Thursday, June 25, 2009

Clinic Notes: The Window to the Mind of Children with Autism

According to poets the eyes are the windows to the soul. I don't know if that is the case, but I do know that for many nonverbal children with autism speech augmentative devices are the windows to the mind. I am still amazed at the cognitive ability that is locked away in many nonverbal children with autism. This cognitive ability becomes unbridled when they learn to push the buttons on a speech augmentative device and generate electronic words. The autism literature says that anywhere from 75 to 90% of children with autism are mentally retarded, but I don't believe it. I am convinced that many children with autism who tested as mentally retarded would loose their mentally retarded diagnosis if they were proficient with a speech augmentative device. But with a 5 to 7 thousand-dollar price tag that won't happen anytime soon.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Clinic Notes: Asperger's and Social Networking

I was surprised to learn that some of the Asperger's kids who come to my clinic have Facebook pages. Their parents have set them up for them and closely monitor their activity. The Asperger's kids post pictures they have taken and post comments. Often, their posts are edited by their parent for content, grammar and punctuation. I doubt that anyone reading their post would guess that they have Asperger's. Writing and socialization is hard for kids with Asperger's and I think that social networking is a great idea. With the parents permission I plan on getting all of the Asperger's kids who come to my clinic a Facebook page.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Clinic Notes: Asperger's and Bullies

All of the children with an Asperger's diagnosis that I see in my clinic are mainstreamed. And that's good until Middle School when testosterone kicks in at puberty and bullying starts. It's like kids with Asperger's have a target on their back that says bully me. Of course other kids besides Asperger's kids are bullied, but for kids with Asperger's it is especially bad because they don't understand social behavior much less anti social behavior. I was especially glad to see that the American Academy of Pediatrics is publishing a policy statement on bullying and recommending a prevention model developed in Norway by Dan Olweus. The Olweus program focuses on the bystanders rather than the bully or the victim. The bystanders are taught that the bully has an anger management problem and they can protect the victim. Hopefully schools will adopt this model and provide training to stop bullying of children with Asperger's as well as the other ¼ surveyed who say they have at times been bullied.