David Cihak Discusses Autism

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    • 00:00


    • 00:04

      DR. CIHAK: Autism spectrum disorder is a disorderthat we see abnormalities in the function of the brain.And it is marked by qualitative differences in socialization,qualitative differences in communication,and qualitative differences in restrictive and stereotypicalactivities and behaviors.

    • 00:31

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: It is a general term that has varying degrees of eachof those kind of major characteristics.It has changed tremendously, over time, our treatments andhow we look at autism.Not long ago, it was viewed as a disorder,as a disability, that occurred very rarely.

    • 00:55

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: And now we are seeing many more children, adolescents,and adults been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.And our treatments have become far more,I think, precise and ineffective.And we now have a lot more evidencethat helps support effective treatmentsfor people with autism.

    • 01:16

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: Some of the most effective treatments, and interventions,and strategies that we use for people with autism spectrumdisorders are typically rooted in the principlesof applied behavioral analysis.Such strategies as antecedent based intervention, sooffering choices.Making sure that we're emphasizingstudent's strengths.

    • 01:39

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: Trying to emphasize their interest.We look at things like picture exchange, communicationsystems.We have pivotal response training and a whole hostof a different kind of techniques and strategiesthat are based on those areas of applied behavior analysis.The characteristics of autism spectrum disorder,again we see these qualitative differences in socialization,we see these qualitative differencesin communication, and then behavior.

    • 02:11

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: Disability and a disorder that can look very different.We often say it's a continuum disorder.That we have people that have autism spectrum disorder,that also have an intellectual disability.But then we have some folks that do not.There are some folks that have complex communication needsand don't use speech.

    • 02:35

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: But then we have folks that do.And so it's a great range.And so we try to think of those three general areaswhen we're considering characteristicsfor people with autism spectrum disorder.Educators are going to encounter students with autism at leastsometime during their teaching career.

    • 02:56

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: The prevalence of autism is one in, I believe,every 86 individuals.I kind of think of it as almost one per every school bus.And so if you look at every school bus going downthe street, good chance it's goingto be a young lady or young women with autism on there.

    • 03:17

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: And they're going to be in the classrooms.And so, it's highly likely that teachersare going to be working with students with autism.The challenges and rewards of workingwith people with autism, the rewardsare these are the same words as working with all students,and being an educator and a teacher.

    • 03:39

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: Seeing a student come to you and learn somethingthat they did not previously know.And to see them get motivated and excited about learning.That's really no different than any kind of kid you work with.And some of the challenges are unique, in terms of,especially in terms, of communicationand socialization.

    • 03:59

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: In a school environment, communication and socializationare really critical skills that are needed.And not only in the school environment, but in society.And so, in a Western culture that really values, obviously,a lot of the strong communicativeskills, and being able to work in those teams,and cooperative learning, those couldbe some of the challenges; of howdo I really maximize the student with autism in the classroom,so they are fully participating?

    • 04:32

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: And so I can accurately assess what they knowand what they may need some help on.What's working, for students with autism, again,I think some of the principles of applied behavioral analysisare the real techniques and principles that are working.Having a real consistent approach,developing systems and routines for individuals with autism,using visual based strategies, using pictures, usingvideo modeling, in particular, arestrategies that we have found to be highly effective.

    • 05:07

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: In order to maybe lessen some of the verbal demands,if I'm able to kind of demonstratethe demands of a task, the demands of a learningenvironment, through pictures and through visualrepresentation, I think you're goingto be a little more successful with that.Applied behavioral analysis is basedon the theory of behaviorism.

    • 05:34

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: And it's often thought of as a three term expression, whereyou have antecedents, or events that occurred justbefore a behavior, and then we have the behavior itself,and then we have a consequence that follows the behavior.It's relatively simple to explain because we oftenthink of ABC, Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence.

    • 05:55

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: And with antecedents, we really want to try to set the occasionand be very clear, very explicit,in what that expectation that we ultimately want to see.What's that behavior that we want?Whether it be an academic behavior, two plus twoequals four.Or some type of communicated statement,I want, I need something, or how to maybe actin a social situation.

    • 06:18

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: And then with the consequence, we use reinforcement.We use positive reinforcement.It increases the rate of future responding.And looking at this kind of instructional trial,the antecedent, the behavior, the consequence,and that consistency, and that almost predictability,is that we can almost increased likelihoodthat we're going to see these behaviors occur more often.

