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Archive for January 13th, 2011

First Published Tuesday, 3 February 2009


Communication

According to research, almost 50% of AS children are late in their development of speech, but they are usually fluent talkers by the age of five (Eisenmajer et al. 1996). Although pronunciation and grammar (phonology and syntax) tend to be on a par with your average neurotypical child, differences tend to occur in the areas of pragmatics(ie how language is used in a social context); semantics (ie not recognising there may be several meanings); and prosody (ie an unusual pitch, stress or rhythm).


A proportion of children who are now widely accepted to have Asperger’s Syndrome, but showed the classic signs of autism in their pre-school years have been known to show significant improvement in communication and abilities later. “This improvement can be remarkably rapid and occur just prior to the age of five.” (Shah, 1988). The experts aren’t sure whether this is a natural progression for some children or a tribute to early intervention programmes; probably both.


As A Matter of Interest …

Albert Einstein

Einstein himself was well past 2 years of age before making any attempt at language. His most memorable utterance was at two and a half years of age when his sister, Maja, was born. Apparently expecting some kind of a toy, he demanded to know why she didn’t have any wheels! Until the age of seven, he had a habit of repeating softly to himself every sentence he uttered.


Albert with his sister, Maja

In an interview later in her life, his mother, Pauline, ascribed the success of her household to discipline – patient, persevering, warm but practical. Music played quite an enormous role in their lives. His typical playmates were chickens and pigeons in his temperamental youth …


It is approximated that around 90% of children on the spectrum develop speech by the age of nine years, and some, well beyond this. (Reference for this statistic: C. Lord, S. Risi, A. Pickles, “Trajectory of language development in autism spectrum disorders” in Developmental Language Disorders: From Phenotypes to Etiologies, edited by Mabel L. Rice and Steven F. Warren (Laurence Erlbaum Associates, 2004).


There are speech pathologists who will admit that in their studies, they found that the object was far too often to force speech at all costs, even if one of the costs was communication.


A very wise lady I know of, who is minus speech, once wrote that ‘communication is way more important than speech. Be sure that whatever you are teaching your child focuses on communication, not just speech. Some people aren’t cut out for speech even if they’re capable of making all the sounds and seem “promising”. Go with whatever communication method (or methods) works best for your child expressing himself, not with what communication method is the most normal.”


Antique phone

The following article is courtesy of NAS Communication Magazine, Autumn 2008 Edition.


Practical Advice – Speech and Language Therapy


Speech and language therapy is vital for anyone with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. Here, speech and language therapists (SALTs), working with autistic children at NAS schools across the UK, have gathered to tell us exactly why it’s so important.


From early diagnosis and intervention with young children to help for those with a late diagnosis and complex needs, a SALT can help access appropriate support for the individual’s communication needs. The type of work the SALT undertakes will depend on many complex factors. Whether the individual is non-verbal or has varying degrees of language, a SALT will be needed to advise on:


  • *communication strengths and needs
  • *the training of other staff
  • *intervention strategies
  • *the use of visual aids to enhance understanding and communication. These can be objects, photos, symbols or written words
  • *the use of specific symbols or written words
  • *the use of specific systems for communication – such as signing, picture exchange, pointing systems, voice output and communication aids
  • *promoting social interaction
  • *how to develop understanding of language
  • *how to develop expressive language

Generally, most SALTs work within the person’s environment, whether that is in class, at home or in a residential setting. Generalising skills (transferring them from one setting to another) is often a problem for people on the autism spectrum.


Imagine being in a world where everyone speaks a language you can’t understand


Tips for Helping Communication


If you can imagine being in a world where everyone speaks a language you can’t understand, you will have a fleeting glimpse of the world inhabited by a person on the autism spectrum. Unlike the person with an ASD, however, you would still be able to interpret clues like facial expression, body language and tone of voice.


To make communication easier, here are some general points which can help many people on the autism spectrum, although each individual requires a SALT to assess their particular situation.


  • *Ensure you’ve got the person’s attention before presenting information to them.
  • *Allow lots of time for processing.
  • *Present information visually where possible. Use objects, photos, symbols, drawings or write it down, depending on the person’s ability level.
  • *Use a visual timetable to show what’s happening now, next and later.
  • *When presenting information orally, try shortening sentences or just use one or two key words. Find out what the individual needs.
  • *Use areas of special interest to motivate the person.
  • *Watch for symptoms of stress and reduce demands, accordingly.
  • *Don’t use idioms like ‘raining cats and dogs’ or ‘pull your socks up’ unless you’re confident that the person won’t take them literally!
  • *Provide specific information on social rules at the level of understanding the person has: don’t expect the person will learn them automatically.
  • *If choosing between options is a problem for the person, reduce the number of options.

By the SALT team, working across all six NAS schools: Faye Coles, Frances Edmonds, Karen Kerr, Joanne Neill, Katie Newton, Lilias Nicholls, Teresa Povey, Karen Reeves and Linda Robinson.


