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Category Archives: Autism

The Four Steps of Perspective Taking

Cheerful children having a great time together Premium Psd

Course excerpt from High Functioning Autism in Children

Children with high functioning autism (HFA) differ from other children on the spectrum in that they wish to interact with others but lack the know-how. Thus, social skills training is an important component of remediation for children with HFA.

Michelle Garcia Winner (2007) created the “Social Thinking” program. This approach has gained popularity in recent years because it teaches children the “why” of social decision-making, not just rote social skills. This training can help children with the generalization of their social learning skills across various settings. Such interventions aim at teaching children the thought processes that underlie social behaviors so that they can think flexibly and tailor their behavior to a given situation.

Up until now, professionals have generally tried to teach children specific skills, such as greetings or initiating a topic of conversation and then practice with them to improve the development of these skills. This does not account for the fact that we cannot use social skills in the same way under different social situations. For example, “consider a 13-year-old boy who – based on the culture of his age – is actually expected to say “What’s up?” when greeting his peers, say “Hi” when greeting his teacher and then say “Hello” when brought into a formal meeting.” (For more detail, visit the Social Thinking website at  https://www.socialthinking.com )

According to Garcia Winner (2015):

The gap between teaching students behaviorally based, memorized social skills and the need to teach our students how to adapt their social skills based on the expectations of the situation and the people in the situation is the gap between the more tradition social skills teachings and Social Thinking. When teaching Social Thinking we are teaching students to become active social problem solvers who are not focused on memorizing what to do socially but instead are engaged in figuring out what people around them are doing, what they are expecting, what our students are seeking in their interactions with others and all this helps them to figure out how to interact in any given time or place and with different people. (para. 3)

Garcia Winner adds that social thinking is not only employed when we are involved in social interactions, it may be utilized any time we share a common space. For instance, social thinking is engaged when one is at the supermarket and moves their shopping cart out of the way, as a courtesy to a fellow shopper.

Instructing children on social skills involves the conveyance of the presence of other people’s minds, as well as social thoughts. To do this we can employ the four steps of perspective thinking.

The four steps listed and discussed here (adapted from https://www.socialthinking.com/Articles?name=social-behavior-starts-social-thought-perspective-taking) can assist students with recognizing and considering the extent to which they think about other individuals, and adjusting their behaviors to suit, even in the absence of intentional communication. We may engage these four steps to accommodate just about any social interaction:

Step 1: Whenever you share a common space with another individual, both of you generate thoughts in regard to the other. You have thoughts about them, and they have thoughts about you.

Step 2: Initially, individuals will typically consider the intentions and motives of the other. If one person or the other appears suspicious, they will be scrutinized more closely by the other individual.

Step 3: Each individual will likely consider and estimate how the other person is assessing them, whether it be positive, negative, or neutral. Another aspect is that there may be a history between the two individuals, which impacts how these thoughts may be weighed.

Step 4: Steps may then be taken, in the form of behavior modification, to alter or maintain the perception that we wish to project for the other individual, and the other individual is likely reciprocal in this activity.

The four steps described above occur at an intuitive level (below immediate consciousness) within milliseconds. The initial three steps engage social thought, whereas only the last step involves behavior.

When discussing these steps with students, it can be explained that this process is based on the fundamental assumption that all of us innately wish other individuals to have reasonably “good” thoughts about us, even when our interactions are fleeting. Further, this assumption has the opposite concern embedded within it; we do not wish for other individuals to have “strange” or uneasy thoughts about us. It can indeed be a challenge for spectrum students to simply perceive that other individuals likely have thoughts that are different from their own, let alone mentioning that we all partake in having both good and weird thoughts about others. Most students with social learning difficulties rarely, if ever, stop to contemplate that they, too, can entertain strange thoughts about others.

In addition, many students with autism do not understand that social memories play a critical role in our day-to-day interactions. All of us have emotional social memories of individuals that are derived from how they make us think about them over time. People whose actions convey “good” thoughts in the minds of others are much more likely to be considered as “friendly” and have a far better likelihood of making friends than those who generate “weird” thought memories in the minds of others. In teaching social thinking, students should not only be helped to realize they have to be responsible for their own behaviors over time, but also be made aware of the associated social memories that people retain about them. The rationale behind someone calling a friend or co-worker to clarify or apologize for how their actions might have been interpreted is to instill improved social memories about themselves in their brains.

