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Living in the Community

The focus of much research in the field of Autism is around early diagnosis and early intervention. It is common for a child with ASD and their family to be supported by a multidisciplinary team of specialists and services throughout their primary and secondary education. However, when the adolescent with ASD finishes their secondary education these services often disappear along with the structure and routines of spending 6 hours a day, 30 hours a week, 2400 hours a year in an educational setting. This transition into adulthood and a totally new way of life is becoming an increasing concern when looked at in the context of the exponential rates of increase in diagnosed ASD cases from 4.5 in 10,000 in 1966 to the US Centre for Disease Control and Preventions figures of 1 in 88 in 2012. To add to this the deinstitutionalisation of individuals with ASD in favour of community based services and living, along with improved interventions to address language and social skills means that a growing number of individuals with ASD are living and functioning in their local communities. For these individuals whether they are children, adolescents, young adults or adults there is a need for effective life-span planning to ensure positive quality of life outcomes. The NZASD Guideline, 2008, looks at 4 areas relating to individuals with ASD living in the community. Strategies suggested for each of these areas are listed in the table below along with examples of opportunities available within each area in the Nelson region.

Context/activity

(adapted from NZASD Guidelines, part 5) Post-compulsory -planning that takes into account specific symptoms of ASD that may act as barriers to further education education - support with selecting a relevant course with an appropriate vocational goal -buddies to help students with ASD settle in -mentors -guidance and support for study skills -access to computers, study spaces -counselling: discuss challenges -1-1 tutors/assistants -adapting course material so it is accessible

Evidence-based strategies for supporting people with ASD

Opportunities in Nelson Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT)Vocational Studies


NMIT offers a safe, happy, vibrant and nurturing learning environmentsupport(ing) students who wish to pursue meaningful employment, yet require additional skills to achieve their goals. (NMIT Website)

-recordings of lectures or another person to take notes - adaptations to the routines of the individual with ASD so they can attend lectures and have planned time for study - disclosure of diagnosis to staff - clear learning outcomes introduced at the start of the lesson - clear class rules and expectations that are revisited often -clear, standardised structure to each lesson -consistent, authoritative style -patience, respect, support and encouragement - assistance to remain on task -short breaks during long sessions or difficult tasks -review of learning outcomes to review transition -support for examinations: e.g. advance notice of date, time, place, number of participants, plan of the room, precise information about what is being tested, allowing student to arrive early and have an object on the desk, pre-arranged extra time, sitting the exam in a separate room, exam marker with experience in ASD, clear instructions, use of word processor, prompt obsessional students to move to next question, ensure the student knows when it is ok to leave the room. - oral examinations can be particularly challenging due to communication impairments of ASD. These could be taken over a series of days and the examiner be made aware of the typical ASD behaviours that may occur.

NMIT Certificate in Vocational Skills Designed for students with learning disabilities who want to get a job and become independent. Knowledge is developed in a range of learning areas through fully integrated classes emphasising literacy and numeracy skills for life. Learning takes place both on campus and in the community. Modules covered include: - Literacy - Numeracy - Preparation for work - Personal identity and communication - Health, safety and well being - Practical work skills - Interpersonal relationships and communication - Work experience Community Living Training Schemes -improve independence and decision making for Supported Training learners. -develop literacy, numeracy and communication skills -work on fun, practical tasks to prepared students for a variety of work, social and community settings.

