Asperger Syndrome Rethinking the Glass House Rule
Dimitri Martin: Glass House Rule Video clip
Complexity Perhaps student profiles and behaviors are becoming more complex… The Real Question… What is your professional and ethical responsibility?
Understanding Asperger - Research Break in the brain Cannot figure it out Cognitive ability does not = social skill development Not holding back on social skills Activity: Conversation without looking at the person’s eyes
Aspergers – Seeking guidance from someone who probably knows what to do is usually not a first or even a second thought. The student with Aspergers might be sitting next to someone who could obviously help but appears blinkered and determined to solve the problem by himself. Atwood, 2007
Fat lady in the grocery store Student with Aspergers remarks in his usual tone of voice and volume, “That lady is fat and needs to go on a diet” The child’s opinion is that she should be grateful for the observation and advice, the likelihood that his mother will be embarrassed or the woman would be offended at such a rude comment is not part of the thinking process. Atwood, 2007
The Truth Video clip
“People expect cognition and social functioning to be equally developed. When kids with Asperger’s Syndrome experience difficulty they [public] wrongly assume it is deliberate misconduct.”(A. Klin and F. Volkmar, 1997)
Progression of Etiological Theories BRAIN research . . . Looking at brain differences Cerebrum Limbic System Corpus Collosum Amygdala Cerebellum
Amygdala-Brain’s Fear Center November 22, 2006: Study (Davidson, Univ. of Wisconsin) confirms reduced size of amygdala in most socially withdrawn individuals with ASD. Starts hyperactive and enlarged Shrinks over time (toxic adaptation) which correlates with length of eye contact and general fear of, withdrawal from, people.
Amygdala, Cont. Small amygdala: significantly slower in identification of happy, angry, sad facial expressions. Spent least amount of time looking at eyes relative to other facial regions. Smallest amygdala: 40% longer to recognize emotional expressions. Largest amygdala: looked at eyes 4 times longer than smaller amydgalae.
Neurons Mirror Neurons: A study by UCLA neuroscientists (Dapretto et al) featuring functional MRI suggests that mirror neurons help people understand the intentions of others – a key component to social interaction. Faulty? Not cued into them? Cell-Adhesion Molecules: Help brain cells connect (Hakonarson, 2009, Center for Applied Genomics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)
Yawning Study Current results suggest that contagious yawning is impaired in ASD, which may relate to their impairment in empathy. It supports the claim that contagious yawning is based on the capacity for empathy. Senju, et al, 2007
Cognitive development typically ranges from average to very superior IQ. Difficulties may include: Difficulty shifting attention Difficulty processing two cognitive tasks simultaneously Generalizing information Retrieving information on demand Developing problem-specific solutions Difficulty with sense of time Cognitive Differences
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Attention • Studies have suggested at least 75% of children with Aspergers also have a profile indicative of ADHD. • Difficulty with four aspects of attention: • Ability to sustain attention • Attention to relevant information • Shifting attention • Storing/encoding information (episodic vs. semantic memory) Attwood, 2007
Elementary: Difficulty with: Inhibition (age 8) working memory using new strategies Middle School and older: Additional difficulties with: organization and planning self-reflection and self-monitoring (mental conversations) time management and prioritizing understanding abstract concepts weak central coherence Executive FunctioningResearch confirms that some children, but especially adolescents and adults with AS, have impaired executive functioning. Attwood, 2007
Things to think about • One guy vs. “thousands/billions” • Neurons • Inefficient, slow retrieval • Misfilings • Shredder • Can’t “forget” any information • Can’t differentiate between important & non-important information • Microphone • Isn’t used much (visual stronger than auditory) • Uses the big computer screen • Memory storage—no sound • Power Cords • Brain Bacteria • Interferes with storage of information • Different Levels of Storage • Daydreaming (processing?)
Activity: Executive Functioning O T T F F S S
Look Me in the Eye Clip (CD 6 – 09) – Planning for human contact Self-reflection Self-monitoring Understanding abstract concepts “Woof” Because of the executive functioning differences, social interaction becomes a cognitive task
Cognitive Inflexibility • Difficulty with change • Insistence on sameness • Rule-governed • Routines/rituals • Concrete thinking • Difficulty letting go of thought and ideas • Over-focus on details (weak central coherence)
Create rigid rule structures to make order in ambiguity Playing with toys for young children and the child molester “NO LEFT TURNS!” Men go to bars and women are maids “Jocks”, “People that don’t make good decisions” and “friends” Pass four red cars and it’s a good day Blue gel pen = good assignment Grocery Store Scenario Exchanging Christmas presents
How do you navigate cultural expectations? • Taarof (Iranian Politeness) • How would you handle the picture problem? • What about the ice issue? • Would you know what to do?
Cognitive Strengths • Processing whole chunks of information quickly • Good rote memory • Good long-term memory • Process visual information meaningfully • Understand and use context-free information and rules
Learning Characteristics of ASD Uneven skill development Tends to resist change in learning environment Difficulty generalizing skills/information Difficulty with abstract concepts Relies on cues and learned routines May tend to function more reliably with consistency and structure within activities and environments
Learning Characteristics of ASD Organizational issues Focus on unimportant information Difficulties processing multiple sensory input under certain conditions Difficulty seeing the “big picture” Over-selectivity Good long-term and rote memory Prefers sequences and routines May demonstrate desirable persistence with a task if motivated Tendency toward literalness – difficulty with multiple meaning word
“Numbers”This American Life Meet Jerry—Adult with Aspergers
My Response… The most powerful idea that strikes me after hearing this clip is… 3 things that I will accept in students with Aspergers and no longer try to change…
Theory of Mind (ToM) means the ability to recognize and understand thoughts, beliefs, desires and intentions of other people in order to make sense of their behaviour and predict what they are going to do. (Atwood, The Complete Guide to Aspergers Syndrome, 2007)
Developmental Trajectories Experts on people Normal birth ASD Experts on things
Theory of Mind: Perspective Taking and Reciprocity • “Mind reading” ability is located in the orbito-frontal cortex-superior temportal sulcus-amygdala area of the brain. • Winning/losing concept difficult • Difficult to engage in manipulation • Difficult to engage in lying
The ability to understand the value of deception and recognize when it might be expected occurs later in the development of the student with Aspergers, sometimes as late as early teens. This can cause confusion to parents and teachers, as the previously honest, (perhaps to a fault) child recognizes that one can deceive people and avoid anticipated consequences. However the type of deception can be immature and the deceit easily identified by an adult. Atwood, 2007 Maturation
Travis and Lying Travis is 18 Years Old Drives and attends a typical high school Driving to school his check engine light came on Communicated in the best way he knew how Did not get any response Got a response…Is this Lying
Background Information • Staff explained…they could not believe what Travis said anymore…He was constantly lying. • Used white board…invited Travis into the meeting • Put the word liar on the white board • Travis said – “Everyone thinks I am a Liar” • What was discovered by the facilitator and staff?