An occupational therapist explained in an interview with Marketplace on Tuesday that she has found video games to be helpful for those with autism.
Amanda Foran works with both autistic children and adults and is the director of occupational therapy at Motion Therapy in Rockville, Maryland.
Foran encourages families with an autistic child to look for video games with simple rules that also tend to be very interactive, such as tennis or boxing. Seek out “games that offer the motion capture technology, that shows the individual on the screen instead of an abstract character,” Foran says.
Video games can be a meaningful physical activity for those on the autism spectrum. Foran particularly likes the Xbox Kinect because it encourages full body motion. Also, it doesn’t require any handheld controller, which is good for autistic people who may have limited fine motor control or coordination.
Foran explains that video games can also help build autistic people’s social interaction skills if the games are played with a partner. Therefore, families should encourage them to play with siblings or peers. Foran points out that many people on the autism spectrum are already skilled at playing video games, so this may provide them with the opportunity to act as the expert.
When asked about any concerns for the competitiveness that naturally is part of video games, Foran states that it’s not face-to-face competition. They are looking at a screen, which makes the competitiveness less threatening.
Foran drives home her point by explaining that people with autism desire to engage socially, but they might not have the underlying skills to do so. Or perhaps their sensory and language differences create challenges in communication. Technology like video games can help to make this communication somewhat more comfortable for those with autism.
“People just blossom when they’re playing,” Foran says.
To listen to the interview go to: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/tech/mind-games-mental-health-and-virtual-reality/video-games-and-autism-spectrum
By Rachel Schranck
Ono Academic College, a university located in a Tel-Aviv suburb, recently began an initiative helping adults with Asperger’s earn a college degree in business administration.
While people with Asberger’s do not suffer from intellectual disabilities, they still often struggle with reading social cues and facial expressions, making communication- and holding a job- difficult. This special track is intended to cater to these students and work to cope with these career-based struggles.
“We find out what they need, and we try to make them understand that they don’t have to change their life to gain a bachelor’s degree,” says Professor Ilan Daniels, who oversees specialized programs at the school. “But they do have to change the way they think about themselves and an academic degree, and that is hard.
The program called Kfir- Lion’s Club- began in 2012. Beit Ekstein, an Israeli organization that provides housing, employment and educational services to people with developmental disabilities, approached the school asking to provide a course for students with Asperger’s.
After brainstorming, this single-course idea became a three-course program. This program proved successful and was extended into an entire five-year academic program.
“It allows them to fully use their cognitive skills while taking into account their social challenges and giving the opportunity to be part of a regular college campus,” Kfir’s coordinator, Ronit Ronen Man says.
Right now the program consists of nine students; two are currently working in the Ono IT departments and one hails from California. Yoav Friedman, a 31-year-old, American transplant who recently immigranted to Israel, has already owned a business and attended college in the States.
He decided to apply and enroll anyway.
“It’s very challenging, and I like the teachers and how they teach,” Friedman says. “They take time out of their day if you need extra help.”
To read what similar initiatives are being pursued in New York, read here: http://www.icare4autism.org/news/2013/12/senator-pushes-for-autism-support-services/
Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Release http://mfa.gov.il/MFA/Pages/default.aspx
New York Senator Chuck Schumer is introducing new legislation which will sponsor and fund research for treatments for transitioning adults with autism.
“Autism doesn’t age out at 22,” he said Tuesday at a press conference at the Center for Discovery in the Town of Thompson. “Neither should the support services that help our young adults.”
The Assistance in Gaining Experience, Independence and Navigation Act (AGE-IN) focuses on children who can no longer received school-based services- a number that is estimated to be around 50,000 nationwide this year. When children turn 22, their support services can decrease up to two-thirds, according to Schumer.
Besides researching potential treatments for these young adults, Schumer wants the act to help provide educational and employment opportunities. More than half of individuals on the autism spectrum do not have jobs or do not further their education within two years of graduating for high school. Schumer hopes to partner with organizations like the Center for Discovery, a specialty center for individuals with varying disabilities, to lower this statistics.
The Center for Discovery has employees labeled “Transition Navigators,” which help link young adults with employment options. At a press conference at the center, Schumer said he hoped to implement a similar concept in the new act.
“We cannot abandon our young people with ASD as they are about to continue with their education or enter the workforce,” Schumer says. “Instead what we need to do is call in the experts at places like the Center of Discovery to help bridge that gap.”
