samdov-4987073

The Best Bar Mitzvah Boy

Todd Drezner www.lovinglamppostsmovie.com Dov and Sam | Photo © Brad Alpernin [image: Two white Jewish pre-teen boys, wearing suit jackets and ties at their Bar Mitzvah service, posing together and smiling for the camera.]   We told our son Sam that there is no applause at Bar Mitzvah services. But when he finished his speech, a wave of clapping and cheering burst forth from the crowd—a genuine display of emotion that no religious custom could have stopped. There was a lot of feeling behind that applause. Love, certainly. Appreciation of a job well done. But also amazement. It’s probably safe to say that not everyone in attendance had expected to see what they’d just seen. And here is where the story gets interesting. But first some background. A Jewish boy becomes a Bar Mitzvah when he turns 13 (a Jewish girl becomes a Bat Mitzvah). Traditionally, the Bar Mitzvah leads…

27553463376_e332741d3d-5083594

Hard Truths: Disability and Poverty Go Hand in Hand

Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com Photo © *Hajee | Flickr/Creative Commons [image: Person with black hair and a blue coat. They are holding a hand-lettered cardboard sign over their face. Sign reads, “VERY HUNGRY PLEASE HELP!”] I am not the only Disabled person economically struggling, as disability and poverty go hand in hand. Why is that? The answer is complex, since disability leads to poverty and poverty leads to disability. It’s a vicious cycle and sometimes a downward spiral, leading people to lead lives perpetually circling the drain, always on the edge of annihilation. Let me see if I can untangle some of it for you. “You’re dooming yourself to a hand-to-mouth existence.” That’s what my parents told me when I dropped out of high school. And they were right. Well, they were half-right, anyway. I have spent the last three decades living hand to mouth, but it is not a fate…

4681249016_a391b76c4e_o-5732122

Executive Functioning Problems: A Frustrating Aspect of Being Autistic

Finn Gardiner expectedly.org Photo © Joseph Novak | Flickr/Creative Commons [image: A Black office worker sitting in a chair in a cubicle, surrounded by messy piles of newspaper and other papers.] I don’t actually like messes. It’s just that my executive functioning problems cause me to generate them to my own—and others’—consternation.  I consider my executive functioning difficulties one of the most disabling aspects of my being autistic. These struggles manifest themselves in a number of different ways, all of which are extremely frustrating. I’ve struggled with executive functioning since childhood, but I didn’t have the words to describe my experiences with it until I was an adult in my mid-twenties. I have the hardest time with daily life tasks. For example, cleaning my room without direction or prompting is really difficult. It’s hard to turn the whole into parts, and once I’ve taken care of one part, I run…

“Dina” Presents an Honest Take on Autistic Love

Sarah Pripas @SPripasKapit Non-autistic people are fascinated by autistic people’s relationships—romantic relationships especially. As an autistic woman who has been in a relationship with an autistic man for eleven years (six of these as a legally married couple), I know too well that autistic relationships are oftentimes perceived by non-autistics as inspirational at best, and freakish at worst. So it was with no small amount of trepidation that I began watching Dina, a documentary film about autistic couple Dina Bruno and Scott Levin, which opens October 6th. Yet despite my reservations, Dina turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable take on autistic love. The movie’s opening seemed to confirm my worst fears. The film deliberately takes a minimalist approach as it follows Dina going about her life in Philadelphia. I couldn’t help but think to myself: Does the world really need this? I suppose some non-autistic people might be fascinated by…

33292438450_0eb8838e3c-6039294

Helping Autistic Children Understand Death and Dying

Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com Photo © Benedic Belen | Flickr/Creative Commons [Image: Black-and-white photo of an Asian woman comforting a small crying child who is wearing a tiara, and has their hands over their face.] The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism asked Autistic adults to fill out a survey about death and dying to create a resource for people who need to explain death to Autistic children. The response was tremendous—in less than a week the survey had 50 responses, mostly from Autistic adults. What follows is a summary and analysis of the responses. We hope it is useful to you, your child, your family, your clients, and your students. Please note that some of the responses discuss difficult material, including suicide, and suicidal ideation/threats. Bullet Point Summary Autistic adults were surveyed about death and dying. Most learned about death through observation of people, animals, and plants. Learning about death was…