Lynn Stansberry Discusses Autism

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    • 00:05

      SPEAKER: Autism spectrum disordersare complex neurodevelopmental disabilitiesthat impact individuals in the areas of social communicationand restricted repetitive patterns of behaviors,interests, activities.Individuals with autism spectrum disordershave a range of functioning.No two individuals are alike.And that's why they refer to as a spectrum disability.

    • 00:27

      SPEAKER [continued]: Recently the Diagnostic and Statistical Manualhas revised the criteria, or the characteristicsand educationally we have our own set of criteria.So an individual might be diagnosedmedically with autism spectrum disorders,but they would also then need to gothrough an educational evaluationto determine if they meet eligibilityfor services under the spectrum.

    • 00:50

      SPEAKER [continued]: When there are suspicions that an individual mighthave some needs educationally a school system wouldmove in and do an evaluation on an individualand generally if we can catch autism early,we would put them in a birth-to-three typeof evaluation and some screening to determineif they have some needs.

    • 01:11

      SPEAKER [continued]: Education, we don't rely on medical diagnosis specificallyto provide services to individualswho have autism spectrum disorders.In addition to having the disabilitythey also have educational need.So we'll do a multi-disciplinary evaluationto determine if there is educational needunder the category.

    • 01:31

      SPEAKER [continued]: And autism spectrum disorder is one categoryof disability there's numerous waysto qualify for special education services.There's a lot we don't agree on in the autism community,but one thing we do agree on is that early intervention is key.So it's really important that practitioners be awareof the characteristics of autism and if autismis suspected that an evaluation is conductedbecause with early intervention individuals with autismcan develop communication.

    • 02:01

      SPEAKER [continued]: Communication is an area of concern.And the earlier we can come in speech and language servicesthe better their opportunity to develop communication skills.Socialization is a challenge.And if we are aware of the challenges involvedwe can make sure that we get them includedwith typical peers, so that they canhave role models for social interaction.

    • 02:21

      SPEAKER [continued]: So that early intervention can really make the difference.And when you look at research it showsthat the earlier intervention providesfor more positive outcomes.We're seeing now that the numbers whoare nonverbal who have autism has inched downbecause of the early interventionand having access to speech and language services.

    • 02:42

      SPEAKER [continued]: So early intervention is key.Well, when you look at the word spectrum,that spectrum goes along all the characteristics.They all or a range.So when we look at social being a challenge for studentswith autism, or individuals with autismwe're looking at individuals having troubleappearing to want to be alone, or isolate themselves.

    • 03:02

      SPEAKER [continued]: To those that are really, really actively involved socially,but have some social challenges.So when you look at social challengesyou're looking at social challengesnot only with interaction, but with understanding.So there's a range.When we look at communication we lookat individual who go from nonverbal to thosethat have highly sophisticated language.Many little kids might sound like a little professorand have really a lot of rote memory knowledgeabout a subject that they're interested in,but that knowledge sometimes is just that rote memoryand they can't do a lot with that information.

    • 03:35

      SPEAKER [continued]: As far as sensory, we have a range of sensory needs.Many individuals have trouble with lights,or sounds, or touch, but each individualis just that, an individual.They're not blueprints of each otherand the characteristics really manifests themselvesquite differently.Educators are likely to encounter individualswith autism in the classroom because the numbers continueto show that they are increasing.

    • 03:60

      SPEAKER [continued]: The Centers for Disease Control recently justpublished new findings and those numbers had gone up once again.So very likely that they will encounter.Also with the free and appropriate public educationbeing stressed to be provided in the least restrictiveenvironment, the general education classroomis where we're going to look to providethat education for that increasing number of students.

    • 04:24

      SPEAKER [continued]: Some of the challenges that educatorsmight face when having a student with autism in their classroomis that they don't understand the characteristics.That's really, really key.When we plan for inclusion we're planningto provide that student an environment where they can bestmeet there optimal education.

