Better late than never.

3x3 blog pic better late than never

I had the opportunity to work with a young adult who was recently diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.  Evaluation at this age is tricky, as some of the standardized tests that we use in the schools age out at 17-11.  It is not uncommon for my students who are on the autism spectrum to come to their diagnosis rather late, especially if they are higher functioning and doing well academically.  They are often diagnosed as having ADHD, sensory integration disorder, mood disorders, sleep disorders and/or learning disabilities first.  These can exist co-morbidly in some people with ASD and it is difficult to tease apart one from the other.  I ran across this great blog written by a woman diagnosed with ASD at age 36, that really spoke to me regarding the topic of later diagnosis.

After testing my student with a few standardized measures, the meat of the evaluation was done using a variety of non-standardized tools such as the Double Interview from Social Thinking ®,  direct observation, conversation with the parents, gaining feedback from the teachers, giving parts of the Informal Social Assessment from Super Power Speech and utilizing the Social Language Development Test-Adolescent for information only (as the student was older than 18 and norms end at 17-11).  A standardized test score from the supra-linguistic portion of the CASL or the social checklist and activities on the CELF 5 will yield some good information, however my higher functioning students can do these highly structured tasks well but still struggle socially in the fast, ever changing day to day applications.   I find that the non-standardized pieces truly give you a better picture of the person’s social skills and social competency, and the resulting narrative is much more descriptive than a standard score.

I came across a treasure trove of articles on the Social Thinking® website, including a three part series on transitioning into adulthood for people on the spectrum and another about including the young adult as part of their planning team when working on social language competencies.  Explaining what social language is and how having ASD impacts our social relationships with others is so important for the family as well as the person with ASD, especially when a diagnosis has come later in life after many challenges.  I also really like the website Wrong Planet , as it is created and hosted by 3 young adults on the spectrum.  It has great content that connects with many young adults, such as finding and keeping a job, dating, and post-secondary education options.  I also love the blog series by Autism Classroom News on teaching the Hidden Rules curriculum and how understanding these rules are crucial to keeping our students and young adults with ASD employed and even out of legal trouble.

We need to consider how to support our students exiting public school with later diagnosis of ASD and help them transition successfully into early adulthood.  What resources have you found to help with this transition?  Share here!

 

 

The Broke SLP

broke slpWell, it’s January and by now all the school funds for materials or mini-grants are like my Christmas decorations, gone for another year.  However, we have a whole five months of school to go and the winter blahs are upon us.  Gray, dreary days mean it’s time to shake up our lesson plans as both the kids and the therapists get a bit squirrelly (especially when there is no outdoor recess for a week *shudder*).  What to do when the all your shelves hold are the same old, same old staring back at you and even the treasure box is running low on fun?

My wonderful CFs (clinical fellows-first year speech language therapists that I supervise) always inspire me with their creativity!  No one knows better how to stretch a dollar than a new grad.  I watched a lot of great therapy this week with my genius SLP newbies and wanted to share some free ideas to brighten up your therapy.  I am happily surprised when they grab onto the concepts of Social Thinking (Michelle Garcia Winner) for their students with social communication impairments.  This is a paradigm shift for most new grads (I still don’t understand why this is not included coursework in the communication disorders programs, but that is a topic for another day) and most have taken the information and run with it!   One activity I saw was the use of “expected/unexpected” visuals and videos to talk about perceptions and behaviors.  You can download the free therapy ideas with visuals here or from this great website here .

You can extend the ideas using these free printables for jigsaw puzzle pieces   (great for cause/effect activities or contrasting unexpected/expected behaviors) or making your own free game boards with social scenario questions (or using videos) here and here .  One more great free social activity packet from Speech2U  on TPT, has visuals, video links and great descriptions to use, making it a Slam Dunk.

Are you sensing a pattern here?  Free falls right into the sweet spot of our budget-woohoo!

Last but not least, if you have older students or just really want some great insight into our students with ASD (autism spectrum disorder), check out www.wrongplanet.net  .  Youtube has many videos by Alex that are worth a few minutes to watch! This is a treasure trove of ideas and understanding of the social world from the point of view of people who have social language impairments.  Alex Plank and friends delve into insightful discussions about dating, work, and what it means to be a person with ASD.  It offers great talking points (and ideas that can work into therapy) for our students in middle, high school and beyond.

What are your favorite freebies for social language therapy?  Don’t be shy, share them here!