Taking the Scenic Route

Awesome Temple Grandin Article

2nd February 2011

Awesome Temple Grandin Article

Temple Grandin and her mother have been major influences for me as I have raised my Autistic son. Her words have pushed me to require more of him, and understand where I need to focus my energies. It is nice to finally see her recognized in the mainstream media, to counteract all of the “voices of doom” that are more common in the Autistic circles.


Temple Grandin Warns Against “Curing” Autism

Temple Grandin on her struggles and stardom
Msnbc.com talks to autism advocate about a different kind of life

Author, scientist and professor Temple Grandin is portrayed by actress Claire Danes in the upcoming HBO film, “Temple Grandin.” (Chris Pizzello / AP)

By Joan Raymond | MSNBC

Temple Grandin knows she’s different. But she wouldn’t have it any other way. In 1950, Grandin was diagnosed with autism. The disorder, seen in about 1 in 110 U.S. kids, spans a range of complex neurodevelopmental problems: an inability to make social connections, language difficulties and bizarre, repetitive behaviors. There is no known cause or cure. Some children may have a mild form of the disorder, yet have difficulties holding down a job in adulthood. Others may never be able to live on their own.

And some, like Grandin, defy the odds.

Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, a noted lecturer, best-selling author and an autism advocate. Her designs for creating a more humane livestock slaughter process earned her recognition from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Now actress Claire Danes is playing Grandin in an HBO movie airing on Saturday. The film “Temple Grandin” is based upon Grandin’s memoirs, “Emergence” and “Thinking in Pictures.” That’s heady stuff for a woman who admits that at age 62 she still relates better to animals than she does to humans. She talks to msnbc.com about how autism affects her life, a life that she believes is different, but not less.

Msnbc.com: Where do you fall on the autism spectrum?

Temple Grandin: I am much less autistic now, compared to when I was young. I remember some behaviors like picking carpet fuzz and watching spinning plates for hours. I didn’t want to be touched. I couldn’t shut out background noise. I didn’t talk until I was about 4 years old. I screamed. I hummed. But as I grew up, I improved.

What made the difference for you?

I had people in my life who didn’t give up on me: my mother, my aunt, my science teacher. I had one-on-one speech therapy. I had a nanny who spent all day playing turn-taking games with me. For the last 30 years I’ve been on a low-dose antidepressant. I’ll never give it up. It helps with the panic attacks. The most important thing people did for me was to expose me to new things. I was so afraid to go out west to my aunt’s ranch. But the only choice my mother gave me was to go for two weeks or all summer. I wound up staying all summer. And that’s where I learned about cattle. I could relate to their behavior, their fears.

Why do you think that is?

I’m a visual thinker, not a language-based thinker. My brain is like Google Images. If someone says the word factory, most people think of a vague place. I think in detail of every factory I ever saw, like the John Deere plant in Moline. Animals are sensory thinkers, thinking in pictures, smells, sounds. They don’t think in terms of language. I don’t either.

Didn’t observing cattle give you your idea for the “squeeze machine” you developed to help autistics reduce stress?
I saw cattle held in a squeeze chute while they were waiting to get some veterinary attention. Some of the animals relaxed once pressure was applied to their bodies. I built a prototype for myself when I was 18, and found that if I used it for about 15 minutes I would feel better, calmer. Now a lot of people and programs use the machine.

What help do you think most people with autism need?

Little kids, especially ages 2 through 5, need one-on-one interaction with an effective teacher. I don’t care who that teacher is. It could be the mother, an aunt, a grandma, someone from a church, a synagogue, maybe a student. You just need someone who clicks with that kid. The worst thing you can do is nothing. You can’t let these kids sit and watch TV all day.

Actress Claire Danes in the HBO film “Temple Grandin.” (HBO)

The other thing is, teach these kids manners. I was raised in the ‘50s and ‘60s, and manners were drilled into me. I see kids [on the spectrum] today that have no manners. That’s going to hurt them. You can’t punish a child who is acting out because of sensory overload. But it’s unacceptable to see kids throwing things and slapping people. I see kids with Asperger’s [a mild form of autism] who can’t hold a job because they are constantly late. Teach kids to use an alarm clock. This is common sense and sometimes we forget about common sense. Autism is used too much as an excuse for bad behavior.

