Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cognative Processes

Ok so really this post is a paper I wrote and turned in for class. Hey I wrote it so it's mine. :) Not all of it uses autism in examples and such but It didn't make sense to me when I cut and pasted it out. Trust me I wont feel bad if you don't read it all. I almost put myself to sleep writing it.
Cognitive Processes
            This paper will look at cognitive processes.  More specifically it will look at language, problem solving, and decision making.  Both problem solving and decision making fall under executive functions.  These are the cognitive functions that help us organize and complete daily tasks.  This paper will look at what these processes are, what they do, and what today’s research shows.
            Our text describes language as our processing of spoken language.  Whether we are processing what we hear or what we speak it all needs to be processed.  When someone has a deficit in language they may not be able to process what is being said to them correctly, they may not be able to speak as well.  Auditory processing disorder is where a person does not fully process what is being said to them.  You may tell a child with this to do something and they only process the start of the request but do not do the middle because they never processed what was asked of them.
            “Children with APD demonstrate difficulties in one or more areas of perceptual processing of auditory information, such as sound localization and lateralization; auditory discrimination; auditory pattern recognition; temporal aspects of audition, including temporal integration, temporal discrimination (e.g., temporal gap detection), temporal ordering, and temporal masking; auditory performance in competing acoustic signals (including dichotic listening); and auditory performance with degraded acoustic signals. (American Speech-
Language-Hearing Association [ASHA], 2005, p. 2)”  (Miller, 2011)
            When a person has a problem processing what they hear this can affect how they learn language.  We use language for many things reading, writing, and communication are a few examples.  The development of language is a mental process which can change overtime.  Look at learning a new language; children can learn multiple languages easier than adults.  Disorders such as Alzheimer’s can make a person lose their ability to process language.  Different things going on in a person’s cognitive functions can affect their overall language process.
Problem Solving
            Problem solving is how we reach goals.  How do you organize the steps you need to take to finish the task at hand?  An example of this is taking a shower.  You need to have all the soap and shampoo ready and know what to do.  In washing your hair you have to wet your hair, lather, and then rinse.  If there is a dysfunction in one’s problem solving they may in this example lather their hair without first getting it wet.
            In the case of people with autism one of the factors is a dysfunction in their problem solving.  They cannot always readily see the correct response to a situation.  Sometimes the environment  is over stimulating and they cannot think.  O’Connor and Stichter looked at a program called ready set go to be used with children with autism.  In this program they first look at the problem, then what the solutions may be and finally which of the options are the correct response. The image shows how mapping out a problem can be helpful.

            There are many different approaches to help with problem solving and organization.There are visual charts, different types of organizers, and many other approaches.  Each person is different so each person will have a different thing that works for them.
            The same study also talked about the unlock approach to problem solving.  In this approach you think of a locker.  The acronym unlock stands for: Use a self-control strategy, Name the problem, List your solutions, Out the consequences, Choose the solution, Keep your locker open. 
            In both approaches Ready, Set, Go, and unlock the problem is broken down into parts.  By breaking a problem down into manageable parts one can focus on one thing at a time.  They also can look at what the solutions are as well as what the consequences may be.  In the case of autism just taking the time to break down the problem may be enough to help the person feel in control again.

Decision Making
            Decision making is very closely related to problem solving.  If one does not have the ability to problem solve they more than likely cannot make a decision.  The cognitive process of decision making is similar to the Ready, Set, Go program discussed in problem solving.  The person needs to look at what decision needs to be made, what the options are, and what the best path to take will be.
             Conjunction Fallacy or being able to state what is most likely to happen plays a role in decision making. “The conjunction fallacy has been cited as a classic example of the automatic contextualization of problems.” (Morsanyi, Handley, & Evans, 2010). The study done by Morsanyi, Handley, and Evans looked at adolescents with autism to see how conjunction fallacy affected them.  They used two groups one with autism, asbergers and PDD-NOS were excluded as was multiple diagnoses.  The other group was neurotypical peers with no known disabilities.
            In the study they gave both groups lists of statements and they had to mark which was more probable.  The interesting thing was the group with autism was less affected by conjunction fallacy than the neurotypical peers.  The reasoning they came up with for this difference is people tend to look back at experiences in their reasoning and decisions.  The difference between the autism group and neurotypical was the neurotypical group would make more of a global representation of a situation, while the group with autism looks more at specific experiences they have had.
            They also stated since many autistic people cannot pick up irony, metaphors, or non-literal language they also have a deficit in automatic inference which is why they do not make the global representations their neurotypical peers do.   Not being able to make global references can affect a person with autism in their decision making.  Because they only look at specific experiences one by one and not experiences as a total everything must be set in stone.

