Canadian Autism Partnership Project Survey

So, today was the St. John’s Round Table meeting for the Canadian Autism Partnership Project (see: Leaving, on a Jet Plane, Nova Scotia, How I Love Thee for starting details). It went quite well, and there was a broad spectrum of people there – social workers, SLPs, clinicians, I think there was at least one OT, ASNL board members, self advocates, parents (and a number who were more than one of those). The discussions went quite well, and just like the first ASD Avisory Group meeting, we actually managed to finish early! 🙂 (Which was a good thing, because the ASNL board had a meeting right after.)

But the important takeaway (aside from the info shared for the Working Group) is the matter of the online survey. For any Canadian involved in the autism community (whether autistic, family member, friend, researcher, specialist, doctor, clinician, member of a society, etc.), we need as many of you as possible to take the survey. The more data we have, the clearer the partnership’s objectives will be – and the more people we can tell the federal government that this will affect. The more people it will affect, the more likely the federal government is to provide the funds to actually create the partnership.

Visit the Canadian Autism Partnership Project to take the survey. It will close July 15th, so the sooner you can visit, the better.

Thank you,

🙂 tagÂûght

Autism is a Delay, Not a Stop

So, the ASNL this semester (spring) has arranged for a yoga for autistics… practice? workshop? whatever…. Four weeks, Sunday mornings. There are a total of five of us there, and like in Social Club, I’m the oldest (although with yoga, our instructor is older than I am). And during this morning’s session (our third), I noticed something interesting.

One of the others there, who is less than half my age… is a lot like I was when I was her age. A lot like I was, at least in social elements (well, from what I’ve been able to tell during the three hours I’ve spent with her so far). Things get blurted out when she thinks of them, no matter how “inappropriate” it may be at the time. She shares details with near strangers that you might think more appropriate to just share with friends. (I mentioned those two items to Mom, and she was nodding and going, “Oh, yes, I remember you being like that”….)

And there is no better way that I can think of to know that I have changed, than to realize that there’s someone else who is like I was, and am not (at least partly) anymore. (I have more restraint about blurting things out, and a bit more restraint about sharing things… although not as much of the latter, witness the very existence of this blog!)

It’s also proof, in living colour, of the “Autism is a Delay, Not a Stop” matter. I’ve changed. I have more awareness now of social appropriateness. I have more impulse control. But I used to be just like her.

We grow, and learn, and change. We just do it at a different rate than allistics/neurotypicals.

Please, parents, specialists, everyone… remember that. Simply being autistic does not mean that we will always behave/act/react the same way as we do now.

‘Later,

🙂 tagÂûght

Response: DoaM’s “Inspiration Porn Goes to the Prom”

I apologize – this was meant to be out yesterday (Friday) but it was a busy day, and I got distracted with other things. So it’s out today.

First things first – please go and read Inspiration Porn goes to the Prom on A Diary of a Mom. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

There’s a very important question that Jess asks in there. (Thanks, Jess.)

“What if you are that person?”

Continue to read the response.

Recommendation: Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew

Ellen Notbohm, the mother of two children, one of whom is on the spectrum, has a number of books out about children on the spectrum, acting as the voice for her son. One of them, Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew, is now in the ASNL Barbara Hopkins Library. As I was early to Social Club today, I noticed it and decided to read it to see whether I agreed with what was in the book.

My personal answer? It’s excellent. There are some minor things that I disagree with (noted below), but the vast majority of it (and every one of the “Ten Things”) involves points that I am in full agreement with. It’s also both well-written and quite respectful of autistics. (Including the fact that although she uses “child with autism” throughout, she both explains why she prefers not to use the term “autistic”, and also that a number of children, when they grow up, prefer to be referred to as “autistic” rather than “adult with autism”.)

Click for my specific thoughts

Doctor’s Appointments

I went to the doctor’s (general practitioner/GP) to get some referrals this afternoon, and while I was there, I was texting with a friend I made during the CAPP meeting. One of the things we discussed was doctor’s appointments, and something my dad came up with to ensure that he dealt with everything he needed to when he went to the doctor. It’s worked for me too, since he told me about it, and based on our discussion, I thought I’d share it here. It’s simple, but sometimes it’s the simple things one never thinks about.

For an explanation, read on….

BBC Video Article: Cat Helps 6 Year Old Autistic

Link

My dad follows the BBC for the quality of their reporting, and sometimes finds interesting tidbits on there. This was one of them. Very positive message here. You go, Iris and Thula!

How a cat enabled an autistic six-year-old to communicate

Turns out there’s also an article on CNN about Iris and Thula, which goes into greater detail about Iris’s accomplishments as an artist.

