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Working With Autistic Children

Health Autism 2011

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#1 Vapor Trails

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 04:23 PM

This seemed like an excellent idea for a thread, particularly since some of us (raises hand) worked with them. Rhea posted a brilliant post, a bit which I'll cut & paste from this thread, post 31:

Quote

The problem with Asperger's kids is that they literally CAN'T read the kind of cues like body language. It takes a lot of work to teach them how to behave because of that.

They're brilliant, particularly in math and the sciences. Regular ed teachers rarely understand this.

A classically autistic child has no way to communicate. They can be violent, and hate transitions. I remember sitting during lunch when my friend was introducing a new food to an autistic student for whom she was a 1:1 (meaning she was the person responsible for him while he was at school),. He screamed for weeks, and tried to climb under the table. Gradually, he stopped screaming and eventually tried the new food (in fact, it became his favorite food). EVERY NEW FOOD caused the same behavior. They also perseverate - for instance, one child was mesmerized by the electric meter. Unless stopped, he would spend all of recess staring at the meter. Another child would stare at the fan in our office. When his father made him leave, it triggered a bout of screaming. Autistic children at home often will watch the same DVD over and over and over and over.

The autistic child can also do hand flapping as a form of perservation, or bang their heads again the wall over and over and over again. You're lucky the woman at church didn't have a child who didn't do these things - any of these things - at church.

A couple of questions, since I've worked with them on a school bus:

1) I've noticed that when these kids attend school, it *must* be year-round. I'm figuring that this is because of the intensive therapy these kids need-and that too much of a vacation can create serious set-backs. Is this so?

2) Rhea talked about these kids needing to be paired with a teacher/teacher's aide as a 1:1. Now, again, is this due to their disability, so these kids can be made to focus and interact constantly, instead of persevating?  Whenever they got off the bus in the mornings, each child was paired with an adult who came to pick them up from the bus.

So, Rhea-or anyone else-if you can answer these questions, that would be cool. :cool:

Edited by Rhea, 25 November 2011 - 09:21 PM.

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#2 Vapor Trails

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 04:55 PM

One thing I've observed is that a number of autistic kids are abnormally strong. And yes, they can be violent. I did a run one summer long ago where I took a number of autistic kids to some sort of "summer school". I had this one boy, a large fellow, who did the following without fail: every single time he got off the bus, he'd go over to a corner of the parking lot and eat dirt. :( I guess that was his form of perservation. :eh: Oddly, no one stopped him from going over to that spot when he got off the bus, which I found very strange. :blink:

One afternoon, a woman brought him to the bus, and I think she was the principal. She helped him into the bus. As the woman was helping the boy into the seat, he suddenly punched the woman-a hard right across the face. He sent the woman's glasses flying. I freaked out and asked the woman if she was okay. She stood there holding her jaw, stunned, for about a minute. Then she nodded and got off the bus. :crazy:

I felt bad for this poor kid. :( I had another one similar to this one in violent outbursts, who was standing by the family car one morning, screaming and punching at the windows-I think he wanted something inside the car. The poor mom and grandmom were beside themselves. :(

The sad thing is, I think kids who are suffering such severe forms of autism may end up going to group homes, or perhaps going to some sort of mental institution. :(
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Politicians are like bananas; they hang together, they're all yellow, and there's not a straight one among them.

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#3 Rhea

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 08:42 PM

View PostVapor Trails, on 25 November 2011 - 04:23 PM, said:

This seemed like an excellent idea for a thread, particularly since some of us (raises hand) worked with them. Rhea posted a brilliant post, a bit which I'll cut & paste from this thread, post 31:

Quote

The problem with Asperger's kids is that they literally CAN'T read the kind of cues like body language. It takes a lot of work to teach them how to behave because of that.

They're brilliant, particularly in math and the sciences. Regular ed teachers rarely understand this.

A classically autistic child has no way to communicate. They can be violent, and hate transitions. I remember sitting during lunch when my friend was introducing a new food to an autistic student for whom she was a 1:1 (meaning she was the person responsible for him while he was at school),. He screamed for weeks, and tried to climb under the table. Gradually, he stopped screaming and eventually tried the new food (in fact, it became his favorite food. EVERY NEW FOOD caused the same behavior. They also perseverate - for instance, one child was mesmerized by the electric meter. Unless stopped, he would spend all of recess staring at the meter. Another child would stare at the fan in our office. When his father made him leave, it triggered a bout of screaming. Autistic children at home often will watch the same DVD over and over and over and over.

The autistic child can also do hand flapping as a form of perservation, or bang their heads again the wall over and over and over again. You're lucky the woman at church didn't have a child who did do these things - any of these things - at church.

A couple of questions, since I've worked with them on a school bus:

1) I've noticed that when these kids attend school, it *must* be year-round. I'm figuring that this is because of the intensive therapy these kids need-and that too much of a vacation can create serious set-backs. Is this so?

