Autism that impacts how a person perceives and socializes

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Definition: Autism spectrum disorder is a condition
related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes
with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication. The disorder
also includes limited and repetitive patterns of behavior. The term
“spectrum” in autism spectrum disorder refers to the wide range of
symptoms and severity.

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Symptoms/Causes: Some children show signs
of ASD in early infancy in the form of reduced eye contact, lack of response to
their name or indifference to parents and guardians ( Other
children may develop normally for the first few months or even years of life,
but then suddenly become withdrawn or aggressive or lose language skills
they’ve already acquired ( Signs usually are seen by
age 2.

Types of ASD include:

1.      Asperger’s

2.      Pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS)

3.      Autistic

Prevalence: About 1 in 68 children have
been identified with autism spectrum disorder according to estimates from CDC’s
Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. ASD is can affect all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic families
and is about 4.5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in
189) (

Diagnosing autism spectrum disorder is
difficult since there is no medical test, such as a blood test, to diagnose the
disorders. Doctors look at the child’s conduct and development to make a verdict.
ASD can sometimes be identified at 18 months or younger ( By age 2, a diagnosis by a qualified expert can be
considered very reliable. However, many children do not receive a final
diagnosis until much older ( Diagnosing
ASD requires two steps; developmental screening and comprehensive diagnostic evaluation.

Treatments and Strategies: There are no medications that can cure ASD or address the
main symptoms. Nevertheless, there are medications that can help some people
with ASD live a healthier life ( There
are many different types of treatments available. For instance, auditory guidance,
discrete trial instruction, vitamin treatment, anti-yeast therapy, facilitated
communication, music treatment, occupational therapy, physical rehabilitation,
and sensory integration ( The diverse types of treatments can normally be broken down
into the following categories: behavior and communication advances, dietary
approaches, medication, complementary and alternative medicine.(

Impact on the Family:

1. Financial: Families
with autistic children habitually face a huge financial load. Everyday cost for
autism treatment and therapies are not covered by most private health insurers,
and they are costly. The co pays parents uphold for medications and
office visits often lead to a massive monetary debt. According to a recent
study, families with an autistic child experienced an average loss of 14
percent in their whole family income. Working around the clock becomes very
tough for both parents. So, the family has to accept the increased expenses, in
spite of having a lowered family income. Full-time employment is vital for many
parents for providing health insurance, and so, losing a full-time job may considerably
affect the family’s financial circumstances.

Emotional: Autism brings with it a
lot of emotional ups and downs for the family members, which begin previous to
the diagnosis and continue forever (
Studies show that mothers of children with ASD often rated their status of
mental health as fair or poor. When compared to the general population, their
stress level was much higher. Besides having higher stress levels, parents of
autistic children are likely to experience feelings of
embarrassment due to their child’s behavior in public, feelings socially isolated,
despair because of the disorder’s incurable nature, as well as a plethora of other

Siblings: A child with autism also influences his or her
neuro-typical siblings. The siblings undergo many of the stresses faced by the
other family members. Furthermore, parents may not be able to provide them with
complete support, as they are overwhelmed meeting the needs and demands of
their autistic child. In families having children with ASD as well as typically
developing siblings, a more intense form of sibling rivalry can be seen. The
autistic child’s need for more attention and time may cause brothers and
sisters to feel left out and bitter. However, most families can overcome these
challenges if they have control over the other factors leading to stress.

4. Parental Training: According to the researchers, about half of children with
autism will demonstrate some type of behavioral problems that can be disruptive
to the entire family, including non-autistic siblings, so equipping parents
with more effective tools for dealing with such episodes could help everyone.
Research continues to back up the claim that when it comes to autistic
children, early intervention is key.

Implications on Developmental Domains

1. Receptive/Expressive Language:
language is our ability to convey our thoughts into words with
meaning. Basically our ability to talk.  Receptive language is our
understanding of what is being said to us.Both expressive and receptive language skills are essential to
effectively communicate.  When either one is impaired, a child’s ability
to communicate is impacted.  Children with ASD will always have some sort
of a language insufficiency depending on their actual diagnosis. Between 1.5 to 2 years of age, children
exhibit a rapid spurt in vocabulary and knowledge of the rules of
conversational exchange. For the child with ASD, these developmental
processes appear to be hijacked taking the form of impaired or delayed language
abilities at a very early age. More
times than not, expressive language is impacted to a greater degree than
receptive language.  This is the reason why augmentative communication with
children with ASD is so important. Augmentative communication is a means of
communication which can involve pictures, picture boards or communication

2. Cognition: Cognition is the mental action or process of
acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the
senses. Cognitive deficits, including mental retardation, are mixed
with social and communication difficulties, and many of the theoretical
accounts of autistic spectrum disorders highlight concepts, such as joint
attention and theory of mind. These concepts involve components of cognition,
communication, and social understanding. With this being understood, educational
plans cannot enforce a typical sequence of learning. The educational approach must
be individualized, while focusing on of each of the component factors to the
goals most relevant for an individual child. In younger children with ASD children
display specific areas of deficiency relating to representational knowledge. 

