Posts Tagged ‘autistic people’

Autism Spectrum Syndrome disability

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Autism Spectrum Syndrome disability


Autism Spectrum Syndrome disability is unfortunately misunderstood. The term autism spectrum disorder is an umbrella term used to cover a wide range of conditions. It is believed that around 25% of people with ASD will have accompanying learning disabilities.  Regardless of functioning, typically all people with an Autism Spectrum Syndrome disability will almost certainly have difficulties with social skills, imagination skills, behaviors and display communication difficulties, this is often called the triad of autistic impairments or social skills deficits.


Autism Spectrum Syndrome is a life-long condition that is either present from birth or from early childhood.

Listed below are a few of the autism characteristics that may be present in children with autism. However, typically those with high functioning autism or Asperger syndrome may only display a few of the autism characteristics listed behaviors while others on the lower end of the autism scale may display all the behaviors.

Having Autism Spectrum Disorder can mean:

  • Being unable to cope appropriately with social situations.
  • Self-stimulating behavior, often referred to as “stimming” this can include behaviors such as: flicking fingers, flapping arms, rocking back and forth and in some cases self-injury like head banging or slapping.
  • Communication difficulties – this can include asking questions, joining in conversations an finding appropriate topics of conversation.
  • Obsessions with certain facts or objects; for example timetables.
  • Asking questions they already know answers to.
  • Obsession with a routine that if broken may cause distress, this is a known area of weakness in children with autism
  • Difficulty forming relationships with others –  making friends can be difficult for children on the spectrum
  • Misunderstanding people’s feelings and emotions – difficulties with “mind reading” or reading peoples facial expression and body language is lacking in children on the spectrum
  • Problems with creativity and imagination are also a cause for concern in children on the spectrum. Typically children with autism are not spontaneous and will struggle with make believe and spontaneity preferring rigid learnt responses.
  • Typically many children on the spectrum will have a short concentration span.

Many autistic people are naturally gifted in certain areas, many autistic people are extremely gifted when using their hands constructing, painting and in music.

Those individuals with Asperger syndrome tend to be on the higher end of the autism scale. This set of individuals with Aspeger syndrome are generally average or above average intelligence.  Those individuals on the lower end of the autism scale may also display learning disabilities, this set of individuals may have poor communication skills and in many cases language may never develop.

In the classroom typically a student with autistic spectrum disorder may have difficulties forming social relationships and following school rules. This can cause issues within the classroom for teachers and other students. A student with autistic spectrum disorder may need extra support in school to help them cope. This help can come in the form of visual intervention strategies like: PECS, visual support cards, flash cards, social skills stories, visual timetables, now and next boards and so on…

Looking into what is Asperger Syndrome?
What is Asperger Syndrome?

Asperger syndrome has been described as “high functioning Autism.”
People with Asperger Syndrome will generally not have any learning disability. In many cases a child with Asperger Syndrome may not receive a diagnosis until they are older. Unlike a diagnosis of autism which is generally given before the child reaches three years of age. Indeed some people can go through their whole lives having Asperger Syndrome and not receive a diagnosis, until they are in their 40’s or older.

Asperger syndrome was first identified by Hans Asperger in the 1940’s; some of the characteristics of Asperger syndrome are:

  • Lack of empathy
  • Naive, inappropriate one sided interactions
  • Little or no ability to form friendships
  • Pedantic or repetitive speech
  • Poor non verbal communication
  • Intense absorption in certain subjects
  • Clumsy and ill coordinated movements and odd postures.

It is also apparent that those individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome also display the triad of autistic impairments – social skills deficits, as with individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

  • Social communication: knowing what to say to other people and understanding what they are saying to you.
  • Social understanding: knowing what to do when you are with others or behaving inappropriately (apparently oblivious to social rules).
  • Imagination: pretend play, make believe and fantasy.

People with Asperger’s Syndrome will generally fulfill their potential and may go on to university, have a job and live a relatively “normal” life, get married and have a family.

 Overcoming the triad of autistic impairment – social skills deficits can be as difficult for the individual with Asperger’s as it can be for those individuals with mild an lower functioning autism

Therefore overcoming social skills deficits can become a primary focus for all people with ASD and their families. Overcoming social skills deficits can be achieved using autism supports like visual intervention strategies such as social skills stories and visual support cards.

