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Showing posts from June, 2013

Social Skills: Parents and Autistics

When parents try to understand autistic children, they make a simple mistake: they assume social desires and needs are universals. A parent recently said something that puzzled me. "When I think about how lonely my child must be…" Has your son or daughter said he or she is lonely? If not, that's a big, big assumption. I'm taking some liberty, but a recent email from a parent serves as a good illustration, too. I am reworking this slightly: "Trying to imagine my son's thoughts, I tear myself to pieces over what must be going on in there. I worry that he might be experiencing great emotional pain. I keep asking him, and he assures me he is not." There you have it. Trust the autistic or the introvert (or both) if he or she is content being alone. You can be alone, and not lonely. The problem for parents it that most people do define success and happiness via relationships (and a job). My best relationships are with my wife, my sister, and my mo

Relationships Ruined by Esteem Deficits (Autistic or Not!)

People are curious about relationships and autism; the questions asked most often when I appear before groups are about relationships. I've attempted to answer a few questions on this blog, but I never feel like I'm offering many insights. In a world in which most marriages fail and relationships seem to be transitory, I don't believe we can "blame" autistic traits for relationship issues. What we can do is recognize how autism and other forms of atypical neurology/personality do affect us and our relationships. Still, I caution readers that what I am offering is more general than "autism" and probably applies to every relationship at some time. Caveats stated, I believe the greatest challenge in my relationship with my wife is the sense that I'm unworthy of her friendship, loyalty, and companionship. The Susan is calmer, quieter, more focused, a faster reader, a better student, a much better employee… and on and on when compared to me. She has

Writer: The Label I've Always Embraced

There is one label I have embraced since the second grade: Writer. It is the one word I know describes me now and always has described me. I currently write plays and poetry, both of which I think are best heard, not read, by others. I write. Not a few pages here and there, but often thousands of words in a week. There have been times when I have written complete manuscripts, over 100 pages, in two weeks. I find that complete stories often come to mind, and I "see" these like films playing in my mind. The biggest challenge is writing to capture the story before my mind has moved ahead to the next project. — C. S. Wyatt, personal website When people ask why I don't "do more" for autism advocacy, or disability issues in general, I respond that I am first, second, and third, a writer. I write first to entertain, then to persuade. Then, I'm a teacher and a half dozen other things. But, I am a writer first. While I wish I could be everything, and curiosity

Asking the Autistic Me Questions Directly

A parent posted a question to the "Ask a Question" area, but then asked me to respond directly instead of via this blog. The problem is that Blogger doesn't provide the poster's email address to me, only a Blogger ID. If you'd like to ask a question directly, you can contact me by visiting: I try to answer questions promptly, but I am extremely busy as of late. Please give me a few days to respond, in case I am traveling. Sometimes, I will rephrase and address questions on the blog. Most questions I receive are important to many families and individuals.

Writing and Autism: How We Teach Writing

As I've been blogging about writing and autism, I have encountered a few books on the same topic. To be blunt, these don't strike me as particularly insightful. In fact, some of the articles and books on autistic students and writing only further the rote memorization of patterns (the dreaded "Five Paragraph Essay") that are used to assess writing for various standardized tests. I'll be the first to suggest that I use patterns and guidelines when I write. But, when the emphasis is on the patterns instead of the content, the wrong lesson is being taught to students. I appreciate that students should understand the genre conventions; grades and test scores matter. Yet, we are letting the conventions become checklists for grades, instead of rewarding creativity and insights. Yes, autistic students have insights and are creative. All students should be striving for creativity and new insights. The problem with inflexible grading rubrics is that students start to