The Four Steps of Perspective Taking are engaged when we share space with others and are a requirement toward the appropriate behavior of student’s in the classroom. An unspoken rule in the classroom setting requires that all students and teachers participate in an awareness of, and mutual social thought about, the others in the class. Also, that each student, and the teacher, is responsible for monitoring and modifying their behaviors accordingly. A student who is not proficient in these four steps is typically considered to have a behavioral issue.

Students with social learning deficits must learn cognitively what many individuals do naturally and intuitively. Therefore, to assist them with grasping perspective-taking, lessons should be actively taught that include these four steps. To ponder this aspect in more depth, try spending a day observing/noting your own social thoughts, and how they impact your actions in the presence of others. Subsequently, one’s own social thinking may serve as a guide for instructing ASD students. For instance, teachers often discover that students with high functioning autism develop quite an interest in their own, and others’ thoughts, once the process is broken down into discrete elements that can be observed, discussed, and related to their own day to day lives.

Follow this link to learn more about teaching children perspective-taking and to learn strategies to ease transitions, prevent meltdowns, and teach organizational skills.

Click here to learn more

CE Credit: 4 Hours

Target Audience: Psychology CE Counseling CE | Speech-Language Pathology CEUs | Social Work CE | Occupational Therapy CEUs | Marriage & Family Therapy CE | Nutrition & Dietetics CE | School Psychology CE | Teaching CE

Learning Level: Introductory

Course Type: Online

Professional Development Resources is approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678); and is CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

 

April is Autism and Alcohol Awareness Month

Raise Awareness & Save 50% on CE!

April is National Autism Awareness Month and Alcohol Awareness Month. Please join us in raising awareness and save 50% on all related CE courses.

National Autism Awareness Month represents an excellent opportunity to promote autism awareness, autism acceptance and to draw attention to the tens of thousands facing an autism diagnosis each year. To help raise awareness, we are offering all of our autism-related CE courses for 50% off during April:

