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Autism Spectrum Disorder Archive 2011

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Ann England, M.A. CCC-SLP-L
Speech-Language Pathologist
Assistant Director Diagnostic Center, Northern California

Ann has 27 years of special education experience and has extensive training and certification in the assessment and teaching of students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (e.g., TEACCH, PECS, ADOS, etc.) She participates on a multidisciplinary assessment team at the Diagnostic Center to determine if students have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. She also provides the all day training “Teaching Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder” to school staff throughout northern California. Additionally, she provides onsite consultation and mentoring to school district administrators and teaching teams to assist in the development and implementation of evidence-based public school programs for students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Ann has served on several California Department of Education committees related to Autism Spectrum Disorders and most recently was invited to participate on the Task Force on Education and Professional Development of The Legislative Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism.

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Click a topic below to expand the full question and answer.

  • I’ve been hearing a lot about service animals for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. What do you know about this topic?

Question:

Dear Ann,

I’m a teacher of students with an ASD and I’ve been hearing a lot about service animals for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. What do you know about this topic?

Thanks,

Ellen  

                                  service horse asd.jpg        service dog asd.jpg


Answer:

Ellen,

Thank you for your question. I’m sure you know that for years, service animals have been helping people with a variety of disabilities including sight, hearing, and mobility impairments, seizures and post-traumatic stress disorders, just to name a few. And, you are correct, that service animals have now been trained to help individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD.)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines "service animal" as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. Other types of animals, whether wild or domestic, do not qualify as service animals. However, the use of trained miniature horses as alternatives to dogs (subject to certain limitations) may be used. Dogs that are not trained to perform tasks that lessen the effects of a disability, including dogs that are used purely for emotional support, are not service animals.

Here are some examples of tasks performed by trained ASD service animals:

  • Impulse Running: Retrieves individual and brings to an adult
  • PICA(when non-nutritional objects are eaten): Interrupts the behavior
  • Self-Stimulation: Interrupts the behavior
  • Self-Harming: Interrupts the behavior
  • Mood Swings: Crawls into individual’s lap and calms him/her
  • Night Awakenings: Alerts family by barking
  • Inattentiveness: Redirects or grounds individual’s focus
  • Carrying Items: Carries communication cards

There are specific guidelines for service animals such as:

  • Must have a harness, leash or other tether
  • Must be under handler’s control or can be removed
  • Must be vaccinated
  • Must be spayed or neutered
  • Treated for and kept free of fleas and ticks
  • Kept clean and groomed
  • Can take in all areas of the school’s facilities where other students are allowed to go
  • Can be excluded from a school building, school function or school sponsored activity if permitting the service animal would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program or activity
  • Dogs trained to provide aggressive protection such as attack dogs are excluded

There are always lots of questions about his topic so here are some questions that I’m asked frequently:

Who is responsible for caring for service animals at school?
Generally, the care and supervision of a service animal is solely the owner's responsibility and schools are not responsible for care, food or a special location for the animal. However, decisions about this issue happen on a case by case basis and may be otherwise!

What if other students are frightened or allergic, do we still have to allow a service animal?
Yes. Each and every student with special needs has a right to an accommodation based on disability; one disorder does not take precedence over another. Often, practical solutions can be developed.

Do we have to allow service animals on school buses?
Yes, if a student needs the animal for equal access to educational services and programs, then the animal has to be allowed to go everywhere its handler (usually the student) can go unless it is determined to be unsafe; this includes school buses.
As you can see, this is a complex topic! I always advise districts to develop a service animal policy with legal counsel and make sure their staff is trained to evaluate each request on a case-by-case basis. The IEP team or Section 504 team must consider carefully whether the animal is necessary for a free and appropriate education (FAPE) under the law: Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) or Section 504 and also be mindful of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Thanks for your great question!

Ann

REFERENCES:
U.S. Department of Justice, Americans with Disabilities Act, Information and Technical Assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act:
http://www.ada.gov

PACE:
http://pace.osba.org/news/100111.htm


  • Can you provide me with some examples of the best research-based approaches to teaching social skills and behavior modification for children who are 9-12 years old? What are some examples of goals for a child who struggles with recognizing, establishing, and keeping friendships?

Questions:

Hello, Ann,

1. Can you provide me with some examples of the best research-based approaches to teaching social skills and behavior modification for children who are 9-12 years old?

2. Are there materials available that effectively explain Asperger's Syndrome to children who are between the ages of 9-12?

3. What are some examples of goals for a child who struggles with recognizing, establishing, and keeping friendships?

4. What are some examples of goals for a child who lashes out (yelling, cursing; sometimes hitting, biting and kicking) when unable to understand a social situation?

Thank you.
Shari


Reply:

Shari,

Thank you so much for all of your questions! I hope the answers I’ve provided are helpful to you!

