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Showing posts from July, 2011

Who Are 'The Mediocre' People?

In a post that was a private reflection, moved off the main page, I mentioned "the mediocre people." I've been pondering this concept and believe it needs some clarification that might be of interest to most of my readers. The Mediocre are not defined by their education levels, incomes, faiths, political beliefs, genders, races, or any number of other categories. Oxford American Dictionary : 1. of only ordinary or moderate quality; neither good nor bad; barely adequate. 2. rather poor or inferior. Merriam-Webster : moderate or low, poor quality. Of a poor to middling character. What is "poor character" to me? It means you are not a role model. It means you aren't one of the good or great people. Maybe The Mediocre don't try. Maybe they don't care. But they are what they are. Most of the good and great people I know are from humble backgrounds. They are farmers, nurses, librarians, police officers, farm workers, mechanics, and many other profess

Out and About, Alone

In the last week, I've managed to go to lunch or dinner four times by myself. That might not seem like a big deal to most people, but it can be a challenge for me to go to new places with my wife, much less by myself. I don't like noise, unusual sounds, some smells, and crowds. So how did I manage to go out and actually enjoy it? First, I went to places within a mile or so of our house. If I felt stressed, I could always head home quickly and I wasn't so far away as to worry about getting lost in a state of panic. Second, I went to eat at times before the "rush" crowds. I ate lunch at 11:30, when most places start service yet most customers haven't arrived. I ate dinner at 4:30, with the same logic in mind. Third, I asked to sit facing the door and windows. This helps me avoid feeling trapped. I ate at an Asian buffet, a little Italian place (with an odd menu mix that strayed far from what I consider Italian), a regional chain diner, and a Mexican re

The State of Learning Disabilities

The State of Learning Disabilities The National Center for Learning Disabilities has published a survey that includes the following data: The U.S. Survey of Income and Program Participation survey shows the LD prevalence rate among the U.S. population (ages 6 and older) to be 1.8%, totaling 4.67 million Americans. Males are much more likely to have acknowledged learning disabilities than females. The unemployment rate for those with LD was twice that of those without LD. There are major disconnects between high school and postsecondary education which create obstacles for students with LD. Often students with LD have lower aspirations regarding their own postsecondary education. Just under 11% of undergraduates reported having some type of disability. Only 46% of students with a LD found paid employment, full or part-time, within two years of leaving school. I've read various estimates, indicating anywhere from 17% to 30% of adults with autism spectrum disorders find regular emplo

Inadvertent Disclosure of Autism

Inadvertent disclosure happens, I was reminded tonight. Because I've been on the road, I've been using several email accounts, usually based on which "webmail" solution was working best. What I forgot was that my Yahoo account was being used primarily for autism mailing lists and groups, not for anything else. So, by using my Yahoo email, the signature with links to this blog was included. Now, a mailing list that has nothing to do with autism has links to this blog. An interesting question arises, and one I'm not sure how to address — or if it is worth addressing. I do know that at least two people followed the link from my email to the blog, but no idea which two. That does matter, since some people are more understanding than others. I believe most of the men and women on that list would understand traumatic brain injuries, such as occurred at my birth, along with the other injuries that might (and only might) contribute to the traits categorized as HFA. Other

The "Aspie" Nature of Anxious Cats

There is a book entitled All Cats Have Aspergers Syndrome . I definitely know our cats have not dealt well with the disruptions associated with moving. One of our cats, Pumpkin Kitty, is so anxious that he's on Prozac for kitties. He struggles even in familiar settings, but moving has been a nightmare for our little boy. He's been hiding in dark spaces, from the tubs to behind doors. He loves to hide in the closets of the new house, too. He does not want to wander the hallways and discover new places, like the other cats are doing. He wants things the way they were. Actually, I think he'd be happier all the way back in California, though he wasn't at ease there, either. Something about each move seems a bit harder on the poor guy. This move is it, though. We're going to try to stay in this new location for the rest of our kids' lives and up to our retirements. I'm in no rush to move again, either. We have had cats that only ate one brand of food. We've

Experts critique statistics, conclusion of autism twin study - News & Commentary - Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI)

Experts critique statistics, conclusion of autism twin study - News & Commentary - Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) : "For example, in March, Shiva Singh's group at the University of Western Ontario analyzed the genomes of identical twins among whom only one twin has schizophrenia. Singh's team found that identical twins carry different spontaneous genetic mutations." It is difficult for many laypeople, and even some with science backgrounds, to accept that "genetic" does not mean hereditary. I've written about this several times. Genes mutate during development of the fetus. During the first six to eight stages of development, minor errors in replication can affect all future development. Changing one cell among millions isn't so bad. Changing one cell among hundreds? That leads to potentially serious spontaneous genetic replication ("copy number variant") errors.