The first section of this course traces the history of the diagnostic concept of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), culminating in the revised criteria of the 2013 version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5, with specific focus on the shift from five subtypes to a single spectrum diagnosis. It also aims to provide epidemiological prevalence estimates, identify factors that may play a role in causing ASD, and list the components of a core assessment battery. It also includes brief descriptions of some of the major intervention models that have some empirical support. Section two describes common GI problems and feeding difficulties in autism, exploring the empirical data and/or lack thereof regarding any links between GI disorders and autism. Sections on feeding difficulties offer interventions and behavior change techniques. A final section on nutritional considerations discusses evaluation of nutritional status, supplementation, and dietary modifications with an objective look at the science and theory behind a variety of nutrition interventions. Other theoretical interventions are also reviewed.
Epidemiological studies indicate a progressively rising prevalence trend in the number of individuals identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) over the past decade. Yet, compared with general population estimates, children and youth with mild to moderate symptoms of ASD remain an underidentified and underserved population in our schools and communities. The DSM-5 conceptualizations of autism require professionals in clinical, school, and private practice settings to update their knowledge about the spectrum. In addition, professionals should be prepared to recognize the presence of risk factors and/or early warning signs of ASD and be familiar with screening and assessment tools in order to ensure that individuals with ASD are being identified and provided with the appropriate programs and services. The objectives of this course are to identify DSM-5 diagnostic changes in the ASD diagnostic criteria, summarize the empirically-based screening and assessment methodology in ASD, and describe a comprehensive developmental approach for assessing children, adolescents, and young adults with ASD.
In Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) the human-animal bond is utilized to help meet therapeutic goals and reach individuals who are otherwise difficult to engage in verbal therapies. AAT is considered an emerging therapy at this time, and more research is needed to determine the effects and confirm the benefits. Nevertheless, there is a growing body of research and case studies that illustrate the considerable therapeutic potential of using animals in therapy. AAT has been associated with improving outcomes in four areas: autism-spectrum symptoms, medical difficulties, behavioral challenges, and emotional well-being. This course is designed to provide therapists, educators, and caregivers with the information and techniques needed to begin using the human-animal bond successfully to meet individual therapeutic goals. This presentation will focus exclusively on Animal Assisted Therapy and will not include information on other similar or related therapy.
Autism Movement Therapy® is an emerging therapy that combines movement and music with positive behavior support strategies to assist individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in meeting and achieving their speech and language, social and academic goals. Its purpose is to connect left and right hemisphere brain functioning by combining patterning, visual movement calculation, audile receptive processing, rhythm and sequencing into a “whole brain” cognitive thinking approach that can significantly improve behavioral, emotional, academic, social, and speech and language skills. This course is presented in two parts. Part 1 summarizes what is known about the brain functioning of individuals with ASD and illustrates how participation in dance, music and the arts can render the brain more amenable to learning social and language skills. Part 2 is a documentary created by Joanne Lara – Generation A: Portraits of Autism and the Arts, which spotlights – from a strikingly positive perspective – the challenges and accomplishments of eight individuals with ASD.
It is well-established by research that many learners on the autism spectrum benefit from the use of visuals. How can we go beyond a basic use of symbols to create and implement individualized visuals that will help our students learn and communicate more comprehensively? Participants will learn about considerations and strategies to take into account in order to put more effective visuals in place for their students on the autism spectrum. Topics covered include: broadening symbol selection, adding layers and additional components to visuals in order to make them more motivating and meaningful, providing visuals for a wide variety of expressive communicative functions, and using visuals for comprehension and organization as well as expression.The course video is split into 2 parts for your convenience: part 1 is 56 minutes and part 2 is 57 minutes.
This is a test only course (book not included). The book can be purchased from Amazon or some other source.This CE test is based on the book “Apps for Autism” (2015, 436 pages), the ultimate app planner guidebook for parents/professionals addressing autism intervention. There are hundreds of apps for autism, and this course will guide you through them so that you can confidently utilize today’s technology to maximize your child or student’s success. Speech-language pathologist Lois Jean Brady wrote this book to educate parents and professionals about the breakthrough method she calls “iTherapy” – which is the use of mobile technology and apps in meeting students’ individual educational goals.For those who are new to the wonderful world of apps, worry not! This award winning reference will review hundreds of excellent apps, accessories and features organized into 39 chapters for parents and professionals alike. There are also helpful sections of how to choose apps, evidence-based practices, choosing an iDevice, internet safety, a helpful toolbox and much, much more.
This is a test only course (book not included). The book (or e-book) can be purchased from Amazon or some other source.This CE test is based on the book “Early Childhood Music Therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorders: Developing Potential in Young Children and their Families” (2012, 304 pages). This text includes the work of many researchers and practitioners from music therapy and related disciplines brought together to provide a comprehensive overview of music therapy practice with young children who present with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The authors present an overview of ASD including core characteristics, early warning signs, prevalence rates, research and theories, screening and evaluation.  The book explores treatment approaches and strategies as applied in music therapy to the treatment of ASD.  The authors present a wealth of practical applications and strategies for implementation of music therapy within multi-disciplinary teams, school environments and in family-centered practice.

Alcohol Awareness Month was established in 1987 to help reduce the stigma associated with alcoholism and provides a focused opportunity to increase awareness and understanding of alcoholism, its causes, effective treatment and recovery. In support, we are also offering 50% off all of our alcohol-related CE courses during April:

