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Tag Archives: Autism spectrum

I Had Asperger Syndrome. Briefly.

By Benjamin Nugent

FOR a brief, heady period in the history of autism spectrum diagnosis, in the late ’90s, I had Asperger syndrome.

Asperger's syndromeThere’s an educational video from that time, called “Understanding Asperger’s,” in which I appear. I am the affected 20-year-old in the wannabe-hipster vintage polo shirt talking about how keen his understanding of literature is and how misunderstood he was in fifth grade. The film was a research project directed by my mother, a psychology professor and Asperger specialist, and another expert in her department. It presents me as a young man living a full, meaningful life, despite his mental abnormality.

“Understanding Asperger’s” was no act of fraud. Both my mother and her colleague believed I met the diagnostic criteria laid out in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. The manual, still the authoritative text for American therapists, hospitals and insurers, listed the symptoms exhibited by people with Asperger disorder, and, when I was 17, I was judged to fit the bill.

I exhibited a “qualified impairment in social interaction,” specifically “failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level” (I had few friends) and a “lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people” (I spent a lot of time by myself in my room reading novels and listening to music, and when I did hang out with other kids I often tried to speak like an E. M. Forster narrator, annoying them). I exhibited an “encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus” (I memorized poems and spent a lot of time playing the guitar and writing terrible poems and novels).

The general idea with a psychological diagnosis is that it applies when the tendencies involved inhibit a person’s ability to experience a happy, normal life. And in my case, the tendencies seemed to do just that. My high school G.P.A. would have been higher if I had been less intensely focused on books and music. If I had been well-rounded enough to attain basic competence at a few sports, I wouldn’t have provoked rage and contempt in other kids during gym and recess.

The thing is, after college I moved to New York City and became a writer and met some people who shared my obsessions, and I ditched the Forsterian narrator thing, and then I wasn’t that awkward or isolated anymore. According to the diagnostic manual, Asperger syndrome is “a continuous and lifelong disorder,” but my symptoms had vanished.

Last year I sold a novel of the psychological-realism variety, which means that my job became to intuit the unverbalized meanings of social interactions and create fictional social encounters with interesting secret subtexts. By contrast, people with Asperger syndrome and other autism spectrum disorders usually struggle to pick up nonverbal social cues. They often prefer the kind of thinking involved in chess and math, activities at which I am almost as inept as I am at soccer.

The biggest single problem with the diagnostic criteria applied to me is this: You can be highly perceptive with regard to social interaction, as a child or adolescent, and still be a spectacular social failure. This is particularly true if you’re bad at sports or nervous or weird-looking.

As I came into my adult personality, it became clear to me and my mother that I didn’t have Asperger syndrome, and she apologized profusely for putting me in the video. For a long time, I sulked in her presence. I yelled at her sometimes, I am ashamed to report. And then I forgave her, after about seven years. Because my mother’s intentions were always noble. She wanted to educate parents and counselors about the disorder. She wanted to erase its stigma.

I wonder: If I had been born five years later and given the diagnosis at the more impressionable age of 12, what would have happened? I might never have tried to write about social interaction, having been told that I was hard-wired to find social interaction baffling.

The authors of the next edition of the diagnostic manual, the D.S.M.-5, are considering a narrower definition of the autism spectrum. This may reverse the drastic increase in Asperger diagnoses that has taken place over the last 10 to 15 years. Many prominent psychologists have reacted to this news with dismay. They protest that children and teenagers on the mild side of the autism spectrum will be denied the services they need if they’re unable to meet the new, more exclusive criteria.

But my experience can’t be unique. Under the rules in place today, any nerd, any withdrawn, bookish kid, can have Asperger syndrome.

The definition should be narrowed. I don’t want a kid with mild autism to go untreated. But I don’t want a school psychologist to give a clumsy, lonely teenager a description of his mind that isn’t true.

Benjamin Nugent, the director of creative writing at Southern New Hampshire University, is the author of “American Nerd: The Story of My People.”

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Navigating the Social World of Elementary School

By: Diane I. Ferber-Collins MBA, MA, C.A.S.