On the Road

I haven't been able to blog this week and might not have much time until next week. I'm on the road, with my wife "holding down the fort" (and the cats) while I'm away. I'll only be home with her for less than 24 hours and then I'm on the road again. I'm exhausted and that's never a good thing. Last night I hit my breaking point. Thankfully, I left the conference hotel three hours before my flight so I could sit here in the airport and relax. Yes, the airport with all its sounds, smells, and vibrations is a better place than the hotel was. Here, I can sit and decompress before the flight. Last night was one of those nights when I was "so over" people, as a friend says. I just wanted to sit in the hotel room and watch "In Plain Sight" and "White Collar." People can be very annoying, especially when they've had drinks. After putting up with the mean-spirited nonsense of someone important for long enough, I quic

Adults with Autism: My Big Challenge

I have posted a follow-up to clarify "The Mediocre" for myself and others.  See " Who Are The Mediocre People? " The essence of the latest "Ask a Question" submission: What has been the biggest challenge for you in the adult life? I've had a few weeks to ponder this, but a recent incident comes to mind and I think it encapsulates the greatest challenge from my perspective. There are bullies in adulthood. They try to ruin you to make themselves feel better. Bullies are those people who don't want to understand my challenges or anyone else's challenges. They want to dismiss me as "strange" or "weird" and ignore any responsibility they might have for creating overwhelming situations. People can be mean, pushy, aggressive, and generally rude. Such attitudes exhaust me. Eventually, the rude person wins, and I have to leave the situation. I can't handle pushy people,

Book Excerpt: The Autism Assessment, Part 3

Okay, here's the last bit I'm going to share online from my 2006 "re-assessment" that was requested for the University of Minnesota Graduate School. Remember you are reading an excerpt from my upcoming book, not the full chapter. However, your questions and suggestions will help me craft a better book. And yes, I am still reminding visitors that my book A Spectrum of Relationships is available from the two biggest online bookstores for $2.99. I appreciate how supportive readers of this blog have been. Dealing with the Assessment (and Some Denial) The Doctors Conclude…  Neuropsychologically, S. presents with a complex history, driven by significant physical trauma at birth. He does have a seizure disorder (which is treated medically). Imaging reveals specific left frontal and temporal lobe injury. A progressive neurological disorder is not ruled out. Characteristics of high-functioning autism, resulting from the brain trauma, are apparent.    I’ve had a few sca

Stuart Duncan: Father and Autism Advocate

As readers of this blog know, I try to keep this blog personal because I only claim to know and understand my personal experiences. I'm not comfortable straying far from what I know. However, there are a few voices I believe my readers should hear and read if they want a better understanding of autism spectrum disorders. Stuart Duncan is a father of two sons, one with autism. He also has a wife with some physical challenges. You can read his reflection on autism at his website: Autism from a Father's Point of View: Follow Mr. Duncan on Twitter: Everyone should spend a few days (and yes, it will take you days) reading the blog and information posted by Mr. Duncan. He has provided a frank and detailed account of life as a parent to an autistic child. It is the single best parent-authored website I have found. I don't say that lightly, because there are many thoughtful blogs by parents. Unfortunately, there

Book Excerpt: The Autism Assessment, Part 2

Yes, more from the formal autism assessment report prepared in 2006. This is from a chapter in my next book, due in early fall. Please feel free to ask questions or offer suggestions. This book is still being written. Your input can help make it a better book! If you would like to support this blog and my other projects, you can download my current eBook for Kindle or Nook. A Spectrum of Relationships  is only $2.99 on both Amazon and and I would appreciate questions, suggestions, and reviews while I consider preparing a revised "second edition" next year. Now, on with the current book excerpts. Quantifying Personality Traits Recall that I mentioned the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) are similar evaluation instruments. It isn’t surprising that the evaluation I received at the age of 37 would be similar to the one performed at the age of eight. The instruments have been revised several times, and

Bad Memories, Strong Emotions

Working on my autobiographical book this weekend, I reread emails and notes from my four years as a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota. It was a horrible time and the challenge of writing about those experiences might be too much for me to tackle on some days. Sometimes events and people manage to leave deep scars. I loathe the University of Minnesota. Despise isn't a strong enough word. My department closed after we moved here. I was mocked by peers. I was bullied by faculty. If it were not for the efforts of a handful of individuals, I would not have graduated. Yes, there were good people within a lousy setting. It amazes me that some people can fight the system year after year and not surrender. I will write the text, though it will be emotionally draining to relive those years. They are recent, and they haunt me some nights. More text on my 2006 evaluation is coming this week. By the end of August, I might also post on the 2008 assessment nightmare. Yes, I had asse

A Note on Autism Assessments: Time and Money

In a previous post, I started to share the written report that followed my most recent assessment. I want to clarify some things based on private emails and the public comment posted. Read the previous post at:  Autism Assessment, Part 1. First, and most importantly, even though my 2006 assessment was mere a "confirmation" for the University of Minnesota, it was neither a short nor an inexpensive process. The interviews of my wife, notes and comments from my parents, the interview with me, and the review of neurological exams required some time before the testing was performed. Reviewing records and interviews is expensive and time-consuming. We even tried to locate a copy of the 1976 assessment. The confirmation for the U. of Minn. was required to either support or challenge previous assessments and diagnoses. The diagnostic criteria for various conditions and the evaluation instruments have been revised repeatedly during my 40+ years of life. The actual exams are ad

Book Excerpt: The Autism Assessment, Part 1

If you have wondered what a formal evaluation for autism is like, now you can read one. From my current book project, this my reflection on the formal assessment I received in 2006. The assessment is eleven pages, so there will be several posts including my comments. A reminder that my overview of social connections and the autistic experience, A Spectrum of Relationships , is available on Amazon's Kindle store and the Nook store. What follows below is from my next project . On Monday, December 4, 2006, my wife and I returned to the psychologists’ offices for the results of my assessment. My wife was already certain of the assessment results, while I was unsure of what to hope for. If something was “wrong” with me, would it be something horrible? If nothing was “wrong” then did that imply a different issue? It would be as disconcerting to have nothing diagnosed as to have something diagnosed.  We were led into the lead psychologist’s office. Near her desk, relaxing in a