Shine A Light on Autism

By Betty Paris PT, M.Ed., C/NDT and Carolyn Murray-Slutsky MS, OTR, C/NDT

Authors of Autism Intervention

April has been designated as Autism Awareness month. What a perfect time to increase the awareness of the diversity that the spectrum of autism encompasses and to spotlight interventions that are currently being used to aid individuals with autism. The core features of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) include impairments in social and communication behavior and repetitive restrictive behaviors, all of which can include blocks to learning and foster unwanted behaviors.

Sensory differences are believed to occur in up to ninety five percent (95%) of individuals with autism. Most of these have been documented within the tactile, proprioceptive and vestibular systems, but can occur in the visual and auditory systems. The individual reacts in ways suggesting that he or she does not perceive sensation as do his peers. He or she may not notice a touch, sound or a change in the environment; have a much-delayed reaction or may be over-reactive to and overwhelmed by sensory inputs such as touch, sounds or movements.  Due to these differences, difficulties can arise in communication, self-regulation or sensory modulation; motor planning; motor coordination and balance and in sensory discrimination needed for higher level skills.  Behaviors often develop as the child attempts to communicate and function in home, school and community environments. Parents, loved ones, teachers and therapists often struggle to understand what they are seeing, and how to help the individual with an ASD be comfortable, happy and engaging while pushing to develop skills.

Explanations of how and why these issues develop and interventions specifically aimed at addressing these issues are outlined in an exciting new book Autism Interventions – Exploring the Spectrum of Autism, 2nd Ed. This newly printed book just hit the bookshelves and is perfect for parents, teachers, therapists and anyone interested in learning more about how to help those with Autism.  The authors discuss the importance of dealing with self regulation (sensory modulation) and getting the individual into the “Calm Alert” state as the first step to aiding sensory processing, motor planning and learning and the role that everyday stressors play in impacting the individual’s learning and behavior.  A holistic intervention program will not only address the underlying sensory issues, skills development and communication strategies that the child needs, but will often include other strategies such as Sleep’n Sync to help the child, behind the scene, develop self-regulation, confidence and internalize the skills needed. Difficulty communicating, processing information and learning when frustrated, or are hindered by routines or rituals, are common problems encountered with individuals with autism. Sleep’n Sync is an intervention tool to aid in dealing with anger and frustration; making smooth transitions, leaving a preferred activity, organizing time, becoming more flexible. It can also help the individual develop positive, pro-active coping strategies to deal with other issues such as bullying and test taking.

For more information about Autism Interventions, this easy-to-read, informative and useful book, please go to www.STARServices.TV.