Schumer expects the Senate to vote on this bill early 2014, with funding potentially beginning in October.
For information of ICare4Autism’s Global Workforce Initiative, read here: http://www.icare4autism.org/global-autism-center/comprehensive-autism-workforce-development-initiative/
Posted in Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Community, Education, Special Education, Treatment
Tagged autism adulthood, autism higher education, autism workforce, center for discovery, chuck schumer, resources for autism
A week after he was declared missing by New Jersey police, Michael Karwan, a high-functioning autistic teenager, has been found in Cleveland, Ohio. Currently, the boy remains with the police, who have confirmed that he was found safe.
Michael had left his home late last Tuesday night, and various leads had placed him in Penn Station in New York City Monday morning. Reports also claimed Michael was at the Port Authority station last Wednesday, though neither of these sightings were verified to be true. It remains undetermined as to why or how Michael ended up in Cleveland. The investigation is still ongoing.
According to New York Congressman Michael Grimm, the teen had tried checking into an Ohio hotel with his ID. Once the hotel had found out the boy was missing, they notified police.
“This is truly a Thanksgiving blessing,” Grimm said in a statement to the public. “Thanks to the efforts of concerned citizens, countless volunteers, media coverage and prayers from the community, Michael Karwan has been located and will be reunited with his family just in time for the holidays. I am very proud of Michael’s father, Walter Karwan, for his strength, faith, and perseverance throughout this trying time.”
In April 2012, 21-year old Billy Pagoni made a public plea to President Obama asking for help to enroll in higher education, a plea which received a lot of public support. Billy was diagnosed with severe autism when he was 18-months-old and has always dreamed of becoming a chef.
Billy recently finished his senior year of high school and has found a vocational program in Connecticut called KNEADS. Through this program, Bill works in a greenhouse, breaking down and learning gardening-related skills.
Despite finding this program, Billy still was a post-high school, academic experience, something his parents say, the White House could not even help with.
When Billy reached out to the president over a year ago, the White House spokesperson answered with a list of colleges that had academic programs tailored to students with autism. According to Billy’s mother, these programs were designed for students who are high-functioning, and there really are not programs out there for students like her son.
As a parent, you can have all the money in the world, but if your son or daughter is not connected, then it feels like you’ve failed,” Edith Pagoni, Billy’s mother says.
As for KNEADS, their program is becoming a model to help young adults with autism integrate into the workforce.
“If they could carve certain jobs out and then bring it to a vocational trade school and call it a program, then they would have a path towards employment,” Edith said. “But we need to get these companies to pull together to understand that that would be a great path with someone with autism.”
For more information on ICare4Autism’s workforce program, read the link here: http://www.icare4autism.org/global-autism-center/comprehensive-autism-workforce-development-initiative/ ICare4Autism is a non-profit organization that works in collaboration with Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices.
Posted in Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Community, Education, Treatment
Tagged asd, autism, autism education, autism higher education, billy pagoni, KNEADS, white house correspondent
Shema Kolainu-Hear Our Voices is holding a Chanukah fundraiser to support children with autism. People who donate over $100 or more will receive a $25 gift certificate for Michal Negrin Jewelry.
With the tagline, “Help Light Up a Child’s Life,” this fundraiser allows donors to offer any amount they can to help support children diagnosed with autism. On each day of Chanukah, donors have the option to support a child and donate to their therapies.
If you’re interested in more information on sponsoring a child for Chanukah, follow the link here: http://www.hear-our-voices.org/chanukah_donate.html
Hear Our Voices is a non-profit school that works in collaboration with ICare4Autism. For more information about ICare4Autism, their initiatives, and ways you can donate and get involved, follow the link here: http://www.icare4autism.org/get-involved/
In an article published yesterday, The Brooklyn Ink interviewed Shema Kolainu-Hear Our Voices Founder Dr. Joshua Weinstein about improving school safety and security after the disappearance of autistic teenager Avonte Oquendo early October.
“We took some important steps in our own school and around the community to highlight the tragedy and safety first activities to make sure the same thing will not happen again,” Weinstein said in the interview. “We always have safety procedures in place, but we developed workshops and seminars for all teachers and assistants.”
Weinstein emphasized the issue of wandering amongst children with autism. There is a teacher and three assistants for every group of six students at Hear Our Voices. Children with tendencies to wander have a teacher with them at all times.
Furthermore, Hear Our Voices has cameras installed throughout the building and surrounding streets with someone monitoring them at all times.
