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Building resilience in individuals with ASD

People are considered resilient when they experience adversity or risk, yet achieve positive adaptation. Students with ASD may not naturally utilize the external or internal supports to overcome adversity effectively. It is suggested that many individuals lack appropriate or effective coping mechanisms to address the adversity they experience, as a result of socio-communicative and behavioural challenges, resulting in reduced resilience (McCrimmon A.W., Montgomery J.M.2014).There is very little research on building resilience for individuals with ASD as the focus has been on building resilience of families to adapt to the challenges of raising a child with ASD.  It would be helpful if research looked at identifying characteristics or skills that may be useful in building skills/factors despite the presence of ASD. Openness to new experiences for example has been positively related to resilience and individuals with ASD are resistant to change but are very effective within a routine and can be highly productive on a specific task that requires a systematic approach to examining information. I will use this characteristic by timetabling Problem Solving and MakerSpace activities thereby making it part of their routine. After assessing each student for the presence or absence of what is called protective factors (McCrimmon A.W., Montgomery J.M.2014), I can design an activity to either strengthen existing individual characteristics and/or work on building the skills that support resilience. The assessment is a combination of discussions with other professionals done at the 'handover'   during the previous year, with parents at the Individual Transition Plan and the individual students during the first term and observations done during class. The protective factors I have chosen to focus on include; problem solving skills and social emotional skills such as collaboration and self control. The goal here is that the student feels supported as we provide opportunities within the activities for them to practice or learn these skills they need thereby increasing resilience.

McCrimmon A.W., Montgomery J.M. (2014) Resilience-Based Perspectives for Autism Spectrum Disorder. In: Prince-Embury S., Saklofske D. (eds) Resilience Interventions for Youth in Diverse Populations. The Springer Series on Human Exceptionality. Springer, New York, NY

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Comment by Hazel Owen on July 30, 2018 at 11:21

I must admit that I hadn't realised that most of the focus to date had been around supporting families to build resilience, rather than the individual themselves. Hmmm - not sure what that suggests, but know I am not informed enough to go off on a bit of a rant! :D

Really neat to read about your creative ideas around how you build in routine within a framework, and yet provide flexibility for each learner to be creative and use their strengths to the greatest effect.

What would you say that prospective employers and colleagues might take away from the approach you are using? What would your learners like them to take away? :)

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