Best,

Ann

Question #1:

Can you provide me with some examples of the best research-based approaches to teaching social skills and behavior modification for children who are 9-12 years old?

Answer:

The following are resources of evidence-based practices (EBPs) for students with an ASD:

  • Autism Internet Modules:      

Free online learning modules that are designed to provide information to help those working and living with individuals with ASD to increase their knowledge and skill.
www.autisminternetmodules.org

  • National Autism Center:

The National Standards Project Report and Educator Manual: Evidence-Based Practice and Autism in the Schools can be downloaded free at:
www.nationalautismcenter.org

  • National Professional Development Center:

Evidence-Based Practice Briefs and a 10 Hour online class are available at:
http://autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu

Question #2:

Are there materials available that effectively explain Asperger's Syndrome to children who are between the ages of 9-12?

Answer:

Yes, there are many materials available to explain Asperger’s Syndrome to students ages 9-12.  I would suggest that you visit the TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children) website at www.teacch.com and click on Educational Approaches to review: “Understanding Friends” by Catherine Faherty.

Question #3:

What are some examples of goals for a child who struggles with recognizing, establishing, and keeping friendships?

Answer:

Gosh, it would really help if I had more information about the child such as their age, cognitive ability, language and communication functioning and severity of their ASD because these are critical factors in determining individualized goals and instructional strategies. It’s important to remember that the child is an individual first and then they have an ASD so there really aren’t any “one size fits all” goals for developing social interaction skills and strategies. We do know, however, that making friends is inherently difficult for students with an ASD. I would suggest that a thorough evaluation of the student’s social communication/interaction abilities be conducted by a Speech-Language Pathologist and/or a School Psychologist because this would give you important and specific information about the child’s specific difficulties for which you would develop specific goals.  For example, in your assessment you may find that the student doesn’t allow the other student (conversational partner) to take a turn in the conversation so you would develop a goal to teach him that particular skill.

Question #4:

What are some examples of goals for a child who lashes out (yelling, cursing; sometimes hitting, biting and kicking) when unable to understand a social situation?

Answer:

First, a student who yells, curses, hits, bites and kicks others has significant problem behaviors!  You and your team will need to determine whether or not an FAA (Functional Analysis Assessment) or an FBA (Functional Behavior Assessment) needs to be conducted with subsequent development of a PBIP (Positive Behavioral Intervention Plan). That is, you’re going to need to strategically find out the purpose/function of the problem behaviors (i.e., yelling, cursing, hitting, biting and kicking).  It’s not until you understand the purpose/function of the behavior and the circumstances that trigger and maintain the behavior that you’ll know what you need to teach to replace the problem behavior with a functional equivalent replacement behavior (FERB). For example, if you determine through your behavior assessment that the student is biting and kicking to communicate that he is trying to escape the situation because he doesn’t understand what’s going on then your team might determine that you need to develop a goal to teach him how to “use his words” instead of  biting and kicking.  For example, you may write a goal to teach the student to say, “I don’t understand. I need to take a break.” You might also end up writing goals to teach the student how to decipher the cues of a social situation so he can have more skills and strategies to understand specific social situations.

You can learn about and obtain resources for behavior planning at the PENT website: www.pent.ca.gov and click on Behavior Planning. PENT stands for The Positive Environments, Network of Trainers and is a California Positive Behavior Initiative designed to provide information and resources throughout California for educators striving to achieve high educational outcomes through the use of proactive positive strategies. 

You can also visit the website of the National Professional Development Center on ASD at http://autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu and check out the Evidence-Based Practice Briefs. Here are just a few that might be helpful in regard to behavior:

  • Antecedent-Based Interventions (ABI)
  • Functional Behavior Assessment
  • Functional Communication Training
  • Self-Management
  • Social Narratives
  • Social Skills Groups
  • Video Modeling
  • Visual Supports

Thank you for your great questions and best of luck!

Ann


  • Where can I find free visual supports on the internet to use with my students with an ASD?

Question:

Hi!

Where can I find free visual supports on the internet to use with my students with an ASD?

Thanks!


Answer:

What a great question! 

Here are just some of the many internet sites that I visit to find “free” visual supports!

Ann

Center for Autism and Related Disabilities:
www.card.ufl.edu
www.centerforautism.com

Do 2 Learn:
www.do2learn.com

Icon Talk:
www.icontalk.com

Search Engine Images:
Google.com
Yahoo.com
Picsearch.com
Dogpile.com

Symbol World:
www.symbolworld.org

Use Visual Strategies:
www.usevisualstrategies.com

Visual Supports for Students with Autism (PowerPoint Tutorial-Michigan Dept. Ed.)

