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Educating Students with ASD [Level 1]: Comprehensive Guidelines for Teachers and Parents

Children with ASD (high functioning autism) will respond quite well to specific classroom adaptations. Here are the recommended methods teachers can employ with their "special needs" students: 
  1. Implement Creative Programming - Through the student’s IEP, educators can develop class schedules which will be motivating and challenging to the student while addressing his/her needs.
  2. Intervene Early - The earlier intervention begins, the earlier children can learn the needed skills for adulthood and friendship.
  3. Obtain In-Depth Training - Learn the differences among the kids with ASD in elementary, middle school and high school.
  4. Recognize Children’ Strengths - Many children with ASD will go on to make great contributions to society. However, we must tap into their strengths and offer support so that they do not drop out of school because academic and social demands are too high.
  5. Understand How Social Impairments Impact Learning and Peer Relationships - Some children require weekly sessions with trained staff members who can help them “solve the puzzles” they encounter in everyday activities and help alleviate depression caused by perception of social failure. Provide ongoing social skill instruction to help children form relationships with peers.

Role of Inclusion—

1. Carefully structure seating arrangements and group work. Kids with ASD should not be seated near class bullies or aggressive children. Rather, sit them next to children who can serve as a “peer buddy.” See where the youngster works most effectively; near the teacher or near a quiet open space. Avoid self-selection when children are being assigned to a group. Teach children how to function as a team and accept all members.

2. Connect with Each Other, Parents, Internet, and Other Support Groups. To avoid the feelings of many educators and families who feel isolated in their attempts to support children with ASD, create regular communication through meetings, telephone or e-mail among inclusion and special education educators and parents. Create a Home School Coordination- Improve the behavior of this student by combining school and home effort. Work on goals that the youngster should meet. Then send home a note indicating if the youngster has met that goal. If s/he has done so, reward him/her (in school and at home if the appropriate behavior is being exhibited there as well). 
 

3. Don’t Take it Personally. Don’t be insulted by the student who interrupts, speaks too loudly or misses your jokes. Separate the youngster from the syndrome (be perturbed with the behavior, but support the youngster) and try to imagine the world as viewed through his eyes. Model warmth and acceptance. Refrain from impatience and irritation so peers will too.

4. Help Your Classroom Become a Caring Environment. Create and maintain your classroom as a safe, supportive and accepting community by expecting and ensuring that all children respect, support and take responsibility for each other. Help create a strong sense of belonging among all the diverse children in your classroom.

5. Prepare for Changes in the Routine. Since most children with ASD thrive on clear expectations and routines there are many different methods a teacher can use to help create smooth transitions. Write class schedules and time frames on the blackboard, or use a picture schedule for younger kids. Designate classroom jobs, space and time with certain activities (e.g., computer). Explain changes in the routine well in advance (e.g., “On Thursday, we will have an assembly. That means you go straight from your second period class to the auditorium.”).

6. Promote Positive Peer Interactions. Create ways to connect the student with empathic peers in order to promote social acceptance and friendships. Use role playing and games - Try the program “Magic Circle” where children are seated in a circle and are encouraged to share their feelings and listen to others. This type of activity helps promote active listening skills and recognition of each individual. Help the student engage in successful conversations and reflection by using comic strips, since the pictures, words and symbols identify what the people say and do and emphasize what people may be thinking. Social stories which describe typical social situations and explain the meaning of various comments and identify appropriate responses are also good. Direct the youngster to participate in activities or clubs in which their abilities might neutralize their social deficiencies (e.g., math groups). Make sure they are not involved in groups that are frequented by bullies. Identify the student’s special gifts and teach him/her to share those gifts through tutoring, class presentations, or community service.

7. Provide a Safe Haven. Children with ASD can become overwhelmed by noise, crowds, chaos or trying to engage in social interactions (e.g., an assembly, recess time), which can lead to anxiety and stress. Offer an alternative to attending these events. Try earplugs or headphones to assist in screening out troubling noise. Make sure the youngster has a trusted contact person with whom they feel comfortable with (e.g., special education teacher, school psychologist, guidance counselor or principal, older responsible pupil). Give access to a quiet, private place (e.g., school library, tutoring room, empty classroom or office) where the student can spend lunchtime, study hall or any other free time alone, can rest and refresh themselves to alleviate the stress that accompanies the constant effort to fit in. 
 

