not is to always have the lines of communication open. Begin to ask your child about his or her day at school, how was their time during lunch or play, what they did, how they felt, how they are currently feeling, what they would change about their day, etc. Some children on the spectrum may not be able to carry on intense conversations like these, so we encourage using social stories and games to find out their emotions and thoughts and then act on the information received. One great way to reach nonverbal children is to give them pictures of various activities at school and ask them to match it with pictures of emotions they feel. You can also ask simple questions which end in ”yes” or “no”.
Once you find out that your child is being bullied, you must make a plan of action. This may entail seeking a meeting with the school’s principal and/or your child’s teachers. You may also want to seek a few sessions with the guidance counsellor at your child’s school. In some instances, hiring a shadow for additional support may be wise. Other strategies may include having your child begin counselling with a trained and licensed psychologist.
Socially, interventions such as arranging play dates, carpooling and involving your child in regular activities such as birthday parties or sleep overs may help encourage your child to become active socially despite the challenges they are having with bullying. It is important to not allow your child to retreat to self-isolation, out of fear, because this will lead to mental health issues later on such as depression, anxiety and mood disorders.
In several instances, children who have been a constant target of bullying often become bullies themselves. This applies to children on and off the autism spectrum. If this should occur, clear consequences for their actions must be executed. These could involve time-out and missing out on activities in which they are found bullying. In addition to taking appropriate action, you can use social stories, again, to explain to your child concepts such as empathy and forgiveness. Many times anger is at the root cause for a bullied child to become the perpetrator and so these are issues that must be worked through. Encourage the child to express their emotions through various activities like painting, drawing and coloring. Pay close attention to what they try to express through these activities as they foretell of issues to come such as depression.
Many families consider home schooling instead of mainstream schooling for their child to be protected from bullying. Home schooling may look like a small number of children, usually 3-6, at a time in a private space doing classes with a private tutor. The material given in the curriculum is as equally enriching as that in the public school system. Advantages to this arrangement is that many times, children who also have special needs are found in this system, thus the “playing field” so to speak is level when it comes to diversity, inclusion and needed empathy and sensitivity.
Parents can also take the time to read books to gather more information on how to address bullying in the life of their ASD child. Parenting strategies such as positive reinforcement, encouragement, reward and token systems and lots of quality time together can improve the self esteem of a child being battered by bullying. It is also equally important for parents to find time for recreation themselves to balance between caregiving, monitoring peer interactions concerning bullying and other personal obligations not concerned with their child.
We caution readers that bullying within the autism population can be a forerunner to suicidal behaviour. Should this occur, immediately seek out a psychiatrist or psychologist’s intervention. Ideally, your child should be seeing one or both of these professionals before complex issues from bullying arise.
Take care and remember, be kind!
Until next time!
Autism 2 Tower is committed to a better world which will Embrace the Beautiful Minds of Autism. Our initiative is to inspire self confidence and self sustainability through the world’s only Autism 2 Tower Ultimate Sensory Friendly Retreat.
Autism and Suicide – The Truth you need to Know
In recent decades, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other mental health professionals have been placing more emphasis on suicide prevention. Much more publicity has been given to suicide and suicidal behaviour in latter years. This could be explained in part as being due to the rise in suicide cases and attempts which have overwhelmed families and communities. Statistics show that 48,500 people in the United States alone die each year, due to suicide. This rate has now made suicide a major cause of death within the population.
What is just as alarming is that suicide ranks within the top three causes of death for young adults and children with autism. Furthermore, persons diagnosed with Autism may attempt suicide several times within their lifetime -more than the general population - without any success but instead sending them to psychiatric hospitals and overwhelming their loved ones. Suicide numbers within the autism population see a higher rate of suicide and suicidal behaviour among female autism patients, as well as those with autism and other mental health comorbidities.
