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Old June 21st, 2011, 11:50 AM   #11
Visionary7903 Male
Autism Awareness
  
 
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Default Detour to: segregation for well designed work environments where Autistics can thrive

"...the heart of the brief cannot be written down. It has to come from an understanding of the autistic mind ...This understanding can only come with time and patient observation..."
Christopher Beaver, GA Architects

Specialisterne ('the Specialists' in Danish) seeks to harness strengths that many people with Autism Spectrum Disorders possess - good attention to fine details, precision, and high tolerance for repetitive tasks. They bring the joy of work into areas where it is often missing today. While Specialisterne favours an inclusive approach, with the majority of the company's consultants located on clients' premises, the environment is altered for their consultants' specific needs as much as possible. These specific needs would have been studied, via observation of and input from consultants with Autistic Spectrum Disorders, for that social enterprise model to succeed.
(sources: Autism-friendly environments: a review - | autism | Asperger syndrome |)

Marcus Adrian is a principal with Mackey Mitchell Architects (MMA) in St. Louis, Missouri. He has put together a team of architects to teach the software program 'SketchUp' to students with Autism at Touchpoint Autism Services. According to a 2009 Newsweek article:
Quote:
...[Touchpoint] is building a new lab to teach SketchUp in collaboration with Mackey Mitchell Architects, a firm that is eager to tap the design insights of people with autism. The kids will be taught how to use SketchUp and asked to create their ideal living and learning spaces. [Touchpoint CEO Ron Ekstrand] says he hopes to incorporate these dream spaces into designs for a future school campus and for residential homes that the center runs for adults with autism. Mackey Mitchell hopes to merge the students' ideas into architectural plans for an even larger autism community, creating new classrooms, schools, living spaces and treatment centers nationwide that are specifically designed for the growing number of people on the spectrum...
MMA has already been involved in various projects related to Autism including the design for the new Southeast Missouri State University Autism Center (SEMO) as well for The Autism Program at Illinois State University. In future projects related to schools for children with special needs, the design insights tapped from the Autistic children at Touchpoint may be especially useful.


The 2010 Sketch-a-Space competition offered people (living with and without Autism) an opportunity to design their ideal, dream space using Google's 3-D modeling software, SketchUp. Understanding the environmental sensitivities of some individuals with Autism and creating spaces that accommodate them is what the competition was all about. Two of the top five entries (including the $2000 Grand Prize winning entry), came from people living with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Easter Seals: Sketch-A-Space

Included in the list of five judges for the competition, was a young man with Autism. Maurice Snell's ability to analyze entries through the eyes of a person with Autism was important for this competition:
Quote:
...Maurice Snell
Classroom Aide and Mentor, Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago

Maurice Snell is lending his expertise to Sketch-A-Space to ensure an end-user perspective. As a man living with autism, he is personally aware of the unique needs of individuals on the spectrum.

...Maurice was employed by Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago when it was building the new Therapeutic School and Center for Autism Research in the Illinois Medical District. Maurice provided insight and information to the architects regarding the unique needs of the students with autism whom would be attending the school.
(sources: Marcus Adrian; SketchUp: Why Kids With Autism Love It - Newsweek; Mackey Mitchell Architects; Easter Seals: Sketch-A-Space; Easter Seals: Sketch-A-Space Judge Bios)

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Old June 22nd, 2011, 10:36 AM   #12
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

"Environments based on careful scientific analysis will benefit not only those with special needs, but all user types, making our architecture more genuinely responsive to all our range of needs."
- Magda Mostafa (2008), Associate Professor of Design at the Department of Architectural Engineering, Cairo University, Egypt


