For our project we chose to observe behavior in children with Autism, specifically children who communicate both verbally and non-verbally. We wanted to see whether they would interact with others or not. As well as if they would play or interact with their other devices or toys.
ASD is a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges in with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communications. Some children may also have sensory issues. These can include aversions to certain sights, sounds, and other sensations. It impacts an estimated 1 in 59 children. Diagnosing can begin at 18 months, but most medical professionals wait until the child is two to three years old to diagnose.
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Children with Autism often struggle with nonverbal behaviors, as well as joint attention. Joint attention is the failure to respond to gaze or pointing at another person. Most children with ASD will not develop functional speech. Verbal speech in children with ASD often has an odd or inappropriate pitch and may sound toneless or mechanical. These children also have repetitive behaviors. They have few changes in behavior. Their actions and phrases are repeated extremely methodically in an OCD like manner.
We observed for an hour. We kept observations in 5 minute intervals. We chose a naturalistic observation method. We observed at an afterschool care program for children with special needs called After Stars After School in a classroom called Autism Academy. This isn’t as structured as a typical classroom. All of the children in the classroom are on the Autism Spectrum to the extent of being in a special education classroom at school. Most of the children have their own area they tend to stay. There were about 9 children in the room at the height of the activity, but there are typically 4-6. At the height there were also 4 adults in the room, but there are typically 2-3. We used a pen and paper to record our observations, and our phones to keep up with the time.
The child was an 11 year old Caucasian male in the 6th grade.
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