8. Use Available Resources/ Make Needed Accommodations. Children with ASD often respond well to visuals, graphic models and technology. They often have impaired gross or fine motor skills. Encourage the use of computers for written assignments and exams. Allow for extra time or quiet space if needed. When significant amounts of notes need to be taken, pair the student with ASD with a buddy in order that the student can photocopy the notes missed. Allow time on the Internet. The effort and anxiety associated with interpersonal connections is greatly reduced because then children only have to deal with the written word. However, limit the amount of time on the computer in order that a potential obsession does not develop and that the computer does not become a substitute for human contact.

Characteristics of ASD—
  • Cognitive abilities which are average or above average (they are often known as “little professors”)
  • Depression, frequent school absences, low school motivation due to being socially vulnerable and easy targets for teasing and bullying
  • Difficulties with subjects that require inferential reasoning, abstract concepts, problem solving, extensive calculations or social judgments
  • Fine motor problems which lead to poor penmanship and low writing motivation
  • Friends and new acquaintances may be acknowledged with tight and enthusiastic hugs instead of formal greetings like “Hi, how are you?”
  • Gross motor clumsiness which leads to poor skills in competitive sports and physical activities
  • Hypersensitivity to noises or smells
  • Lack of emotional reciprocity or empathy
  • May begin to talk about the latest topic of concern which is of interest only to themselves (e.g., train schedules), may be age inappropriate or boring but the person does not pick up on looks of disinterest or snickers from the group
  • May move into the personal space of others, not recognizing body language, facial and verbal cues that he/she has transgressed
  • May not make direct eye contact
  • Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
  • Rigid and inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals
  • Speech and language peculiarities such as: stilted and formal language, voice too loud or monotone or hyperverbal.
  • Stereotyped and repetitive motor movements
   
The Complete Guide to Teaching Students with High-Functioning Autism
 
 
Personal Challenges for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder—

Listed below are behaviors that a youngster on the Autistic Spectrum might encounter on a daily basis...

Social Interactions:

• inappropriate use of eye contact, avoidance or extended staring
• little sense of other people’s boundaries
• not accepting hugging, cuddling or touching unless self initiated
• poor use of nonverbal gestures
• trouble with back and forth social interactions
• wanting to be left alone at times

Interest and Activities:

• defensive to touch which isn’t self initiated
• difficulty waiting
• history of eating problems
• lack of fear or real danger
• lining up and or/ ordering objects
• pacing or running back and forth, round and round
• repeatedly watching videos or video segments
• resisting change
• strong attachment to inanimate objects
• very sensitive to sounds

Qualitative Impairments in Communication:

• difficulty understanding abstract concepts
• problem understanding jokes
• problem with getting the order of words in sentences correct
• problems answering questions
• problems using speed, tone and volume appropriately
• problems with reciprocal conversations

Learning Characteristics:

• delayed response time
• good visual skills
• hyperactivity
• needs help to problem solve
• problems organizing
• short attention span to some activities and not others
• well developed long term memory

Observable Problems Behaviors:

• aggression- biting, hitting, kicking, pinching
• low motivation
• temper tantrums
• toileting problems

Motor Problems:

• balance
• clumsiness
• motor planning- can’t make body do what it needs to do
• stiffness
• tired easily

 
Environmental Challenges that Lower Ability to Function Competently—

Personal:

- not being understood
- not understanding
- not having choices
- making a mistake
- being touched

Major Changes:

- alterations in school, work, home, community
- time changes
- staff or teacher absent
- cancellation of event or activity
- having to wait too long

Environmental Confusion:

- crowds
- noise
- not having enough space
- losing things of value
- surrounded by too much movement
- surrounded by too much visual stimuli

Relationships:

- being corrected
- being denied
- being late
- being ignored
- being left out
- being teased
- being scolded

Sensory Challenges—

Sound/ Auditory:

- reacts to unexpected sound
- fears some noises
- making self induced noises
- confused about direction of sound
- distracted by certain sounds

Sight/Vision:

- has been diagnosed as having a visual problem
- is sensitive to light
- has difficulty tracking
- upset by things looking different
- closely examines objects or hands

Smell/Olfactory:

- sensitive to smells
- explores environment by smelling
- reacts strongly to some smells
- ignores strong odors

Touch/Tactile:

- defensive about being touched
- prefers deep touching rather than soft
- dislikes feel of certain clothing
- over or under dresses for temperature
- upset by sticky, gooey hands

Taste:

- has an eating problem
- dislikes certain textures or foods
- tastes non-edibles

Movement/Vestibular:

- seems fearful in space
- arches back when held or moved
- likes rocking, swinging, spinning
- avoids balancing activities

