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Showing posts from July, 2009

Social Skills Do Matter

The "look at me" approach to reading humans is painful, literally, for me -- and I know I am not alone. Considering many cultures dissuade direct eye contact, it must be assumed individuals in those cultures concentrate on intonation, gesture, and other non-verbal signals. Even personal space varies culture to culture, so the signals are not universal.When I discuss this with other adults, including the non-verbal (which I am only under stress), it seems many of us focus on the mouth to compensate for "hearing too much" background noise and distractions. If I'm in a public space, I have to concentrate on the mouth to make sense of the spoken words even though I have excellent hearing. I simply end up confusing conversations around me with what is being said in front of me.I end up finding myself reading journal articles and wondering why the conclusions of other researchers is often so far from my experiences and those of others I know. I often think at least i…

The Occasional Gathering

While I do write about some issues, this blog was started mainly because I would misplace notes to myself. I could shift to Google Docs or another online setting, but some people do seem to find the posts useful or interesting. I don't go out of my way to be an activist or to promote events. I simply write what I think I might use later, thought for self-reflection.I was recently asked why I "don't care more" about various causes. Why don't I attend various meetings and support groups? After all, the logic went, I should be active in organizations because they fight for my rights and promote social justice, etc., etc., etc.Honestly, I'm not that interested. Maybe I should be, but I don't like the negativity, the complaining, and the unhappiness at most meetings -- or on many online sites.I do not define myself by any particular limits. I don't dwell on the negative. I write complaints, deal with what I can, and move ahead. If I'm around …

Expression and Autism

For those not familiar with my research focus, I study the communications skills of teens and adults with autism. My particular interest is original compositions by those diagnosed with autism. This research leads me to study language, neurology, psychology, and more. Neurolinguistics are important, for example, but I never assume that "composition" must refer to written or spoken language. We have elevated the printed word far beyond what seems reasonable to me -- most communication is non-textual.This summer I have a funded project to study online expression created by and/or for people with autism spectrum disorders.I have studied at least 100 sites, now. Many of these are blogs, a major form of online self-expression. Others are communities with online forums. I will be writing about my findings in August, after I generate statistical reports on my observations. Ethically, it would be incorrect to discuss any "findings" until my research is complete and reviewe…

Gatherings Missed

This week there is a major national conference on campus, sponsored by the academic department in which I (in theory) reside.However, either I missed the announcements or didn't understand them earlier this academic year. So, while other graduate students and instructors are meeting administrators from across the nation, I will be doing other things. I'm not sure if that's a positive or a negative.Honestly, I wasn't sure about my schedule this summer, so I probably would not have volunteered to help at the conference or registered to present a paper. In fact, I did have a medical procedure last week that included minor surgery and a biopsy. I knew that summer would be busy.On the negative side, I do realize networking and making contacts is important. The problem is that I am never comfortable in social settings. I do much better with a formal interview than trying to make a good impression in an unstructured setting. Since I am looking for a professorship next year (2…

Research Project

I am currently analyzing online spaces dedicated to issues of autism spectrum disorders. I am also including spaced created by and/or for individuals with ASDs.This is a funded project, sponsored by my university, to help determine how we might design online courses to better accommodate students with special needs. It is a tedious process, but one that should pay dividends over the coming years as more students with diagnoses of HFA, AS, and PDD-NOS qualify for university admissions.Though there are a great many sites dedicated to autism, the thing I still notice most is the "tribal" nature of the spaces. There are clear divisions within this small universe of individuals with ASDs, families, advocates, researchers, and so on. The tone of many sites is aggressive -- not at all inviting. I do understand how this has come to pass, but it is a shame.Anyway, I'm concentrating more on design issues and accessibility than the rhetorical methods employed. At least …

Another Medical Moment

Monday I have yet another (not so exciting) medical procedure. Yet, it isn't the medical procedure I am about to have that annoys me. No, what is annoying me are my eyes.While I'm about to have some internal issues checked and verified, it is the pain of my eyes that distracts me each morning. I have strange, curling eyelashes over my left eye which keep getting lodged under the eyelids. I then have to flush the eye with sterile cleaner. My right eye just hurts. A lot. it is the familiar pain of the "erosions" I have had for the last year or so. The eye tears, as in rips, not drips, causing excruciating pain and sensitivity to light.I'm already "hypersensitive" to the world around me. Having my eyes hurt like they have been makes sunlight unbearable. Even though internal issues can be serious, there are few things that hurt as much as a scraping sensation in your eyes.In general, I see doctors too often. As a result, I'm not exactly ready …