2) Rhea talked about these kids needing to be paired with a teacher/teacher's aide as a 1:1. Now, again, is this due to their disability, so these kids can be made to focus and interact constantly, instead of persevating?  Whenever they got off the bus in the mornings, each child was paired with an adult who came to pick them up from the bus.

So, Rhea-or anyone else-if you can answer these questions, that would be cool. :cool:

#1 is dead on. We used to let the autistic kids have no more than one week off during the summer and urged parents to go along with it, because they fall into old behaviors so easily.


#2 - Not every child needs a 1:1 - it depends on how seriously impaired they are and whether or not they're in a class specifically tailored to autistic students. And yes, while not all of them need a 1:1 during class, in an environment where all the kids were in special ed classes, no child got off the bus unattended - and no child ever should.

More later.

Edited by Rhea, 26 November 2011 - 12:13 AM.
Fix Rhea's typos

The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands...with tools...with horse sense and science and engineering.
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When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why. - RAH


Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.  - RAH

#4 Vapor Trails

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 09:07 PM

Why do autistic kids perseverate?
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#5 Rhea

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 12:11 AM

The truth is, nobody really knows. There's a large contingent who see it as self-calming behavior to block out too much sensory input - that seems to be the most common theory. There are more theories than you can shake a stick at about  the genesis of and modifying this particular behavior, and I'm not qualified to address them, since my experience is by observation, not training.
The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands...with tools...with horse sense and science and engineering.
- Robert A. Heinlein

When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why. - RAH


Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.  - RAH

#6 Nikcara

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 05:21 PM

I've only worked with adults, but they continue to perseverate.  The most common theory I've heard is what Rhea said: that it's a self-calming behavior that blocks out other stimuli.  Remember that people with autism have a different brain - very frequently a part of the brain called the superior olive is small or altogether absent in people with autism.  The superior olive basically lets us filter out auditory stimuli, so we clearly hear the person talking to us and largely tune out back round noise and white noise.  That means that for most people with autism, they CAN'T tune out auditory stimuli - their brain pays just as much attention to the sounds of traffic outside as it does to your voice.  That's also why many people with autism tend to react strongly to certain sounds - some may love music, some might hate it, some might react to sirens going off - you never know.
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#7 Vapor Trails

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 08:09 PM

View PostNikcara, on 28 November 2011 - 05:21 PM, said:

I've only worked with adults, but they continue to perseverate.  The most common theory I've heard is what Rhea said: that it's a self-calming behavior that blocks out other stimuli.  Remember that people with autism have a different brain - very frequently a part of the brain called the superior olive is small or altogether absent in people with autism.  The superior olive basically lets us filter out auditory stimuli, so we clearly hear the person talking to us and largely tune out back round noise and white noise.  That means that for most people with autism, they CAN'T tune out auditory stimuli - their brain pays just as much attention to the sounds of traffic outside as it does to your voice.  That's also why many people with autism tend to react strongly to certain sounds - some may love music, some might hate it, some might react to sirens going off - you never know.

Right. As to what I bolded-I seem to remember a piece from "60 Minutes"(?) or some other news show where they talked about autistic folks. During this segment, there was a computer simulation showing a normal brain, and the brain of an autistic person. (The autistic one might have been a Asperger's patient, but I don't remember.) The computer simulation of the autistic brain showed the "wiring" (for lack of a better word) to be radically different than that of a normal brain. Darn-I wish I could remember what news show it was...  :headshake:
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#8 Vapor Trails

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 08:15 PM

Oh...and on NBC Nightly News tonight, there was a news item pertaining to how more and more parents refuse to vaccinate their kids. One of the reasons I've heard for this is that a side effect could be an onset of autism at some point in the child's life.
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Politicians are like bananas; they hang together, they're all yellow, and there's not a straight one among them.

"We're relevant for $ and a vote once every two years. Beyond that, we're completely irrelevant, except of course to consume, and preach the gospel according to [insert political demigod here]."--Cait

#9 Orpheus

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 11:24 PM

Well, it's important to keep in mind that ALL the terms we use in the neurophysiology of cognition are just metaphors and analogy. It's nothing like wiring, computers or even very much like the neurophysiology of nerves. However I think it is safe to say that for whatever reason --and I don't feel we are anywhere near what will ultimately be our terms and understanding of self-modifying and -reinforcing neurological systems-- there are differences in "how their brains work"

However (and this is little studied) quite a few control studies have show that clinically normal humans seem to have tremendous variation in the very details that distinguish those "different brains". You're just not going to get $1M in grants to study why Joe Smith's brain works differently on close examination, but Joe seems normal.