Perceptual/Perceptual Motor:

- has difficulty with time perception
- problems with use of some tools
- difficulty with body in space
- relies on knowing location of furniture

Social Skills which may be Personal Challenges—

Personal Management/Self Control:

- waiting
- finishing work
- taking care of belongings
- turning in assignments on time
- changing activities
- accepting correction

Reciprocal Interactions:

- imitating
- sharing
- taking turns
- offering help, comfort
- inviting others to join
- asking for a favor
- letting someone know you are hurt or sick

Reciprocating Social Interactions Appropriately:

- listening
- commenting on a topic
- answering questions
- accepting help
- responding to teasing
- making a choice
- giving eye contact appropriately

Manner of Interaction:

- being polite
- being kind
- being considerate
- being honest
- not walking away when someone is talking

Abstract Social Concepts:

- being good
- timing
- fairness
- friendship
- caring
- lying
- humor

Group Behaviors:

- come when called to a group
- stay in certain places
- participate with group
- follow group rules
- winning and losing
- pick up, clean up, straighten up

 
Effective Behavior Interventions of Problem Behaviors–

What makes kids on the spectrum do what we do?
  • Biological Influences
  • Instructional/ Reinforcement History
  • Setting /Events
  • Stimulus Events

In order to create an effective intervention for problem behaviors, educators (and parents) need to take into consideration a variety of aspects.

1. Hypothesize the function of the behavior

• Social Attention
• Escape/ avoidance
• Wants tangible item or activity
• Sensory Feedback

2. Gather Information

a. Antecedent : Does the behavior occur……

- When you are attending to other people in the room?
- Following a request to perform a difficult task?
- When a request for an item or activity is denied?
- Repeatedly, in the same way, for long periods of time, even when no on is around?

b. Consequence: When the behavior occurs, do others….

- Attend to the student?
- Leave the student alone?
- Negotiate or give the desired item/activity
- Allow the student to engage in inappropriate behavior? 

3. Plan an Intervention

a. Based on information gathered, are environmental changes needed?

- Move student closer to teacher.
- Limit materials available to student.
- Remove distracters.

b. Based on information gathered, determine how people should react to the challenging behavior each time it occurs.

- Plan to ignore.
- Plan to attend.
- Plan to remove privileges.
- Plan to redirect.

4. Identify a Replacement Behavior

a. What appropriate behavior is “functionally equivalent” to the challenging behavior?

- Manipulating a stress ball or twist pen to replace inappropriate hand movements
- Teaching the student to ask if he can use the computer later to replace tantrum behavior
- Teaching student to raise his hand to replace attention-seeking behaviors
- Teaching the student to communicate his wants appropriately to replace escape/ avoidance behaviors

b. Complete replacement behavior planning guide with team…

- Which behavior is the team going to target for replacement?
- What functionally equivalent behavior is the team going to train in place of the problem behavior?
- In what situations will training occur?
- Who will be responsible for conducting the training sessions?
- What motivation system will be implemented during training?
- Describe how the team will evaluate if and how the student uses the new response.

 
Promoting Positive Classroom Behavior of Children—

The suggestions written below can be used to help kids with ASD but can be used in any classroom to help promote a positive atmosphere.

a) Rules - Establish, teach and enforce classroom rules. Rules should be positively stated and identify the specific behaviors you wish to see displayed

b) Premack Principle - Method of maintaining and increasing compliance with rules through the use of positive reinforcement. A desired activity is available to children on the completion of an undesired activity (e.g., a student who stays in their seat for a period of time can earn an opportunity to work on the computer).

c) Contingency Contracts - Children and educators formalize agreements concerning specific behavior for the exchange of reinforcers by writing an agreement. It outlines the behaviors and consequences of a specific behavior management system. (See the link on this site titled "Contracts")

d) Self-Recording - The student monitors his or her own behaviors by using a data collection system. Children can be taught to increase their on task behavior during a class by placing a + in a box when they are paying attention for several minutes and a -–if they are off task.

e) Self-Evaluation - A self-management system that has been used to promote appropriate behavior in many general education programs. Children are taught to evaluate their in class behavior using a rating scale. For example, a student can rate his on task and disruptive behaviors using a 0-5 point rating scale ("unacceptable" to "excellent"). The student earns points (which can be exchanged for reinforcers) based on both student behavior and the accuracy of his ratings. 
 

Ways to Decrease Inappropriate Classroom Behaviors –

Listed below are various ways to decrease inappropriate behaviors and increase appropriate ones for kids with ASD.

