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Showing posts from 2010

Don't Underestimate Your Children's Ability to Cope with Change

In the lead up to Christmas this year, there were a lot of blog posts about coping with Christmas and helping your children cope with Christmas. It was interesting to see how those blog posts covered all manner of topics dealing with; Crowds and over-stimulation Relatives who couldn't (or didn't want to) understand your child's issues "Surprise" Management Junk food issues Travel difficulties Gift-Reaction Management General change management (because Christmas throws every routine out) There were all kinds of discussions about preparing your child and family for Christmas. Some of them, if read by the wrong people would have made the children seem like "spoiled brats" and some were against the very nature of Christmas (in my opinion only). An Example from our household I'm quite big on "surprises", so I don't generally like surprise management tactics where you let your child know what to expect as a gift. This year, our kids got a n

Book Review: "Sensory Parenting: From Newborns to Toddlers" by Britt Collins and Jackie Linder Olson

Sensory Parenting: From Newborns to Toddlers Parenting is easier when your child's senses are happy! by Britt Collins, MS, OTR/L and Jackie Linder Olson ISBN: 978-193556722-6 Published by Future Horizons You could be forgiven for thinking that this was just another ordinary baby book. Indeed it's not until about the third chapter that the differences really begin to hit you. Of course, those differences have been there all along, just more subtly in those early chapters. Sensory parenting has been written by the Parent-Paediatric Team of Jackie Linder Olsen and Britt Collins and they're the ideal team for a baby book. Jackie provides a wealth of special needs parenting experience while Britt's experience comes across in the amazing array of therapies. Normally such tag-team books can leave you a little disorientated but they've gone to great lengths to speak in "one-voice" throughout and aside from a few obvious chapters, and some scattered comments, it&

Article: Carnival of S-O-S 1: Autism and Treatment Options

Danette Schott from the SOS Research Blog is hosting a blog carnival which I'm very proud to be a part of. The topic is on Autism and Treatment Options and it contains 22 great posts from some of the most experienced people in the field and on a wide variety of subjects. The topics include; weighted blankets, social stories, speech therapy, sign-language, toys, pets, deep pressure, cognitive therapy and Chinese Medicine therapy. I was surprised to find that there was even an article on therapeutic horseback riding. Thanks Danette for organising the carnival. If you're interested in treatment options for autism, there is now a great group of articles which can all be referenced in one place. To go to the carnival, click here or go to;

Book Review: Craig Lancaster's "Comfort and Joy"

Just letting you know that Craig Lancaster , author of 600 Hours of Edward has released a short story for Christmas. The story is available in several formats including Kindle and several other formats including EPub and PDF . Unlike 600 Hours of Edward, this story isn't about Aspergers but it is a touching tale of loss and human nature and it makes a surprisingly good Christmas tale. The story is about 30 pages long and it's a great read. To say any more would spoil things. The ebook is currently selling for $1 and all proceeds go to the Charity; Feeding America ( )

Autism Acceptance: Traditional and Non-Traditional Autism Treatment Options

The Help! S-O-S for Parents site is having a blog carnival on traditional and non-traditional treatment options for autism. It should be very interesting to see a wide range of views and opinions on this. I'll link to the carnival pages once they become active. In the meantime however, my article, as usual is on acceptance. Autism Acceptance By Gavin Bollard The world of autism has changed a lot over the last fifty years. Back in the 1960s, it was common for autistic children to be institutionalised for life. It was common for children with autism to be subjected to painful, humiliating and often life-threatening "correctional" therapies, like shock treatment, LSD therapy and behavioural punishment. One of the most prevalent theories of the time was the "refrigerator mother", a theory which put the blame squarely on the parents. In fact, it was Leo Kanner, the "father of autism", who suggested that these children resulted from a " genuine lack

