Saturday, April 18, 2015

TIGER Assembly is coming on April 24th

For over ten years the TIGER theatre group has been coming to HMS to share their positive and pro-active approach on how to deal with many social concerns that students face today.  The students love to see the show - not only does it send a positive message but it is engaging, fun and full of great music. TIGER is a non-profit professional theatre group that is run through Plymouth State University and we have been very lucky to have it be a part of our school year. All of the shows are based on the writings of school children and the message is always powerful and moving.  

This year the show is titled "I've Got Your Back" and it's focus is on the role of the bystander in a bullying situation.
The cornerstones of this production are:

Take action when someone needs our help; Treat others as you would like to be treated!
can say “NO!” when others try to make me feel less than and be independent; if other kids are being mean, show them how it feels to be nice!
Get help when you or someone you know is in trouble; you can’t handle a bully all by yourself!
Empathy; imagine what it’s like to be in another person’s shoes and show others how to be a good friend!
Respond with respect in your words and actions; respect everyone’s differences!

The students and staff are excited for another wonderful performance this Friday!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

April is Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism awareness month and I thought it would be important to share not only the symptoms of Autism as well as some statistics regarding this growing disability.  The characteristic behaviors of autism spectrum disorder may be apparent in infancy (18 to 24 months), but they usually become clearer during early childhood (24 months to 6 years).  When parents or support providers become concerned that their child is not following a typical developmental course, they turn to experts, including psychologists, educators and medical professionals, for a diagnosis.
At first glance, some people with autism may appear to have an intellectual disability, sensory processing issues, or problems with hearing or vision. To complicate matters further, these conditions can co-occur with autism. However, it is important to distinguish autism from other conditions, as an accurate and early autism diagnosis can provide the basis for an appropriate educational and treatment program.
TheNational Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) lists five behaviors in infants and children that warrant further evaluation for Autism:
  • If your child does not babble or coo by 12 months
  • If your child does not gesture (point, wave, grasp) by 12 months
  • If your child does not say single words by 16 months
  • If your child does not say two-word phrases on his or her own by 24 months
  • If your child has any loss of any language or social skill at any age
The severity of symptoms varies greatly, but all people with autism have some core symptoms in the areas of:
  • Social interactions and relationships. Symptoms may include:
    • Significant problems developing nonverbal communication skills, such as eye-to-eye gazing, facial expressions, and body posture.
    • Failure to establish friendships with children the same age.
    • Lack of interest in sharing enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people.
    • Lack of empathy. People with autism may have difficulty understanding another person's feelings, such as pain or sorrow.
  • Verbal and nonverbal communication. Symptoms may include:
    • Delay in, or lack of, learning to talk. As many as 40% of people with autism never speak.
    • Problems taking steps to start a conversation. Also, people with autism have difficulties continuing a conversation after it has begun.
    • Stereotyped and repetitive use of language. People with autism often repeat over and over a phrase they have heard previously (echolalia).
    • Difficulty understanding their listener's perspective. For example, a person with autism may not understand that someone is using humor. They may interpret the communication word for word and fail to catch the implied meaning.
  • Limited interests in activities or play. Symptoms may include:
    • An unusual focus on pieces. Younger children with autism often focus on parts of toys, such as the wheels on a car, rather than playing with the entire toy.
    • Preoccupation with certain topics. For example, older children and adults may be fascinated by video games, trading cards, or license plates.
    • A need for sameness and routines. For example, a child with autism may always need to eat bread before salad and insist on driving the same route every day to school.
    • Stereotyped behaviors. These may include body rocking and hand flapping.

Symptoms during childhood

Symptoms of autism are usually noticed first by parents and other caregivers sometime during the child's first 3 years. Although autism is present at birth (congenital), signs of the disorder can be difficult to identify or diagnose during infancy. Parents often become concerned when their toddler does not like to be held; does not seem interested in playing certain games, such as peekaboo; and does not begin to talk. Sometimes, a child with autism will start to talk at the same time as other children the same age, then lose his or her language skills. Parents also may be confused about their child's hearing abilities. It often seems that a child with autism does not hear, yet at other times, he or she may appear to hear a distant background noise, such as the whistle of a train.
With early and intensive treatment, most children improve their ability to relate to others, communicate, and help themselves as they grow older.  
Autism Statistics:
About 1 percent of the world population has autism spectrum disorder. (CDC, 2014)
Prevalence in the United States is estimated at 1 in 68 births. (CDC, 2014)
More than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder. (Buescher et al., 2014)
Prevalence of autism in U.S. children increased by 119.4 percent from 2000 (1 in 150) to 2010 (1 in 68). (CDC, 2014) Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability. (CDC, 2008)