About Autism

IMG_2222schoolstoreAUTISM is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD).

AUTISM may include any of the following:

  • Deficits in social interaction such as
    • Initiating conversation with others
    • Responding to initiations
    • Standing too close when engaging with others
  • Deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication such as
    • Making eye contact
    • Using correct pronouns (e.g., saying “you” instead of “I”)
    • Echolalia (repeating something just heard or heard previously, such as scripts from movies)
  • Limited interests and repetitive behavior  including
    • Having interest in very few things
    • Difficulty with transitions and changes in routines
    • Self-stimulatory behaviors such as flapping hands, rocking, etc.
    • Repetitive speech

Other pervasive developmental disorders include PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified), Asperger Syndrome, Rett Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.  Many parents and professionals refer to this group as Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Celebrating 47 years serving the needs of students with special needs, ages 5-21, the Deron School remains synonymous with excellence in special education by implementing “Great Beginnings”.

Our mission remains the same; ensure our students achieve their highest level of independence through an education that only Deron can provide. As part of our ongoing commitment to meeting the needs of our students, we are now offering Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) as part of our comprehensive program.

The Deron program’s mission of delivering a dynamic school experience is clearly evident when it comes to providing the safest, and most effective treatments for autism. Doctors and educators alike recognize that ABA provides lasting improvements in the lives of individuals with autism and their families. ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for Autism by both the American Medical Association and the New Jersey Department of Education.

Behavior Analysts use a variety of instructional techniques to improve a person’s behavior and then determine that the procedures used were responsible for the improvement of the behavior. Started in 1938, the science of ABA, has been well documented to be an effective teaching method for children with autism, and has advanced by leaps and bounds.

Effective interventions for students with autistic spectrum disorders emphasize the need for their educational experience to include not only knowledge and skill acquisition, but also an emphasis on socialization, language and communication, the reduction of problem behaviors, and adaptive skills.

 

ABA is changing the face of education throughout the world. Deron School incorporates the latest advances in the science by using many student driven methods under the umbrella of ABA.

  • Naturalistic Teaching
  • Verbal behavior techniques
  • Fluency based instruction
  • Pivotal response training
  • Positive Behavior Interventions
  • Discrete trial teaching

The “Great Beginning’s” collaborative service delivery model can out-perform traditional methods for serving students with autism and other language-learning disorders. In collaborative service delivery, the behavior analyst is an integral member of a team consisting of educators, the speech-language pathologist, occupational therapists, physical therapists, parents, and the student.

Team members collaborate to formulate a single educational program for each student. The team devises all treatment goals, testing methods, intervention plans, and data systems to enhance the student’s academic and social functioning in the school environment. All team members are aware of the student’s entire curriculum, and team members typically share responsibility for specific educational goals. Together we can help our students discover talents, cultivate strengths, conquer challenges, and fulfill dreams.

What is autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or autism is a developmental disorder that affects a person’s social communication and sensory regulation. Individuals with autism may also have restricted and/or repetitive behavior, interests and activities. The thinking and learning abilities of people with autism can vary dramatically from one individual to another and fall across a “spectrum”. While one person may have symptoms that impair his or her ability to perform daily activities, another may have only mild differences and have few, if any, noticeable functional impairments.

Each individual with autism is unique and many have average to above average intellectual abilities. It is not uncommon of those on the autism spectrum have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music and academic skills. Indeed, many persons on the spectrum take deserved pride in their distinctive abilities and “atypical” ways of viewing the world. Others with autism have significant disability and are unable to live independently. A number of individuals with ASD are nonverbal but can learn to communicate using other means such as augmentative speech devices.

What are some of the first signs of autism?

Autism spectrum disorder typically begins before the age of three. While some attributes may be appear in infancy, many parents first suspect a problem when their child does not reach developmental milestones, such as failing to turn when name is called, delay at speaking their first words, or failing to engage in simple social exchanges. A child may be able to complete a jigsaw puzzle with ease, but may not show interest in sharing his or her accomplishment with others. Some children may have no language delays and have sophisticated vocabularies, but have difficulty engaging in play or conversations with others.