FTF: Post 11: "Friendships Lost Leave Openings for Others" by Gina St. Aubin

The final First-Things-First post for the year is up and it's a good one too. In fact, given the time of year, it's very appropriate. You can read the post (as usual on Hartley's Blog , The Gift or Asperger Ninja ). Here's some of my thoughts after reading the post... Given that it's the end of the year, I've been thinking a lot about Christmas. My kids go to a Catholic school, so there's no problems with the concept of Christmas but I often wonder about children from other religions. I can understand that Christmas is a Christian concept but I feel that it's sad that some children miss out because of choices made by others. Would I feel the same if the shoe was on the other foot? I don't know. I sometimes feel that if there was a Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or Hindi festival which was centred around the distribution of chocolate or presents then I'd want to be part of it. For me, with my general dislike of organised religion (I believe that

The Uncharted Path - In Depth (and an Interview with Rachel)

About four months ago, I reviewed "The Uncharted Path" by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg. At the time, I said that I'd publish my review first but that I wanted to get into deeper territory with it because it's a truly fascinating book. As always, time got away from me and I forgot. (Sorry again Rachel). Anyway, if you haven't read it; my original review is here . Who is Rachel? In case there are any readers here who don't know Rachel (it's unlikely), I'd better start by pointing out that Rachel blogs at Journeys with Autism . It used to be called Journeys with Aspergers - and there's a whole fascinating story behind that change. In fact, at least some of that change is core material in the book. Rachel's take on aspergers and autism is radically different from the theories you've read before. Rachel publishes a lot of really provocative posts over at JWA and I always look forward to them. She's also a frequent commenter here. Polar Op

Article: Low Muscle Tone and Motor Clumsiness in Aspergers Children

I just want to draw your attention to what is quite simply the best article I've ever read on Low Muscle Tone in Aspergers Children; It's called; Low Muscle Tone and Motor Clumsiness in Aspergers Children The article covers detection of low muscle tone (or hypotonia to give its "proper" name), how it presents, exercises that you can do with babies and age-specific exercises you can do with older children. It covers a wide range of topics from motor clumsiness to handwriting, grasp and balance problems. It even looks at the social implications. It's well worth a read.

Aspie Myths - "He Won't Miss Me"

I apologise for the excessive "male-orientated" viewpoint in this post. I tried to keep it neutral but somehow, it just works better when explained from a male viewpoint. Here's a phrase that I've seen repeated throughout the comments on this blog on several occasions; "I know that he won't miss me when I'm gone because he's aspie" Today, we're going to (try to) bust that myth; Individuals I'll start off with a reminder that everyone is an individual. If all aspies were completely alike and predictible, they'd be a stereotype but they're not. Each is shaped by their background, their upbringing, their beliefs and their local customs. An aspie who grew up with loud abusive parents has a reasonable chance of becoming loud and abusive themselves because in some cases, that's all they know. That's how they think adults are supposed to behave. In other cases, aspies who grew up in those circumstances do a complete about-fa

Autism and Acting

Acting is a gift which seems to come naturally to many people with autism and Asperger's syndrome yet only a select few follow it as a career.  Dan Ackroyd and Daryl Hannah are some of the most obvious and vocal examples but there are plenty of others.  Dan Ackroyd, on the extreme right has Asperger's Syndrome We are always acting I have a theory that people on the spectrum tend to be good at acting because they spend so much of their daily lives acting - and from a very early age. For example, it's true that autistic people often don't get jokes (although you rarely hear us complaining when neurotypicals don't get ours).  Young people quickly learn that it's easier to "act like you got the joke" than it is to take the brunt and embarrassment of being the only one who didn't. We are quite often called upon to "act amused". Then there are those sad and solemn occasions where sometimes we feel intense waves of emotion - and sometimes we don

FTF: Post 10: "Disabled x2" by Leslie O'Donnell

This month's First Things First post is "Disabled x2" by Leslie O'Donnell. As usual, it's available on the Hartley's Life with 3 Boys Blog; Disabled x2 by Leslie O'Donnell Leslie has a background in disability activism, psych education & special-ed teaching. She is also now a full-time special-needs parent. If you're interested in any of Leslie's other articles, you'll find them here .

