Severe Autism ,Cognitive Impairment and communication
Severe Autism ,Cognitive Impairment and communication
Individuals who are labelled as having a severe autism with cognitive impairment are individuals who have greater difficulty with social skills, and academic performance. They often have few readily known and/or socially appropriate means for communicating with others. It should not be surprising then, that these individuals may easily exhibit challenging behaviours, such as self-injury and aggression. This may be because they simply have not learned a better way of reacting or coping with the demands of daily stressors, or may have no better means for communicating with others.
Children with severe autism may also engage in more sensory-related activities such as hand flapping, spinning, or rocking. People with severe autism usually do not speak, often do not understand receptive language, do not care nor do they wish to engage in conversation unless it is absolutely necessary and it is extremely limited due to the lack of speech, do not respond well to behavioural therapy, and do not show a great deal of improvement. For children with low functioning autism being mentally challenge is common, epilepsy is common, and other disorders may be present as well. They do not express emotions (except anger) and whether they experience those emotions is unknown due to their inability to communicate.
Low Functioning vs. High Functioning
Autism presents in a wide degree, from those who are nearly socially impaired and apparently mentally handicapped to those whose symptoms are mild or improved enough to appear ordinarily ("normal") to the general public. In terms of both classification and therapy, autistic individuals are often divided into those with an IQ<80 referred to as having "low-functioning autism" (LFA), while those with IQ>80 are referred to as having "high-functioning autism" (HFA). Low and high functioning are more commonly applied to how well an individual can accomplish activities of daily living, rather than to IQ. The terms low and high functioning in autism are controversial and not all people living with autism accept these labels. The number of people diagnosed with severe autism is not rising quite as sharply as mild autism, indicating that at least part of the explanation for the apparent rise is probably better diagnostics.
Children with low-functioning autism are more likely to be mentally challenged or have epilepsy and might have extremely limited receptive/expressive language skills. On the other hand, students with the label of severe disabilities can possess exceptional talents. In other words, students labelled as high-functioning may be severely disabled by their autism. And those who are labelled as low- functioning may be less affected by the characteristics associated with autism. People can be said to have "low-functioning autism" or "high-functioning autism," depending upon the severity of their symptoms and the results of an IQ (intelligence) test. Even though classification of individuals by IQ test scores have endured 20 years of criticism, educators still tend to further classify students into the following categories:
1. Educable (IQ 70 - 55)
2. Trainable (IQ 55 - 40)
3. Severe (IQ 40 - 25)
4. Profound (IQ below 25)
Classification of mentally challenged is measured by IQ score and has four levels: mild, moderate, severe, and profound. Educators use these categories for the intention of curriculum development, classroom placement, and teacher certification. These terms are mainly stereotypical and unfavourable.
More Common Traits in Low Functioning / Severe Autism
Appearance of poorly coordinated manner of walking / stepping
Severely impaired expressive and receptive language development
Lack of or infrequent initiation
Lack of usual nonverbal gestures (i.e., pointing, head shake, nod)
Unable to control improper behaviour
Avoids or uses eye contact in odd ways
Prefers to be alone
Inability to imitate (body movement, vocal, motor)
Engages in rhythmic body movements such as rocking, pacing, hand flapping, toe walking, spinning
Over- and under-sensitivity to sound, smell, touch, visual stimulus and pain
May not be seek physical comfort from parents/caregiver
Unusual display of emotion, for example, giggling or weeping for no apparent reason
Education for Low Functioning Autism
Limited grammar and an impulsive sensitivity to stimulus are often thought to be typical of low-functioning autism, as is a strong visual processing preference. When designing educational programs for students with autism labelled as severely disabled, professionals and family members are advised to consider that programs for a particular student is to be specifically determined through the individualized education program (IEP) process. There is no IEP for people who are low-functioning versus people who are high-functioning. There are only IEPs for each individual student. Individualized programs must explain approaches for providing the student with acceptable and understandable ways of communication, teaching situation-appropriate social behaviours, and providing experiences that satisfy sensory needs by promoting desensitisation or reducing sensory overload in specific settings and situations.
If a child with severe autism has greater difficulty learning, then the crucial school years should be spent teaching him/her to participate in beneficial activities. A functional living curriculum is various activities the person will need in order to live, work, and participate in his/her community. Life skills such as balancing a check book, eating at a restaurant, maintaining a job, and shopping are vital goals. Parents of those children who are perceived as low functioning autism must advocate the need for such living activities in the childs IEP. Many children with autism are grouped in programs relating on the level of functioning and disabilities instead of their abilities. There is no set label or curriculum which fits all students with autism; no precise placement. What children learn in school should express their diversity of preferences.
Behaviour & emotional problems - Children with mental challenges are more likely to exhibit behaviour and emotional problems than their peers. Rejection often results from peers' perception of the inappropriate nature of explicit behaviour rather than academic incompetence. Therefore, the teachers should emphasize integration efforts and focus on the need for instruction in social skills and social competence. Cooperative learning strategies can be very effective.
Concrete concepts - Students with mild mental disabilities work better with physical concepts rather than with thinking, have difficulty with short-term memory and in organizing information for later recall, and find it difficult to simplify to a variety of situations.
Achievement - Academically, low functioning children lag behind in achievement for their age expectations. Typically, students with mental challenges are three to four years behind their peers without disabilities and may manage from a second- to a sixth-grade level of achievement upon completion of formal education.
Locus of control theory - is a concept in between psychology and sociology, related to where individuals approach responsibility, choice, and control for events in their lives. It distinguishes between two common paths which place the actual control either internal or external to the person themselves. This decision, which is not usually within conscious awareness, strongly influences motivation and a sense of self direction and psychological integrity on the one hand (if seen as something outside the control of the person themselves), and supports notions of helplessness, blame, and lack of psychological potency. Train children with autism to be aware of the importance of attention and to learn how to actively monitor its occurrence in his or her own learning efforts. The concept of attention can be broken down into attention span (length of time on task); focus (to restrain from distracting or unforeseen stimuli); and selective attention (the discrimination of important stimulus characteristics).
Physical problems - Physically, some children with mild mental disabilities are below average in height, weight, and skeletal maturity. Many of these children display coinciding physical problems.
Functional skills - Students with mild mental challenges can reach academic goals, even though it may take them longer than other students to do so. Children with severe autism can acquire basic communication skills, both oral and written. The teacher should emphasize functional achievement (adaptive skills) that will help students become financially and socially independent adults. Frequent practice and reinforcement can help students acquire appropriate social response acquisition.
Speech processes The use of a speech therapist can help children in problem solving, retention, or recall if the child is selective verbal
Children with low-functioning autism do not control their behaviour while out in public. They can be violent and for no apparent reason, to the rest of us, attack someone and then passive again a few minutes later. These children do not acquire the communication necessary for holding a conversation with strangers, and the skills therapists provide is very limited. There has been surprisingly little research investigating the causes for the language and learning difficulties in low functioning autism. About half of all autistic children are MUTE, and those who speak often only repeat what they have heard. It is estimated that fifty present of individuals with autism develop purposeful communicative language.