A New Character With Autism On Sesame Street

Last month, a new character with autism was introduced on the show Sesame Street, which created a positive reaction from individuals around the world. Julia, the newest character of the show, has autism and acts in a stereotypical manner of many peers in the classroom.

sesame street, inclusion, tv and disabilities

For example, Julia is seen flapping her hands, repeating words, and not responding to a greeting by Big Bird. Alan, the narrator, explains that Julia is not trying to ignore Big Bird, but instead responds to people differently than Big Bird himself. He says, “She does things just a little differently, in a Julia sort of way.” It may take her a bit longer to respond, but it’s okay.

Sesame street does a great job explaining some of the behaviors Julia demonstrates and does an even better job at explaining an appropriate way others can respond to such behaviors. For example, Julia is sensitive to loud noises. She repeats things that were just said by her friends and avoids eye contact. Although she acts differently than her peers, Julia fits right in and is part of the show. An example showing Julia and Elmo playing or Julia and Abby playing can bring tears to an eye of an educator or parent who is constantly striving to create this type of peer interaction and play environment.

Julia’s arrival of the show comes at a unique time in history. As society is progressively becoming more understanding and tolerant of differences, Julia’s presence on the show showcases how an inclusion setting can operate within the boundaries of love, patience, and understanding. It also teaches children at an early age to accept individuals who behave differently within the classroom environment and community.

I applaud Sesame street for including Julia in their show and for accurately depicting some common social situations that can occur in a life of a child with autism.

 

The History of Autism (A Summary)

Autism was official discovered 60 years ago. Although still puzzling to many, professionals are learning more about autism everyday.

Some facts:

  • Early accounts of individuals with autism are unclear
  • The concept and definition of autism has greatly changed over the years
  • Socio-political views as well as treatment available has evolved and continues to grow
  • Symptoms may have been confused with schizophrenia in the past

Timeline:

  • 1960s-Michael Rutter’s comparative study comparing the features of autism
  • 1960s-1970s: Kolvin distinguished autism from schizophrenia
  • 1970-Hermelin and O’Connor explored the “savant”
  • 1971- first association of autism as a specific medical condition (Stella Chess was the first to discover that autism can be associated with a neurological disease)
  • 1975- US Developmental Disability Act included individuals with autism
  • 1981- Lorna Wing’s seminal paper discusses Asperger’s Syndrome
  • 2000-Gillberg added to the knowledge of epidemiology, genetics, and clinical management

Early Accounts/History Records:

  • Book: Autism in History by Rob Houston (discusses the legal case of Uta Frith’s analysis of Hugh Blair in 1747)
  • The story of Victor “the wild boy of Aveyron”  in 1798 with Jean Itard
  • Paper: Observations on Madness and Melancholy chapter entitled “Cases on insane children” by John Haslam (discusses a boy with characteristics of autism published in 1809)
  • Book: The Pathology of the Mind chapter entitled “The insanity of early life” by Henry Maudsley (discusses a 13 year boy who shares similar characteristics of an individuals with Aspergers in 1879)
  • Ssucharewa’s account of six children in Germany during 1926
  • Hans Aspergers’s account of four children in 1949
  • Lorna Wing’s seminal paper in 1981

Outdated Ideas/Theories

  • Autism is caused by bad parenting
  • Autism is among the group of schizophrenia (we now know that autism is a developmental disorder rather than a psychosis)
  • Autism is secondary to language disorders

Interesting Facts:

  • Over 50% of children with autism are taking drugs/vitamins in the US (not the case in the UK)

Journals:

  • The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (started in 1971 by Kanner and Chess)
  • Focus on Autism and other Developmental Disabilities (started in 1985)
  • The International Autism Research Review (started in 1987)
  • International Journal of Research and Practice (started in 1997)
  • Good Autism Practice (started in 2001)

Current Books to Read:

  • “Pretending to be Normal” by Liane Willey
  • “Growing up Severely Autistic” by Kate Rankins
  • “An Inside View Of Autism” by Temple Grandin
  • “Freaks, Geeks, and Aspergers Syndrome” by Luke Jackson

Reference: 

Wolff, S. (2004). The history of autism. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 13(4), 201-8. doi:http://dx.doi.org.proxy.bsu.edu/10.1007/s00787-004-0363-5

Pokemon Go: changing the lives of autistic children

Pokemon Go quickly became a worldwide hype. In a little less than a week, millions downloaded the app that had players walking around cities and towns. Being praised for getting people to get up and go, families started to thank the app for changing the lives of their autistic children.

One story I would like to highlight is a teenaged boy who experienced social anxiety. Feeling comfortable on his couch, the boy did not like to leave his house and was not motivated to interact with others. Pokemon Go became a motivator for him that encouraged him to go outside and catch Pokemon.

Watch the video below to hear this boy’s story. Sometimes, unexpected inventions can change the lives of those around us.