Specialisterne ('the Specialists' in Danish) seeks to harness strengths that many people with Autism Spectrum Disorders possess - good attention to fine details, precision, and high tolerance for repetitive tasks. Their consultants bring the joy of work into areas where it is often missing today. The inclusiveness of having Specialisterne's employees on client premises may have secondary, positive effects on their clients too:
Quote:
...about 70 per cent of Specialisterne's employees are stationed in client premises. I asked Sonne how easy it is for them to fit in with other working environments. "We create virtual Specialisterne environments in our clients' offices. Everyone who will be in contact with our consultants is briefed about the conditions they require. They have to be nice to our people, avoid stressing them. In Denmark, we use a lot of irony and sarcasm, but people with autism can't decode that. We make sure that the clients know how important it is to be direct, to outline tasks precisely and to stick to routines, particularly if any queries arise."
"That's how you avoid an "I only fly with Qantas" freak-out" I blurt. "Yes," says Sonne. "We've never had a 'freak-out'. In fact, saying what you mean, meaning what you say, being nice, avoiding stress are all good things in general for companies to take on board. Many have said to us that having one of our consultants has softened the atmosphere..."
(sources: http://archnet.org/gws/IJAR/8821/fil...-pp189-211.pdf; Better, faster... and no office politics: the company with the autistic specialists - Features, Health & Families - The Independent)

Indeed increased widespread adoption of inclusive, universal design based work environments, may lead to positive effects for other workers and entire workplaces, just as in the Specialisterne example above.

We can look to the Walgreens Outreach initiative as a positive model in that regard. Walgreens' plan aimed to increase the number of people with disabilities within the Walgreens workforce and took the steps necessary to help those employees continue to be successful by incorporating a more universal, user-friendly design into the engineering of processes, software design, user interface and other systems:

Quote:
...The training was designed to prepare employees for the distribution workflow and technology that would be deployed in the distribution center. In addition, the partnership, in concert with James Emmett, guided Walgreens in creating an accessible and inclusive environment. The center is fully wheelchair accessible and the bathrooms are designed to be comfortable for people with various types of disabilities. One national expert described the center's application of universal design and built-in accommodations for people with disabilities as 'elegant.'

The work process changes included automated guided vehicles that can be operated by people with disabilities, adjustable workstations, and a redesigned, easier-to-use computer interface. A simplified computer touch screen was developed, with fewer prompts and more descriptive pictures.

"Our screens were way too complex," [Randy Lewis, Walgreens' Senior Vice President of Distribution and Logistics] told Chain Store Age, an industry publication, "so we got rid of the keyboard and are using more graphics to describe the work flow." Equipment was also modified, making it more ergonomic. The height of some workstations was also adjusted. "We made work surfaces flexible for different heights to limit the range of motions needed to do a job," Lewis added. "We also took away some of the heavy lifting."

"We found that the improvements actually benefit all distribution center employees," Lewis told Chain Store Age. "It's easier and quicker to train all employees on how to use the system. Also, some of the changes we've made have given us the added benefit of flexibility in that we can move people around the building more easily than in the past." ...It's a workplace that is worker friendly to all of its employees...
(sources: http://www.maemployersummit.org/docs...g_Practice.pdf; http://www.dol.gov/odep/categories/w...eadyAble/1.pdf)

Last edited by Visionary7903; July 20th, 2012 at 11:34 PM.
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Old June 23rd, 2011, 12:36 PM   #13
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Default Detour to: interactive whiteboards for work environments where Autistics can thrive

Specialisterne ('the Specialists' in Danish) seeks to harness strengths that many people with Autism Spectrum Disorders possess - good attention to fine details, precision, and high tolerance for repetitive tasks. Their consultants bring the joy of work into areas where it is often missing today. In late 2009, Specialisterne established a special youth education programme (STU) for young people 16 to 24 years old with autism spectrum disorders. These students do not excel in traditional youth education programs. So the purpose of the STU is to create a holistic approach to education which, besides teaching traditional subjects, also focuses on social and cultural understanding, health and well-being, and social behaviours and skills.
(source: specialistpeople.com: Denmark)

One tool that might be especially useful in any learning environment, for those individuals with special needs (like people on the Autistic Spectrum), is an interactive whiteboard.