    • 04:45

      SPEAKER [continued]: Special education is not a place.It's not a location.And we should be providing services for that studenthas the best opportunity to learn.And where we make mistakes and where the challenges come aboutis that we don't provide planning timefor the general education and the special educatorto work together to plan for the inclusion.We don't provide that general education teacherwith the knowledge that they need to support the student.

    • 05:12

      SPEAKER [continued]: So a lot of the challenges that weface when we're looking at the inclusion of childrenwith special needs and autism arebarriers that we can overcome by just some planning,some support, some professional development.Some of the strategies that individual teachers canuse to promote the success of the inclusion of childrenwith autism is to provide clear rules and expectationsin the classroom.

    • 05:37

      SPEAKER [continued]: Students with autism sometimes experienceanxiety about change.And they do prefer to have routines.So having those clear rules and expectationsis a way to start the successful inclusion of childrenwith special needs like autism.Another very easy strategy that teachers can useis to provide visual supports.

    • 05:59

      SPEAKER [continued]: Visuals can be a strong learning modalityfor many individuals on the autism spectrum.So instead of just telling students something,to provide that instruction visually really will assist.And those are simple strategies thatwill benefit all the students in the classroom.The most promising practices to meet the needs of studentswith special needs are those thatmeet that individual student's needs.

    • 06:23

      SPEAKER [continued]: We, as educators, are required to useevidence-based practices, it's a requirement,but just to utilize an evidence-based practicewithout taking into considerationthe individual needs of that studentwill not do that student any good.So it's really important that youfocus on evidence-based practicesbased on what that student's needs are.

    • 06:44

      SPEAKER [continued]: In the field of autism we have great resourcesfor evidence-based practices.One is the National Autism Center.They published a national standards reportand it includes the practices that have a rich evidence base,and it also talks about those thatdon't have sufficient data at this timeto be considered an evidence-based practice.Another really excellent resourceis the National Professional Development Centeron the Autism Spectrum Disorders.

    • 07:09

      SPEAKER [continued]: And that center provides a list of evidence based practicesand the nice thing about that siteis it provides a definition.It provides step by step guidelines.And that way teachers can decide,this is the student I'm working with,this is what their needs are, this is where their needs are,and these are the evidence based practicesthat might help me to meet that student's needs.

    • 07:31

      SPEAKER [continued]: So those are great resources for finding those practices.So when making modifications think about the underlyingcharacteristics associated with autism.So what type of social modificationsmight you want to make, what typeof communication modifications might youwant to make, how can you ensure that the sensory needsof the students are made, and that's a really good placeto start.

    • 07:51

      SPEAKER [continued]: One of the emerging practices thatdoesn't have a rich research base, but we'rereally excited about in the field of autismis the use of assistive technologyin augmentative alternative communicationsystems being provided through computer aided instructionand being provided through the technology that'snow available through iPads.

    • 08:13

      SPEAKER [continued]: What's beautiful about these systemsis that a lot of our students we haven'tbeen able to determine a communication system for,and when they aren't able to communicatethey communicate through behaviors.And with a communication system it gives thema way to functionally communicatewithout having to engage in challenging behaviorso that's an exciting emerging field right now with autism,that whole introduction of technology, and iPads,and Smart Boards, and white boards,and just it's limitless what we hopeto be able to see happen with these kids and their abilityto communicate.

    • 08:50

      SPEAKER [continued]: One way that I've seen technology being utilized verysuccessfully with individuals with autismis the goal for all kids with special needsand all kids in general is that wehope that they'll be able to function independently.And with the use of technology we'reable to use a lot of video modeling, whichis an evidence-based practice.And we're able to, for example, put a typical peer performinga task, say a work task, and have the student viewthat video, and then be able to function independently.

    • 09:21

      SPEAKER [continued]: We're also able to use technology for studentsto evaluate their own behavior, reward themselves.Technology is helping students to become more independentin the classroom and that's really exciting.I'll give you an example.I have a student that I was supportingin a work environment.And he had to re-shelf some items.

    • 09:44

      SPEAKER [continued]: And we videotaped a copy of someone re-shelfing items.And rather than give him verbal instructionand have to be by his side to do this task,we had them watch the video, take the iPad Mini with him.And when he started to not rememberwhat he was supposed to do, we remindedhim to take a look at his technology.