- Redirection - Introduce a novel stimulus to recapture the student’s attention by delivering verbal and nonverbal cues to the student to stop misbehavior, offering assistance with a task, engaging him/her in conversation, reminding him/her to focus attention on the task, or modeling calm and controlled behavior.

- Interspersed Requests - Used to motivate children to perform a difficult or unpleasant task by initially asking them to perform several easier tasks, which they can complete successfully in a short amount of time. This helps promote “behavioral momentum”.

- Differential Reinforcement - Techniques used to decrease inappropriate behaviors by reinforcing the occurrence of positive behaviors, which cannot coexist with the appropriate behavior. (See the link on this site titled "Differential Reinforcement")

- Extinction - A strategy in which the positive reinforcers maintaining a behavior are withheld or terminated, resulting in the reduction in the behavior. (See the link on this site titled "What is ABA" ---then read about 'Ignoring')

- Checklists and Schedules - Provide visual structure and motivation needed to complete assignments and remain on task by checking off assignments and activities upon their completion.

Adaptation of Oral Presentations/Lectures for Children—

Some children require modifications to be made in order for them to understand what is being taught. There are various types of adaptations. Listed below are a few which can be used to help any student achieve to their highest potential:

Pausing - to help children retain lecture content pause for 2 minutes every 5-7 consecutive minutes of lecturing. During the pause children can discuss and review content, ask questions or engage in visual imagery.

Visual Aids - Visual supports such as charts, graphs, lists and pictures can be used to highlight main points, maintain attention, promote eye contact and address the needs of visual learners.

Guided Notes - Outlined and guided notes in which the student fills in the blanks provide a foundation for note taking, and promotes on task behavior. Since many kids with ASD have difficulty with fine motor skills such as writing, this is a method that can be implemented to help them throughout lectures.

Active Student Responding (To encourage active participation) choral responding- in which children answer simultaneously on a cue from a teacher during fast paced lessons.

Response Cards - cards are simultaneously held up by all children to display their responses to questions or problems presented by the teacher

Cooperative Learning Groups/ Peer Tutoring - helps with social interaction

Other Strategies—
  • Use repetition by asking children to answer the same questions several times during a class period.
  • Reinforce correct responses and appropriate behavior with descriptive statements that identify what made the answer "right".
  • Group student with peers who participate and attend.
  • Select children randomly to respond and remind them that they may be called on next
  • Change activities frequently
  • Vary the presentation and response modes of instructional activities.
  • Decrease the complexity and syntax of statements.

Affective Education Strategies to Implement in Any Classroom—

Rapport - Maintaining rapport with children can help establish a positive classroom environment. Educators can establish rapport by talking to children about topics in which they are interested, sharing their own interests, providing opportunities for children to perform activities in which they excel, and complimenting children.

Humor - Good-natured joking helps develop a good relationships and a positive classroom atmosphere. Humor helps children see a situation from another perspective and decreases the likelihood of conflicts.

Dialoguing - Dialoging involves meeting with the children to assist them in identifying the problem, discovering their perspective on that problem, phrase it in their words, and discussing solutions for resolving the problem. It helps children understand their behaviors and problem solve alternatives to inappropriate behaviors.

The Complete Guide to Teaching Students with High-Functioning Autism
 

How to Teach Organizational Skills to Kids on the Autism Spectrum

For children and teens with ASD level 1 (high-functioning autism), organizational skills are a mystery. We all need strong organizational skills. Teaching these skills starts very young and continues through childhood as they increase in difficulty. Kids with ASD lack these natural skills and must be taught these skills if they desire to be productive adults.

When you think about teaching these young people organizational skills, you automatically think of lists, schedules and daily planners. While these are an important part of organizational skills, they are only a tip of the iceberg. 
 
Organizational skills are also known as executive functions. The executive functions affect abstract thinking, memory, task oriented goal creation, and mental adaptation in a wide range of situations.

Beginning at a very young age, we should teach our "special needs" kids organization skills that are age-appropriate (e.g., paying attention, understanding time, cooperation, memory work, basic research, basic planning, etc.). As our kids get older, these executive functions become more complex as they learn to manage projects, set goals, remember the small details, and organize and plan assignments.

To begin teaching your child with ASD organizational skills, you should first assess his weaknesses. In the meantime, you can help your child by working on time management and organization. These are two of the most important skills needed for success in school and in life. 

