The things every child with autism wishes you knew

We are often quick to make judgements on what we perceive to be happening when children behave in a way that draws attention – but when a young person with autism is struggling to cope with the world, the last thing they need is our criticism.

These 10 tips reflect our combined experience of research and close engagement with children with autism. And as a proud parent of a boy with autism, I would like everyone to think more about how they respond to children.

Because if we take time to respect and understand people with autism our communities will become more enriching and inclusive for everyone.

1. See me for who I am

Source: The things every child with autism wishes you knew

Sally Donovan: adoption services should work with, not against, parents to learn from ‘near misses’

By working openly with adoptive parents, social workers can better learn from placement problems

Source: Sally Donovan: adoption services should work with, not against, parents to learn from ‘near misses’

Brains with autism adapt differently during implicit learning

Original post from Medical News Today


Severity of symptoms correlates with brain adaptation measures.

Carnegie Mellon University scientists have discovered a crucial difference in the way learning occurs in the brains of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Published in NeuroImage, Sarah Schipul and Marcel Just examined how the brains of typical and ASD individuals gradually became adapted to visual patterns they were learning, without awareness of the pattern, or implicit learning.

Using functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) imaging, Schipul and Just found that the brain activation of ASD individuals was slower to become familiar with the pattern they repeatedly saw, – meaning their brains failed to register the “oldness” of the patterns to the same degree that the control participants did. The brains of the control participants kept decreasing their level of activation with repeated exposures to the patterns being learned – showing adaptation – whereas the decreases in the brain of participants with ASD were significantly smaller.

They also found that the severity of an individual’s autism symptoms correlated with the brain’s degree of adaptation to the patterns. The findings provide insight into why many real-world implicit learning situations, such as learning to interpret facial expressions, pose challenges for those with ASD.

“This finding provides a tentative explanation for why people with ASD might have difficulty with everyday social interactions, if their learning of implicit social cues has been altered,” said Just, the D.O. Hebb University Professor of Psychology in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

While having their brains scanned, 16 high-functioning adults with ASD and 16 typical adults were trained to perform an implicit dot pattern-learning task. The target pattern was a random array of dots, which can gradually become familiar over multiple exposures despite minor changes in the pattern. Prior to the brain scan, both groups were familiarized with the type of task that would be used in the scanner. The ASD participants took longer than the control group to learn the task, demonstrating altered implicit learning in ASD. After equalizing the task structure learning and using the fMRI scanner, the two groups’ brain activation differed while they were learning a new dot pattern.

The imaging showed that at the beginning of the learning session, both groups’ brain activation levels were similar. By the end of the task, the typical participants showed decreased activation in the posterior regions. The ASD participants’ brain activation did not decrease later in learning. In fact, it increased in frontal and parietal regions.

“Behaviorally, the two groups looked very similar throughout the task — both the ASD and typical participants were able to learn how to correctly categorize the dot patterns with reasonable accuracy,” Just said. “But, because their activation levels differed, it tells us that there may be something qualitatively different in the way individuals with ASD learn and perform these kinds of task and reveals insights into the disorder that are not discernable from behavior alone.”

A second finding involved brain synchronization — a measure of how well coordinated the brain activation was across different regions of the brain. The implicit learning exercise was specifically designed to engage both the frontal and posterior regions of the brain, and the results showed that brain synchronization between these regions was lower in ASD. This supports Just’s 2004 influential “Frontal-Posterior Underconnectivity Theory of Autism,” which first discovered this lower synchronization. In later studies, Just showed how this theory accounted for many brain imaging and behavioral findings in tasks that required a substantial role for the frontal cortex.

“This lack of synchronization with frontal regions in ASD — an impairment in brain connectivity — may lead to symptoms of the disorder that involve processes that require brain coordination between frontal and other areas, such as language processing and social interaction,” Just explained.

The researchers also found that adaptation and synchronization were directly related to the severity of the participants’ ASD symptoms.

“Seeing that individuals with more atypical neural responses also had more severe ASD symptoms suggests that these neural characteristics underlie or contribute to the core symptoms of ASD,” Just said. “It is possible that reduced neural adaptability during learning in ASD may lead to the behavioral symptoms of the disorder. For example, the ability to learn implicit social clues may be affected in ASD, leading to impaired social processing.”

Schipul, who received her bachelor’s degree in cognitive science and Ph.D. in psychology from CMU and is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Just believe that therapeutic approaches for ASD might benefit from making the learning of various everyday skills that people without ASD learn implicitly very clear.

This is among several brain research breakthroughs at Carnegie Mellon. CMU is the birthplace of artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology and has been a leader in the study of brain and behavior for more than 50 years. The university has created some of the first cognitive tutors, helped to develop the Jeopardy-winning Watson, founded a groundbreaking doctoral program in neural computation, and completed cutting-edge work in understanding the genetics of autism. Building on its strengths in biology, computer science, psychology, statistics and engineering, CMU launched BrainHub, an initiative that focuses on how the structure and activity of the brain give rise to complex behaviors.

