A Helpful Online Safety Guide for People With Autism Spectrum Disorders

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People from all walks of life and all kinds of backgrounds fall victim to online bullying and cybercrime, but studies have shown that those with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are more susceptible to online threats than others.

ASD is a developmental disorder that affects behavior and communication. People on the Autism Spectrum tend to live a relatively normal life but can need supervision and lack judgement – a trait that has been identified as dangerous when left to their own devices in cyberspace.

Not only are ASD children and adults at risk from others, but they can also develop compulsive online habits and internet addictions, and can be more deeply affected by exposure to inappropriate content.

Everyone should feel safe online. It’s therefore extremely important to make sure you have adequate online security and remain internet vigilant.

To help you surf with ease and reduce your vulnerability to attack, take a look at our Internet Safety Guide for people with ASD. (Share on Facebook)

Table of Content:

 

Source: https://www.wizcase.com

INVITATION to participate on international Autism_PCP conference

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Respected colleagues,

It is a great honor and pleasure for me on behalf of the Macedonian Scientific Society for Autism to invite you to the international conference entitled “People with Autism in the Spotlight – Support through Person Centered Planning”, which will be held on August 25th 2021, on the platform ZOOM starting exactly at noon CET.

This conference is a final event of the 3-year project “A holistic approach to person-centered planning for Autism” (AUTISM_PCP), from the Erasmus + program of the European Commission, with reference number 2018-1-EL01-KA204-047788.

The specific goal of the event is to promote the person-centered planning methodology adapted for people (including children) with autism, which has been developed as a key result of the work of the Autism PCP international consortium in the past three years. Although the main implications relate to social services, the benefits of applying individual-oriented planning in education are particularly significant, especially in the educational transitions of students with autism.

MSSA in the last 17 pandemic months continuously raise bots on educating professionals and parents of children and people with autism spectrum disorder, and will continue to do so in the coming period. This international conference, which will be attended by lecturers from the United States, Australia, Cyprus, Greece and Macedonia, is only one part of that overall educational activity, which will continue in the future.

If you want to take part, it is mandatory to sign up and fill in the Google Form at the following link: https://forms.gle/AgeUC2zq1UXR5XKN7

You can apply by August 20th of this year at the latest. Participation is without paying a registration fee. The conference will be certified, and to get a certificate you need to be present on the ZOOM platform from the very beginning to the end of it.

We will be very glad if you also take part in this important international conference.

05.08.2021                                                                              With respect,

Skopje                                                                            President of MSSA

I LEARN AND GET BEYOND MY LIMITS

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Summary

The Subject of the Project:
To provide the skills which individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities will need after disasters and emergencies by producing innovative educational materials.

Target Audience of the Project:
Individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities. They are usually trained using visual materials with special education methods such as one-on-one and face-to-face. For this reason, parents and caregivers of these individuals have also been identified as target audiences to provide special education opportunities.

The Objectives of the Project to be achieved are as follows:
– To ensure that individuals with autism and intellectual disability can communicate with the right people after disasters and emergencies,
– To ensure that they display the correct behaviour shapes to stay safe,
– To integrate these individuals into the disaster and emergency management system,
– To increase the professional knowledge and skills of the project partners and related participants.

The final goals as a policy are:
It is aimed to affect the policies and programs that can be developed in order to overcome the deficiencies in disaster and emergency awareness training and rehabilitation of disabled individuals including autism and intellectual disability.

Content of the Project:
1- Dictionary of disaster and emergency basic terms adapted for individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities and prepared with special teaching methods,
2- Educational content consisting of video, animation and digital books that teach correct behaviours after disasters and emergencies,
3- Digital library for disasters and emergencies prepared specifically for these individuals,
4- The correct behaviours of the personnel working in disasters and emergencies in their approach to these individuals.