Cases of autism are rising. Why do you think that is?

Some of it is probably due to the way autism is diagnosed. I saw people on the HBO lot that probably have Asperger’s but never got a diagnosis as a child. There has been an increase in regressive autism, children who develop normally, have speech, and then lose it. I think there’s something going on with some type of environmental contaminant. Some insult is getting to the child whose genes are susceptible to autism. I think we are going to be hearing more about epigenetics and autism. With epigenetics you look at how the genome responds to the environment. How things like toxins and diet and other things turn on the switches that regulate how certain genes are expressed.

“Autism pride” or neurodiversity is a growing movement. Do you think there needs to be a “cure” for autism?

I believe there’s a point where mild autistic traits are just normal human variation. Mild autism can give you a genius like Einstein. If you have severe autism, you could remain nonverbal. You don’t want people to be on the severe end of the spectrum. But if you got rid of all the autism genetics, you wouldn’t have science or art. All you would have is a bunch of social ‘yak yaks.’

Have you gotten more social as you’ve gotten older?

I have friends now. But it’s about shared interests. We talk about engineering or animal behavior. Chit-chat bores me. I’m always sure about science. I had to learn about social cues. But I’ve learned to talk about the weather a little bit.

What was it like to see someone portray you?

It was like going in a weird time machine. The movie was set in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and I was very severe back then, very anxious. This was before I went on antidepressants for the panic. Puberty and high school were horrible for me. I spent time with Claire [Danes], and her portrayal of me back then is very authentic. She was me.

You are well known within the autism community. Are you worried about becoming a celebrity, more of a household name?

No. I think about the responsibility. There was a responsibility to get this right. I’m very pleased. The things I do, my work, it gives meaning to my life. I don’t understand people’s fascination with celebrity and all the psychodrama. What turns me on is helping a parent of an autistic child, or having someone say my work [with animals] helped them understand their dog better. Something that makes a beneficial change is what turns me on. But I did meet Steven Spielberg. He was nice. He told me he liked my book. That made me happy.

Joan Raymond is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in Newsweek, the New York Times, MORE and Woman’s Day.

Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35150832/ns/health-mental_health/

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13th November 2010

Parenthood cheer

Finally watched this week’s Parenthood (If  This Boat Is A Rockin’). Was ticked that there was a stupid KU game overriding the beginning, and during the program I realized we definitely missed something and went online to find the show. VERY worth the effort. The supermarket scene was awesome…totally see Zane doing something like that, and cheered at the dad’s response. I would have likely just stood there dumbfounded and wished I would have done it.

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1st November 2010

Autistics Speaking Day

There is a battle going on in the Autism Blogosphere. Initially, today was supposed to be a “Communications Shutdown for Autism“. This didn’t set well with me, but I couldn’t really verbalize why at first. Maybe because social networks and online forums are where I learned to know several Autistic adults, and where I first began to find my own voice of advocacy. The online world is where I learned not to live in fear, and that an Autism diagnosis was not the end of the world. It is also, ironically, where I found support and companionship during the years that Autism was the most isolating because going out in public was so stressful and exhausting for everybody in our family. Online is where Autistics have the easiest time communicating, and that I believe to be the crux of why it seemed so wrong.

On this day, I wanted to post some links, from Autistic authors.

First, on why I won’t participate on “Communication Shut Down Day” on Facebook and other social Media.

And now, some exerts from Autistic authors:

25 Things I Know as an Autistic Person

by Corina Becker

1. I know that when I step outside my door each day, I enter a world that doesn’t understand me. To me the world is a wondrous, confusing place that I must work hard to navigate. I often wonder how everyone else can stand to handle existence.

2. I know that if people really want to understand Autism, they should be listening to Autistic people. We are the experts of Autistic experience. Ignoring us won’t make us go away.

