Autism A to Z and Me

Understanding Autism, Language Development & Whole Health

   This   Is   Your   Autism    Resource   Information   Page

 

A Must See Video!

Dr. Temple Grandin's Suggestions on Raising a Child with Autism...

 

I Agree 100% and More!  

We must be the help our children need..

 

 

         

Click on the UNDERLINED, BLUE LINKS to read through this Autism Study Resource Page  

You have just received a diagnosis of Autism for your child, what do you do next?  When I received Raymond’s diagnosis my first thought was, “What is Autism? And, is there a cure or is it degenerative? How long will he live.”   Finally I concluded with, “I wish I had an instruction manual on how I should raise a child with Autism.”    Today there are so many resources on-line  that new parents have much more to research and work with than I did when Ray was born.       Congratulations to current autism awareness efforts!  

         

 Nevertheless, with the ratio of those born with a form of Autism and related disorders being 1 in 150, I wanted offer what I have learned with Ray to those that are looking for an outline of what to do next.   This resource page is written in STEPS, e.g., Step (1) and so on. 

         

 I have found when studying on-line it is easy to get off topic buy clicking on additional links from a page you may be viewing.  My hope is that by reviewing the information for each step’s link in order, and then following to the next, you will have a good newly acquired working knowledge of what your child may need to help them along.  You can always go back to a resource page link and read further after you have completed steps (1) through (3).

           

To find some very useful information on your child's educational needs go to the Introduction to Autism & Education page.   You will find very useful links and articles, Including a live video of an Autism Spectrum Classroom and the students talking about living with Autism.   This is a view of the affect of social skills training on Autistic Youth.  A Great View! 

 

Step (1) Understanding the Diagnosis.

 WHAT DOES THE DIAGNOSIS MEAN ?   Use this link to go to an information site that provides links to your particular diagnosis.   Here is an additional AUTISM SYMPTOM CHECKLIST for your child to help you understand more.

 

 

Step (2) Understanding Early Intervention.  

  

ZERO TO THREE YEARS OF AGE    This link will take you to an article written by George W. Niemann describing the Neurodevelopmental Course of Autism.

 

 

Your infant to toddler probably has neurological delay in gross motor movement, or may start to walk on their toes due to ataxia. Toe walking can cause permanent damage to the structure of your developing child’s foot anatomy.  It is important to see an Orthopedic M.D. for treatment of your child’s toe walking.  I did not know that Raymond’s toe walking was something he would not grow out of without treatment and as a result Raymond has torsioned tibias’ and hammer toes today. Please don’t ignore the toe walking your child may be displaying.  The child may show tactile or audio intolerance to the senses of touch and feel, or audio sensitivity may make loud noises intolerable.   I remember working with one young teen autistic student that would collapse to the ground, holding his ears covered each time he would hear an airplane flying above 30 thousand feet.   I used audio de-sensitization therapy with Ray to help him tolerate loud noises.  Your child may begin to push away from your embrace and become socially withdrawn, refusing to make eye contact.  Your child is more than likely to have difficulty with eating and swallowing, they may refuse to eat a variety of foods.  The child shows limited outward reciprocal response abilities in social settings.  The Child Needs Help!  This is when you need to utilize EARLY INTERVENTION.   What therapists forget to mention is that early intervention continues on throughout the life of your Autistic Child.   You will always need to reassess and adapt training protocols to adapt to your developing child. 

 

 

Note: though there is very good information to be found here, I do not agree completely with the view points of the clinician.     You eventually find that you have to provide behavioral shaping and modeling in order to establish appropriate socialization.   I remember spending periods of time each day acting as an Autistic child would while sitting and playing beside Ray (though not interacting directly) with a toy in order to attract Ray’s attention to me so I could teach him how to play with toys.    Early intervention should be all encompassing and should include the following:

 

  • Sensory Integration Training                                              
  • Gross Motor Development (P.T. or Floor Time)
  • Applied Behavior Analysis                                                                            
  • Speech & Language Training
  • Lots of Love and Patience

EARLY INTERVENTION (1):  Use this link (Written and overseen by Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D., Ph.D.) to access a doctor Mehl-Medrona’s article providing a comprehensive list of current medical treatments for various types of Autism and possible causes. 