    • 10:06

      SPEAKER [continued]: He took a look at it and was able to perform the task.And before he'd had to be prompted verballyby an adult standing next to him.So it was wonderful to see the level of independencehe was able to gain through the technology.A team comes together to create an individual education programplan for a student who meets criteria for special educationservices.And that IEP plan is the blueprintfor providing services and supports that they require.

    • 10:35

      SPEAKER [continued]: And when we create an IEP we start at their present levelperformance.And we identify their strengths and their educational needs.So we know where they are, and then wedream where we want them to be in a year's time.And we look at age appropriate skills,skills they need to function independently.And then we write goals and objectives to meet those,where we would like to see them be.

    • 10:56

      SPEAKER [continued]: And that plan helps to develop the servicesand supports they'll need to get where we want them to be.Universal Design for learning comesfrom the field of architecture.It was looking at breaking down architectural barriersso that individuals who had physical challengescould benefit.And if you think about it when you ride a bike on a sidewalkyou probably sometimes use those curb cups.

    • 11:19

      SPEAKER [continued]: So the nice thing about Universal Designis you plan perhaps for specific population in mind,but those adaptations or barriers you break downreally benefit the population as a whole.And when you're looking at Universal Design for learningyou're looking at the same thing.You're looking at curriculum.You're looking at instruction.You're working at assessment.

    • 11:40

      SPEAKER [continued]: And how can I provide multiple ways for individualsto be able to access that curriculum?And how can I plan that in advanceso that I don't have to come back laterand make all these accommodations,and modifications, and adaptations?When I plan universally in advanceI'm breaking down some of those barriers.So you can do that for curriculum.

    • 12:01

      SPEAKER [continued]: You can do that for instruction.When I'm providing instruction I can think about multiple waysthat I can ensure that that student's learningwhat I'm teaching at that moment.And what I'm doing assessment, perhaps a student'snot good at taking a test.How can I make sure that the student hasthat knowledge without having to put themthrough the anxiety of taking a test?

    • 12:21

      SPEAKER [continued]: So that's the wonderful thing about Universal Designfor learning.It meets the needs of a lot of learners.There are many benefits to including childrenwith autism in the general education classroom.And I've seen that over the years.I worked with a particularly difficult fifth grader.And I had a teacher who was doing a lot of extra effortto make sure that student was successful.

    • 12:47

      SPEAKER [continued]: I put a little candy bar in his mailboxafter one of our particularly difficult meetingstalking about having the student and his successin the classroom.And I said thank you for your extra effort.And that particular teacher came backand said take you for the sweet little gift, the candy bar,but really the gift that I've been givenis having this student in my classroom.

    • 13:10

      SPEAKER [continued]: I'm becoming a better teacher by havingthis student in my classroom.And what having a child with special needs and autismin the classroom does for the teacherand how it benefits them is it reallymakes them think outside of the box of how they typicallyteach.And they learn to teach in more creative ways.They learn to meet a wider range of learners.And by doing so the benefits percolate downinto the other students in the classroom.

    • 13:35

      SPEAKER [continued]: We have many struggling learners.And we have very diverse classrooms today.And it really is important to meet many, many learningstyles.And when you have a child with special needsand autism in your classroom that's what you're doing.You're thinking about how can I present this material sothat he'll get it.And when he gets it, the other kids that were strugglingstart to get it as well.

    • 13:57

      SPEAKER [continued]: So students benefit, teachers benefit,and the student with special needs and autismdefinitely benefits.So a lot of benefits happen from inclusion.It's really important that we thinkabout why we want kids with autism included.A lot of times it's not just about the academics.

    • 14:19

      SPEAKER [continued]: We want kids with autism includedbecause we want them to have opportunitiesto develop typical social skills.And those social skills can't be taught by an adultbecause when you're 15 those look very differently than whenyou're 30.So it's really important that we provide opportunitiesfor socialization to occur among peers and individualswith autism and those that have social challengesso that they can develop those skills.