Work

-relevant work experience when at school -support to find a job -training on how to do the job -assistance in completing the job

Workbridge
This is a professional employment agency for people with disabilities working in collaboration with other services This is a national organisation with an office in Nelson

Leisure and recreation

-help with work related issues -help with non-work related issues and transport - use of specialist employment service -person-centred planning based on career goals -supporting self-employment - follow up support when job has started -vocational assessment and careful job selection -job coaching -breaking new tasks into small steps and using 1-1 instruction -educating workplace staff about ASD -be aware of work place bullying -support the individual with ASD during stressful events at work e.g. change in routines, appraisals -consistent schedule and duties -keep social demands manageable -give direct, specific instructions -check communications are understood -support with social rules -monitored by co-worker to ensure they are OK -use personal strengths and interests -target the individuals goals and wishes -inclusion of family members -use a relevant learning approach e.g. visuals -evaluate satisfaction level of participant - balance of work, leisure, self-care, other commitments -use resources available in home and community -identify responsibility for planning and initiating recreation -support to prepare for activities - individual leisure plan, regularly evaluated -policy to address barriers to leisure

with 4 staff.

Workstar
Specialist employment agency working with people with disabilities.

Moving is Fun: gymnastics based movement class for children with physical special needs Little Star: early intervention playgroup for children with disability or special needs Junior and Youth Group Activity: UP to 16 years of age Teenage/Young Adult Group Activity: for 15-25 year olds with Aspergers of high functioning ASD Cant Sing Choir: for adults

Autism NZ: Nelson Marlborough Branch

Community participation

-services responsible for leisure activities -person-centred planning based on strengths, ability and interests -local communities planning for integrated activities -educate communities to be more inclusive -using natural and formal supports -visual supports

Parent to Parent
Supporting families of people living with disability. Weekly coffee mornings Founders Fun Day out with Kath Bee Available in Richmond Nelson

Riding for the Disabled

The growing amount of research and initiatives in this area is encouraging. Take together with the positive effects of inclusive education on the understanding and acceptance of peers who will live alongside their peers with ASD as adults, offers a positive outlook for full inclusion into the community. The participation of a child with autism in integrated community based recreation, leisure activities and other events will help their presence as adults in these communities be accepted without question of prejudice. However, the specific needs related to the triad of autism impairments must still be taken into account, as well as the continuation of developmentally appropriate interventions and supports beyond the end of compulsory education. The link below is the first in a series of Second Look (1) Autistic Adults Outreach Videos, looking at the needs of adults with ASD living in the community.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxNNJX-qLlE

Inclusion within the community needs to be fully understood, it is so much more than providing picnics for disabled adults or a group trip to the bowling alley. Full inclusion and participation requires the removal of barriers to allow individuals with ASD the same access to work, study and recreation as their non-ASD peers. If I could give only one piece of advice to someone entering adulthood with Autism it would be to keep fighting for what you want, you are a person too and you are entitled to a good, happy and safe life. (The National Autistic Society, Real life stories from people with autism, Alex)

References
Alex. (2012). I was in an ideal situation. but it suddenly all changed. Retrieved October 2013, from National Autistic Society: http://www.autism.org.uk/living-with-autism/real-life-stories/real-life-stories-from-people-with-autism.aspx Linda A. LeBlanc, A. R. (2008). Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Lifespan Perspective. In J. Matson (Ed.), Clinical Assessment and Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorders (pp. 65-87). London: Acedemic Press. Retrieved from http://www.auburn.edu/~lal0011/autism/leblanc.pdf Ministries of Health and Education. (2008). New Zealand Autism Spectrum Disorder Guideline. Wellington: Ministry of Health. Retrieved from Ministry of Health: http://www.health.govt.nz/ National Autism Centre. (2011). A Parents Guide to Evidence-Based Practice and Autism. , Massachusetts. Retrieved from http://www.nationalautismcenter.org/pdf/nac_parent_manual.pdf Nelson/Marlborough. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2013, from Autism New Zealand Inc: http://www.autismnz.org.nz/local_branches/nelson_marlborough Second Look (I) [Autistic Adults Outreach Video]. (2009). Retrieved October 2013, from YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxNNJX-qLlE

Vocational Studies. (2013). Retrieved October 2013, from NMIT: http://www.nmit.ac.nz/programmes-and-courses/vocational-studies Workbridge. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2013, from Workbridge: http://www.workbridge.co.nz/?page=1