April encourages autism acceptance and inclusion; Autism apps

April 17, 2018 Staff Writer

The midway point in National Autism Awareness Month is an opportune time to watch the ACSA Communications interview with Temple Grandin, available on the new Resource Hub at https://content.acsa.org.

Grandin is arguably the most accomplished and well-known adult with autism in the world. She is an expert in humane livestock treatment, prolific author and tireless advocate for those who think differently. Grandin uses her ACSA platform to explain the importance of valuing each and every child’s ability to contribute.

Explaining the complicated Autism Spectrum, Grandin says by the time students are 5 years old, there will be one group that “ought to be in Silicon Valley and another that can’t dress themselves.” Each group – and the many in between – must be educated with outcomes in mind, she said.

“I want to see kids be successful. If a smart kid ends up playing video games in the basement instead of working for Google … it’s called a failed project,” she said. “We’ve got to get looking a lot more at the outcomes.”

The video also includes Grandin’s advice for learning and teaching, including:

  • Autistic children can be taught social skills in a much better way. Don’t scream at them; tell them what they should do. If they use their fingers to stir a drink, tell them to use a spoon.
  • Students can miss consonant sounds, so teachers need to slow down and enunciate.
  • Stretch autistic kids a little beyond their comfort zone. Don’t “chuck them in deep end of the pool,” but stretch them to reach their goals.
  • Make sure process doesn’t take over for the goal.
  • On bullying, Grandin said: “The only place I was not bullied is where there was a shared interest.”
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Grandin believes in mainstreaming as much as possible, as well as teaching basic living skills, such as assigning chores to teach the value of work and awarding an allowance to teach money skills.

It’s important to teach the students to feel they can contribute to society, she said.

“Don’t get too hung up on the diagnosis,” she said. The students who can’t dress themselves and the ones who could be in Silicon Valley both have the same diagnosis. But, she added, it’s not acceptable to put them in one class together.

Educators need to get out of their silos, Grandin concludes. She said she moves back and forth between different silos, leaning skills from one she can take to another. “There’s a big world out there,” she said.

Visit the Equity & Inclusion category at https://content.acsa.org or go directly to the video at https://bit.ly/2Gz0rsy. Also available is Grandin’s keynote address on “The Value of the Autistic Mind” from the 2017 ACSA Every Child Counts Symposium, as well as a host of other equity resources and presentations.

The Autism Society’s nationwide effort to promote autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination is this year encouraging friends and collaborators to become partners in a movement toward acceptance and appreciation.

Ensuring acceptance and inclusion in schools and communities that results in true appreciation of the unique aspects of all people gets us one step closer to a society where those with autism spectrum disorders are truly valued for their unique talents and gifts.

National Autism Awareness Month represents an opportunity to draw attention to the tens of thousands facing an autism diagnosis each year.

The Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon is the most recognized symbol of the autism community. Autism prevalence is now one in every 68 children in America. Show your support for people with autism by wearing the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon – as a pin on your shirt, a magnet on your car, a badge on your blog, or even your Facebook profile picture – and educate folks on the potential of people with autism. To learn more about the Autism Awareness Ribbon, visit www.autism-society.org.

Every April, Autism Speaks kicks off World Autism Month, when hundreds of thousands of landmarks, buildings, homes and communities around the world light up in blue in recognition of people living with autism. Autism-friendly events and educational activities take place all month to increase understanding and acceptance and foster worldwide support.

Get involved at www.autismspeaks.org/wam/about.

Common Sense Education recommends autism apps

Educators often cite the need for apps that provide visual cues to aid in communication, support transitions to reduce anxiety, and create a consistent structure in autistic students’ daily schedules. Common Sense Education recommends the following apps to help kids learn to better identify and regulate emotions, communicate and express themselves, manage time and routines, and interact with others.

• Choiceworks Calendar: Empowering tool alleviates transition anxiety. Bottom line: Great structure, lots of visual choices, and ease of use make this tool a worthwhile investment. Grades 3-9.

• ConversationBuilder: Themed scripts help kids practice successful social exchanges. Bottom line: For speech-language pathologists, this is a must-have tool for helping kids learn conversation skills. Grades K-6.

• Social Stories: Quick and simple behavior-reinforcement tool for kids with autism. Bottom line: Teachers will find this an efficient way to engage their students in understanding and creating social stories. Grades K-5.

• FTVS HD – First Then Visual Schedule HD: Useful multisensory tool teaches self-direction and follow-through. Bottom line: This simple but powerful tool engages kids in independently following a schedule. Grades K-12.

• TapToTalk: Unique way for kids with limited verbal skills to express themselves. Bottom line: Expensive but worthy investment can pay off in helping non-verbal kids learn to communicate thousands of things. Grades K-12.

• QuestionIt: “Wh” questions taught in concrete ways for kids with language delays. Bottom line: A solid, if basic, approach to teaching question words and concepts to students with significant language issues. Grades K-7.

• LanguageBuilderDeluxe: Audio, visual prompts help boost kids’ communication skills. Bottom line: LanguageBuilderDeluxe is a useful tool for teaching and learning language skills, especially if adults are nearby to adjust app settings and provide feedback. Grades K-3.

• The Social Express II: Fabulous multimedia lessons boost social-awareness skills. Bottom line: Compelling webisodes help students learn to cope with real-life situations. Grades 2-8.

• Proloquo2Go – Symbol-based AAC: Brilliant tool helps kids with speech difficulties communicate. Bottom line: The price is hefty, but Proloquo2Go carries its weight by providing students and teachers an effective, one-of-a-kind communication tool.

Read the entire Common Sense list at https://bit.ly/2Ir692U.

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