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Showing posts from September, 2012

Autism, Asperger's, and IQ

"Aren't people with Asperger's more likely to be geniuses? Isn't genius related to autism?" A university student asked this in a course I am teaching. The class discussion was covering neurological differences, free will, and the nature versus nurture debate. The textbook for the course includes sidebars on the brain and behavior throughout chapters on ethics and morality. This student was asking a question reflecting media portrayals of autism spectrum disorders, social skills difficulties, and genius. I did not address this question from a personal perspective in class, but I have when speaking to groups of parents, educators, and caregivers. Some of the reasons these questions arise, as mentioned above, are media portrayals and news coverage of autism. Examples include: Television shows with gifted characters either identified with or assumed to have autistic traits: Alphas, Big Bang Theory, Bones, Rizzoli and Isles, Touch, and others. Some would include

Skating in Peace

Accompanying the arrival of autumn are many of my favorite things: pumpkin pie, warm apple cider, hot teas, homemade cookies, multi-colored leaves, 60-degree days, and ice skating. That's only a partial list, because I love fall. I dislike summer, would rather skip the snows of winter, but fall and spring are glorious. And locally, the ice skating rink is open from Labor Day through Memorial Day. During the week, the public sessions are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with evening public sessions on Friday and Saturday nights. My wife and I have been skating during the evening sessions, but those are crowded and noisy. It is much nicer to go skating during the day, when only a few people use the rink. Last year, I found myself sharing the rink with three to five people most days. Sometimes, I was the only person skating, while the figure skaters were stretching or dealing with equipment issues. Around and around, smoothly on the cool ice. While they play music during the evening sessi

Is Academia + Autism a 'Fit' or a Myth?

There are several claims I hear about employment and autism. Some of these claims are generally true, some are definitely myths, and all of them are dependent on many variables. No job is ideal for every person with an autism spectrum disorder, and not all autistics fit stereotypes about skills and interests. In this post, I want to explore the idea that an academic career is somehow a better fit than other careers. Is academia an ideal place for an autistic person? That's a complicated question. Writing this post is probably not the "smart" thing to do professionally, but the topic is important to many families and individuals. I've read several articles suggesting academia is a haven for autistics. Is it? Q. Which academic setting is being considered? When we discuss academic settings, we should admit that there are a nearly infinite number of settings. Not only do grade levels require different types of teachers, but so do different types of institutions.