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Showing posts from July, 2010

Book Review: "House Rules: A Novel" by Jodi Picoult

I'd be lying if I said that I didn't get any enjoyment out of Jodi Picoult's House Rules.
It's a novel and it's supposed to be fictional so I can't expect it to remain entirely faithful to the truth about aspergers.
The book is a mainly a courtroom drama which centers around the use of "aspergers" to suggest that a defendent was "legally insane" at the point that a crime was committed. What makes things worse is that since that the boy with aspergers has a special interest in forensics, his reactions to grisly court room proceedings tends to be one of glee rather than remorse. The fact that he takes questions at face value and gives minimalist answers only to direct questions compounds the issue.
This novel is a slow read with very little direct action. It's written from the point of view of several characters including a boy with aspergers, his brother, his mother, his lawyer and a detective. The fact that each of these persona uses a…

Article: On the Matter of Empathy

I just want to draw your attention to the following post on the "Aspie from Maine" blog.
It's called;
On the Matter of Empathy http://aspiefrommaine.blogspot.com/2010/07/on-matter-of-empathy.html
It's a really interesting article because it not only talks about an aspie experiencing a profound moment of empathy but it also talks a bit about what that particular aspie wants from neurotypicals. I found this part fascinating because often I just don't know what I need.
Interestingly, the post talks about the possibility of empathy being a learned skill for people with aspergers. It's something that I agree with. My empathetic capabilities have increased significantly as I've gotten older mainly due to repeated prompts from my wife but also as a result of reading and understanding other people's positions on empathy.
Sometimes I'm so busy that I forget the most basic things.
For example, this morning, I drove to the bus stop but forgot to release the hand…

Improving Employment Prospects for Aspies - Part 3 (What the Employer can do)

In part one of this series, I discussed the lack of employment services for aspie adults and in part two, I looked at some of the things that aspies could do to improve their chances of being employed. I now want to look at some of the ways in which employers could improve their "game".
Stop Focussing on the idea of "giving" jobs to the disabled I'm always a bit skeptical of the phrase "we don't need your charity" particularly when it's uttered by someone who quite obviously does.
Heck, if someone is throwing money your way... catch it. Unless you're already a billionaire.
Of course, this phrase isn't saying that we don't want your resources. Poor people always want money, hungry people always want food and aspies always want jobs.
What we don't want is sympathy? Is it really called sympathy? I'm not so sure.
I guess that what we don't want is for employers to go around saying that "the only reason he got the job is…

Improving Employment Prospects for Aspies - Part 2 (What the Aspie can do)

In part one of this series, I "lamented" the lack of services aimed at helping adults with aspergers find financial independence. There are plenty of services available to help children on the spectrum at school. Indeed neurotypical society tends to be quite tolerant of children with differences. Unfortunately society seems to have forgotten that children eventually grow up and that adults on the spectrum still need help.
I ended my post with a couple of vague lists, one talking about what aspies can do to improve their job prospects and another dealing with how society can improve the situation. In this post, I want to look at what aspies can do.

Beware of Fake Jobs Before I get into the lists from my last post, I just want to talk about a nasty employment problem that I've encountered on several occasions.
The phrase; "it's not what you know, it's who you know" sums it up nicely.
It's a sad fact of life that aspies with their limited social skill…

Improving Employment Prospects for Aspies - Part 1

This article appeared on the Columbus Dispatch last Monday and I've been pondering its deeper meanings since then. It highlights an important problem and is well worth a read.
Young adults with Asperger's syndrome struggle to find jobs
http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2010/07/12/hiring-hurdle.html?sid=101By Rita Price
The article raises important points which I think are worth discussing but it also uses some language, terminology and concepts that I'm not overly fond of. In some ways, it leads the reader to believe that while aspies are generally quite smart, their social issues get in the way so much that it becomes a "favour" when an employer gives them a job.
Employers already have enough power over their employees without us making out that it's a privilege to even be considered for a job. It's not a privilege. It's a right. An equal opportunity right.
In this series, I want to look at the aspie employment issue and suggest…

The Neurotypical of the Family

Long time readers of this blog would know that I'm married with two sons. No girls. I've suggested jokingly to my wife that we're even now because the dog - and both of our guinea pigs are female.
It doesn't help.
It's a sad fact of our lives that my wife will have nobody to go "girly shopping" with or pass her jewellery onto.
It's not too late. We could have more but much as the idea of having a little girl appeals to me, the thought of having THREE boys on the spectrum does not.
If it wasn't hard enough being the only girl in the family, my wife is also the only neurotypical (we're not counting pets anymore). That's right - the most "normal" person in our house is in the minority.
It's funny how people on the spectrum often understand each other better than a neurotypical would but let's face it. If we're all sitting around taking things literally or jumping into detailed discussions on our often "mutual" spec…

The Danger of Allowing Aspergers to Excuse Wrongful Behaviour

Aspergers, it seems, is permanently in the news these days. Unfortunately, it's usually for the wrong reasons.
It seems that many people consider aspergers to be a great excuse for poor behavior.
For every great "suspected aspie" like Bill Gates or Albert Einstein, it seems that there are several "Gary McKinnon's", "Martyn Bryant's" or John Ogren's and for every positive generalization (like Savant), there's several bad ones (like Sociopath and emotionless).
I'm not here to debate whether the schools, parents or special education did enough to help these people. Nor am I here to say whether or not they should have been allowed to read Stephen King books, watch X rated films or even be allowed near computers.
The fact is that in all three "bad" examples mentioned above, Aspergers has been used as an "excuse for bad behavior" when it is clear that there are other forces at work. The perpetrators had other condition…

FTF: Post 6 "Support Groups 101" by Carrie Fannin

This month's First things First article is by Carrie Fannin, founder of Sensory Planet, a resource for parents of children with SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder).
Her article is called;
Support Groups 101 and as usual, it can be found on Hartley Steiner's blog.
Please read it.
In her article Carrie looks as the role that support groups play in supporting the parents of special needs children. It would be easy for me to say that I don't need such groups because being aspie, groups of people really don't work all that well for me but I do know that they help my wife.
The thing is, that Carrie says; "Find a support group, whether it's online or in your local community, and join it. Commit to surrounding yourself with parents who understand what you are going through".
I think the key here is that the group can simply be an online one. For me, particularly when I was first coming to grips with Aspergers, that group was WrongPlanet (http://www.wrongplanet.net/). …