One type of interactive whiteboard, the SMART Board has been part of an ongoing project with schoolchildren for a number of years. The Autism, Communication and Technology Project was initiated at Spaulding Youth Center in 2005 to research whether interactive whiteboards could be used to improve communication and engage students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders or neurological disorders. The project is a joint initiative of the Spaulding Youth Center, a New Hampshire-based facility providing therapeutic and educational care for youth with autism or other neurological impairments, and EdTech Associates, an agency that designs customized technology solutions and helps schools and other organizations develop learning environments in which all students can learn. Here is link to a presentation covering the use of the SMART Board for Autistic students: http://portal.b-g.k12.ky.us/Technolo...esentation.pdf

Kathleen McClaskey, president of EdTech Associates, says that most noteworthy of the project's findings is the improvement in the students' communication and social interaction skills:
Quote:
...In fact, McClaskey believes, the results have been remarkable. "What we've seen at Spaulding," she says, "is a significant increase in student engagement. Their attention is focused the whole time the SMART Board is on. The transformation of the student is so significant, people who visit the school cannot believe the behaviors they're seeing..."
Cynthia Everett is a Special Education Teacher at Butts Road Intermediate School in Chesapeake, Virginia:
Quote:
...Everett observes that her students with autism welcome the opportunity to perform for and with their peers at the SMART Board interactive whiteboard. She says, "I believe doing this has enormous benefits for their social skills and their self-esteem. If we can get our students to feel confident enough, regardless of their learning abilities, to stand in front of their peers, that's significant. And it happens again and again with the SMART Board."

...For Everett, it's the visual aspects of the SMART Board that she's seen engage students the most. She explains, "Something magical happens between children with autism and the SMART Board. I find that my students with autism are so visual. With the SMART Board, I can take any lesson and break it down into visual icons and steps, and they understand it. When I break a concept down into images, something brilliant happens. I just watch them go."
(sources: Interactive Administrator; http://downloads01.smarttech.com:80/...icle-oct09.pdf; http://center.uoregon.edu/ISTE/uploa...hLCarticle.pdf)

Last edited by Visionary7903; March 21st, 2012 at 10:20 PM.
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Old June 25th, 2011, 02:36 PM   #14
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Default Detour to: interactive whiteboards for work environments where Autistics can thri

Specialisterne (Danish for 'Specialists') seeks to harness strengths that many people with Autism Spectrum Disorders possess - good attention to fine details, precision, and high tolerance for repetitive tasks. Their consultants bring the joy of work into areas where it is often missing today. In late 2009, Specialisterne established a special youth education programme (STU) for young people 16 to 24 years old with autism spectrum disorders. These students do not excel in traditional youth education programs. So the purpose of the STU is to create a holistic approach to education which, besides teaching traditional subjects, also focuses on social and cultural understanding, health and well-being, and social behaviours and skills.
(source: specialistpeople.com: Denmark)

Indeed the SMART Board is not the only interactive whiteboard that has been used for Autistic students.

Katie King is a special needs teacher from Millersville Elementary in Millersville, Maryland. She teaches students with Autism by creating lessons that speak to the different learning styles of each student - catering to auditory, visual, tactile, kinesthetic, global and analytic learners...
Quote:
"...Having students with special needs, I needed a teaching tool that was both captivating and entertaining," says Katie. "The [Promethean] ActivBoard and ActivStudio fit that description perfectly and have really enhanced the climate of my classroom!"
Here is a short video showing King using Promethean's ActivBoard to teach students with autism about short vowels:
Promethean Teacher Feature - Katie King - YouTube
Quote:
...She uses a table on the interactive whiteboard with audio clips and graphics to match the vowel letters to their sounds. Another aspect of the lesson allows students to create their own words on the interactive whiteboard using the vowel sounds. A 3rd aspect combines paper and pencil with the interactive board, as they complete a dictation from the board...
Another example is from the Windmill Springs K-8 School in Northern California. The school has chosen Hitachi StarBoards in an effort to create a technology-rich educational environment. The school utilised Hitachi's FXDUO-77 interactive whiteboard in its special education classes.