3. I know that I do not suffer from Autism. I suffer from a lack of understanding and support.

4. I know that being “high functioning” does not mean not being disabled. It means that my disabilities are invisible.

5. I know that having a disability does not mean inability.

6. I know that Autism isn’t what you think. I dare you to think differently.

7. I know that after the whirlwind of childhood, and the emotional minefield of adolescence, I emerged as an adult — still as Autistic as before, and still an adult, with all that entails.

8. I know that what is normal for me is not always normal for you. I know better than to act upon the assumption that “normal” is the same for everyone.

9. I know that if you meet one Autistic person, you’ve met one Autistic person. The experiences, difficulties, strengths, personality and characteristics of one Autistic person does not reflect upon all of them.

10. I know that there’s a difference between not being able to communicate and not having anything to say.

11. I know that the world is an intense place. It screeches and screams, burns, freezes, and bursts into brilliance. It’s a place where words are too small to express the explosion of emotions flowing out of me — a place where words have yet to be invented to express a fraction of the howling fury of frustration and panic, the aching heartbreak, the stabs of betrayal and embarrassment, the abyss of despair and confusion, the weightless ecstasy of joy, the soaring heights of pure wonder, and the warm embrace of security that I feel.

12. I know there are times when people just don’t make sense, but I try my hardest to understand, even if I’m not very successful. I know that even when I can understand, it doesn’t mean that I know what to do.

13. I know that what’s called a lack of social skills for me — and requires me to undergo therapy when I mess up — is considered being rude for everyone else.

14. I know that lashing out isn’t the right way to handle things, but some days it’s the only way to deal with the thunder in myself. Sometimes it’s only my rage that lets me focus on what needs to be done.

15. I know that no amount of time is enough to fully fade the most intense memories; they stay just as sharp, crisp and clear as the day they happened.

16. I know sometimes the only other people who understand are those like me. But just because we’re similar doesn’t mean we’ll always get along.

17. I know that humans aren’t perfect. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try our best, but we should realize that we all have our limitations and we need to put things into perspective. A mistake isn’t the end of the world.

18. I know that sometimes you need to let yourself fall apart so you can pick yourself up again and carry on. Nothing lasts forever — the bad or the good.

19. I know that one smile can go a long way.

20. I know that there’s no force in the universe that can make me give up my interests, my “obsessions” and perseverations. These are my strengths, the passions I breathe through my being. I will not let them go without a fight.

21. I know the deep, dark fear of being alone, the stabbing pain of thoughtless words, and the empowering strength of friends.

22. I know you can have an excellent conversation without saying a single word.

23. I know that best friends are those who stay with you through all sorts of pain and struggle, who you would do everything you can to help without being asked.

24. I know that things don’t have to make sense when you’re having fun.

25. I know that diversity leads to the development, invention and creation of new ideas. Differences in thinking should not be shunned but celebrated and embraced. When we all work together to support one another, we can make a huge difference in the world.

A post from my friend. Her voice has always pushed me beyond my comfortable space, and challenged me to think beyond my own perceptions about what Autism looks like from the inside out. I have been changed, for the better, because of her insights.  We don’t always agree, but she always makes me think.

Autistics Speaking Day

Posted on November 1, 2010 by adkyriolexy

Being autistic is being set up to fail again and again, and having your inevitable failure attributed to your disordered brain.

Being autistic is being set up to fail again and again, and succeeding anyway and having your success attributed to treatments.

Being autistic is succeeding anyway, and being told that your success doesn’t matter because you still aren’t what your parents wanted.

Being autistic is having strangers pity your parents because of you.

Being autistic is having strangers express their pity in your hearing, because you obviously can’t understand them.

Being autistic is being bullied and abused every day and being sent to therapy for it, because you’re the one whose social skills are considered lacking.

Being autistic is expressing what you think, feel, and desire, and being told that you are in denial.

Being autistic is having other people dictate how you really feel.

Being autistic is being denied the things you enjoy “for your own good.”

Being autistic is being told so many times that your pain is pleasure and your pleasure is pain that you come to believe it.

