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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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!


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 01

Moving Along

Posted: under communication, education, life on the spectrum, parenting.
Tags: , , , , ,  July 1st, 2010

M- is now in his sixth week of living on his own in an apartment in the city.   I haven’t been to his apartment since week four;  R- has picked him up on Friday to come  up here for Friday night through Sunday morning, then R- takes him to church, and then ice-skating.   (The Sunday bus schedule makes it impossible for him to navigate apartment to church, or even count on a bus home from ice-skating.)  Last week, M- managed both legs of the afterschool trip to the ice rink and then home to his apartment.

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Jun 06

Second Full Week

Posted: under communication, education, life on the spectrum, parenting.
Tags: , , , ,  June 6th, 2010

Last Sunday,  M- left his keys up here (50 miles from where he now lives) and so after church he had to go to the apartment offices and be let in to pick up his spare keys.   Wednesday, when I was going to the city anyway, I took his keys down to him and tried to get his router hooked up properly.  Had to call for help from techie friends.    By then he had been two class two days.   Thursday,  I took him grocery shopping in the evening–wasn’t time on Wednesday, thanks to problems with router.    I often drive to the city two weekdays, once for voice lesson and choir, and once for fencing practice.  But it had rained, so the yard wasn’t good for fencing, and I did the grocery shopping with M- early enough that I was almost home by nine pm.  This morning, R- picked him up from the apartment to drive him to church.

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May 18

Up, Down, Sideways…A Huge Step

Posted: under communication, life on the spectrum, parenting, socialization.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,  May 18th, 2010

…also known as the last three months.   It’s been a roller-coaster, a whirligig, and a challenge in every dimension, but here we are facing the next with renewed excitement.

First there’s the college situation.   Our son did in fact have problems typical of autists in both the Transition to College and the Reading classes.   It’s worth examining these to see how his autism affected his understanding of (clear to most people) instructions.   He had been working willingly and consistently, so it wasn’t lack of motivation or laziness causing the difficulties.

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Feb 28

More Progress

Posted: under communication, education, life on the spectrum, socialization.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,  February 28th, 2010

At the end of the first exam period–six full weeks of classes–our son took his first “big” exam, in the pre-algebra class.   Since he had work hours this week on several of the days exams were given,  he had to take the exam on a Saturday (not a usual class day.)     He said he felt prepared enough for it…and though students had an hour and forty minutes for it, he finished in 35 minutes with a score of 89.   If that had been the only triumph of the week, we’d all be delighted…but it wasn’t.

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Feb 19

Week Five

Posted: under communication, education, life on the spectrum, socialization.
Tags: , , , , , ,  February 19th, 2010

So after five weeks of classes, M- is still engaged and enthusiastic.   He’s managing the bus rides alone, using his cellphone to connect with us, and doing his homework both online and on paper.   We’ll find out next week or the one after, when grades are posted, how he did in the first part of the semester.   He started back to part-time work this week, two days, and says he’s keeping up with his homework.

He’s having some problems with the verbal part of one class that requires verbal class participation (he says he can’t tell when it’s his turn to speak and when he should stop–not surprising considering his speech difficulties) and I think his reading comprehension is still lagging.  But immense gains, nonetheless.

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Feb 17

Reaching for More

Posted: under communication, life on the spectrum, socialization.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,  February 17th, 2010

M- will have hours at his part-time job this week, in addition to his classes (first time he’s had work hours since December.)   He was missing his job (bussing tables at a pizza place) and thinks he can handle both.  His performance in the classes has been excellent so far, so…why not try it?  As he moves to more advanced classes, he may not be able to do it all, but now he’s in the groove with these. Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb 09

Last Leg

Posted: under communication, education, life on the spectrum, parenting, socialization.
Tags: , , , , ,  February 9th, 2010

Last week, M- soloed on Thursday and a wild Thursday it was.  Today was a completely different after-class schedule–two buses, but not the same two buses, all the way out of the city to the terminus at Leander.    We dropped him off, asked him to call when he got to campus, and again when he caught the second afternoon bus…or if he had a problem. Read the rest of this entry »

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