            The different parts of our cognitive processes all work together so we can accomplish our goals.  Any dysfunction in any of the areas of cognition can have a snowball effect on one’s life. If they have a language problem they may not understand what they are reading or being told to be able to problem solve and make the correct decision. 
            Many people such as people with autism have multiple deficits in their cognitive processes which can make it harder to do things.  It is important to remember the person who you may think just makes bad decisions may actually have a cognitive problem that makes it harder for them to make the right choice.

Miller, C. A. (2011). Auditory Processing Theories of Language Disorders: Past, Present, and Future. Language, Speech & Hearing Services In Schools, 42(3), 309-319. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2011/10-0040)
Morsanyi, K., Handley, S., & Evans, J. (2010). Decontextualised minds: adolescents with autism are less susceptible to the conjunction fallacy than typically developing adolescents. Journal Of Autism And Developmental Disorders, 40(11), 1378-1388.
O'CONNOR, K. V., & STICHTER, J. P. (2011). Using Problem-Solving Frameworks to Address Challenging Behavior of Students With High-Functioning Autism and/or Asperger Syndrome. Beyond Behavior, 20(1), 11-17.
Robinson-Riegler, G., & Robinson-Riegler, B. (2008). Cognitive psychology: Applying the science of the mind (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Different Dream Parenting: A Practical Guide to Raising a Child with Special Needs

Different Dream Parenting: A Practical Guide to Raising a Child with Special NeedsDifferent Dream Parenting: A Practical Guide to Raising a Child with Special Needs by Jolene Philo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"Parents of children with chronic or critical medical conditions, behavioral issues, or educational needs face special challenges. But sometimes finding needed resources is discouraging, frustrating, or exhausting. In this helpful book, the author--herself a parent who has raised a special needs child--gives those parents and families practical help, extensive advice about resources, and encouraging spiritual guidance. Different Dream Parenting shows parents how to ask questions and conduct research so they can unearth local resources and those that are available at hospitals, medical facilities, government agencies, private organizations, businesses, schools, churches, and more. The author and other experienced parents and professionals also share what they've learned about asking, listening, and waiting for spiritual answers or encouragement."

Parents of special needs kids have different needs. Most mainstream parenting books need not apply. The author shares her own experiences as a mother of a child with a medical condition. She has been in the position of having to make major medical decisions on the spot. No time for research time can not be spared decisions that most parents will never have to make.

No matter your child's need, life threatening or not this is a different parenting book that understands the frustrations of getting the right services, being told no, and helps to come up with the right questions.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Guardianship, Conservatorship, and Power of Attorney's OH MY!

**** Disclaimer: I am not nor have I ever been a Lawyer. I don't even play one on TV. This is just my research and should not be taken as legal advice. Only a Lawyer certified by the bar in your state can give legal advice. Again this is for informative purposes only.*******

As our children get older we start to think about their future and what they will do. How are we going to prepare them for the world (really should have been doing this all along not wait till 18 just sayin)? How do we protect them from the big bad world? Lets face it there are people in the world when given a chance will take advantage of people. Some families will have to go the legal route others will not, it all depends on each families situation.

When looking at a person with special needs we need to ask can they make their own decisions? Are they impulsive? Is it easy to take advantage of them? Can they live on their own? What assistance if any do they need? Remember just because you answer these questions one way at one point in time does not mean that the answers wont change. Not every family needs to have lawyers and courts become involved. 

Roger will be 13 in a couple of months, which means he will be an adult in 5 years. 5 years that's it. We started talking about what needs to be done. There is no doubt that he can and will go to college, work, and live on his own. But.... He may need some assistance at first (which really don't all kids). The assistance he may need is reminding him to pay the rent and his bills. Don't worry he will remember to feed himself. 

When talking to a friend we started talking about Guardianship, conservatorship, and Power of Attorney's (POA). Theres a lot to take in and look at. This is just a brief description of what I have found out. The information I have used comes from different legal sites for different states. Regulations may vary by court.

Guardianship:  A guardianship establishes a relationship between the Guardian and the ward similar to a parent child relationship. The Guardian undertakes duties and responsibilities to the ward guided by the order of the Probate Court. A guardianship for a developmentally disabled person should be undertaken only to promote and protect the well-being of the ward and encourage the development of maximum self-reliance for the ward. The guardianship should be limited by the Court based on the developmentally disabled individual’s actual mental and adaptive limitations.  from:

What does a gaurdian do?
The guardian makes all decisions about the care and treatment of the person under guardianship, who is referred to as a ward. For example, the guardian may decide whether to consent to surgery, or to a change of placement, such as from an institution to a group home. The guardian often attends the IEP or IHP meetings and decides whether to consent to the plan of services. The guardian may also decide on the best way to protect the legal rights of the ward. For instance, if the guardian were dissatisfied with the services an agency provides to the ward, the guardian would have authority to challenge that decision.
The guardian may also make all decisions about the property of the person under guardianship, unless that property is in trust or consists of social security benefits. In these cases it is the trustee and representative payee respectively who would decide what to do with this property. A guardian does not assume financial responsibility for the ward. (

