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Showing posts from June, 2011

Movie Review: Temple Grandin (2010)

Links: IMDB / Rotten Tomatoes : Rating 100% Director: Mick Jackson Starring: Claire Danes, Julia Ormond, David Strathairn, Catherine O'Hara and Stephanie Faracy I'd been avoiding Temple Grandin until about a month ago when I was asked to review the latest edition of her excellent book . Temple is arguably the foremost authority on Autism and Aspergers in the world - and as such, I guess that she's the "spoiler queen". I guess I approached the Temple Grandin movie expecting a typical Hollywood sob story. I certainly wasn't expecting the depth of concept and directness of story that I got. This is a movie that tries to take the viewer and put them in an autistic person's shoes. In this endeavor, the movie largely succeeds. When Temple walks into a room, we know what scares her. We hear the sounds which overwhelm her and we see the images which flash before her eyes. Her motivations are clear to us and parents of children on the spectrum may find thems

Lying - It's part of our Language

One of those inexplicable myths about adults and children on the spectrum is that we can't lie but I assure you that we can. I've discussed it before (see: Do Aspies Make Good Liars ). There are different types and levels of lying though and my previous discussions focused on deliberate misdirection. Today, I want to talk about embellishment and the embedding of lies in our everyday language.  Everyday Experience Everyone embellishes stuff and it would be a pretty boring world to live in if we didn't. When someone tells us that they saw a rat as big as a cat, we know that it's crap. (That is; the less literal-minded of us, know that it's crap) but we don't point at them and call out "liar!". We accept that it's a nice way of saying (as Sam L Jackson would say; " It was a huge m.....f... of a rat "). We use these lies casually all the time in our everyday conversation;  "It rained all day"   (the whole day, really?)  "

Emotional Reciprocity

This last weekend has been a really tough one for our family. We had to have our dog of nearly twelve years, Panda, put down last Saturday. To make matters worse, nobody was expecting it. One day, she was "chirpy" and seemed to be in perfectly good health and the next she was gone. She was in our family for longer than our kids and she has left a huge hole in our family heart. I was going to talk about emotional reciprocity today anyway but last weekend's events have put a whole new spin on things. Dealing with Strong Emotions We all deal with strong emotions, such as love, anger and grief in our own ways. My wife tends to cry things out but I often internalise them and take them on board as stress and at times, self-harmful behaviour. In the kids, these emotions can manifest as meltdowns or as general destructive behaviour. Sometimes there's nothing to see on the surface at all. The point is that although we each feel these emotions and we feel them at similar str

Book Review: "The Way I See It" by Temple Grandin, Ph.D. (Second Edition)

I have to say that I've generally (and quite successfully) avoided reading anything by Temple Grandin until now. It's not that Temple is bad, quite the contrary, she's arguably the most influential and inspirational person on the spectrum. My reasons for avoiding her work have all been about trying to stay "spoiler free" and figure things out for myself. The first thing I have to say about this book is that it looks like an autobiography. When reviewing books, I usually don't read the back cover or anything past the title and subtitle on the front cover. I skip the table of contents and go straight to the book. This enables me to judge the book by its cover - and then by its contents. I felt that the book looked like an autobiography but I was very pleasantly surprised. This book is a collection of Temple's essays and interviews and it covers a much broader area of study that any biographical work could. The fact that the essays are grouped into ca

DVD Review: Aspergers, Autism and Girls Presented by Tony Attwood

Aspergers, Autism and Girls Understanding & Appreciating the Female Perspective! Presented by Tony Attwood Running time: 90 minutes approximately This DVD comes in a neatly presented cover which provides very little detail, not even the running time. It certainly provides no clue that this is simply a recording of one of Tony Attwood's speeches at a conference. After the initial shock of realisation that this is a conference video, things take a little while to settle down. The first ten minutes are almost unbearable as the camera has been placed at the back of the conference room and it's clear that the operators don't know how to zoom it. In fact, quite apart from the heads bobbing around at the bottom of the frame and the grainyness of the picture, distorted sound and a few nasty bumps, you can see couple of attempts to zoom the camera. Fortunately, after 10 minutes, they get it right and they zoom into a clear head and shoulders frame of Tony as he gives his s

The Media - What are we really trying to censor?

** Parents please note - there are some concepts in this post which may offend or may be unsuitable for children ** Censorship Long time readers of this blog will know that I'm firmly opposed to a lot of today's censorship even when it applies to children. In some cases however it's in the child's best interests.  If a child has special needs or issues which impact their understanding of concepts, then media censorship takes on additional meaning. The bad effects of media on children can range from social gaffes all the way up to life-threatening behaviour. Of course, like everything, media has a flip-side too and it can have many beneficial effects particularly for children with different learning styles. Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash How do you figure out what to block and what to allow through? How do you draw the line between providing a safe versus a sheltered environment? Can the media really be of benefit to your child's education or is it just a baby

University Life - Part 2

Returning to University After my first stint at university (see part 1 ) I was very reluctant to return. I had established a comfort zone at work and although I had plenty of ambition, I lacked the drive to uproot myself and go through change again. This is a fairly common theme in the life on an aspie. My mother however was very keen on the idea that a university education is a requirement of modern jobs and much as it pains me to do so, I have to agree. Sure, there are plenty of jobs that you can do without needing to go to university but most of the higher-paying ones require you to have skill with your hands or decent muscles. I had neither. My brain was my best asset and it had failed me miserably on my last attempt. Eventually, I decided that one of the main reasons for my failure was that I had taken on more subjects than I could handle. I had discovered this towards the end of my earlier university venture when I was complaining about being unable to keep up with eight su

University Life - Part 1

I was recently asked about how aspergers affected my university experience and I realised that I haven't talked about it at all. This is my attempt at correcting the oversight. It will probably take a couple of posts but hopefully I won't bore you too much with my past. My University experience falls into two categories; full time and part time. I started university full time at UTS Sydney doing Civil Engineering but it wasn't exactly "my"career choice. To be honest, a year or two prior I had no idea of what an engineer was - and even while doing the course, the details were pretty sketchy. There were a couple of reasons for the choice. First of all, I was in a group of six boys at school and five of them were going on to do engineering. My father, a naval architect, was keen on engineering as a career and almost nobody thought it would be a bad idea. I say almost nobody because the school librarian thought it was the wrong choice and she knew me better than a