Project Partnership:
The project partnership was created by bringing together organizations with different expertise in disaster and emergency situations, autism and down syndrome, distance education, disability, design, education, risk management and innovation in line with the subjects and objectives.
1- Eskişehir AFAD, public body, experienced in disaster awareness training, response and evacuation in disasters and emergencies.
2- Osmangazi University, experienced in distance education, innovative design and user interface solutions.
3- YERSİS is an educational consultancy company that researches the issue of accessibility among individuals with special needs during disasters and emergencies.
4- Tohum Autism Foundation is a non-profit and in the public interest healthcare and education foundation in the field of autism.
5- Down Syndrome Association is a non-governmental organization that works to ensure that individuals with Down syndrome can establish an independent, productive and integrated life.
6- EDSA is an umbrella NGO that brings together 38 national organizations across Europe.
7- MSSA is an NGO established to realize, coordinate and carry out the interests and training of people with autism.
8- The Research Center on Disability and Marginality (CeDisMa) of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart works to develop knowledge for teachers, educators, trainers, coordinators, social workers in the field of special education.

Outputs of the Project:
1- Adapted Disaster and Emergency Basic Concepts Dictionary for Individuals with Autism and Intellectual Disability
2- Distance Education Portal
3- Digital Library

Project activities:
Preparation Process;
1. Working meetings with relevant organizations and associated partners (universities, NGOs on autism and intellectual disability, etc.)
2. Visits to special education and rehabilitation centres.
3. Literature review, research and data collection.

The implementation process;
1. Transnational Project Meetings.
– Project management, distribution of tasks among partners, time and financial management etc. administrative issues.
– Sharing experience, good practices and know-how for intellectual output production.
2. Output development process.

Dissemination Process;
– Project Workshop as a Multiplier Event; Both the evaluation of the quality of the project outputs and the promotion of the project results.
– Workshop’s online web platform.
– To hold project introduction meetings with related institutions, to attend workshops, fairs and to open stands.
– To organize training seminars at the local and transnational level within the scope of the multiplier event.
– To prepare promotional brochures about project activities and results in order to increase the visibility in printed, visual and social media.
– To send and distribute digital outputs to the relevant institutions in printed and digital formats.
– Preparing scientific articles about project activities and results.
– To ensure that the project outputs and results affect the policies and programs to be developed in this regard through the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).

Source: https://ec.europa.eu/

Sexual Education of Persons with Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Use of the Technique: ‘Social Stories

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Tanja Stankova & Vladimir Trajkovski 

Sexuality and Disability (2020)

 

Abstract

The difficulty in the area of social skills for persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is particularly visible in the area of sexuality and intimate relationships. Therefore, it is important to create a curriculum including information about sexuality and to address the individual and specific needs of persons with ASD. For this purpose we designed a study using Social Stories for conducting sexuality education following the criteria of Carol Gray. The main goal of our study was to assess the effects of the use of Social Stories to implement sexuality education with three participants with ASD. The individual sessions lasted for 45 min and they continued for a period of 6 months. The participants were tested and their parents interviewed before starting and after finishing 6 months of sexual education, and this allowed us to assess knowledge and behavioral changes regarding sexuality. The most significant changes were determined through assessment of the following areas: the private and reproductive parts of the body; changes occurring during the period of puberty; distinguishing pleasant and unpleasant touch; sexual relations and contraception. Our conclusion after analyzing results were that a period of 6 months implementing sexuality education through Social Stories was sufficient to upgrade and expand knowledge, but definitely was insufficient for noticing visible behavioral changes.

Source: https://link.springer.com/

Manual for parents of children with autism spectrum conditions and professionals in their circle of support

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PREFACE

Autism spectrum conditions continue intriguing the world as well as the domestic public due to its frequent occurrence, the uncertain mechanisms that prompt the conditions and, moreover, due to the lack of a unique treatment. Difficulties in the sphere of social development and the realization of interaction and communication with the environment are considered to be key vulnerabilities in autism. Difficulties in social functioning are the greatest factor that predicts the diagnosis and the forecast of the respective conditions. In the last decade, research has shown that these early deviations in social development contribute to the overall development of the child and its accommodation in the environment. 

Our practical and theoretical experience denies the notion that children with autism are not social or that they have no strive for social interaction and communication. On the contrary, children with autism spectrum conditions often do not have the skills for an everyday social behaviour and these difficulties need to be recognized and implemented in a comprehensive individual program. Given the importance of the social interventions for children with autism, it is imperative for specialists and parents to have access to resources dedicated to social behaviour.