What if my child needs a guardian for some decisions, but not others?
Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania have passed legislation allowing for limited guardianship.
This allows a guardian to make decisions in some, but not all, areas of an individual’s life. For instance, parents may be appointed limited guardians of their son with respect to financial and medical issues. In such a case, personal decisions such as where to work or live will remain with the individual. As a result, limited guardianship can take on many forms and can be tailored to match an individual’s strengths and weaknesses While many people with very severe cognitive disabilities may still require a “full” guardian, a limited guardian may be appropriate for someone who is “higher functioning” or who has a very “mild” cognitive impairment. Experienced attorneys and psychologists can assist families in deciding which form of guardianship may be appropriate. (

 Conservatorship: I know your brain just went to Britney Spears, and yes her father had conservatorship over her for a while, he still might I don't know. " A conservatorship can be set up after a judge decides that a person (called a "conservatee") cannot take care of him/herself or his/her finances. A judge will choose another person or organization (called the "conservator") to be in charge of the conservatee's care or finances, or both. A conservator can be a family member, friend, or professional.
What is a conservator of the estate?
When the court appoints you to be the conservator of an estate, you will:

  1. manage the conservatee's finances;
  2. protect the conservatee's income and property;
  3. make a list of everything in the estate;
  4. make a plan to make sure the conservatee's needs are met;
  5. make sure the conservatee's bills are paid;
  6. invest the conservatee's money;
  7. make sure the conservatee gets all the benefits he or she is eligible for;
  8. make sure the conservatee's taxes are filed and paid on time;
  9. keep exact financial records; and
  10. make regular reports of the financial accounts to the court and other interested persons.
There are different types of conservatorships as well
.A limited conservatorship is set up for adults with developmental disabilities who cannot fully care for themselves, but who do not need the higher level of care or help given under a general conservatorship. In general, a limited conservator has less authority than a general conservator. A limited conservator has authority to do only those things that are granted at the time of appointment. The judge decides which responsibilities the conservatee will keep and which ones the conservator will have. Now think Britney she had some mental issues, but lived alone, still worked, still made money someone just looked over her to make sure she made good decisions.
  All information on conservatorship is from,1529941&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL 

Power of Attorney's: These are the most restrictive and many people have them. My husband holds POA on me if something were to happen and I was unable of making decisions. You must understand what you are signing to give POA to another person.

A power of attorney is a document that allows you to appoint a person or organization to handle your affairs while you're unavailable or unable to do so. The person or organization you appoint is referred to as an "Attorney-in-Fact" or "Agent."

General Power of Attorney - authorizes your Agent to act on your behalf in a variety of different situations.

Special Power of Attorney - authorizes your Agent to act on your behalf in specific situations only.

Health Care Power of Attorney - allows you to appoint someone to make health care decisions for you if you're incapacitated.

"Durable" Power of Attorney -The general, special and health care powers of attorney can all be made "durable" by adding certain text to the document. This means that the document will remain in effect or take effect if you become mentally incompetent.

Revocation of Power of Attorney - allows you to revoke a power of attorney document.

Special Power of Attorney
A special power of attorney allows you to give only specific powers to the person or organization you appoint as your "Agent." For example, you could authorize someone to sell a car or a house for you.
Many people use the special power of attorney to authorize their Agent to do one or several of the following:
  • Handle banking transactions
  • Enter safety deposit boxes
  • Handle transactions involving U.S. securities
  • Collect debts
  • Sell real estate
  • Mortgage real estate
  • Manage real estate
  • Sell personal property
  • Borrow money
  • Manage business interests
  • Handle government issues
  • Make financial decisions
  • Make estate planning decisions, including gifts
A special power of attorney is often used to allow your Agent to handle specific situations for you when you are unavailable or unable to do so. For example, you may be traveling outside the state or country, or you may be unable to handle a specific situation because of other commitments, or health reasons.

Mental Competence
In order for a power of attorney document to be valid, you must be mentally competent when you sign it. This means that you must understand the powers that you are granting to your Agent and the implications of having someone else make decisions for you. If there is any question about your mental competence, it's a good idea to have a physician evaluate you and state in writing that you are competent.

If you have signed a "durable" power of attorney document, it will either remain in effect or go into effect if you become mentally incompetent. But how will your mental competence be determined? This is something that you can spell out in the document. For example, you can name a physician whom you wish to make the determination. Or, you can require that two licensed physicians agree on your mental capacity.
Even if your document doesn't set specific requirements, it's still likely that your Agent will have to get a doctor's written confirmation of your incompetence. Most businesses and organizations won't allow your Agent to act on your behalf without it. In some cases, a court may be required to decide the issue using generally accepted standards.

How does a doctor decide if you're mentally competent? In general, the doctor will consider whether you have an understanding of the subject area covered by the Power of Attorney, whether you understand the implications and importance of the matters involved, and whether you can make and communicate reasoned choices. (