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Why Do I Allow Offensive Comments on this Blog?

I'm often asked, since I moderate comments on this blog (require approval before posting), why I allow comments which are harmful but block some comments which fight back. Surely here, of all places, I should be standing up for people, like myself who are on the autism spectrum?

It's a good question and it’s one that I still struggle with constantly but I thought it would be worth posting about because it says a lot about me, about my intentions and how far I will go to ensure that the messages are understood.

What does Get Blocked….
First of all, one of my aims in comments is “protection”, so any comments which mention email addresses, surface mail addresses or phone numbers (of individuals) will automatically get blocked. It's simply too dangerous to post these things.

I've had people on the spectrum leave comments about loneliness and their hope that someone nearby will connect with them - and then they leave personal contact details. This is downright dangerous. The …

Book Review: "Temple did it, and I can Too: Seven Simple Life Rules" by Jennifer Gilpin Yacio

"Temple did it, and I can Too: Seven Simple Life Rules" by Jennifer Gilpin Yacio is a children’s picture book based on Temple Grandin’s seven life rules for growing up with autism.



If you don't know who Dr Temple Grandin's is, she's arguably the leading authority on “autism on the inside”. An amazing and very knowledgeable woman whose story is told very well in the HBO biographical film “Temple Grandin” (2010).


(I reviewed the Temple Grandin movie here back in June 2011)
Temple’s seven life rules are very good ones which still hold up well today though I have often thought that sometimes her words betray her age, in particular her obvious dislike of computer games and her preference for outdoor activities.

The book more or less tells a “lite” version of Temple’s story and at 25 pages, it's clearly aimed at young readers. There are two fonts used throughout the book, on for the story and the other for Temple’s words.

When it comes to the rules, the book address…

Conversations with People with Asperger's Syndrome can leave you with a Wrong Impression

People with Asperger's Syndrome often come across in conversations as very self-obsessed and this is reflected in “Aspie-type” personalities in the media, such as “Doc Martin” in the British TV show of the same name and “Sheldon Cooper” from the “Big Bang Theory”**.
The question is whether this is a reputation that we deserve. It's certainly true that conversations with people with Asperger's can be an “experience” but is this a self-centred superiority complex or simply the way that a bunch of traits appear to others… and if so, what can be done about it?
One Sided Conversations People with Asperger's often seem to dominate conversations, turning the topic to things that interest us (special interests) and then talking until the listeners make their escape.
To an outsider, this appears to be “conversation dominance”. It suggests that the “aspie” is not interested in the opinions and subjects of other people.
People with Asperger's are constantly thinking about their …

Book Review: "The Saga Of Santa Claus" by M. D. Couturier

It's probably still a little early for Christmas but it's not too early to start doing a little shopping preparation. Today, I want to review a book written by Mark Couturier who was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome at 19 years.

Mark was born in Seoul, Korea and raised in Greenville, Michigan. I earned a B.A. in history at Grand Valley State University and briefly worked as an aid worker in Kabul Afghanistan. The Saga of Santa Claus is a seasonal tale aimed at the young and the young at heart.

Over the years, there have been many retellings and versions of the origin of Santa Claus, the reindeer and all of the various Christmas traditions. My personal favourite will always be the Bass and Rankin "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" TV movie from 1970. Of course, that's because I watched it every year as I grew up. Kids are always interested in Santa's origins and these quite often become a family annual tradition which stays with you for your entire lives…

Why are Schools so Unprepared for Autism?

In Australian news this week, there was a story about a school principal who was fired for attempting to use a cage to restrain a child on the autism spectrum who was experiencing meltdowns.

You can read about that story here and here.

Why This is Wrong
There's a lot to be said about this situation but first things first; was the education minister right to fire that principal?

While I hate to see anyone out of a job, my answer here is an unequivocal "yes!"

There's a few reasons for this;


Human Rights
First of all, any form of incarceration is a matter of human rights. You simply can't detain people, even if they're clearly in the wrong.  When I was doing scouts we were told about a park ranger who caught someone defacing park property and detained the person on site. He (the park ranger) was arrested.

If the matter of human rights is made clear to volunteer groups who look after children, then I'm pretty sure that we can expect it to have been covered many…

Book Review: Building Bridges through Sensory Integration (Third Edition)

Building Bridges through Sensory Integration (Third Edition) is a book written by occupational therapists, for occupational therapists, parents and carers. It deals primarily with children with Autism spectrum disorders but includes a lot of material on Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) as well.

The book is divided into several sections. The first introduces concepts and covers a lot of interesting theory, in particular, there's a great chapter on how the senses work in co-ordination with each other and how conditions, such as autism, can interrupt that processing.

Apart from the early chapters, this is not a book that you can read "cover to cover" as a lot of material feels very repetitive and too detailed when read this way. For example, there's comprehensive coverage of each of the senses with discussion on how each presents as under-active and over-active. There's also coverage of sensory seeking and sensory blocking behaviours in children. This is followed b…

Movie Review: Eagle vs Shark (2007)

Eagle vs Shark is a film which never actually mentions the words "Asperger's syndrome" but is clearly about two individuals with Asperger's meeting and and falling in love. In fact, it takes the whole genetics thing so far that at times, it feels like nearly everyone in the film has it. 

Eagle vs Shark (2007) is a Kiwi (New Zealand) film which is at times very awkward to watch, It's described as a comedy but feels like a comedy/drama/art film.

It's also billed as a film about two unattractive people falling in love with taglines like;
"Love is Blind.... Luckily" "Opposites. Unattractive.""Finding love was never so... Awkward.""There's someone for everyone...apparently"

In a way, I found these taglines somewhat offensive because they concentrate so much on the "unattractiveness" of the main stars instead of on the traits that make them different enough that they find it difficult to find love.

