Dr. Paul Offit on the Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine

Things that seem to good to be true usually are, yet when it comes to alternative medicine far too many people put their faith in belief and testimonials rather than science. Dr. Paul Offit’s must-read book, Do You Believe in Magic? takes on alternative medicine’s producers and practitioners, explaining why their products and therapies are generally not better and certainly not safer than traditional approaches. Yet his approach is compassionate — he understands that people want guarantees, hope, and sympathy, and will go elsewhere if traditional medicine can’t provide those things. We talked with Dr. Offit about all these topics, as well as whether or not alternative approaches do have some legitimate benefits, and how his own thinking about alternative approaches changed while he was writing and researching Do You Believe in Magic?   TPGA: Many folks view the alternative medicine industry as a group of outlaw heroes, who give…

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Keep the Season Bright (Despite Being Light-Sensitive)

Photo © Damian Gadal | Flickr/Creative Commons [image: Photo of out-of-focus multicolored holiday lights] Emily Brooks www.emilybrooks.com Winter holidays are all about people. And as hard as that is for me as an adult with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and anxiety disorders, that’s also why I love them! In the hope that other adults or teens with ASD can benefit from my mistakes and experiences, I’ve compiled my tips for dealing with the holidays. Give When You’re Out of Money and Ideas If you’re like many adults with ASD, you struggle with employment or finances. Try not to panic if you can’t afford expensive presents. When choosing and making presents for your loved ones, it’s keep in mind that gifts are less about the actual objects and more about showing people you care. If you have a little money but you aren’t sure where to spend it, search through cheaper…

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Raising Cubby: An Interview With John Elder Robison

[image: Excerpts from the cover of Raising Cubby: A white background with black block text reading “John Elder Robison” atop larger red block text reading “Raising Cubby” atop smaller black block text reading, “A father and son’s adventures with Asperger’s, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives”. On the right is a toy motorcycle with two riders, including a child in a sidecar.] John Elder Robison’s book Raising Cubby is a must-read for unabashed geeks and parents alike. His wry and affectionate memoir describes, in part, what it’s like to be a late-diagnosed “Aspergian” raising a son who, it turns out, is also Autistic. But the book’s strongest themes are Mr. Robison’s obvious delight in parenting, and his determination to help Cubby thrive (which he has) despite friction with the educational, and later legal, systems. We spoke with Mr. Robison about various elements of Raising Cubby, as well as his next steps…

The Beginnings of Autistic Speaking Day – Revisited

Today is Autistics Speaking Day. Why? This is why. From our archives. Corina Becker autisticsspeakingday.blogspot.com It started sometime mid-October 2010.  I was browsing the internet, following links off of Twitter to new places I hadn’t been, when something caught my eye. A new autism awareness campaign, it advertised itself as a way to raise money for charities around the world and for people to understand autism better. Curious, and ignoring the growing dread in the pit of my stomach, I clicked the link and took a look.  What I found was Communication Shutdown, an event started by a group in Australia that promoted people to refrain from going on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter for one day, November 1st. It said that it would help people to understand the communication difficulties that people with autism struggle with, and this will help people to know autism better. Also,…

Why It Hurts Your Child to Be an Autism Cure Chaser

Susan Walton This week in a local parent forum, a member spoke up about MMS, a “treatment” that TPGA has examined (with horror) in the past. (See TPGA science editor Emily Willingham’s Dangerous Interventions: MMS and Autism.) A TPGA Editor was present during the MMS forum discussion and suggested we are reprint the conversation, with permission from that forum’s Moderator. Maybe there should be a 12 step program for autism parents who have fallen for misguided and misdirected “hope.” —- I am the father of a 5.5 year old ASD kid. He was diagnosed with autism three years ago. For the last three years, we tried many “treatments” including Andy Cutler protocol [chelation], multi-vitamins, Methyl-B12 shots, GFCFSF diets and various therapies. At one point in time, we were giving around 35 supplements and medicines per day. We saw some improvements for each of the above therapies. But they were MINOR.…

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Disability-Friendly Museum Days Are the Best!