How do I know if my child is developing typically?

While there are general trends in how children develop, all children grow and learn differently. Many factors affect a child’s progress toward developmental milestones, and it may be difficult for parents to determine whether their child is on track due to individual differences. If delays are present, early intervention can have a significant and lasting impact. Therefore, it is important to become familiar with child development and discuss any questions with your child’s healthcare providers.

There is no medical test to diagnose autism. Instead, specially trained physicians and other health professionals administer autism-specific behavioral observations. Pediatricians are often the first contact when parents become concerned about their child’s development. Screening and the role of the pediatrician have become even more critical as we have recognized the stability of early diagnosis over time and the importance of early intervention. During office visits, the physician may ask questions about the child’s development, and parents often share their concerns at that time.

When should I consider an autism program?

Autism is treatable. Children do not “outgrow” autism, but studies show that diagnosis and early intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes. A number of studies have demonstrated that children make greater gains when they enter a comprehensive, individualized program at a younger age. Each child or adult with ASD is unique, and each autism services and support plan should be tailored to address specific needs. Autistic children require services that are at times identical to and at times distinct from the general population, and may require a wide array of different kinds of professionals.

Today, Applied Behavioral Analysis is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for autism. It is one of the most widely studied and has been endorsed by a number of state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Surgeon General and the New York State Department of Health. In particular, ABA principles and techniques can foster basic skills such as looking, listening and imitating, as well as more complex skills such as speaking, reading, conversing and understanding another person’s perspective. Programs that offer ABA, with a highly specialized team of Teachers, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, and Speech and Language Pathologists, offer multi-faceted interventions that create lasting growth.

What is Asperger’s Syndrome?

Lack of eye contact. Fast or flat vocal patterns. Anxiety over any small change in routine. A child who spends recess walking in circles, talking repetitively about the same subject. A teenager who has difficulty fully engaging their peers, and concentrate on school work, but an amazing ability to memorize train schedules or recite every word of their favorite movies. In 1994, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) decided that this kind of varied range of symptoms added up to a diagnosis called Asperger’s Syndrome and added it to the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Asperger’s quickly became a kind of high-functioning autism in which children struggled with social skills, anxiety, and repetitive or restrictive behaviors but also tended to display impressive cognitive and verbal abilities. Estimates of prevalence vary widely, but as many as 97 children out of 10,000 were diagnosed with the disorder over the last 10 years.

In May 2013, the APA published the 5th edition of the DSM–and Asperger’s disappeared, but the persons affected with it, did not.

While it was previously considered a stand-alone diagnosis, Asperger’s Syndrome now falls under the umbrella term Autism Spectrum Disorder, in which individuals can be grouped along a continuum from mild to severe. For those at the mild end of the spectrum, many with the disorder continue to have difficulty processing large amounts of information and relating to others. Two core terms relating to these challenges are Executive Functioning and Theory of Mind.

Executive Functioning includes skills such as organizing, planning, sustaining attention, and inhibiting inappropriate responses. Executive function allows us to develop and apply problem-solving skills as circumstances call for them. We need executive function skills to deal with the stream of decision points we encounter throughout every day. Executive function skills tell us when and how to start or delay reactions to our environment, and to shift and/or sustain attention in order to prioritize our reactions. Weak executive function skills can affect people of any degree of intelligence and capability and is significantly more common in children with Asperger Syndrome (AS) as compared to typical children.

Students with Executive Functioning are often misperceived as lazy, unmotivated, stubborn or uncooperative. Usually, nothing could be further from the truth. They are working as hard as they can to keep pace with the demands in their lives. However, when a student with executive functioning limitations is identified and understood modifications can be made to remediate and facilitate growth and change through positive behavioral supports.

The DSM-5 does contain a new diagnosis, known as Social Communication Disorder (SCD), which may include some of the children who no longer qualify as ASD.

Like Autism Spectrum Disorder, Social Communicative Disorder limits effective communication, social relationships, academic achievement, occupational performance, and “Theory of Mind”. Theory of Mind refers to one’s ability to perceive how others think and feel, and how that relates to oneself.