3. Fine & Gross Motor Skills: Fine motor skills are small
movements such as picking up small objects and holding a spoon  that use the small muscles of the fingers,
toes, wrists, lips, and tongue. Gross motor skills are the bigger
movements such as rolling over and sitting that use the large muscles in the
arms, legs, torso, and feet. Children on the autistic spectrum often have
difficulties with posture, coordination and motor planning. Motor skill performance
and learning depend on forming strong connections between different parts
of the brain that link sensory information from the body (skin, joints,
muscles, vestibular system), sensory information from the environment (vision
and hearing) and intensions, goals and feelings. This information is used
for determining what will happen next, planning movements to achieve
goals, executing the movements and evaluating the outcome. Because of the
differences in how the brain is wired, children with autism do not easily incorporate
all the information needed for task learning and  may use
different methods which are less efficient and may need extra
practice and guidance to learn new motor skills.

4. Self Help Skills: Self help refers to the
action or process of bettering oneself or overcoming one’s problems without the
aid of others; especially: the coping with one’s personal or emotional problems
without professional help. For
children diagnosed with Autism, they often experience delays in learning these
skills. As soon as the child is diagnosed with autism, self help / life skills
instruction should begin. Studies have shown that the use of visual schedules
and teaching children in simple steps helps children be able to complete these
tasks without any intervention. A few examples of basic skills that children
with autism struggle with include; going to the bathroom, eating, drinking,
brushing teeth, dressing, bathing and shoe tying.

5. Social
& Emotional Skills: Social and emotional skills refer to the process
through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge,
attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and
achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and
maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Children with
autism have major difficulties in both their social and emotional relationships
in a number of areas. Research has shown that children with autism have lower
rates of social initiation with and response to peers. Additionally, they show little
nonverbal communication while gesturing and emotional expression is sometimes nonexistent.
Furthermore, autistic children pay less attention to others’ emotional displays
than do their typical peers and show less empathy or shared emotion.

Decision Making


1. Setting Goals
and Defining Target Behavior: When it comes to setting goals for you’re
a child’s IEP, it is important to remember that the goal should represent what
the parent and the other IEP team members think the child will be able to
accomplish in his or her area or areas of disability (academic, developmental,
and functional) in a year’s time. The IEP team should develop academic and
functional goals based on the child’s present level of performance. Reports
from parent and the teachers, as well as evaluations and performance on state assessments
provide the basis for deciding areas to focus on for the child. Furthermore,
the state’s academic content standards for the child’s grade level can provide
as a reference point for setting goals. A target behavior is any
behavior that has been chosen or ‘targeted’ for change. A target behavior
should be positive. That means that the target behavior should focus on what
you would like the child to do as opposed to what you do not want the child to
do. Target behaviors must be defined in such a manner that the behavior can be
observed and measured.


2. Procedure
for Collecting Data: Data collection is a regular activity in
the special education classroom. It requires evaluating the student’s success
on individual items in his or her goals on a regular basis, typically at least
once a week. When a special education teacher creates goals for their students,
the teacher should also create data sheets to record the student’s
progress on individual goals, recording the number of correct responses as a
percent of total responses. Different kinds of data measurement are important
for different kinds of goals. “Trial By Trial” data collection measures the
percent of correct trials against the total number of trials.  This is
used for discrete trials. “Duration” data collection measures the lengths of
behaviors, often paired with interventions to reduce undesirable behaviors.
Interval data collection is a type of duration data that reflects either
percent of intervals or percent of complete intervals. And there is also “Frequency”,
which is a simple measure that notes the frequency of either wanted or unwanted
behaviors.  These are usually described in an operational way so they can
be identified by a neutral observer. 

3. Using Data Gathered to Make Decisions: Research
has shown that using data in instructional decisions can lead to improved
student performance. Data-driven educational decision making is the process
by which teachers examine assessment data to recognize student strengths and
deficiencies. Teachers then use this information and apply it to their lessons.
This process of critically examining curriculum and instructional practices in
relationship to students’ actual performance on standardized tests and other
assessments creates data that help teachers make more accurate decisions. Local
assessments such as classroom tests and quizzes, as well as formative
assessments like homework and teacher observations are also legitimate sources
of student data for this process.