 

After reading Early Intervention (1) go to EARLY INTERVENTION (2) (Written and overseen by Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D., Ph.D.) to access an article regarding Effective Therapies for Autism and other Developmental Disorders 

EARLY INTERVENTION (3) Understand the philosophy of treating autism by promoting emotional development up to the stage of emotion for relaxation.   It is important to help your child shape their emotional state to a point of control where they can eventually learn to practice Relaxation Exercises on themselves during challenges with anxiety.   Anxiety in an autistic individual usually is a major cause of behavioral outbursts.

 

Today many people are practicing "Self Relaxation” to reduce stress and regain a sense of calm. There is much more about early intervention that can be said but now I want to bring in Step (3) Understanding Applied Behavioral Analysis.

 

Step (3) Understanding Applied Behavioral Analysis.

 

          What is Behavior Analysis?  Behavior analysis is a science concerned with the behavior of people, what people do and say, and the behavior of animals. It attempts to understand, explain, describe and predict behavior.   Behavior analysis differs from most psychological attempts to understand behavior. Psychological theories study entities such as “the mind” or “the personality” or “cognitive structure"” or “self-concept” or “drives.” These are usually viewed as the basic subject matter of psychology; they are causal and behavior is merely a derivative of them. Unfortunately, these assumed entities do not exist in the natural world of the other sciences; they do not reside in the same physical natural science realm as electrons, atoms, magnetism, cells, and so forth. Where they actually exist is unclear, perhaps in some “mental” or “hypothetical” universe. As a result, it is difficult to define and measure them unambiguously and even harder to understand how they relate to other natural phenomena. Behavior analysis does not posit such “mental” causes for behavior. Behavior itself is seen as the subject matter of interest. Variations in behavior, changes in the frequency or form of what we do or what we say, are understood in terms of relations with real-world events. Understanding, describing, and predicting behavior does not require an appeal to nonobjective or unscientific concepts. It is analyzed in terms of interactions between behavior itself and the environment.

 

 

          Selectivism, not “purposism,” is the guiding concept. Behavior does not occur “in order to” produce some result, even though we inaccurately say “the child cries to get attention.” Purposive statements suggest that present behavior (e.g., crying) is caused by something which has not yet occurred (attention). It is more accurate to say that the environment provides consequences for behavior, which make that behavior more likely to occur in the future under similar circumstances. At a later time we then observe the strengthened behavior to occur. Thus, the child cries (now) because in the past crying has resulted in attention, and the present is influenced by the past, not the future. Operants and reflexes are the two major classes of behavior. Operants (traditionally called “voluntary behaviors”) include most visible everyday things we do or say. Events which follow operants (consequences) significantly influence the likelihood of the behavior occurring again under similar circumstances (e.g., ask politely, get seconds on pie). Reflexes, called respondents, are mostly automatic responses to some stimulus which precedes them (e.g., loud noise, heart rate changes), and are frequently “physiological.” They are not influenced very much by consequences.

 

 

         Some people incorrectly believe that behavior analysis considers all behavior to be respondent in nature, and therefore “automatic” and not influenced by what happens. Even some texts suggest this. This is an unfortunate misunderstanding. In fact, however, behavior analysis suggests that most behavior of interest in everyday life, in family or personal relationships, in school or on the job, is operant in nature, not respondent. It therefore changes as the environment changes and provides different consequences.  Contingencies and functional relationships describe the connections between behavior and its causes in the environment. “When he told jokes people laughed” asserts that the laughter of others was contingent on his telling jokes. If we found that this consequence strengthened the probability that he would tell jokes, we would have discovered a functional relationship; his telling jokes was a function of people laughing. From this observed functional relationship and many, many others we might develop the abstract concept of reinforcement, an abstract functional relationship.

 

 

          Explanations which are not functional relationships do not really “explain.” Some people might explain an individual's helpless behavior as due to a “dependent personality.” This might refer to chronic, frequent dependent behavior, including test responses such as “I let other people make decisions.” Although this label or description is often useful to know, it “explains” little. We cannot say that a person acts helpless or dependent because he or she has a dependent personality (has acted dependently a lot in the past) and claim we have illuminated the causes of the behavior.  Genetics, brain chemistry, physiology, and related factors play a role in understanding behavior. Behavior analysis assumes that certain functional relationships between behavior and the environment are true for individuals or species because of genetic endowment. We inherit a structure such that things “work” in a certain way, for both digestion and behavior. Functional relationships and general laws of behavior exist because of this genetic structure. Behavioral laws do not deny genetics, they exist because of genetics. Those individuals and species who inherited structures which allowed them to respond in certain ways to their environment survived, those who inherited structures which lead to different learning and behavior did not. “Nature” selected for survival those who inherited certain behavioral laws (structures), much as the environment selects specific behaviors of the individual to strengthen. The “nature-nurture” or “genetic-environment" controversy is meaningless. Because of our “nature” the environment nurtures (selects) our behavior in a certain way, and our “nature” reflects what we have inherited.