    • 06:44

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: And then we can build on these discrete behaviors,and an into higher orders of thinking,or in generalize it into other environments.We use the techniques of applied behavior analysisfor everything, whether it be a verbal behavioror non verbal response.Whether it be some kind of academic task,writing a sentence.

    • 07:04

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: Whether it be learning math facts,learn learning any kind of scienceterms, whether via social skills.It's being able to operationally definewhat that expectation is.And then being able to set of conditions sothat the individual knows exactly the behaviorthat's expected.

    • 07:25

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: Whether it's the correct answer two plus twoequals four, or how to introduce yourself,how to get a handshake, how to interrupt politely,how to work with others.So if we're able to define these expectations,then we're able to reinforce these behaviors.So it's not one particular type of behavior,it's almost every action that a person is doing,that we're more likely to do it again,or we're more likely to do the correct thing againif we know what the expectation is.

    • 07:59

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: So if I want to cross the street,and not to get buy a car, I would look at the antecedent.Well that might be the light turning green,or the little crosswalk guy tellingme to cross the street, that's hopefully little safe.And so I might teach the discrete behaviors,look to the left, look to the right,because depending on what street I'mcrossing some cars may abide by those rules are not,but most likely they will.

    • 08:23

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: And then the consequence, hopefully, I'mgoing to be able to cross the street safely.And if I follow those behaviors like it ultimatelyget to my destination.I could ultimately get to where I want to go.An Individual Educational Program,is individual education plans are oftentalked about in Canada and the UK.The United States, we refer to them as program,and it's two general areas.

    • 08:47

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: We're trying to identify what are the learningobjectives of this individual, and thensecondly, what are the supports and servicesthis individual's going to need in orderto achieve those learning objectives.That's generally speaking.There's a lot of pieces that go into that.First we want to know about the individual.What are their strengths?And really try to capitalize on what are they know?

    • 09:09

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: And what are their interests?And then, what are the areas that they do need to work on?And those are often referred to as goals and objectives,that we want to the child ultimately learnwithin the year, or within a specified time.And then we're considering different accommodations,or modifications, or different supports and services,in terms of how we're going to actually achieve those goalsand objectives.

    • 09:34

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: Or more importantly, how other student'sgoing to achieve those goals and objectives.And the services that we're goingto put in place, for them to really helpfacilitate that learning.That's kind of one piece, and thenwe also talk about settings.Where are we going to actually provide, or addressthese kind of goals and objectives.And the least restrictive environment,the general education classroom is the first placethat we look at.

    • 09:57

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: To the maximum extent, how can weteach these goals and objectives in the general educationclassroom?Individual educational programs services,or special educational services are that.They're services that are brought to the child, nota place or a location, where a person goesto get those services.So services are delivered to them,in the environment which they could optimallyachieve those goals and objectives.

    • 10:23

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: Students with autism spectrum disorderscan be integrated in the general education classroom,inclusive environment successfully.That has been shown, that has been demonstrated.There may be some very careful planning,yes there might be some additional services thatare needed, and supports that are there,but with those appropriate supplemental aidsand services, students with autismflourish in the general education classroom.

    • 10:52

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: One thing we need to keep in mindis that, when we talk about students with autism spectrumdisorder is a very continuum disorder.And so, for some students, to achieve goals and objectivesthey may require such specialized instructionthat maybe we need to think about a different classroom.

    • 11:12

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: But really for the most of our goals, and objectives,and our learning outcomes, the best placeis the general education classroom.And through preparation, and training, that is achievable.There's a host of benefits for in integrating studentswith autism in general education classroom.

    • 11:33

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: First of all, they have every rightto be in a general education classroom.The ultimate goal is that all children live productive lives,and fully participating in an integrated societywhen they grow up and leave K-12 education.The general education is the microcosm of that.

    • 11:53

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: They're going to have to learn howto communicate, and work with others,and socialize with everyone else,and learn the same skills everyone else is.And so, that expectation needs to be there.Those are the skills that they're going to benefit from.And then there's also I think some transformative benefitsthat maybe people without autism can learn, and learnabout the diversity of society.