A Day of Silence

Today (Yesterday for people who live in my timezone) was supposed to be a day of silence on the web. It was supposed to mark (or model?) the concept of people on the spectrum having communication difficulties. It's not working. There's quite a lot of opposition to this idea - here are my thoughts... People with autism are not silent. We do have communication challenges but we overcome them. In fact, computers are one of the best tools for overcoming these challenges and it's amazing how much has been said recently by so many people whom others believed couldn't communicate at all. Why would we want to be silent? Isn't silence a mark of respect for someone who has died? We haven't died. In fact the new-found freedom of the technological age has given us new life. The rapid shift from slow letter writing, to email and then to instant messaging has had the effect of making us louder and giving us a chance to be heard. Not that we couldn't always be heard.

Book Review: All Cats Have Asperger's Syndrome by Kathy Hoopmann

I've referred to this book several times on this blog but I've never actually done a review. This post aims to change that. When we were initially struggling with the Aspergers diagnosis for my eldest son, we jumped into a whole heap of complicated books. They were generally a good read but most of them were way too clinical. Then I heard about this book and I decided to buy it off amazon without having even looked inside. I couldn't find it in any Australian bookstores though funnily enough, now that I know what I'm looking for, I've seen it lots of times. First Impressions I suspect that had I seen inside the book before I bought it, I might have had second thoughts about buying it but then, I would have been wrong. It's not just the covers that you shouldn't use to judge books by - sometimes you really do need to read them first. At first glance, the book looks quite shallow. It's sort of like the famous "blue day book" except that all of t

Article: "Best and Worst Jobs for Aspergers Adults" on My Aspergers Child

I just want to draw your attention to a very good article The article is called; Best and Worst Jobs for Aspergers Adults and it was published on the My Aspergers Child blog. The article gives tips for aspie jobseekers and tips for parents with aspie children in the latter stages of school. It also contains a few good lists of the best and worst types of jobs for aspies. It's well worth a read.

Get Away from Me with Your "Perfect Kids" - Part 4: School and Sports (Final)

School I can remember taking my wife home from the school in tears because one mother had told us that she was in a panic about her son and thinking of pulling him out because he was only a level 12 reader. Our son was in his class too, but at the time, he was only on level 2. It's not that the other parent was insensitive. She probably didn't know what level our son was on. The real issue is that parents of children with academic special needs shouldn't discuss their children's progress with other parents. There really is no comparison and it will only get you upset. Given time and resources your child will flourish. In fact, five years later, our son is just finishing up the diary of a wimpy kid - and he enjoyed it! Unfortunately, academic talk is common at school while waiting to pick your child up. Sometimes it's better to stay in the car. Some parents delight in telling you all about their child's achievements and eagerly ask about your child's wo

Article: My Story of SPD Through Poetry by Jennie Linthorst

I really have to say that I'm not usually a great fan of poetry - especially of poetry which doesn't rhyme. I've got a long history of writing poems though admittedly they've become quite sparse in recent years. My poetry is usually funny and rhyme tends to help it. Very occasionally, I delve into darker matter but I usually feel constrained by time and linearity. I feel like I want to get my whole point across but also to digress. There's not enough lines to say what I want to say. I don't read a lot of poetry online either. Usually it's too shallow for me. THEN Along comes Jennie Linthorst.... wow. I think this could be the first time a poem has ever brought tears to my eyes. Jenny has gotten over the limitations by writing a series of eight poems, each one moving deeper into what it's like to be the mother of a child with sensory processing disorder. I'm stunned. Hartley Steiner's 30 SPD stories in 30 Days series is amazing. It's t

