2. What is Autism?
• Autism is a developmental disorder which
disconnects children from their environment and
other people. This usually appears in the first 3
years of life, and affects the brain's normal
development of social and communication skills.
• Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are
both general terms for a group of complex
disorders of brain development.
• In basic terminology-it affects the way the brain
processes and uses information.
5. Then and Now…
• The term "autism" now includes a wider
spectrum of children. For example, a child who is
diagnosed with high-functioning autism today
may have been thought to simply be odd or
strange 30 years ago.
• A report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that
autism and related disorders are more common
than previously thought. It is unclear whether
this is due to an increasing rate of the illness or
an increased ability to diagnose the illness.
6. Then and Now…
• 30 years ago, 2-4 children in 10,000 born in
America would eventually be diagnosed with
autism…Today that number is a staggering 1
• There isn’t one cause of autism just as there is no
one type of autism.
• “…physical condition linked to abnormal biology
and chemistry in the brain.” The exact causes of
the abnormalities are still unknown but research
• Most cases of autism, however, appear to be
caused by a combination of autism risk genes and
environmental factors influencing early brain
• Doctors think there are many “factors” that
combined that lead into autism.
• Factors involves events before and during
– Parents older age at time of conception (both mom and dad)
– Maternal illness during pregnancy
– Certain difficulties during birth, especially those involving
periods of oxygen deprivation to the baby’s brain.
• It is important to keep in mind that these factors, by
themselves, do not cause autism. Rather, in combination
with genetic risk factors, they appear to increase risk.
10. Genetic Factors
• Identical twins are more likely to be autistic
than fraternal twins or even siblings
• Language abnormalities are common in
families with autism
• Chromosomal abnormalities
• Other nervous system problems (neurological)
11. Suspected Factors but NOT Proven
• Digestive tract changes
• Mercury poisoning
• Body’s inability to properly use vitamins and minerals
• Vaccine sensitivity-“Some people believe that the small amount of
mercury that is a common preservative in multidose vaccines
causes autism or ADHD. However, studies have NOT shown this risk
to be true.”
• AGAIN--“The American Academy of Pediatrics, and The Institute of
Medicine (IOM) agree that no vaccine or component of any vaccine
is responsible for the number of children who are currently being
diagnosed with autism. They conclude that the benefits of vaccines
outweigh the risks.”
• Family income, education, and lifestyle do not seem to affect the
risk of autism.
13. Traits or Symptoms
• Most parents of autistic children suspect that
something is wrong by the time the child is 18
months old and seek help by the time the
child is age 2. Children with autism typically
have difficulties in:
– Pretend play
– Social interactions
– Verbal and nonverbal communication
14. Traits or Symptoms Cont.
• Some children with autism appear “normal”
before age 1 or 2 and then suddenly "regress"
and lose language or social skills they had
previously gained. This is called the regressive
type of autism.
16. People With Autism May:
• Be overly sensitive in sight, hearing, touch, smell,
or taste (for example, they may refuse to wear
"itchy" clothes and become distressed if they are
forced to wear the clothes)
• Have unusual distress when routines are changed
• Perform repeated body movements
• Show unusual attachments to objects
(The symptoms may vary from moderate to severe.)
18. Communication Problems May
• Cannot start or maintain a social conversation
• Communicates with gestures instead of words
• Develops language slowly or not at all
• Does not adjust gaze to look at objects that others are
• Does not refer to self correctly (for example, says "you
want water" when the child means "I want water")
• Does not point to direct others' attention to objects
(occurs in the first 14 months of life)
• Repeats words or memorized passages, such as
19. Social Interaction:
• Does not make friends
• Does not play interactive games
• Is withdrawn
• May not respond to eye contact or smiles, or may
avoid eye contact
• May treat others as if they are objects
• Prefers to spend time alone, rather than with
• Shows a lack of empathy
21. Response to Sensory Information:
• Does not startle at loud noises
• Has heightened or low senses of sight, hearing,
touch, smell, or taste
• May find normal noises painful and hold hands
• May withdraw from physical contact because it is
over stimulating or overwhelming
• Rubs surfaces, mouths or licks objects
• Seems to have a heightened or low response to
• Doesn't imitate the actions of others
• Prefers solitary or ritualistic play
• Shows little pretend or imaginative play
• "Acts up" with intense tantrums
• Gets stuck on a single topic or task
• Has a short attention span
• Has very narrow interests
• Is overactive or very passive
• Shows aggression to others or self
• Shows a strong need for sameness
• Uses repetitive body movements
24. Have you ever felt like this?
Now think if you were on overload
every second, of every minute, of every
day, of every year!!
26. Methods of Identification or Diagnosis
• All children should have routine developmental exams done by
• If a child fails to meet any of the following language milestones:
– Babbling by 12 months
– Gesturing (pointing, waving bye-bye) by 12 months
– Saying single words by 16 months
– Saying two-word spontaneous phrases by 24 months (not just echoing)
– Losing any language or social skills at any age
“These children might receive a hearing evaluation, blood lead test,
and screening test for autism (such as the Checklist for Autism in
Toddlers [CHAT] or the Autism Screening Questionnaire).”
27. Methods of Identification or Diagnosis
• A team of different specialists will evaluate the
child. They might evaluate:
– Motor skills
– Success at school
– Thinking abilities
• Most children are diagnosed between 4.5 & 5.5
28. Autism Checklist
• A checklist to be used as
a guide for a teacher so
the teacher can possibly
alter or adapt activities to
fit a specific disability.
