So many of the ASD or ADHD clients who come to see me are spending hours a day online or playing video games. And, they are often dealing with depression and social isolation as well. Of course, as an engineer, I well understand that correlation does not indicate causation But, as a therapist, I recognize that many of my clients have interest in social connections, and they want to have interesting lives, but the effort to do these things is pretty stressful. Video games provide an anxiety management tool, as well as an experience that is both immediately gratifying and at the same time low stress.
Along these lines of thought, The New York Times published an article titled Video Games and the Depressed Teenager. For now, excessive internet and video use is not technically an addiction, although it is a topic of further study in the new DSM 5, which is going to be published this spring.
I think it’s important for parents and young adults to consider these results in deciding their standards for online activities in their own homes. Many parents think addition is an appropriate term, because they can see how their own kids and teens behave when they are deprived of their gaming time. For many, less screen time seems to result in calmer and happier moods.
Sensory Overload (Interacting with Autism Project) from Miguel Jiron.
Here is an interesting video on sensory overload from the Interacting with Autism project.
I don't have this issue so I'm not an expert, but some people have commented that this is pretty accurate.
Champions of Autism and ADHD is a non-profit based in Iowa. I wasn’t familiar with them until I got a flier about their free monthly webinars, on various applicable topics. It’s expensive to deal with autism, so I’m happy to recommend free information. It looks like tomorrow’s talk on IEP, mediation and IDEA is the second in the series, with the webinars being archived for future viewing.
From the flier:
Working Together — Promoting Effective Communication and Dispute Resolution under the IDEA
This webinar will help parents and educators better understand the procedure of educational programming for students will disabilities. We will discuss strategies for effective communication between parents and schools through the IEP process. We will hear perspectives from Iowa educators about the IEP team process, and will consider what reasonable expectations schools and parents can have for each other. We will take a close look at the mediation process, and will discuss how mediation can be a productive tool for resolving disputes and building stronger parent-school relationships.
For more information, go to the Champions of Autism website.
More than ever, young people on the autism spectrum are going to college. Thanks to highly effective early interventions, ongoing educational assistance and, of course, the crucial support of parents, students with Asperger’s and autism are succeeding academically, graduating from high school, and looking for more education. This is great news, because those on the spectrum are frequently underemployed, and education can go a long way in ensuring that autistic adults can find satisfying and appropriate jobs.
But, it’s important to make sure these students have the support they need to take advantage of their college experiences. Most students on the spectrum, whether in special education programs or standard classrooms, have had the advantage of special services at their elementary and high schools. And all kids on the spectrum have benefited from the ongoing help of their parents. Too often, that assistance gets dropped all at once as students attempt a standard college program, without the help of special services or their parents. College presents intense challenges, not just academically, but also for executive function, life skills and social skills.
For many college students, a few years at community college or junior college can be the best fit for right out of high school. These programs can allow the students to stay at home for a few years and focus extra attention on developing their independence, executive functions and social skills. Arguably, these abilities are probably more important for long term employability than academic excellence.
A growing number of universities offer programs specifically for autistic students. In a blog post a few years ago I mentioned Inside College.com’s lists of Very Friendly Schools for Students with Asperger’s, and Friendly Schools for Students with Asperger’s. Recently, a reader brought my attention to 10 Impressive Special College Programs for Students With Autism. Both of these sites can provide some options for appropriate and supportive four year programs.
Ed Rev 2011 will be held on Saturday, April 16, 2011 at AT&T Park. Ed Rev 2011 is "a day of inspiration and resources for students with learning and attention difficulties, and their parents and educators." The day includes speakers, activities, and an art contest. Whether or not you can attend, it's worthwhile to check out the excellent list of exhibitors and resources. Check out the brochure.
Several years ago, I took the online course in Dr Stanley Greenspan’s Floortime. Floortime is a flexible, useful approach for parents and professionals to use with autistic children, that I’ve discussed in several previous posts. Sadly, Dr Greenspan died recently, but the 10 week online course is still going to be available in March through video tapes of his presentations. This program is suitable for both parents and professionals. There are also programs on related topics such as managing meltdowns, and learning disabilities. For more info, visit the Floortime website.
