Showing posts from March, 2008

Autism, Amish, and Outbreaks

Apparently, contrary to urban legends, the unvaccinated Amish do get seizure disorders and autism: Of course, why trust the New England Journal of Medicine when there are so many "experts" pushing their theories on the Web? I am now accustomed to the anti-vaccination crowd claiming that any research that points to a genetic cause, with minimal environmental triggers, is research bought and paid for by "Big Pharma" or some other conspiracy is at work. It is ironic that the stories of autism-free Amish appear on thousands of Web sites, while serious research is largely ignored. People want easy answers. Triggers are not causes. Are there triggers for underlying conditions? Probably. But I wonder if we are asking for trouble as more and more parents avoid vaccines? Hence, recent stories in the New York Times about measles outbreaks. According to the Times, several outbreaks of nearly-eradicated diseases have recent

Speaking and Walking

It has been a tough couple of weeks. I skipped a class last week because I could not speak well and was having a great deal of difficulty walking. My mind and body are not in agreement lately. With all that has been happening at the university, it was reasonable not to attend class with flapping arms and strange verbal outbursts. I wish I understood myself and could control my arms, my legs, and my mouth! This weekend I slipped down our basement stairs, fell into the walls more than once, and whacked my face against a bookcase in our bedroom. My internal sense of balance is definitely offline; whatever internal gyroscope most humans have is malfunctioning. The verbalizations, usually grunts and shrieks from pain, are annoying. It is worse than an elderly man trying to stand up from a beanbag. I yelp in agony, randomly, without realizing it. Quite annoying. You would think I could bite my lip or something. It scares the cats. The pain seems to result in something like the chill

Low Incidence

I have been informed that the university considers autism spectrum disorders a “low incidence” concern. Therefore, the university sees no reason to increase support resources for these students or to expand faculty and staff training. In other words, after a cost-benefit analysis it has been decided that there’s not enough benefit to be gained. I suppose until someone pushes a demonstrable ADA claim or a bias case, the university can continue to ignore ASD’s unique complexities. Why bother investing in students who might have special skills? Why would we want students with unusual abilities if they include complex needs? Much easier to ignore the unusual…. This month’s Wired magazine (March, 2008) includes mention of the special skills possessed by some autistics. Not merely the savants, but “regular” autistic individuals posses unique spatial and mathematical skills. The methods ASD students use to analyze problems sometimes provide new insights. Different brains produce differ

Big Univ., Little Support

In several earlier posts I have noted systemic failures at the University of Minnesota. In August, 2006, my misadventures began. By the end of September, my position in the Writing Center ended in disaster and a complaint to the university relating to the experience. The university has been less and less welcoming with each new semester. The university is nothing like my experiences at Fresno State or my initial studies at USC. My classroom studies in English and journalism at USC were relatively uneventful. (Problems at USC were limited to one person in the School of Education, after I completed my undergraduate studies.) Fresno State went relatively well, too, with a 4.0 GPA and my only issues involving paperwork nonsense that occurs everywhere. I was never “disabled” at USC. I was only listed as disabled at Fresno State after having issues walking across the campus in a timely fashion. I am slow, especially when my back and legs hurt. Still, this was a minor issue and the university

Sick of this Hell

As anyone reading this blog knows, I hate — despise completely — Minneapolis. I am in constant pain this winter. My left shoulder feels like it is being ripped from its socket. My entire back hurts, especially my lower back. My hips, knees, and ankles constantly pop. My hands tingle, like ants are crawling over them… plus they sting constantly. Then there are the two, three or four times a day that my nose bleeds. I use Vaseline, ointments, and we boil water on the stove. Still, my nose bleeds, usually followed by a severe headache. I am taking Ultram twice a day once again. I take painkillers at night, whatever we have in the drawer. I think it is a Tylenol PM of some sort. I have no idea how well these things mix. I should probably research what is and is not safe with Ultram and Neurontin. Then, you have the dirt and grime of snow turning to slush. It is disgustingly dirty here. I get dirt on my clothes constantly. My shoes get wet and they get stained from the salt / che

Injuries, Real and Unimagined

Thanks to a complete breakdown in the University's system and a professor I will never forgive, I endured a trip to the Office for Student Conduct and Academic Integrity . It was a stupid situation and far too much for my system. Before the meeting I was already in sorry shape. This is a meeting that should never have been held if anyone at the university cared about my health. I knew it would be damaging. Susan ended up meeting with the office representative, leaving me alone in a room. Alone, while other people talked about me. Alone, with too much on my mind. Alone… desperately wanting to go home. By the time Susan returned to the room, my knuckles on both hands were bleeding. I had scraped the skin by pounding rhythmically on the floor. I'm not exactly sure how I ended up sitting on the floor, under a table, exhausted. My back was bruised, badly, from rocking against a brick wall with external power conduits. This absolutely stupid meeting left me bloody, bruised, and sore.