I’m Asperger’s, Not Autistic!






The recent decision by the DSM to combine the autism spectrum into one diagnosis have people diagnosed with Asperger’s fear that, if they are specifically called “Autistic”, they will be stigmatized with the autism label. Many have managed to avoid being called autistic because there are people who do not know that Asperger’s is a type of autism.

People who are autistics have to face their situation daily unlike people with Asperger’s who are incorrectly diagnosed because “Asperger’s” is not a stringently accurate term in the first place. The reason is that they either fit criteria for classic autism or are excluded from Asperger’s because of self-help delays. Also, many people who are diagnosed with Asperger’s are simply diagnosed that way because they appeared to be high-functioning.

They feel that those people who don’t know much about Asperger’s syndrome will stereotype them as Autistic. In addition, those with Asperger’s syndrome prefer to separate themselves from the stereotype of autistic people who fit the “non-verbal child rocking in the corner.” Whatever it may be, they are ready.

Please refer to the full article below.


Promoting Social Inclusion of People with Autism and other Disabilities in Education

Dr Shore meets with Shema Kolainu staff:

Promoting Social Inclusion of People with Autism and other Disabilities in Education

 A free workshop series for parents, teachers, therapists, and others working with children on the autism spectrum was presented by Dr. Stephen Shore, an Assistant Professor to the Department of Special Education, at Adelphi University.

As an introduction Dr. Joshua Weinstein Founder and CEO of ICare4Autism presented Shema Kolainu’s sister school Tishma in Jerusalem Israel. He presented a video of the school and its various activities.

He also spoke about Icare4autism and its vision of creating the Global Autism Center on Mt. Scopus in Israel, dedicated to catalyzing breakthrough innovation in autism research and treatment.

Dr. Shore presented the development and use of educational accommodations as extensions of good teaching practices. Attendees were able to learn ways to implement and find practical solutions for including children with autism and other special needs into the regular education experience.

During the workshop Dr. Shore also shared a touching description of his own personal struggles and how he was successful in his life even with autism.

This workshop was held at our Brooklyn location and attendees were given a certificate of completion upon request.


Developing a “Team” Collaborative Approach for Autism

As part of our free workshop series at SKHOV, we held a workshop yesterday on the Development of a “Team” collaborative approach for Autism. Many parents and caregivers from all 5 boroughs were in attendance.

The workshop discussed the essential key members and their roles and responsibilities of a child with Autism. As discussed the “Team” Collaborative Approach consists of siblings, parents, extended family members, friends, teachers, therapists, physicians, and other medical professionals as well.

We also discussed the various mental, physical, dental, oral, and other health issues associated with Autism. People with Autism are prone to suffering a range of health related complication that can make life difficult, uncomfortable, and in come instances may cause social isolation.

Our next workshop will be held on December 11, 2012, which will be discussing the Promotion of Social Inclusion of People with Autism and other Disabilities in Education by Dr. Stephen Shore of Adelphi University.
This presentation will examine the development and educational use of accommodations as extensions of good teaching practice. Attendees will come away with easy to implement, practical solutions for including children with autism and other special needs into the regular education experience.

Autism Defined

Autism is the most common situation in a group of developmental disorders known as the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Autism is characterized by impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communications, and unusual repetitive or severely limited activities and interests. Other ASDs include Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS). It is estimated that 1 in 150 children have autism. Males are four times more likely to have autism than females.

There are three distinguishing behaviors that typify autism. Children with autism have difficulties with social interactions, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors or narrow, compulsive interests. These behaviors can range in impact from mild to disabling.

The characteristic trait of autism is impaired social interaction. Parents are usually the first to notice symptoms of autism in their child. As early as infancy, a baby with autism may be indifferent to people or focus fixedly on one item, to the exclusion of others, for long periods of time. A child with autism may appear to develop normally and then withdraw and become indifferent to social engagements.

Children with autism may fail to respond to their name and often avoid eye contact with other people. They have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they can’t understand social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions; they don’t watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behavior. They lack understanding attentiveness.

Many children with autism take on rhythmic and repetitive movements such as rocking and twirling, or are involved in self-abusive behavior such as biting and head-banging. They also tend to start speaking later then other children and may refer to themselves by name instead of “I” or “me.” Children with autism don’t know how to play or interact with other children. Some speak in a sing-song voice about a narrow range of favorite topics, with little regard for the interests of the person to whom they are speaking.

