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Showing posts from February, 2013

Our Quiet Life

A recent comment on the blog noted how fortunate I am to have my best friend as my wife. We spend a lot of time together, which isn't easy for some couples. My wife and I work from home most of the time, so we have lunch together and we take turns tending to our cats' needs. For days at a stretch, we might be the only other people we see face-to-face. My wife is an introvert. She likes to sit on the couch by the fireplace, a cat in her lap while she reads a book. During the summer, she wants to tend a garden and take photos of the parks we visit. The reason we live well together is that neither of us has a compulsion to visit large, crowded cities or places. We are both content to live in a semi-rural area that meets our basic needs. There are some good restaurants, easy access to shopping, and several nice parks. I tend to need out of the house more often than my wife, but my destinations are simple: bookstores, parks, and a few favorite restaurants. She indulges my re

Stuck in Neutral

I have a draft book chapter due March 15. It is an important project, whether I remain in academia or not, but I am finding it difficult to complete the draft to my liking. Some call this being "stuck in neutral" because little progress is made no matter how much I try to accomplish on this project. The project is outlined, I know what I am trying to communicate, and it needs to be done quickly so my wife can review it and I can submit a good draft. The problem is that I have accepted that my academic career seems to be ending, at least the full-time, tenure-track career I had hoped to have. Writing this book chapter, then, must be motivated by the hope that it will influence others, encouraging faculty to consider students with special needs. Consider the irony: I'm writing to faculty about inclusionary designs, while I never felt "included" within academia. It is hard to write about classroom designs and the challenges students with special needs en

Extroversion, Collaboration, and Neurological Differences

I am cross-posting this blog because it overlaps issues important to the autism community, rhetoric instructors, and those teaching with technology. It is a personal issue, for me, and one that reminds me how apart from "normal" society and dominant pedagogies I am as someone with a neurological challenge. The following contains generalities, and there are always exceptions to generalities. But, my experiences and those of adults with cognitive differences I have interviewed do support my claims. Contrary to what some might assume, many teachers in the humanities (though certainly not all) are extroverts. I've found the opposite is true in most science and technology fields, with the introverts outnumbering the extroverts. Statistically, there are personality traits that dominate various disciplines. There are political views that dominate, too. There are scholarly studies of the political views of professors (Gross and Simmons, 2007) and personality types within dis

Cities and Autism! Diagnostic Rates are not Incidence Rates

Over at  Just a 'Lil Blog  (a blog I recommend reading) there is the following: Interview with a Unicorn How did we come to be in front of the camera? Well, it started with the University of Pittsburgh. See, they're doing a study on the effects of environment on the prevalence or symptoms of autism in the surrounding area. Apparently Pittsburgh is quite a little hotspot for it, and so this study is geared toward…well…something about the their words, "The Research Study of Environmental Risk Factors for Childhood Autism is a multi-year study which began in 2010. It is being conducted in southwestern Pennsylvania (Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland Counties) by the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health. The aim of the study is to help identify environmental and other factors that may put children at risk for developing conditions within the ASDs." — from

You Don't Understand...

"You don't understand…." When a parent starts a conversation with those words, I know to anticipate a long list of what I don't appreciate as the person with challenges, compared to the parent of a disabled child. It is both a logical and an absurd statement. I've never been another color, another gender, another nationality, or another religion — yet I would assume most people try to understand and appreciate the experiences of people from other groups. I know my childhood friends with Spanish surnames were treated unfairly by some teachers. I know people assume I know about cars, while it is my wife who is the engineer. You can appreciate without total understanding — because even within a group the experiences differ. No, I am not a parent. I am not a caregiver. But, to assume I don't empathize is to accept one of the worst stereotypes of both autism spectrum disorders and mental giftedness. While I might not translate empathy quickly, I definitely

Shoveling Snow, Day After Day

I have swept and shoveled snow every day since Wednesday. Today is Sunday. That's five days of snow removal. I'm sick of the snow — I want some sunshine and warmer weather. When we first moved from California to Minnesota, I looked forward to the White Christmas. Now, it wouldn't bother me to never see snow again. Western PA is nothing like Minneapolis. The snow storms here have less snow and the temperature is warmer. I can remove the snow in about 30 minutes, without getting frostbite. Minneapolis was brutally cold. Here, it is the lack of sunshine that gets depressing. We did leave the house today, because I was getting stir-crazy. We had lunch (Chinese buffet) and walked a mile at the local mall. But the distance from the car to the mall was sufficient to turn my cheeks pink and my hands white. The slightest breeze cuts through you when it is snowing. As readers know, I hate gloves and hats when it is cold. That's a bit odd, I realize, since I like fine sui