Being autistic is being driven to extreme frustration every day, and being autistic is having the frustration inflicted on you blamed on your autism.

When I thought about what to write for Autistics Speaking Day, I considered what a cruel bind autistic self-advocates are put in when we discuss our struggles. Frankly acknowledging the hardships we face is interpreted by anti-autistic factions as evidence of the inferiority of our condition, proof that autism is suffering and we would be better off cured. Emphasizing, instead, the benefits, strengths, and exceptional abilities of autism, though, brings charges that we are whitewashing the disadvantages, or that we are so minimally impaired as to be not really autistic. This conveniently absolves pro-cure neurotypicals of the role they and their pathologizing attitudes play in autistic hardship.

My father always told me that I had an exceptional mind. This was why I could read adult books and decipher arithmetic and follow his wandering lectures on various topics at barely four years old. He didn’t mind that I was unable to speak to my peers; it only reduced my vulnerability to being corrupted by them. While he undeniably overestimated my superiority, his unconditional support was a lifesaving counterbalance to the relentless messages to the contrary from teachers, therapists, relatives, peers, and strangers.

A few of my earliest memories involve being introduced at a family gathering and discussed. Why doesn’t she talk? What’s wrong with her? I’m so sorry…. School was worse, with its buzzing lights and pushing crowds and devious people my size hellbent on poking, kicking, grabbing, and beating me into submission. The teachers occasionally intervened, but mostly allowed it in the hopes that I would learn to assert myself. I didn’t.

I was sent to doctors and therapists who claimed that my idiosyncrasies were the result of emotional dysfunction, trauma, or low self-esteem. After prolonged indoctrination, I began to half-accept their premises. I didn’t start out believing that my sensory seeking and social awkwardness was based on a desire to punish myself, but after being told this so many times, I couldn’t help but doubt myself. Their propaganda became self-fulfilling as I began to believe that I was dysfunctional and deserving of punishment. In any other context, this would be called severe emotional abuse, but for neurodivergent children, it is considered necessary treatment.

As I got older and more articulate, the discrimination I faced for being autistic changed forms. Because I appeared intelligent, people could not fathom that I would have difficulty understanding basic things like figures of speech, subtext, visual-spacial perceptions, and pop culture references. I could not, in their minds, have legitimate difficulties, so I must have been rude, or lazy, or intentionally obtuse. The slightest mistake would undo my hard-earned status of hyper-competent and instantly reduce me to my childhood status of “insane.” As I as so intimidated by the prospect of being outed, I learned to nod along and feign understanding. Appearing competent became much more important than being competent, which led to some of the most devastating poor decision-making of my life.

When I became a parent, however, the illusion of normalcy was stripped away. My firstborn inherited my autism, and I had to invent my own way of helping her. Institutional support for parents of autistic children, focused on treatments and cures and the obsessive quest to make children as normal as possible, was repugnant to me, and I refused to let my daughter suffer the way I had. What we lacked was a model for support and learning that was not based on a disorder-treatment model. This is what the neurodiversity movement is trying to build through the personal stories of autistic people, in their own words. Personal stories in which the very real pain and suffering and struggles and obstacles faced by autistic people are not arguments against autism, but arguments against the oppressive model into which autistic people are painfully forced. Autistics are speaking out and will not be silenced. We do not want a cure. We do not want to be made normal. We do not want to prevent future autistic children. We want radical social restructuring such that future autistic children are accepted, nurtured, and supported, and we won’t need silence campaigns for our voices to be heard.

Finally, a link to other voices in the Autism Community

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9th October 2010

There are RULES mom.

Note to self: Do not give an Autistic child a cookie “for the road”, and then attempt to get him to pass by a sign that says “no food or beverages allowed” to pass through 10 feet of space to the parking lot.

We went to the “Artists on the path” event at the Great Plains Nature Center. At the end of it, in the main building, there were snacks for the kids to enjoy. It took longer than we were anticipating and I needed to get to rehearsal pretty fast, so I tried to get the kids to take their cookies and GO. No such luck. Zane saw the sign and would not walk through the door.