Further Information


Useful information sheets, available from the NAS Autism Helpline(0845 070 4004), on this and related subjects, include:


  • *Speech and language therapy
  • *Social skills in young children

http://www.autism.org.uk/a-z


PECS

Other Resources


Speech therapy activities http://www.speechtx.com/


The Makaton charity Call 01276 606760 or visit http://www.makaton.org/


Picture communications symbol clipart http://www.setbc.org/pictureset/


Picture sets and communication resources http://www.do2learn.com/


Picture exchange communication system (PECS) Call 01273 609555 or visit http://www.pecs.org.uk/


The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists Call 020 7378 1200 or visit http://www.rcslt.org/


The Association of Speech and Language Therapists in Independent Practice Call 01494 488306 or visit http://www.helpwithtalking.com/


ICAN – children’s communication charity Call 0845 225 4071 or visit http://www.ican.org.uk/


Afasic – charity representing children and adults with communication impairments Call 0845 355 5577 or visit http://www.afasic.org.uk/


Talking Point – for information about speech and language development in children http://www.ican.org.uk/TalkingPoint/Home.aspx


Readers’ Advice


Buzz and Woody

My autistic son is four. He is on the waiting list for speech and language therapy. What can I be doing in the meantime to encourage him to talk?


We also have an autistic son who is four. Though he is very vocal, he has little discernible speech and we use Signalong/Makaton. This happened by accident when he was watching Something Special (pictured below) on CBeebies and made the sign for ‘eating’. We sat and watched all episodes of Something Special, and learnt the signs for basic things, such as toilet, eating, various foods, transport and colours. Our son now has a small repertoire of signs that he uses to convey what he wants and for us [to use] to communicate a little better with him, which lessens his frustration.


Other methods for helping your son are the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) which has pictures for your child to use when he finds difficulty in expressing himself and his needs. Our daughter, who is six, speaks fluently on a very superficial level. However, she needs pictures to sequence events and constant reassurance that her needs will not be ignored and are understood. Our daughter can’t read or write, yet when she sees signs and pictorial representations she can generally grasp the meaning of what information is being conveyed.


Finally, higher-level language is often the most cause for concern for children, as they fail to grasp the implied meanings in social settings and communication exchanges, as well as gestures, idioms and facial expressions.


Try and help your son by showing him pictures and gauging his understanding of events in the picture – for example, potentially dangerous situations, children being excluded and more everyday situations, like roads, cars and traffic, and what would happen if he ran into the road.


We wish you and your son all the best. Enjoy the journey – you will learn things you never thought you would!” Jeanette and Don Pearson


CBeebies logo

Something Special is a BBC CBeebies programme and website, aimed at children with learning difficulties. For more information, visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/somethingspecial/


Echolalia


Echolalia is meaningful communication and easily translated if you look at the total context in which echolalic statements are uttered, rather than taking them at face value and perceiving them to be meaningless. Many echolalic utterances will be about safety and security from the autistic person’s perspective.


laptop

A few more sites…can never have too many:) ~ either specifically for PECS or speech related:


Nonverbal Communication Pages:


http://trainland.tripod.com/pecs.htm


Widget Software:


http://www.widgit.com/


Special Education Technology – British Colombia – Assistive Techology for K-12 Students:


http://www.setbc.org/#top


Speaking of Speech:


http://www.speakingofspeech.com/


Speech Fun:


http://www.speechfun.com/


Use Visual Strategies:


http://www.usevisualstrategies.com


Special Reports


Support for Augmentative and Alternative Communication


Children with little or no speech (augmentative and alternative communication) can now be supported by a wide range of communication aids, but much still depends on funding


Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is the umbrella term used to describe the full range of communication methods that can be used to supplement or substitute for ‘normal’ speech or writing when these are impaired or absent. The term encompasses everything from gestures and signing, to aids, which can be low-tech (such as picture boards) or high-tech (employing the latest technology). Impaired communication or speech loss can result from a range of conditions, including Down’s syndrome, autistic spectrum disorders (ASD), acquired brain injury, cerebral palsies, hearing impairment and learning disability.


While exact numbers of people who need AAC are not known, research carried out in 2007 by Scope as part of its No Voice, No Choice campaign estimated that 600,000 people in the UK would benefit from it, including 106,000 young people aged between five and 18. However, as the researchers note: ‘Whilst these figures give an indication of the overall level of need; there are no national statistics on what proportion of this population are getting their communication needs met.’


So what solutions are available and what do we know about current provision? Communication aids are usually split into two broad groups: unaided and aided, with the aids sub-divided into low-tech and high-tech. There is an obvious risk in labelling aided AAC systems in this way, in that it could suggest that some are better than others. This is not the case: as with much technology, there is no point in using high-tech solutions if low-tech resources will do the job. Most of us have learnt this lesson the hard way when a high-tech device has let us down in a situation where the low-tech solution would have been more than adequate.


Deciding which form of AAC a child needs requires a full and ongoing assessment, as the child’s needs are likely to be complex and may change over time. Assessment should involve family members as well as teaching and support staff, as the system chosen is likely to be used at home as well as in school. If the child’s needs are complex, it is best if a qualified and experienced professional carries out the assessment.


Where the child’s communication needs are not so severe it may be that an unaided or low-tech system to complement ‘normal’ speech will suffice. Many mainstream schools with units catering for children with speech, language and communication needs support spoken English with either one of the established signing systems (of which more later), or a system of objects, pictures or symbols. For example, a range of objects might be used to indicate what is going to happen next, such as a paintbrush to signify art or a triangle for music. These are sometimes referred to as ‘objects of reference’. Photographs are used instead of real objects in some instances, such as to show the items on a lunchtime menu. Sometimes line drawings or symbols might replace images, as they do in everyday life where it is critical that everyone understands what is being said, as in the warning signs we see on the roads.


Signs
British Sign Language (BSL) is probably the best known of the established signing systems. Although BSL is now familiar to most people through its use in signed performances and on television, its widespread adoption and development are relatively recent. The British Deaf Association’s Dictionary of British Sign Language was not published until 1992 and BSL was not recognised as an official British language until 2003. The exact number of people in the UK who use BSL as their first language is not known and common estimates range between 30,000 and 70,000.