My earliest published research was in neurophysiology (lab research long before I went into medicine). I've learned so much since then that I'm amazed at my former ignorance, and the science has advanced MUCH more (proportionally) than I in those 30 years, but we're just laying a foundation, and, as in all science, 90% of current research will turn out to be noncontributory or wrong) It's an entire order more complex than molecular biology, because it adds a new layer of emergent properties to the full panoply of cellular/tissue mechanisms of molecular biology

However, I think the science is pretty clear on this: vaccines (more accurately: mercury-containing Thimerosal, which was used as a preservative in some vaccines) doesn't show a link to autism. Those results are simple enough to be summarized to laymen with a fairly inarguable plausibility: just look at the data from countries that stopped using vaccines with Thimerosal (or started or ever used it at all). When a country changes its preferred vaccine, pretty much the entire country --the entire generational cohort-- switches on/off at once, yet the expected link isn't seen.

There has been ample documentation of the views and methodology of the anti-vaccine movement. It one of those stories that draws one in, leaves one's jaw hanging, and makes one laugh or fume. Read about the movement and read its literature, not just its conclusions and judge for yourself. I don't think one needs a strong background in medicine to draw conclusions about their criteria for e.g. falsifiability of their premise ("being proven wrong")

#10 Rhea

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 01:25 AM

Unfortunately, parents of children with autism grasp at straws, and the internet has simply provided more of them - sites that claim that autism can be cured if you follow a certain diet or take a certain set of vitamins, your child will be cured. Unfortunately, right now there is no cure for autism.

The thing about parents not vaccinating their children is that they don't realize how devastating those childhood diseases can be. We had an isolated section where all the old-time hippies lived, and they refused to vaccinate their children - mercury in the vaccine, don't you know? There was an outbreak of chicken pox, and one child died and another ended up severely learning disabled because of the damn chicken pox.

Childhood diseases that we had eradicated are making a comeback, all because of some faulty research done by a doctor in England, IIRC.
The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands...with tools...with horse sense and science and engineering.
- Robert A. Heinlein

When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why. - RAH


Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.  - RAH

#11 Rhea

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 01:26 AM

Unfortunately, parents of children with autism grasp at straws, and the internet has simply provided more of them - sites that claim that autism can be cured if you follow a certain diet or take a certain set of vitamins, your child will be cured. Unfortunately, right now there is no cure for autism.

The thing about parents not vaccinating their children is that they don't realize how devastating those childhood diseases can be. We had an isolated section where all the old-time hippies lived, and they refused to vaccinate their children - mercury in the vaccine, don't you know? There was an outbreak of chicken pox, and one child died and another ended up severely learning disabled because of the damn chicken pox.

Childhood diseases that we had eradicated are making a comeback, all because of some faulty research done by a doctor in England, IIRC.
The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands...with tools...with horse sense and science and engineering.
- Robert A. Heinlein

When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why. - RAH


Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.  - RAH

#12 Nikcara

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 06:14 PM

Every time I hear about parents not vaccinating their kids because they're afraid of autism I want to scream.  I nearly threw something when I heard Michele Bachman claim that the HPV vaccine gave some girl mental retardation.  

Thanks to vaccines I never had to deal with those "common childhood illnesses", I'm never going to have to worry about shingles, polio, or several other life-threatening or altering medical problems.  I don't have scars from where I scratched my chicken pox (heaven knows I would have).  

My mom has shingles, and I see how much pain she's in when they flare up.  My grandfather had polio and was crippled by it.  I had the meningitis vaccine when I went to college...a few years later I got incredibly sick, neck so sore and stiff it radiated pain to the back of my knees, went to the doctor 3 days later and learned from a throat culture that I had the bacteria for meningitis...but other than being really sick for about 3 days was fine.  That's something that normally kills people.

Needless to say, any kid I have is getting vaccinated.
We have fourty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse  -- Rudyard Kipling

Develop compassion for your enemies, that is genuine compassion.  Limited compassion cannot produce this altruism.  -- H. H. the Dalai Lama

#13 Vapor Trails

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 06:25 PM

^

Too bad people can't vaccinate for stupidity. :p

:tired:
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"We're relevant for $ and a vote once every two years. Beyond that, we're completely irrelevant, except of course to consume, and preach the gospel according to [insert political demigod here]."--Cait

#14 Themis

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Posted 01 December 2011 - 11:25 PM

View PostNikcara, on 29 November 2011 - 06:14 PM, said:

Every time I hear about parents not vaccinating their kids because they're afraid of autism I want to scream.  I nearly threw something when I heard Michele Bachman claim that the HPV vaccine gave some girl mental retardation.  

Thanks to vaccines I never had to deal with those "common childhood illnesses", I'm never going to have to worry about shingles, polio, or several other life-threatening or altering medical problems.  I don't have scars from where I scratched my chicken pox (heaven knows I would have).  

