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Showing posts from July, 2010

Parents Killing Children…

We've had a number of stories lately on mothers killing autistic or possibly autistic children.Mother Posts Blog Blaming Stress Before Killing...Texas Mom Kills Children, Blames AutismColorado Mom Wanted to Have 'Fun in Life'What can anyone say about this? Children are stressful, normal or not. Depression, stress, lack of supports, et cetera, are not excuses to kill. I do not doubt depression is real in some cases, but I do not tolerate any excuse for killing children. Even if we don't have perfect supports, there are supports in most cities and counties. Families also have a responsibility to intervene. It is impossible for me to imagine no one was aware problems were present before these children were killed.The association of autism with infanticide is a common theme in media. I won't bother listing examples.

Why I Desire Social Skills

I don't feel "lonely" most of the time, I feel isolated. That's different. I don't want to deal with people, I want to do things that too often require dealing with people -- leaving me stuck at home some days. People for me are ways to gain knowledge and data; I am interested in people with knowledge I don't posses yet want want to learn. I don't care to be social for no reason. Even with a reason, I'd rather skip the social elements. I've written that I do sometimes wish to be more social. Though hard to explain, I perceive there would be intellectual benefits -- people would be more comfortable sharing information with me if I were more "charming." So, when I say I wish I were more socially skilled, it is not because I miss the skills or want them for enjoyment, but I wish I could persuade more people with skills and knowledge I admire to be mentors.My wife is not social, either, but she does much better with people than I do. She is …

The Flight Impulse

When stressed, I experience an intense desire to flee — to get away from whatever situation is causing the stress. I've left restaurants without ordering, stores without buying items, and even medical appointments when the situation didn't feel right. About the only thing I can't recall leaving suddenly was my classroom when teaching. The good thing about teaching is that you can stop lecturing and alter an assignment to adjust the mood of the room. Next to leaving, establishing some personal control seems to be the best way to reduce stress. The most stressful moments are those of individual conflict. When I feel threatened or dominated by someone, I do have to leave. I feel physically ill when someone is imposing his or her will on me without listening to or caring about the results. Some people are intimidating by nature. I suppose there are "natural" bullies, people who expect to be in charge at all times. These people aren't inclined to let each person i…

Networking and Employment

I'm finding I don't build large social networks online, at least not compared to other people I know. My Facebook account occasionally rises above 100 connections, but seldom for more than a few days. My LinkedIn network is relatively small, with no recommendations. The same holds for other social networks such as Yahoo, Google, and LiveJournal. I simply don't randomly add people to my network -- not even acquaintances. The job hunt reminds me that I should expand these networks. HR departments check these connections, whether we like that reality or not. Being "social" does matter to some academic departments, too, especially if you are applying for "new media" teaching posts. I suppose I could "request" every classmate from high school through my doctoral studies, but most are not people I remember. Those I do remember, it is often for reasons that leave me disinclined to add the individual. I've never been a social butterfly, and the on…

"You're not really autistic!"

On another online site, a parent of a "recovering" child with autism pointedly claimed that those of us who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders as adults are somehow not genuine. Among the comments posted to Left Brain/Right Brain (http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/):
How does it just dawn on somebody they are on the spectrum??? How do others that are older decide they are on the spectrum??? Schools won't even take real diagnostics so none of the self made Adult Asperger's have any real claim to anything but a way to put down what helped my child to not be on the list of who you're searching for.The thread, both on LB/RB and as carried on elsewhere, is appalling. A parent actually had the gall to message me that I was not actually disabled, but was instead hiding behind the cover of autism to shill for the government and big medicine. This person argues that anyone speaking, traveling, blogging, and conducting research can't possibly have a "serio…

Autism and Employment

I have started to compile an online guide to employment for those of us who seem to struggle with the nature of both the job hunt and the workplace. This work in progress is outlined on The Autistic Place at:http://www.autisticplace.com/node/75 - "Employment and Autism"This project is going to take at least a couple of weeks to be of any value to others. I do think the final results might be helpful to teachers, parents, support professionals, and people like me. It won't be perfect, but it will be a start for people to have these discussions. Please, if you have any suggestions for content, from additions to changes as I work on this, please e-mail me:webadmin@autisticplace.comI also encourage readers of this blog to join me at The Autistic Place:http://www.autisticplace.com - Information and Education. The Latest News and Blogs on Autism

Autism and Income?

