Tag Archives: disorders
Asperger’s Syndrome and Anxiety
In my quest to improve people’s awareness of Autism, I’m posting a video I found of Katie Stanbridge, a young person with Asperger’s Syndrome, explaining her anxieties- the reasons, the actual experiences and the results of these experiences. I feel that this topic can be better understood if explained by those who actually experience it:
For more, check out Katie Stanbridge’s youtube channel HERE
Young Blind boy with Autism sings “Open the eyes of my heart”
Why I believe we still need Autism Awareness and Acceptance
Six days into this year’s Autism Awareness month and I feel like people all over the world are doing a lot to raise awareness for ASD. I have been particularly impressed with people in Twitter who continually share their stories (see Aspienaut, for example). I have also received messages and emails from people who want to know more about Autism- which is pleasantly surprising since this is my first time to be actively involved in World Autism Awareness.
Nevertheless, colleagues, friends and others still ask me why we need to spread autism awareness. They mentioned that autism is already widely known, as people can easily identify TV/ film characters as having Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, from Rain Man to The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper. I pointed out that a quick internet search would reveal that there are still a lot of people who do not know much (or anything at all) about autism.
These searches reflect people’s ignorance about the condition and could lead to hate, prejudice and discrimination against individuals with autism.
There’s no denying that most of these search suggestions are negative and hateful (to say the least). These search terms mean that there are a lot of people who key-in the same terms, which may then reflect the attitudes of these people towards individuals with autism. It is however, welcoming to see that there are people who are willing to explain what autism is, despite negative questions:
What can we do?
Inclusive schools around the world provide young ones with the opportunity to interact with pupils with Autism and other Special Educational Needs. This can help others- including the schools’ staff, to know what Autism is and its many different manifestations. This of course depends on how many pupils with Autism one school has on its register.
Schools should explain to their students what Autism (and other SEN) are, and how best to interact with them. Quite a lot of schools do not explicitly teach children about the different disorders and conditions, despite having a relatively good inclusion practice. I believe that explicit teaching would help children work harmoniously with each other.
Despite the Equality Act of 2010 which aims to protect workers with psychological conditions, there is still a lot of stigma around. It is important for workplaces to have an effective policy regarding mental health. It is most important to make them feel that they belong to the workplace. Give them space when they need it, and give them the appropriate help when they need it.
People with Autism want and deserve to be accepted.
Personal Account about the Challenges of being an Adult with Asperger’s Syndrome
Living with Asperger’s Syndrome: A personal Account
People with Autism Have Emotions!
One of the most widely-spread myth about Autism is that the people who have the condition do not have emotions. It is completely wrong. They can feel every single emotion that Neurotypicals can. What they have difficulties with is expressing, labelling and communicating these emotions to others.
Watch this video:
Young girl with ASD kissed her ‘fixed’ cheeseburger
Arianna MacLean, a 7 year-old girl with Autism was so excited when her sister took her to a Chilli’s restaurant last week. She ordered a cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate milk, and was really looking forward to having the meal. But upon the meal’s arrival, Arianna cried and did not touch her burger- her favourite, because it was ‘broken’ as it was cut in half. When her sister asked their waitress, Lauren Wells, for a new burger and explained that Arianna has Autism, Lauren quickly said ‘oh my gosh, I brought you a broken cheeseburger! I’ll get you a new one!’. After Lauren explained to her manager what has happened, the manager went to Arianna’s table and apologised directly to Arianna for bringing her a ‘broken cheeseburger’.
When the new cheeseburger was given to her, Arianna was so delighted she kissed it!
Teaching and Learning with LEGO
Parents and teachers of kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) including myself, are always looking for different ways and materials to teach many different skills. We want their learning to be as exciting as it is informative to them. In all of my years of working with pupils with ASD, there hasn’t been an equipment/tool most effective than Lego. First and foremost, there are very, very few kids who do not like playing with, or even looking at Lego. They are brightly coloured blocks which is usually associated with FUN and PLAY; not school/ learning. Its association with fun is the most important thing to remember, especially (but not exclusively) when the children are really young, since the lessons can be disguised as play (remember this when your students aren’t cooperating in structured lessons).
So what lessons can we teach them through Lego?
Through Lego, we can teach kids with ASD different ways of sorting and grouping things. Lego can help reinforce the lessons they have learned in school. They can sort the pieces by colour, sizes and shapes. Of course, we could extend this by giving them say, 5 pieces and asking them which one is the ‘odd one out’.