    • 12:17

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: Pretty much, the rate of autism isthat, most everyone is going to know somebody with autism.Some of the misconceptions about individuals with autismis, probably one the first classic ones is that, ohthey're all the same.Which is an expression we have in the world of, if you meetone person with autism, well congratulations,you met one person with autism.

    • 12:44

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: They're very different.It's a very heterogeneous population.I mean just like you met one male or one female,yes you met one male, one female, but that's about it.And some of the other myths are that they don't speak.They have no language, well that's not true too.

    • 13:06

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: Some have talked about how they can't develop relationships,but that's not true either.And so how do we deal with this is through experiences.Through preparation, through awareness,through understanding, through making connectionswith a diverse people.I think some of the supports that educatorscan make in their classroom, and sometimes thereis a distinction between modificationsand accommodations, accommodations are typicallythought of it supports they do notdevalue the same expectations and curricular expectationsas everyone else.

    • 13:45

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: Where modification sometimes thoughtof as kind of a devalue, or a less, of that ultimate outcome.And so we never want to devalue the experience of anybody,especially people with autism.And I think some of the supports that educators can useis trying to be very visual.

    • 14:06

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: How can I represent my instruction, my content,my information, in multiple ways?How can I use visual aids and visual tools?If you think about the directions you'reproviding to a student, OK how can you present that visually?How can you present the information visually?Looking at multiple ways in which studentscan express their knowledge and what they know,and what they don't know.

    • 14:32

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: Yes there is the paper/pencil test,but there's other ways too in terms of performance,in kind of measures.We also have to look at multiple ways of engaging students.Ensuring that students are highlymotivated with the content that they're encountering.Looking at ways in which educatorscan provide some meaning of what they're attempting to teach.

    • 14:54

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: So using visuals, using multiple means of representation,and engagement, multiple means of beingable to express that information,I think are some of the key pieces.Universal design for learning insuresthat content and information is presented in multiple ways.Ensuring that students can engagewith the content in multiple ways.

    • 15:20

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: Ensuring that we're assessing students in multiple ways.And so, this really speaks well to really all students.But for students with autism spectrum disorder,being able to present information,to instruct that content information,and in various ways, whether it be visual whether itbe using videos, whether it be using manipulatives,or maybe verbal message.

    • 15:48

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: Being able to deliver that information in different ways,is going to ensure that that information ismore likely to be absorbed by the learner.And then being able to assess the students in various ways.If we're only going to assess them in one way,well maybe that's not the preferred wayto express that knowledge.Some people can maybe list the steps of how to do a dance,but can't dance.

    • 16:11

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: People might know the words of a song, but can't sing.And so, we have to look at different ways in which we'reassessing knowledge.And then of course, making sure that the activities in whichthe students are engaging in are motivating.That kind of play to the student's strengths,and really capitalize on their interests.

    • 16:33

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: Paraprofessionals are critical.They're important.Paraprofessionals, sometimes referredto as teacher assistants, in my humble opinionare some of the unsung heroes of the education workforce.They can do many things that a certified educator cando, except maybe design the lesson plans,and implement those kind of goals and objectives,or those curricular goals and objectives.

    • 17:02

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: But they can help with so much of the reinforcementactivities.And they could sometimes really provide a lot of supportand services to student's when the certified teacheris working with other students as well.So often they're your right in person in it.They're your colleague that's very close.

    • 17:24

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: For teachers to be successful in working with paraprofessionals,communication is going to be the key.Training is going to be the key.Modeling is going to be the key.The certified teacher has been trained,and is a certified, and the expert,in terms of the strategies, the techniques,in the curriculum for working with all learners,but especially for students with autism.

    • 17:48

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: The teacher assistant may not havea lot of that background, expertise, and training.If so, they might be the teacher.So they're going to need that.If teachers are communicating, and training,and modeling, what the different strategies and techniques arein, order to maximize the learning objectives,I think that's when that relationship to be critical.

    • 18:16

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: Everything from maybe delivering some instruction,but even collecting data on student progress.I think some of the things that arevery exciting in the area of autismis the use of technology.Using things such as video technologies,some of the research that I'm looking at nowis more of a virtual technologies,and the augmented reality, and mixed realitykind of technologies, where we know some students with autismhave a hard time generalization apply new informationto new situations, or with new people.

