Tuesday, 23 April 2013

WOW D.I.V.A.S. 3rd Annual Autism Awareness Seminar.

The WOW D.I.V.A.S (Women of Worth, Divinely Inspired Victoriously Anointed Sisters) is a network of purposeful women from a diverse mix of backgrounds, involved in various charitable causes in countries around the world.  The WOW D.I.V.A.S. 3rd Annual Autism Awareness Seminar themed "Striking the Right Balance" was held in Lagos, Nigeria on 20 April 2013. The aim of the seminar was to educate, motivate and encourage parents and caregivers who are dealing with young people living with the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) towards defeating the condition and stigma. 

I was privileged to be one of the speakers at the event and my topic was: EFFECTIVE EDUCATIONAL SERVICES FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS (AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER IN FOCUS).

Here are some of the photographs from the event:

Photo of me & Mrs Udo Maryanne Okonjo CEO of Fine & Country International and visioner of WOW D.I.V.A.S.

Photograph with Mr Kerry Brooks, Founder/President Autism2Awesome Inc.  

Group photograph with some of the WOW D.I.V.A.S.

Group photograph with some WOW D.I.V.A.S. and other speakers at the event.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Common Misconceptions about Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder

MYTH: Autism is a single, well-defined category of disability.

FACT:   Autism comprises a wide spectrum of disorders and ranges from very severe to very mild.

MYTH: People living with autism spectrum disorders are intellectually disabled and can't be involved in higher education professions.

FACT:   Autism spectrum disorders include people from full range of intellectual capacity. Although a high percentage do have intellectual disabilities, many with milder forms, such as Asperger syndrome, are highly intelligent, earn graduate degrees, and are successful professionals.

MYTH: All people living with autism are impaired in some cognitive are highly intelligent or geniuses in other areas.

FACT:   Only a few people with autism have extraordinary skills. Called autistic savants, these individuals are not geniuses in the traditional senses, but they possess very highly developed splinter skills - skills that are in isolation from functional skills.

MYTH: There is an autism epidemic that must be due to something dangerous in our environment, such as toxin or virus.

FACT: The number of diagnosed cases of autism has undoubtedly increased. Most authorities assert that this can be accounted for by three things: a widening of criteria used to diagnose autism, including the recognition of milder forms such as Asperger syndrome; greater awareness and diagnosing people as autistic who previously would have received a different diagnosis, e.g., intellectual disability (mentally retarded).

MYTH: The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism.

FACT:   The institute of Medicine of the National Academies commissioned a review of available evidence and concluded that the evidence favors rejection of causal relationship between MMR vaccine and autism.

MYTH: Bad parenting, especially cold, non responsive mothering ("refrigerator moms") can cause autism.

FACT:   No evidence indicates that bad parenting can cause autism. Furthermore, even if parent is relatively unresponsive, this might be in reaction to the infant's low  level of arousal or because of parental stress regarding the child's abnormal behavior.

Source: Hallahan, D.P.., Kauffman, J.M., & Pullen, P.C. (2012). Exceptional learners: An introduction to special education. (Ed.12). Pearson.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Quick info about Autism...

Autism has been described as extreme social withdrawal and impairment in communication. It often includes stereotyped movements, resistance to change, and unusual response to sensory experiences; usually manifest before 3 years of age.

Early Signs

6 Months
* No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions

9 Months 
* No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions

12 Months 
* No consistent response to own name
* No babbling
* No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, waving, or three-pronged gaze (e.g., child looks at adult, looks at toy to indicate interest in it, looks back at adult to communicate something about the toy)

16 Months 
* No words

24 Months 
* No two-word meaningful phrases (without imitating or repeating)

*Any loss of speech or babbling or social skills at any age.

Source: Exceptional Learners By Hallahan, Kaufman & Pullen.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Update on Autism: DSM-V

If you are involved in working with children with autism, or you have a child with autism, you may be aware of the term DSM-IV. DSM-IV simply means the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and defines five pervasive developmental disorders (Autism, Asperger's  syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, Rett's disorder and PDD-NOS). In an effort to eliminate confusion for professionals and families, the new system (DSM-V, proposed for 2013) simply uses "autism spectrum disorder" (ASD) to identify anyone who would have received one of these diagnoses in the past. Professionals have been using the term, as such, for several years.

  The new diagnostic requirements are meant to include individuals across the entire autism spectrum: those with intellectual disability, those with average cognitive ability, and those who are above average. Instead of using separate diagnostic labels, everyone will be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and then symptom severity will be specified. This shouldn't eliminate anyone who was previously diagnosed.

Source: www.autism.com