A Best Practice Guide to Assessment and Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder in Schools

The number of children identified with autism has more than doubled over the last decade. School-based professionals are now asked to participate in the screening, assessment, and educational planning for children and youth on the spectrum more than at any other time in the recent past. Moreover, the call for greater use of evidence-based practice has increased demands that school personnel be prepared to recognize the presence of risk factors, engage in case finding, and be knowledgeable about “best practice” guidelines in assessment and intervention for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Continue reading

Self-harm, autism, and the desperate need to be understood

hard to reach children

The heartbreaking motivation that compelled Åse Brunnström to find a way to help carers communicate visually with hard to reach children.

One day in 2009 sparked the inspiration for Åse and led her to investigate the different ways in which visual communication could be approached to help hard to reach children, dedicating her time to creating a universally accessible resource for the professionals, teachers and parents who would need it. The result was Robin and the White Rabbit, illustrated by Emma Lindström, a vital tool that helps children express and understand their thoughts and feelings through the use of visual communication cards.


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Parents can play a vital role in supporting their child with dyslexia – Veronica Bidwell

Bidwell_Parents-Guide-t_978-1-78592-040-0_colourjpg-printIn this chapter from The Parents’ Guide to Specific Learning Difficulties, Veronica Bidwell looks at the important role parents can play in supporting the learning of their child with dyslexia. Looking at the kind of difficulties typically experienced at different ages and stages of development, she provides some very reassuring and useful advice.

Click here to download the extract

Packed full of advice and practical strategies for parents and educators, her book is a one-stop-shop for supporting children with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs), ranging from poor working memory, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, through to ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), Specific Language Impairment and Visual Processing Difficulty. Veronica is an Educational Psychologist with expert knowledge of Specific Learning Difficulties.  She has been involved in education for over 30 years working with mainstream and special schools.  She has run a leading independent Educational Psychology Service and has assessed many hundreds of pupils and provided advice and support to pupils, parents and teachers. Click here to find out more about her book.

Dyslexia, a disability or an ability to think differently? – Veronica Bidwell

dyslexiaIn this article Veronica Bidwell, author of The Parents’ Guide to Specific Learning Difficulties, explains the numerous ways that teachers and parents can support the learning of children with dyslexia.  She suggests adopting a holistic approach that engages all the body’s senses, examining the bigger picture before delving into the subject matter and recapping little and often with the aid of memory gadgets.  Packed full of advice and practical strategies for parents and educators, her book is a one-stop-shop for supporting children with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs), ranging from poor working memory, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, through to ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), Specific Language Impairment and Visual Processing Difficulty. 

In an interview on Woman’s Hour this week Jo Malone, the brilliant fragrance queen, talked about her life and how she built and sold a multi-million pound company, battled cancer and then built up her new company, Jo Loves.

Jo mentioned her failure to succeed in school and the fact that she had left with no qualifications whatsoever. This, happily for the rest of us, did not deter the entrepreneur. Her fragrant oils, creams, candles, colognes and perfumes are loved and have made her a household name.

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Why does someone with Asperger’s syndrome become depressed? Read the first chapter from Tony Attwood & Michelle Garnett’s new book

Attwood-Garnett_Exploring-Depre_978-1-84905-502-4_colourjpg-printPeople with Asperger’s syndrome are at greater risk of becoming depressed for a number of reasons that leave them with a tendency to isolate themselves. In the opening chapter of Tony Attwood and Michelle Garnett’s new book Exploring Depression and Beating the Blues: A CBT Self-Help Guide to Understanding and Coping with Depression in Asperger’s Syndrome [ASD-Level 1] the authors explore these reasons and introduce their self-help programme for dealing with the issues that might lead someone with Asperger’s syndrome to experience feelings of depression.

Drawing on the latest thinking and research Attwood & Garnett use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy methods designed specifically for individuals with Asperger’s syndrome (ASD-level 1) to help increase self-awareness, identify personal triggers, and provide all the tools needed to combat depression and suicidal thought.

You can read the first chapter from Exploring Depression and Beating the Blues: A CBT Self-Help Guide to Understanding and Coping with Depression in Asperger’s Syndrome [ASD-Level 1] simply by clicking on the link below.


Chapter 1: Why Does Someone With Asperger’s Syndrome Become Depressed? CLICK HERE TO READ  

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We talked to Veronica Bidwell about her new book, ‘The Parents’ Guide to Specific Learning Difficulties’

Bidwell_Parents-Guide-t_978-1-78592-040-0_colourjpg-printPacked full of advice and practical strategies for parents and educators, this book is a one-stop-shop for supporting children with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs).  We talked to Veronica about how she came to write the book, about her long experience as an Educational Psychologist, and what advice she has for parents whose child has an SpLD. 

What inspired you to write this book?

