Category Archives: Autism

House Rules” by Jodi Picoult – narrated by Mark Turetsky, Nicole Poole, Andy Paris, Christopher Evan Welch and Rich Orlow

I think this book is only going to be appealing to those who are interested in and/or invested in the subject material. I rarely read any reviews of books before I download them. Lately I have been checking out reviews after I finish a book and I found myself nodding to even the negative reviews of this book even though I loved it. Reading the reviews I see why I loved it while many others let the negative aspects of the book win out.

“House Rules” is about Asperger’s Syndrome with fictional characters thrown in to make it a novel. A few years back I did a series of posts about Autism for Autism Awareness Month. I was riveted by “House Rules” because it was everything I had researched put into a fictional story. All the forensics was awesome, too.

Forensics? Oh yes, Jacob, the boy with Asperger’s, is obsessed with forensics and crime scenes, often popping up around town when he hears about crimes on his police scanner. I’ve always loved forensics too and I couldn’t help but see a lot of myself in Jacob. I remember talking with an online friend with Asperger’s back in the day and comparing instances of just being completely sensory overloaded, something I’ve come to experience since going blind. “House Rules” brought all those talks back to me and reminded me of all the things I researched. If you want to make yourself more aware about Autism, click the Autism link in my labels.

Has Jacob’s love of forensics led him to become a suspect in a murder? What would happen if a person with Asberger’s who, In Jacob’s case, has to eat brown food on Thursdays, ends up in jail? Does the ADA protect him? Should he be given special accommodations because of what he doesn’t see as a disability? Those were the themes in the book that had me transfixed.

I think Jodi Picoult spent so much energy researching Autism and criminal law that she ran out of steam for the ending. The whole book I was thinking marriage material but the ending just, well there’s no other word for it, sucked. It’s like Picoult just got sick of writing and tossed in a paragraph and called it the end. There was no mystery in the book, all of it being obvious from the beginning so I was expecting some bombshell ending but no. I had to get on the phone with Carol the next day and complain. And mourn.

I think this might be the first book I mourned. I fell in love with every single character, referring to them by name with Carol as though they were my friends, and the ending just ripped all that affection to shreds. I wrote in my last review that you can’t judge a book by its ending so technically “House Rules” should still get a marriage material rating even though the ending wasn’t an ending at all.

What would Jacob tell me to do? He would see everything literally. He would take emotion out of it. So, a story should have a beginning, a middle and an end to get the highest rating. This book did not have an end, therefore it cannot get the highest rating. What do you think, Jacob?

Rating: So good!

“House Rules” at Audible ~ “House Rules” at Amazon

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Filed under 2013 Book List, Audio books, Autism

Doggy Diaries – A Few Fun Dog Links and Brief Clicker Story

I kept two 1-800-PET-MEDS articles up today to blog about and share because I enjoyed them both. I’ve also had a youtube saved for awhile that I wanted to share but kept forgetting, so today I give you three fun dog related links.

This first one is about Dogs for the Deaf and how they’ve expanded into training service dogs for Autism and even classroom dogs. Possibly the best part? They use shelter dogs! It was heart warming to read about these dogs who might have been destined for euthanasia but instead become service dogs. How cool is that?

This next one is about teaching your dog tricks and the effect that has on the person. It is a really adorable story about how a woman trained her dogs to love her piano playing, or, ahem, something like that. Give it a read, it’s cute!

I don’t really teach Jayden tricks but I do sometimes teach him something new to either help me or enhance obedience. Either that or just turning something into a game. I recently got out the old clicker and showed Jayden that when I pat the couch and say “up!” that I want him to get on the couch. This might seem a little silly so I’ll explain.

Jayden was raised not to get on furniture unless invited. That part of his raising was apparently incredibly hardwired because there are times when he sits and stares at his side of the couch and waits for me to invite him up. Now since that’s his spot, I haven’t required him to wait until invited pretty much since bringing him home. Most of the time he gets right up when he wants but other times he refuses, to the point where I have to actually touch him and urge him up.