We can also use the Lego men and women to teach gender. A lot of young individuals with Autism that I have worked with initially struggled with identifying the gender of their peers, and having them inspect the (potentially) non-threatening plastic faces of the Lego characters have helped them greatly with this issue. Identifying a Lego figure’s gender is of course very different to identifying a real person’s, but learning through these plastic figures is a major step that needs to be taken forward.
Learning to count is always easier when you’re counting something you like. Having children count the pieces that they have or counting with them can help reinforce numeracy skills. Asking questions such as ‘how many wheels does that car in your hand have?’ or how many trees do I have in my hands?’ can be a lot easier for them to answer compared to worksheets. Also, They can put Lego pieces together to build the numbers (see picture on the left).
Fine Motor Skills and Coordination
Many children with Autism have developmental delays in motor skills and coordination. Playing with Lego can help improve these skills. Having them manipulate those blocks by putting one on top of the other and taking them apart can help train their finger and hand muscles to great effect. Also, by using both hands while playing, their coordination could improve.
Expressive and Receptive Language
Playing any type of games can help develop children’s language. Expressive and receptive language can be improved by regularly asking questions about the game/ pieces that they have. Also, emplying what Speech and Language Therapists call ‘Sabotage technique’ wherein you withhold something that they want until they say the correct phrase of asking for it (e.g. ‘please may I have the black wheel for my car?’). They can also be explicitly taught to follow instructions while playing.
‘What’s mine is mine’ is often one of the biggest problem parents have with their children. Parents can teach their children how to share by playing Lego with them and modelling different ways of sharing and compromise. Explicitly saying ‘it’s your turn to pick a piece’; ‘it’s OK if you have that piece’; ‘I’ll have this piece instead’ or ‘thank you for giving me this piece’ can help build up the children’s vocabulary, whilst learning what sharing means at the same time.
Imagination and Planning
It may be a hard task to teach a child how to imagine something, but giving them a platform to do so will help stimulate their imagination. Asking them to build a blue tower or a green and white house gives them a chance to both imagine what the house or tower would look like and how they will do it. These abilities vary from one child to the next and tailoring each task to an individual’s skill set is definitely necessary.
Homosexual teen with Asperger’s Syndrome burned alive
Steven Simpson, a young man who had Asperger’s Syndrome was killed on his birthday party last year. The Daily Mail reported that Steven was doused in tanning oil and then set alight by a young man called Jordan Sheard, who apparently gate-crashed the party. Steven was rushed to the hospital but died because of severe body burns the day after. Further police investigations found anti-gay messages such as ‘gay boy’ and ‘I love d**k’ were found scribbled across his body. It has also been found that at the time of the party, Steven was not objecting to what the others were doing to him. His lack of understanding of what was going on could be due to his Asperger’s- a mild form of Autism which is characterised (amongst other things) by a significant delay in social understanding and interactions.
The defendant confessed to committing manslaughter and was later sentenced to three and a half years in prison- a sentence considered by many to be way too lenient. Stop Hate UK recently asked the Attorney General to review this case as they feel that a heavier sentence is more fitting to the crime. Their letter stated:
“Our concerns about the sentence imposed upon the defendant stem from the fact that the manslaughter of Steven Simpson does not appear to have been dealt with as a case motivated by hostility in accordance with section 146, Criminal Justice Act 2003.
“In our opinion the facts of the case quite clearly involve proven demonstrated hostility by Jordan Sheard towards Steven Simpson on the basis of both his sexual orientation and disability.
“It appears that, contrary to section 146, these aggravating factors were not taken into account when sentencing Jordan Sheard, nor does it seem to have been stated in open court by His Honour Judge Keen that the offence was committed in such circumstances.”
Taken from pinknews.co.uk
It is most unfortunate that these events still happen. Despite the increase in people’s awareness and acceptance towards people of different sexual orientation and disabilities, there are still people who refuse to be educated. Homophobia and abuse directed to disabled people are still wide-spread.
What could have been done?
I’m very curious as to whether Steven has ‘real’ friends and whether they were at the party. If so, what were they doing? Did everyone in the party really think that all of it was just ‘good horseplay’? I feel that if one person voiced out his/ her disagreement to what was happening, he/ she could have prevented Steven’s death. I wonder if these bystanders also deserve to be punished by the law for not doing anything.