Mar 30

Employment Opportunities Grow Slowly

Posted: under employment.
Tags: ,  March 30th, 2012

Over in another blog,  Lavanya posted a comment that was off-topic there but definitely on-topic here, so I’ve ‘ported it over.

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lavanya.v.raghavan@gmail.com
2012/03/29 at 8:40 am

dear ms. moon,
i came across this article – “Outsourcing to the Autistic Rather Than to India” an thought of ‘speed of dark’ at once. I wonder if the people at Square One (the tech company) have read your book. there’s quite a lively discussion going as well.
the article link & text are pasted below.
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-03-27/outsourcing-to-the-autistic-rather-than-to-india

I am not including the text here, as  said above, because the entire article was quoted and that’s against policy in my blogs.   However, it’s an interesting article on the use of autistic individuals to test software.  There’s a new pilot program called Square One.   So far all we’ve got are pilot programs here and there–in the midst of widespread unemployment for most skillsets, it’s hard to get anything bigger going.  But those in California might well check out Square One.

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Feb 22

More Thoughts from FYE Conference

Posted: under the writing life.
Tags: ,  February 22nd, 2012

It was great to meet people who are now heading, or working in, college programs in support of students with autism spectrum conditions.   Also students now moving toward certification as speech & language pathologists, or who want to work with special-education departments.  And–always–those who have a family member or friend (or friend with a child) on the spectrum.

It’s also great that colleges are trying to engage students in discussions across the boundaries that quickly rise  between academic departments (especially, I think, between the liberal arts and the sciences) and between different social groupings of students.   The bull sessions in the dorms do give students a chance to discuss things with people they’ve known all of six weeks…but what they discuss may not be anything that can lead anywhere useful, especially with the diversity of backgrounds.   Having a common topic–a single book that they’ve all read–makes a reference point (other than the school athletic teams) for discussion.   I’ve noticed that at the colleges where I’ve spoken about The Speed of Dark, and I’m sure it’s true for other books selected.

And in general, it seems that colleges are choosing better books for freshman reading programs than they did when I was headed that way.  We were given a list of books to read the summer before we arrived, and most were intensely depressing.    (I also had four wisdom teeth removed that summer, and got sick, so that may have affected my reaction.  But none of the books offered much hope that problems could be coped with–whereas the books written by the other authors this past weekend all had that hopeful–but not shallowly hopeful–position. )

I’m grateful for the opportunity to attend this conference and meet the people who help choose the books…to learn more about their reasoning when they look for books, to get a feel for how my book fits or doesn’t fit their needs, and how an author’s campus visit “works” within the concept of a Freshman Year Experience.     (Because they aren’t all the same.   Every institution–and every incoming class in every institution–is unique.    And it’s clear that the faculty and staff I met were all very aware of their institution’s needs. )

It was a little startling to come home and find that I’d been Tweeted about, possibly even during the events.  (DUH.    Why surprising?  Probably because my netbook died shortly before the conference and I was flying along without my daily dose of internet navigation…no email, no Twitter, no blogging, no surfing.   No wonder the sock I was working on grew several inches!)

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Feb 21

FYE Conference in San Antonio

Posted: under the writing life.
Tags:  February 21st, 2012

I just got back from the First Year Experience conference in San Antonio, where I got to meet manymanymany  faculty and staff from universities around the country–what a great conference!    Random House brought five writers there to talk about the books we have that are suitable for an FYE or Common Reads program.   The Speed of Dark has already been used for such programs, stimulating discussions about not only autism, but issues of identity, autonomy, labeling, etc.

The other books being showcased were all nonfiction, and the other writers were all male.   It’s certainly not the first time I’ve been the only woman among the men, but usually we’re all writing in the same genre.  This felt very different–but still a lot of fun.    They videotaped our speeches at the Random House luncheon–I hadn’t anticipated that, but the years of speaking to groups of various sizes and in front of other cameras reduced the “Omigosh, what now?” factor.

And the Random House team is fantastic…such support!    If a pen clogged, another one appeared in front of me instantly.  Books flowed from boxes to the signing tables as if by magic.    And such individually pleasant people to work with, as well (some very efficient people can be stressful to laid-back country-gal writers, but not these–they were people I’d love to know better.

The day after a convention or conference is always super-busy, so I’ve got to rush off and keep after the chores, but…this was a new experience I really enjoyed.   (Fajitas at Casa Rio on the Riverwalk didn’t hurt either.  When we lived in San Antonio we couldn’t afford to eat on the Riverwalk often, but Casa Rio’s Tex-Mex was always good and reasonably priced.)

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Dec 21

Forcing Affection

Posted: under communication, socialization.
Tags: , ,  December 21st, 2011

Here’s  a great article on kids, relatives, and holidays, focussing on the issue of forcing “respect” and “affection.”    Although I think teaching kids about boundaries and their right to say “No” to unwanted touch is important for all, it’s particularly important–and difficult–to think carefully and clearly about these issues with kids who have developmental differences.

Many people expect children to be available to be touched, hugged, kissed, and cuddled at will.   Strangers will pat a child on the head or shoulder and expect the child to accept the touch without complaint–even to smile at the stranger.   Relatives definitely expect a greeting and some sign of affection, and expect to be able to show their affection by touch.    That was certainly true in my husband’s family–my mother-in-law simply refused to believe that our son did not like her tickling his toes or hugging or kissing him.