I always wanted a book that I could give to parents which they could use for reference.  I wanted a book that would explain the various learning difficulty labels, and one that would provide advice and support.  It has been difficult to find such a book, so I decided to write it myself.

For most parents it can be really daunting to find that their child has a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD) and that they will need to roll up their sleeves and get to work.  Unlike teachers and other educational professionals, parents have had no training.  It can be hard for them to know where to start.

Parents need guidance.  My hope is that this book will be of help.  I hope it will provide encouragement and that the stories included will inspire optimism. Continue reading

10 years on Jeanette Purkis remembers finding her different kind of normal

Jeanette PurkisTo mark the 10th anniversary of Finding a Different Kind of Normal Jeanette Purkis recalls the events surrounding its publication and the extraordinary effect it has had on her life.

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Read the first chapter of The Essential Manual for Asperger Syndrome (ASD) in the Classroom


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Click here to read the opening chapter of Kathy Hoopmann’s incredible new teaching manual.

“If every primary/elementary school teacher read this book, the lives of all young people who have Asperger Syndrome would be significantly improved. They would at last feel that the teacher understands them and thus feel so much happier, more relaxed and better able to achieve academic and social success” – Professor Tony Attwood (author of The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome)

Professionals and teachers are raving about this exciting new resource that is rewriting the rulebook on how to teach children with an ASD. Kathy Hoopmann’s new book is the answer for time-poor teachers that need to know how to approach the teaching of a child with an autism spectrum disorder quickly and comprehensively.

You can find out more and purchase a copy of The Essential Manual for Asperger Syndrome (ASD) in the Classroom at the Jessica Kingsley Publishers website by clicking the link below:

http://www.jkp.com/uk/the-essential-manual-for-asperger-syndrome-asd-in-the-classroom.html

Top 5 tips for entrepreneurs on the autistic spectrum

By Rosalind A. Bergemann author of An Asperger’s Guide to Entrepreneurship

For many of us on the autistic spectrum, employment can or has been a challenge. Whilst we may be intellectually capable (if not ideally suited) to do a particular job, the reality is that the workplace is centered around working with and through other people. Even a job that you might perceive as being undertaken in isolation will still require you to be part of a team.  ‘Teamwork’ is a workplace buzzword at the moment, and no matter how much that may be in conflict with the way we might work, this is unlikely to change.  For some of us the lack of required social skills needed for teamwork has resulted in our inability to secure permanent jobs and for others it has meant constant tension in the jobs we hold. It is also true that while we may be extremely Bergemann_Aspergers-Guide_978-1-84905-509-3_colourjpg-printcreative people with great ideas for new markets or products, corporate culture requires this to be presented in a certain way within an organization, and this can end up being extremely frustrating for those of us who can see the potential of something but are unable to directly contribute to its success.

For these reasons (and others) many of us make the decision to start our own businesses and become entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is a career that I believe suits people with Asperger’s extremely well – provided that we are properly prepared and have developed our coping strategies in advance.

So with that in mind here are the top 5 tips I would give to someone with ASD who wants to start their own business.

 

TIP 1. Ensure that the vision for your product/service and its unique selling point can be shared clearly with others.

Many of us will have a vision of our business in our heads that is very clear and logical to us. Whilst this is great it is important to recognize that when starting a business there will be times that you will be required to share this vision with others. To make sure you can do this, take some time to write down as much detail as possible regarding what your product or service looks like, and exactly what it is that makes your product/service unique. Ask yourself

  • What would make people come to me instead of more established companies?
  • What am I offering that is different to what is already out there?

Writing down or recording answers to these questions will help you put your vision into a format that can be shared with people you will be working with, such as potential investors.

Another thing to consider (particularly if you have experience in a corporate role) is that a plan for a small business does not require the same level of corporate documentation as a larger organization. You certainly need your plan, but it needs to be brief and to the point. A start-up business plan should really only be 4 to 5 pages long.

 

TIP 2: Do an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses

Before starting out, do an honest assessment of the strengths you have as a person with ASD, but also an assessment of the weaknesses you have.  This will allow you to develop coping or development strategies for areas where you have some weaknesses. Answer these questions as honestly as you can:

  • How well do I work with other people?
  • How important is it for me to have control of my work?
  • Do I have any sensory issues that may create a problem?
  • How are my written communication skills?
  • What cause me challenges as a person with ASD in the workplace? How could this affect me in my own business?
  • How am I at networking?

 

TIP 3: Consider sharing your diagnosis with those working closest to you

Since you will be working far closer with your own team than you might have as part of someone else’s, it is really important that there is no chance of you creating problems unintentionally due to some social skill problems.  It may be worthwhile considering whether you want to share your diagnosis with your team, possibly as part of a development programme promoting understanding and communication.