The Dancing Barista

Meet Starbuck’s newest employee: the dancing barista. If Starbucks wasn’t great enough, Sam makes the Starbucks experience even greater. Growing up, Sam was told he would never be employed because he moves as he works. Instead, his boss gave him a chance and now he is excelling as an employee.

Sam is truly one of my favorite internet stories and I love how Ellen highlighted him on her show. Please watch his videos below and get inspired by Sam’s story and success.

 

 

Introducing the First Nonverbal, Autistic Talk Show Host

The world has been watching Carly Fleischmann, and her viewers have just increased by becoming the first nonverbal, autistic talk show host. Carly speaks through her I-pad and communicates with others with the help of technology. After many hours spent with her therapists and supportive family growing up, Carly has found a way to communicate with the world.

Her first interview —with the famous Channing Tatum —-gave viewers a good laugh as she asked questions that could make some feel uncomfortable. Her sense of humor, love, and youthful energy comes alive through the interview. I am excited to see the other guests she invites to her show in the future.

For now, be sure to watch Speechless –the newest talk show featuring the one and only –Carly Fleischmann!

Introduction: 

First Interview: Channing Tatum 

An Introduction to ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis)

What is applied behavior analysis (ABA)?

Applied behavior analysis is a field that works with individuals to determine the function of behavior as well as environmental reinforcers that encourage or discourage the likelihood of individuals displaying target behaviors.

What is a target behavior?

A target behavior is any behavior that is being addressed or talked about by a professional, parent, or client.

What is a problem behavior?

A problem behavior is an action or verbal statement that is deemed inappropriate.

Why do people engage in problem behavior?

According to the field, there are four functions (or reasons) individuals engage in any behavior: attention seeking, access to a tangible (item), sensory stimulation (produces a good feeling), or avoidance (of a task, person, or environment). In short, individuals engage in multiple behavior to get what they want or don’t want.

What is a replacement behavior?

A replacement behavior is an agreed upon appropriate behavior that serves the same function as the problem behavior displayed by the individual. A replacement behavior must be: developmentally appropriate, context appropriate, and provide the same access to the desired function of the behavior. Essentially, it replaces the problem behavior in exchange for a more appropriate behavior.

What is the ABC approach to understanding behavior?

When a behavior takes place, professionals consider what takes place before the behavior occurred (the antecedent) and what takes place after the behavior occurred (the consequence). The ABC approach allows analyst to track behavior for patterns, trends, and other factors that may provide insight on why an individual is behaving in a certain way. An example of a familiar chart using the ABC approach is below.

***all scenarios are made up

behavior monitoring, function, shaping, identifying

Why is ABA helpful?

Behavior analysts can help individuals adapt to their environment as well as train care givers various effective ways to prevent and react to problem behaviors displayed by an individual. It also can help individuals achieve personal goals and shape their behavior in a way that is beneficial. ABA is used in public and private schools, hospitals, group homes, mental care facilities, rehab centers, self-help institutes, and specialized disability learning centers.

Jack of the Red Hearts

A new movie showing a realistic depiction of what it is like to raise a child with autism is coming soon to theaters. Jack of the Red Hearts by Janet Grillo is being praised for showing both the challenges and joys of having a child with autism. Criticizing the films that solely depict autism children as savants, Grillo brings an honest picture which captivates children who are non-verbal and more dependent. disability movies media autistic

autism movie disabilities media

For more stories about autism posted by the huffington post please visit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/autism/

Autism Videos: Behavior and Symptoms

I am excited to announce that I have started my masters in Applied Behavior Analysis with an emphasis in Autism with Ball State University this past August. I expect to be sharing my findings throughout these next two years of course work and field experience.

Below are a list of six videos that show different variations and symptoms of autism. The videos feature individuals in different age groups showing various behaviors that are generally associated with ASD. I would like to credit Ball State University for the majority of the video recommendations shared below. I believe the selection serves as a quick overview of stereotypical behaviors found in individuals with autism at varying ages. After reviewing the DSM-5, one could observe many behaviors mentioned for a consistent consensus of a diagnosis of autism.

1. Early Signs of Autism

Behavior Observed: Hand flapping, walking/spinning in circles, repetitive behavior, ability to smile, does not always respond to name being called, does not make extended eye contact with video lens, short scream to communicate

2. Birthday Party

Behavior Observed: Repetitive movements, isolation, sensitivity to sensory

3. Autism Stimming in Car

Behavior Observed: stimming, repetitive movements, screaming, clapping, rubbing of hands

4. Severe Autism Meltdown. Mother Attempts to Restrain Autistic Daughter from Self-Injury.

Behavior Observed: screaming, hitting, grabbing, stomping, crying, pulling, spinning, singing, self-injury

Light it Up Blue

Today is Light it Up Blue Autism Awareness Day. In honor of April 2, we ask everyone to wear blue to show their support of individuals with autism. 

**Official Light It Up Blue Logo 

Teachertalk4all has a whole page dedicated to Autism studies. Be sure to check out the many postings here:  http://teachertalk4all.edublogs.org/category/autism/