 Here are some suggestions that may help:

Time management—

• Breaking assignments down into manageable pieces is a very practical skill to teach. For example, if your child has to read a book and write a report, the manageable pieces would be to locate the desired book, read the book, write down the basic book report information, and summarize the book in writing. At the same time, you will teach her to assign a period of time for each piece so she can learn how to plan her assignments.

• Speaking of planning and timing assignments, planning is essential to time management. Every opportunity should be used to encourage planning. If you are going on an outing, have your child plan what he expects to happen during that outing. For example, if you are going to the zoo, have him make a list of what exhibit he wants to visit first, second, third, and so on.

• Visual timers help kids see how much time is left, which will do a greater job at teaching the concept of time in minutes or hours. These timers usually have a number display as well as a red line that gets smaller as time runs out.

Organization—

• Desktop organization and de-cluttering should take place regularly. When your child’s workspace becomes disorganized, she will lose her ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Set a time for her to put things away, make notes in her planner, and clean up her workspace.

• Encourage your child to make written lists. Having a list will help him stay on task. It will also help his memory skills.

• Find a simple daily planner or agenda book and have him write down everything each day. Homework assignments, favorite television shows - anything that is important to him - can go in his daily planner.

• Visual schedules, either written or picture schedules, are a valuable tool for your ASD child. Since she has an autism spectrum disorder, she prefers a routine. Having a visual schedule to refer to will make her more aware of her routine and help her cope with changes when they occur.

Executive functions are complex. These are just a few tips to get you started. Once your child has gained strength in these basic organizational areas, he or she will be able to function better at school and at home.
 
COMMENTS: 
 
  • I'm definitely reading this article! Years of consistency has helped my child with organization skills, but many things, are still a work im progress.
  • Very good info, my 15 year old has organizational skill issues. I will print and have him read this too. Hopefully we can work together to put some of these points to work for him.
  • We are constantly readjusting the skills needed as our son gets older and the needs change. Now in Middle School he has responsiblities that he has to handle himself. We just help him find the best way to be organized. Even if that means sitting down with him and his back pack every few weeks to help organize the contents into his folders. It takes time.

Why Your Teenager with ASD Can Be Moody and Depressed



==> Parenting System that Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder

==> Launching Adult Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

How to Create a Sensory Safe Haven for Your Child


Every child deserves a safe haven. In many cases, this is not possible for children with sensory processing disorder (SPD). It's no secret that parenting is hard, and when you have a child who struggles with sensory sensitivities, it can be even more challenging.

They may find themselves overstimulated by the world around them and incapable of coping. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts in some cases. The solution? Create a sensory safe-haven!

Here are some tips on how to do just that!

Identify your child's sensory needs.

Every child is different. Some may need to be held, while others will require a darkened room with no noise. Without being able to identify your child's sensory needs, you cannot create their safe haven!

This can also help professionals who are working on treating the disorder as well. By identifying what works best for your children, therapists can find an effective treatment regimen that incorporates these factors into therapy sessions and activities at home!

Scents- Use scented cleaning supplies or aromatherapy candles throughout the house. 

Sounds- Keep white noise playing in every room of the house, so there is never silence and remember to remove unnecessary noise in the child's room. 

For example, if your children's air conditioner makes too much noise, replace it with a newer and cheaper window air conditioner with a lower decibel level. 

Touch- Have soft blankets available at all times for embracing but avoid things like scratchy, which might irritate them.

Lights- Keep lighting bright and avoid dark spaces or rooms that can be too dim. Remember to keep the lights on when they are sleeping at night! 

Hang up some curtains to create more privacy for your child.

Children with sensory disorders often struggle to communicate. This is especially true in cases of SPD where the child has difficulty communicating their needs and wants.

Hanging up some curtains can do wonders for your children's ability to feel more safe and secure while still allowing them a sense of independence.

Make your child's bedroom as calming and comfortable as possible.

This is where the magic will happen. Make sure to find a space in your home that your child can call their own. Don't forget about comfort! Having a sensory safe haven is pointless if your children can't feel comfortable in their own homes. 

You can let your child feel safe and secure by funding the space with an investment for kids. There are a number of these plans available on the market. Consider making the following alterations for a calmer space:    

-A calming color palette throughout the bedroom with lots of soft textures like blankets or pillows on the bed.        

-Scented candles for aromatherapy purposes since smells are so important when it comes to sensory processing disorder.     

-Removable dim lights are installed overhead every few feet around the walls.         

Soft music playing from speakers instead of earbuds or headphones causes tension for children with SPD.

Change the colors of the room to be soothing and relaxing at night. 

