Tag Archives: awareness

Towards an improved understanding and acceptance of Autism

Today’s Daily Prompt: What change, big or small, would you like your blog to make in the world?

not-a-disease

I want my blog to add to the growing sources of information about Autism. A lot of people with Autism are misunderstood since much of the popular beliefs about the condition is influenced by the media and out-dated studies. While a lot of these sources are correct and positive, they often fail to account for the differences between individuals with Autism.

Having worked with, taught and befriended people with Autism, I have become aware that Autism manifests differently. Each individual with Autism has his/ her own set of strengths and areas of needs that are unique to them. This reality tends to confuse people with little or no experience of Autism- ‘how can they have the same diagnosis but be completely different from each other?’ To be honest, I don’t know why this is the case. Nevertheless, what I found useful was to get to know each individual and respond to their needs and strengths accordingly.

By sharing my opinions, what I have read, listened to or watched, maybe I could increase people’s awareness, understanding and acceptance of Autism.

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The Best Definition of Autism in the Internet

There are a lot of definitions of Autism around in books and on the internet. But none, including mine, has captured the whole essence of Autism- from its nuances to the best available research evidence and observational data- better than Nick Walker’s.

Click HERE to read it.

What do you think?

Does your definition of Autism differ to his? Let me know!

Weighing in on Jerry Seinfeld’s comment that he maybe on the Autism Spectrum

Seinfeld recently revealed that he thinks he is on the Autism Spectrum in an interview with Brian Williams on NBC’s ‘The Nightly News’. When asked about why, he said that he is ‘never paying attention to the right things, basic social engagement is really a struggle. I’m very literal. When people talk to me and they use expressions, I don’t know what they’re saying‘.

While his revelation may seem positive because of his acceptance of this possibility, I believe that his explanation of the ‘markers’ shows how limited his understanding of Autism is. Sure, he did not shy away from admitting that he may have Autism – a way of saying that having Autism is not a bad thing, but his description is deeply problematic.

His description is a negative one- it included what could be wrong or what one may see as ‘dysfunctional’ in people with Autism. I have always believed that while it is important to acknowledge what people cannot do, it is more important to highlight and focus on what they CAN DO. In addition, the seemingly negative things that he outlined can be seen as positives. ‘Never paying attention to the right thing’ all depends on what one thinks ‘right things’ are. In my experience, people with Autism are exeptionally brilliant at focusing on fine details – the ones that people without Autism cannot see.

Social engagement is not always a struggle. Again, this depends on who is interacting with the person with Autism. Having an open mind goes a long way. Also, I have met people with Autism who have more confidence in public speaking than me.

Being literal, or not understanding sarcasm or implied meaning in language may be seen as a weakness, but trust me, this skill can be taught. The same goes with expressions.

My other issue with Seinfeld’s description is the lack of acknowledgement that people with Autism differ from one another. If you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism.

While it may seem like I am attacking Jerry Seinfeld, please be assured that I am not. I just want to explain the improtance of being aware of the complexities and the positives of having Autism. More often, I speak with people who only know how to describe Autism by outlining the negative behaviours and the things they cannot do. I think it’s time to stop that trend. I want us to focus on what they can do and what is great about having Autism.

It’s Not Work, It’s My Purpose

Today’s Daily Prompt Asks: If money were out of the equation, would you still work? If yes, why, and how much? If not, what would you do with your free time?

I am an educator, education researcher and a campaigner for Autism Awareness and Acceptance. I am very proud of what I do and I do not consider it work. I may not be the best at what I do, but I am stiving to be better at it all the time. The passion that I have stems from my interactions with the children and their families. A lot of what I already know has been passed on by experienced mentors who themselves are as passionate as I am with their cause. Despite the hard work, countless sleepless nights and the relatively small pay, I would not trade it for anything else. 

If there is a chance for me to stop working for a living, I would do what I am doing voluntarily. That is how passionate I am with what I do. I believe that I am making a difference in people’s lives, albeit in a small capacity. But if we are to change the world for the better, every little effort is needed.

 

Parents of 11 y/o Boy with Autism Arrested for Keeping the boy In a Cage

The Daily Mail reported that the parents of an 11 year old boy who has Autism were arrested after discovering that the boy was kept on a cage. The parents reasoned that the boy was kept on a cage that is big enough for him to move in natural positions because of his severe Autism. The young boy apparently is unable to communicate and often has violent outbursts. The parents put their son in the cage to protect themselves and their other children.

The parents are charged with suspicion of felony, child endangerment and false imprisonment.

The children are reportedly with the Child Protection Services.

This distressing news highlights the need to educate and continually support parents and carers of people with Autism.

Autism Hangout: Autism and Friendship

On the latest episode of the Autism Hangout, I, along with other panel members, discussed the intricacies of initiating, forming and maintaining friendships in individuals with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC). We explored how people with ASC communicate with and relate to their friends. We also gathered insights from people with the condition on how they form and maintain friendships. We gave advice for individuals with Autism on what to do and where to go if they have any questions about friendships, other people and general social encounters.

 

How Cognitive Theories Can Help Us Understand Autism- Uta Frith

Never Underestimate the Power of Silence

 

Shhh

 

 

Young people are expected to be attentive for at least five hours of every weekday in school. Not doing so would warrant punishment- either a gentle “shhhh” or a trip to the headteacher’s office. More importantly, not paying attention could lead students to missing important information in their lessons. Twenty five hours of listening to teachers, teaching assistants and classmates is a lot of work for any child, let alone those with Special Educational Needs, particularly those with Autism.

Most people with Autism are highly sensitive to external stimuli- whether it be visual, auditory, tactile or a combination of these. Most of them experience what is called ‘sensory overload’, just by sitting in their chairs listening to their teachers. Along with their teachers’ voice, they hear (amongst other things) pencils tapping, the wind blowing, the radiator’s vibrating noise, and even their seat-mate’s breathing all in the same amplified volume. In addition, they may be irritated by the smell of the carpets/ floor, the colourful displays in the classroom and possibly by the tags on their uniforms.

Now put yourself in their position. Will you be able to cope for 5 hours a day, 25 hours a week?

This is reason why pupils with Autism need to be given some (or a lot of) quiet time at school. After completing a demanding task, allow the students to de-stress, even for just 3 minutes. If your school does not have a quiet room, let your student(s) do something that they really enjoy. For instance, build lego, colour, complete jigsaw puzzles, or whatever activity that you think they can just ‘zone-out’.

Also, there may be some days where your students have had so much to deal with at home, that they refuse to do anything in school. Again, give them some space. Give them some quiet time. However, it is important to note that some children may associate grumpiness in the morning for happy quiet time. It goes without saying that quiet times should not be given willy-nilly. It is also important to communicate with the children’s parents so that you know what happened at home and whether they needed some quiet time or not.

When they get home, do not force them to do their homeworks straight away. Again, allow them some quiet time even for just a few minutes. They have been trying to tune out so much stimuli in school, and the last thing that most of them would want is to do their homework. I understand of course, that there are a lot of students who have gotten into the routine of doing homeworks straight after school- which is great. If your children enjoys doing their homework straight after school, do not change their routine. My advice only applies if your child exhibits problem behaviour when asked to do homeworks straight away.