Shannon Des Roches Rosa www.squidalicious.com I’ve written about disability-friendly museum days before — at the San Jose Children’s Discovery Museum, Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo, and San Francisco’s Exploratorium, specifically — and how awesome they are. I will be frank: my son does not go to children’s museums except for during these special events in which the museums are open to a limited number of guests with disabilities and their families, the staff are trained to accommodate, there are quiet rooms to retreat to, social stories are prepared ahead of time to introduce attendees to the space, and he can focus on fun. So I am grateful to San Mateo’s CuriOdyssey (formerly Coyote Point Museum) for hosting a Super Families event last weekend, and hope they will continue to host these events periodically. My son, his little sister, and her friend got to have the best time ever. I’ll…

Fish Out of Water

Lydia Wayman autisticspeaks.wordpress.com I take in a gulp of air and shut my eyes tight before I plunge beneath the surface. One, two, three… It starts to feel like my brain is tingling from the inside. Four, five, six… I’m not counting in seconds, not in minutes, but in hours. Seven, eight, nine… I search for anyone, anything who will ground me through my ever-increasing internal chaos. Ten! When given the cue, I cannot break the surface fast enough, gasping for breath. I’ve done this thousands of times, and yet, after twenty-five years of daily descents, I am no more sure that I will survive the next one. —- I’m really not a writer.  Writers have readers.  I write because it’s the only way for me to get from one day to the next without semi-spontaneous internal combustion taking effect. I’m not a writer.  I’m a processor of the world, an organizer…

Autistics, Media, and Misrepresentation

Paula Durbin-Westby is an Autistic advocate and an autism parent. She and her son recently appeared in the PBS P.O.V. documentary Neurotypical, a film meant to challenge public perceptions of Autistic people as well as allow Autistics to represent themselves. Paula’s portrayal in the final version of the film, however, was not at all what she was expecting. We talked with her about the distress of being publicly misrepresented as an Autistic, as well as her recommendations for filmmakers and other media types hoping to accurately portray Autistic experiences. What was your goal in agreeing to be interviewed for Neurotypical? My point was to counter pernicious media assertions that Autistics (and other people with neurobiological disabilities) are incapable of parenting and relationships. Unfortunately, I think the film’s portrayal of me has actually reinforced some of those assertions.  I don’t have any problem with being shown as disabled, or as Autistic.…

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How Will the Affordable Care Act Affect People With Disabilities?

Come October 1, Americans will be able to start enrolling in Affordable Care Act (ACA, “ObamaCare”) health insurance programs, which will then be implemented January 1st. Since health care policy is so complex, we spoke with The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network‘s Ari Ne’eman about specific advantages, opportunities, and sticking points of the ACA for People with Disabilities. In addition, The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has just released a policy brief on the impact the Affordable Care Act is likely to have on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and what advocates can do to encourage state and federal policymakers to make the most of the law. TPGA: What are ASAN’s primary concerns about how the ACA will affect people with disabilities? Is there a significant component to how the ACA will affect people with intellectual & developmental disabilities? Ari Ne’eman: We view the Affordable Care Act as a significant opportunity for…

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Autistic March on Washington!

Samantha Bodwell autismacceptancedigest.blogspot.com We came, we saw, we marched! Yes, ladies and gentleman, a small and very passionate group of Autistic adults attended the first event of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, on Saturday August 24th, to highlight the needs of the Autistic Community. The week-long anniversary celebrations kicked off on Saturday and featured speakers of the likes of Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King, III. The anniversary festivities began at 8:00am with a rally at the Lincoln Memorial which included a speaker from Planned Parenthood, various reverends from across the country, and other individuals highlighting Civil Rights issues, all of whom electrified the assembled masses along both sides of the Reflecting Pool. Following the rally there was a march to the newly erected Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. I organize a group for my fellow Autistic adults in the Washington, D.C. area called the Adult Autism…