BSL is different from other national sign languages because it is a visual-gestural language with its own grammar, syntax and dialects. Other signing systems draw on BSL, but they do not have the status or structure of a language. While BSL is used almost exclusively within some sections of the deaf community, it is these other signing systems that are used to complement spoken English in many schools where children’s speech, language and communication needs are due to causes other than deafness. There are four main signing systems that you are likely to come across.


  • Signed English

Signed English, based on BSL, emerged in the 1980s in response to pressure for the use of sign in the education of deaf children. It follows the word order of spoken English and uses additional signs and finger spelling to convey what is being said. Originally developed for use within schools for deaf children, it is now also used with children and adults who have impaired speech and language. Signed English has a sign for every word and is regulated by the Working Party on Signed English.


  • Makaton

Makaton was first developed in 1972 in Surrey as a project to teach sign language to deaf adults with learning disabilities and is now especially popular in early years settings, where it is used with children with delayed speech. Today it is an internationally recognised communication system, used in more than 40 countries. Makaton uses signs and symbols to support spoken and written English. Based on BSL, it uses a carefully selected core vocabulary (approximately 450 words/signs) structured into graded stages of increasing complexity. This core vocabulary can be combined to form short phrases and sentences and can be used in combination with other alternative communication tools.


  • Paget Gorman Signed Speech

Paget Gorman Signed Speech was originated by Sir Richard Paget in the 1930s and developed by Grace Paget and Dr Pierre Gorman after Sir Richard’s death in 1955. It consists of a large vocabulary of approximately 4,000 words/signs, extended through the use of affixes to more than 50,000 words. Wherever possible, words are grouped together around a series of Basic Signs. Each word in a group uses the Basic Sign with a gesture that identifies the specific word. Signs are presented in the same sequence as the words in the spoken phrase or sentence. Paget Gorman is primarily used for people with specific speech disorders not related to learning disabilities. A simplified version is used with young children.


  • Signalong

Signalong emerged in the 1980s when a group of practitioners wanted a signing system that was more flexible than Makaton. Signalong is a sign-supporting system: it requires you to speak as you sign. Signalong uses unaltered BSL signs wherever possible and is loosely modelled on the structure of the Derbyshire Language Scheme. Phase 1 of Signalong was first published in April 1992. Since then the authors have added to the core vocabulary, now available in four manuals, and published additional resources covering educational and vocational topics. Signalong is now widely used in the UK and Europe.


Symbols
Many AAC systems use symbols as well as signs. Some are specific to a particular signing system, such as Makaton, while others have been developed independently. At an elementary level, symbols can be used to reinforce speech or signs, or to supplement written text.


A small number of symbol systems besides Makaton are now well established and widely used. These include Widgit Literacy Symbols (previously known as Rebus) and Picture Communication Symbols (PCS: also referred to as Boardmaker Symbols and not to be confused with PECS, the Picture Exchange Communication System). Signalong doesn’t have its own symbol set but is working closely with Widgit to match its signs to WLS. As Signalong explained earlier this year: ‘We have always been clear that our core expertise is in sign-supported communication. While we strongly promote the Total Communication approach [an approach to deaf education that aims to make use of a number of modes of communication, depending on the particular needs and abilities of the child], we have always preferred to work with others who have special skills in other formats rather than introduce unnecessary competition.’


WLS and PCS have much larger vocabularies than other symbol systems and include a range of grammatical elements. This means they are inherently more flexible and symbols can be combined to form sentences and phrases. WLS, for instance, consists of 7,000 images in colour and black-and-white, covering a vocabulary of over 20,000 words.


Symbol systems have long been an important tool for aiding communication but it is computers that have really transformed their use. Bespoke and mainstream software programs have simplified the creation of symbols-based resources and made the translation of text into symbols and vice versa far easier.


Boardmaker from the American company Mayer-Johnson is among the best known software package for creating printed symbol-based resources. The program features more than 4,500 Picture Communication Symbols in colour and black-and-white, sample boards and templates. A new feature of the latest version of Boardmaker is the Symbolate button, which automatically inserts symbols alongside text as the user types. Boardmaker Plus builds on these features by allowing the user to create on-screen activities such as audio, animations and video.


Widgit produces another popular range of symbol-based software, which includes Writing with Symbols 2000, a talking word processor that also automatically inserts symbols as you type. Other features include the generation of grids to make teaching and communication resources, and the on-screen grids to be used as an aid to writing. Widgit’s other products include the Communicate suite, which consists of a desktop publishing program (Communicate: In Print, now available as Communicate: In Print 2), a program for generating early learning activities (Communicate: By Choice) and, most recently, a word and symbol processor for emergent writers (Communicate: SymWriter).


Although a number of symbol-based systems exist, the differences are subtle and there is extensive collaboration between the producers. In 2007 Widgit Software and Mayer-Johnson announced they were teaming up to bring both companies’ products to one another’s home markets.


Widgit says its own system (WLS) is designed to support literacy and written information, while Picture Communication Symbols are designed for face-to-face communication, as in communication aids for people with no speech. In the UK, both systems are also available through Inclusive Technology. Makaton is also now compatible with Communicate in Print, Symwriter (version 1.1.6444) and Writing with Symbols. As well as the established symbol sets, users of both WLS and PCS can import their own drawings and photographs. PCS can also be used in the Clicker software produced by Crick Software, which is popular in both mainstream and special schools.