In this course, the author offers in-depth and in-person strategies for therapists to use in working with clients who present with the characteristic behavior patterns of codependency. Clients are usually unaware of the underlying codependency that is often responsible for the symptoms they’re suffering. Starting with emphasis on the delicate process of building a caring therapeutic relationship with these clients, the author guides readers through the early shame-inducing parenting styles that inhibit the development of healthy self-esteem. Through personal stories and case studies, the author goes on to describe healing interventions that can help clients identify dysfunctional patterns in relationships, start leading balanced lives and connecting with others on a new and meaningful level. Evaluative questionnaires, journaling assignments and other exercises are included to help you help your clients to overcome codependency. The rewards of successfully treating codependency are great for client and clinician alike. Even though the propensity for relapse always exists, it’s unlikely that a person who has made significant progress towards overcoming this disease will lose the gains they’ve made.
Culture is a primary force in the creation of a person’s identity. Counselors who are culturally competent are better able to understand and respect their clients’ identities and related cultural ways of life. This course proposes strategies to engage clients of diverse racial and ethnic groups (who can have very different life experiences, values, and traditions) in treatment. The major racial and ethnic groups in the United States covered in this course are African Americans, Asian Americans (including Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders), Latinos, Native Americans (i.e., Alaska Natives and American Indians), and White Americans. In addition to providing epidemiological data on each group, the course discusses salient aspects of treatment for these racial/ethnic groups, drawing on clinical and research literature. While the primary focus of this course is on substance abuse treatment, the information and strategies given are equally relevant to all types of health and mental health treatment.
So often, we think of nutrition and its relationship to our bodies from the neck down. How it affects our heart, how it affects our colon, for example. Why do we not acknowledge its impact on our brain health as well? If a patient were to undergo an elective surgical procedure, he or she may be advised to lose weight, gain weight, or avoid certain medications or herbs beforehand. These recommendations are made to help ensure maximum recovery with minimal complications. Why would we not take this approach when dealing with mental illness as well? Shouldn’t we try to achieve optimal nutritional health of the brain if we are trying to heal it?This course discusses how good nutrition impacts a person’s mental health and well being. Includes discussions on “mental wellness” versus “mental illness,” hypothyroidism and it’s impact on mental health, neurotransmitters and amino acids, glycemic index, vitamins, fatty acids, caffeine, chocolate and aspartame, and herbal supplements and medications. Case studies are provided. This course will give the reader some insight into this concept, by providing the student with clinical research, anecdotal information and a good background for understanding the role nutrition plays in mental health.
Medication for chronic pain is addictive; therefore, the treatment of individuals with both substance abuse disorders and pain presents particular challenges. This course is based on a document from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Managing Chronic Pain in Adults With or in Recovery from Substances Use Disorders: A Treatment Improvement Protocol (SAMHSA Tip 54). Intended for all healthcare providers, this document explains the close connections between the neurobiology of pain and addiction, assessments for both pain and addiction, procedures for treatment of chronic pain management (both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical), side effects and symptoms of tolerance and withdrawal from pain medication, managing risk of addiction to pain medication and nonadherence to treatment protocols, maintaining patient relationships, documentation, and safety issues. Written by panel consensus, SAMHSA TIP 54 provides a good introduction to pain management issues and also a good review for experienced clinicians.
This course will demystify the diagnosis and treatment of chronic pain, the role and limitations of pain medications, and how to identify when pain relieving drugs may be harmful to clients. Participants will understand how to conduct a complete evaluation of clients with a pain disorder, chronic pain syndrome and co-morbid psychiatric diagnoses. Although the majority of chronic pain patients do not abuse pain medications, mental health practitioners need skills to assess when active substance abuse is present and develop appropriate treatment objectives. This course will also give special attention to specific clinical challenges for mental health professionals who treat clients with chronic pain, including suicide assessment and treatment non-adherence.
Data on alcohol use, abuse, and dependence show clear age-related patterns. Moreover, many of the effects that alcohol use has on the drinker, in both the short and long term, depend on the developmental timing of alcohol use or exposure. Many developmental connections have been observed in the risk and protective factors that predict the likelihood of problem alcohol use in young people. This course is based on four public-access journal articles published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the online journal Alcohol Research & Health. The issue of the journal in which these articles appeared was devoted to the topic: “A Developmental Perspective on Underage Alcohol Use.” This course is based on the first four articles, which focus on the impact of alcohol on the development of children and youth from birth through 20.
PTSD & Substance Abuse: Dual Diagnosis Overview & Treatment is a 1-hour online continuing education course that examines substance abuse problems commonly experienced by those who have experienced trauma. This course discusses the complex relationship between trauma/PTSD and substance use disorders and provides a background for understanding comorbid PTSD and substance abuse. Topics covered include assessment, practice guidelines, common issues and their implications for treatment, and empirically-based treatment considerations in traumatized/PTSD individuals.

Offers valid April 1, 2016 through April 31, 2016.

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Professional Development Resources, Inc. is a Florida nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) that offers 150+ online, video and book-based continuing education courses for healthcare professionals. We are approved by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (b); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.

