Red Flags to Look Out For….
- Reduced receptive and expressive language.
- Lack of eye contact
- No response to name being called, it could be as if the child is not listening or appears to be deaf.
- Flapping, rocking, or spinning especially when excited.
- Repetitive movements with body parts or objects such as shaking a hand in front of his/her face or waving a pencil in front of his/her face.
- Loss of speech after child has been talking.
- Lack of pretend play skills.
- Lack of interest or joint attention.
- Echolalia- repeating words or phrases.
- Difficulty with transition from one activity to the next.
- Sensitive to sounds, tastes, and textures.
- Difficulty with social interactions with others including initiating and maintaining conversations and play.
- Preoccupation of objects or parts of objects.
- Restricted interest in foods; “picky eaters”.
- Prefers to engage in solitary play with repetitive actions.
- Frequent tantrums.
Important information when interacting with children with ASD…From the perspective of the person living with ASD:
- Eye contact can be over-stimulating for me. Just because I am not making eye contact with you does not mean I am not listening.
- I thrive on routine and knowing what is going to happen ahead of time.
- I might have a hard time transitioning from one place to the next so please be patient with me.
- I like to play alone most of the time. You might need to try and engage me in playing or talking with you.
- My interests may be narrowed to only a few things. Please try and introduce new toys and objects to me.
- I have a hard time understanding figurative language and sarcasm. I am very literal, so you will have to explain what you mean.
- I might communicate better with pictures or using sign language such as, “more” and “all done.”
- If you see me rocking or flapping my hands, I am either excited or trying to make myself feel better. Try giving me a bear hug or deep squeezes.
- Sometimes loud noises are too much for me and I will cover my ears. If you see me cover my ears, try to turn the volume down or walk out of the room with me.
- I like to talk about things that I like. I might not let anyone talk about anything else and try to bring the conversation back to what I want to talk about. I need to be reminded to show interest in what other people want to talk about.
- Holiday parties are really hard for me because I am out of my routine and it is very loud.
Children with autism may learn differently….
Children with autism benefit from learning through pictures. Teachers can have pictures of the steps to washing hands or the steps of a cutting and gluing activity posted for the student to look at as a reminder. It is easier for students to learn through pictures because they are visual learners. They also learn skills through modeling and repetition, rather than picking it up in the environment. Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is a very successful treatment approach combined with speech therapy.
Children with autism like to know what is going on…
Having a consistent routine and/or a visual schedule helps reduce stress and anxiety from not knowing what is going to come next. Using a picture schedule of what is going to happen throughout the day or letting the child know a head of time (with several reminders given) will help alleviate some of the anxiety. Using the language, “First-then” helps reduce anxiety of the unexpected.
Children with autism have social deficits…
Children with autism might have difficulty starting or ending a conversation or they might have trouble with taking turns in a conversation. Sometimes they engage in one sided conversations where the child with autism is doing all of the talking about a preferred item or topic. A personalized social story can be created to help teach the child how to interact in social situations. The social story will be a short story that is about that child’s specific area of need. For example, the story could be about taking turns in conversation and giving the other person a chance to speak. Your speech therapist can help you design this.
Some children with autism have sensory problems…
Some students with autism are sensitive to clothing items, loud noises, and food items. Children with autism may rock back and forth, spin, or hit themselves seeking sensory stimulation. Deep pressure such as squeezing, massaging, or deep hugs helps to relax the child and helps in calming and allowing the child to regroup.
Children with autism often have difficulty with initiating…
A child with autism may have trouble initiating play or requesting basic wants and needs (i.e., “I want __.”). A child with autism might not notice that another person is in the room and therefore may not say greetings or farewells.
Here are resources to find out more information about Autism Spectrum Disorders :
- speakingofspeech.com –The materials exchange page has great handouts for teachers and parents to work on with students.
- autism-society.org- has great blogs that are supportive, informative, and helpful. There are blogs and many topics from people, family, and friends living with autism spectrum disorders.
- superduperinc.com- has great handouts that are informative for parent and teachers, not only of children with autism but with other disabilities.