Web-based study program for families of children with Autism

The early years of life are critical to a child’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. Identifying Autism early is one of the most important ways you can help your child reach his full potential. It is not always easy to interpret the early warning signs, especially when there are so many variables for parents to research when they are first faced with the idea that their child has learning difficulties. The internet can be a daunting place to find accurate and meaningful information. One additional resource that is available to families and health care practitioners, at no cost, is a web-based education system on the CDC’s website known as the CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program.  It aims to improve early identification of children with autism and other developmental disabilities so children and families can get the services and support they need.

Part of the Act early program is the “Autism Case Training (ACT): A Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Curriculum” which is designed to educate future pediatricians on fundamental components of identifying, diagnosing, and managing autism spectrum disorders through real life scenarios. It was developed in collaboration with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Fellowship Training Programs and has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.  It consists of seven cases, each with a Facilitator’s Guide and optional supporting presentation and videos.

Besides the curriculum, there are many additional resources, such as milestone checklists also available in Spanish, Portuguese, Korean and Arabic. Though this course was designed for educators and pediatricians, but can be accessed by anyone wishing to know more about early developmental stages of Autism. There are also many other videos and training materials available for immediate download, including children’s books and related resources on  positive parenting tips.



Schoolyard Designed for Children with Autism

Schoolyard Designed for Children with Autism

A Kansas State University graduate student is creating a schoolyard that can become a therapeutic landscape for children with autism.

Chelsey King, master’s student in landscape architecture, St. Peters, Mo., is working with Katie Kingery-Page, assistant professor of landscape architecture, to envision a place where elementary school children with autism could feel comfortable and included.

“My main goal was to provide different opportunities for children with autism to be able to interact in their environment without being segregated from the rest of the school,” King said. “I didn’t want that separation to occur.”

The schoolyard can be an appealing place for children with autism, King said, if it provides several aspects: clear boundaries, a variety of activities and activity level spaces, places where the child can go when over stimulated, opportunities for a variety of sensory input without being overwhelming and a variety of ways to foster communication between peers.

King researched ways that she could create an environment where children with autism would be able to interact with their surroundings and their peers, but where they could also get away from over stimulation until they felt more comfortable and could re-enter the activities.

“Through this research, I was able to determine that therapies and activities geared toward sensory stimulation, cognitive development, communication skills, and fine and gross motor skills — which traditionally occur in a classroom setting — could be integrated into the schoolyard,” King said.

King designed her schoolyard with both traditional aspects — such as a central play area — and additional elements that would appeal to children with autism, including:

  • A music garden where children can play with outdoor musical instruments to help with sensory aspects.
  • An edible garden/greenhouse that allows hands-on interaction with nature and opportunities for horticulture therapy.
  • A sensory playground, which uses different panels to help children build tolerances to difference sensory stimulation.
  • A butterfly garden to encourage nature-oriented learning in a quiet place.
  • A variety of alcoves, which provide children with a place to get away when they feel overwhelmed and want to regain control.

King created different signs and pictures boards around these schoolyard elements, so that it was easier for children and teachers to communicate about activities.

“It is important to make the children feel included in the schoolyard without being overwhelmed,” King said. “It helps if they have a place — such as a hill or an alcove — where they can step away from it and then rejoin the activity when they are ready.

“Most children spend seven to nine hours per weekday in school settings,” Kingery-Page said. “Designing schoolyards that are educational, richly experiential, with potentially restorative nature contact for children should be a community concern.”

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New Autism Treatment Delivery Method: Robot Boy

New Autism Treatment Delivery Method: Robot Boy - Hear Our Voices

Technology is a key area of development for autism treatment. Entrepreneurs at Arlington-based Hanson Robokind aren’t just writing software; they’ve created a new platform to deliver computer based lessons: His name is ‘Zeno’, a 27-inch life like talking robot and it set to be a game-changer in the world of treatment for mid and higher functioning children with autism. Continue reading

Using Toys to Help Children with Autism Learn

Using Toys to Help Children with Autism LearnWe often think of toys primarily providing children with entertainment but so much learning can be done through play. Here are some different play options to help children with autism to develop in different ways; Continue reading

Teaching Children with Autism to Understand Idioms

Teaching Children with Autism to Understand IdiomsThose with autism are very literal thinker thinkers. While ordinary people seem to love using idioms, metaphors and figurative speech, whether to aid communication or simply to make life more interesting, for people with autism they simply make no sense. Continue reading

Parents Push for a Wider Spectrum of Autism Research

Parents Push for a Wider Spectrum of Autism ResearchMany parents of children with autism have often been ahead of his doctors and caregivers in coming up with new ways to help their children.

Science and medicine coming around to parents’ view of the condition, and a more nuanced outlook is slowly emerging: Autism is not just an issue with the brain. Continue reading

6 Reasons to try Aquatic Therapy for Autism

6 Reasons to try Aquatic Therapy for Children with AutismAquatic Therapy is one of the many types of recreational therapy that can play a primary role in enhancing the quality of life and productivity of a child with Autism.

According to the Aquatic Therapy and Rehabilitation Institute in Florida, USA, Aquatic Therapy is the “use of water & specifically designed activity by qualified personnel to aid in the restoration, extension, maintenance of quality functions for persons.” Continue reading

One Mother’s Quest Inspired Autism Programs to Help Other Families

Karen Neary

When first receiving a diagnosis of autism, parents can become overwhelmed by the variety of treatment options and the pressure to act as soon as possible.

One Waterloo mother knows this feeling all too well. “All I know is I’m panicked now,” Karen Neary said. “You’re obsessed with starting instantly, but you don’t know what to do.”

When she received her son’s diagnosis Neary was working as an X-ray technician but she went back to school to gain a PhD in developmental psychology. Continue reading

Animal-assisted Therapy Yields Amazing Results for Autistic Children

Animal-assisted therapy has proven to be very successful in providing physical and emotional benefits to children with autism.

Animal-assisted therapy can vary from something as simple as bringing a pet into the home to something as structured as programs that offer horseback riding or swimming with dolphins. Interacting with animals can help children with autism to develop physically and improve their strength, coordination, and physical abilities.  Most importantly the relationship formed with animals can help autistic children have a better sense of well-being, more self-confidence and can offer transferable skills of empathy and relating to others. Continue reading

New Tool To Find Autistic Children Who Have Wandered

Pierce County is using cell phone technology and a fitted personal device to track down people who have wandered outside of the safety of supervised environments.

Autistic children lacking a natural sense of danger may go out on their own in search of one of their favorite locations – anything from their local park, body of water or train tracks.

Parents of children with autism and an adventurous spirit have long had cause for concern. Locks can only do so much as children grow, get smarter and have more desire for freedom.  Project Locate, which uses this technology, is providing families a great deal of relief. 

Made by Texas-based EmFinders, the EmSeeQ device works on the same technology that can locate a cell phone’s position. The device looks like a bulky old-style digital watch, works on a rechargeable battery and can be worn on either wrist or ankle.

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