    • 14:44

      SPEAKER [continued]: What we have to remember too is the kidssitting in classrooms with individualswith disabilities such as autism are growing upto be future employers.And they need this exposure.They need the understanding.They need to have high expectations of individualswith disabilities and they won't getthat unless they're exposed.So if we want our individuals with special needs like autismto have opportunities for employment,we need them socializing with their peers.

    • 15:10

      SPEAKER [continued]: One of the most common misconceptionsI see when we're looking at autism spectrum disordersis people think challenging behaviors are autism.And the truth is they are not.They're not on the list of criteria.Challenging behaviors are manifestationsof the underlying characteristics associatedwith autism.So if you see an individual with autism engagingin tantruming behavior, it's likelythat they're trying to communicate something,or the sensory world is overwhelming to them.

    • 15:40

      SPEAKER [continued]: That misconception is out there about thosechallenging behaviors.And look at the list of characteristics.It's not on there.Well, one of the ways to address the misconceptionof challenging behaviors being an autism spectrumcharacteristic is really to teach and provideprofessional development on the characteristics of autism.If we're going to include children in general educationclassrooms it's really important for general education teachersto understand the characteristicsbecause it's an invisible disability.

    • 16:09

      SPEAKER [continued]: And many times some of our studentswho are higher functioning, teachers justdon't understand them.And they don't accept their differences.And so it's really important, I think,to get beyond that challenge to provideprofessional development and understanding.A common misconception when peoplethink about autism spectrum disordersis they think that they can't socializeand they can't be friends.

    • 16:33

      SPEAKER [continued]: And some of my deepest most satisfying relationshipsare with individuals on the spectrum.And many have a lot of social challenges,but when an individual with autismchooses you to have a relationship, be a friend with,it's a very special thing because you realizeyou've reached someone who has trouble socially sometimesconnecting.

    • 16:60

      SPEAKER [continued]: So I've seen many friendships between children even whohave a lot of social challenges, but they'reable to look beyond those and really findthe strength in the individual and developthose relationships.So friendship is possible.Well, our views of autism have definitely change over time.

    • 17:21

      SPEAKER [continued]: In the 1950s and 1960s autism wasseen to be caused by cold and distant parents.And that era was referred to as the refrigerator mother era.And as the numbers of individuals with autismincreased more parents were involvedand weren't going to take that stance sitting down.

    • 17:42

      SPEAKER [continued]: And Bernard Rimland, a psychologist and parentof a child with autism, refused to institutionalize his childbecause that's what the current frame of mind was.The child should be institutionalized.And he refused to believe that he or his wifewere contributing to his child's autism.So he postulated some more theories and ideasabout how autism could be caused.

    • 18:08

      SPEAKER [continued]: The theories have not been proved.We still don't know what causes autism,but luckily we've moved to a new era.And in today's era we don't believe individuals with autismare uneducable and need to be institutionalized.We believe that they should be educated.We have high expectations.We believe they have many gifts and we celebrate those gifts.

    • 18:28

      SPEAKER [continued]: So we've really turned around quite a bitand it's a great thing to see.I think it's really important for educatorsto develop relationships with familiesbecause families first and foremost willbe with that individual lifelong.It's really important to know whatthe goals and the expectations of the family are.And many times families are struggling.

    • 18:51

      SPEAKER [continued]: They need educated about autism.They know their child very, very well, but many of themhave no idea what to expect for the futureand they look to educators to help them,but those collaborative relationships reallyhelp form a plan for that child that'sgoing to really help for positive long term outcomes.

    • 19:14

      SPEAKER [continued]: There are lots of great resources for familiesto learn more and to educate themselvesabout autism spectrum disorders.There's many organizations.Two of the leading organizations is the Autism Societyof America and Autism Speaks.Both of them provide excellent resources.There's support groups in local communitiesthat they can belong to.

    • 19:36

      SPEAKER [continued]: The internet's a great place.My son is 22 years old and he has autism.And when my son was diagnosed we did not have the internet.It was the dark ages of autism.There was one book at the library.And it painted a very poor prognosis.Today they have the internet, but the internetcan be overwhelming.So it's really important as educatorsthat we provide them some really credible resources,that we provide them some books that are credibleand there's a lot of online modules.