Children with sensory processing disorders often struggle to sleep, especially if the room is too bright or their bedding is itchy and uncomfortable.

It can also help your child get a better sense of how they are feeling in that moment which will be beneficial for therapy!

Make sure to have noise-canceling earphones on hand so when you need them most, such as when taking an airplane trip, they'll be there waiting for you.

Add a ceiling fan for white noise.

While it may not be apparent to you, this simple addition can help your child feel more secure and safe in their own space, making everyone happier!

Ensure that the blades are close enough together, so there is no risk of them getting their fingers stuck between the fans. 

This will ensure safety while also helping to create an atmosphere where they won't get distracted by outside sounds.         

Remember, safety first! If you aren't comfortable installing one yourself or don't know how to call a professional to do it right. 

This way, you can rest easy knowing your kids are as protected as possible against anything bad happening through the use of the fan.        

Put up shelves with books, toys, or other items that your child enjoys having on hand.

Having something to do will help the child feel safe and secure while also protecting them from boredom which can be dangerous when you are stuck in one place for too long!    

Make sure that whatever items your child is allowed access to have no small components or removable parts. If there's a choking hazard, it doesn't belong up high where they can reach it!          

While most children with sensory disorders benefit significantly from an ergonomic design, this is especially obvious when you're trying to create a special space just for them alone.

Ensure their bedding has large enough gaps between the fabric, so nothing feels uncomfortable against their skin. Every little thing plays into how comfortable they'll be in their sanctuary!

Invest in a humidifier to make the air feel less dry during cold winter months.

If the air feels thicker and more humid will make it easier for your child to breathe. It can be challenging in the winter months when there's less moisture.

If you don't have a fireplace or woodstove, try investing in a portable one so that you can easily place them wherever they are most comfortable!      

There may not seem like much, but these simple additions could drastically improve their quality of life, from having fewer meltdowns at home all year round to sleeping better through those long nights of illness.          

Another reason why keeping things as clean as possible around this age group is incredibly important is that children are beginning to crawl and explore their surroundings more on their own.

Something as simple as bumping into or rubbing up against an object covered in dirt can be dangerous if they touch their eyes, nose, or mouth after it.

Conclusion

Creating this safe haven for your children does not require much work at all but can make such a big difference in their lives! 

Let us know what works best for you, and we'd love to hear about any experiences you've had creating these havens for your kids.

Tics in Teenagers on the Autism Spectrum

"My son is 16 years old and has developed a severe tic. He shakes his head and moves his shoulder up and makes a grunting noise. This has only happened in the last few weeks. Could this be stress due to us having to move to another city in  few months [he will be changing schools]?? He is becoming extremely anxious about it as everyone notices it!"
 
 
ASD  (high-functioning autism) can have many complications such as tics. Tics are rapid sudden movements of muscles in your body, or tics can be sounds. Both kinds of tics are very hard to control and can be heard or seen by others. However, some tics are invisible (e.g., toe crunching or building up tension in your muscles).

Simple tics involve just one group of muscles and are usually short, sudden and brief movements (e.g., twitching the eyes or mouth movements). Some simple tics can be head shaking, eye blinking or lip biting. Simple vocal tics can be throat clearing, coughing or sniffing. 
 

Complex tics involve more than one muscle group and are longer movement, which seem more complex (e.g., jumping, hoping, touching people, hitting yourself or pulling clothes). Other complex vocal tics can be repeating words of others or yourself all the time, or repeating out loud what you have read.

Tics may increase as a result of negative emotions (e.g., stress, tiredness or anxiety), but positive emotions as well (e.g., excitement or anticipation). These emotions are often experienced in those diagnosed with ASD. Therefore, tics in kids and teens with autistic disorders can be more common. A strong urge can be felt before the tics appear. 
 
With intensive therapy, these urges can be suppressed. When tics or urges to have tics are suppressed, there can be a build-up of other tensions - or even stress. Often when the tic is gone, those who suffer from it feel a sense of relief.

Whenever kids with ASD focus their energy on something else (e.g., computer games or watching TV), their tics tend to decrease due to the resultant relaxation effect.

My 8 year old grandson with autism has several simple tics and a few complex ones. His tics appear mainly in his face and are very visible to others. He twitches his mouth and eyes all the time. He bites his lips in various ways so the skin around it is always red and irritated. 
 
Even though he feels the urge to do so, he seems unable to control the movements. He is in tic therapy for this, and as a grandfather, it is painful to see this expression of anxiety or stress in your own grandson.