Navigating the Social World of Elementary SchoolSocial Skills, Social Cognition and Social Thinking are all terminology used to describe the social abilities. As our students develop physically, cognitively and emotionally, their social development also follows a developmental trajectory. For many children, the full repertoire of social skills come easily through everyday interactions with adults and peers, but it is still important for educators and parents to reinforce this casual learning with direct and indirect instruction. For other children, direct instruction and support in navigating the trials and tribulations of skill acquisition are even more important. While there are direct interventions for children with documented difficulties in this arena, including children on the autism spectrum, even more ‘typical’ children can benefit from conscious support.

As experts have pointed out, perhaps the most difficult part for parents and teachers is toaccept that setbacks and uncomfortable situations are part of the growth process; and to recognize that rather than “bubble” a child or swoop in to “fix,” we can use these situations to guide and help empower each child to create his/her own solutions and strategies that will last a lifetime.

Strongly developed social skills will impact a child’s ability to adapt to change and variable situations, as well as to provide resilience across settings. The child with good social skills is more likely to have a positive self image and to meet challenges with confidence. As they mature, these children will have better developed peer resistance and better conflict resolution skills, which also impact tolerance and acceptance of diverse groups. In turn, these areas of comfort will inform life choices into adulthood.

What is “Social?” The ability to share space with others effectively, which requires a complex set of capabilities.

The required capabilities for positive social interactions involve complex and numerous skills. For example, we rely on being able to interpret others’ perspectives, including their emotions, point of view, thoughts, beliefs, prior knowledge and intentions, gleaned and remembered from previous interactions, and read from body language and facial expressions. Successfully sharing space with others also relies on our own ability to reflect on, sort through, process and regulate our own reaction and to adapt across situations. For young children, it requires the developed ability to share one’s experience of an object or event (joint attention) and to successfully wield “pragmatic” everyday informal language. There are hundreds of social cognition and communication skills – from initiating conversations, reading body language and expression, understanding of abstract and inferential communication, to adequate attention and motivation.

Read more @ http://www.pediastaff.com/blog/navigating-the-social-world-of-elementary-school-notes-for-parents-and-teachers-and-those-who-support-them-6735

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Posted by on January 25, 2012 in General

 

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Proposed DSM 5 Changes and Autism: What Parents & Advocates Need to Know

by Lee Anne Owens

Proposed DSM 5 Changes and Autism: What Parents & Advocates Need to KnowIn May of 2013 the new diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder will be distributed to doctors via the fifth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5). Think of the DSM 5 as the Bible of diagnostic criteria, developed and written by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

One of the most discussed changes in the DSM 5 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the removal of Asperger’s syndrome and PDD-NOS as individual diagnoses. Under the new diagnostic criteria, Asperger’s and PDD-NOS will come under the umbrella of ASD. For example a child whose diagnosis is currently Asperger’s syndrome would receive a new diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder with specifiers included, such as “Autism Spectrum Disorder with fluent speech” or “Autism Spectrum Disorder with intellectual disability.” According to Dr. Bryan King, of the APA’s Neurodevelopmental Disorders Workgroup, this change could mean a decrease in the differentiation of services available to those previously diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. (http://autism.about.com/od/diagnosingautism/a/Why-Asperger-Syndrome-Will-Disappear.htm) In layman’s terms this means that some children will benefit from a greater availability of needed services because they have a diagnosis of ASD, rather than Asperger’s.

Read the Rest of this Article on SpecialEducationAdvisor.com

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Continuing Education for School Psychologists

School Psychologists

Click to view CE for School Psychologists

School psychologists work with students in early childhood and elementary and secondary schools. They collaborate with teachers, parents, and school personnel to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments for all students. School psychologists address students’ learning and behavioral problems, suggest improvements to classroom management strategies or parenting techniques, and evaluate students with disabilities and gifted and talented students to help determine the best way to educate them.

They improve teaching, learning, and socialization strategies based on their understanding of the psychology of learning environments. They also may evaluate the effectiveness of academic programs, prevention programs, behavior management procedures, and other services provided in the school setting.

School Psychologists are required to earn continuing education credits to maintain licensure and to stay up-to-date on best practices. State School Psychology CE Requirements

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists and school psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for all programs and content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the Florida Board of Psychology and Office of School Psychology (CE Broker Provider #50-1635).