Portrait of a 6-year-old artist with autism and her therapy cat

Thanks to Autism Canada for that link!

🙂 tagÂûght

Let’s Talk About: Storybooks – Face-blindness vs. Bullies

And now that I’m back in St. John’s, I’m resuming the talk about storybooks! Specifically, this post is to look at the issue of face-blindness and bullying.

While I was in the CAPP meeting a week and a half ago, I brought this topic up over lunch, and got some great suggestions for how people who are face-blind can deal with “recognizing/identifying” bullies. I’m going to list them here. If anyone has other possibilities, ideas, suggestions, solutions, please let me know – I’d really like these Spectrum Storybooks to be as comprehensive as possible.

Continue reading

Let’s Talk About: Storybooks! Post #1

So, here’s the thing. When I was at Social Club this afternoon, our facilitator mentioned that she’d been looking in the ASNL Library for resources – storybooks – to help some parents explain certain things to their children. Unfortunately, she wasn’t too happy with what she found – some she liked the wording but not the illustrations, some she liked the illustrations but not the wording, and some were “yuck”.

Because we’re a pretty creative group, she came up with the idea that maybe we could go ahead and write (and illustrate) some of these missing resources. We all loved the idea. So, one of the first things we have to do is research – and I’m turning to you. Autistic adults – what (of the subjects listed below) would you have wanted to read to help you as a kid? Autistic teens, what about you? Parents, can you ask your kids? Do you have any suggestions for wording? Are there any other subjects you think would be helpful? And if we’re satisfied with what we produce… would you like us to publish them?

Read on for details!

Recommendation: Hamilton FeminAuts’ Resources

So, I’ve been poking around the Autism Canada forums, and one of the members there has a link to a group called Hamilton feminauts. To quote from the About Us portion of their website:

FeminAuts was founded as a safe, inclusive, and accessible meeting space for women and female identified individuals on the Autism spectrum to meet likeminded individuals and learn valuable skills such as self esteem building, sensory self regulation, and adaptive and social skills.

http://hamiltonfeminauts.weebly.com/about-us.html

I went there to poke around as well, and I would say that their resource page definitely warrants a recommendation! So: Resources – Hamilton feminauts. They’ve got a bunch of useful free phone apps, for both executive dysfunction and communication; links to various resource sites (including the ASAN welcome packet and the Geneva Centre); online diagnostics and test resources; inventories and social stories (including ones related to sexuality); and usual open source therapies and courses links.

Yep, high on the recommended resources list!

Note that I’ve also included a link in my links page.

🙂 tagÂûght

Autism Canada

So, the website for Autism Canada has just gone live: autismcanada.org. I’ve been poking around, and so far it looks fairly good. I have, however, felt the need to send them a copy of my letter about Light It Up Blue, since that’s one of the National Awareness campaigns they have listed. I have also joined their forum under the username tagÂûght (just waiting for official approval), so anyone else who wants to join is welcome to discuss this blog with me. 🙂

Still poking around, but note that they do have the DSM-5 criteria listed, including the severity criteria (3 levels – I’d say I’m either level 1 or 2 in communication, and level 1 in “restricted” interests, although my sensory issues might push me up to level 2 in that as well).

They also have a directory, called Autism Junction, at autismjunction.ca, which has a wide variety of service providers for autistics, both child and adult. It’s not complete, but is still under construction; there’s a form to fill out for any service providers who aren’t listed already. (I’ve sent an email to two that I know of, advising them of this.)

Going to be seeing if there’s any way that I can include blogs in the list of resources, and let them know about my blog. 🙂

[Edit] Under “About Autism”, they have a good listing of co-morbid diagnoses, and what may indicate one (I’m going to check out the PDF they include for further details). However, the “Evolution of Autism” page is not about how autism can evolve throughout a person’s life, it’s about the recognition of autism since Leo Kanner first identified it. Honestly? I think details about how it can change throughout a person’s life would be more useful. [/end edit]

‘Later, all!

🙂 tagÂûght

Let’s Talk About: Scripting

So, at about 3am this morning when I was trying to go back to sleep (after being woken by the plow backing up in the lot behind our house – why doesn’t St. John’s believe in soundproofing houses?!), I remembered where I meant to take yesterday’s post on brooding. Scripting!

(Note that in this case, I’m really talking about a specific subdivision of scripting: putting together something in your own words, rather than either copying someone else’s – still a valid form of communication – or repeating a set of words and actions over and over, to either deal with something or because it’s a comfortable routine, for whatever reason, or any other reason that one might do that. There are bound to be other reasons out there. :))

Click for more rambling….

