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Showing posts from April, 2011

University Students with Autism, Asperger's

Please see my newer entry on this subject: This post is now locked. Unfortunately, the post did not lead to the intended conversation on what parents and students might want a college to do for students with ASDs. I might try again in a few months. I need to write something that clearly explains what I am seeking to learn from students and parents. As I prepare to relocate and start a new university position, I am also considering how I might advocate for current and future students. (Technically, the post is "official" in August -- but I don't foresee any complications.) Professors are in a complicated position, because students are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). When I have received notification that a student has special needs, the disability services of the school only indicated what the needs were -- not the underlying reason for accommodations.

A PBS series injects doubt back into the autism issue

The Los Angeles Times has published an interesting take on "Autism Now." A PBS series injects doubt back into the autism issue By James Rainey April 27, 2011 [ Excerpt only -- read the full column via the link above!] I asked her father whether he should have told the television audience more about his daughter, given her strong positions, which have been expressed on blogs for several years. MacNeil said it "never occurred" to him to make such a disclosure since he said the community of families involved in autism is familiar with her activism. I suggested that there were likely many others watching PBS who didn't frequent autism chat rooms, who had no idea that Alison MacNeil, a psychiatric social worker living in Cambridge, Mass., was such an activist. The veteran newsman — who has written a biography, novels and appeared occasionally on PBS since leaving in 1995 — said he was dismayed at the heated atmosphere that surrounds the autism question. "

'Whatever' Moments in [Autism] Blogging

I maintain several blogs, all started as part of a class project some years ago. (See Four Years as an Autism Blogger for the history.) One of the things you have to accept when writing in public forums is that some people will feel compelled to insult and attack an author instead of his or her writings. Also, you have to accept that though you are writing from one perspective (which should be painfully obvious to all readers) someone will be upset that you don't share his or her perspective. These are the "whatever" moments of writing, especially of blogging. I write a monthly column for a regional magazine. The column has nothing to do with autism or special education. I write on technology issues. But, as any technologist will affirm, technology preferences and biases are accompanied by a religious fervor. Armies of zealots, the true believers, will descend on any writer daring to question their beloved operating system, hardware, application, or programming langu

A Review Of PBS's NewsHour Series, Autism Now

I encourage everyone to read this review. You might not agree with the mother posting, but the post echos much of what my own mother has said to me about raising a "challenging" child (me): Being a parent is hard, period. Click the following link to read the blog posting by K. Wombles. Countering...: Now That It's Over: A Review Of PBS's NewsHour Series, Autism Now : "The PBS series on autism, Autism Now, has aired all of its segments now. The extended transcripts of interviews are available online, as ..." [Comments should be posted on the original blog so the author can respond, not to The Autistic Me . I respect the author and believe she should manage this discussion, not me. I did not I watch the PBS series and have no interest in commenting on it.]

Our Anniversary - To the Greatest Person in My Life

Today, my wife and I celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. We were married in a small ceremony (our parents and my sister) in my parents' backyard on a nice spring day in 2006. Instead of a long litany of every challenge we've faced, and there are many, I want to celebrate who she is and what makes her so special. Let's start with the blunt, honest, and often painful acknowledgement that unlike many of the children and teens I meet when speaking, I have been fortunate enough to meet someone, care for her, and to be cared for by her. Some autism self-advocates forget how rare it is for autistic people to form lasting bonds with a life partner. For reasons ranging from physical challenges to cognitive ones, some autistic people will never have the opportunity I have to be with a great friend and partner. Also, there are those autistics with no desire for life-long romantic relationships. Parents tell me that they can't imagine a teen with no interest in romance.

Trying to Wait Patiently

I apologize for not having posted more frequently this month. This month has been hectic, as it appears the job search took an unexpected (and positive) turn that has resulted in a cascade of disruptions in our daily lives. In a week or two, I should be able to officially confirm my contract and explain my new position. A new job creates the following disruptions to which most people I know relate: Relief that someone values my research interests and writings; Anxiety of learning a new set of colleagues and their personalities; Fear of not meeting expectations within the organization; Eagerness to learn as much about the new position and its duties as possible; Sadness (limited, however) that we will be leaving a familiar place; and Dread of moving and having to learn a new area — much less a new house! I worry about everything from locating home repair experts we can trust to finding a great vet for our feline "kids." I've spent hours online researching the univ

University Post Likely

I haven't had enough time to work on various Web projects, including updates to the various blogs. This is one of those months when the rush of activity has a direction and purpose, though it has been exhausting. For several months, I've been interviewing with a mix of colleges, universities, and corporations. I have struggled to find that ideal alignment of my traits with a potential employer. The job hunt was officially concluded in March after I decided that 200+ applications was enough; one last batch of interviews and then I was going to focus entirely on freelance work. While trying to focus on consulting and creative writing the phone started to ring (literally). I experienced a flurry of phone interviews, e-mail follow-ups, and travelled to the Northeast. I had to schedule the job-related activities around speaking, editing a book draft, and general life activities. I hate disorder, but that's how life is. The Lede: A private university has extended an interesting j

