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Showing posts from 2011

Executive Functioning Issues and Older Teens

This post follows on from my earlier post "How a Lack of Executive Functioning May Appear in Young Adults" which actually ended up looking at children rather than young adults. (Thanks Sharon for pointing that out.) Hopefully I won't get sidetracked again.  If you haven't read that post, you might want to read it before continuing here as it provides a useful introduction to the topic.

In my earlier post I defined lack of executive function and talked about the problems it can cause in day-to-day scenarios involving simple tasks, like getting dressed.  As children get older however, executive functioning difficulties become more pronounced because they're expected to be able to take responsibility for more far-reaching decisions.

The decisions made by teens can affect lives and can result in legal action, injury and even death.

An Example;
Take, as an example, the problem of driving home after a night out.

The simplified executive functioning would probably flow as…

Working on Your Asperger-Neurotypical Relationship - Part 1 Talking

Over the years I've written quite a bit about AS/NT relationships. I've written about accepting your aspergers partner for who they are and how to reach them in the relationship.


I guess that it's all been a bit one-sided but today I'm starting a series which might rectify the balance. These  posts is directed at people with Asperger's sydrome and are about being the best partner that you can be.

All relationships need work. They're not "fire and forget". You can't simply say, ok we've ticked the boxes; we're married, we have a house and we have kids. That's not where the work ends.

There's a saying from Marriage Encounters which I like to repeat. "Sometimes I love my partner -- and sometimes I have to work harder at it",

Life is all about change. As aspies we often don't like change but we're powerless to stop it. Like it or not, people change and situations change. In order to adapt to these changes, we too need …

Book Review: What I wish I'd known about Raising a Child with Autism by Bobbi Sheahan and Kathy DeOenellas PH D.

"What I wish I'd known about Raising a Child with autism: A mom and a psychologist offer heartfelt guidance for the first five years", Bobbi Sheahan and Kathy DeOenellas PH D, Future Horizons Inc, 2011.

This is a mother and psychologist writing team book with a difference. This time, the person with autism is female.

The book in general is very well laid out and there is never any doubt as to which of the authors is writng at any given time.  Bobby has written the majority of the text while Kathy, the psychologist writes less frequently and always in a grey box.

There are scattered tips highlighted throughout the book and each chapter includes at least a few entitled "it bears repeating" or "what I wish I'd known".

Bobbi's writing style is breezy, funny and engaging. She covers some very difficult topics and makes it clear that as a parent nothing is ever easy.

Kathy tends to write on a whole different level and at times seems to have difficult…

TV Series Review - Doc Martin

My wife and I have just spent the last few months watching every episode of "Doc Martin" a British TV series about a Doctor (not that other Doctor) who relocates from a job as a top surgeon in London to general practitioner in Portwenn, a tiny fictional village in Cornwall. 

It's mostly a comedy series but it has some drama and romance elements as well.  The reason I'm reviewing it here however is because Doc Martin's character is, I believe, intended to "have Aspergers Syndrome" and for neurotypical adults this gives you a good glimpse into both sides of an AS/NT relationship.


Nobody does situation comedy for Television better than the British and Doc Martin doesn't disappoint in this area. Although it is very funny, it's actually in the development of Doc Martin's relationship that the show really excels.  Each story is relatively self-contained but it is strongly recommended that you watch the series in the correct order to get a good sens…

How a Lack of Executive Functioning May Appear in Young Adults

You'll often hear that people with Aspergers syndrome have problems with "executive functioning" but what does it mean and how does it manifest in young adults?  In this post, I hope to give you some answers.


Put simply, executive functions are higher level functions such as planning, reasoning, problem solving, multi-tasking, attention span, inhibition, flexibility, self monitoring, self-initiation and self guidance.  I'm sure I've left out quite a few.

Executive functions are important but in an animal sense, a lack of them is usually not life threatening.  Eating, sleeping, moving and toileting for example, aren't classed as "executive functions".  While executive functioning provides many advantages, it's not so critical in the pure "animal" sense.  It's people and society that has made executive functioning critical in humans.


How a Lack of Executive Functioning Could Manifest in Young Adults
The remainder of this post will focu…

Autism Advocacy and Points of View

There's been a lot of discussion in the blogsphere recently culmulating in this interesting and insightful post about drawing lines in the sand. 

The ideals expressed were admirable but I could see several places where the author of the post hadn't actually met them (based on things said in comments and earlier posts). Like a true aspie champion of logic, I was about to point them out when I realised two things;


It's not very nice My slate isn't exactly clean either
It got me thinking about the bigger picture and inspired me to take a look at advocacy and different points of view. In particular, I was wondering how I personally would go accepting all of these conflicting points of view.