 

 

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Autism Spectrum Disorder and Music

 

Related Continuing Education Courses

 

This is a test only course (book not included). The book (or e-book) can be purchased from Amazon or some other source.This CE test is based on the book “Early Childhood Music Therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorders: Developing Potential in Young Children and their Families” (2012, 304 pages). This text includes the work of many researchers and practitioners from music therapy and related disciplines brought together to provide a comprehensive overview of music therapy practice with young children who present with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The authors present an overview of ASD including core characteristics, early warning signs, prevalence rates, research and theories, screening and evaluation.  The book explores treatment approaches and strategies as applied in music therapy to the treatment of ASD.  The authors present a wealth of practical applications and strategies for implementation of music therapy within multi-disciplinary teams, school environments and in family-centered practice.

 

Autism Movement Therapy® is an emerging therapy that combines movement and music with positive behavior support strategies to assist individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in meeting and achieving their speech and language, social and academic goals. Its purpose is to connect left and right hemisphere brain functioning by combining patterning, visual movement calculation, audile receptive processing, rhythm and sequencing into a “whole brain” cognitive thinking approach that can significantly improve behavioral, emotional, academic, social, and speech and language skills. This course is presented in two parts. Part 1 summarizes what is known about the brain functioning of individuals with ASD and illustrates how participation in dance, music and the arts can render the brain more amenable to learning social and language skills. Part 2 is a documentary created by Joanne Lara – Generation A: Portraits of Autism and the Arts, which spotlights – from a strikingly positive perspective – the challenges and accomplishments of eight individuals with ASD.

 

This is a test only course (book not included). The book can be purchased from Amazon or some other source.This CE test is based on the book “Apps for Autism” (2015, 436 pages), the ultimate app planner guidebook for parents/professionals addressing autism intervention. There are hundreds of apps for autism, and this course will guide you through them so that you can confidently utilize today’s technology to maximize your child or student’s success. Speech-language pathologist Lois Jean Brady wrote this book to educate parents and professionals about the breakthrough method she calls “iTherapy” – which is the use of mobile technology and apps in meeting students’ individual educational goals.For those who are new to the wonderful world of apps, worry not! This award winning reference will review hundreds of excellent apps, accessories and features organized into 39 chapters for parents and professionals alike. There are also helpful sections of how to choose apps, evidence-based practices, choosing an iDevice, internet safety, a helpful toolbox and much, much more.

 

The first section of this course traces the history of the diagnostic concept of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), culminating in the revised criteria of the 2013 version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5, with specific focus on the shift from five subtypes to a single spectrum diagnosis. It also aims to provide epidemiological prevalence estimates, identify factors that may play a role in causing ASD, and list the components of a core assessment battery. It also includes brief descriptions of some of the major intervention models that have some empirical support. Section two describes common GI problems and feeding difficulties in autism, exploring the empirical data and/or lack thereof regarding any links between GI disorders and autism. Sections on feeding difficulties offer interventions and behavior change techniques. A final section on nutritional considerations discusses evaluation of nutritional status, supplementation, and dietary modifications with an objective look at the science and theory behind a variety of nutrition interventions. Other theoretical interventions are also reviewed.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists; the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590);  the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2016 in Autism, General

 

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How Guinea Pigs Can Help a Child with Autism

Guinea Pigs and AutismBy JAN HOFFMAN

Guinea pigs do not judge.

They do not bully. They are characteristically amiable, social and oh-so-tactile. They tuck comfortably into child-size laps and err on the side of the seriously cute.

When playing with guinea pigs at school, children with autism spectrum disorders are more eager to attend, display more interactive social behavior and become less anxious, according to a series of studies, the most recent of which was just published in Developmental Psychobiology.

In previous studies, researchers in Australia captured these results by surveying parents and teachers or asking independent observers to analyze videotapes of the children playing. In the new report, however, the researchers analyzed physiological data pointing to the animals’ calming effect on the children.

The children played with two guinea pigs in groups of three — one child who was on the spectrum and two typically developing peers. All 99 children in the study, ages 5 to 12, wore wrist bands that monitored their arousal levels, measuring electric charges that race through the skin.

Arousal levels can suggest whether a subject is feeling anxious or excited.

The first time that typically developing children played with the guinea pigs, they reported feeling happy and registered higher levels of arousal. The researchers speculate that the children were excited by the novelty of the animals.

Children with autism spectrum disorders also reported feeling elated, but the wrist band measurements suggested their arousal levels had declined. The animals seem to have lowered the children’s stress, the researchers concluded.

