Jorge is a 9-year-old Hispanic boy who was given an ASD diagnosis last year by a licensed psychologist of the Centers for Autism and Related Disorders regional office. He lives with his older brother, who has also been recently diagnosed with ASD. His mother indicates that she just recently received a diagnosis through one of the Autism Specialists, although she always knew that her son had some type of disability.

He is a very outgoing boy who likes to play outside, ride his bike and even visit the scary Halloween stores. He loves to swim and also enjoys spending many hours on his IPad or watch TV. He has a good command of his gross motor skills and he is able to grasp small objects including buttoning and unbuttoning buttons. His mother says he is able to communicate his wants and needs verbally, however; he uses single word requests and responses.

Often times, he will engage in pulling, pushing or gesturing to others to convey his wants and needs. According to his mother, his does have a history of engaging in tantrums and running away. She is always aware of his location when out in the public. She also indicates that he will engage in a ritualistic style of behaviors such as having to turn all the fans off in the house even when it is hot outside. He will engage tantrum behaviors for hours if he is not allowed to turn the fans off and keep them off. Additionally, his mother has indicated that Jorge is able to use the bathroom independently during the day but still soils himself during the middle of the night. He is not able to complete a shower or take a bath independently.

In the past, he has attended his local public school but is now attending a private school where they have developed a classroom designed for children with developmental disabilities including ASD. Observations by his teachers indicate that he is able to follow direction well, remain in his seat for up to 45 minutes at a time and is generally compliant during the school day. His teachers have indicated that he will often get out of his seat to turn the fan off in the bathroom. In addition, while he will remain in his seat during task demands, he requires several vocals prompts to respond to questions. He often just stares out the window while sitting in his seat. His teachers generally have him and his peer’s complete worksheets on a variety of topics throughout the school day. He will generally stay to himself and not approach his peers unless they have something he wants.

His mother has recently attained the services of an applied behavior analyst to work with her son. At this point, the behavior analyst has conducted an FBA, written a behavior plan and is working with Jorge, his mother, and teachers on increasing specific target acquisition goals and reducing problem behaviors.

What type of characteristics does Jorge exhibit that may have led to him receiving a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder?

The parents and teachers of Jorge noticed signs of disability while he was attending preschool. In fact, he was quite different from the other students at the school. He was struggling with communicating with other kids at the preschool as well. These social and communication skills did not go away even after the parents and teachers took necessary measures in order to treat them.

What type of skills do you feel the behavior analyst should target with Jorge? Why?

The behavior analyst should have an excellent understanding of autism that can be found among small children like Jorge. If the behavior analyst is equipped with those skills, he will be able to make sure that the little one is suffering from autism or not. If he is, the behavior analyst can guide Jorge to required treatment options.

If you were to teach Jorge functional communication skills, what mode of communication would you choose? Why? Examples could include vocal speech, sign language or PECS.

I would choose verbal communication. Children like Jorge, who are suffering from autism, will not be able to improve their communication skills in an effective manner through PECs and sign language. It would be hard for Jorge to communicate verbally at first, but the efforts that he spends can take him towards better results at the end of the day.

How could Jorge’s mother change his time playing on the IPad to be more beneficial to Jorge? What kind of acquisition skills can be targeted with Jorge when using the IPad?

When Jorge is playing with his iPad, he would discover how to solve problems in an effective manner. That’s because most of the games available for iPad promote critical thinking, which is beneficial for the students that suffer from autism. Jorge’s mother can research and install some new games on the iPad so that he would not get bored.

Why is the Picture Exchange Communication System considered a successful intervention for promoting functional language? What are some of the characteristics of PECS?
Since children who are affected by autism lacks verbal communication skills, they are afraid of socializing. Therefore, a Picture Exchange Communication System has the potential to help the kids to stay away from that fear. This can promote functional language in the long run. The most prominent characteristic of PECS includes using images instead of words for communication. The kids would tend to use images without any fear for communication purposes.

Now you have a clear understanding of why the little ones need to be directed towards appropriate screening methods to identify whether they have autism or not. If they are affected by autism, you need to get in touch with one of the reputed with one of the medical professionals and get the required treatments.

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