High-tech aids
Children who have little or no speech might benefit from using a dedicated Voice Output Communication Aid (VOCA) as well as sign and symbol systems. These enable the child to communicate in a setting where signing or the use of symbols is not an option,  extending the child’s independence.


VOCAs range from single-message devices to those capable of storing thousands of messages. Understandably, the more complex the device the higher the price, which is why at this level, above all others, professional assessment is essential. Factors to be considered in choosing a VOCA include the setting in which it will be used, the cognitive ability of the user, how the device will be accessed, appropriate mounting, whether the device will use symbols or text (or both), the type of display (static or dynamic), training, support and, of course, cost.


Scope’s No Voice, No Choice campaign produces a useful Communication Aids Journey Map, which shows the varied — and at times tortuous — routes to acquiring a VOCA. It can be downloaded from www.timetogetequal.org.uk. Help in choosing an appropriate device can be provided by a number of centres, including the ACE Advisory Trust, the ACE Centre North, CENMAC, AbilityNet and the CALL Centre in Edinburgh. Most centres have a loan bank of equipment, which means children can try out devices before deciding which one to opt for. With the rapid changes in technology it is no surprise that the choice of communication devices has mushroomed in recent years. ACE North’s database of VOCAs includes more than 120 devices although, thankfully, there are relatively few key suppliers. Major names include DynaVox (Mayer Johnson’s sister company), Liberator (part of the Prentke Romich group), AMDi, AbleNet, Attainment Company, Toby Churchill and Techcess.


All VOCAs work by allowing the user to trigger pre-recorded messages, either directly — by touching the relevant text, image or symbol — or indirectly, through scanning and the use of switches. Devices that offer more stored messages than can be reasonably accommodated on the screen do so by storing them in ‘levels’. AMDi’s Smart/128, for example, has a maximum of 128 messages per level and six levels, which means it can store up to 768 messages of 2.25 seconds in length. Optional interchangeable keyguards on a system like this mean that a single user can choose between 4, 8, 16, 32 and 128 ‘buttons’ by grouping locations together. This means the device’s set-up can be changed depending on the user’s ability or the context in which it is being used. On some multi-level VOCAs, it is necessary to change the overlay to access a different level, while on those with ‘dynamic’ pages the level can be changed by pressing a button.


While dedicated aids simply provide speech output non-dedicated or ‘open’ devices combine speech output with other features. These might include wi-fi connectivity giving access to the typical features of a laptop computer, including email and the internet, or environmental control systems (ECS) that allow the user to turn on the lights or draw the curtains.


Funding
While technical advances in communication aids have created impressive new opportunities for their users, they have also highlighted a paradox all too familiar to those who work in the field of special educational needs. While everyone will happily subscribe to the view that society should do all it can help individuals realise their potential, there is a cost associated with making each opportunity a reality. Scope’s 2007 Communication Aids Survey found that the average cost of a high-tech aid was £5,800, with 47 per cent of respondents’ aids costing over £5,000. As the survey report noted:
‘The prohibitively high cost of AAC equipment, not including the ongoing costs of insuring, servicing and repairing equipment, means that disabled people on low incomes who cannot get equipment funded by statutory sources are often left without a voice. Significant numbers of people are still told by statutory agencies to ask charities to fund AAC equipment that should be provided
as of right.’


Rectifying this situation is at the heart of the campaigning efforts of Scope and other organisations concerned about provision for those with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). Between 2002 and 2005-06, the Department for Education and Skills provided £5m a year through the Communication Aids Project (CAP) to help meet some of the demand for communication aids.


During this time, equipment was provided for more than 4,100 children and young people whose needs had not been met locally. Following CAP’s closure, campaigners lobbied for replacement funding.


Understandably, many organisations and individuals raised this issue in the course of the recent Bercow Review. In its final report, the review panel recommended ‘appropriate commissioning, guidance and inspection arrangements should be in place by April 2010 with funding streams identified and mandated across government, including the Department of Health and the Department for Children, Schools and Families’. It also proposed an immediate injection of capital for purchasing, monitoring and measuring the supply of equipment and services, and of revenue funding to avoid the imminent closure of both the ACE Centres. The government’s long-awaited Child Health Strategy, due to be published in the autumn, is expected to contain detailed proposals relating to this.


Meanwhile, Scope launched the second phase of its research project in August, ‘aiming to find out the true scale of the current crisis affecting communication equipment users’.


Its new survey is targeted at professionals and statutory agents, such as speech and language therapists, as well as people involved in the commissioning, assessment, provision and support of AAC services.


Ruth Scott, head of policy at Scope, said: ‘The UK is facing a real communication aid crisis — thousands of disabled people are being denied their right to communicate because they cannot get access to the equipment and support they need. It is essential that professionals and statutory agents are given the opportunity to discuss their experiences of providing AAC services and suggest ways of improving the current situation. This will help us achieve our goal of ensuring that those with communication impairments are able to speak for themselves.’


Scope is calling for any professionals who are concerned with disabled people’s use of AAC, including those working for statutory agencies, to get involved in the research project.


For more details go to www.timetogetequal.org.uk

Links


General
1 Voice
Afasic
Bercow Review
Communication Matters
ICAN
Scope’s No Voice, No Choice campaign


Assessment

ACE Centre Advisory Trust
ACE Centre North
AbilityNet
CALL Centre
CENMAC


Signing
BSL
Makaton
Paget Gorman
Signalong
Signed English


Symbols
Makaton
PCS
WLS



Source:   http://www.teachingexpertise.com/articles/support-augmentative-and-alternative-communication-4968



Pragmatics – The Art Of Conversation


Carol Gray developed a technique entitled Comic Strip Conversations as a pictorial representation of the different levels of communication that occur on a conversation. Stick figures, speech and thought ‘bubbles’, symbols and colour are used to enable the child to see aspects they may not have been aware of.