 Looking at visual intervention strategies – autism supports

 Generally people with ASD are visual thinkers and learners, which means they think and learn in pictures. Consequently, visual intervention strategies are beneficial because they use visual means of communication, such as images, pictures, graphs and so on.

 An individual on the spectrum will be better able to understand and follow instruction and information when it is presented visually, rather than written or oral command. Strategies such as social stories use visual images along with appropriate first person text to explain a situation or skill that the individual on the spectrum is struggling with.

 For example: Autism and making friends, generally children on the spectrum struggle to make and maintain friendships. A social story can act as a role model or step by step plan showing children on the spectrum the social rules they are expected to follow when attempting to make friends, like for example how to approach another child, how to start a conversation and so on…

For many children with autism social stories are a life line, helping them overcome many difficulties. Many parents trust social stories to help them overcome hurdles such as puberty, relationships, and transitions etc…

 Social skills stories can answer the ever important “wh” questions – who, where, why, when and what as well as “HOW” and offer an insight into the thoughts, feelings and emotions of others this is a marked area of weakness for many children with autism.

 Generally social skills stories are in word format making them easy to edit, no two individuals with autism are ever the same and we all use different terminology, therefore social stories need to be editable. They should also be easy to print making them portable and convenient to use anywhere and anytime.

 To learn more about social skills stories and how they benefit children with Autism Spectrum Syndrome disability, as well as other autism supports like visual support cards visit:

Managing Your Autistic Child’s Behavior.

Monday, January 25th, 2010

How do you help your Autistic child deal with difficult and everyday situations?

Autism is a complex disorder, which affects mainly boys. There is no cure for Autism, but there are resources available to you as a parent of an Autistic child.

Living with an Autistic child is stressful; you can’t just spontaneously take the family out for the day, or take an unexpected holiday, turn up at school in a new car, or surprise them with a party.

Although these are all normal activities, and undoubtedly your other children would love; even the smallest change from routine can throw your Autistic child into a state of panic, which can cause a tantrum and so on…

Things need planning properly, that’s where social stories come into their own.

They allow the autistic child chance to rehearse the upcoming event, or practice the already learnt skill.

They also give you the opportunity to express your thoughts and feelings these can easily be added into the social story. A social story is like a little friend a constant reminder of how we act.

Your Autistic child will find reassurance in his/her story and the right social cues. They are constant, repetitive and will act as a kind of security blanket for your autistic child.

The upcoming event, like a new baby, a new puppy, a new pair of shoes even can be discussed, even role played on the first couple of readings of a new story.

You will be giving your child an insight into what will happen, or what already happens, why it happens, what it happens for and how they are meant to act, or what they are meant to do.

What about saying Hi, or excuse me, things we do automatically, but to an autistic mind these things are just silly, why do you want to say Hi to someone you don’t know, or don’t really care for, or even want to.

Politeness is a learnt skill, we learn it and it sticks in our minds, the autistic mind needs a gentle reminder of this skill, unlike a typically developing mind the autistic mind needs help learning social and communication skills.

So let’s take a look at social stories, they are with you constantly, a little reminder and a solid  descriptive, straight forward, never deviating, or spontaneous, friend, their to help child with autism feel comfortable with situations, activities and events.

Social stories:

Can be a very useful tool they are used to teach social skills to children and people with autism.

A social story is a simple description of an everyday social situation, written from the Autistic a person’s perspective.

Social stories are designed to help with social situations as well as normal everyday events and activities.

They are also used to prepare for upcoming changes in the autistic persons routine and help the autistic person deal with other situations that are out of their normal daily routine.

For example a birth, marriage, death or other situation or activity.

The idea behind these social stories is to allow the autistic person to accustom themselves with the up-coming event, or daily activity or situation.

So that the Autistic person is aware of what is going on and can deal with it and the hope is that the social story will help with the autistic person’s behavior.

What are social stories like?

Social stories are always written in the first person, in the present tense, and from the autistic person’s point of view.

The social story should be written in a way that the child with autism can understand. It should match their level of vocabulary and be as specific and personalized as possible.

The story should be written and put into a document/ booklet format.

Once the story has been written a responsible adult, parent, teacher, therapist etc. should read the story with the child/person at least two to three times before the child/person is given the story to read themselves.

This is to ensure that the autistic person understands the important elements in the story.

This can be done by re-reading the story and going over the important elements with the autistic person. You may find a check list approach or role playing the situation in conjunction with reading the story helpful.