But why is the autism population at such an increased risk and exposure to suicide? This all comes down to the nature of their diagnosis and their life outcomes.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disability which affects a person’s social communication skills, presents with repetitive behaviours (hand flapping, tip toeing, etc.), sensory processing disorder and rigidity in reference to patterns and timing. This combination of symptoms mean that it is extremely difficult to make friends, maintain relationships, hold steady jobs, sustain a marriage and experience meaningful life experiences without challenges and difficulty. This outlook sets up what is a very hurtful, lonely experience. Depression, anxiety and other mental illness are prime issues that can be brought on due to the above life circumstances. Not being able to keep a job means low to no income, not being to have friendships and support means isolation from the world, and being misunderstood, bullied, abused and neglected means that self-esteem in these individuals is extremely low, thus creating an environment for suicidal thought and behaviour.
Additionally, studies indicate that persons with high functioning autism are at greater risk for suicidal tendencies. This due in large to the fact that many around them assume that they are fine without social support, because they can manage many daily tasks on their own. This, however, is a misconception. Although individuals who are high functioning with autism can indeed care for themselves, they often struggle with isolation, depression and anxiety – the ideal mix of issues which trigger suicidal thought and behaviour. High functioning autism patients often have greater desires for normative life experiences than other autism patients as they understand their meanings. However due to social skills inadequacies, they often lose these opportunities if they ever do get them. This then puts them in a mindset to think the following: “nothing ever works out for me”, “I will always be lonely”, “Im doomed to sadness” and finally… ”life is not worth living”.
While it is not easy to spot signs and symptoms of suicidal tendencies or warning signs in persons with autism due to their lack of social capacity, there are a few things you may notice:
- Lack of appetite
- Changes in energy
- Giving away meaningful items
- Comments such as “I don’t want to live” or “im ready to die”
- Changes in sleep patterns
If you notice that a child or adult on the spectrum may be behaving oddly, and you are concerned that they may be depressed, you may want to ask them if they are considering suicide. Many believe this question may give others an idea to commit suicide even if they never had it in min din the first place. This reasoning though, goes against what is known by research. Often enough, persons are relieved that others care enough to ask whether or not they are deeply depressed and on the verge of giving up. Many often open up and seek help from conversations such as these. This goes true for people both on and off the autism spectrum.
Below we list some risk factors which make suicide within the autism population more prevalent than others:
- Experiencing bullying due to their differences and own uniqueness. This usually starts within school years.
- Social Isolation and rejection due to social skills deficiencies.
- Loneliness – usually as a result of rejection
- Difficult managing and identifying emotions. This can be overwhelming at times and when there is no one to help or understand, suicidal behaviour becomes more likely
- Camouflaging, known as hiding or masking autism traits. This is very common within the autism population and leads to more social isolation and low self-esteem.
- Sleep Problems
- Difficulties in communicating emotions and thoughts
- Co-occuring mental health conditions: OCD, depression, sensory processing disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety
- Receiving a late diagnosis and thus no early intervention.
It is extremely important to raise awareness of autism suicidal tendencies especially among family members, caregivers and intervention professionals. Appropriate, early interventions especially concerning social skills may positively impact the mental health of autism patients for years to come. Early intervention therefore means early detection and diagnosis, hence these two main principles must also be highlighted within a suicide prevention context. Early warning signs of autism includes:
- Little to no eye contact
- No cooing or babbling as an infant
- Hand flapping, head rocking, head banging, tip toeing
- Not responding to name
- Little to no joyful expression/smile toward caregivers
- Regression from previously acquired developmental milestones
- Oversensitivity, or under sensitivity to various stimuli (sensory processing disorder)
- Isolated Play
- Lining up of toys
- Restricted and rigid adherence to schedules, patterns and sameness
Early intervention programmes include early screenings, psychotherapy with a psychiatrist, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, behavioural therapy, shadow supports at school, the use of integrated assistive technology for daily tasks and counselling from a licensed psychologist.
A final warning to families with autistic children at home: ensure that all weapons, chemicals and medications are placed safely away from their access. This may prevent unwanted casualties as well as intended suicide. For houses with pools, ensure access is limited and supervision at all times occurs when the child is swimming.