Thinking, Overthinking, and Brooding

Hi, everyone. First of all, I’m sorry I haven’t been putting stuff up lately – truth to tell, I’ve been more interested in reading other people’s posts and thinking about them than writing my own for the last few months. (As a result, there may be a flurry of recommended posts coming up soon.) But I was thinking yesterday about a situation I’m in, and decided that the results of that would likely make a good post.

Click to read on.

Let’s Talk About: Modes of Thought – Followup

This post is a followup to Let’s Talk About: Imagination and Modes of Thought. Partially because while I wasn’t entirely wrong about my “mode of thought”, I wasn’t exactly correct about it either; and partially because there’s a new Tumblr blog out there called “Autistic Thinking” that I recently stumbled across. The aim of the Autistic Thinking blog is to: “[describe] the different and possibly unusual patterns of thought and perception experienced by autistic people of all types. It’s meant to show how diverse we actually are, compared to the simplified ideas other people have of us”, to quote the blog description. And reading it, I got inspired to write this post, because of my recent ruminations about how exactly I do think.

Want to read my thoughts on this? Go on! 🙂

Recommendation: Interrupting and Correcting

Okay, the post I’m recommending is not actually called “Interrupting and Correcting”; it’s a series of 3 posts about the AS (read that as Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum) need to be Right. But… reading through it? My first thought was, Mom, this is why I have such a hard time controlling my urge to step in with a correction when I know you’ve made a mistake.

Because as my mother would (correctly) tell you – that’s a major problem I still have. I can get by in social situations, for the most part. I learned early on that politeness and “shyness” are a good combo – and I do seem to give off the general vibe of “asexual” when meeting new people. (Or, at least, if people do flirt with me, I don’t notice, and don’t respond – I tend to draw in on myself when meeting new people as well….) But say something that I know is incorrect… and I have to almost bite down on my tongue (literally) to keep myself from making a correction. And still, about half the time, I don’t manage to stop it.

Now, I didn’t get the same type of bullying that the author of this post got – I was more inclined to be bullied because I was smart, and because I was a very tall, clumsy girl, in elementary school, and in high school, I was with people as smart as I was, so there wasn’t that kind of “that person has the answers” dynamic going on. But… being smart got me the respect of the teachers. And therefore their approval. And that mattered, because one thing I was shown in elementary school is that there are good adults out there who will do their best to protect you from bullies. And adults are more likely to believe you when you don’t feel well or can’t do something if they respect you. (Not always, but enough so that my analytical side could come to that conclusion.)

So, from Snakedancing’s blog, I give you:

Please note that the topic above is really the main topic of only the first post. The other two go into strategies to help deal with the need to be right.

🙂 tagAught

(P.S. My planned post following up on Modes of Thought will be out – either tomorrow or later today, depending on whether you subscribe to the “day changes over at midnight” theory or the “day changes over after you fall asleep” theory. If the latter, it will be out tomorrow – this is what I say; if the former, it will be out later today – which is what the website says.)

For Emma: Words and Voices

Most of you reading this blog probably know Ariane and her daughter Emma, if only in reference to their blog, Emma’s Hope Book. (If you don’t, click on the link. Really. Ariane is a great resource for parents who are having difficulties dealing with their autistic children, and is a great proponent of presuming competence because of her own experiences.) Recently (as in the last half year, maybe somewhat more), Emma’s been contributing directly to the posts on the blog. One of the most recent posts was about the body-mind disconnect that Emma experiences; her brain knows what she wants to communicate or do, and her mouth (and/or body) will do something completely different.

Poetry, yay!

Camp NaNoWriMo: April 9th, 2014

NaNoWriMo (and over the last couple of years, Camp NaNoWriMo) is a big thing for me. But this year, things got off to a slowish start, mostly because my conscious awareness of the whole “Camp NaNoWriMo’s First Session = April” was entirely absent until this morning.

*shrugs* Happens sometimes.

So, there I am, forgetting completely about it, and reading blogs about Autism Awareness Month and all that… and what should pop into my inbox but a note about Saturday’s Marathon Writing Session.

*tagAught blinks at email, and goes, “Huh. It’s Camp NaNo already?” pauses “Gah! April’s already one week gone! Write! Need to write! What to write?!”*

Going on….

NL Voluntary Autism Registry

According to the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador website and VOCM (the community radio station), the ASNL and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary are going to be cooperating on creating a voluntary autism registry. Why?

Communication #2: Stories & Music

Okay, this wasn’t originally planned for the next post. In fact, this wasn’t originally planned to be a post at all. But my dad listens to CBC classics, and something that was said on the program early this afternoon caught my attention. Combined with the whole idea of AAC, not just speech, as valid means of communication, I started thinking about this post.