Click here to view online CE courses for school psychologists.

Popular course topics for school psychologists include:

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Posted by on September 8, 2011 in General

 

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New Child Therapy Continuing Education Courses for School-Based Health Professionals

Professional Development Resources has released a series of new online courses on school-based assessment and treatment of children in need of special services. The Florida company, which is accredited to provide continuing education to psychologists, school psychologists, social workers, counselors, marriage and family therapists, speech-language pathologists, registered dietitians and occupational therapists, has announced new courses addressing issues that will be occupying school professionals as the new school year begins.

The new continuing education (CE) courses are intended to equip school-based professionals with the tools they need to deal with back-to-school issues they are sure to encounter in the coming months. Among the new courses are topics providing up-to-date information on autism spectrum disorders, school refusal behavior, reading and literacy interventions, and the developmental effects of alcohol on children and adolescents.

Prepare for back to school

Click to view school-based CE courses

In the coming weeks, millions of children will return to school for the new academic year, many of them bringing not only pencils and books, but also a wide range of difficulties for which they will need attention from school-based professionals. Those with autism spectrum disorders will present learning and social behavior issues that can overwhelm teachers already challenged with overcrowded classrooms. Others may be suffering from the severe anxiety and avoidant behaviors that are part of school refusal patterns, posing major challenges for both parents and school professionals. Still other children will require screening and intervention for a wide variety of learning and developmental disorders, including those who will need specialized assistance with literacy and reading.

“Professionals who work with school-age children have a unique opportunity to identify those who have the need for services,” says Leo Christie, PhD, CEO of Professional Development Resources. “The classroom setting is where learning and behavioral difficulties are highlighted and also where they can be identified and remediated. If we can deliver new information on evidence-based assessment and intervention to the psychologists, social workers, school counselors, speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists who see these children every day, they can have a major impact on getting them the help they need.”

The need is great. In the case of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), the most recent research data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network found that 1 in every 110 eight-year old children were diagnosable for an ASD. This is a very large number of children, and the incidence of autism seems to be on the rise.

School refusers are students who can’t – or won’t – go to school, for any number of reasons. Researchers offer a “best guess” that somewhere between 5% and 28% of children display some aspect of school refusal behavior at some point in their lives. This is a wide range, attributable to variations in the definition of school refusal. Again, this is a very large number, and the behaviors associated with school refusal are so challenging that they can monopolize the time of parents and teachers alike.

Among the new courses offered by Professional Development Resources are:

Other continuing education courses with children in mind can be seen here: http://www.pdresources.org/Courses/Other/NewCourses/CourseID/1/bts

About Professional Development Resources:

Professional Development Resources is a Florida nonprofit educational corporation founded in 1992 by licensed marriage and family therapist Leo Christie, PhD. The company, which is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), and the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) – as well as many other national and state boards – has focused its efforts on making continuing education courses more cost-effective and widely accessible to health professionals by offering online home study coursework. Its current expanded curriculum includes a wide variety of clinical topics intended to equip health professionals to offer state-of-the art services to their clients.

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Posted by on August 17, 2011 in General

 

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Professional Development Resources is a Proud Member of the Autism Society

Via Scoop.itHealthcare Continuing Education

The Autism Society membership encompasses many professionals from various disciplines—medical practitioners (including pediatricians, developmental pediatricians, neurologists and pediatric neurologists, among others), educators and paraeducators, therapists (speech, physical, occupational and others), behavioral analysts, social workers and more. Professionals serve on our board of directors and advisory boards, contribute to our quarterly magazine and present at and attend our national conference. Our national conference includes many offerings geared toward professionals, a number of which offer continuing education credits, and also provides professionals many opportunities to share ideas and knowledge.

It is important that professionals work together with parents for the individual’s benefit. While professionals will use their experience and training to make recommendations about a person’s treatment options, you also need to listen to parents and caregivers who have unique knowledge about the individual’s needs and abilities that should be taken into account for a more individualized course of action. As a professional, you are in a unique position to impart valuable, validated information about the individual’s diagnosis and recommended course of treatment to their family that can make a measurable difference in their lives.

Professional Development Resources is a proud member of the Autism Society.
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