    • 20:08

      SPEAKER [continued]: And some of the modules that I recommend to parents, as wellas educators, are autism internet moduleswhich are free and online, and basedon evidence-based practices and promising practices.So I try to give parents resourcesso that they're not overwhelmed by the internet.Ways that families can get involvedis by looking to see if they have a local autism society.

    • 20:32

      SPEAKER [continued]: Many of the local autism societiesdo fund raising events and social eventsand have activities for parents, have activities for families.And another area where we're seeing a lot of attention beinggiven today is with the increasing numbersis the siblings.So there's siblings support as well.Families really reach out to other families.

    • 20:52

      SPEAKER [continued]: When you talk to families about wherethey get their best resources is from other family members,other parents of kids with disabilities and special needs.So there's lots of local organizations.So I highly suggest families reach outand become involved in their area's supports.When families are looking for support where many will saythey got their best support is from other parents of kidswith special needs.

    • 21:17

      SPEAKER [continued]: And a lot of schools set up parent support groups, parenteducational series, and those are really helpful.Many local communities will have organizationsthat provide professional development for parents, autismawareness, behavior management, and those are really important.If families want to get involved theycan reach out to their local autismsocieties, or their local school districts whohave brought families together, but family to family support'sjust as important as educator to family support.

    • 21:50

      SPEAKER [continued]: So it's nice to be able to provide those.So one of the benefits of inclusionI've experienced firsthand, I'm the parentof a son with autism.And he was always fully included.And during elementary school it was a lot easier.When it got to middle school it became a little morechallenging.And in high school the academic rigormade it even more challenging.

    • 22:13

      SPEAKER [continued]: And we were at an IEP meeting.And we were talking about him be included an English Lit class.And the teachers were concerned because of the readingcomprehension.And we pretty much said, let's give it a shot.So we put him in the English Lit class.And the first book they read was writtenby Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.And it was a difficult read for him.

    • 22:34

      SPEAKER [continued]: He would read one page, I would read one page.We got the book on tape.We bought the movie and he watched the movie.And when we got to the last chapter we had him read.And we got to the last page and everyone was dead.And we sat there in silence, and Collin's a man of few words.

    • 22:54

      SPEAKER [continued]: After a few moments he said, that was not a happy ending.And my husband and I just looked at each other and smiled.And although he hadn't picked up some of the intricaciesthat Shakespeare had intertwined throughout the book,the families were feuding, he didexperience the power of the ending.

    • 23:17

      SPEAKER [continued]: So later that same year he wantedto go see A Midsummer Night's Dream.And he hardly ask for anything so I was like, absolutely.We're going.And on the way there I said, wellwho do you know in the play, because the playwas being done by the high school.And I figured he had a friend in the production.And he said, I don't know who's in the play.And I said, well, why are we going?

    • 23:39

      SPEAKER [continued]: And he said, we're going because it's written by Shakespeareand Shakespeare's a great author.And we never expected what he would get out of that course,but had we not included him because hehad reading challenges, or because the academic rigor,he might never have been exposed to Shakespeare.

    • 23:59

      SPEAKER [continued]: And one of the things that we failed to mentionand we forget about is that when we don't include kidsand they're not exposed, we have a childwith a major social challenge and they get further sociallymarginalized because they can't talk about Shakespeare.And people might not think that's important, but it is.

Lynn Stansberry Discusses Autism

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L. Lynn Stansberry Brusnahan discusses autism spectrum disorder and its characteristics. She addresses the challenges and promising educational techniquest for students with autism. She also explains how our attitudes toward autism have changed and how important it is for families to be involved in the education of individuals with autism.

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Lynn Stansberry Discusses Autism

L. Lynn Stansberry Brusnahan discusses autism spectrum disorder and its characteristics. She addresses the challenges and promising educational techniquest for students with autism. She also explains how our attitudes toward autism have changed and how important it is for families to be involved in the education of individuals with autism.

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