The Indivisible Point of View
We're advocates right? We have to have a point of view. In my case, I'm advocating for my children's right to be accepted as part of normal society. For their right to do things that others do and for their right to live without being judged on th…

Tony Attwood's Three Requisites for a Successful Relationship

I just finished reading an Aspergers Relationship book today (it's excellent by the way and a review is coming shortly). The book had a great quote from Tony Attwood near the end and it's such a great quote that I've been mulling it over all day long.


I thought it was worth repeating here;


Clinical and counselling experience suggests that there are three requisites for a successful relationship.


The first is that both partners acknowledge the diagnosis.The second requisite is motivation for both partners to change and learn.The third is access to relationship counselling modified to accommodate the profile of abilities and experiences of the partner with Aspergers Syndrome.
- Dr. Tony Attwood, "The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome"


Let's look at Tony's three requirements in more detail;

1. Both partners acknowledge the diagnosis
I know that I'm often saying that "it's just a label" and "it doesn't change you as a person&qu…

Medications and Special Needs - It's Your Choice

This is a best of the best of the best post.  Check this link after November 15 for a lot of of different perspectives on the same topic by other writers associated with Special Needs.

If you're new to the world of special needs, you'll quickly become acquianted with a list of "hot topics" ranging from debate about the use of jigsaw logos, to the words aspie, aspergian, autie and others. Of course, the biggest debate of all has always been - should we or shouldn't we medicate our children?

It's a good question and there's no easy answer.


Protest Groups
You really can't discuss this topic without talking about protest groups. There are protest groups everywhere and they all have different motivations. Some of them are against any kind of medication - including aspirin, some are based on "knee-jerk" reactions to incorrect research and some are simply reacting to "bad events" or bad press.

Of course, there are some good protest groups a…

International ADHD Awareness Week

This week is the official international ADHD Awareness week and I thought it might be appropriate to talk about the condition - especially since it's so common in children (and adults) with Asperger Syndrome. In fact, it's very common for people to be diagnosed with ADHD first.
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder and it goes hand in hand with another disorder which was once called ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). These two disorders are now considered one, though it's quite common to distingish ADD as ADHD-I (ADHD - Inattentive).
Public Perception If you don't have children with ADHD/ADD, you're probably imagining children who are literally bouncing off walls, throwing things and jumping across furniture. Like Aspergers, ADHD suffers greatly from stereotypes.
It's quite common for people to witness televised "extreme acts of ADHD" and blame it on the parents, red cordial, too much TV, poor discipline or any number of other things. L…

Special Needs Family Life

This is a "best of the best post. Check the link: SOS Best of the Best Edition 11: Family Life from 15th October for more posts on this topic by other authors.
Normally I tend to keep my family life quite separate from my general aspergers posts. No, I'm not fussed about privacy, it's all there on a different blog (see:http://gbollard.blogspot.com). I just do my best to to shield my readers from the boredom of my daily life.
This month's BOB topic however is "family life" and I guess this is one of the hardest posts I've had to write. How do I make it sound interesting?
You see, apart from unexpected change, our lives are pretty much the same as everyone else's. We've got things down to a routine.
It wasn't always like this. We had years of terrible struggle until we developed all of the rules. As parents, we've gotten very good at predicting events and distractions.
For example; We can now look at food with the eyes of my eldest son and know …

Less Confrontational Strategies for Approaching Children with Asperger's Syndrome during a Meltdown Event

In my last post, I looked at less confrontational strategies to approach children with Asperger's syndrome under normal conditions. In this post, I want to look at how it's done during a meltdown.
A Brief Look at Meltdowns I'll begin by defining a meltdown. Meltdowns are generally violent and loud events which look very much like temper tantrums with one very obvious distinction. Meltdowns are "out of control" events. The aspie is not using the meltdown as a means of getting what they want - in fact, they want the meltdown to stop more than you do.
Of course, not all meltdowns actually are violent but all have the capacity to be violent. An aspie in a meltdown state is not responsible for their actions.
For this reason, it's important for young aspies to learn their triggers and how to avoid them.

To Approach or Not to Approach The first question that you need to ask yourself is; is it dangerous for you, for others or for the aspie?
If the situation isn't dange…

Less Confrontational Strategies for Approaching Children with Aspergers Syndrome

For many people, particularly teachers, the first real experience with Asperger's syndrome comes as part of an intervention in a "situation". After all, aside from odd mannerisms and odd comments, many children with aspergers can appear quiet and non-participative - this can easily be mistaken for shyness.
The real problems begin to surface when an extraordinary event, such as a meltdown or shutdown occurs. Even if no such event occurs, a simple friendly intervention from a teacher can sometimes result in a unexpectedly nasty response.
When such events do occur, they can "sour" the relationship between teacher and child - and sometimes between the parents and school too.
Recovery is a long process of "walking on eggshells" for which most teachers don't have the time or patience,
In this post. I want to look at some of the ways that you can modify your approach to children with aspergers syndrome to reduce those ill effects. I'll be concentratin…

Book Review: "Blazing My Trail: Living and Thriving with Autism" by Rachel B. Cohen-Rottenberg

"Blazing My Trail: Living and Thriving with Autism" by Rachel B. Cohen-Rottenberg is a "sequel" to "The Uncharted Path" which I reviewed here and followed up here.


