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SOLVING THE PUZZLE: Service to Kids and Teens With Autism RILA Conference May, 2010. Introduction: A Few Pieces of the Puzzle. Barbara Klipper The Ferguson Library Stamford, CT. The Incidence. THE LATEST DATA: Published on Oct. 2009 in the journal, PEDIATRICS :
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The Ferguson Library
THE LATEST DATA:
Published on Oct. 2009 in the journal, PEDIATRICS:
About 1 in 100 three-17 year olds (or 673,000 US children)
(from a parent-reported sample of 78,037, part of the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health)
The Numbers Are Going UP!
You can have a
bright garish plaid
or a more subtle plaid, but they
are both plaid.
And often there are:
Like plaid, these can be subtle or glaring…i.e., can range from nonverbal to someone who just doesn’t get idioms.
May not read emotions, facial
expressions, body language or other social cues
May have difficulty empathizing or adopting other’s point of view (theory of mind)
May have little or no understanding of friendships, and possibly no interest
May have little or no pretend play
May not learn by imitation or emulation
May not understand appropriate social distance or touch
May not make eye contact
May have difficulty turn-taking or sharing
May not understand when a behavior or interest is socially inappropriate
Turn to the person next to you. One of you is the speaker, the other is the listener. In a couple of sentences, tell your partner what you enjoyed most about the conference so far. Then, switch places.
All of these features of ASD make the world a pretty scary place. In order for kids, teens and adults with ASD to feel safe, predictability is needed in the environment.
Frustration and meltdowns can occur when the world seems out of control.
Difficulties and delays relating to text comprehension:
Avoid idioms and multi-part directions
Be concrete and positive…”please do this”, not “don’t do that”.
Be predictable; describe what you are doing and will be doing
Give warnings before transitions (like the end of computer time)
Don’t insist on eye contact or “manners”
Be willing to bend some circ policies; i.e. allow multiple renewals for favorite items
Allow “sensory diet” items (gum, squeezeballs, etc.)
If waiting is a problem, help kids with ASD before others
Explain changes in the environment
Provide visual supports in programs
Minimize sensory stimulation (fluorescent lights are the worst)
Provide quiet work areas or study carrels
Provide books and other materials (like the Special Needs Center at the Ferguson Library)
Discuss best times for library visits and provide guidelines for success (like the Ferguson Library brochure)
Provide programming for their children
Provide programming for parents and/or space for support groups to meet
BE KIND AND WELCOMING!!
Sensory Storytime or other special storytimes for this population
Guest speakers for parents on Special Needs Trusts, assistive technology, the I.D.E.A. etc.
Integrate children and teens into your other programs (some of them are probably there already)
1. Sing Songs
2. Listen to a story
3. Bubble Painting (or other sensory activity)
On the Balance Beam
Hello “Shirt Song”
We Read Together
A teen with autism is, above all else,
(forgive me for using a 4-letter word)
They are struggling with:
Not to mention
Teens with autism are really struggling with all of these things!
Think of teens with autism as being part of their own unique culture. Help them feel welcome in your culture.
From Englishman in New York:
If manners maketh man as someone saidThen he’s the hero of the dayIt takes a man to suffer ignorance and smileBe yourself no matter what they say
--Courtesy of Sting
Q: How do you tell the difference between a neurotypical teen and a teen with autism?
A: A neurotypical teen will walk up to your desk, stare at the clock on the wall behind you for a few minutes and then ask “What time is it?” A teen with autism will walk up to your desk, stare at the clock on the wall behind you for a few minutes and then ask “Why haven’t you helped me yet? I’ve been standing here for 2 minutes and 43 seconds.”
Library, Stamford, CT firstname.lastname@example.org
Language Pathologist, Lexinton, MA