As the article I linked to suggests, it’s important to have conversations about expectations from visiting family before they arrive.  Long before and repeatedly, if possible.     The more resistant they are to the boundaries parents set–and the boundaries the child might set–the more you might consider whether the visit is really a good idea.    Yes, families are important–but they can be important bad influences as well as good ones.    If they’re intent on doing things the parents know are hard to impossible for their child to handle…then they’re no better than any other person, stranger or not, who won’t respect boundaries.

Respect is a two-way street.    Kids  learn real respect from adults who show real respect to them–they learn respect as an interpersonal skill by example.    And that includes asking before touching, accepting that a child is not a toy to be played with as an adult pleases.    What they learn from adults who grab them, muss their hair, insist on hugging or kissing when the child doesn’t want to is not respect or affection but that even in the family they aren’t safe.

Advocating for a child is just as important within the family as outside.  Early on, I didn’t do enough of it–in part because my own background had not provided me with a good understanding of boundaries and my right to set them.

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Oct 06

Bad Words: What Not to Say to Parents of Disabled Children

Posted: under disability issues, opinion, parenting.
Tags: ,  October 6th, 2011

October 5  (today as I write this; I may not finish it by midnight) is the 21st anniversary of my mother’s death, so naturally I’m remembering details of that day.

One of the memories is of someone who arrived about half an hour after she died–unaware of that fact–to visit her.  When I told this woman, she was of course shocked, and then blurted out the least suitable thing she could have said:  “You should know that although everyone in town thinks you’re a bad mother, I think you’re doing the best you can.”  That would be rude (and unanswerable) any time, but right after my mother died?   I was speechless with shock.  She went on to detail why people thought I was a bad mother (my kid was autistic: proof enough, 25+ years ago, that I was a bad mother, but she was full of specific things I was supposed to have done or not done.)

This is definitely something not to say to parents of disabled children.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Oct 05

Sigh…mea culpa time

Posted: under Uncategorized.
 October 5th, 2011

So…apologies first, excuses next.   I have shamefully neglected this blog for far too long.   The excuses include having a publishing schedule for fiction that meant writing books half-again longer in the same period of time, the need to keep up the blog for those books and increase the posts to it with the publishing schedule, and some serious health issues in the family (multiple hospitalizations, tests, and surgeries for one family member in the past 18 months.)   But still.  This blog deserves at least a weekly something, and yet…I can’t promise it’s going to get it.   I’ll do my best.

Topics keep coming up, and I make note of them and sometimes even start blog posts over on the writing side of the computer (drafts of posts are in the vaults of the data drive.)    But they haven’t made it through editing and over here.   I’ll be using up these first, in hopes of having time to do some others later.    They’ll be in order of  how finished they are.   (Yes, that sounds lazy.  Yes, it probably is.  But I have a fiction book on deadline and that fiction buys the groceries and keeps power to the computer.)

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Oct 17

Fear

Posted: under disability issues, parenting, socialization.
Tags: ,  October 17th, 2010

Parental fear, that is.   All parents worry about their children–how they’ll get along in the world, how they’ll be treated–but parents of kids with disabilities worry even more.    Many of us experienced bullying, physical or verbal, and we don’t want that to happen to our kids.

Fear of the child being rejected–or the parent being labeled a bad parent–or both–puts parental fear in control of parental decisions….and that’s not healthy.    This brilliant post by Michelle Sagara offers clear thinking and creative approaches to the challenge of overcoming parental fear in the best interests of the child.

In fact, several other posts are equally brilliant (I found myself nodding along–some of her strategies were just like mine, and some were better.)

Here’s the first one on bullying in junior-kindergarten and another about the kinds of social difficulties kids on the autism spectrum have .

Although kids on the autism spectrum do have specific and characteristic problems that make interaction with them (when young, especially) difficult for many…the parenting problems that Michelle discusses are common to more than families with someone on the ASD spectrum.   Her analysis of early childhood social settings and social groups is applicable to many situations.

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Jul 31

Darcy Kramer on Transitioning to College

Posted: under education, interventions, life on the spectrum.
Tags: , ,  July 31st, 2010

Welcome to Guest Blogger Darcy Javanne Kramer!

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First, a quick introduction:  I am a counselor at the Disability Resource Center at Portland State University, the largest four-year public college in the state of Oregon.  Elizabeth asked me to guest blog about transition from high school to college for students on the spectrum, which I gladly accepted.

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Jul 29

Ups and Downs

Posted: under communication, disability issues, education, life on the spectrum, parenting.
Tags: , , , , , , ,  July 29th, 2010

Some of us are old enough to remember the Pogo cartoon in which a character announced that he didn’t want “ups and downs”–he wanted “ups and upper ups.”  That’s certainly what parents want…kids who keep growing and developing.   When the general trend is upward, and about the typical speed of progression, the “downs” don’t bother parents as much.  But when a child develops more slowly…then the downs are much harder to live with.

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Jul 25

Error!

Posted: under opinion.
Tags:  July 25th, 2010

A friend from the area emailed me today to tell me that I had wrongly reported the details about the woman in Irving who killed her two young autistic children.  Her husband is alive; she is not a widow.

I didn’t bookmark the other sources of information I’d found, so now (of course) I can’t find them, to see where they got theirs.  My friend thought I’d confused two different tragedies–another killing of a child by a mother occurred not that far away, with different circumstances.  Whether I conflated stories about two different killings, or the sources I read had already done that, it’s still a mistake, and I failed to check deeply enough.

So death of a spouse was not part of the problem.

I apologize for sloppy fact-checking.

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