When we last left Rachel's story, she had fully accepted her place on the autism spectrum and was making plans to take control of parts of her life. The plans weren't big plans but every long journey begins with small steps.
At times, it feels like an entirely different person has written this book. This Rachel is capable, confident, assertive (without being nearly so argumentive) and full of promise.
Yes, it is a sequel and indeed in the first chapter or two, it feels like you need to have read the first book - but then it all changes and from then on, whenever it references past events, it provides a handy recap.
I feel that the titles of the books were very well chosen, with "The Uncharted Path" being about taking uncertain steps into unknown territory and Blazing My Trail b…

Calming Techniques for the Special Needs Child

This is a "best of the best" article. Check back here after September 15 for more articles by other authors on this topic.
There is a saying about Aspergers which I believe applies equally well to most, if not all, other special needs - to paraphrase; "if you've met one person with special needs, you've met ONE person needs".
Just as all special needs people are different, the calming techniques required are also quite different. Techniques which calm one person may simply infuriate another.

Trial and Error In this post, I plan to cover a few approaches but the application of these is very much a matter of trial and error. If your actions seem to be worsening a situation then stop and try a different approach.

Getting Attention No technique is going to work unless you have attention. It doesn't have to be total attention, part attention is fine. Don't forget too that many special needs children have issues with eye contact, so "attention" doesn…

Answers to some Questions on Cyberbullying

A friend is doing a talk on Cyberbullying and asked for some suggestions. Unfortunately I'm not the sort of person who can write "just a little" and as it turns out, my response is too long for Facebook. As such, I've decided to "post here and link there". In any case, she may find your own comments/responses to be better than my original statements;
So here are the Questions; When does freedom of speech cross over to cyberbullying?What productive strategies have you used when encountering online bullying?Parents/Teachers: Do your school districts have a cyberbullying policy or guidelines which they enforce?Psychologists/Therapists: How serious can this kind of trauma be to individuals enduring online attacks?

When does freedom of speech cross over to cyberbullying?
For many people, this threshold is reached shortly after the person being attacked starts complaining. For people on the spectrum however, this threshold may be reached quite some time before the…

The Value of Special Needs Therapy

This post is part of Best of the Best, Edition 9: Special Needs Therapy. If you check the above link from August 14 onwards, you'll find a whole host of similar articles by other authors.
Introduction I'm presuming that most people will be writing from the point of view of parenting their own children. I could do that. My children have been through speech and occupational therapy (both of which were excellent), listening therapy (which quite frankly I found unhelpful) and a couple of other formal therapies. They've also had plenty of chances for informal therapy - did you know that simply owning a dog can be theraputic too?

As usual though, I'm going to try to be different. I want to talk about what it's like going through therapy and how it helps.

Speech Therapy When I was a child, I went through a couple of different types of therapy with the two biggies being speech and occupational therapy. I wasn't diagnosed with aspergers then but simply had a hearing loss (s…

Book Review: Active Imagination Activity Book by Kelly Tilley

Active Imagination Activity Book 50 Sensorimotor Activities to improve focus, attention, strength and co-ordination Kelly Tilley. MCISc. OTR/L Published by Sensory World
There are all kinds of different therapies for children on the autism spectrum but in my opinion, two stand out head and shoulders above the rest; Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy. Both of these are expensive and even with government support, it's unusual for parents to be able to continue beyond one or two terms at a time.
You won't become an occupational therapist simply by using this book but you will learn a lot of fun and simple techniques to achieve many of the same things that occupational therapists work toward.
This book is intended for use with children and adults who need help with attention, calming down and energizing but I can see that it will also provide a lot of benefit for people with poor co-ordination and/or low muscle tone - two things which affect many people on the autism spectrum.
The B…

Temple Grandin's three types of Thinkers in Autism

I've looked at a lot of Aspergers theory over the years and while I agree with some of it, I find that I disagree with other bits. One theory that I really like is Temple Grandin's observations on the three different types of thinkers;
Temple claims that there are three types of thinkers in Autism and while people don't exclusively belong in a single group, they usually lean towards one set of patterns more than the others.
Temple's three types are; VisualMusic/MathsVerbal
Visual Thinkers The idea is that the visual thinkers are those who need to "see" things in order to understand them. They're more likely to draw a picture or build an object when trying to work out a problem. Temple herself seems to be a visual thinker, her photographic memory clearly supports the idea.
Young visual thinkers tend to be keen on building blocks such as lego and possibly on woodwork or other craft projects.
Music and Mathematical Thinkers These types of thinkers find patterns in…