Step 1: Google “visual supports butler”
Step 2: Click on “Visual Supports for Students with Autism.ppt PowerPoint…”


  • What to do about challenging behaviors of a student with ASD in a general education class?

Question:

Hi Ann,

I am a general education fourth grade teacher.  I’m having some challenges when Tim comes to my class with his aide for social studies.  Tim has ASD and he is high functioning.  He can mostly do the work but sometimes he doesn’t respond when I tell the class to go do partner work or he won’t go. Tim’s aide and I aren’t sure what to do, so we thought we’d ask you!

Thanks,

Dana


Answer:

Dana,
I want to thank you for having Tim participate as a member of your general education classroom and that you are eager to learn more about how to help students with ASD be successful. The first thing I want you to do is meet with Tim’s IEP team because you and the aide should not be the sole developers of the evidence-based practices that will support Tim in the general education classroom!  Although I need more information than what you’ve provided, I’ll give you some basic evidence-based practices that should be helpful and a good starting place.
INDIVIDUAL SCHEDULE:

  • Make sure that Tim has an individual schedule of his day that is portable so he can bring it to your class. I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen that a student has a schedule posted on a wall in the special day class, resource room or learning center but doesn’t have one that s/he can take with them
  • Tim’s special education teacher should review the schedule with him at the beginning of the day and throughout the day to remind him of the activities and any changes that might occur. When a student with an ASD is informed of a change in the schedule ahead of time s/he is often better able to cope. Some teachers use a highlighter to indicate a change in the schedule or affix a ‘change arrow’ next to the activity that is different. Again, it is critical to review the change in the schedule with the student way in advance so the student has time to adjust.  You’ve told me that Tim is “high functioning” so if that means he can read and has good reading comprehension then a schedule in the form of a daily planner might be appropriate for him.

SCHEDULE DAILY PLANNER

ACTIVITY SCHEDULE: 
You can increase Tim’s understanding of what’s going to happen in Social Studies if you provide him with an Activity Schedule.  Some teachers provide the student with a hand-held whiteboard, dry erase marker and eraser when they arrive in their classroom.  Then the aide or student should write down the tasks from the posted classroom schedule about what’s going to happen during that time frame for Social Studies. Or, Tim could simply write down on a piece of paper if that works. 

whiteboard

MANAGE WORK AND PROVIDE SUPPORTS:

  • Do your best to provide Tim with work that he can finish within the time allotted.  However, it may be that the work you give him is part of long-term project.  In that case you may have to help him increase his tolerance and flexibility.
  • One way to increase Tim’s tolerance is have the special education teacher or speech-language pathologist develop a Social Story such as “When I Can’t Finish My Work.”
  • Another way to help Tim understand that the long-term project is comprised of different parts is to provide a list and have him check them off as he completes each component (e.g., Introduction, Description of California Mission, Building the Mission Replica, etc.)

SUPPORTING VERBAL DIRECTIONS:

  • After you have given the verbal direction to the whole class, “Time to work with your partners”, walk to Tim, gain his attention, point to his activity schedule/whiteboard to pair the visual with the verbal and say, “Tim!  Time to work with John.”  Students with an ASD often need a more intentional and separate direction given to just them.

PRE-TRANSITION SUPPORTS:

  • Alert Tim when there is five minutes left before the next activity.
  • Provide Tim with a way to see how much time he has to complete a task.  The use of a small three inch TimeTimer, smartphone app, or his own watch would be helpful.

timetimer iphone app                      timetimer 3 inches

OFFER CHOICE:

  • We know that research has proven that being involved in decision-making can help ease transitions for some students with an ASD. If Tim is still mildly resistant to transition to working with John, offer him a choice.  For example, “Tim, it’s time to work with John.  Do you want to work at your desk or at John’s desk?”

PEER MEDIATED INSTRUCTION AND INTERVENTIONS:

  • As a classroom teacher, I’m sure you’ve observed your general education students prompting and helping each other. Because Tim isn’t a full-time member of your classroom and because he has ASD he may not have peers in his class as natural supports.  Select a few students in your class who could be a “peer buddy” for Tim.  Make sure to train them on how they can be a peer support.  Visit the Resources I have included to learn more about how to use peers as natural supports in your classroom.

BEHAVIOR AS COMMUNICATION:

  • If Tim continues to be resistant to transitioning to the next activity then you and the other IEP team members need to try and understand just what his behavior is communicating!  For example, is his behavior communicating that he doesn’t want to work with John?  Is he telling you through his resistance that the next activity is not interesting to him or that it incorporates handwriting and that’s difficult for him?  Is his behavior telling you that he needs a short break before he transitions to the next activity? And, well, you can see why it’s going to take your team to help you determine the function of his behavior and what positive behavior supports might help based on the function of the behavior.

