Saturday, April 18, 2009

Are You Aware? XVI

One of the most annoying issues that schools like to sweep under the carpet is the "twice exceptional" child: children who are both "gifted" and "disabled." Autistic kids aren't the only ones who suffer from the reluctance of school to place children in both the Gifted and Talented program and the Special Education program, but certainly ignoring gifted kids simply because they are also special needs is something that needs to stop. Frustration and boredom are terrible enemies to learning, progress, and development.

What can be especially dangerous is in the push to get gets "mainstreamed", intellectual gifts can be used to end much-needed special education services, or can mask special needs in the controlled settings of the classroom. Just because a child is able to complete a worksheet and hand it back to a teacher with all the answers right doesn't mean that child doesn't need accommodations to function!

One place to begin your look at gifted special needs kids is Uniquely Gifted. Also, check out this article.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Are You Aware? XV

As Joey gets older, he is starting to face the stereotypes and myths that increase discrimination against him. People often judge others by how they speak- and speech is one of Joey's most prominent challenges. Other kids aren't going to care that he reads three grades levels above his class or is the top math student. Heck, most adults don't care. They see a child speaking oddly, saying things that are unexpected or apparently without context, and the myths emerge like gorgons to block opportunities and relationships. And why? Because he talks "funny"?

ASAN, the Dan Merino Foundation, and Kent Creative have gotten together and created a wonderful public service spot that everyone ought to see. For a version with captions, visit this link (thanks to kev and codeman38).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Are You Aware? XIV

Looking for an organization where you can find all sorts of viewpoints about autism and autism awareness? Find yourself in need of service, support, and advice about local autism issues? Want to connect with families dealing with autism? A good place to check out is the Autism Society of America. In the local chapters here, you have the gambit of attitudes, theories, and methods under one roof, so you can get a really good idea of the spectrum of not just ASD, but of how families feel about ASD, cope with ASD, and form communities for their loved ones with ASD. There are even a few folks with ASD who participate, with a whole spectrum of views of their own lives and experiences. You'll get the gambit from "pure acceptance" to "curebie" here, just be aware this is a very catch-all organization. Your local chapter may be not as cosmopolitan in nature.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Are You Aware? XIII

If you want to know more about autism and autistic people, you need to talked to autistic people, and look into organizations run for and by autistic people. What kinds of supports and services are needed to accommodate autistic people to live in a society designed for non-autistic people? Check out the Autism Acceptance Project to get an idea! Because after all, autistic people are here, and they need the support to function here and now.

Wordless Wednesday: Zoo Day

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rainy Day Passtimes

So, what do you do with two excited boys on spring break when it rains? Dye eggs!

Are You Aware? XII

A common part of ASD is sensory integration issues. You can also have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) or Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID) without being autistic. Most people have sensory issues, but they usually don't get in your way. They just make people like and dislike things. If the noise hurts so that you can't function, if the flicker of lights drives you mad, or wearing clothes is just too painful to bear, you might be in the realm of SPD. Check out the SPD Foundation!

SPD is not accepted as a problem by everyone. We struggle with explaining SPD to our school OT. SPD kids are often labeled misbehavers and trouble makers, so it is important that this get recognized and understood, and these kids get the accommodations they need to function. It's amazing with an incandescent light bulb and a seat cushion can do for an SPD child.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hopping Down the Joey Trail

Another lovely Easter. We've had a couple of really good days here. I hope it lasts.

The boys did get to go out and find all those pesky eggs the Easter Bunny was so not-nice about scattering all around instead of leaving them in the basket. The boys cleaned up the yard nicely, finding all those chocolates and jelly beans in bright plastic containers. Andy was delighted that some of them were dinosaur-shaped.

Then the boys headed for the porch, where their Easter Baskets awaited with more chocolate (well, not so much for Andy, who doesn't really like chocolate), more jelly beans, peeps, and toys. Andy was very excited about the jelly beans and the peeps, and the stuffed duck (which he had picked out himself the other day). Joey liked his blue car and his blue peeps and his chocolate rabbit.

Andy had a great time exploring the baskets and showing us all his new treasures. I got them pads with tic-tac-toe, very exciting, and these hands that point on a stick, teachers use them in classrooms. The boys think they are fabulous.

Finding cellophane to wrap the baskets has become increasingly difficult. That's actually last year's cellophane, the baskets never got unwrapped. I just stuck the new stuff in the same way you reach in to get it out. Next time I see rolls of cellophane, I'm stocking up. Don't other people wrap Easter baskets in cellophane anymore? The magic effect is well worth the $2 for the roll, trust me. An Easter basket without cellophane is like a Christmas present without paper.

Remember that chocolate rabbit in Joey's basket? It didn't live long. Joey loves chocolate. When it comes to candy, he and Andy are like Jack Sprat and his wife. ANdy doesn't care for chocolate, Joey doesn't care for lollipops or jelly beans, together they eat the whole store.

I love the way Joey seems to contemplate sweets and food. Its a very careful, conscious process of relishing it.

This is the way Easter really ought to be. The pure enjoyment of a Peep.

Are You Aware? XI

Fairly early on after we started putting together our first IEP and trawling the internet for information and resources, I stumbled upon what I think is one of the best essays ever written. I use it a lot to explain to people, especially friends with kids, why my life is so much different from theirs- and yet isn't, really. Especially early on, before the wheat separated from the chaff of my life's accumulation of relationships, these words let people at least try to get a grip on what I was going through, and why I had come out on the other end not bitter, not sad, and not in need of sympathy or pity, but support- like any other parent. Just different.

The essay is called Welcome to Holland. I recommend to anyone who finds that life doesn't always go as planned- but that's OK.

I know there are some folks who really hate this essay, but I find that they usually misinterpret it. This is not an essay about being autistic or having Down Syndrome. It is an essay about finding yourself someplace other than you planned to be, and rolling with that. It is about learning to accept life and your children the way the are, instead of the way you thought they were supposed to be. And folks, there are lots of folks- including parents of autistic, Down Syndrome, or myriad other disabled (and abled) kids who really could use some reminders about acceptance, rolling with what life gives you, and enjoying the ride.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Overheard on Easter Morning

When Grandma called, she told Joey about the eggs the Easter bunny left all over the yard for them.
"He took them out of the basket?" Joey asked.
"Yes, he hid them all over the yard!"
"That wasn't very nice."

Are You Aware? X

If you are in search of services for both children and adults with disabilities, it can be a great idea to check out your local chapter of Easter Seals. They now have a specific section just for autism services.

Please be aware that Easter Seals works with the Autism Society of America.