These aren’t moments of wanting affection, as he’s like a foot from me and sits on the floor staring at his side of the couch, sometimes even resting his chin on it. Sometimes I’m in the middle of writing something or eating or crocheting and I just need him to let himself up on the couch haha! So I did clicker training. It was so much fun for both of us. I’d have him sit facing his side of the couch, pat and say “up!” and when he jumped up I clicked and kibbled. Then I’d tell him “off” and at first he was confused like, but is this obedience? Look, I’ll lay on the couch. Haha! Then he’d finally leap off and jump around and we’d do the whole thing over. It worked like a charm! Now I just have to pat and say “up!” and he gets up. No more having to reach over and urge him up.

Then last night I thought we’d have to do the clicker training again. He sat there looking at the couch, I felt for a cat and didn’t find one so I patted and said “up!” and he wouldn’t. I repeated this a few times and he didn’t jump up. So I went to stand up and heard Timmy’s bell. Oh! He was curled up in the very corner of the couch. No wonder Jayden disobeyed haha! I moved Timmy and Jayden jumped right up. Training him is so much fun and so rewarding. I wish we could play clicker every day.

This last link might require some tissues or perhaps that was just me. The trainers at Southeastern Guide Dogs perform Trust Me Baby. I’m guessing the images are adorable. The lyrics had me sobbing the first time I heard it and when I opened the video to get the link just now I got misty all over again. The song is a take of Call Me Maybe which always gets stuck in my head when I hear it but now I get Trust Me Baby stuck in my head instead.

Hope you enjoyed the doggy links. I sure did!

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Filed under Autism, Doggy Diaries, guide dogs, intelligent disobedience, Jayden, jayden quirks, misty eyes, plugs, puppy raisers, Timmy, video, youtube

Autism Awareness Month concludes

Wow, what a month! I’m really glad I did this series this month. Like I said in the beginning, I’ve never taken the time to become aware during an awareness month. If you’ve just clicked the autism label and it’s now some time in the future, you’ll find thirty posts about autism. I had planned on writing a post a day, but fell behind a few times, so I just made sure the number of posts equaled the number of days in April.

I hope you feel like you have a better understanding of what autism is, and what it’s like to live with it. I mean I know none of us can possibly understand what it’s like to live with it, but I hope this month has shed some light on how people with autism live their lives.

Firstly, they are people. They are people with autism. They are adults, they are children, they are boys and they are girls, men and women. Just because someone might be quirky, or weird, or may not look you in the eye, doesn’t mean they’re rude or psychotic. Above all, what I’ve learned from this month is that people with autism are intelligent, creative, hard working and dedicated people who just want to be accepted. They don’t necessarily want to be “fixed”. What I’ve learned this month is that if we’d all just take the time to really learn about one another, maybe the world would be just a little bit of a better place.

So next time a child is being unruly and you get annoyed and role your eyes at the parents, just think that maybe it’s not a parenting issue. Maybe their child has a sensory issue and that grocery store was just a little too bright and loud. Or if you try and strike up conversation with someone and they don’t look right at you, maybe it doesn’t mean that they’re rude, untrustworthy or creepy. Sure, anyone could be any of those negative things, but I’m beginning to think that maybe more times than not, that person might be struggling with something inside. I for one, feel like I’ve become a little more compassionate after this month. Really being able to look at people who anger me and think, what’s going on with them today that I don’t know about?

I plan on becoming more aware from now on. Tomorrow starts the series on mental health and I know I said I wouldn’t do an awareness month for June, but if there’s something in June, I might just change my mind.

Thank you to all who have contributed by sending me stuff in the email or in comments, and a special thanks to Katrin for her guest post and and input in the comments. I hope you’ve learned as much as I have! Now, go out there and google something you’ve always wondered about, become aware and maybe even share what you’ve learned with another. 🙂

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Autism, identity and dissociation

I’ve never really known how I feel about dissociative identity disorder. It’s one of those things where if you don’t live it, you can’t possibly wrap your mind around it. You might be asking, um, it’s not May yet, why are you talking about a mental health issue? Well, because in this video, Donna Williams goes into detail about what it was like as a child with autism and about how she had different identities with different people. For one parent she was a child and for the other she was a condition, so she had two different types of identities with each of them. It’s really interesting the way she explains it, and really shed some light on autism and dissociative identity disorder for me.