Geraldine Dawson, the director of the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development, described the work as “very promising.” Autism, she said, is often associated with high levels of arousal and anxiety that interfere with social interaction.

This modest intervention, she said, could readily be adapted by teachers coping with a scarcity of resources.

“We don’t know what the mechanisms are,” Dr. Dawson said. “Maybe it’s easier to interact with others when you have a third object, rather than face-to-face interaction.”

Yet when children on the autism spectrum played with toys in the presence of the other two children, their levels remained elevated. “They found something about the animal itself that was helpful,” Dr. Dawson said.

The project began because the lead researcher, Marguerite E. O’Haire, now an assistant professor at the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University, wondered whether there were measurable benefits to having animals in the classroom, a common practice.

Her studies unfolded from 2009 to 2012 in 15 schools in Brisbane, Australia, where the trend is to include children of all abilities in a classroom whenever possible. Over eight-week stretches, groups of three children were pulled out for twice weekly sessions to play with two guinea pigs.

The overall results, which included 64 children with spectrum disorders and 128 typically developing children, showed improved sociability for all children, according to surveys of parents and teachers.

The activities with guinea pigs were low-key and unscripted. The children could feed, pet, photograph, groom and draw the animals, and clean their cages. After eight weeks, said Dr. O’Haire, a research psychologist in human-animal interaction, many children, both typical and on the spectrum, described the guinea pig as “my best friend.”

“If you ask the children what the guinea pig is thinking,” Dr. O’Haire said, “a common answer would be, ‘That he loves me.’ ”

Children with autism, who have difficulty interacting socially, are vulnerable to being teased and excluded by mainstream peers. But after 16 sessions with guinea pigs, parents would tell Dr. O’Haire, “‘Now my child feels like she has friends she can sit with at school.’”

In the new skin conductance study, arousal levels in the groups were assessed with four tasks. First, the children read silently. Then, each had to read aloud to the others. Next, they played with toys.

Each time, the arousal levels of the children with autism became elevated. Being with the other two children, no matter the task, made them anxious.

But when the guinea pigs — antically chirping, squeaking, purring — were introduced, these children’s arousal levels dropped. Dr. O’Haire and her colleagues suggest that the animals may function as “social buffers” for these children, for whom social engagement is bewildering and taxing.

Many studies in the emerging field of human-animal interaction address the benefits of companion animals. But much of the work has been theoretical, or with small samples, or without a control group.

Hal Herzog, a psychology professor at Western Carolina University and author of “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat,” about humans and animals, commended this study’s rigor. “They didn’t overextend their claims,” said Dr. Herzog, noting that the researchers were careful not to describe play with guinea pigs as a type of therapy.

Deborah Fein, an autism expert at the University of Connecticut, underscored that distinction. “People might think that if you lower the anxiety of these children, they’ll pick up social skills incidentally,” she said.

In fact, she said, they still need direct teaching of those skills. The presence of the guinea pigs would offer “a great ancillary treatment to practice those skills,” said Dr. Fein, a clinical neuropsychologist.

The animals could also be a means to introduce the children to empathy and responsibility. “There really is no downside to this intervention,” she said.

Original: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/06/29/guinea-pigs-are-autistic-childs-best-friend/