This manual offers you a variety of approaches, practices and evidence-based suggestions for parenting skills for children and youth with autism. However, it is important to point out that due to the heterogenous nature of the autism spectrum conditions, and regarding the parenting skills related to every child, there is no such thing as a unique approach. Therefore, this manual should be treated as a guide, having in mind the variability of success of a specific approach that depends on each child. Nevertheless, the principles described by the authors may be widely utilized and seen as useful for many families with children who have autism spectrum conditions. At the same time, this manual is a valuable tool that will be useful for different profiles of specialists included in the support of children as well as in their daily work. Apart from families, when making of the concept of this manual, we also had in mind the teachers, special educators and rehabilitators, speech therapists, psychologists, pedagogists, medical professionals, nursery caregivers, social workers, personal and education assistants as well as the future professionals, such as the students from the Institute for Special Education and Rehabilitation, and many other vocational profiles that will show their interest in this subject.

The manual “Supporting Social Skills and Positive Parenting” is the first such reading published in our country in three languages: Macedonian, English and Albanian. It covers 7 chapters which fully elaborate the curriculum for education of professionals and parents and the trainings realized in several public institutions of social protection and through a series of virtual workshops and webinars in the period from January to June 2020. The introductory part, which gives the basic characteristics of this pervasive condition, was prepared according to the material created by Prof. Dr. Vladimir Trajkovski, which was used for the needs of the trainings. The second chapter describes the developmental aspects of social skills and social communication and the most common challenges faced by children with autism. In the third chapter are given instructions for assessment of the socio-communication skills and the framework for intervention planning. The fourth chapter explains the evidence- based practices and types of approaches in teaching of this vulnerable category of children. These three chapters are formed according to the material used for the needs of the training and made by Ivana Vasilevska Petrovska, MA. In the fifth chapter, great attention is paid to the methods and tools for child support, including: organizational support, social support, communication support and behavioural support.  The fifth chapter was prepared according to the materials made by Ivana Vasilevska Petrovska, MA and Prof. Dr. Vladimir Trajkovski which were used for the needs of the training.

Lately, our understanding of the great influence of sensory sensitivity on the conditions of the spectrum has increased, so this topic has been approached from a practical aspect in the sixth chapter which was prepared by Prof. Dr. Vladimir Trajkovski. Last but not least, the final segment deals with sexual development and sexuality education as inevitably related to the social behaviour of children. The seventh chapter is prepared according to the materials that were used for the needs of the trainings, made by Tanja Stankova, MA.

This manual contains numerous illustrations and examples of practices that will be of immense help to parents and specialists.

We express our gratitude to the reviewers Radmila Stojkovska Aleksova, MA and Irena Lozana for the remarks and valuable suggestions in the favour of bringing this manuscript closer to its esteemed readers. Many thanks to the staff of the UNICEF Office in Skopje and the Government of the United Kingdom for the financial support of this manual.

 Skopje, July 2020

 Authors

 If you are interested you can download the manual for free HERE.

Effect of Stress on Neuroimmune Processes

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Abstract

Purpose: Psychological stress worsens many diseases, especially those with inflammatory components, such as atopic dermatitis (AD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), conditions that are significantly correlated in large epidemiologic studies. However, how stress contributes to these conditions is still poorly understood. This narrative review of the relevant literature advances the premise that stress affects inflammatory processes in AD and ASD via stimulation of mast cells (MCs).

Methods: MEDLINE was searched between 1980 and 2019 using the terms allergies, atopic dermatitis, autism spectrum disorder, brain, corticotropin-releasing hormone, inflammation, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, mast cells, neuropeptides, stress, neurotensin, and substance P.

Findings: Exposure to psychological stress is associated with onset and/or exacerbation of AD and ASD. This association could be attributable to activation of MCs, which are ubiquitous in the body, including the brain, and could contribute to inflammation.

Implications: Understanding and addressing the connection between stress and MCs is important in clarifying the pathogenesis and developing effective treatments for diseases that worsen with stress and involve inflammation, such as AD and ASD.

Keywords: Atopic dermatitis; Autism spectrum disorder; Corticotropin-releasing hormone; Inflammation; Mast cells; Stress.