Take the skill of learning how to interrupt a conversation without causing offence or disruption, for example. It’s quite complex and difficult to explain, but a picture is worth a thousand words. The technique of using drawings of stick figures and speech bubbles may be applied to a wide range of situations that are proving challenging conversation and social skills wise. Speech bubbles may be drawn in a variety of ways to convey emotion – for example, sharp edges may be used to indicate anger or wavy lines may be used to indicate anxiety. Colours may also be useful in conveying happy or positive statements. These may be written in green, for example, while unpleasant thoughts may be written in red. In developing a colour chart, embarrassed comments may be written in pink marker, while sad feelings are written in blue. These may then be translated into relevant aspects of the person’s tone of voice or body language.


Comic Strip Conversations are a wonderful tool in allowing children to analyse and understand the range of messages and meanings that are a natural part of conversation or play. While children may become naturally confused and upset by teasing or sarcasm, speech and thought bubbles in conjunction with colour choice, can illustrate the hidden messages.


Carol Gray learned that children on the spectrum often assume that the other person is thinking exactly what they are thinking or they assume the other person was thinking exactly what they said and nothing else. Comic Strip Conversations can be beneficial in showing that each person may have very different thoughts and feelings in the same situation. An added advantage is that they may be used to represent the sequence of events in a conversation , as well, illustrate the effects of a range of alternative comments or actions for different scenarios.


My Social Stories Book

Carol Gray

http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/book/9781853029509


Revealing the Hidden Social Code: Social Stories TM for People with Autistic Spectrum Disorders

Marie Howley and Eileen Arnold

Foreword by Carol Gray

http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/book/9781843102229


Acting Antics: A Theatrical Approach to Teaching Social Understanding to Kids and Teens with Asperger Syndrome

Cindy B. Schneider

http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/book/9781843108450


Getting IT: Using information technology to empower people with communication difficulties

Dinah Murray and Ann Aspinall

http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/book/9781843103752


Baj and the Word Launcher: Space Age Asperger Adventures in Communication

Pamela Victor

http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/book/9781843108306


Brief Summary of Strategies for Language


Pragmatics


Learn:


appropriate opening comments


to seek clarification or assistance when confused


Encourage confidence to admit ‘I don’t know’


Teach the cues of when to reply, interrupt or change the topic


Model sympathetic comments


Whisper in the child’s ear what to say to the other person


Use speech and drama activities on the art of conversation


Use Social Stories and Comic Strip Conversations as a verbal or pictorial representation of the different levels of communication


Literal Interpretation


Think how your comment or instruction could be misinterpreted


Explain metaphors and figures of speech


Prosody


Teach how to modify stress, rhythm and pitch to emphasise key words and associated emotions


Pedantic Speech


Avoid abstractions and lack of precision


Idiosyncratic Words


A genuinely creative aspect of Asperger’s Syndrome to be encouraged


Vocalising Thoughts


Encourage whispering and ‘think it, don’t say it’ when near other people


Auditory Discrimination and Distortion


Encourage asking for the instruction to be repeated, simplified, put into other words or written down


Pause between instructions


Verbal Fluency


Anxiety may inhibit speech and require treatment


Both children and adults on the autism spectrum are prone to stuttering when anxious. Language skills in this case tend not to be the issue, but rather, the effect of emotion on the ability to speak. There are a range of strategies that may assist in coping with anxiety should stuttering become an issue. For further information …


Autism Spectrum Disorders and Stuttering”
http://www.stutteringhelp.org/Default.aspx?tabid=625


[Being lost for words, or even being mute may certainly be due to high levels of anxiety. Prolonged periods of severe anxiety can lead to a secondary psychiatric condition such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.]


Articles


“Communicating with Children Via Fragrance”:
http://aspie-editorial.blog-city.com/communicating_with_children_via_fragrance.htm


Selective Mutism “Big Rise in Children Left Mute Outside the Home”:
http://aspie-editorial.blog-city.com/selective_mutism_big_rise_in_children_left_mute_outside_the.htm


“Benefit of Early Detection of Developmental Language Disorders Cannot Be Proven Due to Lack of Data”:
http://aspie-editorial.blog-city.com/benefit_of_early_detection_of_developmental_language_disorde.htm


“Speech & Language Issues in Children”:
http://aspie-editorial.blog-city.com/speech__language_issues_in_children.htm


USA TODAY “iPhone Applications Help The Autistic”:
http://aspie-editorial.blog-city.com/usa_today_iphone_applications_help_the_autistic.htm


“Assistive Technologies eSchool News: Five Key Trends In Assistive Technology/Talking Head Baldi Now An iPhone App”:
http://aspie-editorial.blog-city.com/assistive_technologies_eschool_news_five_key_trends_in_assi.htm


“Communication: Voice4u iPod Touch iPhone App”:http://aspie-editorial.blog-city.com/communication_voice4u_ipod_touch_iphone_app.htm


“A Crucial Tool In English Language Development: Reading To Our Children”:http://aspie-editorial.blog-city.com/acrucial_tool_in_english_language_development_reading_to_ou.htm



First Published Wednesday, 4 February 2009


Sensory Room

An interactive sensory room is helping Rosehill School, St Ann’s Nottingham, pupils to learn


PUPILS at a St Ann’s special school are embarking on global adventures and can even control the weather.


