Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Defined

In this article, I want to take a moment and define pervasive developmental disorder in a way that's easy to understand.

Regarding developmental disorders, there are two main categories.
  1. Specific developmental disorder
  2. Pervasive developmental disorder
Specific Developmental Disorder

This disorder selectively touches one area of development, and does not span across multiple areas of development. The important thing to remember here is the disorder is in one specific category. For example, someone might have a stuttering disorder which is part of the Speech Articulation Disorder category. The stuttering disorder does not span across other categories, just the person's communication. Or someone might have a specific phobia which is part of the Mood Disorder category. These are all specific developmental disorders.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder

With the pervasive developmental disorder. the disorder spans across multiple categories. For example, autism is an example of a pervasive developmental disorder which affects various categories ( e.g. social skills, communicating, behavior, thinking, etc.) Because the disorder transcends across multiple categories, it's called pervasive. Pervasive developmental disorder is usually characterized by delays in the development of multiple primary roles (such as socialization, communication, etc.)

Here is a list of the pervasive developmental disorders:
  1. Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), which includes atypical autism
  2. Autism
  3. Asperger syndrome
  4. Rett syndrome
  5. Childhood disintegrative disorder
Just a quick note, PDD-NOS is a classification for individuals with less severe autistic symptoms but the patterns don't quite match those of autism or asperger syndrome. This disorder is occasionally called "atypical autism" by autism experts.

Hope that helps...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Special Needs Open Forum / Discussion

Do you have questions regarding your child with special needs? Would you like to connect with others who are just like you as a caregiver/parent or guardian? We don't have all the answers but would love to share information/success stories together and be a community that can grow together and be stronger and learn from each other to be the best that we can be for our loved ones with special needs.

We have created an Special Needs Website Open Forum / Discussion and would love to have you be a part of the group.

Here is the Website Special Needs Open Discussion. I look forward to chatting with you and growing stronger together as a special needs-based community.

Hope to see ya there...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New Special Needs Forum - coming soon

This is just a quick update that very soon we will be adding a Special Needs Forum to our blog here. We are hoping for lively reader interaction and would love to hear your suggestions, questions, etc about what you are interested in and what type of information you are looking for.

Our goal is to be your one-stop Special Needs site that will provide the answers that you need. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Twirling Cups

March 26th is a day I will never forget. Just like October 12th,2003. October 12th 2003 is when Josh was born. The delivery was quick and I felt pretty good about how it all had went. Then two nurses came in and said “Are you familiar with downs syndrome?” Little did I know that question would form my life and the focus of my time for the rest of my life. I later learned that October is Downs Syndrome Awareness month.

As we waited for milestones to appear with Josh, as expected they came late, but they came. And we rejoiced with each one. Josh enjoyed most of his activities, and was totally oblivious to his peers. He loved his therapies with his teachers, all one on one, and at some point was progressing except his speech. He didn't sign but only periodically. He loves water, music, wheels, and vacuum cleaners. Josh even hears a piano and runs over to it immediately and wants to play. He hears water running in the bathtub he will climb in with all his clothes. He takes can goods out from the pantry and will line them up in a straight line until there is no space left on the table. I knew as time went on he wasn't an ordinary boy who just had downs syndrome. March 26th 2009, I took Josh in for an evaluation. After explaining to the doctor all the things I just wrote, and after watching Josh in his office, He confirmed that Josh had PDD. I learned yesterday that April is Autism Awareness month.

I asked God what this all means. I believe He chooses our destiny, our time of birth and our death. Just as infinite and detailed as He created the universe. I believe there are no coincidences with God. This was Gods answer to me, while I was watching Josh lay on his side, twirling two plastic cups on the floor.

Both cups were twirling at the same time. One cup was green the other red. The green one was twirling one direction, and the red one was twirling the other direction, and when the cups stopped twirling Josh would specifically choose which cup went which direction. If one cup was slowing down before the other one, Josh would make the other one twirl, while still keeping an eye on the faster one . Two cups, each going a different direction. But the person twirling the cups new exactly when to make them stop, what direction to spin them, and had complete control of how fast or slow the cups were twirling at any given time.

Downs Syndrome-green cup, Autism-red cup. God is in control of Joshie's body and mind at all times. And even though it appears things are spinning in different directions and they are not the same shape or color, I find that God is in control of the twirling cups in Josh.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Autism Mealtime Tip - For Less Chaos

My son who has autism and aspberger syndome is 5 years old and at mealtimes, he gets very impatient when he is hungry. What can I do to minimize the chaos that is caused by his yelling and screaming if he hears that he is getting food but does not see it relatively quickly on his plate?

A lot of children with autism don't appear to have a good concept of delayed gratification. In order to best reduce the chaos at mealtime, some prep work is usually a good idea.

For example, let's say that you know that your child is hungry and that he loves top ramen (which takes 3-5 minutes to prepare). A really bad thing to do would be to ask him if he wants some top ramen and then have him wait impatiently (as he could likely have a fit) for it to cook and cool, and then serve it to him . I have found that the perfect solution is to just go ahead and prepare the food, get it all ready for serving and then ask if he would like some. If he says yes (either verbally or non-verbally) go ahead and serve it up. If he is hungry and you are preparing a bigger dinner, I recommend removing him from the cooking environment so he is not thinking about it so much. Put in a short TV program or something to help him to refocus away from the dinner. When the food is ready, prepare his plate and plop him down in his seat. It's dinner time. No chaos, no foul... You ought to give it a try. (It works for me).

Covered: Thinking ahead and refocusing.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Teaching Children with Autism Successfully

For anyone new to the teaching children with autism, autistic children learn entirely differently then those without autism. As a teacher, we want our student to be in their best learning environment so they will benefit the to the highest degree in what is being taught. The most important thing to keep in mind with working with those who are autistic is making sure the teacher understands that children with autism are wired completely different in the way that they learn new things. This article discusses the keys to successly teach your special needs student.

Key #1: Remember Children With Autism Are Visual Thinkers.

They do best when their lessons include a solid supply of visual input. Auditory lessons will be ok as long as they include a good amount of visual backup in the lesson. Focus on helping them to learn by showing rather than telling. Speaking lessons (without pictures) most likely won't be very effective. For example, if you are teaching your child about the word apple, it would be good to have a flash card with the word apple along with a picture of an apple. You will want to say the word apple slowly and clearly. Point to the word apple as you say it and then point to the picture and repeat the word. If possible, find a real apple during the lesson to demonstrate for additional visual reinforcement.

Key #2: Acting Out Verbs Will Help Your Child To Understand The Word Better.

Recalling their visual learning style, your child will learn verbs better if they see them in action. For instance, if you're trying to teach the word "sit", then demonstrate the word. Show your child how to sit as you are teaching it. I know this is extra work but it will pay off as they learn will learn the word quicker. Get additional positive visual reinforcement such as flash cards if possible.

Key #3: When Using Sentences In Your Lesson, Keep Your Lesson Sentences As Short As Possible.

Children with autism do not always to well with keeping up with long sentences. Using shorter sentences in your lessons will lead to less confusion and frustration as they try to figure out the meaning of the sentence. Remember the shorter the better.

Key #4: Minimize Visual (And Auditory) Distractions

Have you ever tried to learn something with many distractions. As hard as it is for you, it is even more difficult for someone who has autism. Because children with autism are so visually oriented, really focus on minimizing visual distractions. Find a quiet place or pull them away from the husle and busle so that they are better able to focus on what is being taught. Also many children with autism are more sensitive to sound and can get overstimulated which can significantly hinder the learning process.

By utilizing these points, you should have much better success in teaching many wonderful new things to your special needs child.

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