For younger children who can not read, or find reading difficult their Mum, Dad, Teacher or adult will need to read the social story for them.

The overall effectiveness of each story should be monitored, with the story being tweaked and or changed as the behavior is learnt.

What is the theory behind it?

Social stories were created to help autistic people improve their social understanding and interactions.

It was found that in children and adults with autism, by giving them simple and clear descriptions and instructions, social cues, to appropriate behaviors they were able to manage much better.

However, it is still not clear why social stories work better for children and adults with autism, than picking up social cues from their everyday environment.

Researchers believe this is due to the “theory of mind”. Which is basically that autistic people have problems understanding why we do the things we do. They find our lives confusing; they prefer repetition and things to remain the same at all times.

There are a number of ways social stories help improve the “theory of mind”.

One theory is that by giving prompts and suggestions to specific social cues and behaviors for situations, using social stories may actually help to improve the autistic person’s problem solving abilities.

Social stories are also used to help the autistic person manage certain situations. Which will then help them to deal with tasks, activities and situations that they previously found difficult and confusing or upsetting?

They can also help the autistic child / person understand what is expected of them, and what they can expect from other people.

Do Social Stories work?

Research has shown that social stories do help reduce problem behaviors. They also help to increase the autistic person’s social awareness, and have been found to help re-enforce an already learnt skill or teach a new one.

Social stories are more useful to autistic children and adults who have basic language skills.

Although you can get social stories in audio and pictorial formats. It is not known if social stories work when sign language is used.

There are no known negative effects of social stories reported and it is believed amongst the medical and social professionals that social stories are beneficial to  all autistic children, young people and adults.

The belief is that the social story can be used to teach the autistic person social skills that he/she would otherwise not know how to use appropriately.

This in itself is a good thing and can help alleviate what could otherwise be stressful situations for parents and carer’s.

So what does a social story look like?

Social stories are made from different sentence types.

Descriptive, Perspective, Directive. They may also include Affirmative, Control, Co-operative sentences.

Descriptive sentences provide information about specific social settings or situations, for example they provide cues to what the person sees, who is involved, and what happens, For example: At lunch time most of the children will go to the dinner hall.

Perspective sentences describe the feelings, emotions, thoughts, and/or mood of other people. Describing the way a situation is viewed by some body else, many kids with autism have difficulties understanding how others see things. For example: Usually, when people are happy, they smile.  Smiling makes people feel good.

Directive sentences provide the autistic person with information about what they should try and do, to be successful in the situation. For example: If I stay calm in class, I will learn more.

Recommended formula for writing Autism social stories:

Are two to five Descriptive sentences for each Directive sentence, which may include Perspective sentences. Research shows that many stories which follow this ratio will be successful.

Children especially autistic children respond well to learning through pictures.

Pictorially rich social stories are thought to be better and easier for the autistic child to understand.

Social stories can be designed for all age ranges and abilities.

A good social skills story will help in all areas as long as it is introduced properly as explained earlier. Then monitored for its overall effectiveness.

If a social skills story is deemed not to be working, it should be tweaked and then used. If it is still not working, the social skills story should be looked at, is this the right story? Or maybe a different social skills story would best suit the situation.

At  we aim to provide pictorially rich, specific social stories that can be printed off and used for various ages.

Social story on hygiene and autism

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Social stories are used to help teach social skills to autistic people. First developed almost twenty years ago social stories follow a set pattern which is easy for autistic people to understand.


Always written in the first person and visually rich with appropriate text, the social story will describe the skill or behavior the autistic child may be struggling to understand in an easy to follow step by step plan with visual images.


Generally children with autism struggle to understand social and communication skills, which the rest of us take for granted, for example hygiene skills such as eating habits, washing their teeth, hair and so on.

Therefore many parents of autistic children, care givers and educators implement social stories to help the autistic child comprehend and master the skill or behavior they are struggling with, this can ease anxieties and behavior issues.


As children with autism are generally visual learners social stories provide an excellent tool for parents of autistic children to use as they are visually rich, this helps the autistic child understand the social story far easier than the written word or an oral command or direction.


A common issue faced by parents of autistic children is their child’s lack of hygiene; many children with autism fail to understand the need for some hygiene skills and can be distressed by for example the sound the toilet makes, the taste of the toothpaste, visiting a dentist even getting a haircut can be stressful.