“Before we didn’t enumerate wandering, now we enumerate there is an issue with wandering, and issue with children who are hyper and self-injurious,” Weinstein tells Brooklyn Ink writer Chen Wu. “You have to pay more attention to these.”
Earlier in the month, New York Senator Chuck Schumer proposed offering voluntary tracking devices for children diagnosed with autism. In the interview, Weinstein said he had already set up meetings with companies to explore this proposal.
“If we think something is worthwhile, we will set up workshops with parents, give them opportunity to contact companies,” he said. “It’s up to the parents.”
Read the full Brooklyn Ink article here: http://thebrooklynink.com/2013/11/21/53363-safety-after-avonte/
Michael Karwan, a high-functioning autistic 19-year-old from Malboro,NJ, has been missing since late Tuesday night. His parents say Michael was possibly upset over school work when he left their home for a walk, leaving behind his cell phone, credit cards and money.
“We waited an hour, two hours, then we started driving around- maybe he’s just having coffee or something,” Walter Karwan, Michael’s father said. “We couldn’t find him and then became kind of desperate.”
New leads from the police suggest Michael may have gotten on a bus toManhattan. According to his parents, he has been toTimes Square before with family, and may think he is in too much trouble to come home.
“I don’t think he’s able to process that this is not a big deal- we just want him home,” his father says. “I’ll sell the world to have him home.”
Michael was last seen at a Freehold hotel, wearing a black jacket, jeans and green sneakers- not enough to keep him warm.
Michael is approximately 6 ft. tall and 220 lbs. Police ask that if you see him, call 911 and do not lose sight of him.
“Michael, I want you to come back,” Walter says in a message to his son. “Remember, you promised me that you would go to the movies with me on Friday. We love you and we can’t wait to see you.”
Shema-Kolainu-Hear Our Voices hosted a play and socialization skills workshop this morning, November 21. Our 60 attendees came to the school to learn how to properly teach children with autism how to play with toys and integrate with their peers.
Play is important for all developing children because it teaches language, social interaction, motor skills and more. For children with autism, play can be difficult due to their tendencies to isolate themselves or interact with adults rather than other children.
Part of the goal of the workshop was to combat these tendencies with positive reinforcement. For instance, when playing, pick a toy that is related to the child’s interests and strengths. It’s important to note that once play becomes more natural and unprompted, the reinforcement should slowly decrease and more neutral toys should be integrated.
Parents can also pair toys as means of positive reinforcement. For example, give the child a boat while they are taking a bath or play music when they are coloring.
Keeping play fun and not rushing a child who is not ready to interact with peers was also discussed. If you force a child to share too early on, or if they don’t have the proper verbal skills for interaction, the experience of play can be soured. Parents should also keep in mind that their presence should fade as play becomes less forced and peers enter the picture.
If you’re interested in more information or attending a future workshop please visit our website at http://www.hear-our-voices.org/workshop.html. A certificate is available upon completion.
Posted in Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Community, Education, Environment, Parents, Resources, Treatment, Workshops
Tagged autism workshops, autism workshops ny, Hear Our Voices, Shema Kolainu, the importance of play
Michael Karwan, a 19-year-old high functioning autistic teenager, has been declared missing by Marlboro, NJ police after he voluntarily left his home late Tuesday night.
Michael was last seen in the area of School Road West, after trying to check into Freehold hotel Tuesday night. He was turned away due to lack of proper identification.
Police believe that the teen is traveling by foot. The initial K-9 search produced no results, so police have expanded their search area.
When a child or teen with autism goes missing, it can be particularly dangerous due to lack of verbal skills. In New York, Senator Chuck Schumer has even proposed funding tracking devices through the Department of Justice for children with ASD, given the recent disappearance of 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo.
“Unfortunately, this is not uncommon among children with autism spectrum disorders,” Schumer said while promoting this initiative.
Michael, a Brookdale Community College student, is about 220 lbs at about 6 ft. tall. He has brown eyes and hair, and was last seen wearing a black jacket, blue jeans and green sneakers.
According to his parents, Michael has a strong interest in comic books and movies, so he may gravitate towards locations offering these things. If you see him please contact the Marlboro Township Police Department at 732-536-0100.
Sources: Asbury Park Press- http://on.app.com/18aYhQ2
Marlboro-Colts Neck Patch- http://bit.ly/1axzRP5
The Verge- http://bit.ly/1apkELm