 

 

          Behavior analysis sees things like physiology and brain chemistry as playing essential roles in understanding behavior. Contingencies which occurred in the past influence behavior today. Behavior analysis does not assume that some sort of time machine exists, that what happened eight years ago travels through time to influence how you will respond to a situation today. Behavior analysis speculates that these past events changed some structure, biological, neurological, chemical, or electrical, and these changes persist today and influence behavior today. However, we currently know little about what precisely goes on at these levels that mediate behavior. Fortunately, we can develop functional relationships that relate behavior to the environment independently of these events, and have a science of behavior, much as chemistry existed independently of quantum theory for a long time. Today, scientists know a lot about interpreting chemistry in terms of quantum theory; we are not at that stage in behavioral science, although there is a start. But today we do not know enough to explain behavior by reference to chemical or electrical events. Determinism, robots and control are issues many raise about behavior analysis. Many seem to feel that determinism makes everything seem mechanical and pre-ordained, that it makes people appear like robots. Yet in spite of the fact that we know all the basics in classical physics, engineers cannot predict which plane will fail. Even with complete determinism in theory, complexity prevents full prediction or control in practice. Chaos theory posits a determined but unpredictable world. “Control” is merely a metaphor for functional relationships. As used technically in behavior analysis, if temperature affects how we dress, we say it “controls” dressing behavior. Thousands of other things may also exert concurrent control.  Many think that analysis destroys the romance of the world. Yet with every problem analyzed and “solved” in the physical, chemical and biological sciences, ten new ones are discovered. The more we understand the more we find there is to understand. Ignorance is neither romantic nor exciting.

 

          Finally, reality is not up for a popular vote. Researchers who study behavior did not “create” behavioral laws. No one believes that if it were not for Newton there would be no gravity. Yet many act as if behavioral scientists are responsible for the way the world is.

Applied behavior analysis attempts to improve individual and social conditions. In education, direct instruction, precision teaching, personalized instruction, and other behavior analysis approaches have great success, whether in regular education, special education, or adult and higher education. In spite of much that has been written, superior educational programs that consistently deliver quality results across all ranges of students already exist. Research has shown this time after time. However, these programs have not been widely adopted yet.  In industry, the form of behavior analysis called performance management produces results far superior to traditional strategies. Many Fortune 500 companies now train managers in these approaches. Most significant current work in international public health is based on behavior analysis. Many behavioral programs related to environmental concerns, such as littering, energy and water conservation, and recycling, have been developed. In clinical areas related to personal problems, parenting, child-rearing, corrections, drug and alcohol treatment and in health-related areas, such as weight control and smoking cessation, successful programs grounded in behavior analysis are documented.  Many new areas are under development. A start has been made treating economics as a behavioral problem. Analyses have been completed and new ones are underway related to creativity. Traditional areas, such as thinking and cognition, will be completely reformulated on the basis of research and concepts already developed. The historic topics labeled motivation and emotion are understood from a new perspective. A start is being made to attempt to understand areas like ethnic conflict and group aggression. For nearly every topic and every area you can name, there is probably some behavioral researcher trying to analyze it and figure out a way to improve it.

 

 

APPLIED BEHAVIORAL ANALYSIS (1)  Link to Basic concepts of Applied Behavior Analysis and the application of these principles in the treatment of Autism.

 

APPLIED BEHAVIORAL ANALYSIS (2)  Link to web site designed to provide a complete on-line course of study topics related to implementation of Behavioral Analysis Strategies and Technique. 

 

APPLIED BEHAVIORAL ANALYSIS (3)  Link to additional Applied Behavioral Analysis Concepts and Treatments.  This page is written by a Father of an Autistic child.    

APPLIED BEHAVIORAL ANALYSIS  (4) Link to an on-line A.B.A. course presented by the Camberidge Center for Behavioral Studies.

 I hope that you have found this resource page helpful.   For information on educational practices and Autism please view the NEW PAGES titled "Introduction to Autism Education and the Autism Education Resource page!"

                                                        

      Come Back Again Soon!   

      Elaine & Ray