The sound quality on the video isn’t all that great, and her voice fades away sometimes, but it’s definitely worth a watch.

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Autistic, not psychotic

“In 1965, aged 2 years old, I was admitted for a three day hospital observation at St Elmo’s Private Hospital in Brunswick, Victoria. I was to be tested for deafness and Leukemia (I had constant infections, easy bruising, bleeding gums, my eyelashes would come out in clumps). I also had a stomach tensing and compulsive coughing tic (Tourette’s) that compelled me to the point I was coughing blood, appeared deaf, stared through everyone and everything and showed no response to pain. My parents were told I wasn’t deaf and didn’t have Leukemia. According to my father, the doctors had, instead, assessed that I was psychotic. In 1965 the 2-5 year old children who today would be diagnosed with autism, were often instead deemed ‘psychotic’.” – Donna Williams

Wow, I never knew autistic children back in the day were classified psychotic and stuck in an institution. Click on Donna’s name above to read her story. Apparently she’s written books so she sounds like a pretty well known person in the world of autism. I only wish I’d found her site sooner, but I’m glad I found it. After reading her story, I can really see how much farther we’ve come as far as diagnosis.

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Autism friendly movie experience

SA huge thanks goes out to Sadia for emailing me the link about this. This is soooooooo cool!

“Children with sensory challenges may have a hard time processing the dark cavern of a movie theater, the flashing ads from the screen, and the loud boom of surround sound. Sensory sensitivities can also be exaggerated by certain foods and a movie theater is not typically a source of healthy alternatives nor do they usually allow patrons to pack their own snacks. Add to that the social pressure of having to sit still and quiet and a movie is suddenly not an attractive option for some families.”

So what are AMC theatre’s doing?

“What is different in a ‘sensory-friendly’ film?

an accepting environment for viewers who may have a hard time sitting still or staying quiet

house lights are brought up

movie volume is turned down

supportive staff

whenever possible, less advertisements

permission to bring snacks that cater to special diets

All are welcome to attend and enjoy the family movie presentations!”

How’s that for service? I think this is pretty damn sweet. Check out this page for more information about show times etc. This page is specifically for Austin, TX, but it gives information about how to find these showings locally.

Pretty cool huh? I wish I had found more stuff like this. Thanks again Sadia!

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Facebook autism test

So Carol had left a comment on one of my autism posts about a quiz you can take on Facebook to see if you have autism. A quiz. On Facebook. To see if you have autism.

Seriously?

Yep. Carol checked it out. I am so grateful I use a screen reader and can’t access those stupid quizzes. Carol said apparently she has autism because one of the questions is something like, do you like to spend time at home rather than be in large crowds? Well, I guess I have autism too.

Seriously, wtf. Now I sound like I should be posting on Facebook saying wtf but I don’t normally swear on the blog and wtf is how I feel.

At first I brushed it off. Then I thought maybe they put it up for autism awareness month. But then I just got pissed, and I was thinking about it just now and decided to post on it even though I don’t have a link or anything. So, sighties on Facebook, if you can access that quiz, can you take it and comment me? I just can’t even believe it.

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Filed under Autism, awareness month, rant