It’s made possible in the Multi Interactive Learning Environment (MILE) recently installed at Rosehill School.


Virtual worlds can be created inside the £35,000 facility.


Scenarios can range from windy days to snowy evenings, underwater diving missions to mountain climbs, even journeys to erupting volcanos or treks in the South American rainforest.


Sights, sounds and textures create a sensory experience which calms pupils, helps them to put scenarios into context and learn about the world around them.


Click here!Wind, smoke and snow machines and state-of-the-art technology work together in the MILE and even smells can be generated to give authenticity.

Rosehill teaches around 90 pupils, from five to 19, who all have varying degrees of autism and Aspergers syndrome.


Deputy head Andy Sloan said: “Our pupils have autism, which is a spectrum disorder.


“It means they are affected in different ways. Some pupils are very sensitive to smells so our staff don’t wear perfume or aftershave that is too strong. Others crave noise, for example, and like to stimulate their senses.


“Sensory impairment can affect different people in different ways and the MILE helps to regulate their experience and the sensory input.


“Our children absolutely love the MILE and their parents do, too.


“It makes them [pupils] so calm and relaxed and if they are calm they learn more effectively.


“The MILE helps them understand concepts and scenarios which they may not be able to imagine as easily as other pupils.”


Classes use the equipment twice a week.


As more such areas are installed at other schools, it is hoped that programmed scenarios can be shared and best practice created to get the most out of the innovative learning resource.


Mike Anderton, who is a sensory advisor at Experia, a designer and manufacturer of equipment for special schools and adults, helped Rosehill staff create the scenarios in the MILE.


Mr Anderton said: “There are 30 MILEs in various guises and sizes in the UK.


“Rosehill School’s is currently the only fully operational MILE in Nottingham and Notts schools and is one of our largest MILEs that exists.


“It is a very flexible space and provides very valuable and meaningful learning.


“Its a key MILE also as other schools visit Rosehill School to see how effective it is.”


The MILE was paid for using a donation from British and Irish Rugby charity Wooden Spoon.


It uses donations to support mentally and physically disadvantaged children.


michael.greenwell@nottinghameveningpost.co.uk


Source:   http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/homenews/Technology-sets-school-MILEs-apart/article-660360-detail/article.html



First Published Wednesday, 4 February 2009


A headshot of Jacobus tenBroek from the left side.

Jacobus ten Broek was a founder of the National Federation for the Blind — one of the first organizations of people with disabilities to insist that those with disabilities sit on the board and direct the organization.


When : April 17, 2009
Where: The National Federation of the Blind
Jernigan Institute
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, MD 21230


View the Agenda (Word
file)<http://www.nfb. org/images/ nfb/Agenda% 202009%20symposi um.doc>


Registration :


Registration Fee . . . . . . . $150.00
Student . . . . . . . . . . . . . $20.00


A limited number of scholarships to cover the registration fee will be
available to individuals with demonstrated financial need.


To register online<https://www. nfb.org/Forms. asp?MODE= NEW&SnID= 2021426860& Forms_FormTypeID =-129>,
payment must be made by credit card at the time of registration.


To register by mail or fax, *download the registration form (Word
file)<http://www.nfb. org/images/ nfb/2009% 20symposium% 20registration% 20form.doc>
*. Completed registration forms with credit card information may be faxed
to Lou Ann Blake at (410) 659-5129. Mail forms giving credit card
information or enclosing check made payable to the National Federation of
the Blind to:


Lou Ann Blake
National Federation of the Blind
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, MD 21230


Hotel Information :


A block of rooms has been reserved for law symposium participants at the
Holiday Inn Inner Harbor, located at 301 West Lombard Street, Baltimore,
Maryland 21201. Rooms may be reserved for April 16 and 17, 2009, at the
rate of $157.00 per night, plus applicable taxes and surcharges, by calling
the hotel directly at (410) 685-3500 and requesting the National Federation
of the Blind block, group number 373400. Reservations must be made by 3:00
p.m., March 26, 2009. The NFB will provide a free morning and evening
shuttle between the hotel and Jernigan Institute. Participants who will be
staying at the Holiday Inn and who require accessible transportation should
contact Lou Ann Blake by April 1, 2009.


Accommodations : Symposium materials will be provided in print, large
print, and Braille. Participants who require other accommodations should
contact Lou Ann Blake by April 1, 2009.


For More Information Contact: Lou Ann Blake, Law Symposium Coordinator
Phone: (410) 659-9314, extension
2221
E-mail: lblake@nfb.org


“The right of access to public accommodations and common carriers is a
civil right. It is a basic right indispensable to participation in the
community, a substantive right to which all are fully and equally
entitled.” Jacobus tenBroek, The Right to Live in the World: The Disabled
in the Law of Torts, 54 CAL. L. REV. 841, 858 (1966).
About the Symposium


Jacobus tenBroek founded the National Federation of the Blind in 1940 and
served as its president until his death in 1968. He was a constitutional law
scholar, a blind professor at Berkeley, and an author of treatises on the
Fourteenth Amendment and social welfare. Dr. tenBroek created the concept
that civil rights should apply to disabled Americans, [image: Jacobus
tenBroek works at his desk.]and he published extensively regarding the
variables involved in the application of the law to those with
disabilities. That blind and other disabled people have been able to gain a
substantial measure of participation in American life is largely due to Dr.
tenBroek’s thought and energy.