• Children may fit into
more than one of the
categories and that is
okay because this
checklist is NOT used to
diagnose a child, only to
help a teacher adapt
curriculum to a child with
29. Possible Problems
• Autism can be associated with other disorders that affect the brain,
– Fragile X syndrome
– Intellectual disability
– Tuberous Sclerosis
• Some people with autism will develop seizures.
• The stresses of dealing with autism can lead to social and emotional
complications for family and caregivers, as well as the person with
• “ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in
motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as
sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD
excel in visual skills, music, math and art.”
30. Possible Problems
• “Some issues — like not wanting to try new foods or
not wanting anyone to move their toys — affect lots of
kids, not just those who have an autism spectrum
disorder. But kids with these disorders have more
trouble "growing out of it" and learning to handle stuff
that's challenging and annoying.”
• “Imagine trying to understand what your teacher is
saying if you didn't know what her words really mean.
It is even more frustrating if a child can't come up with
the right words to express his or her own thoughts, or
tell a parent what he or she needs or wants.
Sometimes this can make a kid very upset and
32. Treatment and Care
• No cure but there is treatment.
• No biological test for autism, the diagnosis will often
be based on very specific criteria from a book called
the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV
• With early intervention treatment great improvement
can be made in a child’s development by learning
• People with autism may not want a cure or don’t like to
hear about a cure because they feel like the cure will
be taking part of them away and they are not willing to
give that up.
33. Teaching Suggestions
• Match visual support with verbal instruction
• Foreshadow changes to routines/schedule
• Use first/then statements-ie. First put your shoe on and then tie it
• Allow for “wait time” to receive a response
• Less is more when it comes to verbal input
• Role play/model situations-take a video of what you want them to
do and let them watch it as many times as they want
• Be consistent and clear as to what your expectations are
• Try to understand the function behind behaviors-Try to figure out
why they are flapping their hands…is he excited or is he
overwhelmed? Figure out WHY?
• Be aware of and sensitive to possible sensory insults. When
possible, limit these insults.
• Minimize visual and auditory distractions
36. Special Services/Adaptive Equipment
• Occupational therapy
• Physical therapy
• Speak therapy
• Specialized equipment to help a child with
different tasks ie- toileting, tricycle with
adaptive pedals and seat
38. The Facts
• 40% of Autistic people have average to above average
• Autism affects boys more often than girls-four to five times
more common-An estimated 1 out of 54 boys and 1 in 252
girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States.
• The exact number of children with autism is not known.
• By way of comparison, more children are diagnosed with
autism each year than with juvenile diabetes, AIDS or
• Autism is not particular in who it may affect in racial,
ethical or social groups.
• If autism is diagnosed in a family, usually a sibling will have
41. Multiple Choice Questions 1:
• What is the cause of child being autistic?
– A. Diet, mercury poisoning, vaccination of children
– B. A combination of autism risk genes and
– C. Both A and B are thought to be involved
• Answer C
42. Multiple Choice Questions 2:
• How would you ask a child to perform an
– A. Tell them verbally all the directions at once.
– B. Tell them the first step, then the second step,
and so forth.
– C. Make a video of what you want the child to do
and let them watch the video as much as they
• Answer C and then B
43. Multiple Choice Questions 3:
• People with autism may possess which of the
– A. light, smell taste, touch sensitivity
– B. Distress when routines are changed
– C. Repeated movements
– D. All of the above
• Answer D
44. True or False Question 1:
• Girls are more prone to be Autistic than boys?
– False-boys are four to five times more common.
45. True or False Question 2:
• There is a cure for autism.
– False-There are only treatments currently.
46. True or False Question 3:
• More children are diagnosed with cancer than
any other childhood illness or disease.
– False-Autism is bigger than cancer, juvenile
diabetes and aids combined.
49. Further Assistance can be found:
– Wisconsin Department of Health Services:
• Geri Rettler
Fond du Lac Co. Dept. of Community Svcs.
459 E. 1st. St.
Fond du Lac, WI 54935
• Beth Culp
Winnebago Co. Human Svcs. Dept.
220 Washington Ave.
PO Box 2187
Oshkosh, WI 54903-2187
50. Further Assistance can be found:
– Autism Society of the Fox Valley, Inc.
1800 Appleton Road
Menasha, WI 54952
Phone: (920) 968-6829
General Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
51. Further Assistance can be found:
– Autism Society of Wisconsin
1477 Kenwood Drive
Menasha, WI 54952
• Wisconsin Early Autism Project (WEAP)
– Madison Clinic
1210 Fourier Drive
Madison, WI 53717
(608) 662-WEAP (9327)
52. Further Assistance can be found:
• State Cont.
Green Bay Clinic
1141 W. Main Avenue
De Pere, WI 54115
– Milwaukee Clinic
150 N. Sunnyslope Road
Brookfield, WI 53005
– Eau Claire Clinic
2125 Heights Drive
Eau Claire, WI 54701
53. Further Assistance can be found:
– Association for Science in Autism Treatment --
– Autism Society of America - www.autism-
– Autism Speaks - www.autismspeaks.org
– CDC's Autism Information Center -
– National Institute of Mental Health -
55. Activity 1:
• Activity 1:
– Cut the lines in the order they were specified to
you with a scissors in your non-dominant hand.
• Needed-paper with lines already printed
• Cut the lines out with your opposite dominant hands
and cut them in the line order you were to remember.
56. Activity 2:
• Activity 2:
– Make Goop
• 1 bowl or container
• 1 cup cornstarch
• ½ cup water
• Mix ingredients together with hands.