Stories are a very ancient means of communication. They have been used for the three great ‘E’s – to explain, to educate, and to entertain.

Read on, read on….

Communication #1: Introduction-What is it?

A question that involves a lot of different areas of study. Behaviourists; biologists – both human-focused and zoologists; anthropologists; linguists; even archaeologists and paleontologists. And it’s something very important to the Autistic community, and to the broader autism community (incorporating allistic parents, allies, etc.), because of the difficulties with speech that come with “classical” (aka Kanner’s) autism, and the difficulties all autistics have, to one extent or another, understanding body language and social behaviour.

This question just happened to occur to me as I was driving back from my new residence to my parents’ house (where I now live only on the weekends, so that Imber and I aren’t separated for long – I need my puddy-tat!), having forgotten some stuff that I meant to bring over yesterday evening. (Heck, there’s still some stuff I forgot, but it wasn’t as important as what I did fetch, so I wasn’t going back.) And the question won’t leave me alone, so I thought I’d better start writing.

(And as I started writing this post out – not that I’m finishing it tonight – I realized that it really needs to be a series of posts. So, this is #1 – just what is communication, anyway?)

Okay, a lot of thoughts and such follow. Read on!

ASNL: Connections Panel

Well, the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador had their Adult Autism Group panel tonight. Unlike what I originally thought it was going to be, it wasn’t each of us (3) making a presentation on a topic; it was five of us having a discussion panel with three questions – one about the stresses of passing for normal, one about the school system, and one about creativity / imagination – as topics, and then open question time for the audience.

It went very well, I think. (So do my parents.) It was surprisingly enjoyable, and we talked about a number of things, including sensory issues, social issues, energy drain (spoons), teachers, special ed, writing, movies, music, visual art, Asperger’s and the DSM-5, disclosure, questions about what we feel when someone goes, “Oh, now I understand” after an explanation of autism, and so on.

I also had – for exhibits of my creativity – the memorial poems for my grandmothers, the 50th birthday poem for my father, two novels-in-progress (It Came From the Library being one of them), and my Earth: Final Conflict series Dreams, Memories and Truths.

I also got to meet one of the better-known autism advocates here in NL (he was the one who asked the question about disclosure), and that was a pleasure.

Had a great time!

🙂 tagAught

Behaviour is Communication; Violence is Behaviour

There have been a lot of discussions around my blog “circle” about Kelli and Issy, and what violence from autistics actually means, and what are some ways to deal with it (both from the autistic and the parent point-of-view). In fact, as I believe I mentioned in yesterday’s post, there are some specific posts on other blogs about the subject I want to recommend. I also want to talk about my own experience (minor) with violence in myself, as requested by Ariane in her post in Emma’s Hope Book on Tuesday (see below, it’s one of the ones I’m recommending you read).

Continue on to see more of what I’m talking about with the title.

Let’s Talk About: Hyper-Focus vs Lack of Focus

Okay. First of all, this was not originally the next post I was going to write. I have an unfinished post about driving as stimming (which I’ve been meaning to finish and post for about three to four months now – mea culpa), and there are some other issues that I want to explore as well. But I went out for coffee with my local friend tonight, and we got to talking about some of the things we experience. One of them was the element of focus, and it ended up being (pun not intended) the focus of our conversation. And I thought it might be interesting to open up the dialogue to others as well.

I have two different “focus” modes: What I call hyper-focus, or concentrating so hard on one thing that everything else (including calls to come and eat dinner) gets blocked out; and lack of focus, where I’m lost and can’t decide what needs doing or what has priority. And a lot of things I’ve read about other autistics say the same thing. Especially if it involves one of our special interests (definitely hyper-focus), or if it’s something we’re not at all interested in (lack of focus).

The lack of focus element definitely seems to be linked to problems with executive function, and it’s quite possible that the hyper-focus is as well.

Read on to find out what I think and how I deal!

#SensoryIssues: Interoception & Psychosomatism

Musings posted on her blog on July 3rd a post about “interoception”, which she defined as:

describes our sensitivity to sensations that originate in our bodies

Her post concentrates on the issues surrounding the muting of interoceptive signals that is quite often a “Thing” for autistics, and the problems that can result from that (such as a serious infection, in her case, which could have been caught weeks ago if she had been aware of the sensation); and on the issues of alexithymia, which often mean confusing emotional states with interoceptive information.

In my response to one of the comments on that post, I linked the concept of interoception to the concept of psychosomatic symptoms; and this post is to explore that concept further.