Many children with autism have a reduced sensitivity to pain, but are peculiarly sensitive to sound, touch, or other sensory stimulation. These unusual reactions may contribute to behavioral symptoms such as resistance to being cuddled or hugged.

Autism varies broadly in its severity and symptoms and may go unrecognized, especially in mildly affected children or when it is shrouded by more incapacitating handicaps. Doctors rely on a central group of behaviors to alert them to the possibility of a diagnosis of autism. These behaviors include:

  • impaired ability to make friends with peers
  • impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
  • absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
  • stereotyped, repetitive, or unusual use of language
  • restricted patterns of interest that are abnormal in intensity or focus
  • preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
  • inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals

Autism is a multifaceted disorder. A comprehensive evaluation requires a multidisciplinary team including a psychologist, neurologists, psychiatrist, speech therapist, and other professionals who diagnose children with ASDs. The team members conduct a thorough neurological assessment and in-depth cognitive and language testing. Because hearing problems can cause behaviors that are sometimes mistaken for autism, children with delayed speech development should also have their hearing tested. After a thorough evaluation, the team usually meets with parents to explain the results of the evaluation and present the diagnosis.

Children with some symptoms of autism, but not enough to be diagnosed with classical autism are often diagnosed with PDD-NOS. Children with autistic behaviors but well-developed language skills are often diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. Children who develop normally and then suddenly deteriorate between the ages of 3 to 10 years and show marked autistic behaviors may be diagnosed with childhood disintegrative disorder. Girls with autistic symptoms may be suffering from Rett syndrome, a sex-linked genetic disorder characterized by social withdrawal, regressed language skills, and hand wringing.

Scientists aren’t certain what causes autism, but it’s likely that both genetics and environment play a role. Researchers have identified a number of genes associated with the disorder. Studies of people with autism have found irregularities in several regions of the brain. Other studies suggest that people with autism have abnormal levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain. These abnormalities suggest that autism could result from the disruption of normal brain development early in the fetal stage, caused by defects in genes that control brain growth and regulate how neutrons communicate with each other. While these findings are fascinating, they are preliminary and require further study. The theory that parental practices are responsible for autism has now been disproved.

Recent studies strongly suggest that some people have a genetic predilection to autism. In families with one autistic child, the risk of having a second child with the disorder is approximately 5 percent, or one in 20. This is greater than the risk for the general population. Researchers are looking for clues about which genes contribute to this increased vulnerability. In some cases, parents and other relatives of an autistic child show mild impairments in social and communicative skills or engage in repetitive behaviors. Evidence also suggests that some emotional disorders, such as manic depression, occur more frequently than average in the families of people with autism.

For many children, autism symptoms improve with treatment and with age. Some children with autism grow up to lead normal or near-normal lives. Children, whose language skills degenerate early in life, usually before the age of 3, appear to be at risk of developing other complications including epilepsy or seizure-like brain activity.

There is no cure for autism. Therapies and behavioral interventions are designed to remedy specific symptoms and can therefore, bring about substantial improvement. The ideal treatment plan coordinates therapies and interventions that target the core symptoms of autism: impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and obsessive or repetitive routines and interests. Most professionals agree that the earlier that intervention occurs, the better the child’s chances for successful skill development.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the underlying educational approach at Shema Kolainu – “Hear Our Voices” (SK-HOV), which entails the comprehensive use of the principles of human learning theory to enhance the development, abilities and self-direction skills of children and adults. Thanks to the field of ABA, children with autism have been able to make greater strides than anyone might have imagined just a few decades ago!

Each program in SK-HOV has been developed to address skill variations and multiple levels of functioning. In addition to the broad spectrum of services for children, we provide support to families in the techniques of ABA to help their child generalize the learning acquired in school or day programs. Teaching methods we use involve a variety of strategies and formats developed within the field of applied behavior analysis, such as discrete trials, verbal behaviors and incidental learning.

Behavior analysts supervise and observe all staff on a regular basis regarding the manner and implementation of interventions across all services. Shema Kolainu is committed to furthering the understanding and treatment of autism spectrum disorders by keeping abreast of recent research findings and developing evidence-based practices. It offers hope to children and their families where none existed, so that one day many of these children can have the opportunity to overcome autism.