Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Oh yeah we are wired differently

As I check the latest news on the web I come across a headline that grabs my attention...."Gene associated with Autism may alter how brain functions".

WOW!!!!! Glad the scientific world is catching up with the parents in this instance. I know that seems a little bitter but as most of us on the inside of Autism know our kids have are wired differently than our "neuro-typical" kids.

Now this gene is present in many people through out the world that do not show signs of ASD but may have had some other learning issues through out their lives.

Ok I am done venting, so let's look a little closer at what the gene actually does. The CNTNAP2 gene is the gene that is associated with a higher risk of ASD, but it also ADHD, Tourette's, Schizophrenia, and other language issues. Now in the frontal lobe the brain functions that reside there are motor skills, language recognition and other learning functions. What the study is showing is the frontal lobe may be"over wired".  I guess that this could lead to sensory and information overload on a scale that we can not imagine, and that our kids can not explain. Which would be an explanation regarding some of the meltdowns we see.

Now that we have some confirmation to what we have always expected how can we use this information to bring our children out of their shells, what new methods of teaching can we learn from them to help them to adjust to our world with out retreating into theirs. One way that is available to us in this day and age is the technology advances that are available to us. The computer and it's close relations ( Ipod, Ipad, PDA, Gameboys et al) are proving to be a great way for our kids to learn and communicate with us. My 9 year old is currently using a web based typing program from the BBC called Dance Mat Typing http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/typing/ . It is free on the web and teaches them in a very soft way on using proper keyboarding techniques. This is a great way for our kids to learn to put on "paper" what they are thinking. Another great tool that we have found is the IPod Touch, you may think that this is just a fancy music player that can play games, and yes it is that and so much more. Now the wonderful people at http://www.handholdadaptive.com/ have developed applications for use on the touch screen hand held devices that are changing PECS programs with their application IPrompts, you can create your own picture stories, choice tables, schedules, and countdown programs to assist you child in learning their routine, making and communicating their choices, and much more. We purchased it for our "1st" grader for his school IPod Touch. Another great function we have found with this tool is the ability to use it to redirect and entertain our kids on long car trips, you can and I have down loaded feature length films and TV episodes for a fairly reasonable price at the ITunes store.  A word of caution here for your ITunes store account, make sure you are using a password that the kids do not know or can figure out, otherwise you may find receipts in your email for all the seasons of their favorite TV show.

Now with the current pace of technology I am very hopeful regarding the future of our kids and how we can help them adapt to our world much easier than they ever were able to in the past.

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