Ms. Amy Kolb Tucker is a teacher at the school who teaches a sixth through eighth grade mild/moderate 'Special Day' class of 17 students, including children diagnosed with Autism and Asperger Syndrome:
Quote:
"...I try to follow the same curriculum as our seventh and eighth grade team," explained Tucker. "Modifications are made to reduce the amount of independent reading and writing, and to make the content more accessible." According to Tucker the StarBoards play an essential role in critical thinking and learning for her students. "As a class, the students can brainstorm words, thoughts, ideas, facts or even images to use in writing or projects. The interactive whiteboards allow us to update and manipulate ideas and concepts as we move through an exercise."

"...Student motivation and participation are greatly increased when they know they will get to use the StarBoard," added Ms. Kolb Tucker.
"Because we utilize the StarBoard in the lessons where special education students are integrated with out inclusion classes, they have become days our students look forward to a great deal. The general education students look forward to utilizing the StarBoard as well. Our classroom is definitely the coolest classroom on campus and the other students know it!"
Here are some links to reviews of the different interactive whiteboards so far mentioned (these should not be viewed as definitive - they are just to give the reader a guide as to differences between the brands and models):
Ultimate IWB Review Site Blog Archive Smartboard
Ultimate IWB Review Site Blog Archive Promethean ActivBoard
Ultimate IWB Review Site Blog Archive Hitachi Starboard FX

(sources: Katie King : Teacher Feature : Promethean Planet; Get Smart! Smartboards in K-3 Classrooms; http://www.hitachisolutions-us.com/s...estudy1108.pdf; http://troxweb.teamtroxell.com/www/n...hiteboards.pdf)

Last edited by Visionary7903; March 21st, 2012 at 10:23 PM.
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Old June 28th, 2011, 12:45 PM   #15
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Default Detour to: addressing sensory integration dysfunction in Autism-friendly environments

Specialisterne (Danish for 'Specialists') seeks to harness strengths that many people with Autism Spectrum Disorders possess - good attention to fine details, precision, and high tolerance for repetitive tasks. Their consultants bring the joy of work into areas where it is often missing today. The social enterprise seeks to minimise the impact of any sensory issues that its Autistic consultants may have by creating virtual Specialisterne environments in its clients' offices.
(source: Better, faster... and no office politics: the company with the autistic specialists - Features, Health & Families - The Independent)

Sensory integration is the process by which the body compiles all of the external stimuli and signals from the environment, analyses it, organizes it, and integrates it. When there is sensory integration dysfunction, one's nervous system is not able to properly sort out and make sense of all the sensory input that the senses are taking in.

People with Autism Spectrum Disorders often have sensory issues in one or more areas - these sensory dysfunctions could be addressed in an ideal Autism-friendly work environment. Accommodations could be built into such work places in a similar fashion to the way accommodations for disabilities were built into Walgreens' new Distribution Centers as part of that company's outreach initiative: see post 11 of this thread.

Addressing their sensory integration issues on a regular basis should allow them to thrive in a learning/work environment. Something like an adult version of ReacTickles, might give employees regular opportunities to become more in control of their sensory issues, sharpen their focus, and relax in ways that suit them especially well, so that they are at their best for more of the work day.