Reminds me of the time he was at one of those fast food playgrounds, playing happily, until he read the “Must have Socks to Play” signs. First, 80% of the kids weren’t wearing socks; Second, it was an unexpected stop and I had apparently ran through the stash of socks I keep in the car. He stopped playing and refused to play in the tubes the rest of the time we were there.

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6th August 2010

I met Temple Grandin!

She is my version of a rock star, and I can’t think of a rock star I would have been more excited about meeting.  Her books (and her mom’s book) have had a massive impact on my life, and on my parenting.  When I heard she was going to be in town for a conference I was giddy, until I saw the price of the conference.  Then my brother stepped up and offered to pay for a ticket for me.  :ldance:   (Thank you very much Steve).  I was THRILLED.

The night before the conference she had a book signing at Barnes and Noble, and I had to go to it.  Zach wanted to meet her too, so we brought the kids.  Zane was less than thrilled at the idea of going, and I after giving him a choice (either get out of the car, go into the bookstore and wait in line nicely, or no computer) I realized the irony of using a technique I had gotten directly from her books (except for Temple, her mom used TV) to get him to cooperate with meeting her.  To his credit, he did come with us and wait in the long line patiently.

Waiting in line was like a reunion of sorts.  I didn’t realize how many people in the local Autism community I knew until I was in the bookstore and knew, either by name or face, a good third of the people there.  lol.  Several of Zane’s former therapists, some of the students from the University Speech Therapy program, other families, media, and various other workers and advocates I have meet over the years were there.  Some of them I had known long enough that they were shocked at how much older the kids were.  lol.

We have been to book signings before and they usually have the authors near entrance.  I even commented to Zach that I wondered if they would have her up by the doors because it seemed like an overwhelming place for somebody with sensory issues.  I smiled when I got there and realized they had her way in the back corner, where it was much quieter and less busy, and had the lines weaving through the stacks so it both obstructed her view of the line, and muffled the noise quite a bit.  Such a simple, smart solution.

As we waited in line we debated which book to get to have her sign.  I finally settled on The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger’s because I had checked the books from the library a ridiculous number of times at this point, and I had wanted to buy it for some time.  While waiting somebody came through the line with a stack of post it notes, asking how we wanted the book inscribed.  Another smart idea because it reduced the amount of interaction necessary for Temple.

As we finally rounded the last corner and I was faced with the big display of books, I decided to add  The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships: Decoding Social Mysteries Through the Unique Perspectives of Autism for Zane, for when he gets older, but didn’t have time to get a little post it note for it.  I didn’t have time to dig out the post-it notes in my purse (yes, I am that dorky, I carry post-its with me all the time) before it was our turn.

When we went to her table, camera in hand, she was “in the zone”.  She said “hi” as we walked up, handing her the book, and much to my delighted surprise, Zane said “hi” right back.  I wanted to do a little dance when he did that…it is a rare thing, especially for somebody he doesn’t know.  As I handed her the second, book (without the note) I asked her to sign it to Zane, and she looked up, breaking out of her “zone”.  I put my hand on Zane’s head and said “This is Zane”, she looked at Zane, looked back at me, back at Zane, then immediately asked me “Are you going to the Autism Conference tomorrow?”.  (Apparently it was blindingly obvious that he is also Autistic…the book chosen was probably a big clue since it is for a pretty specific audience) I told her yes, I was very excited about it, and then told her that her books were a big help to me.  I was so excited that I forgot to take a picture.  Me.  Forgot to take a picture.  :roflrly:   There were even people standing right there, a good half dozen people that I knew by name, that I could have asked to take it for us, but I totally blanked out.   I was told by several people that they saw Zane on the news footage. I saw one channel that had his hair and chin looking at the books, but not anything other people would recognize, so it must have been on another channel.  I was standing next to a person who was interviewed for a while (my back to the camera, and I didn’t notice it until I was walking away), and I could hear myself in the background.  lol

The conference the next day was AWESOME!  It was so interesting to hear her speak and I learned so much.  It reconfirmed my commitment to make sure he has functional communication, but to put a higher priority on skill  development than trying to obtain a level of social communication that isn’t very realistic for him.  No amount of social skills training is going to make him a salesperson or customer service type person, but if he can develop a marketable skill, something that he can develop a portfolio for where the work speaks for itself, he has a shot in life.  She also talked about biomed and pharmacological interventions that have worked for her, and her evaluation process in deciding what is worth trying.  It was extremely useful because she was able to talk about some of the issues with a frankness that most people would find uncomfortable in front of an audience, but was exactly the kind of information you need when dealing with these issues.