Adapted by MNT from original media release

Read more breaking health news on our homepage
The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Mental Health funded this research.

Carnegie Mellon University           ………………’

What have you learnt as a child?


If a child lives with criticism
He learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility
He learns to fight.

If a child lives with ridicule
He learns to be shy.

If a child lives with tolerance
He learns to be patient.

If a child lives with encouragement
He learns confidence.

If a child lives with praise
He learns to appreciate.

If a child lives with fairness
He learns justice.

If a child lives with security
He learns faith.

If a child lives with approval
He learns to like himself.

If a child lives with acceptance and friendship
He learns to find love in the world.. !

What have you learnt as a child?


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He Taught This Senior To Use Computers and the Internet, She Thanked Him with a Letter Typed in Word

From the heart and a thought for others.

Kindness Blog

I teach seniors at the senior home how to use computers and the internet.

When I came in today, one of the ladies used MS Word to write me this letter…

letter from a senior - kindness

Transcribed for anyone who has trouble reading it from the picture.

Dear (Name Protected)

Thank you with all my heart (and more, if possible) for the wonderful gift of music you have given me (obviously haven’t quite mastered the intricacies of Word yet.)

I spent all last night searching YouTube and ‘subscribing’ to stuff I haven’t heard in years except in my mind (as well as some comedy routines that never fail to crack me up)

Again, with all my heart (I could use one of those little emojis right about now!)

Love (Name Protected)

PS. And I even get to watch them. How could I ask for more!?!

PPS. And there are several versions of many of them…

View original post 45 more words

Children with ADHD ‘learn better when fidgeting’

Original post from Medical News Today

‘………. The actions of fidgeting children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have frequently been labeled as disruptive in the past, but a new study suggests that they may be essential for these children when it comes to learning at school.

Children with ADHD could perform better at school if they are allowed to move, the study suggests.
Children with ADHD could perform better at school if they are allowed to move, the study suggests.

Researchers from the University of Central Florida (UCF) have found that excessive movement characteristic of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) helps children with the condition to retain information and work out complex cognitive tasks.

“The typical interventions target reducing hyperactivity. It’s exactly the opposite of what we should be doing for a majority of children with ADHD,” explains study co-author Mark Rapport, head of the Children’s Learning Clinic at UCF.

ADHD is the most common behavioral disorder that starts during childhood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 11% of children aged 4-17 had received an ADHD diagnosis by 2011.

Typical signs of ADHD in children include restlessness, constant talking and interrupting of people, an inability to concentrate on specific tasks and an inability to pay attention. These behaviors can undermine the ability of children with ADHD to perform in school and could be disruptive to other pupils.

Previous research conducted by Dr. Rapport demonstrated that the excessive movement often seen in children with ADHD only occurs when these children need to use the executive functions of the brain. Originally, experts believed that hyperactivity was ever-present in children with ADHD.

For the study, published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, the researchers asked 52 boys aged 8-12 to complete a series of tasks. These challenges were designed to assess the children’s “working memory” – the manner in which the brain processes information required for tasks such as learning and reasoning.

Participants were shown a series of numbers and a letter that flashed onto a screen. They then had to sequence the numbers in order, followed by the letter. A camera recorded their performances, and their attention and movements were monitored by observing researchers.

‘They have to move to maintain alertness’

Of the participating children, 29 had been diagnosed with ADHD and the remaining 23 had shown normal development and had no clinical disorders. The researchers found that the children with ADHD performed significantly better when they were moving, suggesting that their hyperactivity served a purpose.

“What we’ve found is that when they’re moving the most, the majority of them perform better,” explains Dr. Rapport. “They have to move to maintain alertness.” In contrast, the children that did not have ADHD performed worse at the tasks when moving more.

The findings of the study, although limited by the relatively small number of participants, suggest that traditional methods for assisting children with ADHD may be counter-productive. Working in environments that allow for increased movement could help students with ADHD perform better at academic tasks in school and at home.

“The message isn’t ‘Let them run around the room,’ but you need to be able to facilitate their movement so they can maintain the level of alertness necessary for cognitive activities,” concludes Dr. Rapport.

Finding practical ways in which this hyperactive movement can be facilitated is just one challenge. Another is addressing the fact that, at present, children with ADHD do not appear to be receiving recommended levels of treatment in the US.

According to the CDC, less than 1 in 3 children with ADHD received the preferred treatment approach for children aged 6 and older – medication treatment and behavioral therapy. The recommended first line treatment for preschoolers with ADHD is behavioral therapy, yet only half of children aged 4-5 received this in 2010.

Earlier this year, Medical News Today reported on a study suggesting that almost 1 in 5 people with epilepsy couldalso have symptoms of ADHD – the first study to show such an association.

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Copyright: Medical News Today


Hyperactivity in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): impairing deficit or compensatory behavior?, Mark D. Rapport, et al.,Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, doi: 10.1007/s10802-015-0011-1, published online 12 April 2015, abstract.

UCF news release, accessed 20 April 2015.

Additional source: CDC, Data and statistics, accessed 20 April 2015.  …………..’