The Reactive Colours design research project has been developing customisable software, called ReacTickles, to engage the unique sensory interests of children on the Autistic Spectrum. The instigator of the ReacTickles project is Wendy Keay-Bright at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff. The software is being used with young Autistic children in a number of UK schools:
ReacTickles for smart table.mov - YouTube Reactive fun at the Hollies School - YouTube
Quote:
...Many learners on the Autism Spectrum Disorder continuum respond to environmental sensory input with feelings of anxiety, confusion, and fear. As a result, these students often engage in self-stimulatory behavior: unlike the sensory input they receive from the external environment, sensory input from repetitive self-stimulatory behavior is calming. Self-stimulatory behavior affords the students on the Autism Spectrum Disorder continuum a measure of control over a frightening and confusing world.
...ReacTickles is an engaging, fun, no-pressure environment. It is therefore ideal for developing focus before undertaking ... challenging academic activities. Spending 10 minutes in the ReacTickles environment before starting the school day can help Autism Spectrum Disorder students maintain focus for longer periods of time. It is equally well suited to post-activity relaxation. The Autism Spectrum Disorder student who has been working hard throughout the morning can jump on ReacTickles for 10 minutes before going to lunch. Doing so helps Autism Spectrum Disorder students de-stress from the morning's activities thereby reducing the likelihood of behavioral outbursts later in the day.
The ReacTickles software can be used on pretty much any computer or interactive whiteboard. However it may have found its natural medium on the SMART Table - a multi-touch, multi-user interactive learning centre for primary school students:
Quote:
...The possibilities for fun and teamwork are limitless on the table--from sliding an elephant across the surface, to following a trail of clues or mapping the human body. The ReacTickles software is just so intuitive and easy to use in this environment. As [an] adult I felt the relaxation and sheer pleasure that comes from interacting with the multicoloshapes and lines--an experience further enhanced when two or more individuals join in...
(sources: Enzymes & Sensory Integration; http://www.pheromonetalk.com/lounge/...ID=4742&eID...; http://www.toolfactory.com/Press/rea...for_change.pdf; http://repository.uwic.ac.uk/dspace/...ht%20paper.pdf)

Last edited by Visionary7903; March 21st, 2012 at 10:25 PM.
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Old June 29th, 2011, 03:10 PM   #16
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Default Detour to: addressing sensory integration dysfunction in Autism-friendly environment

Specialisterne (Danish for 'Specialists') seeks to harness strengths that many people with Autism Spectrum Disorders possess - good attention to fine details, precision, and high tolerance for repetitive tasks. Their consultants bring the joy of work into areas where it is often missing today. The social enterprise seeks to minimise the impact of any sensory issues that its Autistic consultants may have by creating virtual Specialisterne environments in its clients' offices.
(source: Better, faster... and no office politics: the company with the autistic specialists - Features, Health & Families - The Independent)

Another tool that could be used for the sensory integration issues of adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders, are bean bag chairs:
Quote:
...A lot of young children on the spectrum obtain the sensory feedback of sitting in a bean bag chair really comforting.
...Many children with autism obtain it comforting and calming to have their torsos surrounded by mild sensory strain...
Bean bag chairs may be particularly suitable for an Autism-friendly learning/work environment. Companies like Apple Computers and the world's biggest toy company, Mattel, have already introduced bean bag chairs into their corporate environment. Another example of a company that uses bean bag furniture in its offices to promote a creative environment and free communication, is Zazzle.com:
Quote:
...Modern businesses like online retailers need modern style in their offices. Not only do bean bags provide a sleek modern decor to an office, they can show employees and clients that the business is creative and open to new ideas.

In offices, bean bag furniture lets employees find their perfect comfortable position, which can open the mind and allow creative ideas to flow. Employees can find the next great idea when their body is relaxed and their mind free to roam. This is one of the reasons why Zazzle.com outfitted their offices with bean bag furniture.

...bean bag furniture can also encourage communication in an office environment when used as a conversation area in an office. Not only do bean bags allow people to relax and open up when discussing creative projects, bean bags are also portable. This means that everyone at a meeting can rearrange the bean bags to create the perfect environment for free and open communication. Zazzle.com employees say that they love bean bag chairs for meetings because they create a relaxed atmosphere for business and creative meetings...
(sources: Bean Bag Chairs for Autism Sensory Integration Treatment; Bean Bag Chair News | Zazzle.com Uses Comfy Sacks to Promote Creativity | Comfy Sack Bean Bag Chairs; Bean Bag Furniture Improves Corporate Culture | OriginalArticles.net)

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Old June 30th, 2011, 12:49 PM   #17
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders often have irregular patterns of cognitive strengths and deficits, including splinter skills. 'Splinter skills' are related to the following terms:
- isolated discontinuous abilities;
- isolated areas of better functioning;
- islets of ability; and
- an uneven cognitive profile.