Please contact your national or local suicide hotline if you suspect your autistic child is considering suicide. Also keep the number of your child’s psychiatrist/psychologist at hand for easy access.
We encourage you to continue being present in the life of an autism patient you may know!
Until next time!
Autism 2 Tower is committed to a better world which will Embrace the Beautiful Minds of Autism. Our initiative is to inspire self confidence and self sustainability through the world’s only Autism 2 Tower Ultimate Sensory Friendly Retreat.
Learning About Non-verbal Autism
Many theories and explanations have been put forward in the last decade about the complex diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Although we do not know exactly what causes autism, we know quite a lot about risk factors for autism and how to present several beneficial, effective intervention for children who are diagnosed. For those who may not know, Autism Spectrum Disorder is neurodevelopmental disorder which affects a child’s social communication skills and presents with restricted, repetitive behaviours and interests. Its not uncommon for a child with autism to also exhibit stereotypical behaviour such as hand-flapping, head-banging, and tip-toeing. Autism is a life long disorder which currently has no cure. It is said to be on a spectrum, meaning, that children may be mild, moderate or severely autistic.
As previously mentioned, children with autism often struggle with social communication skills. Many are verbal, while others are non verbal. In this article we will seek to understand more about non-verbal children and how we can help them.
The main symptom of a non-verbal autism diagnosis is the observation that the child does not speak at all. Other symptoms will be present however, from an early age, such as not being willing to share eye contact, not pretend playing, not responding to their name, not showing joyful, warm expression to caregivers, not meeting developmental milestones for speech and language, preferring to be alone as well as restricted interests such as projects, activities and books upon which they become fixated for hours.
Several factors can account for a child’s inability to speak. Along with autism, they could also be a diagnosis with apraxia of speech, which interferes with how a child says the words they intend to say. Another reason could also be that the child has not yet mastered language speaking skills and basics of verbal communication. Many children on the spectrum also have echolalia, which means they repeat words said them repeatedly, and so this interferes with communication as well.
While it may be disheartening to learn that your child has non verbal autism, there is hope. Several evidence-based interventions exist for non verbal children on the spectrum. These include time-intensive education programs which teach language and social skills, the use of a behavioural program called the Picture Exchange System (PECS), speech generating devices or apps found on tablets and iPads, speech therapy and occupational therapy. Programs and interventions can also be staged for the issues associated with autism communication deficits such as apraxia and echolalia.
If you suspect a child you care for has autism, we encourage you to seek help. Autism is usually diagnosed between the ages 3-6 years of age, by a developmental paediatrician, psychologist, psychiatrist or occupational therapist who is qualified. These professionals will use methods such as questionnaires, checklists, observations and interviews to determine whether or not your child is on the spectrum, and to what extent.
Please remember that non verbal autism can be managed effectively, and help is available for children who need treatment and interventions, so please have hope!
Until next time!
June 8, 2021
Relationship Development Intervention – A new approach to Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder affects 1 in every 78 children worldwide. The condition, which is more common in boys than girls, consists of severe social communication deficits and also presents with restricted repetitive behaviors. Autism research and treatment has gained significant advances in the past decade, however, there is still much more left to be discovered about this disorder. To date, there is no cure for Autism. However, multiple traditional and modern therapies have been developed to manage symptoms of the disorder. These include language/speech therapy, occupational therapy, psychotherapy, behavior therapy, biomedical therapy, sensory therapy, and assistive technology.
The above-listed therapies have been known to only treat the symptoms of autism, and professionals in these fields definitively admit that they do not cure autism. A recent advent within the special needs community has been Relationship Development Intervention for Autism. While this intervention does not cure autism, its approach is unique in seeking to combat the symptoms of the disorder. Most interventions for autism focus on the management of symptoms. Relationship Development Intervention therapy is based on the belief that developmental disorders can be corrected through a “reprogramming” of the brain. Furthermore, it is stated that once appropriately guided and challenged, the brain can adapt and adjust to operate in ways it did not previously. With this belief, the proponent of Relationship Development Intervention believe teaching the brain of a child with autism to operate in a typical fashion is possible, with adequate training and redirection.