Continue reading

Let’s Talk About: Bullying

This next post was originally going to be my long-delayed one about Stims. But this morning, Dad and I went out to brunch (Mom’s down in Halifax with my sister’s family, helping out with the new baby, for several weeks), and on our way back, the CBC Radio Sunday Edition had a section on bullying. Specifically, about how one should respond to bullying, and whether at times violence in response is warranted. It made me think. A lot. And I thought it was definitely worth a “Let’s Talk About” post.

For more on my thoughts:

Partial #NonVerbal Autism: Camp NaNoWrimo April 2013 #2

Okay, didn’t expect to be doing a post on this, but it turns out that one of the main characters in my Camp NaNoWriMo novel (It Came From the Library, in case anyone forgot ;)) is autistic. In some ways, she’s a combo of one of my best friends and myself.

(In other ways not, but she’s sort of a homage to my best friend. Shh! Don’t tell her! *pauses* Whoops, she reads this. Oh well, she deserves it. She’s been my friend through thick and thin for over 10 years now, and the support she’s provided me has been truly invaluable. Even if we’ve never met in person, she deserves the appellation of “best friend”.)

The thing is, I want the character to be partially non-verbal. When she gets stressed, she can lose her words. But I don’t have this issue (not unless I’m so seriously stressed that I’m on the edge of a meltdown and about to go over, or I’m being forced to make a decision), so I don’t have as much information about it as I’d like. I have read a number of blog entries that mention it (Ballastexistenz, for one, and Unstrange Mind’s, to provide two examples of bloggers who have brought it up), but I’d like more info, if anyone’s willing to provide it. (Note: This is not a demand. I’m just hoping that some of you who have non-verbal periods would be willing to share info and thoughts with me. Questions are below, as well as details about the character.)

Continue reading

Recommendation: Wiring the Brain- The Genetics of Emergent Phenotypes

I mentioned this blog post in my post on “Autism Speaks: I Want to Say”, but I think it deserves its own post recommending it.

The Genetics of Emergent Phenotypes, on Wiring the Brain.

Continue for details, or just click the link above!

“Autism Speaks, I Want to Say”

Another flash blog. This one prompted by the Autism Speaks video “I Want to Say”, which was supposed to be about autistics using AAC… but no communications from autistics were actually shown. Which renders the supposed purpose of the video useless. Read more about it here, at the flash blog.

I’m verbal. I don’t need AAC to communicate. But I am by far more comfortable communicating in email and text and via the computer than I am face-to-face (or, gods forfend, on the phone). I am autistic.

I want to say: Autism Speaks, I don’t like you. Things like that video are fear-mongering and hate-promoting. Things like that video portray us as less than human. We are not.

Continue reading

Recommendation: Musing’s Survey #1

Okay, Musing of an Aspie‘s “Take a Test Tuesday” has now changed over to “Take a Survey Tuesday”, at least for a month. I highly recommend them; the questions are asked by ASDers for other ASDers. The first one, now up, is about relationships – friendships, family, romantic.

So, what are you doing still over here? Pop over to her post and either fill out the survey on Survey Monkey, or answer in the comments!

😉 tagAught

No: Guilty Feelings

A few weeks ago, Musings of an Aspie wrote a post about her “No” reflex, and how she needed to work on pushing her boundaries. A lot of us need to work on that, to avoid turning into recluses (or at least, that’s the worry my mother has constantly had for me, which may also be linked to my depression).

However, there is another side to things, and I had a dream last night which reminded me of it: Working on recognizing when we need to say “No”. Continue reading

Let’s Talk About: Imagination and Modes of Thought

So, for Musings of an Aspie‘s Take a Test Tuesday on Feb. 12/13, she took the Two-Factor Imagination Scale (TFIS) Test, which looked at “spontaneous” vs. “controlled” imagination.

Spontaneous imagination is defined as effortless, surprising and instantaneous. For example, you’re washing the dishes and suddenly have a great new idea for a drawing. It feels like your idea literally “came out of nowhere.”
Controlled imagination is defined as a process that is consciously initiated, guided and terminated. For example, you’re washing the dishes and consciously decide to think about how to resolve a conflict with your roommate. You intentionally stay on task, brainstorming ideas and refining until you have an answer, at which time you stop thinking about it.

From Musing’s entry re the TFIS test.

In the comments section, Mados, Musings, and I (mostly Mados and Musings, I just contributed once and read the convo in fascination) ended up getting into a conversation about different modes of thought and types of imagination (which are heavily linked, I believe, thus this post covering both), which provided the inspiration for this post. I actually meant to get this done a week and a half ago, but… yeah.

Continue reading