Below are some examples of splinter skills in Autism Spectrum Disorders, which can be seen as a milder version of savant skills (which are much rarer):
Quote:
...Splinter Skills
Savant skills may be referred to as "splinter skills" and while few people are autistic savants, many exhibit splinter skills on some level. The skills are not necessarily extraordinary, but they certainly stand out in comparison to their levels of functioning. Examples of splinter skills include:
  • Rote memorization
A person on the autism spectrum may have the ability to memorize things very easily, especially when it pertains to specific areas of interest...
  • Music
An individual with autism may be particularly interested in music, showing great skill in playing instruments or singing. Sometimes he or she is able to play music by ear...
  • Artistic skills
Drawing, painting and sculpting are among splinter skills that may be found in individuals with autism
  • Math
Math skills can relate to rote memorization and this splinter skill may manifest in "lightning calculating" in which a person is able to solve mathematics problems as quickly as an electronic calculator calculates...
  • Mechanical skills
A person on the spectrum may be fascinated with mechanics and can develop outstanding repair skills...
The challenge is to make use of these 'splinter skills' in an employment situation. Below is an example of one attempt at doing just that...
Quote:
Functional utilization of splinter skills for the employment of a young adult with autism.
Shields-Wolfe, Jamie; Gallagher, Patricia A.
Focus on Autistic Behavior, Vol 7(4), Oct 1992, 1-16.
ABSTRACT
A 21-yr-old man with autism characterized by splinter skills in calendar calculations and music trivia memorization was trained to work as an order filler for a music distribution company. In Phase 1 of the study, assessment of S's skills was conducted during 20 sessions over 8 wks. Evaluation instruments included the Autism Screening Instrument for Educational Planning First Edition, the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test--Revised (PPVT--R), and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale--Revised (WAIS--R). In Phase 2, the S was employed during 26 days over another 8 wks. An incrementally sequenced program was created to teach the S order-pulling tasks, social skills, and work behaviors. Performance evaluations by a supervisor and a job coach revealed the S to be an average worker on most levels and above-average on some others. Successful interaction with co-workers was achieved, and an overall decrease in inappropriate behaviors at home was noted.
Here is a recent study, from Germany, on the potential utilisation in employment of special interests in adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders...
Quote:
Special Interests in Adults with Autism and Their Potential for Employment
[J. C. Kirchner, S. Dern, D. Miller-Remus and I. Dziobek]

Background:
Special Interests are a defining characteristic of many individuals on the autism spectrum (Winter-Messiers, 2007). Even though a core problem for many individuals with autism is unemployment (Baumgartner et al. 2009), there is little knowledge about the potential of those Special Interests for employment possibilities. In the last years there have been founded a growing number of IT-companies (e.g. Specialisterne, Passwerk) which are specialized in employing individuals on the autism spectrum and other initiatives trying to bring individuals with autism into permanent job positions (e.g. autworker, Arbeit nach MaB). However, to our knowledge there are no studies which systematically assessed types of Special Interests and abilities. Additionally there is more knowledge needed about the general set-up which individuals with autism need in their working space to work accordingly to their potential. The research presented here is part of a feasibility study for a new start-up company (Auticon) in Berlin, Germany, which seeks to specialize in employing individuals with autism.

Objectives:
The study is an exploratory approach to describe Special Interests and measure their potential for employment in individuals with autism. Furthermore interfering factors (such as noise) or facilitating factors (such as flexible hours) which may affect job performance in individuals with autism are assessed.

