Early Childhood Intervention: Module Two – Special Needs & Conditions

Children with Autism / Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • The terms “Autism” and “Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)” refer to “chronic” and “lifelong” conditions. This is in contrast with conditions that are short-term or that have periods of relapse or “cure.”
  • The term “spectrum” refers to the different layers or characteristics of “autism.”  Experts talk about different ways that these conditions manifest in children.

Description

  • Children autism spectrum disorder often present in infancy with low muscle tone and problems with transition movements.
  • Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD have difficulty learning to speak, which  include both verbal (talking with words)  and non-verbal (using signs and gestures to communicate) communication. Children with ASD also have difficulty understanding social cues and verbal and non-verbal communication; for example, smiles, frowns, and general facial or body tension.
  • Children with ASD have difficulty relating to others socially. They resist establishing eye contact with others and may not enjoy being touched or hugged by others, including their primary caregivers.  This difficulty may continue to be a problem for them as they enter school, and begin to relate to their peers.
  • Children with ASD may engage in repetitive and/or self-stimulatory (see full Glossary) behaviors. An example of a repetitive behavior would include flipping light switches on and off.  A child’s self-stimulatory behaviors might include rocking his or her head or entire body back and forth.
  • Children with ASD have difficulties with knowing how to take in images, sounds, smells, tastes or touch sensations, or to regulate their sensory system. They may be either under- or over-sensitive to any of the five senses. For instance, a child may be under-sensitive to the sense of hearing (and therefore appear deaf to others) or may be over-sensitive to the sense of hearing, and certain normal sounds end up aggravating him or her greatly (e.g. the sound of a vacuum cleaner or ambulance siren.)

Intervention Options

Intervention options are strategies, programs and resources that are available for parents and for service providers working with children with additional needs, and the professionals working with children and families. Intervention options are strategies, programs and resources that are available for parents and for service providers working with children with additional needs, and the professionals working with children and families. Parents and support workers are invited to check the Standards and Guidelines for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in British Columbia

Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA)

Interventionists working with children with ASD include the following:

  • Other intervention options include RDI (Relationship Development Intervention) which is a special program that aims at training parents to help their child develop healthy and meaningful relationships with his or her family and others. It is claimed that children with autism who receive RDI may become better able to communicate and interact with others as well as develop a theory of mind and perspective taking.

– Special diets: Sometimes parents of children with autism follow a restricted diet for their children. The claim is that these diets may help with children’s behavioral and learning difficulties. These diets include casein-free and gluten-free diets as well as receiving a multitude of vitamins (as part of a homeopathic or naturopathic program). To-date, these diets have not been scientifically proved to directly impact the child’s ehaviour and learning. Please refer instead to the educational and treatment options that Autism Society Canada provides.

– Music therapy: may help children with autism improve their cognitive, social and emotional skills as well as help them with their neurological functioning.

– Art and play therapy: as part of a holistic approach  that targets all developmental areas.

Dance and movement therapy: This helps children develop a better understanding of their bodies, how they function in the world and some aspects of their hypo and/or hyper-sensitivity to certain environmental stimuli.

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