Related CE Courses for Mental Health Professionals

In Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) the human-animal bond is utilized to help meet therapeutic goals and reach individuals who are otherwise difficult to engage in verbal therapies. AAT is considered an emerging therapy at this time, and more research is needed to determine the effects and confirm the benefits. Nevertheless, there is a growing body of research and case studies that illustrate the considerable therapeutic potential of using animals in therapy. AAT has been associated with improving outcomes in four areas: autism-spectrum symptoms, medical difficulties, behavioral challenges, and emotional well-being. This course is designed to provide therapists, educators, and caregivers with the information and techniques needed to begin using the human-animal bond successfully to meet individual therapeutic goals. This presentation will focus exclusively on Animal Assisted Therapy and will not include information on other similar or related therapy.
The first section of this course traces the history of the diagnostic concept of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), culminating in the revised criteria of the 2013 version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5, with specific focus on the shift from five subtypes to a single spectrum diagnosis. It also aims to provide epidemiological prevalence estimates, identify factors that may play a role in causing ASD, and list the components of a core assessment battery. It also includes brief descriptions of some of the major intervention models that have some empirical support. Section two describes common GI problems and feeding difficulties in autism, exploring the empirical data and/or lack thereof regarding any links between GI disorders and autism. Sections on feeding difficulties offer interventions and behavior change techniques. A final section on nutritional considerations discusses evaluation of nutritional status, supplementation, and dietary modifications with an objective look at the science and theory behind a variety of nutrition interventions. Other theoretical interventions are also reviewed.
Teaching Healthy professional and personal relationships rely heavily on effective communication techniques and respectful conversational skills. Clinicians and other professionals who work with children and their families can benefit from adding to their repertoire by learning communication techniques that improve the quality of these relationships. The correct use of language can increase your young clients’ self-esteem, motivate children to learn, engage their willing cooperation, defuse power struggles, and teach conflict resolution skills. With this information, you will also be better prepared to manage difficult conversations. The purpose of this course is to teach clinicians effective and practical communication and conversational skills to use in the classroom and in one-on-one situations with young clients and their families.
Autism Movement Therapy® is an emerging therapy that combines movement and music with positive behavior support strategies to assist individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in meeting and achieving their speech and language, social and academic goals. Its purpose is to connect left and right hemisphere brain functioning by combining patterning, visual movement calculation, audile receptive processing, rhythm and sequencing into a “whole brain” cognitive thinking approach that can significantly improve behavioral, emotional, academic, social, and speech and language skills. This course is presented in two parts. Part 1 summarizes what is known about the brain functioning of individuals with ASD and illustrates how participation in dance, music and the arts can render the brain more amenable to learning social and language skills. Part 2 is a documentary created by Joanne Lara – Generation A: Portraits of Autism and the Arts, which spotlights – from a strikingly positive perspective – the challenges and accomplishments of eight individuals with ASD.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists; the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB #1046, ACE Program); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625); the Florida Boards of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling (#BAP346) and Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2015 in Autism

 

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Nutritional Issues Related to Autism

From ScienceDaily

There is consensus that children with autism have selective eating patterns, food neophobia, limited food repertoire, and sensory issues. Researchers now report that there are inconsistent results about the extent and type of nutrient deficiencies.

Review examines nutritional issues related to autism spectrum disorderAbout 1 in 88 children has an autism spectrum disorder. This represents a 78% increase in the incidence of autism spectrum disorder since 2002 (although some of the increase may be due to improved diagnostic capabilities). Individuals with an autism spectrum disorder may have poor nutrition because they often exhibit selective eating patterns as well as sensory sensitivity that predispose them to restrict their diets.

The July 2015 issue of Advances in Nutrition, the international review journal of the American Society for Nutrition, features “Nutritional Status of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Do We Know Enough?” This article evaluates the latest scientific studies examining nutritional status and nutritional needs of individuals dealing with these complex behavioral disorders.

The authors of the article examine a number of early warning signs that nutrition scientists have discovered that may alert parents as well as health care providers to the possibility of an autism spectrum disorder. For example, they discuss research suggesting that lower folate, vitamin B-6, and vitamin B-12 concentrations could be possible biomarkers for earlier diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. In addition, the authors point to abnormally accelerated growth rates in infants and children as a signal of autism.

Individuals with an autism spectrum disorder may be malnourished due to selective eating patterns, limited food repertoire, fear of eating new or unfamiliar foods, hypersensitivity, and other mealtime behavior issues. As a result they may require nutritional supplements or fortified foods to ensure that they fully meet dietary guidelines.

Although not all research findings are consistent, studies do indicate that children with an autism spectrum disorder are more likely to be overweight or obese. Unusual dietary patterns as well as decreased opportunities for physical activity may be contributory factors. Interestingly, the authors also point to studies indicating that individuals with an autism spectrum disorder are also more likely to be underweight than the general population. It appears that their unusual dietary patterns can lead to overweight and obesity as well as underweight.

Given the steep rise in the prevalence of individuals with autism spectrum disorders coupled with their higher mortality rates, the authors point to “enormous public health implications.” They call for more research to help diagnose autism spectrum disorders as early as possible and to develop effective nutritional strategies that enable individuals with an autism spectrum disorder to live healthier lives.

In addition, the authors also note that most nutrition research has focused on the needs of children with autism spectrum disorders. With the number of middle-aged and elderly people with autism spectrum disorders growing, the authors stress the need for research to focus on the nutritional needs of these adult populations as well.

