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How iPads & Tablets Can Support Autistic Learning & Play

Shannon Des Roches Rosa www.squidalicious.com These iPads have been around for almost three years now, which is rather mind-boggling. Even though tablets no longer attract sideshow-level reactions with every mention, they are still wonderful tools for many autistic kids and adults, and exciting new approaches and apps keep emerging. I teach autism and iPads workshops all over the country (including a class at San Jose’s Morgan Autism Center on February 9th); the following is a general outline of what I’ll discuss, and my current take on iPads and autism. Tablets: Tools, Not Miracles My initial response to seeing my autistic son kick butt using an iPad was elation, 
because he was instantly able to learn and entertain himself independently. However, tablets are not for everyone. Evaluate tablets and apps before buying. Tablets encourage presuming competence by enabling visual and alternative communication and learning. Competence expressed and recognized increases self-confidence. Benefits:…

When Autism and Schizoaffective Converge

Cissi Tsang www.samarobryn.com There have been various studies and speculation abounding regarding the relationship between the autism spectrum and the schizophrenia spectrum. That is not surprising because there are some similarities in behaviours between the two. Both conditions feature such things as social withdrawal, difficulty with empathy and difficulty with reading verbal and non-verbal cues. What happens if both conditions collide and exist together within a person? This is an area that is not often explored. It is almost as if the population of people who have both an autism spectrum diagnosis and a schizophrenia spectrum diagnosis do not exist in the minds of most people. However — such people do exist. I am one of them. I have Asperger’s syndrome, as well as Schizoaffective Disorder. How can it be, though? I must note that the DSM-IV-TR does note this possibility. Although rare, it does happen. With this article, I…

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Have You Seen Flummox and Friends Yet?

Shannon Des Roches Rosa www.squidalicious.com Have you seen the pilot episode of Flummox and Friends yet? Or — back up — did you hear that Christa Dahlstrom created a show just for quirky kids and the people who love (and/or identify with) them? Here’s how Christa described the show in a recent BlogHer interview: “Flummox and Friends is a live-action comedy for quirky kids about navigating the social and emotional world. We’ve just released a pilot episode that anyone can watch for free online. The main characters are a trio of inventors and their next door neighbors. We think of it as The Big Bang Theory meets Pee Wee’s Playhouse.  “The show is targeted at kids aged 6-11, especially those who struggle with the unspoken rules of social interaction. We see it as a show that parents and kids can enjoy watching together and that education professionals can use support…

Can People Really Grow Out of Autism?

Emily Willingham www.emilywillinghamphd.com www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham Let’s start with the headlines blaring the news about a recent autism study. They almost invariably use the phrase “grow out of autism,” even though the study itself does not use that phrase or even reference “grow” except to talk about head circumference. Instead, the authors of the report, published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, use the term “optimal outcomes” to describe what they detected in a group of 34 people who were diagnosed as autistic when they were under age 5. As the study authors themselves state, this idea that autistic people might show reduced deficits to the point of losing a diagnosis is not new. In fact, first author Deborah Fein and colleagues cite studies identifying frequencies of “optimal outcomes” as high as 37% among autistic people. The lingering open questions relate to whether or not the autistic people in these…

Why Did Amy S.F. Lutz Attack the Neurodiversity Movement?

Shannon Des Roches Rosa www.Squidalicious.com Autism parent Amy Lutz did her damnedest to verbally maul the Neurodiversity movement last week, at Slate.com. I’m still trying to understand her rationale, because why would she publicly attack disabled people for the crime of appearing less disabled than her own child? Especially the very advocates who are fighting to ensure a better future for all autistic people — including her son? I’m used to seeing questionable writing at The Huffington Post, but was surprised to see Lutz’s baldly biased reporting in the Slate.com Medical Examiner section. She only cited sources — outraged parents like herself, mostly — who also believe “…that those who argue the Neurodiversity position do so out of ignorance.” A statement which is not merely offensive but untrue: those who support Neurodiversity tend do so because Neurodiversity is their reality, and the neurodiverse their community. Autistic adults are not the…

Autism and the Quest for Knowledge

Jennifer Byde Myers jennyalice.com  Jack doesn’t fit the mold. Not the mold for a typical kid, not the one for cerebral palsy, not autism, not ADHD. Whenever we try to “box him up”, another piece of him pops out, unexplainable by a typical convention. I like it that way. I know I didn’t fit into the parameters that were set up for me as a kid, and I do my best to keep growing and changing so I can steer clear of the typical; “what I am supposed to do.” The problem with being outside of the norms is that other people don’t always know how to handle you, or help you, or befriend you, or teach you, or be your doctor, or your therapist. People sometimes become exasperated, or assume less of you, or ignore you. And some of that might happen out in the big bad world, but…

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Popplet: An App for Social Cognition

Jordan Sadler MS, CCC/SLP www.jordansadler.net Editors’ note: Jordan is a pediatric SLP, so kids are the focus of her post. However we think the Popplet app and strategies Jordan describes so well could work for all ages. I want to share my review of a fantastic app that I’ve been successfully experimenting with in my social cognition work with kids. Popplet was designed to create visual maps, presentations, and brainstorms across environments such as work and school. It would make a great visual mapping tool for kids who are gathering information for a class research project, for example. I recommend you take a look at the examples provided by the developer, because the sky is the limit as far as ways to use this app. So far, I have used the Popplet app in a couple of really fun ways. First, I found it to be a simple means to…

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When Strangers Don’t Care About Accommodating Autistic People

Shannon Des Roches Rosa www.squidalicious.com Honestly, I don’t give a fig about strangers judging how I parent my autistic son. I know I’m doing my best with all three of my kids, and am also constantly learning from my mistakes. Plus Leo has the same right to be in public as anyone, as long as (also like anyone) he’s not being disruptive. If he’s having a hard time, there’s always a good reason, and we move on. Riding the Ducks, with our Duck Quackers [image: My three kids using yellow “quacker” whistles. Leo’s sister is helping him with his.] What I do care about is how strangers respond when Leo needs accommodation. And a few months ago, when I reluctantly pulled out the autism card to ask if Leo could jump the queue for a public restroom, a stranger lectured me on how autism did not justify my request, and…

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MMS: Yes, It Is Bleach

Emily Willingham www.emilywillinghamphd.com www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham When we wrote previously about the use of MMS, a bleach compound, administered orally or as enemas on the promise that it would “cure” autistic people, we received many, many comments in support (or defense) of using MMS. Many people exhorted us to ‘do our research,’ to not ‘jump to conclusions.’ One of the most recent comments went as follows: “Your ‘argument’ falls down immediately. It is not bleach — the chemical structure is completely different. This is where unbiased researchers like me stop reading — you can’t even get the chemistry part correct so why bother. If you can’t be bothered to research your subject then please don’t write about it, it really is that simple.” Weary of this kind of assertion and the ad hominems that always seem to accompany the defensiveness, I offered to this particular commenter the following suggestion: “Why don’t you…

Autism Sweeps

Jennifer Byde Myers jennyalice.com I get a note each afternoon from my son’s teacher. She emails me and let’s me know what Jack did that day, any struggles he had, and provides information about what’s happening in the classroom, and around the school. It’s efficient, an easy way for me to catch up on what he’s doing in school, and a great way for each side of the equation to have context for conversation with Jack.  When we go out to dinner at Jack’s favorite restaurant, I write his teacher, then she and the aides can ask him questions about what he did the night before. It’s also great that the email goes to both my husband and me. So many times in the past I would read Jack’s little school journal, or talk to the teacher when I picked up Jack from school, and that information would never make…