This is a comment on:
http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/16/autism-a-disease-of-the-rich/Within all ethnic groups, wealthier parents were more likely to have autistic children, and the pattern held for undiagnosed autistic children as well.The original paper commented on is at:
http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0011551The title says it all: "Socioeconomic Inequality in the Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence from a U.S. Cross-Sectional Study"I have no idea if this represents the ability of parents to obtain screening, the general age of wealthier parents, or some other factor(s). Also, as this is from PLoS, not a traditional peer-reviewed journal, I'm sure there will be some discussion of the research methods. However, we are seeing that PLoS submissions are improving dramatically -- many researchers are simply avoiding the expensive, proprietary journal process.

Quality of Life Indicators

Autism Advocate, the monthly magazine of the Autism Society of America, includes a list of "QoL Indicators" (Quality of Life) developed by Dr. Ted Carr. The list of issues ASA seeks to address:School inclusion.Social connections (friendships, relationships).Health and well-being.Academic success.Autonomy.Supported and independent living.Supported and independent employment.Subjective well-being.Recreation and leisure.I don't quite understand why some of these are separated, since they are closely related. For example, I assume "school inclusion" and "academic success" should be together. When you can have academic success via independent living, part of education is socialization. I'm also not clear on the "autonomy" point. We are all interdependent in a society, so this must mean the ability to choose what one will or will not do. Which items on this list are most important to you? Why? What items would you add or remove from this list?…

Outside the Activists

Ari and members of ASAN deserve credit for trying to increase awareness of adults with autism and their unique needs. They are voices that should be heard. But, what of adults with autism spectrum disorders who disagree with some dominant ASAN positions? It often felt those were not only unwelcome, but disliked by ASAN members. Understand: I encourage people to learn about ASAN and know that it is serving an important purpose. If your personality is suited for it, I think ASAN would benefit from gaining more members who can work within an activist organization. I'm definitely more restrained in my mindset. I'm also not aligned with the dominant political views of ASAN members, which was uncomfortable.Over time, ASAN will evolve and I have great hope that it will develop into an organization with divergent views. Ideally, there will be a realization that we want services, supports, and tolerance. Not all autistic people share the same views on autism. At the Autism Society of A…

Jobs and Autism

This post links back to Comet's Corner and I encourage visitors to read the comments there.One of the important questions we face right now is how to help individuals locate employment. This is a problem across all socioeconomic divisions and for people with or without any special needs. But, what can we do for individuals with ASDs? Is there anything we can do right now?At the Autism Society of America conference, I was asked several times if I had any career / general employment tips for people with ASDs. While I have some advice, the reality is that in the current high-unemployment environment it is not unusual for gifted college graduates to be unemployed. Things are tough, period.I do have a presentation I use when talking about job skills and ASDs, but those skills don't matter to people who cannot even get job interviews. So, maybe some of my readers have general job hunting tips. I can offer advice on workplaces and their complexity, but first you have to be in a workp…

The Why of Conferences

It is no secret that I struggle in social situations, including large conferences. So the question is asked why I attend events like the Autism Society of America National Conference, which is this week in Dallas. The simple answer is that I do learn a lot, both "academically" and socially. Today I met author and blogger Lisa Jo Rudy. She has a book out on how to have fun -- an essential mental health skill when living with someone diagnosed with autism. To learn more about her books and general science writing, visit her website: http://www.lisarudy.comHonestly, I don't think my wife and I take enough time to relax. Much of what we would consider "fun" is still intellectually stimulating. They say children learn significant lessons during "free play" (unstructured time). For me, that unstructured time would be spent meandering museums or gardens. Sometimes, you do need to let your mind wander in order to learn even more. I always thought I learned a …

Shameless Self-Promotion

Before I head off to Dallas for the Autism Society of America National Conference, I thought I'd engage in a bit of shameless self-promotion. I have created an "online brochure" for my public speaking:http://www.autisticplace.com/csw/index.htmlIf you want to learn more about me, there is an essay posted about my formal evaluations for autism. I have been speaking at conferences, university seminars, and organization events for a decade. Most of my public appearances have addressed language arts education, especially children's literature. Speaking on autism issues came about by accident, when instructors asked me to address their graduate seminars at several universities. This is more about reaching out to audiences than earning much money. I'm not a "superstar" academic; I'm only one adult with an ASD and a few minor physical disabilities. Whatever I have to say only reflects what I have learned through experience and a handful of research projects…