Autism Symptoms

You can observe some Autism symptoms in a person as young as two years old and sometimes even younger. Here are the main Autism symptoms that will allow you to identify or wonder if your a member of your family, a friend or anyone else might be affected by this disorder. The severity of these Autism symptoms may vary as each individual is unique. That is why it is evaluated on a spectrum.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Autism Symptoms

USU program helps kids prepare for school, world
Kassi Bryner said she first started noticing something might be wrong with her son when Sam wouldn’t make eye contact with her.
At 18 months, the Logan toddler wasn’t starting to speak, unlike other kids his age. Sam was her first child, Bryner said, so she wasn’t sure what to expect.
Shortly after the initial symptoms were noticed, Sam was diagnosed with autism. Two-and-a-half years later, after more than a year of intense autism sessions, Sam “is a different kid,” Bryner said.
“If you would have seen him a year ago ...” she trailed off, shaking her head.
Sam, now 4 and expected to be able to attend regular kindergarten next year, is diagnosed with “pervasive developmental disorder — not otherwise specified” (PDD-NOS), a disorder that falls into autism’s wide spectrum.
He attends an autism preschool program at Utah State University — now with seven other children — to prepare for school and the world. Bryner and another parent, Sean Benson, met at the Autism Support Services: Education, Research and Training, or ASSERT, center Wednesday to be there when state schools Superintendent Patti Harrington visited.
“This place has just been so fabulous we’ll do whatever it takes to help it,” Benson said.
Sam is just one of several children in Utah and nationwide who have been diagnosed with a varying degree of autism. In the past few years the rate of diagnosis has virtually skyrocketed. In 1997, about 230 Utah students were served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act for autism. In 2003, the most available data from the Department of Education, more than 1,000 students fall into the same category. In the Logan City School District, there are 24 students with some form of autism confirmed, as of last month.
Since the summer of 2003, ASSERT has helped local children, ages 3-6, who have forms of autism. The center has been operating from grants and some state funding, and is looking to receive about $217,000 from the Legislature to continue the program. Harrington toured the facility as part of her visit with the state Board of Education to Logan this week.
“ASSERT is not something that is well-known,” she told ASSERT staff and other university employees.
She encouraged the two parents present to call local legislators — especially Sen. Lyle Hillyard — to vouch for the program’s necessity, and made it clear she was on ASSERT’s side.
“We’re moving forward together,” she said. “We are some of your best cheerleaders.”
ASSERT not only helps the eight local children who now benefit from the structured preschool atmosphere; the center has trained eight special education teachers and three related-service providers in Washington, Weber, Morgan, Ogden, Alpine, Carbon and Sevier school districts. Two classrooms have been set up in Washington and Weber districts. Karl Wilson, Utah’s State Office of Education special education director, said ASSERT’s influence in other places in the state is what may make it the most important characteristic when legislators decide what to fund.
“It’s a valuable investment because of that,” he said.
ASSERT director Tom Higbee, also an assistant professor in the department of special education, led the mini-tour, explaining how the day goes for the children and each of their student teachers. Five of the instructors are doctoral students, and each of the eight children have individual teachers who meet with them in separate cubicles throughout the day.
“The difference between these kids and the others is the amount of active instruction,” Higbee said. “It’s highly structured for a reason.”
The USU site is the “model” site, he said, but others can definitely be developed around the state. Several of the ASSERT instructors, studying either special education, speech language and pathology and psychology, go and help other children in the state after their time at USU.
Higbee said he isn’t sure if the recent spike in autism cases is due to what may be called an “epidemic,” or just the fact that doctors and educators are aware of the disorder and more able to diagnose.
“There’s a lot of disagreement among professionals about the cause of that growth,” he said. “The answer probably lies somewhere in between.”
Benson’s son, Conner, is one of ASSERT’s success stories. The first-grader is in a regular school class with minimal aid throughout the week. He’s near the top of his class in several subjects, but still struggles with communication and social interactions, Benson said.
“This has been fantastic for us,” Benson said of ASSERT. “He’s progressed so much; we didn’t know if he’d ever get this far.”
Sending a child to school is probably the best success the program could have, but not the only. As Higbee said, helping a child progress, even progressing from utter silence to being able to request items, is a success for ASSERT.


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