Source: PubMed

20 years of MSSA – Press Release

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Respected colleagues and friends,

It is my great honour and pleasure to announce that Macedonian Scientific Society for Autism is celebrating its 20th birthday today, May 22nd. This period was neither too long, nor too short. The societies that can say they’ve achieved such a jubilee are scarce. The previous years were filled with turbulence in the socio-political field in Macedonia and this has been reflected in the society’s work. The activities were filled with highs and lows. Many members have marched though the society, out of which only the most persistent remain to ensure the implementation of its goals and responsibilities, which are the following:

  • primary prevention of persons with autism;
  • investigation mechanisms connected with autism;
  • investigation the effects of rehabilitation on the persons with autism;
  • treatment of the persons with autism;
  • cooperation with the parents of the children with autism;
  • coordination of governmental and non governmental organizations dealing with autism;
  • cooperation with international universities and associations whose priority is autism.

During these past years, we have demonstrated an equal position with other societies of this type in the EU, leadership in the field of special education and rehabilitation of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in Macedonia and primarily care for health, education and social protection of this fragile category of citizens. In these 20 years we have tried to increase our citizens’ awareness about this topic and this is especially visible in the past 10 years through a spread of activities in which we have included stage stars, actors, athletes, scientists, politicians and naturally families with children or other family members that have ASD. For this purpose, we have held big events for WAAD April 2nd – four times. We have also organized five professional tribunes which treat not only ASD, but Down syndrome as well. We were organizers or co-organizers of nine seminars, symposia and conferences, most of which had international participants. During this period, 250 free diagnostic and consultative exams have been done on children with ASD. In 2002, the brochure „Chater for Persons with autism in Republic of Macedonia” was published and it was distributed to all 120 parliament members at the time.

From 2008 until 2017 MSSA was co-publisher of Journal of Special Education and Rehabilitation and since 2019, it is also co-publisher of the international Journal for ReAttach Therapy and Developmental Diversities (https://jrtdd.com), whose publisher is ReAttach International Therapy Foundation from the Netherlands.

Our members have participated in over 100 local and international seminars, congresses and conferences. We are authors of over 60 articles on the topic of autism and slightly less than 10 of these have been published in journals with impact factor. This gives a particular scientific impact to the society in the world of autismology.

Our members have participated in 15 local and international project, some of which are “Equity and social inclusion through positive parenting”, “A hollistic approach of person-centred planning for people with Autism”, “Autism Social Skills and Positive Parenting Programme” and “Autism Friendly Spaces”. The mentioned projects have been realized in the past five years and some are still ongoing.

In the past years two school books titled “Autism” and “Autism and pervasive developmental disorders”, which are mainly meant for the students at the Institute of Special Education and Rehabilitation and the Institute of Psychology at the Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje and can be used by medicine students, have been published.

MSSA is present on social media every day with popular posts about ASD meant to educate the general population about this complex disorder in our community.

MSSA was supposed to celebrate the 20 years’ existence jubilee with a big conference that was set to happen May 29-31 in co-organization with our partners “ReAttach International Therapy Foundation” from the Netherlands, but unfortunately it was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There were going to be more than 150 guests from our country, from around 20 other European and Asian states and from the USA. Because of this, we have switched to an internet campaign fit to honour this jubilee. This campaign is being shared on a daily basis on MSSA’s blog, and the official social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

We as members of MSSA will continue working and discovering new cases of autism, we will keep creating new projects, write scientific articles, help parents and naturally children and persons with ASD in direction of improving their life quality.

Please find 20 years of MSSA – presentation in Prezi on the following LINK.

Stay safe and healthy!

Sincerely,

President of MSSA

Projects of MSSA

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Dear colleagues and readers,

In 20 years history MSSA realized 15 domestic and international projects.  We want to put accent in last 5 years. In this period there are four projects from which someones are still ongoing. They are: Equity and social inclusion through positive parenting”, “A hollistic approach of person-centred planning for people with Autism”, “Autism Social Skills and Positive Parenting Programme”, “Autism Friendly Spaces”.

President of MSSA

Articles in scientific journals

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Dear colleagues,

Members of MSSA have published over 60 articles in domestic and predominantly in international scientific journals. Less than 10 of them are in impact factor journals. With this we are giving small contribution to world scientific map. We will continued to work hard on promoting Macedonian autism special education and rehabilitation and medical aspects as well.

President of MSSA