A social story on hygiene and autism, which can teach the appropriate hygiene skills, can ease stresses and anxieties.


To understand more about social skills stories for autism and how easy they can be implemented and used visit any of the following sites. Or for a specific social story on hygiene and autism visit:

For all other social skills stories for autism that help to teach social skills to autistic people visit:

The symptoms of mild autism

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Autism spectrum disorder is a complex neurobiological disorder, there is no cure for autism and typically the symptoms of autism will be ongoing throughout the autistic person’s life.


Autism spectrum disorder is characterized by varying degrees of autistic impairments often referred to as the triad of autistic impairments or social skills deficits.


These social skills deficits are typically displayed in the development of communication, social, imagination and interaction skills and abilities, and also by repetitive behaviors.


The symptoms of autism range from mild autism which is often called asperger syndrome to severe autism or low functioning autism.


The symptoms of mild autism can vary between individuals on the spectrum. Although all children on the autism spectrum disorder scale may exhibit some similar traits not every child will display all of characteristics associated with autism.


A child with autism on the lower end of the autism scale may never develop speech or it may be delayed and may have other educational disabilities, while a child with autism on the higher end of the autism scale can be high-functioning with average or above average intelligence and attend mainstream school.


Some autistic children have sensory processing issues in some or all of the senses and may display sensory processing issues such as being sensitive to the feel of fabric so much so that all tags must be cut out of clothing before they will wear it. Another child with autism may display no sensory issues at all.

However, all children with autism spectrum disorder will display social skills deficits with communication whether your child has the symptoms of mild autism or severe they will all have communication both verbal and non-verbal communication skills difficulties.


A child with autism will have difficulties relating to other people and will fail to understand non-verbal communication or body language.

Children with autism spectrum disorder are often referred to as having “mind blindness” or lacking the “theory of mind”. This means missing the ability to predict the thoughts, feelings and emotions expressed by other people.

For example we can tell a lot by a person’s posture, we can tell whether they are approachable, upset or happy, this ability to read another person is missing in people with autism.

However there are treatments available to people with autism that can help them learn social, communication, imagination and interaction skills.


The internet makes finding appropriate autism resources that help autistic people learn these social skills much easier. Generally most autistic people have found tremendous successes with autism resources such as social skills stories.


The symptoms of mild autism are such that generally most autistic children or asperger syndrome individuals can use social skills stories efficiently for coping and understanding social skills that they otherwise struggle to comprehend, which can sometimes lead to social blunders and stressful situations.

Sites that offer downloads OF SOCIAL SKILLS STORIES as well as expert advice and support like:


Visual supports for autism

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

We all use visual supports each day, we look at the newspaper, we read a magazine. Watch TV, the news, the internet and so on all these are visual supports they are things we visually look at to get information.


When we travel we might look at a map or tele-text, these are also visual supports.

We need visual supports to function at our best we need them for instruction, work, recreation and education…

…Have you ever considered a life without visual supports or prompts? Imagine no TV no internet no newspaper no books and so on, how boring that life would be and how out of touch with what’s happening around us we would get?


Autistic people are often referred to as being in an “autism own world”, they lack interest in what’s happening around them. But they will still need visual supports for autism.


The visual supports for autism will include things like visual timetables, mini schedules, Now and Then and choice boards, emotion, flash and PECS cards as well as social skills stories and other visual supports for autism, like file folder games and so on..


Autistic children are visual learners and will benefit from visual cues, prompts and instruction far more than from written text and long verbal sentences where they can become easily distracted and lack interest.


Therefore a good starting point for all autistic educators is setting up visual aids for the autistic student.


All autistic children will respond better to visual lessons; the autistic educator should try and keep this in mind when preparing lessons for the autistic student.


Another good rule would be to have autism resources in place like visual timetables, mini schedules and other valuable autism resources like social skills stories vital in helping the autistic student understand what is happening and also good for keeping the autistic student on task.


The internet has now made it possible for autistic educators and parents to access suitable autism resources easily.


Suitable autism resources like social skills stories play a vital part in the lives of autistic individuals.


..And now anyone working or caring for an autistic individual can download and find social skills stories on any topic, activity, social skill, event etc that the autistic individual is struggling with making life a whole lot easier!


Follow any of the links below to download suitable social skills stories for all autistic individuals as well as suitable social skills stories for autistic students.




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