    • 18:49

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: One of the advantages of computerassisted instruction is that you can controlfor sometimes a lot of different, extraneous,factors that might distract a learner.And so, through some kind of mixed reality,a student can experience various settings, various situationsand circumstances, and apply that in a safe environment.

    • 19:13

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: But ultimately, I think the critical piece for studentswith autism, and I would say all students,but especially students with autism,is that they have opportunities to generalize this informationin multiple settings, and in community settings,and in the settings where they ultimately need to demonstratethe skills that are critical in orderto actively participate and fully participate in society.

    • 19:37

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: With the use of technology has really changedthe landscape of the classroom.No longer am I just confined to my blackboard or my whiteboard.I literally have the world right there.The students have the world right in a tablet.What's really nice to see, with a lot of the technologies,that they do incorporate a lot of the Universal Designfor Learning principles.

    • 19:60

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: That they are assessable.You can speak to your computer and itwill do the functions for you.So there's multiple means of engagement, multiple meansof expression, that are already built into it, to wheretechnology was a very specialized area.When we look at some of the technologies,like an augmented reality, 15 years agothat was a backpack done at Boeing,and weighed about 50 pounds.

    • 20:31

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: Now it's on your iPhone.If you get lost, what you look at?You look at Google Maps, don't you?Welcome to augmented reality.So it is that blend of the physical world, overlaidwith digital information.And that supplementary information is notonly good for people with autism,it's good for all of us.Because if you need, how do I get help,that's that extra digital information.

    • 20:54

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: And that's what we're finding that's far moreaccessible on a handheld computer.And that idea that this learning environmentcan go anywhere that I go.So even if we look at before tablets and iPhonesand that world, it was a stationary computer.And if you wanted to learn something,well you had to go to your desk, or your little computerstation.

    • 21:16

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: Now I can take that information and go anywhere I want.I can find a QR code and learn about more informationif I need to.Technology, I think, is probably an areathat is one of the most promising ones.Technology can really level the playing fieldfor students with autism very quickly,by providing access, multiple means of the information.

    • 21:45

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: If a student doesn't know what the word is,they can click on the hyperlink and get the definition,they can get a video definition if they need to.They can get a definition set in a child's voice,a teacher can easily set that up.Or you can have the student themselvescreate those videos to express what those vocabularywords mean, to look at things like comprehension.

    • 22:05

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: To me those are most promising areas of some of the techniquesand strategies that we're lookingat with people with autism.Right now, some of the most popular apps that I useare my price point of zero.And you can look at the iTunes or whatever waysyou find your devices.I mean, apps when they first came out,there was a price there.

    • 22:28

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: There's a lot of free apps that really thatcan do some pretty amazing things.And in that is one area that research needs to figure out.What are some of those best applicationsthat can maximize the benefits.And with teachers in the classroom,having that ability to experimentwith different applications, I thinkthat's going to really bode well.

    • 22:56

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: Unfortunately, there are a lot of pseudosciencesor cure de jures out there in the world of autism.While there's a lot of things we do know about autism,there are still a lot of things we're still learning.And I think sometimes it can hurt the field.And where educators, or even families, invest a lot of time,and money, and resources into those treatmentsthat may not be effective.

    • 23:26

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: However, when you talk to the families,they're going to do any everythingto try to make any other child maybe a little bit better.And so, unfortunately, pseudo sciencehas been around since the snake oil days.And unfortunately probably will continue.And I think the best thing we can dois really try to educate the families.

    • 23:50

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: Educate the practitioners and the folksthat work with the families.And trying to at least let them knowwhat all the evidence is saying.To me, there are some pretty major resourcesthat I would look at.Council For Exceptional Children,Division of Autism and Developmental Disabilities,in particular, does put on evidence based practices.

    • 24:15

      DR. CIHAK [continued]: And I think those are key resources for families.

David Cihak Discusses Autism

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David Cihak discusses the challenges and rewards of working with students with autism spectrum disorders, the ways views and treatment have changed over time, and the benefits of including students with autism in general ed. classrooms.

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David Cihak Discusses Autism

David Cihak discusses the challenges and rewards of working with students with autism spectrum disorders, the ways views and treatment have changed over time, and the benefits of including students with autism in general ed. classrooms.

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