Tag Archives: people

Weekly Photo CHallenge – Extra, Extra

Heaton Park, Manchester

This photo was taken at Heaton Park, Manchester, UK. One may ask where the ‘Extra, Extra’ part is in the picture. The fact is that you cannot directly see it for it is the sun. Yes, the sun. Manchester rarely sees the sun shining in the sky even if it is officially the summer here. Therefore, it is always a pleasant surprise whenever we have bright, sunny, warm days.

 

Check out more entries at The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge (Extra, Extra) Page

School Shootings: Prevalence, Causes and Possible Prevention Strategies based on Empirical Evidence

nf-sandy-hook-victims-1217

The world witnessed another tragedy on 14 December 2012, when 21 year-old Adam Peter Lanza shot and killed 20 preschoolers and six staff (pictured above) at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut, before killing himself. School shootings such as this and the others before it shook society’s belief that schools are a safe place for children. As a result, most people would want to find out why these events occur and what can be done to eliminate or at least reduce the risk of it happening again. Many journalists and Social Networking Site users have come up with various theories on the subject. However, a lot of their insights are based on intuition, not scientific findings. So what do published academic research papers on school shootings actually tell us?

PREVALENCE

Despite the enormous media attention given to school shootings over the years, research has found that such incidents are extremely rare. One study estimated that the probability of a school shooting to occur is 1 in a million (Wike & Fraser, 2009).

POSSIBLE CAUSES

1. VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES

One of the most popular claims that the media often throw at us is the causal link between excessive time spent playing violent video games and school shooting.. The studies that have been conducted to test this theory however, have yielded mixed results. Studies such as those of Anderson and Murphy (2003) and Carnagey and Anderson (2006) supported the said hypothesis. However, Ferguson et al. (2008) and Unsworth et al. (2007) found no link between playing violent video games and acts of aggression. Barnett, Coulson and Foreman (2008), on the other hand found that playing violent video games actually reduces aggression- a complete opposite of what most of the media reporters claim.

Another problem about the research on violent video games and aggression is the methodologies used in each study. Most experiments involve asking volunteers to play a selected video game for a period of time, and then observing the same people performing tasks in stressful (and aggression-provoking) situations such as white-noise bursts during a competitive activity (Ferguson, 2008). Since studies are bound by ethical issues, real-world acts of violence cannot be tested. As a result, the generalisability of their findings are dubious at best. Nevertheless, a meta-review by Ferguson (2008) claimed that there is no evidence to suggest that playing violent video games would lead to aggression, or school shooting.

2. SOCIAL REJECTION

Some have argued that the perpetrators in school shootings turned into such through victimization. Indeed, the two killers in the Columbine High School shooting were believed to have been bullied by their peers (Peterson, 1999). Contrary to the violent video game hypothesis, this claim has been supported by research findings. In an investigation of 15 case studies, Leary et al. (2003) found that rejection and victimization were present in the majority of the cases they reviewed. Some of the killers have explicitly explained that their actions were their response to the way others have treated them in the past.. In addition to this, the US’ Safe School Initiative report, which looked at 37 school shootings between 1974-2000, have found that 75% of the shooters have experienced peer-rejection, victimization and/ or bullying prior to their attack.

3. LACK OF SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL COPING STRATEGIES

Retrospective analysis have found that school shooters often lack problem solving and conflict resolution skills (O’Toole, 2000). In addition, they lack empathy and they struggle to manage their anger (O’Toole, 2000). It could be possible that these individuals’ lack of necessary social and emotional coping strategies lead them into a spiral of being victimized, being depressed and in turn, put them in a state of permanent anger. Such anger could build up over time, which may lead to their ideation of murder.

4. ACCESS TO GUNS

Gun control has been a subject of debate for many years in the United States, largely because of the school shooting incidents. The argument of people who are in favour of the ban is simple: If you don’t have access to a gun, it is impossible or at least harder to shoot people. Wike and Fraser (2009) found (unsurprisingly) that all school shooters have easy access to guns. (NOTE TO OBAMA: I think it’s time to ban guns in your country)

5. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SCHOOL

Catalano et al. (2004) found that schools that focus on improving students’ attachment and emotional investment to their schools have fewer incidents of aggression (physical, verbal and substance abuse, and violence). In addition, school size also has an effect. A study by Wilson (2004) found that the larger the school, the harder it is to nurture students’ attachment to it.