Bottom line: Try not to worry about it too much. It will go away once the child grows older or is able to express his feelings in another way. Most kids with tics will be "tic free" sooner than later. 
 
Share with your teenager:

Problems with "Sensory Overload" in Children on the Autism Spectrum

Question

My children (3 teens---2 still at home--plus a 3-yr-old) all have ASD (level 1). They have the disability as well as dealing with others (including one parent) who also have ASD. As a result, people are oversensitive to sensory input and comments and, of course, go from 0 to 100 in seconds. I have a great deal of difficulty heading off the mood escalations and defusing the situation once it has started. I need any suggestions for quicker resolution, etc. that will help us function more effectively.

Answer

Children with sensory issues can be taught to understand how they are “wired” and adjust to the blended flood of incoming sensory messages that is their norm. Learning to understand their triggers will help them cope. For some, the labels on their shirts or itchy socks may overwhelm their senses and shut down their ability to listen to parents. Becoming aware of the irritation will enable them to remove the cause, and then better process auditory messages.

Providing a less stimulating environment is the key to helping these children. Many ASD (high-functioning autistic) children outgrow their sensory-overload issues. By adolescence, many of the symptoms are better managed as the child learns coping skills. Helping the child identify his overwhelming sensations and providing quiet spaces can speed the process of understanding his own triggers and enable him to be more functional and better adjusted. 
 

Sensory overload is when autistic youngsters are faced with so much sensory stimuli that they can't process it all, and they then find a way of dealing with that situation that - to them - seems out of control. 
 
For example, if you have your child at the mall and people are coming up to tell you how cute he is and there is background music playing, then you may have a youngster that begins to throw a tantrum – and to you it may seem like there was absolutely no reason for it. But for a child on the spectrum, such a situation is more than he can take. It is too much information for him to try to process, and he breaks down.

As ASD kids with sensory issues get older, they will outgrow some of these problems on their own. Other kids will require the help of Occupational Therapists, and still others will have sensory problems with them for a life time.

The cause of Sensory Integration Dysfunction (the formal term for sensory problems) is not yet known. Kids who have other disabilities - and kids who were born extremely premature - are more likely to have Sensory Integration Dysfunction, but it is also known to be a condition that some otherwise healthy kids have.

Because of the mystery that surrounds this condition (and the limited information), most people aren't accepting or understanding of children who have this problem. Therefore, if you find that your youngster has this condition, you should find a great therapist and have them give you information to share with your youngster's school and other family members so that they are better prepared to help him or her.
 
 


 
Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
 

Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Associated Relationship Problems

"Is it common for children with ASD to have a great deal of difficulty relating to their peers in a proper manner? My son tends to burn bridges (so to speak) rather quickly with his friends."
 
ASD level 1 (high-functioning autism) often leads to problems in social interaction with peers. These problems can be severe or mild depending on the individual. Kids with ASD are often the target of bullying at school due to their idiosyncratic behavior, precise language, unusual interests, and impaired ability to perceive and respond in socially expected ways to nonverbal cues, particularly in interpersonal conflict. 
 
Kids on the autism spectrum may be overly literal, and may have difficulty interpreting and responding to sarcasm, banter, or metaphorical speech. Difficulties with social interaction may also be manifest in a lack of play with other kids.

The above problems can even arise in the family. Given an unfavorable family environment, the youngster may be subject to emotional abuse. A youngster or teen with ASD is often puzzled by this mistreatment, unaware of what has been done incorrectly. Most kids on the spectrum want to be social, but fail to socialize successfully, which can lead to later withdrawal and asocial behavior, especially in adolescence. 
 
 
At this stage of life especially, they risk being drawn into unsuitable and inappropriate friendships and social groups. People with ASD often interact better with those considerably older or younger than themselves, rather than those within their own age group.

Young people with ASD often display advanced abilities for their age in language, reading, mathematics, spatial skills, and/or music—sometimes into the "gifted" range—but this may be counterbalanced by considerable delays in other developmental areas. This combination of traits can lead to problems with teachers and other authority figures. A youngster with ASD might be regarded by teachers as a "problem kid" or a "poor performer." 
 
The youngster’s extremely low tolerance for what they perceive to be ordinary and mediocre tasks, such as typical homework assignments, can easily become frustrating; a teacher may well consider the youngster arrogant, spiteful, and insubordinate. Lack of support and understanding, in combination with the youngster's anxieties, can result in problematic behavior (such as severe tantrums, violent and angry outbursts, and withdrawal).