My mom has shingles, and I see how much pain she's in when they flare up.  My grandfather had polio and was crippled by it.  I had the meningitis vaccine when I went to college...a few years later I got incredibly sick, neck so sore and stiff it radiated pain to the back of my knees, went to the doctor 3 days later and learned from a throat culture that I had the bacteria for meningitis...but other than being really sick for about 3 days was fine.  That's something that normally kills people.

Needless to say, any kid I have is getting vaccinated.

I had an aunt who had polio as a child.  She had a bad limp and dragged her foot.  My generation got the sugar cubes and the next vaccine.  Measles, mumps, chicken pox - no vaccines for those.  I managed to never get mumps but got the other two.  I had a different aunt who was miserable with shingles.  I got the vaccine for that a couple of years ago though I've read it's no guarantee.  All the stories lately about parents not getting their kids vaccinated - there are even parents deliberately trying to give their kids the diseases with parents mailing infectious material around the country.  As the NBC story pointed out, if kids get these diseases, they're putting all the people around them in danger, including elderly grandparents and anyone with a compromised immune system.
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#15 Nikcara

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 03:59 PM

The reasoning behind intentionally giving your kid something like chicken pox actually comes from a sound practice, or at least one that made sense 30 years ago.  Chicken pox (I'm less sure about the others) is much more likely to be fatal if contracted as an adult and since people generally develop an immunity to it after they've been infected, being infected as a child used to be seen as a good thing.  Back then (which really wasn't all that long ago) and adult who never had chicken pox growing up could run the risk of contracting it from a kid, possibly even their own kids, and dying from it.  

The problem is that a number of people haven't adapted to the idea that you don't have to get your child sick anymore.  The way they see it is that science isn't trustworthy, you could ruin your child's life (that awful autism myth) doing it the new way, and getting infected is the way it was done to them and done to their parents and their grandparents, so might as well go with the tried-and-true method.

And then there is the younger generation of parents who never saw someone with polio and don't have any understanding of how scary it was.  They think of it as something alien, 3rd world, and not something to worry about.  

I actually know people who were made to attend "pox parties" as a kid - where one kid would get chicken pox and all the parents who send their kid to the sick one's house so they could all get infected.  They still happen today.  It still drives me nuts.
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#16 Rhea

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 01:05 AM

None of those "childhood" diseases are to be taken lightly, and talking about chicken pox  parties makes them sound innocuous, when they can be lethal.

That said, in the 50's our parents were between a rock and a hard place. Expose your child and roll the dice, or protect your child and roll the dice again and they could contract it as adults, when the symptoms would be more severe. Besides which, without vaccines, everybody was exposed to everything anyway. I know I had everything except whooping cough and mumps. But that was then, and they did the best they could.

Besides the possibility of death, there are so many other permanent types of damage that can be caused by them - deafness, blindness, brain damage, sterility in males (mumps) - and while some of these things can be avoided by good medical treatment, it's still a roll of the dice.

Measles killed off about a fifth of Hawaii's native population in the  1850's - they had absolutely no immunity to many of the "childhood"  diseases brought by traders.

We had a speech therapist in my special ed program (my work) who was infected with whooping cough by an unvaccinated student. It took months to get a proper diagnosis (I know it sounds farfetched, but many MD's have never SEEN some of these childhood diseases in the flesh), her lungs were permanently damaged, she almost died and had to retire, all because of a childhood disease that had been eradicated.

It's so strange - my parents and those of my peers were so thrilled to have these vaccines, so that their children need not die, and now parents are refusing to vaccinate their children and even deliberately exposing them to the diseases. Talk about irony.

In my building on base in Maryland (my dad was career Navy), one child died of measles another lost her hearing as a result of high fever. My mother's best friend's daughter was brain damaged by a high fever caused by chicken pox - she's operated at the level of a 10-year-old her entire life.

Welcome to the wonderful world of unvaccinated childhood. I wish somebody would put together an information video - here, bozo, a  child dying of polio, or measles, really scare parents into realizing  that these aren't just some vague"run a fever for a few days" but  killers.

Edited by Rhea, 05 December 2011 - 01:07 AM.

The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands...with tools...with horse sense and science and engineering.
- Robert A. Heinlein

When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why. - RAH


Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.  - RAH

#17 Balthamos

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 02:08 PM

When I was 18 I did a research project on the effect of vaccines. It wasn't a huge thing and not a true review but it was a college (read senior high I guess) project designed to get you in to a mind set of writing papers and reviewing other people's evidence. Even at that age I came to that conclusion that even if the links to autism were proven true the probabilities they were quoting were far lower than the probabilities of your child catching a serious disease and dying from it. People will believe what they want to believe. I always figured that if it wasn't the vaccine's fault it must be the parent's fault in some people's minds and that was why they were so desparate to blame something else.



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