To carry forward the work of Dr. tenBroek in assuring that all citizens may
have the opportunity for full participation in the society in which we live,
the National Federation of the Blind is hosting the Jacobus tenBroek
Disability Law Symposium. The 2009 symposium, “New Perspectives on
Disability Law: Advancing the Right to Live in the World,” will examine the
new perspectives on disability law both in the United States, brought about
by the election of a new administration and the signing of the ADA
Amendments Act, and internationally, as a result of the ratification of the
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The
symposium will consist of five panels of distinguished law professors,
practitioners, and advocates, who will discuss various aspects of both
United States and international disability law. Invitations to present have
already been accepted by Samuel Bagenstos, Professor of Law at Washington
University School of Law and Visiting Professor at the University of
Michigan School of Law; Gerard Quinn, Professor of Law at the National
University of Ireland, Galway; and Peter Blanck, University Professor and
Chair of the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University. We have also
extended invitations to officials of the Obama administration including the
United States Attorney General and the White House advisor on disability
policy. *Ari Ne’eman, president of The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, will
give the luncheon keynote address.



Ari Ne’eman
President
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
1660 L Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
http://www.autistic advocacy. org
732.763.5530



First Published Wednesday, 4 February 2009


Mitchell Library, Glasgow

Autistic adults from across Scotland have highlighted their own experiences of living with the condition by producing artwork and poetry, which is being shown in an unique exhibition running at the Mitchell Library, Glasgow from 10-16 February.


The pieces in the exhibition, entitled ‘My life with autism or Asperger syndrome’ were entries in The National Autistic Society’s recent creativity competition, and provide fascinating individual perspectives of autism through poetry and prose, 2D art and photography.


The competition is part of our ongoing I Exist campaign, launched in 2008, which highlights the lack of support available for adults living with autism. Based on the largest ever survey in Scotland on the experiences of adults with autism and their families, the campaign revealed for the first time the daily reality for many thousands of adults who feel isolated, ignored and unable to access the required support.


Carol Evans, National Director of NAS Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: “There are 50,000 people in Scotland with autism – that’s 1 in 100 – and many adults with autism from across Scotland tell us how important art and creativity are to their well-being.

“We believe this exhibition is an exciting and rewarding way of showing how a person with autism expresses themselves and it allows us to share their unique experiences and creativity. We hope that the works in this exhibition will bring home to the general public just some of the realities faced by adults living with autism across Scotland today.”


The exhibition can be seen at the Mitchell Library, Glasgow, from Tuesday 10th February until Friday 16th February 2009, from 9am to 8pm.

For more information about the I Exist campaign and how you can get involved, visit www.think-differently.org.uk


Related resources



External links


Source:  http://www.nas.org.uk/nas/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=253&a=18695



First Published Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Tony McNulty MP

Tony McNulty MP, Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions and Minister for London, met with adults with autism during a visit to The National Autistic Society’s autism centre in Ladbroke Grove, West London, on Wednesday 4th February.


As the minister responsible for piloting the Welfare Reform Bill through Parliament, Mr McNulty discussed with adults with autism their experiences of the benefits system, what people with autism have to offer in the workplace and the support they may need to do this.


Tony McNulty MP, Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, said:


“I’m very pleased to be able to hear, first hand, from adults with autism about their experiences of finding and retaining jobs and how the welfare reforms will affect them. I know that many people with autism want to work and have valuable skills to offer prospective employers, but with only 15% of adults with the condition currently in full-time paid employment, the need to address the unique barriers to work faced by people with autism is clear.”


Robyn Steward, one of the adults with autism who met the minister, said:


“This was a great opportunity for us to engage directly with the government and tell them about the difficulties adults with autism experience. Many of us have a great deal to offer, but autism is a complex hidden disability so the level of help we need isn’t always obvious to people with no knowledge of the condition.”


The Ladbroke Grove Autism Centre is a base for numerous projects, including the NAS Prospects employment and training service, which provides people with autism with help in finding, preparing for and securing paid employment, and offers ongoing support within the workplace.


The centre also provides much-needed help, support and information for children and adults with autism and their parents and carers from across London, including youth clubs, play schemes, parent/carer support groups, social groups and supported living advice.



Related resources



Relevant areas/articles elsewhere on this website

Source:  http://www.nas.org.uk/nas/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=253&a=18690



First Published Thursday, 5 February 2009


teens-tv

Published: February 5, 2009

Lengthy television viewing in adolescence may raise the risk for depression in young adulthood, according to a new report.


The study, published in the February issue of The Archives of General Psychiatry, found a rising risk of depressive symptoms with increasing hours spent watching television. There was no association of depression with exposure to computer games, videocassettes or radio.


Researchers used data from a larger analysis of 4,142 adolescents who were not depressed at the start of the study. After seven years of follow-up, more than 7 percent had symptoms of depression. But while about 6 percent of those who watched under three hours a day were depressed, more than 17 percent of those who watched more than nine hours a day had depressive symptoms.


The association was stronger in boys than in girls, and it held after adjusting for age, race, socioeconomic status and educational level.


“We really don’t know what it was specifically about TV exposure that was associated with depression, whether it was a particular kind of programming or some contextual factor such as watching alone or with other people,” said Dr. Brian Primack, the lead author and an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. “Therefore, I would be uneasy to make any blanket recommendations based on this one study.”


Source:   http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/10/health/research/10beha.html?_r=1&ref=health


Related


Health Guide: Depression


Association Between Media Use in Adolescence and Depression in Young Adulthood (Archives of General Psychiatry)


TV and video games increase teen depression risk: study


By AFP – Mon Feb 2, 3:45 PM PST

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Spending more hours watching television or playing video games as a teenager may lead to depression in young adults, according to a study published Monday.