Two traits sometimes found in individuals on the spectrum are mind-blindness (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and alexithymia (i.e, the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in oneself or others), which reduce the ability to be empathetically attuned to others. Alexithymia in ASD functions as an independent variable relying on different neural networks than those implicated in theory of mind. In fact, lack of Theory of Mind may be a result of a lack of information available to the mind due to the operation of the alexithymic deficit.

A second issue related to alexithymia involves the inability to identify and modulate strong emotions such as sadness or anger, which leaves the individual prone to “sudden affective outbursts such as crying or rage.” The inability to express feelings using words may also predispose the individual to use physical acts to articulate the mood and release the emotional energy.

People with ASD report a feeling of being unwillingly detached from the world around them. They may have difficulty finding a life partner or getting married due to poor social skills. The intense focus and tendency to work things out logically often grants people with ASD a high level of ability in their field of interest. When these special interests coincide with a materially or socially useful task, the person on the spectrum can lead a profitable career and a fulfilled life. The youngster obsessed with a specific area may succeed in employment related to that area. 
 

What is ASD like?
  • It affects individuals all of their lives, but as individuals get older they get better at social and coping skills.
  • Many great scientists, writers and artists are thought to have had Aspergers, including many Nobel Prize winners.
  • Individuals with ASD can do well when others understand the effects of the syndrome on their behavior and learning, and provide a supportive environment.
  • They find it hard to relate to other individuals.
  • Some individuals who are said to be eccentric loners may have ASD.
  • The effects of autism can vary from slightly unusual behavior to quite aggressive and anti-social behavior.
  • They have trouble understanding the feelings of other individuals and they do not seem able to read body language. For example, a person with ASD may not realize when they have hurt someone's feelings, or when someone doesn't want to listen to them.
  • They like everything to be the same, and everything to be in the right place. They can get very upset if something is done 'the wrong way'.
  • They may talk a lot about their own interests, but have problems getting the message across or giving others the chance to talk.

Secondary School—
  • It can seem as though they are really bright because they know a huge amount about something they are interested in, but they might have trouble keeping up with other subjects.
  • Other students get better at interpersonal relationships as they grow older, but it can become more difficult for a student with ASD to be involved in friendship groups. However, they may enjoy groups which follow their special interest (e.g., science clubs).
  • Secondary school can be very stressful for students with ASD because they have a different timetable each day, several different teachers, and have to move between classrooms. These changes can be really stressful for someone who likes everything to be the same.

Teenagers with ASD are usually able to manage stressors better than younger kids, and behavior problems at school may be less of an issue at secondary school. However a teenager on the spectrum  may be so worn out after 'holding it together' all day at school that he or she may 'fall apart' at home.
  • It may be possible to negotiate with teachers to reduce the amount of homework or extend tasks over a longer time.
  • Feeling tired after school is often a problem, and facing up to homework at the end of the day can be very stressful for someone who has already had a stressful day.
  • A school counselor can help to work out strategies for dealing with problems, which might include a place to work alone if things get too hard sometimes.

 
Adult Life—
  • If partners and kids are able to learn more about ASD, they are often more able to understand the behavior and live more comfortably with the person who has autism.
  • Individuals with ASD also need to understand relationships better and learn more about how their behavior and emotions can affect others.
  • Most individuals on the spectrum can form strong bonds with a few friends, marry and have kids.
  • Peer support groups can also be helpful for partners and kids. Check on the internet to see if there are support groups in your area.
  • Their anxieties and difficulties with the subtleties of relationships can be confusing and upsetting to partners and their kids.

Problems for Brothers and Sisters—

It can be difficult if you have a brother or sister with ASD.
  • Parents often have to spend a lot more time with the youngster who has autism, so that you can feel you are missing out.
  • Their behavior can be difficult to live with because they don't relate to others well.
  • They may have frequent tantrums when things don't go their way, and this can be embarrassing to you, especially if your friends are around.
  • You may have to watch out more for your brother or sister to protect them from others, such as protecting them from being bullied.

Understanding more about Autism Spectrum Disorder may help you interact more successfully with your brother or sister.

What Your Child on the Autism Spectrum May Experience as an Adult


Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
 
 
More articles for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

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Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

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Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

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Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

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Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

Click here
to read the full article...

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Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...
 
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A child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) can have difficulty in school because, since he fits in so well, many adults may miss the fact that he has a diagnosis. When these children display symptoms of their disorder, they may be seen as defiant or disruptive.

Click here for the full article...

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

Click here
to read the full article...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content