[Libs-Or] Autism Awareness Month – Dream it, Believe it, Achieve it
katie.anderson at state.or.us
Wed Apr 4 15:31:50 PDT 2012
I received the following email from my colleague Kate McGann and am sharing it with her permission. I know many libraries in Oregon are working to better serve patrons on the Autism spectrum so I thought you may appreciate her email too. She provides good, condensed information about Autism spectral disorders and links to useful resources if you want to learn more.
The United States along with many countries recognize April as Autism Awareness Month.
Autism spectral disorders (ASD) are a group of developmental disabilities characterized by impairments in social interaction and communication and by restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior (Center for Disease Control [CDC]). ASD is a lifelong disability that manifests itself during the first three years of life. There has been a 78% increase in Autism over the past 5 years with 1 in 88 children affected according to the latest CDC report. While causes are not completely mapped there is current research indicating that genetics and environment play important roles.
As previously stated, individuals with Autism exhibit common issues with communication and social behavior. Many individuals exhibit restricted, repetitive and stereotyped behavior patterns. Early intervention and therapy with children is important to develop social and coping skills. Special Education classes help teach such skills and assist in integrating some children into the regular classroom.
High functioning adults with autism are often able to find jobs that fit their skills, interest, and needs. In the right environment and at times with additional support, many have the ability to become highly productive members of a workplace community. While there is a growing body of research and knowledge on helping children w/ ASD, there are also a growing number of organizations with a focus on assisting adults in locating work that fits them and integrating them into their communities.
After reviewing quite a bit of literature on ASD it appears that applying the basic values of tolerance, respect, and understanding go a long way in building trust – an initial step in creating a safe and stable environment where individuals with these special needs can flourish. The benefit of course is that when we lend support and enable others it helps them to more effectively apply their skill sets and talents and creates a richer, more joyous and productive workplace for everyone.
An individual with autism may display some or all of the following characteristics, which may represent challenges from a certain perspective, or strengths from another:
* Difficulty understanding language, gestures, and/or social cues
* Literal or excessive speech, often with a concentration on a particular topic
* Difficulty relating or participating in a back-and-forth conversation or interaction
* Social awkwardness
* Intense or odd interests
* Repetitive behaviors such as pacing or hand flapping or rocking
* More or less sensitivity to light, sound, smell, taste or touch than usual
* Anxiety, abnormal fears and/or lack of appropriate fear of real dangers
* Difficulty managing transitions, changes in routine, stress, frustration
* Strong visual skills
* Good rote and long term memory (facts, statistics, etc.)
* Adherence to rules, honesty
* Intense concentration or focus, especially on a preferred activity Understanding and retention of concrete concepts, patterns and rules
* Musical, mathematical, technological and/or artistic ability or interest
(source: Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism)
Below are a few resources and stories for those with an interest in learning more about ASD. Please be sure to view the link - second from bottom - about Hannah the artist who created the 2012 UN Autism Awareness Stamp.
Resources and Stories
· Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected by Scotch Plains Public Library and Fanwood Memorial Library http://www.thejointlibrary.org/autism/
· About Autism, Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism http://www.afaa-us.org/site/c.llIYIkNZJuE/b.5064067/k.9020/AboutnbspAutism.htm
· Autism: 5 ways to communicate, Reverse Autism Now http://reverseautismnow.org/autism-and-communication-5-ways-to-communicate.html
· Autism Now(six part series w/ Robert MacNeil), PBS http://www.pbs.org/newshour/news/autism/
· Supporting Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Quality Employment Practices, Institute of Community Inclusion, http://www.communityinclusion.org/article.php?article_id=266
· U.N. selects Naples artist for 2012 Autism Awareness Stamp, [Artists story] , news-press http://www.news-press.com/article/20120328/MOMS/120328024/U-N-selects-Naples-artist-2012-Autism-Awareness-Stamp-?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Home
· Autism Data & Statistics, CDC http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html
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