SO WHY DOES A SCHOOL-SHOOTER-PROFILE NOT EXIST?

Some of you may be asking why there is no set risk-profile developed to spot potential school shooters. One reason is due to the rarity of these events. It is rather difficult to develop a reliable and generalisable risk-profile based on a small number of cases. In addition, a report by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) explained that profiling would lead to errors since a lot of students have the characteristics presented by school shooters.

POSSIBLE PREVENTION STRATEGIES:

Wike and Fraser (2009, p.167-168) have suggested six possible strategies to reduce the likelihood of school shootings:

  1. Strengthening school attachment: through extracurricular activities that promote students’ sense of belonging and reduce alienation and hostile behaviours.
  2. Reduce Social Aggression: through bullying prevention programmes and social skills training.
  3. Breakng down Codes of Silence: Schools should provide ways in which students can voice their concerns and disclose their problems anonymously.
  4. Establish resources for troubled and rejected students: Schools, families and communities should work together to develop strategies and gather resources to help troubled students. Mental health services should work alongside schools in order to help those who are depressed or have suicide ideation.
  5. Increase School Security: The prescence of a policeman or a security officer may deter students to act out their violent/ aggressive intentions. It can also increase the feelings of safety of the students and the staff.
  6. Improve communications within schools and between schools and agencies: Schools and relevant authorities should improve their ways of communication in order to help the school easily warn authorities about suspicious behaviours and/ or threats.

NB: Please contact me if you need copies of any research mentioned in this article. Click on the ‘Get in touch with me’ button on the top right-hand corner of this page.

Inspiring Artists who have Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is a spectrum of life-long conditions that are characterised by difficulties in areas such as social interactions, communication and imagination. In addition, it has been found that over 70% of poeple with ASD also have mental health problems. Taken altogether, these challenges can make day to day living daunting to those who are diagnosed with the condition. However, there are a lot of people with ASD who have found a way to flourish and not let their diagnosis bring them down. I have previously featured Dr. Temple Grandin, Pokemon creator Satoshi Tajiri and Paralympic gold medalist Jessica-Jane Applegate.

This post features four people with Autism who have extraordinary talents for painting and drawing. The stories of these artists have inspired many, including myself, to pursue life-long goals no matter what the challenges are.

STEPHEN WILTSHIRE

Stephen Wiltshire has been diagnosed with Autism at the age of three. The Human Camera, as he is now known, communicated through his drawings early in his life. He has been awarded with an MBE and is now a hugely successful artist. Some of his famous works are incredibly detailed panoramic drawings of famous cities around the world.

Stephen’s drawing of Manhattan:

RICHARD WAWRO

Richard is a British artist who was considered a Savant by many. Just like Stephen Wiltschire, Richard did not speak for the majority of his early childhood. He is known for his detailed wax-crayon-drawings such as the one below.

MARIA ILIOU

Maria is a Greek Autism advocate who has been the artist of greeting cards of the Autism Society of America in 2007-2009.

PING LIAN YEAK

Ping Lian Yeak is a young boy from Malaysia who copes with the pressures and challenges of daily life through painting and drawing.

 

More on Autism:

Vote for Miss Montana, Alexis Wineman

What does Autism mean?

What is PDD-NOS?

Communication difficulties in Autism

Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper: Asperger’s Syndrome’s Poster Boy?

Still unsure if Sheldon has Asperger’s?

The Autistic Me: A BBC Documentary

BBC4’s Growing Children: Autism

Study Shows People with Autism Can Spot Inappropriate Behaviour but ffind it difficult to Verbally Explain Them

Autism in the classroom:

Guide to parents of students with ASD on coping with the first day back to school

Common signs of Autism in the classroom

First day back to school: Top tips for parents of children with Autism

Practical tips to make your classroom Autism-Friendly

Inspiring People with Autism:

Dr. Temple Grandin

Jessica Jane Applegate

Satoshi Tajiri (Pokemon creator)

Carly Fleischmann

More on Savants:

The Psychology of Savants: Memory Masters

The Einstein Effect: Is there a link between having Autism and being a genius?

