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Individuals with ASD: An Overview of Symptoms and Strengths

presented by Heather Kuhaneck

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Individuals with ASD present with a range of strengths and difficulties that have led to the description of the disorder as a spectrum. Current diagnostic practices reflect this new understanding of the disorder and have created new opportunities for occupational therapists. While many healthcare professionals interact with individuals with ASD because of the symptoms, it is imperative that there is a clear understanding of their strengths as well. Specifically, occupational therapists who practice with a strengths based approach support and encourage acceptance and promote full social inclusion as is recommended by our national association and organizations for individuals with ASD. This course will describe the range of strengths and challenges encountered by professionals working with individuals with ASD, and will promote the adoption of a strengths based therapeutic approach in occupational therapy practice.

Meet Your Instructor

  • Heather Kuhaneck, PhD, OTR/ L, FAOTA

    Heather Kuhaneck, PhD OTR/L FAOTA, has practiced in pediatrics for over 25 years in rural and inner city schools, outpatient clinics specializing in OT using sensory integrative intervention, early intervention settings, inpatient settings, and privately in children’s homes. She currently is an associate professor at Sacred Heart University, teaching the pediatric content of the occupational therapy program and courses in research. Mrs. Kuhaneck is an editor or co-editor of three editions of Autism: A Comprehensive Occupational Therapy Approach, published by the American Occupational Therapy Association, a co-author of Activity Analysis, Creativity, and Playfulness in Pediatric Occupational Therapy: Making Play Just Right and a co-author of the Sensory Processing Measure and the Sensory Processing Measure-Preschool. She has written a variety of chapters, articles, and CE on CD on intervention with children with autism, promoting family resilience and coping in mothers of children with ASD.

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

Download Learning Objectives
  1. An Overview of the Diagnosis of ASD

    1. An Overview of the Diagnosis of ASD

    This chapter will provide a brief history of the diagnosis of autism and an overview of the current DSM-V diagnostic criteria. The typical process of diagnosis and the changes in that process will be described via two case examples. DSM-V criteria will be compared with prior editions of the DSM and the benefits and challenges of the changes will be highlighted. Specifically, the addition of sensory issues as part of the DSM has created opportunities for occupational therapists to take on greater responsibility in the health care team as the “expert” in the identification and intervention in this area.

  2. Strength and Symptoms

    2. Strength and Symptoms

    This chapter will provide an overview of the range of strengths and symptoms that are commonly noted in ASD via a variety of cases.

  3. Strengths Based Approaches

    3. Strengths Based Approaches

    This chapter will describe strengths based approaches, promote practical strategies that can be employed in clinical practice, and highlight the literature/evidence that supports occupational therapy practice in this way.