April: National Autism Awareness Month

April is National Autism Awareness Month. To help raise awareness for ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders), HomeCEUConnection.com is promoting continuing education courses with a focus on autism and sensory impairment issues.

Autism Statistics

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) the prevalence of autism rose to 1 in every 68 births in the United States in 2014 – almost double the 2004 rate of 1 in 125. It is almost 5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than girls (1 in 189).

Autism-Spectrum Disorder Symptoms

A child with ASD has, to at least some degree, trouble in the following three areas: communicating verbally and non-verbally, relating to others and the world around them, and thinking and behavior difficulties. Specific signs and symptoms include:

  • Lack of or delay in spoken language
  • Cannot start a conversation or may only start a conversation to make requests or label items
  • Fails to respond to his or her name or appears not to hear you at times
  • Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
  • Does not appear to understand simple questions or directions
  • Does not appear to be aware of others’ feelings
  • Resists cuddling and holding and seems to prefer playing alone
  • Lack of interest in peer relationships
  • Inappropriately approaches a social interaction by being passive, aggressive or disruptive
  • Little or no eye contact
  • Lacks facial expression
  • Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
  • Persistent fixation on parts of objects
  • Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm; may use a “sing-song” voice or robot-like speech

ASD Diagnosis A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately:

  • Autistic Disorder

  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)

  • Asperger Syndrome

According to the CDC, “ASD begins before the age of 3 and last throughout a person's life, although symptoms may improve over time. Some children with ASD show hints of future problems within the first few months of life. In others, symptoms may not show up until 24 months or later. Some children with an ASD seem to develop normally until around 18 to 24 months of age and then they stop gaining new skills, or they lose the skills they once had. Studies have shown that one third to half of parents of children with an ASD noticed a problem before their child’s first birthday, and nearly 80%–90% saw problems by 24 months of age.”

ASD Treatment

Early detection of autism is key for parents. Don’t take a “wait and see” approach. The earlier a child is diagnosed, the better chances for improvement with targeted treatment. Click here for more information regarding ASD treatment. There are also many great apps on the marketplace with touchscreen programs that help with communication, understanding and daily living.

HomeCEUConnection.com’s Continuing Education Courses for Healthcare Professionals

Behavioral and Daily Challenges with Children with Autism

Contact Hours: 2 Professions: OT, COTA, SLP Children with autism may face challenges on a daily basis across various areas of daily living. Communication deficits, difficulties with processing sensory input, challenges with skills in daily living may all contribute to the formation of behaviors. It is important to consider behavior as a form of communication. The ways in which a child may verbalize or demonstrate difficulty with transitions are explored in this course. Autism itself does not cause behavior; rather the child's response to various stimuli is demonstrated by the behaviors he exhibits. This course explores the use of strategies and supports that a child can employ to ease transition, improve task initiation and completion, and better improve overall function. This course expounds on the numerous strategies that have significantly improved participation and overall behavior of children with autism. Assessment tools and observation techniques are also discussed.

Innovative Interventions to Treat Children on the Autism Spectrum

Contact Hours: 5 Professions: PT, PTA, OT, COTA, SLP This course addresses the recent changes in diagnostic criteria of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and the evaluation tools that rehab professionals and other health professionals may use to assess needs in areas of: executive function, sensory, motor, behavioral, visual, social-emotional and communication skills, and performance of daily living activities. Both evidence-based interventions and alternative treatment options such as animal assisted therapies and iPad technologies are discussed. This courses also explains activity adaptations and teaching strategies that promote engagement, motor skills, sensory processing, and functional skills to help children of all ages succeed to the best of their abilities.

Sensory Brain Development: Critical Information and Science Based Approaches You Need to Know

Contact Hours: 6 Professions: PT, PTA, OT, COTA Therapists today face an ever-growing challenge of providing effective interventions for special-needs children, including those with neurodevelopmental delays, autism spectrum disorders and sensory processing issues. Standard treatment interventions approach these challenges from “behaviors-in,” without addressing the underlying neurological dysfunctions that may be driving delayed or incomplete sensory-motor processing. This course provides therapists with critical information about embryological development, the scientific rationale behind developmental interventions, and science-based approaches that best serve the needs of clinicians while facilitating optimal body-brain-behavior outcomes in the pediatric population. Therapists explore the neurological grounding of autonomic function to enhance self-regulation, learn to identify common wiring dysfunctions to appropriately tailor their interventions, and acquire important treatment strategies for neurodevelopmental or sensory dysfunction patients of all ages, including the 0-3 population. Parent and caregiver needs are also addressed, with simple strategies and resources provided for optimal support and family success.

Sensory Impairments across the Lifespan

Contact Hours: 2 Professions: PT, PTA, OT, COTA Every year in the US Medicare spends nearly $90 billion dollars on care associated with Alzheimer's disease, and a significant percentage of school districts commit large budgets into autism programs. The treatment strategies for autism and Alzheimer's mirror each other and have very similar pathologies. When therapists increase their awareness of these similarities, they can increase their grasp of comprehensive programs developed for both groups. This course aims to improve therapists’ ability to provide optimum care for patients (both young and old) who suffer from varying degrees of sensory disorders. Therapists are shown how individuals process sensory information and how these concepts can be integrated into a plan of care. Developing a better understanding of these disorders allows the therapist to design effective care plans, treatments, and goals that address patients’ needs within the boundaries of their specific capacities.

Share Your Experience with Autism

Do you have experience with a child with autism or ASD? Please share your experience below to help others who are seeking support during National Autism Awareness Month. References: <1> https://www.autism-society.org/ <2> https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/addm.html <3> https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/autism-spectrum-disorder/basics/symptoms/con-20021148

This article was written by Jami Cooley

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