Methods:
With a newly compiled self-report questionnaire the study is currently conducted in Berlin, Germany. The questionnaire was developed in close consultation with a focus-group of autistic adults to ensure accessibility, respect, inclusion and relevance of items for autistic adults. Individuals with autism are contacted through internet panels and mailing lists to fill out the online questionnaire. Only subjects who report an official diagnosis of autism are included. The questionnaire comprises qualitative (e.g. description of Special Interests) and quantitative elements (e.g. ratings of skills).

Results:
Preliminary data (based on 24 individuals on the autism spectrum) show a wide range of Special Interests in individuals with autism with potential for application in work tasks (e.g. informatics, natural sciences). Subjects spend an average time of 18.5 hours (SD: 12.06) per week with that Special Interest and estimate their level of abilities in this tasks on a scale from basic knowledge (0) to superior knowledge (5) as good knowledge (M: 3.8, SD: 1.16). As interfering with their job performance 'mobbing by colleagues' (40,9 %) and 'unpleasant sounds' (36,4%) were the factors reported most often, while 'the supervisor knowing about the employee being autistic' was most often rated as a facilitating factor (68,2 %).

Conclusions:
Special Interests represent important abilities in individuals on the autism spectrum which may be important for employment strategies. Taken together with the consideration of interfering and facilitating factors for job performance our study can help to develop successful employment strategies for individuals with autism. More in-depth results about types of Special Interest, current job situation and job satisfaction will be reported at the conference.
(sources: Prodigious Savants | LoveToKnow; Standifer, S. (2009). Adult Autism & Employment: A Guide for Vocational Rehabilitation Professionals. Disability Policy and Studies, School of Health Professions, University of Missouri Health System. Retrieved from: http://www.dps.missouri.edu/Autism/A...Employment.pdf; https://imfar.confex.com/imfar/2012/...aper11350.html)

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Old July 2nd, 2011, 09:22 AM   #18
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

According to Christopher N. Henry, a specialist in Autism design, architects are divided over what to the optimal approach for lighting in facilities for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders...
Quote:
...Some say we should limit daylight and exterior views, keep ceiling heights low and spatial volumes small, use restrained details, subdued colors, and reduce acoustical levels. Others advocate for high ceiling heights, large spatial volumes, and high levels of daylight with plenty of views to the outside. Still others disagree with catering to sensory needs altogether. They point out that individuals with autism struggle generalizing skills, and designing sensory heavens can do more harm than good. Thus they argue for autism classrooms, schools, and homes that mimic all the colors, sounds, lighting, and spatial volumes of 'neuro-typical' environments...
...Unlike the proponents of the 'neuro-typical' approach, the majority in the sensory sensitive camp advocate against the use of direct fluorescent lighting. Some researchers maintain that individuals with autism are more vulnerable to the sub-visible flicker that can cause headaches, eyestrain, and increased repetitive behavior. ...the current consensus against direct fluorescent lighting appears warranted, but reaching an agreement against poorly designed fluorescent lighting is one thing, resolving how to light an autism facility is another...
One issue that Henry alludes to in his article, is the problem of sensory over-stimulation that exposure to daylight may create in Autistics...
Quote:
...The architecture firm Fletcher Thompson feels autism turns conventional knowledge on its head. "Because of the extreme sensitivity to sensory stimulation," Fletcher Thompson believes, "clerestory windows and skylights may be counter productive because shifting patterns of daylight can complicate the visual environment." In lieu of this, Fletcher Thompson believes, the amount and type of visual stimulation should be tightly controlled...
The SchoolVision system from Philips can create 4 lighting scenes that fit distinct classroom activities from a fresh start in the morning and after lunch to calm down the classroom when the children are over-active. This dynamic lighting system seems to work well according to studies and Eduardo Mataix, Lighting Chairman Philips Middle East (talking about the system in the context of Philips' Silver sponsorship of the First Kuwait Schools and Colleges Build Conference and Exhibition in September 2009):
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"...Children sometimes feel tired, or are hyperactive, and find it more difficult to concentrate in class. This creates new challenges for teachers to get the best out of them on their school results", says [Mataix]. "Using the right lighting solution, such as Dynamic Lighting in classrooms, helps to overcome early morning sleepiness and enhances the students' concentration leading to making less mistakes as well as suppressing hyperactivity", he adds...
The SchoolVision system includes Philips Activiva Active lamps, which contain 85% more blue light than daylight, and are known for their alertness and energising effects on individuals. Despite the potential for over-stimulation in Autistic individuals, such a system may also work for them - because the amount of light could be controlled to certain parts of the day when energy and alertness are especially needed. In the below example from a school in England, Autistic children look to have excelled in a dynamic lighting environment (which would have included energising lights of some sort)...
Quote:
...An interactive and bespoke lighting system from Zumtobel is proving a real success for pupils with autism and other special educational needs (SENs) at the Yeoman Park School in Nottingham.

