Jan 18

The New Beginning

Posted: under education, life on the spectrum, parenting.
Tags: , ,  January 18th, 2010

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, as our son, with his dad’s help, has figured out a way to use public transportation part of the way to community college, and has continued to try to improve his reading skills in preparation for his first classes.   They’ve walked around on the campus; they got his student ID and his bus card and so on and so forth.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Mar 15

Rude Words

Posted: under communication, life on the spectrum, parenting, socialization.
Tags: , , ,  March 15th, 2009

When our son was just beginning to be verbal, and able to say words with a consonant on each end,  one of his therapists suggested we introduce him to rhyming words as a way of training his ear and his speech…extending the consonants he could say,  and so on.

This certainly helped, and he began to try out combinations himself (which was good) except for one little problem.   If you start rhyming one-syllable words in English…starting from harmless familiar words like for instance “bit” and “pit” and “sit”….you end up with words that are considered inappropriate for small children to say.   The child may never have heard those words, the ones that rhyme with “sit” and “bird” and so on, and have no idea what they mean…but if your larger-than-average, older-than-average-when-learning-to-talk autistic child says them,  social disapproval rains down all over the scene.   And autistic kids don’t need any more social disapproval than they get already.

So the day came when our bright-eyed little guy very proudly (and it was an accomplishment–he had just managed the /sh/ sound the week before)  went through his “–it” words and added “sh*t.”

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Feb 17

The Vaccine Hypothesis: bad science

Posted: under opinion, theories of causation.
Tags: , , , ,  February 17th, 2009

It’s understandable that parents of children with autism, like parents of children with any developmental problem, want to know what caused  it–and often want to know who’s to blame.    Unfortunately, in the case of autism and childhood immunizations, a combination of greed, bad logic, and outright lying by some unscrupulous  “investigators” has created a situation in which innocent parents have come to believe that evil vaccines caused their children’s autism.

It’s not true.   Yet, like many errors, it’s become ingrained in some peoples’ minds–largely because of three factors.  First, it gives parents someone to blame and gets them off the hook with relatives.   If it’s caused by vaccines, they don’t  have to consider the known causes, including genetics.  Second, it makes a huge profit for those who promote the vaccine hypothesis and offer goods and services to ameliorate the supposed damage done by the vaccine.  And third, there’s the profit motive: if autism were caused by vaccines, then suing vaccine manufacturers (and now, the government because it’s taken over the liability) could make a lot of money for lawyers and parents alike.

To understand why the vaccine hypothesis is wrong requires some history as well as good science.

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Jan 20

Homeschooling pros and cons

Posted: under interventions, opinion, parenting.
Tags: , , ,  January 20th, 2009

Thirty years ago,  children with disabilities were not guaranteed education in public schools.    My state had residential schools in the state capital for deaf children and for blind children, but nothing for children who had other disabilities.     I remember the mother of a childhood friend fighting with the school board so her daughter–with severe hearing impairment–could attend regular classes.   (Her daughter is now a professor of chemistry.)    If they weren’t institutionalized,  disabled children were home-schooled, usually by tutors, like Helen Keller.

But now that federal law requires schools to educate all children, why would a parent choose homeschooling?  And why are the advantages–and challenges–of doing so?    Here are some things to think about, from someone who did it.

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Jan 10

Nobody’s perfect

Posted: under communication, life on the spectrum, parenting.
Tags: , , ,  January 10th, 2009

When you have a child with disabilities–especially developmental disabilities, whether autism or something else–you want to do the absolute most for that child you can.    That child, you feel–or I felt–deserves–needs–a perfect parent.    That child, of all children, shouldn’t have to deal with parental imperfections–he has enough problems already.   He/she is so fragile, so vulnerable, that any mistakes parents make are likely to be the tipping point that makes it impossible for the child to have a happy life.

Then comes the day…you know the day.  The day you lose your temper.  The day you forget something vital.   The day you aren’t perfectly controlled, calm, supportive, firm enough and flexible enough,  diligent in getting through his/her therapies, the house isn’t clean enough, the vital paperwork goes missing.  That day.

Here’s the story of the day I contributed to stunting our son’s initiative.

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