Autism and billiards

I know I’ve mentioned here that before I went blind, I was an avid pool player. I’ll never forget my all time best shot. I was pplaying against an apponent with a higher skill level and it was a Sunday league night. It had come down the final game; whoever won would win the match. We were both on the 8-ball. He had missed the shot, and had left the ball on the raile between the corner and middle pocket. The cue ball was angled towards the corner pocket opposite the rale where the 8-ball rested. The only shot I could see was to cut the ball all the way down into the far corner pocket. So I’m not sure you can picture this, but the ball would need to travel all the way up the table, along the rail, passed the middle pocket. I was a much better cutter than a banker so it was my only option. This was a 9 foot table, so it was going to be hard. We had to mark the pocket, so I walked over and marked that corner pocket. I was aware of the sudden silence and I’m sure my captain would rather I try to pull a safety. But he also knew this was my specialty shot. I cupped my hand over the 8-ball to make sure it was touching the raile then went back to the cue ball to line up. The trick to this shot is to hit the raile first. Not to hit the rail and the object ball at the same time, as I used to think. By hitting the raile first, a fraction of an inch next to the object ball and putting spin on the cue ball in the direction of the pocket, you’re actually pushing the object ball in the direction. The hardest part is not having control over the cue ball, so you risk a scratch. If I scratched, I lost, but if I missed, he’d surely pocket the 8-ball anyway. I lined up, feathered my stroke, settled my feet, imagined the 8-ball flying down the table and into the pocket, stopped breathing, and shot. The 8-ball did just what I imagined, flying along the raile and falling into the pocket. The cue ball soared around the rails, but did not drop. My teammates cheered, bystanders applauded and my opponent shook my hand saying, nice shot, admiration in his voice.

I share that story even though it has nothig to do with autism, because those moments were such a highlight in my life. I had never been athletic, so to be part of a team and get a win for them, was such a boost for my confidence and self esteem and dammit, I was goooooood. And I liked that. I miss that.

So in doing this series about autism, I had looked up autism and sports, to see what kinds of sports children with autism might excel in. I had the idea that maybe pool would be good for them because you don’t have to interact with a ton of people. It’s you, the table and the opponent. But then I thought about all the noises and sounds in a pool hall and figured it might be a little daunting.

Today I decided to look it up and I didn’t find any experiences with it, but I did find this website, which is about a pool instructor who likes to teach children with special needs. This is her mission statement:

“to bring the love of billiards to children, adults and less fortunate people so that they will have a sport to not only help increase self-esteem, learning and motivation, but also to incorporate the love of a sport into their lives. I want to touch as many lives as I can thus improving well-being and quality of life by increasing the fun and joy they can have in their lifetime with friends and family” !

I might not have clicked on it, but in the descrption on the search results page, it said this: “Worked 12 Saturdays with differently-abled kids whose differences included autism”. I don’t know about you, but I hate the term “differently abled”. But her qualifications are pretty vast. Along with being a pool instructor, she’s got a lot of qualifications for teaching kids with disabilities, especially developmental disabilities.

So it sounds like there might be something to the billiards and autism idea of mine. I wish I had found more information on it, but maybe it’s good food for thought and more research. I know how much pool helped me and helped to develop a sense of comaraderie for me, and I’d recommend it for anyone who can do it. I just gotta figure out how to do it blind haha!

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Filed under Autism, awareness month, pool

Wii therapy for autism

This is pretty cool! Thanks again Sadia, for pointing me that way.

This mom’s child really took to bowling, but was having a hard time with all the clapping and noise at the bowling alley. So his parents bought a Wii so the child could play at home, and before they knew it, they were getting notes from teachers saying their son was clapping appropriately at movies and handling sportsmanship better. So, the mom’s consensus is that the Wii is not only fun for her son, but it’s teaching him stuff too! Pretty cool!

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A personal story about autism and vaccinations

Thank you Sadia, for directing me to this blog sritten by a mom who has a child on the autism spectrum. Her blog is a non Blogger blog, and with my screen reader, often times non blogger blogs are a little daunting. But, she had linked to a guest post she did on a mommy blog about whether to vaccinate or not. She talks about how she wasn’t sure she’d vaccinate her younger children after her oldest was diagnosed autistic, but in the end, she decided to and she explains why. It’s a good read, with some good links on the page as well, about vaccinations, etc.

I really didn’t want to go too much into the vaccination argument because, since I don’t have children, I don’t necessarily think I can make an educated argument. So, I’m glad I found this so I can still reference it without clouding it with my own childless views like I did before. However, I can say I’m glad she decided what she did, and I agree with the reasons she did it. I can say I’m greatful I was vaccinated as a child. Ok, enough outta me, go click the link 😉

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