Browse By Topic: Autism Spectrum Disorders

The term "autism spectrum disorders" refers to a range of neurological disorders that affect a child's ability to communicate, relate to others, and understand or respond to sensory input. In general, the cause of these disorders is not known. Dealing with a child who is both blind and autistic, with special needs can be doubly difficult, because so many agencies and services are set up to deal with one or the other—they're either familiar with or experts on blindness, knowing little or nothing about autism, or they know about and have expertise with autism, but rarely are comfortable with or have knowledge about blindness.

Autism spectrum disorders and visual impairments affect each child in a unique way. Children with such a disorder may have a mild or severe condition, and they can range in their functioning from gifted to severely cognitively impaired. It is important to be aware that children need to have more than one characteristic of an autism spectrum disorder to be diagnosed with the condition.

Autism Awareness Month: Could My Blind Child Have Autism?

We welcome April with open arms, for not only is it one month closer to warmth (finally), but it’s also Autism Awareness Month. Many of you have children who are blind or visually impaired who have been diagnosed with autism, and many others have children who are blind or visually impaired whom you question if have autism. This monthand truthfully, every monthwe celebrate these children. Shared Attributes As you likely already know, children who are born blind or significantly visually impaired often share some attributes with children who have autism. Consider the following: Self-stimulating behavior such as rocking,

FamilyConnect’s Latest Article Series: Delayed Communication Development in Blind and Visually Impaired Children

This past week I enthusiastically attended American Foundation for the Blind’s leadership conference just outside of Washington, DC. Since returning home to Delaware, I have been reflecting on which message or session was the most personally impactful of the event; I choose the words of Linda Hagood, Speech Language Pathologist of Washington State School for the Blind. Ms. Hagood spoke on teaching students who are blind or visually impaired and autistic or are otherwise communicatively delayed. She began by addressing typical approaches to educational programming: symbol systems,

Seeing Our Child Who Is Blind

Lately, I’ve been watching Eddie with intense interest. Paying attention to the many ways he communicates, verbal and non-verbal. Admiring how he has begun problem-solving to get what he wants. Noticing how his whole body reacts when he’s upset, frustrated, or lacking words. I think to myself, “I see you.” We recently took our annual trip across the state to see some of Eddie’s medical specialists. These are doctors he’s had relationships with for most of his life. These people “see” him too. They know how to communicate with him and how to calm his anxiety. When performing any kind of

Give the Gift of Equality

Birthday and Christmas always have people wondering what to buy for our son who is blind. Not only does his diagnosis of blindness throw them off, but also his unique characteristics associated with autism. My request this holiday season is that everybody simply give him the gift of equality. Recently, while attending an event for children who are blind, Eddie received this gift. He was asked to play goalball, a sport specific to blindness, and he was asked to play like everybody else. The organizers didn’t look at him and think, “Will he be able to play?” “Will he want to get down on the floor?” “Will he be motivated to engage with his peers?” They didn’t

Defining Our Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

As I’ve shared before, we were given a grim perspective of Eddie’s future when he received the diagnosis of optic nerve hypoplasia. We were abruptly told he was blind, severely handicapped, and then being asked, Do you know what that means? As a young mother in a small doctor’s office, the answer was obviously No. I didn’t know what that meant for him as a baby, or what it would mean for his future. When he entered preschool, while trying to navigate the special education system, I struggled with what his blindness meant. Did it mean he would be in school with the neighborhood kids, or would he be somewhere else? Did it mean that we should just see

Children with Autism and Blindness: Misunderstood, Mislabeled, Misdiagnosed

We are happy to bring you information about another telephone support group available to you. By Dr. Susan Barron, PhD and Facilitator for the Lighthouse Guild Tele-support group for Parents of Children with Autism with Blindness. Misunderstood, mislabeled, misdiagnosed. How many times since the birth of your child has this been the judgment of others about your boy or girl's behavior, ability, or functioning? How hard and how often has it been your challenge to correct, explain, and advocate for a fair assessment of their abilities and limitations, so that you could obtain the needed services to enable them to live their best lives? And how tired and frustrated have you become in

Six Tips for Teachers Working with Students Who Are Visually Impaired with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Key Principles to Share With Your Child's Teachers The following is an excerpt from the book Autism Spectrum Disorders and Visual Impairment: Meeting Students' Learning Needs, written by Marilyn H. Gense, and D. Jay Gense. We hope

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