Working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders is an experience unlike any other. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders are extraordinary and unique in such a profound and positive way. They are gifted, intelligent, creative, and sensitive. Despite their many gifts and talents, a great majority of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, or ASD, lack the expressive language skills needed to verbalize their distinct talents. Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder are concrete thinkers and can excel when information is presented to them in a visual manner. Routine and scripts are also essential educational components. Included within this realm are picture systems and social stories. Social stories provide the individual with ASD a connection to the deficit area by providing a concrete example. Years of experience working with this population has shown the more specific and concrete the example, the better the outcome will be. Stories should be related to common experiences an individual with ASD can relate to because the familiarity of the situation will provide the needed connection to foster learning. Within the learning process of attention, encoding, rehearsal and performance familiarity through connections with newly learned information is paramount. The reason for this is the rigidity in thinking Autism Spectrum Disorders creates. When presented with a new or unfamiliar situation, an exorbitant amount of anxiety is often experienced simply because the new information and/or experience are a break in routine and/or are unfamiliar. This anxiety can result in the illustration of behaviors the n-disabled peer finds strange, thus furthering social isolation and reinforcing the stress and new environment as stressful. In order to break this cycle of stress-> repetitive/ritualistic odd behavior -> reinforcer, it is imperative social skills interventions transpire. Social stories geared toward common experiences and shared problems that the population of individuals with ASD is presently experiencing. Each chapter contains a topic relatable to students with ASD in secondary education, primarily middle school. Each chapter contains activities students can use to describe their problems and/or experiences, illustrate their understanding of the concept, and rehearse newly learned information. Answer keys are provided at the end of the book. Answers to the individual questions will vary. The answer key should be used as a guide for instruction. Once each child is able to identify the antecedent (what caused the behavior or problem), they will be able to learn and apply replacement behaviors deemed more socially acceptable, thus increasing social aptitude.
Danielle Kelly is the President of the National Autism Educator's Association. Danielle has spent fifteen years in the field of Special Education working primarily with students on the Autism Spectrum, and those with Behavior and Emotional Disabilities. Danielle earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Liberal Studies with concentrations in US History and Criminal Justice and a Master's Degree in Cross Categorical Special Education. Danielle also holds a National Board's Certification in Special Education K-22. Throughout the past ten years in the EC field she has taught students from pre-K through high school with disabilities that include Autism Spectrum Disorders, Behavioral and Emotional Disabilities, Other Health Impairments, Visual Impairments, Traumatic Brain Injury, Learning Disabilities, as well as ID-Mild and ID-Moderate cognitive ranges. She has served children with disabilities in self-contained, inclusive, resource, specialist, alternative, and home-based settings. Throughout her career Ms. Kelly has been able to gain a unique perspective and understanding regarding children on the Autism Spectrum. Years have been dedicated to extensive research and study on this particular behavioral disorder in order to design and implement comprehensive strategies with AU students in different environments, and for specific deficit areas. This passion in the field of Special Education extends to extensive training in local and federal law, pertaining specifically to the guidelines that dictate the manner in which Individualized Education Plans are written and implemented. Study and training continues, as she teaches future and veteran teachers just how to teach children on the Autism Spectrum. Danielle has been working as an Adjunct Professor for four years, teaching undergraduate and graduate level courses. Graduate courses are specific to Autism Spectrum Disorders, and are part of the University's certificate in Autism program. The myriad of experiences with varying age groups, ability levels, and educational settings has given Danielle a comprehensive and global perspective into the necessity of truly individualizing programming for special needs students. Strategies have been designed based on empirical data and research in order to extinguish problematic behaviors and implement replacement behaviors.