HOW DO I TEACH THEM TO DO THIS?

Adaptive behaviours and skills are required before anyone can operate independently. From the moment a child is born when they are totally dependent, a parent or carers job is to gradually teach them to become more and more independent. According to Stephen Covey, author and motivational speaker, interdependence is even more important than independence. Since we live in a world where we all affect each other, learning to get along with others and help each other (interdependency) is necessary for survival. Starting with what we feed our children we can improve our child's receptiveness to learn. The next question is what do we teach them at home and at school and how?

 

The importance of parental and family support

The impact of a having a child with ASD on the parents and wider family have been discussed above, showing the extreme high levels of distress experienced by these families. Supporting parents does not negate the need for child focused support, nor will it necessarily result in the well-being of the child, but the lack of parent 

support and high parental levels of distress will affect the child’s well-being (Middleton, 1995). Research has shown that parental distress and family functioning impact on a child in numerous ways including their social, cognitive and behavioural development (Wallander and Varni, 1998).

 

The costs of services and support

Gomez de la Cuesta (2009) examined the trends in the economic costs of ASD in the UK. She reported that a recent report by Knapp and collegues (2007;2009) estimated the total annual cost of ASD in the UK to be £2.7 billion which is three times the cost that was estimated by Jarbrink and Knapp in 2001. According to the National Autistic Society (NAS) only 15% of adults with ASD are in full time employment and 51% of adults with ASD have spent time without a job or access to benefits. Besides the negative impact to these individuals of being unemployed, it also costs the economy.

 

The importance of Early intervention

There are several benefits of early intervention. Early intervention reduces the immediate stress of families as they feel they are being proactive, as well as reduces the number of years that the families are stressed due to resulting increased skills. Part of early intervention focuses on learning skills which then assist the child in learning and coping in general, improving the child and family’s quality of life

 

Applied Behaviour Analysis

ABA emphasises environmental associations and contingencies and when it is used in the context of treating young children it is referred to as Early Intensive Behaviour Intervention (EIBI). Discrete Trial Training (DTT) (Lovaas, 1987; McEachin et al, 1993) is a type of EIBI . Ideally this requires a minimum of 35hours per week of intensive one to one behaviour intervention. Chasson et al (2007) demonstrated that while the costs of EIBI were higher than special education per year, EIBI is cheaper in the long term. EIBI lasts for an average of 3 years for a substantial number of children who will mainstream without the need for additional special education funds in childhood, and on average these children will become productive adults, further saving the government money. Evaluations of EIBI have highlighted positive impacts on parents (Cunningham et al, 1986; Eayrs and Jones, 1992). Eldevik et al, (2009) supports the clinical implication that EIBI at present should be an intervention of choice for children with ASD.

The following 1:1 skype training sessions have been designed to help parents and professionals understand what and how to teach specific adaptive behaviours and skills.

DIET

It makes sense that what we eat affects the way we cope from day to day. Studies have shown that certain diagnoses or issues commonly co-exist (co-morbidities) alongside Autism. Eating disorders (Raiten & Massaro 1986); food allergies and sensitivities (Lucarelli et al 1995); heavy metal toxicities (Grandjean and Landrigan 2006) and vitamin and mineral deficiencies (Jepson, 2007) are just a few that are common in Autism. How and why do certain foods affcet those with Autism, what are the best diets that have been shown to improve the symtoms of Autism and what vitamins and supplements are also beneficial?

 

HOME PROGRAMMES

Many children with Autism benefit from being tutored at home- either by a tutor or their parents. What are the most common therapies that have been shown to have the greatest impact on ASD and how does one go about setting up a home program?

 

SPEECH & LANGUAGE SKILLS

Wing and Gould (1979) were the first to refer to the three areas that characterise ASD as the triad of impairments. As mentioned above, these three areas that are affected are: social interaction, social communication and social imagination with restricted, repetitive or stereotyped interests or behaviour. Someone once said "If I had to give up everything bar one, I would choose to keep communication for by it I could regain everything else back." This highlights how important Speech and Language skills are, as well as non- verbal communication. What are the different therapies and techniques used for Autism that have been shown to be the most effective in helping children with ASD with their speech and language skills?

 

LIVING SKILLS

As parents we worry about what our children with Autism will do once we have gone. Will they be able to look after themselves or will they always have to rely on someone else to do everything for them. Are they able to learn to do the various things neede to live independently? What living skills should we be teaching them and how?

 

HOUSEHOLD CHORES & ROUTINES

What chores can you expect you child to be involved in and at the same time be promoting their development? Are routines important and how do you go about ensuring they go smoothly? How do you teach these to your children?

 

WAITING SKILLS

Whether it is waiting in queque, at the doctor's rooms or just waiting for their dinner, kids can be impatient. It's even harder if they have a learning disability or Autsim. How do you teach a child with Autism to wait?

 

SCHOOL

In the UK in 2008 The Secretary of State asked Brian Lamb to look at how parental confidence in the special education needs system could be improved. Lamb said that what was clear was that parents need to be listened to more and the system needs to be more ambitious for their children. The inquiry highlighted four key areas that require change, namely:Children’s outcomes need to be at the heart of the system.A more accountable system that delivers better services.A stronger voice for parents.A system with a greater focus on children’s needs. UK schools receieve money from the their local authorities to help children with a 'Statement of Special Education Needs' which is a legal document outline a child's needs and how those should be met. A recent study in the UK showed the percentage dissatisfaction of parents with various phases in their journey from diagnosis to seeking services. It showed 67% were dissatisfied with the assessment and statementing process; 82% were dissatisfied with the different aspects of the statement; 55% were dissatisfied with the provisiion and support received after the statement and 88% were dissatisfied with the overall journey from diagnosis to trying to access suitable services and support. Regardless of what country you live in, how can you improve what support your child receives at school to maximise your child's learning?

 

HOMEWORK

It has been shown that children with Autism have lowered motivation in general and this has an impact on their ability to concentrate and do their homework. Many parents struggle to get their children to do their homework. How do you get your child to enjoy their homework and learn without the usual struggle?

 

SOCIAL SKILLS

As previously mentioned social issues are part of the triad of impairments in Autism. In this world in order to succeed we need to be able to understand people, get on with them and abide by the social and cultural rules in any given place. What are the social skills that people with ASD have difficulties with and why? How do you teach them these social rules and motivate them to use them?

 

PLAY SKILLS & ENTERTAINMENT

People with ASD lack play skills and also often do not have a broad repertoire of ways to entertain themselves. Why is this the case, what do they need to learn and how do you teach it to them?

 

 

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