GRASP, the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership, is a wonderful support organization for individuals on the spectrum. I am a huge fan, and I wish they had a stronger presence here on the West coast. I refer to their services frequently in this blog, and often get news information from their monthly posts. The organization recently sent out a request for more individuals to join their expanding board of directors. At least half the board members must be on the spectrum themselves. If you’re interested in more information, or viewing the impressive credentials of their existing board, check out the GRASP website.
The US Autism and Asperger’s Association is holding their conference in St. Louis starting Friday October 1. Keynote speakers include Dr. Temple Grandin, well known as a speaker on both autism and animal handling, Dr. Stephen Shore, author and special educator, who are both on the spectrum themselves, as well as Dr. Martha Herbert, a pediatric neurobiologist from Harvard Medical School and Areva Martin, Esq., mother of a son with autism and an advocacy expert. There are a number of other panelists as well.
The great news? You don’t have to go the St. Louis to attend. (Not that I have anything against St. Louis!) The conference will be available online, through live streaming. Check out the website for more information. Live streaming starts Friday, October 1 at 9:45 am EST, 8:45 am CST, 7:45 am MST, 6:45 am PST Click here to view conference or go to www.ustream.tv/channel/usaaa. Thanks to Autism OW @Autism_Wisdom for tweeting on this.
In my practice, clients frequently ask me what I think of some specific treatment option they’re hoping will help them or their child, and they show me websites and advertisements. It can be very confusing! Opinion is presented as fact, poorly run studies or misleading journals are referenced, and it’s hard to figure out what to believe. That’s the time to start reading carefully.
Frequently, for individuals on the spectrum, or people trying to manage ADHD, or the parents of kids with autism, Asperger’s, or ADHD, separating the facts from the nonsense is tough. All the information online can be confusing and overwhelming, especially for parents who worry that the window of opportunity on helping their child is closing fast. (It’s not! Although diagnosis and treatment should begin as early as possible, there is no magic point at which people stop growing, learning and overcoming their difficulties. And, there is no one magic treatment that you need to find. The fact is, there are still more questions than answers when it come to mental health treatment.)
The first rule when you’re trying to find information online is: be skeptical. Is the author clearly identified? Are their credentials listed somewhere? Are facts referenced in some manner?
Certainly, the target audience will influence the technicality of the site, but all reputable sites will discuss or show references supporting their factual claims. Some less technical sites, such as this one, will present general “how to” type articles, but even here, facts are referenced and authors credited.
More technical blogs should be more thoroughly referenced. An example I recently found is called Psychotherapy Brown Bag: Discussing the Science of Clinical Psychology. Less technical sites should still present information in a well rounded, more open manner. An example I frequently send people to is Autism.about.com. As an example, look at the site’s presentation about special diets. The article starts off with the statement that while there is little scientific evidence backing these studies, there is interest due to anecdotal evidence.
Which brings me to the most important rule. Almost always, the terms “always” or “never” should raise a big red flag. Any treatment that claims to be “the answer” or “the cure” for everyone, is misleading you. Treatments can be promising, useful, or even highly effective, but they’re never effective for everyone.
On the other hand, treatments can be unproven, yet simple, inexpensive, harmless, and they don’t preclude trying other treatments at the same time. They may be worth trying. An example of this might be setting up a specific behavior chart at home.
The fact is that there is no one answer. Individuals differ, their needs vary, and the treatments that will be most effective aren’t going to fall into one category. That’s a good point to remember in researching treatments.
I recently stumbled upon a blog called Psychotherapy Brown Bag, Discussing the Science of Clinical Psychology. This isn’t a site about only autism, but about an array of mental disorder diagnoses, and many different psychotherapeutic treatments. It’s a useful site for those looking for in- depth and detailed science, because the information is presented in a straightforward, easy to read manner, and the facts are referenced. Some more technical terms and ideas, such as “meta-analysis” are discussed at length. But most important for non-professionals looking to understand the science of mental health treatment, it’s a very good example of a well written scientific site, with authors clearly identified, facts clearly referenced and a general lack of hype and hyperbole. Check it out and see if it's worth adding to your regular reading.
Patricia Robinson MFT
I'm a licensed therapist in Danville, California and a coach for Asperger's and ADHD nationwide. I work with individuals of all ages who have special needs, like Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADD, ADHD, and the family members and partners of special needs individuals.