How Social Networking Sites helped a girl with Autism ‘come out of her shell’: Carly Fleischmann’s story

Carly Fleischmann is a young woman with Autism and is unable to communicate verbally. When introduced to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter however, Carly began to develop more friendships, communicate with more people and feel more like she is a part of society (her own words- watch the video below).

More and more people with conditions that limit their ability to communicate face to face are turning into Social Networks and online blogs. On the internet, very few social skills are needed. For instance, we do not need to look people in the eye or read their facial expressions- two of the social skills which are most commonly lacking in people with Autism. In Carly’s case, social interactions are further limited by her inability to speak. Through the medium of the internet however, all of these barriers are eliminated. Now, she is actively blogging and in the process, helping people become aware of Autism and thus inspiring others who have the same situation as she was.

For more information about Carly Fleischmann, click these links:

Carly’s Voice

Carly’s Facebook page

Carly’s Twitter page

 

More on Autism:

Vote for Miss Montana, Alexis Wineman

What does Autism mean?

Communication difficulties in Autism

Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper: Asperger’s Syndrome’s Poster Boy?

Guide to parents of students with ASD on coping with the first day back to school

Inspiring People with Autism:

Dr. Temple Grandin

Jessica-Jane Applegate (British Paralympian)

Satoshi Tajiri (Pokemon creator)

Managing Tourette’s Syndrome through sports and will-power: The story of USA and Everton FC’s goalkeeper, Tim Howard

Tourette’s Syndrome is a neurological condition that is characterised by nervous, involuntary tics, which can manifest in several forms. People who have Tourette’s Syndrome (TS) may display sudden muscle twitches such as rapid blinking, twisting of their limbs, or sometimes, hitting themselves. Some have verbal tics, such as repetitive utterances of words, meaningless sounds or at times, swearing. I should point out that only about 5-10% of people with TS actually have ‘swearing tics’, despite the widely held belief that all of them do. One can only imagine how challenging everyday life must be for these people.

One of the people who can overcome his tics is Everton FC and American International goalkeeper Tim Howrard. Diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome at the age of 9, Howard has not let his condition get in the way of his passion for sports. He excelled at basketball and football (soccer). In one of his interviews, he said that he suppresses his tics through sheer willpower and determination- a tactic proven to have worked for him throughout his successful professional career. Howard, now playing for Everton FC, have played for four professional football teams including Manchester United. He has also played over 72 games for USA.

Here are some of his career highlights:

Here he is, scoring the farthest ever goal in football history:

I should emphasise that Tourette’s Syndrome manifests in different ways. The type and severity of tics vary from one person to another. Additionally, one person (like Howard) may be able to suppress his or her tics whilst another may not. Nevertheless, Tim Howard’s story once again shows how a diagnosis is not the end of everything.

For more information on Tourette’s Syndrome, click the links below:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Tourette’s Action UK

NHS webpage for Tourette’s

People with disabilities, not disabilities with people

Inspiring people with ADHD:

Michael Phelps

Inspiring People with Autism:

Dr. Temple Grandin

Jessica-Jane Applegate (British Paralympian)

Satoshi Tajiri (Pokemon creator)

Inspiring people with ADHD: Michael Phelps

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common developmental condition there is. People who are affected by this condition find it difficult to stay focused on a task, avoid distraction- however minimal, to regulate what they say and do despite the consequences (impulsiveness). As a result, they usually get into trouble, particularly when in schools. A lot of students are often labelled as ‘naughty’, ‘disobedient’ and sometimes, impossible to deal with. However, there are a number of cases wherein the condition is managed through medication and other interventions.

One such case is that of Olympic sensation Michael Phelps. Phelps was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of nine after his teachers noticed his lack of focus on school tasks (amongst other things). He was prescribed a stimulant medication which according to his mother had worked wonders with him in school. Although after a few years, Michael stopped taking his medication.

His mother actively searched for ways of helping Michael manage his condition in everyday life. When teachers complained about Michael’s inability to do certain things, Mrs. Phelps always asked what the teachers are doing to help him instead of telling off her son. Michael’s love for swimming was further encouraged by his mother, who went to his swim meets since he was a young kid to cheer him on. These times were also used by his mother to teach him some important values in life like sportsmanship and self-discipline. The effects of these efforts were showcased worldwide on every Olympic games held since 2004. Now known as the greatest Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps has won a total of 22 medals, including 4 golds and 2 silvers in the  2012 London Olympics.