...The EMOTION TOUCH active light ceiling was installed experimentally to see how pupils would respond to the interactive lighting system. Clusters of recessed LIGHTFIELDS luminaires integrated into the system provide variable lighting and light colour depending on the environment required. Featuring a single control panel, up to 16 scenes have been easily programmed into the system, including a fibre optic starry sky and a soothing lilac tone to promote a calm atmosphere in the classroom. When pupils are required to be more alert the ceiling is simply made brighter whilst different settings indicate important times in the day for pupils, such as lunch and home time.

The nerves in an autistic brain allow for greater differentiation between stimuli, and are very sensitive to many stimuli that most people ignore, with flickering from conventional fluorescent lighting liable to induce seizures in autistic children. Designed by Sotsass Associati, the LIGHTFIELDS luminiares were the perfect choice as the micro prism optic ensures only the light is seen, not the lamp. The prism optic also reduces direct and reflected glare whist enabling clear light to radiate down into the classroom. The slim, discreet design ensures the fitting remains unobtrusive against the ceiling.

Joan Morris from the school is extremely positive about the benefits of the system to the pupils, commenting: "The flexibility of the lighting levels and colour range the system provides is very useful as it means we can utilise the space for a number of tasks ranging from teaching to relaxation time without having to change classrooms. It's inspired more confidence in the students who find verbal communication difficult. The changes in the light settings allow them to be more aware of their surroundings and what is required of them without the need for speech."
(sources: Designing for Autism: Lighting | ArchDaily; Philips showcases latest dynamic lighting innovation during Kuwait Schools and Colleges Build Exhibition | Philips | AMEinfo.com; Lighting Directory News - Flexible lighting scheme from Zumtobel aids autistic children)

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Old July 4th, 2011, 03:11 AM   #19
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Default Re: 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

Interesting topic! I have a 29 year old daughter with autism. I think that she does excell in some tasks that the average individual is less likely to. She is also very good at spotting things that have changed in an environment ( potential to spot disease in trees for example) conversations verbatum, and because it is not very important to her to stick to social convention, she often blurts out things better off said.
May I ask why you have an interest in this subject?

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Old July 4th, 2011, 08:50 AM   #20
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Default Re: 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

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Originally Posted by happycarol View Post
Interesting topic! I have a 29 year old daughter with autism. I think that she does excel in some tasks that the average individual is less likely to. She is also very good at spotting things that have changed in an environment ( potential to spot disease in trees for example) conversations verbatum, and because it is not very important to her to stick to social convention, she often blurts out things better off said.
May I ask why you have an interest in this subject?
Thanks for sharing happycarol! I hope your daughter makes use of the gifts that she has.

As for my interest for this subject - well I want to have a career in the future where I can make use of my own nature. Well actually, Bruce Tow and David Gilliam of SynOvation Solutions write about a cross-disciplinary specialist or at least a specialist whose work demands more-frequent new learning. The idea is for me to be a Synthesist or even a Bridge - cross-fertilizing or "coupling" the various disciplines involved in a given multidisciplinary project, and in the process helping to bring project breakthroughs out of others.
(source: Synthesis Institute: Synthesis-related jobs or roles)

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