She was also excited about the movie that came out about her and thrilled with Claire Dane’s portrayal, which made me want to rewatch the movie yet again (as if I don’t already have it memorized).  One of the things I liked about the film was the visual potrayal of her thought process.  It was how I imagined Zane thought, so I wondered how she felt about it.  I didn’t even have to ask because she was pleased enough to mention that exact thing during her lecture.

I also saw quite a few familiar faces, including another parent who’s son has been with my son for several years in social skills groups and therapies, so we have spent a lot of hours talking over the years.  She came with some other people and we ate together and she helped take a picture for me so that I finally had a picture of Temple Grandin.  The three of us were talking about our kids while taking the pictures (I took one for her too), so Temple isn’t thinking about posing, but somehow it was perfect anyway.  She is amazingly approachable and easy to talk to, with the added advantage of not having to do the elaborate social dance when you want to ask a question.  With her, you just ask.

As I was standing there talking, right after the picture, as Temple went around the corner to do a radio interview, I suddenly noticed the huge banner/poster thing that I was facing during this picture.  I had walked past it a dozen times but didn’t notice it.

Bigger than life size little Zane.

The irony being that neither Zane nor Elise (the OT behind him) is at Heartspring any more.

The rest of the conference was also really interesting.

The second speaker was Britt Collins, an OT, who was good, but didn’t really delve deeply enough for my tastes.  I did pick up a different use for a therapy ball that I will be using, and the overall lecture was good.  I think if I went to a conference where she had more lecture time it would be much better, largely because I am really familiar with sensory issues and didn’t need a review to get into it.

The last speaker was Diane Bahr, who talked about feeding issues and speech development.  This one made my brain really work.  It was fabulous, but I would have been lost if I wasn’t already very familiar with a lot of technical terminology.  As it was, I learned a lot.  There are a lot of things that I have done, as a parent, that I knew was important, but I never really knew why (beyond…”it is good for development”), and now I have a much deeper grasp of those things.  Everything from “tummy time” as an infant/toddler, to breastfeeding, to how/when to introduce foods and drinks to children and why those things have such an impact on development and speech.  Now I know why I was asked about all of those things and why I have been told that I did everything (well, I am sure not “everything”, but you know what I mean) right.  It was interesting to hear that there is a dramatic increase in ST/OT clients due to parenting practices (like leaving kids in the infant carrier/buckets, kids staying on baby/toddler foods too long) that is really affecting the occupation.  After going through what normal development entailed, on a very detailed level, she explained how to address serious eating/feeding/speech issues, at it was FASCINATING.  She focused on motor based speech delays and feeding issues, including drooling, biting and sensory/texture issues.  Definitely worth listening to.

After her lecture I stood around listening to other people’s questions (I do that at most lectures because I think I learn as much from specific questions as I do from lectures) and, after my question, she asked the group of parents that were left hanging around about the local services.  I mentioned that we currently got services through the university, but for opposite reasons…that my son’s speech delay was due to autism and apraxia (motor based) and my daughter’s delay was totally phonological, so the therapies are quite different.  She was thrilled to know that the university recognized the difference because a lot of places don’t, but it is critical to making progress to understand the reason for the delay.  (because some techniques cross over, but some are more targeted).  She asked about the specifics and it was gratifying to see her positive reaction.  I even had some other parents ask me about it later, as we were leaving.  That was sort of neat too.