When a House is a Mess

My wife and I bought a "distressed property" four years ago (roughly) and have been renovating it ever since. I hate the mess, the disorder, the general state of "flux" that is necessary during a remodeling project. However, I also love some of the end results. The bedrooms are pretty nice, especially the closet organizers, and I absolutely love the tile work my wife did in several places. We have a gorgeous serving counter in the dining room, thanks to her efforts. Tomorrow, the projects resume with the arrival of springtime weather. Winters are simply too cold and too snowy to get much done. A bathroom and a closet are being re-textured tomorrow. That means a pair of workers in our house -- something I dislike as much as the cats dislike it. Two of our cats will spend the day hiding under beds. I can't join them, but I do understand the stress caused. These are the last "big" projects on the house. We've had the chimney repaired, all windows repl

Weighted Blankets: Autism Q&A - and a Give Away!

A reminder, it is now too late to enter the Weighted Blankets: Random Drawing!  The drawing was in 2011.  I want to thank you, Eileen Jackson, owner of DreamCatcher Weighted Blankets, for answering these questions. She has also offered a blanket to one drawing entry. Be sure to click the above link to enter with a comment to my previous post on the topic. Your website ( ) offers a lot of information about weighted blankets. I recommend people visit the site to read about weighted blankets in general and DreamCatcher blankets. Q. You have an autistic son, according to the DreamCatcher website. How did you discover weighted blankets helped him? Our son, Cody, was diagnosed with classic autism shortly after his third birthday. He struggled for years with sleeping and at age nine was still waking every few hours each night. We were not willing to put Cody on medication and our Occupational Therapist mentioned trying a weighted item, as there were a

Weighted Blankets: Thoughts and Give Away!

When I was asked if I had an opinion on weighted blankets by the owner of DreamCatcher Weighted Blankets, I admitted that I don't really know much about the research on weighted blankets. However, I also admitted that I pile blankets and comforters on my bed. I happen to like quilts, comforters, blankets, and pillows. The more, the better. I'm not comfortable telling readers that weighted blankets or any other product "helps" children and adults with autism. I have no idea. What I can tell you is that I like to burrow under a nice pile of warm blankets and quilts every night. Disclaimer: DreamCatcher is offering to give away one weighted blanket to a reader of The Autistic Me. If you are interested, add a comment and I'll enter your name in a random drawing. On the first day of May, I'll post the name of the winner so he or she can contact me directly. If you want to learn about DreamCatcher's products: DreamCatcher Weighted Blankets P O Box 252 * Stevensv

Writing and Autism: Organization

There are two types of organization we should address for students struggling with academic writing assignments: process organization and document organization. Reminder: This blog entry is part of an ongoing series. Writing-related topics I am addressing include: organization, audience analysis, supporting arguments, and mastering genre norms. If you have specific questions be sure to ask and I'll try to address them. I am addressing "academic writing" in these posts, though I might discuss "creative writing" and students with special needs later in this series of essays. Personal Organization High school teachers tell me that a lack of personal organization is the single greatest challenge for their special needs students, as well as most high school students. I am not organized. I know my colleagues would disagree, but my natural state is a complete lack of focus. Each day is a struggle to stay on task until something is finished -- and too often I end

Brains of People with Autism Focus More on Visual Skills - US News and World Report

I have written several times about the "visual" nature of my thought process. This same topic appears in various memoirs by individuals diagnosed with autism. We write about " Thinking in Pictures " and "seeing the shapes of numbers" after being " Born on a Blue Day " (to borrow from two book titles). But why do people diagnosed with ASDs think visually? How does this affect decisions and communications by autistic individuals? Brains of People with Autism Focus More on Visual Skills - US News and World Report MONDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- The brains of people with autism concentrate more resources in areas devoted to visual perception, resulting in less activity in areas used to plan and control thoughts and actions, says a new study. The findings may explain why people with autism have exceptional visual abilities, said the researchers at the University of Montreal. They analyzed data from 26 brain imaging studies that were conducted over

Autism Awareness Day

No, I don't have a special post with cute quotes and aphorisms to mark Autism Awareness Day, which is today: April 2. Each year I'm asked if I'll be walking, cycling, bowling, shopping, eating, et cetera, to raise money for autism awareness. That generally means raising money for one of about four or five national groups. No, we're not doing anything special. We did eat out today, but only because we were running errands. For parents, educators, and especially people living with autism, every day is about autism awareness. Every person affected by autism, directly or indirectly, the challenges are no easier on "Awareness Day." If anything, I find the entire "Autism Awareness Month" stressful. For a month, television news, magazines, and newspapers will run stories about autism, often not improving understanding or awareness. Too often, this month means bitter arguments about what causes autism, how to best treat autism, and if there should be a cure.