But what is Relationship Development Intervention?
Relationship Development Intervention seeks to use time and deliberate effort to teach important emotional and social skills to ASD children, such as reciprocal communication, independent living, emotional regulation, decision making, non-verbal communication, meaningful relationships, and long-term employment. The treatment tenets propose that dynamic intelligence is essential for an autism-diagnosed child to succeed and flourish within their relationships. Dynamic intelligence comprises of the following concepts:
- Perception of, and understanding the various perspective of others with whom you communicate and interact
- Tolerating and coping with change
- Processing sensory input and integrating it with previously acquired knowledge
While implementing treatment, the Relationship Development Intervention consultant will be guided by the following principles of RDI:
- Emotional Referencing – Emotional referencing refers to learning from the experiences of others. These experiences referred to are often emotional and subjective, thus they are up to teller to interpret them and determine their value. When children with autism learn to share in the interpretation of these experiences, they learn empathy, which is a meaningful goal for them.
- Social Coordination – Participating in social relationships requires individuals to control their behavior. Within any setting, specific behaviors are deemed appropriate, while others are unacceptable. Distinguishing between the two and demonstrating acceptable behavior is a goal of Relationship Development Interventions.
- Declarative language – This aspect is concerned with developing interpersonal skills related to language and non-verbal expression which will successfully equip a child to express feelings such as curiosity and interest, warmth and welcome for social interactions, sharing perspectives and perceptions as well as coordinating actions with others (i.e. joint attention).
- Flexible Thinking – One of the main features of the autism spectrum disorder is inflexibility with respect to routines, schedules, and patterns. The goal of flexible thinking involves teaching a child to manage changes in routine and patterns and to cope with any induced anxiety and panic.
- Relational Information Processing – This refers to the skill of independent decision-making in situations that may not require obvious “yes” or “no” decisions. Many situations that have the potential to lead to multiple endings and consequences require intellectual and critical thinking skills for the best choice to be made. Teaching a child these skills will prepare him or her to become independent and develop additional confidence.
- Foresight and Hindsight – Using past experiences to inform future decision making and choices may be a complex skill for a child on the spectrum to grasp, however, this is an essential skill in navigating daily life with success and as such, is taught to the child within the context of Relationship Development Interventions.
A critical and unique feature of Relationship Development Intervention is the presence of a consultant who trains parents to be the therapist within the intervention. In other words, parents are thought to be the best individuals to administer the RDI Intervention as they know and are around the child the most. This is critical because the concepts of this intervention are based on the belief that skills needed to be learned by the child are determined by his or her behavior in multiple settings across daily life. Parents, caretakers, and family members are primary participants in the events and are also the primary social agents within the family. As a result, the consultant will observe the child, assess the dynamics of the family and then instruct parents on the implementation of the intervention within the context of everyday life. Critical goals of many RDI interventions include eye contact and non-verbal communication. This is due in part to the nature of the intervention which is a socially concerned treatment.
Parents who are new to this intervention often learn about it through books, videos, and forums. Guidance is also given by the consultant who serves as a reference for any issue within treatment.
Many countries currently do not have resources or RDI therapy available. This, however, does not serve as a barrier to the service as many consultants and clients work via the internet and the submission of videos and audio of various parts of the family’s daily life. This has also become an increasingly convenient method of service delivery during conditions brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Relationship Development Intervention is not a substitute for other treatments available for autism such as psychotherapy, medication, and behavior therapy. It works in conjunction with other therapies to address any gaps being left out.
We encourage parents to continue educating themselves on the nature of the social deficiencies associated with autism as they venture to implement relationship Development Interventions. It would also serve useful for parents to take time for their own mental health as they serve their children in this capacity.
We hope you found this article informative. Keep tuned to this page for more content!
About Autism 2 Tower
Autism 2 Tower is committed to a better world that will Embrace the Beautiful Minds of Autism. Our initiative is to inspire self-confidence and self-sustainability through the world’s only Autism 2 Tower Ultimate Sensory Friendly Retreat.