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The Learning Success Blog

Eyes Not Necessarily the Window to the Soul for People with Autism

Posted by Tilly Stevens on June 21, 2017 at 4:57 PM

Tilly Stevens

It is a common understanding that individuals with autism will not, or do not like to look others in the eye. This can be distressing and even hurtful to those who love and care for such individuals.

This tendency to avoid eye contact has led to the conception that people with ASD (autistic spectrum disorder) are ‘uncaring’ or can’t engage emotionally.

However new research shows that this may be a misconception. Those with ASD may be avoiding eye contact because it is physically uncomfortable to them, not because they do not want to engage with others.

Instead, it is likely that any lack of emotional development or understanding is actually a symptom of this discomfort. Autistic individuals often want (or need) to avoid eye contact and thereby may miss a lot of the emotional development encountered by reacting to facial expressions.  This then ‘stunts’ their emotional development and abilities.

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Topics: Autism

Autism: Parents of Twins Design Interactive Social Skills Training

Posted by Peter Barnes on December 21, 2016 at 1:10 PM

Peter Barnes

Like all parents, Marc and Tina were so excited when their twin boys were born. 

They felt much different emotions when, two years later their identical boys, Jared and Jason, were diagnosed with autism.

The diagnosis started Marc and Tina on a journey to help their boys and led to them developing an interactive program to help Jared and Jason with their social and emotional skills. The program, The Social Express, was so successful that it is now being used by many children, with and without autism, to improve their ability to interact with others.

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Topics: Autism

How Fast ForWord Helped Finn: Autism, Language & Reading Improvements

Posted by Colin Klupiec on June 30, 2016 at 10:46 AM

Colin Klupiec

Watching your child grow up is exciting and wondrous. You marvel at what they pick up and how they develop.

For Kim Rackemann and her husband, the journey with their son Finn wasn’t quite so straightforward. Finn wasn’t really hitting the usual milestones. He was found to be on the Autism Spectrum, and the main indicator was his language delay.

Despite some scepticism, Finn started the Fast ForWord program, and in what seemed to be a short space of time, the improvements started. I spoke to Kim on The Learning Capacity Podcast where she shared Finn’s story.

Listen to the podcast.

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Topics: Autism, Fast ForWord, Podcasts, Reading Difficulties

“Phenomenal” improvements for son after Fast ForWord, says Father

Posted by Colin Klupiec on February 28, 2016 at 12:20 PM

Colin Klupiec


Dr Con Kafataris, father of six, describes the changes he saw in his son George, aged nine, as phenomenal” after George completed the Fast ForWord program.

It was a little bit of a journey to find Fast ForWord for George but after trying a few avenues, including speech pathology, Dr Kafataris came across the program through a book titled, “The Brain That Changes Itself” by Dr Norman Doidge.

“The science seemed plausible”, said Dr Kafataris, so he decided to give it a go.

What were these “phenomenal” improvements? Listen to the podcast to find out.

Or read more below for the complete podcast transcript.

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Topics: Learning Difficulties, Comprehension, Reading, Autism, Fast ForWord, Learning, Learning Capacity Success Stories, Podcasts

What's the Latest in Neuroscience, Working Memory, Attention & Autism?

Posted by Peter Barnes on May 19, 2015 at 2:38 PM

Peter Barnes

At a recent neuroscience conference in the USA, I heard Dr Martha Burns give a wide-ranging talk summarising the latest neuroscience research about learning and learning disorders. She related the latest research findings to how the Fast ForWord & Reading Assistant programs improve language skills, reading and learning capacity for many children.

Dr Burns is a neuroscientist, author of over 100 journal articles and multiple books, and a leading expert on how children learn.  Her talk covered topics including autism, attention & listening skills, working memory, self-regulation & cognitive control, dyslexia, intelligent tutoring systems, the neuroscience of learning, goal setting, and what's next for neuroscience. 

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Topics: Attention, Latest Research, Dyslexia, Memory, Autism, Confidence & Resilience, Fast ForWord, Learning Capacity

The Latest Neuroscience Research about Autism from Dr Martha Burns

Posted by Peter Barnes on May 18, 2015 at 12:47 PM

Peter Barnes

"The bottom line of all the research is that autism spectrum is very, very complex. There are probably as many different kinds of autism as there are children with autism spectrum disorders. So it isn't a unified group at all", said Dr Martha Burns in a recent presentation at a neuroscience learning conference in Tuscon, USA.

Dr Martha Burns is a neuroscientist, author of over 100 journal articles and multiple books, and a leading expert on how children learn. 

Here is an abridged version of her presentation about autism. Dr Burns said:

"We know that most of the research shows now that it's the long association fibre tracts that don't mature in autism spectrum disorders. But it's not the same for each child. Every child is a little bit different.

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Topics: Brain Science, Autism

New Insights About the Autistic Brain Confirm Fast ForWord Helps

Posted by Peter Barnes on March 6, 2015 at 11:28 AM

Peter Barnes

People with autism may simultaneously have too much connectivity in some parts of their brain and poor connectivity in other parts, according to new research from Carnegie Mellon University, USA, published in Nature Neuroscience in January 2015.

The research compared brain scans from a group of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and brain scans of a control group with normally developing brains.  The resting brains of the control group looked very similar to each other whereas the scans of the brains in the autistic group were all different. They showed unique patterns of connectivity, different patterns of excess or poor connectivity in each brain.

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Topics: Autism

Can comic books help people with autism make sense of their world?

Posted by Peter Barnes on January 6, 2015 at 10:52 AM

Peter Barnes

Can comic books help people with autism make sense of their world, and interact better with the people around them?

Dave Kot believes they can, if they are written specifically for children on the autism spectrum. Kot, who has autism himself, has written the first comic book in the world with a hero who has autism.

Face Value Comics volumes 1 & 2 (more to come) were written by him, his wife, Angela, and a team of illustrators who live in a small town in Pennsylvania, USA. They aim to explain to a young person with autism, what autism is.

Dave Kot says, “At worst, the comics are just family fun and entertainment. At best, autistic kids have a hero like themselves. They can understand what autism is or what it isn't, relate to situations and be open to positive communications about autism”.

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Topics: Learning Difficulties, Autism

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All about Neuroscience & Learning

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