 

It can be seen once again that if individuals are given the right attention, treatment and intervention, along with being surrounded by people with the right attitude, anything is possible.

 

 

 

For more information on ADHD, click HERE

For more information on Michael Phelps, click HERE

Inspiring People with Autism:

Dr. Temple Grandin

Jessica-Jane Applegate (British Paralympian)

Satoshi Tajiri (Pokemon creator)

Inspiring people with Autism (3): Satoshi Tajiri

A large part of my childhood has been spent watching a trainee Pokemon Master named Ash Ketchum and his friends travel around the world with their Pokemon buddies in the animated depiction of Pokemon (short for Pocket Monsters, or Poketto Monsuta). Our interest not only revolved around watching the series but also through playing the Pokemon Nintendo game. This is the reason why the third installment of my “Inspiring people with Autism’ posts is about Pokemon creator Satoshi Tajiri who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

It has been said that Satoshi Tajiri spent most of his childhood capturing insects and bugs. He studied and analysed these creatures, and once dreamt of being an entymologist. It comes to no surprise that he was nicknamed ‘Dr. Bug’ by his peers. He then combined this interest in capturing insects with his love for anime and video games, and started creating Pokemon games for Nintendo. The first Pokemon Game was released in 1996 and it has been a success from then on.   Over 200 million copies of the various different games has been sold world-wide, making the Pokemon franchise the second most successful and highest earning video game-based franchise in the world- second only to the SuperMario franchise.

 

More on Autism:

Vote for Miss Montana, Alexis Wineman

What does Autism mean?

What is PDD-NOS?

Communication difficulties in Autism

Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper: Asperger’s Syndrome’s Poster Boy?

Still unsure if Sheldon has Asperger’s?

The Autistic Me: A BBC Documentary

BBC4’s Growing Children: Autism

Study Shows People with Autism Can Spot Inappropriate Behaviour but ffind it difficult to Verbally Explain Them

Autism in the classroom:

Guide to parents of students with ASD on coping with the first day back to school

Common signs of Autism in the classroom

First day back to school: Top tips for parents of children with Autism

Practical tips to make your classroom Autism-Friendly

Inspiring People with Autism:

Dr. Temple Grandin

Jessica Jane Applegate

Carly Fleischmann

Inspiring Artists With Autism

More on Savants:

The Psychology of Savants: Memory Masters

The Einstein Effect: Is there a link between having Autism and being a genius?

‘Inspiring people with Autism (2)’: Jessica-Jane Applegate

My ‘Inspiring people with Autism’ posts features people who have achieved amazing feats despite being on the Autism Spectrum. I am sharing these to show everyone that anything is possible; to remove the stigma surrounding Autism.

The second installment of these posts features British Paralympic gold-medalist Jessica-Jane Applegate. She’s a 15-year old girl who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome which is a mild form of Autism. Jessica won the women’s 200m Freestyle despite being behind for the most part of the final race. Watch:

Here’s her interview with Channel 4’s after she won:

 

More on Autism:

Vote for Miss Montana, Alexis Wineman

What does Autism mean?

What is PDD-NOS?

Communication difficulties in Autism

Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper: Asperger’s Syndrome’s Poster Boy?

Still unsure if Sheldon has Asperger’s?

The Autistic Me: A BBC Documentary

Study Shows People with Autism Can Spot Inappropriate Behaviour but ffind it difficult to Verbally Explain Them

Autism in the classroom:

Guide to parents of students with ASD on coping with the first day back to school

Common signs of Autism in the classroom

First day back to school: Top tips for parents of children with Autism

Practical tips to make your classroom Autism-Friendly

Inspiring People with Autism:

Dr. Temple Grandin

Satoshi Tajiri (Pokemon creator)

Carly Fleischmann

More on Savants:

The Psychology of Savants: Memory Masters

Artists with Autism

The Einstein Effect: Is there a link between having Autism and being a genius?

The image used in this post was taken from this website.