Let me start with a spoiler, in a good way.
I want to stand up on my little SLP soapbox and say first and foremost:
Using two or more languages with a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will not:
- Make it harder for them to learn one language or
- Cause them to have “worse” language than monolingual (one-language) children with ASD
In fact, it may provide some benefits to their language and social development!
Ok, so now that we have that up front, I will say this: Learning a language is an astounding feat. Learning two seems twice as hard, especially for kids who may be struggling with one language already. I have had many families report that their well-meaning medical providers told them that they should only talk to their child with autism in one language, usually English. Read full post »
To date, our most popular blog is Why Do Kids with Autism Do That? Not surprising I suppose, as we are always trying to figure out why our kids do what they do. We gathered more puzzling questions for our panel of providers and invite those of you who offered your own insight and perspective last time to join in. This time we asked Brandi Chew, PhD, Jo Ristow, MS, CCC-SLP, and Soo Kim, MD to share their thoughts and this is what they had to say . . .
Why do some kids with autism . . .
Learn unevenly – seem to take one step forward and then one back
Jo: The answer to this question could fill a book! In my practice, I see a lot of this unevenness when kids have difficulty translating (or generalizing) learned skills to different people, environments and items/activities. For instance, I’ve seen kids learn that they can touch a photo on the iPad to activate voice output and request a Skittle, but then not be able apply that learning to touching different photos Read full post »
Most people have heard of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Down syndrome (DS) but many do not know that a child can have both. Today we discuss this dual diagnosis in an interview with providers and parents of children with both ASD and DS.
Lynn: What do we know about the genetics of ASD and DS? Are kids with DS any more at risk for ASD than others? How common is the dual diagnosis?
Raphael Bernier, PhD: You know, Lynn, I think what gets tricky when we talk about the genetics of ASD and DS is that the DS diagnosis is made (or can be confirmed) by genetic testing which reveals the presence of the third chromosome 21. In contrast, the ASD diagnosis is made strictly on behavioral observation. There are currently no genetic tests for ASD.
However, we’ve made massive gains in our understanding of the genetics of ASD in just the past 10 years so this does provide some insight into the relationship between ASD and DS. For example, a couple of genes that keep popping up as ASD risk genes are located on chromosome 21 in the DS critical region suggesting a genetic connection between ASD and Read full post »
Dr. Mendy Minjarez
Researcher and clinical psychologist at Seattle Children’s Autism Center, Dr. Mendy Minjarez, along with researchers at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, show in a recent study that parents, in a group setting, can learn Pivotal Response Training (PRT) to effectively increase motivation and language skills for their child with autism. Typically, PRT has been taught to parents in individual therapy sessions, but this research demonstrates that it can be just as effective when taught in a group setting.
In a previous blog, Minjarez describes PRT as a naturalistic behavioral intervention. She explains, “PRT utilizes the principles of ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis), such as reinforcement, but also incorporates developmental principles, such as following the child’s lead in intervention. Rather than applying ABA principles in a highly structured way, as in discrete trial training, in PRT parents are taught to embed ABA teaching principles into interactions with their child to enhance learning.”
To read more about the study and PRT, please see Seattle Children’s blog On the Pulse.
Communication deficit is a key feature of autism, and we see children who have communication strengths and challenges of all types. Some children benefit from the use of alternative/augmentative communication, known as AAC. AAC includes any type of communication that is not speech in order to replace or supplement talking. Parents frequently and understandably have questions and concerns when a clinician starts talking about AAC for their child – it certainly is a new, different and unfamiliar way to communicate. Or is it? If you think about it, we all use AAC every day – we point, gesture, click on icons, text or email. This is all nonverbal communication! Not so unfamiliar after all. Read full post »