Campaigning against Apathy - The Manchester Bullying

I mentioned this on twitter/facebook a few days back as a gross miscarriage of British justice but now it seems that a National Autistic Society in the UK is beginning a campaign - and I want to encourage as many readers as possible (in all countries), to sign up and voice their opinions. Last week, it was reported that the three boys who tortured a boy with aspergers - and this is serious torture which will leave him emotionally scarred forever - got off with 80 hours of community service. A link to the UK Daily Mail article is below - I urge you to read it because it describes the abuse and the ruling in detail; Evil teenagers who 'tortured' autistic boy, 17, for three days free to roam streets after judge fails to lock them up By JAYA NARAIN The sentence was a 3 month curfew and 80 hours’ unpaid community work. What happened to the autistic boy was tantam

Article: Feelings Matching and Memory Game

I'm just drawing your attention to a resource that a reader pointed out to me at the " I can teach my child " blog ( ) The article is called Feelings Matching and Memory Game and it explains how to create flashcards to teach feelings to your child. Although the article was originally written to teach very young children, it could also be used to teach older children with aspergers the rudiments of facial expression interpretation. It's well worth a look.

Get Away from Me with Your "Perfect Kids" - Part 3: Family

In part 3 of this series about when our support networks go wrong, we look at family. If you haven't already read them, you might want to read Part 1: Introduction and Part 2: Mother's Groups . If there's one group of people who you can always rely on for support and acceptance, it's family - right? Right... Except when they don't. Limited Support One nice thing about family is that they'll usually stick up for you in battles against non-family, like school. They generally won't come out and support you but they'll at least make the appropriate empathetic "umms" and "aahhs" when you talk about the problems.  The problem is that families generally aren't shy about coming forward with ideas of their own. If those ideas lead to conflict with other family members then the old "favourites" games come into play and the rest of them take sides.  You could find yourself on the receiving end of abuse and even "excommunicati

Article: The Bollard Family by Gavin Bollard

I'm just drawing your attention to an article I wrote for Hartley's 30 Families in 30 Days SPD Fundraiser. It's simply titled; The Bollard Family and it's available on Hartley's Life with 3 Boys . The URL is: I figured that since the series was about sensory issues, I'd just pick one of the groups of sensory issues in our family to talk about. In this case, it's oral.

Get Away from Me with Your "Perfect" Kids - Part 2: Mother's Group

It's obvious that parents of special needs children need support and that often they will turn to support groups, relatives, friends and acquaintances for that support. In this series, we're looking at how these support groups can sometimes turn into your worst nightmare. This time, it's the turn of the "Mother's Group" So, What are Mother's Groups Anyway? I'd better clarify this because I'm sure that the support structures probably differ from one country to another. In Australia, Mother's groups are usually local groups of mothers who have all had babies at around about the same time. Hospitals and Neighborhood centers often put new mothers in touch with them. I'll agree that mother's groups have their place. They provide a sounding board for mothers with questions about babyhood and motherhood. They provide much needed social contact for otherwise housebound mothers during that critical first year and they provide a great early wa

Article: The Struggle for Acceptance by Gavin Bollard

Just drawing your attention to an article I have written on the Static Vox blog . It's called The Struggle for Acceptance and it's part of a series aimed at increasing understanding of what it is like to navigate the world as an adult with autism. You can also see an earlier post on the subject by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg. To Be the Change, Respect is Critical By Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg Thanks Stat Mama for creating this series. Please check out her blog as it's very insightful.

Get Away from Me with Your "Perfect" Kids - Part 1: Introduction

No, this post isn't a rant - at least, I hope it isn't. Like most of my posts, it's simply designed to raise awareness. In this case, I'm kicking off a series about the sorts of negative comments that parents of children with special needs face. Being the parent of one or more special needs children is a difficult and often thankless job. Other parents, get praise, excitement and love from their kids - and so do we - but sometimes our kids don't react quite the way we expect. Sometimes they seem less grateful for expensive gifts, less receptive of our hugs and less expressive of positive feelings for us. It's tough for our kids but it's also tough on us as parents. Sometimes we feel burned by the whole experience - and we don't need someone else to come along and tell us what we're doing wrong - or how much better their child is than ours. It's a sad fact that sometimes special needs parents express a sort of "evil glee" when they