 

TIP 4: Don’t allow your new business to take over your life

As people on the autistic spectrum, we do not do things by halves. If we say we are going to do something, we tend to give it all our attention and energy. It is extremely tempting to fall into the trap of making our new business the totality of our lives. Whilst it is expected that we will spend a lot of time on our new project, please make sure that other parts of your life (such as your family and home-life) do not suffer as a result. After all you don’t want to start a new business but lose a family as a result.

 

TIP 5: Be prepared to experience change

Most of us on the spectrum tend to stick with things that have worked in the past, however as the owner of a small business you need to be open to adaptation and change.  If you are a person who struggles with change, I recommend that you spend some time developing coping strategies for change, and practicing when you have the opportunity.  Examples of coping strategies include:

  • Scheduling regular change adaptation breakaways where you can spend some time alone examining the changes that are happening or that need to be made, and coming to terms with them.
  • Developing a change business plan for yourself, where you can highlight areas of your business that may need change in the future so that it does not become sidelined or occur unexpectedly.
  • Assess how you have handled change in the past and highlight the coping strategies you used at that time (eg. at high school, when you first started work, etc). Think about how you can adapt these and write them down. Review these when you are feeling overloaded.

 

Starting your own business can be challenging, but it is also one of the most fulfilling and inspirational things one can do. People on the spectrum can make a huge contribution to the world in this way.

I wish you all the success in your new business!

 

Rosalind A. Bergemann is the Chairperson of Asperger Leaders and the CEO of a global change management consultancy. She is also the author of An Asperger’s Guide to Entrepreneurship and An Asperger Leader’s Guide to Living and Leading Change both of which are available from Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

 

Tessie Regan – Like Having Six Senses

Tessie Regan‘s new book Shorts is a series of short stories about Alcohol, Asperger Syndrome and God. This short introduction is about the relationship between alcoholism and Asperger Syndrome as viewed from her humorous and unique perspective.

I’m 31 and it has only been in the past year that doctors have used their probes and fancy words to explain what exactly has been going on in my brain. Getting my diagnosis meant everything made more sense. I wasn’t insane! I wasn’t rude or unsympathetic! I wasn’t a loner because I hated people! I wasn’t moody because I was impatient! I wasn’t easily distracted and unfocused because I had ADD! I wasn’t a royal pain in the ass as a child because I was undisciplined! I was operating in a different playing field and had been quieting the confusing and undiagnosed symptoms of Asperger’s by drinking myself to death – self-medication at its very finest.

The drinking washed away the feeling of steel-wool in my temples, removed the square blocks from my sternum and eased the clenching jaw that kept in the screaming because my skin was electric. The drinking made my senses relax and encounter the world at a slower pace. When I was sober some things would be so heightened that it was hard to distinguish which sense was receiving what feeling. It is like being dropped off by the mother-ship to run some experiments on the earthlings, but they’ve forgotten to give me the bone and flesh suit that can withstand the elements. Like sending a football player into the game without pads and a helmet… Oops!

Regan- Shorts - pg 36 - image

But I guess you’re thinking what did it look like, to be a drunk and to have Aspergers?

While I was drinking most of the symptoms were quieted and hidden. I could be so normal, but only when I was in active addiction. Before I began drinking and during seasons of sobriety was the best vantage point to see Asperger’s. It hid in ‘personality’ and easily fooled the people that loved me because to them it was a harmless problem they could chalk up my oddities (or the endless pool of my ‘personality’). For example I loved consistency and routine and any minor change would result in near cataclysmic meltdowns. As a child, it meant becoming physically ill and depressed and eventually hospitalized when we moved from West Virginia to North Carolina. As an adult, it meant drinking myself through changes big and small. From my older sister moving out of the country to the corner grocery store changing the layout of the aisles.

For the most part having Asperger’s means doing life with a little bit of funniness, but there is a darker side. There is a lot of time alone because I enjoy solitude and also because I need to reset. There is a lot of avoiding and making lame excuses because I don’t want to do something and this hurts people’s feelings. They really start to resent the criminal boyfriend that is espoused to my mind. They make wide circles and annoyed groans. They roll their eyes and suspect I didn’t see it because I didn’t look them in the eye. They wonder when I’ll grow up or mature or act my age. Sometimes they earnestly believe this is because I drank for so many years and that I have given myself some sort of permanent brain damage. The more that my cards make sense, the more they seem to offend the others at the table. But the misunderstanding is okay. When sunlight picks up the hairs on my bare skin one at a time and raises the temperature by a miniscule degree; when I can watch and see this miracle happening on my arm, I will remember that some people will not notice the warmth of it at all. I will remember that my bag of tricks is a blessing translated for the earthlings as ‘quirky’, and let it be well to be that too.

Tessie Regan is the author of Shorts, which is available from Jessica Kingsley Publishers. To order your copy go the JKP website.