Researchers looked at the exposure to electronic media of 4,142 adolescents who were not depressed when the study began in 1995, before DVDs and the Internet were widely used.


The teens reported an average of 5.68 hours of media exposure per day, including 2.3 hours of television, 2.34 hours of radio, 0.62 hours of videocassettes and 0.41 hours of computer games.


Seven years later, when the participants were an average of 21.8 years old, 308 of them (7.4 percent) had developed symptoms consistent with depression.


“In the fully adjusted models, participants had significantly greater odds of developing depression by follow-up for each hour of daily television viewed,” wrote the authors of the study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry journal.


“In addition, those reporting higher total media exposure had significantly greater odds of developing depression for each additional hour of daily use,” said the study, led by Brian Primack of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.


Young women were found to be less likely to develop symptoms of depression than young men when exposed to the same amount of electronic media.


Depression, the leading cause of non-fatal disability worldwide, commonly begins in adolescence or young adulthood, the article explained.


The authors noted that time spent engaging with electronic media may replace time that could be spent on social, athletic or intellectual activities that could guard against depression.


Messages transmitted through electronic media may encourage aggression, inspire fear or anxiety and hamper identity development, they added.


Being exposed to media at night may also disrupt sleep important for emotional and cognitive development.


“When high amounts of television or total exposure are present, a broader assessment of the adolescent’s psychosocial functioning may be appropriate, including screening for current depressive symptoms and for the presence of additional risk factors,” the authors said.


“If no other immediate intervention is indicated, encouraging patients to participate in activities that promote a sense of mastery and social connection may promote the development of protective factors against depression.”


Source:   http://health.yahoo.com/news/afp/uspsychiatrysocietymedia_20090202234823.html



First Published Thursday, 5 February 2009


Angela Wrapson: Cultural exchange pays off for actors and audience perceptions


Published Date: 03 February 2009


ANGELA WRAPSON Scottish liaison officer, Turbulences Theatre Company

LUNG Ha’s Theatre Company went from its home in Edinburgh to Paris last month for a residency with a French company called Turbulences. In addition to performing their current production, Il Panico di Pantalone, Lung Ha’s enjoyed three days of joint actors’ workshops and took part in a Burns supper. What’s so amazing about that?


Lung Ha’s Theatre Company – so named after a character in its first production – exists to provide professional opportunities for people with learning disabilities to become involved in the performing arts.


So going to Paris meant not only transporting five actors, their three support workers, two musicians and five more company members, but also an electric wheelchair. “The electric wheelchair was the first hurdle,” says Michael Fraser, the company manager, “but we came to a special arrangement with Air France pretty quickly”.


Then there was the van for the wheelchair and its user, Pantalone himself. In Paris, this cost twice as much to rent as it would in Scotland, and the change in the euro exchange rate made it more expensive still.


A wheelchair-accessible hotel also took some finding – France is nowhere as advanced in these matters as the UK.


Over the past 24 years Lung Ha’s has produced nearly 30 original stage productions, making its mark in Scottish theatre. This is not social work – it’s genuine theatre. The company has collaborated with a wide array of arts professionals from across Scotland and Europe. In 2005, it was able to appoint a full-time artistic director.


At the time Lung Ha’s was founded, in 1984, Philippe Duban started working with autistic adults in day centres around Paris and dreaming of a place they could call their own. The result is Turbulences.


But whereas the Scottish company has a wide remit, Turbulences focuses on autism. And whereas Lung Ha’s works out of an office in Edinburgh, Mr Duban realised his dream in May 2007, when Turbulences set up a cultural centre, based around two Big Tops, or chapiteaux – imagine the Spiegeltent without the mirrors – on a gap site in the rue de Courcelles.


It was a Scottish artist working at Turbulences, Dale Joseph Rowe, who proposed the collaboration, and the invitation was issued in September 2008. Not much time to find the funding, but Turbulences and Lung Ha’s both made a contribution, there was valuable sponsorship-in-kind from Scottish & Newcastle, and the Scottish Arts Council quickly decided that this was a project worth support.


Turbulences welcomed the Scots with a three-course lunch, which they cook and eat together every weekday. The smaller chapiteau has a professional kitchen, as one of the five programme strands is restaurant service. The other four are performance, visual arts, communications and administration, and there is close integration between clients and staff. It is a facility that we should try to emulate in Scotland.


Then we moved into the big chapiteau, a spectacular performance area 13m in diameter with chandeliers suspended from the roof girders and stepped seating for 300. The Lung Ha’s company needed little encouragement to join in, and soon Arlecchino was matching the moves, while Pantalone, Pulcinella, Il Dottore, Columbina and the staff added a distinctive presence to the band.


Commedia del arte, with its grotesque masks and two-dimensional characters, is a theatre form which effortlessly crosses boundaries, and on Friday night the audience gave Il Panico di Pantalone an enthusiastic reception. The actors agreed it was their best performance ever and were delighted by the warmth of the French response, evidenced by three curtain calls and a standing ovation. Turbulences and Lung Ha’s is not just about providing an opportunity for the actors. It is about changing audience perceptions.


The ambition now is to complete the exchange by bringing the Turbulences company to Edinburgh.


Source:   http://news.scotsman.com/opinion/Angela-Wrapson-Cultural-exchange-pays.4938877.jp


“Turbulences! Compagnie Theatrale – Les chapiteaux turbulents”: http://www.turbulences.eu/


“Lung Ha’s Theatre Company – Enabling inclusion in theatre”:   http://www.lunghas.co.uk/productions.as