Aspects of Asper…

When Your Child Keeps Making a big deal out of Injuries

Some people with Asperger's syndrome are actually quite good at shutting out pain while others seem to feel every single cut, bruise or scrape in the most traumatic way.  It's also not unusual for a person with Asperger's syndrome to sit at both ends of the spectrum at more or less the same time.  Different types of pain register quite differently.

Being Under-Sensitive
One of the biggest problems, particularly with babies with Asperger's syndrome, is that when there is a very real problem, they don't always make enough noise to have it taken seriously by their parents. It's not uncommon for a child with Asperger's to be, for example, "a quiet child who rarely cries" but turn out to have ear problems due to repeated ear infections.

If you're lucky enough to have a quiet baby remember that if it does cry for a long period at some point, that small cry might be the equivalent of an all-day cry from a "frequent crier" baby.  All kids do…

Where to Now? Medication and Paediatricians and Teenagers with Asperger's Syndrome

We've been taking our kids to see the same developmental paediatrician for a decade now and sadly he's moving to a less accessible place. Happily, he's such as great doctor that we'll still go the extra mile (miles) for him but our last visit did prompt the discussion;

Where to now?

I thought I'd share some key points of discussion with you because I know that so many parents are in the same position (not so much of losing a doctor but of having kids that are growing up).  It's probable that many of my readers have not yet have asked these questions.

Ritalin into the Future
Our eldest has spent a decade on Ritalin/Concerta and we can attest to the fact that it doesn't present any serious side-effects (at least, not in him).  We've always kept him and his brother off Ritalin on weekends except where there are events requiring significant focus.

We stop the Ritalin during the holidays too, with the aim being to allow the boys to fully "be themselves&…

Book Review: My Autistic Awakening: Unlocking the potential for a life well lived by Rachael Lee Harris

There are a lot of "Autism Biographies" around these days and they mostly follow the same patterns; Childhood difficulties, school bullying, addiction to "alone-time", workplace bullying and finally the discovery of autism and acceptance of one's place in the world.

This story is quite different. 

This is a story about someone who didn't struggle quite so hard  Autism plays a part in this story but it doesn't have the starring role. This time, the star is Rachael, not her diagnosis.  It's definitely about a life well-lived.

Of course, there are plenty of moments throughout this book where it's clear that some of the qualities of Autism are affecting events for better or worse but for the most part, Rachael presents as a capable and occasionally "otherworldly" member of society.

If you've ever read a book or seen a film with a lead character who is defined by their autism and thought; "that's a bit excessive. I'm not like…

Changing Yourself - Part 2 Forget Entitlement, Seek Inner Peace Instead

In my last post I talked about some of the ways you can work towards "changing yourself" to overcome anxiety issues. In today's post I want to look at entitlement.
It's important to remember that these suggestions for "changing yourself" are aimed at improving your own personal well being. They are not aimed at trying to make you "fit in". A person with Asperger's syndrome will always come across differently in social situations and that's okay.  You'll make friends who like you "for your differences", not "in spite of them".

A sense of entitlement is both good and bad Entitlement is a key ingredient in any civilised society. Without a sense of entitlement, women would never have sought "equality", slaves would never have chased freedom and the poor would never have established the "bare necessities" of life to ensure that governments support their poorer classes. A sense of entitlement drives thos…

Changing Yourself - Part 1 Be Adventurous, Become Independent

I often find myself writing articles aimed at promoting understanding between people with Asperger's syndrome and people without. Usually my posts explain a particular reaction or an expression and nearly always, I'm asking for partners to be more understanding of differences rather than to make changes to themselves.
Today is going to be different. Today I want to talk to you, to people with Asperger's Syndrome, about how some personal changes can make a real difference to your life.
Asperger's syndrome can present many challenges. In particular, sensitivities to noise, smell and light can make it very difficult to perform "normal everyday" tasks. Parenting and teaching styles can also impact how children interact with their peers and their environment on a permanent basis.
A child who is "mollycoddled" may grow up to be less adventurous than his peers. He may be less inclined to take risks and more inclined to follow routines. He may even begin to de…

Book Review: Temple Talks... about Autism and Sensory Issues by Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin is essentially the "mother" of modern autism. She's arguably the person most responsible for the recognition of autism as a condition which can not only be "lived with" but which provides benefits not otherwise found in society.
Who is Temple Grandin? If you're wondering who Temple Grandin is, I'd like to direct your attention to the excellent 2010 HBO film starring Claire Danes. It's well worth a watch and will give you a great understanding and appreciation of Temple's place in the world of autism. You can watch the Trailer for the film here.

Temple Talks You can't get very far in autism research without discovering Temple Grandin and I think it's only fair to say that everyone connected to autism, to Asperger's syndrome or to Sensory processing difficulty should read at least one Temple Grandin book.

Of course, not everyone is a reader and even among avid readers, it's not always easy to find the time to sit down a…

Taking Ownership of Problems in Your Relationship

Taking ownership of problems is something that is important in every relationship but it's especially important in a relationship where one or more partners have Autism Spectrum Disorders, including Asperger's syndrome. This is because partners with ASDs have low tolerances for specific things, such as certain smells, sounds, events or arrangements. At the same time, people with ASDs are often the loudest or most disturbing people in a room due to their stimming behaviours or misunderstanding of social "norms".

In this post, aimed at all parts of the relationship (neurotypical, ASD, male and female) I want to provide a tips on ownership which may make the "road" less bumpy

What is meant by "Ownership"?
So often, arguments in relationships include the words;  "You made me do ...."   or "You made me feel....".

It's not true though, unless your partner is a mad scientist with access to your brain, a magician, a hypnotist or a so…