It was an awesome experience.  A huge thank you to Steve who made it possible for me to go.

posted in Autism, Autistic Life, Books | Comments Off

24th February 2010

Evile Sunglasses

Just a warning. If you wear these sunglasses by Oakley, I will dislike you. Intensely. If I am in the wrong mood, I might puke on you or “accidentally” break the glasses because they are beyond offensive to me. Ugh. WHY do people think this is a good idea?

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25th January 2010

Autism Mom’s Friends

Things to buy in bulk:

For both inside and outside doors. Lifesavers.

No matter how much you think you will need, you will always need more. PECs, schedules, sequencing activities, keeping pens attached to where they are needed, and a million other uses.

If you have a sensory seeking kid who chews on everything, just get these in bulk, because they are like socks…they always seem to get sucked into the vortex, and if you have them stashed everywhere, you are more likely to find one when you need it.

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14th January 2010

Autism movie had us on a treasure hunt

We saw a preview for Adam and were determined to find it.  It looked awesome.

Blockbuster listed it, but it was nowhere to be found IRL, and we ended up calling around to different video store to try and find it.  We finally found it at a place called Family Video, so Zach and Zora made a trek there.  I think we found a new video store.  Not only do they have a better selection of movies Zach and I want to see, but the kid’s videos kick Blockbuster’s butt to the curb, plus the prices are SO much better. And, as a result, we get to see the movie tonight. Yay!

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11th June 2009

Teaching “Wh” questions, “Why”

I just thought I would share the materials I am creating to help teach the “Why-Because” relationship. They are designed for kids who can read, and you can expand the scope by addressing the vocabulary as it comes up (for instance, I discovered that Zane didn’t know “skyscraper” so we did a quick sidetrack to show him what that meant). When I thought about it, I included words with “L” so that he could get more practice on that sound, since he is struggling to handle that letter.

I made them so that you can print them out, cut out the visual prompt sentence and lay it on the table for reference. In the first few I also cut out all of the words and presented them in word pairs to fill in the blanks. The last one, I just cut out the top part and lay it down and the word pairs are given verbally. I also have the word “WHY” written out to point at as I give the prompt sentence, then point to the word “because” as he reads back the answer sentence to further emphasis the relationship.

The prompt sentence I use is “Why are the words ____ and ____ related?”

I included a picture of the page, followed by a link if you want to save a copy.



On this one, they can just respond that they are opposites, or expand the sentence, such as ‘they are opposite speeds”




This one just uses the top section as a visual reference. The other part is for me so I am not fumbling for word pairs to give him.


After this, I have a list of nouns I can reference to help make it easier for me throw some paired words at him. I have the prompt sentences available (along with a peice of paper or chalkboard to write up a quick new one) to help if/when he struggles with retrieval.

The next step is to try and get him to give you the second half of the word pair. Start by saying “What goes with *noun*” (referencing my list if I get stuck for a random word), then letting him supply the other word, then prompt “Why do _____ and ______ go together?” / “Why are ______and_______related?” and let him give an answer, prompting the “because” if I need to. The main problem I ran into the first time I tried this was that every word I gave him, he paired with a word that rhymed, even if it was a nonsense word, just so he didn’t have to work hard to answer the question. I would then supply my own matching pair before giving him another chance to complete a word pair. The next day, I took a few steps back and had some different prompted sentences so that he didn’t just rely on “because they rhyme”. (and if he is still doing the “rhyme” thing when we get back to this point, you will see more drill sheets with different sentences as I try to get him to expand his language)

Eventually, I want to be able to do a word association game, where I supply a word, then he supplies a word, then we go back and review why each pair are related.

posted in Autism, Homeschool, Language Development, ST | 5 Comments

11th June 2009

Well, it isn’t from reliable news sources yet, but…

There are now reports that John Travolta acknowledged that Jett had autism. It still sort of bothers me that they chose to hide it, but I understand that they would likely have not been given the privacy they needed had they done so while he was alive. I imagine it was far more challenging to both protect him and incredibly isolating to the family when your religion doesn’t acknowledge that autism even exists.

I can’t imagine how this must compound the incredible grief they are going through. My heart goes out to their family.

posted in Autism, In the News | Comments Off

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