American Society for Nutrition. “Review examines nutritional issues related to autism spectrum disorder.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 July 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150715140901.htm>.

Related Online CEU Courses:

Autism: The New Spectrum of Diagnostics, Treatment & Nutrition is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that describes DSM-5 diagnostic changes, assessment, intervention models, dietary modifications, nutrition considerations and other theoretical interventions.

Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence-Based Screening and Assessment is a 3-hour online CEU course that identifies DSM-5 diagnostic changes in the ASD diagnostic criteria, summarizes the empirically-based screening and assessment methodology in ASD and describes a comprehensive developmental approach for assessing students with ASD.

Autism Movement Therapy is a 2-hour video continuing education (CE/CEU) course that teaches professionals how to combine movement and music with positive behavior support strategies to assist individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Professional Development Resources is approved to offer continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by theTexas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2015 in Autism

 

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Early Intervention Improves Long-Term Outcomes for Children with Autism

From ScienceDaily

Early Start Denver ModelEarly intervention for toddlers with autism spectrum disorder helps improve their intellectual ability and reduces autism symptoms years after originally getting treatment, a new study shows.

The study is the first in more than 20 years to look at long-term outcomes after early intensive autism intervention. The therapy began when children were 18 to 30 months of age and involved therapists and parents working with the toddlers in their homes for more than 15 hours each week for two years.

The study will appear in the July issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and is published early online.

“When you intervene early in a child’s life, you can make a big difference,” said lead author Annette Estes, director of the University of Washington Autism Center. “We hope this translates to a higher quality of life for people with autism spectrum disorder.”

The therapy, known as the Early Start Denver Model, or ESDM for short, was designed to promote social and communication skills and learning. The research team found that two years after completing the intervention, children maintained gains in overall intellectual ability and language and showed new areas of progress in reduced autism symptoms.

This type of intervention has been shown to help children with autism, but it hadn’t been shown to work with very young children over a longer timescale until now.

These results make the case for autism-specific, one-on-one intervention to begin as soon as autism symptoms emerge, which for many children is before 30 months of age, Estes said.

“This is really important,” she said. “This is the kind of evidence that is needed to support effective intervention policies for children with autism, whether it’s insurance coverage or state support for early autism intervention.”

The researchers studied two groups of young children with autism — the first received community intervention as usual for two years, which was a mix of what was available in the community such as speech therapy and developmental preschool.

The second group received ESDM, which addresses a comprehensive set of goals, is delivered one-on-one in the home, and incorporates parent coaching and parent-delivered intervention with the child. This approach is designed to enhance a child’s motivation and follows each child’s interests in playing with toys and engaging in fun activities, songs and basic daily routines.

After two years of intensive intervention, children in the ESDM group showed a significantly greater increase in IQ, adaptive functioning, communication and other measures than did the comparison group.

“These findings indicate that children who had received the ESDM earlier in their lives continued to progress well with significantly less treatment than the comparison children received,” said co-author Sally J. Rogers, a University of California, Davis professor of psychiatry and co-creator of the Early Start Denver Model intervention.

It was surprising to researchers that two years after the early intervention ended, children who received the one-on-one care saw their autism symptoms reduce further, while children who had participated in community intervention had no overall reduction.

This kind of treatment is important for the well-being of children with autism, but it’s also a good idea economically, Estes added.

“People who are better able to communicate, care for themselves and participate in the workforce at greater levels will need less financial support in their lives,” she said.

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Washington. The original item was written by Michelle Ma. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Related Online CEU Courses:

Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence-Based Screening and Assessment is a 3-hour online CEU course that identifies DSM-5 diagnostic changes in the ASD diagnostic criteria, summarizes the empirically-based screening and assessment methodology in ASD and describes a comprehensive developmental approach for assessing students with ASD.

Autism: The New Spectrum of Diagnostics, Treatment & Nutrition is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that describes DSM-5 diagnostic changes, assessment, intervention models, dietary modifications, nutrition considerations and other theoretical interventions.

Autism Movement Therapy is a 2-hour video continuing education (CE/CEU) course that teaches professionals how to combine movement and music with positive behavior support strategies to assist individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Professional Development Resources is approved to offer continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by theTexas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2015 in Autism

 

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