I encourage you to meet with Tim’s IEP team to develop strategies to increase his success in your classroom.  And, I want you to continue to learn about how to best educate students with an ASD.  I would suggest that you visit the Autism Internet Modules and begin looking at “Autism in the Classroom”.
Good luck!
Ann

RESOURCES:

  • Autism Internet Modules:      

Free online learning modules that are designed to provide information to help those working and living with individuals with ASD to increase their knowledge and skill.
www.autisminternetmodules.org

  • National Autism Center:

The National Standards Project Report and Educator Manual: Evidence-Based Practice and Autism in the Schools can be downloaded free at:
www.nationalautismcenter.org

  • National Professional Development Center:

Evidence-Based Practice Briefs and a 10 Hour online class are available free at:
http://autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu

  • TimeTimer

www.timetimer.com

 

  • The Added Authorization in Special Education for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Question:

Ann,

Could you tell me about the Added Authorization in Special Education for Autism Spectrum Disorder? 

Thanks,

Cynthia


Answer:

Cynthia, thanks for your question. It is one of many about this topic that I am asked frequently. The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) is a very good resource and it is always best to contact the CTC to obtain information specific to your unique and individual situation. I have provided you with contact information for the CTC in the Resource section.
As a result of your question, I have decided to list all of the frequently asked questions I have been asked about the Added Authorization for ASD. My answers are based on information from the CTC website.

Best of luck with your endeavors.

Ann

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT WHO CAN TEACH STUDENTS WITH AUTISM IN CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS


  • If I have a California Education Specialist Instruction Credential -Moderate/Severe Disabilities (M/S) can I teach students with Autism?

    • Yes, this credential has always included authorization to teach students with Autism as well as deaf-blindness; moderate to severe mental retardation; multiple disabilities; serious emotional disturbance; and authorizes service in grades K–12 and in classes organized primarily for adults through age 22. (Note: The Early Childhood Special Education Credential has also always included authorization to teach students with Autism.)

  • If I have a California Education Specialist Instruction Credential-Mild/Moderate Disabilities (M/M) am I authorized to teach students with Autism?

    • Depends! It has not been until recently (January 2010) that teacher preparation programs have incorporated the new standards for teaching students with Autism. So, if you earned your M/M credential prior to that date then no, you do not have authorization to teach students with Autism. (Note: The M/M credential includes specific learning disabilities; mild to moderate mental retardation; other health impairment; serious emotional disturbance; and authorizes service in grades K–12 and in classes organized primarily for adults through age 22.)

  • What if I have a Mild/Moderate credential and I have students with an ASD in my classroom?

    • You’re going to need to obtain the Added Authorization for Special Education-ASD!
    • Assembly Bill 2160 was signed by the Governor of California. This bill extends the sunset date for an employment option allowing teachers authorized to teach students with mild/moderate disabilities to also teach students with Autism until October 1, 2013. There are guidelines in that the educator must have the local employing agency or school verify that s/he has either 1) one year of full-time, or equivalent, serving pupils with Autism prior to September 1, 2007 and a favorable evaluation or 2) completed a minimum of three semester units of course work in the subject of Autism. The purpose of this legislation is to allow individuals holding an Education Specialist Mild/Moderate credential to have time to complete the Added Authorization programs in Autism Spectrum Disorders.

  • Must holders of Education Specialist in Mild/Moderate and Learning Handicapped Specialist earn the Added Authorization in Special Education (AASE) for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

    • No, it is not required unless the educator is providing services in the area of Autism or it is required for employment.
    • An educator not required by assignment or employment to hold the authorization does, however, have the option of earning this and other authorizations if they want.

  • What is the Added Authorization in Special Education (AASE) for Autism Spectrum Disorder?

    • The AASE in ASD program is offered to individuals without an authorization to teach students with ASD who need or want to hold the authorization, i.e., those who hold the current Education Specialist Level I credential in Mild/Moderate Disabilities; while those enrolled in the program implemented under the new standards would not need the added authorization because the new program already contains the content.

  • Where can I obtain an ASD Added Authorization?

    • Colleges, universities, school districts, and county offices of education who have been approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to sponsor educator preparation programs.
    • A list of approved Special Education Added Authorization Programs as of November 2010 is available at:

    http://www.ctc.ca.gov/educator-prep/special-education-docs/approved-Sp-Ed-Added-Auth-progs.pdf

  • Can the holder of a general education teaching credential earn an added authorization in special education for Autism?
    • No.

 

RESOURCES:

  • State of California Commission on Teacher Credentialing

1900 Capitol Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95811-4213
Toll-Free: 888-921-2682
E-mail: credentials@ctc.ca.gov
Website: www.ctc.ca.gov

  • Approved Special Education Added Authorization Programs in California Addressing the 2009 Standards as of November 2010:

http://www.ctc.ca.gov/educator-prep/special-education.html