Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors.
With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Medical Association), all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD.
Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is still regarded as a developmental, non-progressive, lifelong neurological disorder that is derived from multiple sources, which are only partially known and understood.
Other conditions that may occur with autism, but are not indicators for diagnosis, include problems with motor coordination, activity level and sleep regulation, level of anxiety, cognitive capability, and gastrointestinal issues.
Autism is regarded as a condition the child has, rather than defining the child, who is seen as a unique personality with other areas of strength and possibly need. There are many networks for support, information and resources available to families.
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), also called Sensory Integration Dysfunction, is a disorder in which the brain cannot properly integrate multisensory input. This results in hypersensitivity (over-responsiveness to stimuli) or hyposensitivity (under-responsiveness to stimuli).
Sensory Processing Disorder affects every day functioning because children with SPD are highly affected by their sensory preferences.
Children with Sensory Processing Disorder are generally very particular with their likes and dislikes. If a child is affected by hypersensitivity, they may have extreme or fearful responses to specific textures, sounds, and tastes.
Conversely, children with hyposensitivity may seem fearless, inappropriately touching people and/or objects and putting themselves in dangerous situations due to their under-reaction to pain.
About Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that causes children to struggle with paying attention, being extremely active, and acting impulsively.
As these students struggle with daily activities, such as sitting still, focusing on instruction, staying organized, and waiting their turn, this disorder can affect children behaviorally and academically.
For a child to be diagnosed with ADHD, symptoms needs to have affected the child’s daily life in at least two settings (school and home) for a period of 6 months.
The right hemisphere of the brain regulates social behavior, impulsivity, and attention, so ADHD is the result of decreased right brain activity. Decreased right brain activity causes inappropriate social behaviors, impulsive actions, and lack of attention for children with ADHD.
There are 3 different types of ADHD: inattentive type, hyperactive-impulsive type, and combined type:
- Inattentive Type – Children struggle to focus on tasks and activities.
- Hyperactive-Impulsive Type – Children struggle with the constant need to be active and with the tendency to act without thinking.
- Combined Type – Children struggle with inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
About Childhood Learning Disorders
Learning disorders are a group of disorders that hinder the brain from receiving, processing, storing, and communicating information.
Learning disorders can lead to difficulties in the classroom, and in return cause trouble in children’s self-esteem and interpersonal skills. Across the United States, 1 in 5 people are impacted by the challenges of learning disorders. Many individuals with learning disorders have above-average intelligence, but have difficulty processing information.
• Common learning disorders include Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, and Dyspraxia. Reading, recognizing letters, learning letter sounds, and identifying rhyming words are challenging for children with dyslexia. These children often have trouble with spelling and writing when they get into school. A child’s fine-motor skills are affected by Dysgraphia, one sign of this disorder can be distorted and incorrect handwriting. Children with Dyscalculia often have problems learning numerical skills. A sign of this learning disorder in children is noticing that the child has trouble with basic addition and subtraction problems. Dyspraxia is a condition characterized by challenges in carrying out routine tasks that involve balance, fine-motor control, and kinesthetic coordination. To learn more about the specific symptoms of LDs, please refer to the DSM-IV criteria for Learning Disorders.
Myths and truths about learning and thinking differences
Despite all we know about learning and thinking differences, myths still exist. One is that these challenges aren’t real. Another is that people are just being lazy. There’s also a myth that people who learn and think differently can’t have successful careers.
Here’s the truth: Learning and thinking differences are real challenges that are based in biology. Studies using brain scans have shown differences in how the brain functions and is structured. Experts also believe that genetics plays a role. Learning and thinking differences tend to run in families.
The biggest myth might be that people who learn and think differently aren’t smart. Learning and thinking differences aren’t related to intelligence. People who have them are as smart as other people. And they have strengths, talents, and interests that can help them work on challenges.
Learning and thinking differences impact people in different ways. But there are strategies and supports at school and at work that can help kids and adults thrive.
HOA has an open-door policy as it relates to communication between families and administration. We continue to support a healthy family-style relationship between staff and families they serve.
At House of Academia, we utilize an intimate and individualized approach to learning standards. We follow state and national standards-based instruction, with added supports for different learning styles.
- After-school Care
- After-school Art/Drama Club
- After-school Book Club
We continue to build our extracurricular activities based on student interest.
Technology In the Classroom
Research shows that children and teens work best when challenged with various methods of instruction. HOA uses a combination of technology and hands-on activities to support the best learning environment for all learners.