On Autism and Self-Compassion

Kristin Neff  Ph. D. www.self-compassion.org www.horseboymovie.com My field of study is self-compassion, it’s what I do all my research on, and I’m writing a book. One of the things that this practice has given me is that I’m really okay with being my honest, authentic self. It’s not that I like people judging me. It was kind of hurtful, some people really went after us because of the [Horse Boy] movie, they said that we made it all up, that we’re in it for the money, and people who didn’t know me were making all these assumptions about my character. It was really strange; I never thought I’d be in that position. But in terms of the stuff that is true about me, I’m really okay with it. I’m also okay with admitting my flaws and my shortcomings, and that it’s okay to be imperfect. In my book [on self-compassion],…

What to Ask of an Occupational Therapist

Barbara H. Boucher, OT, PhD, PT www.therextras.com My identity as an OT runs as deep as my sense of being an adult. I begin on a personal note because if you have trouble discerning a person’s face or need concrete affirmation of my being you might imagine me to have three heads: As a naive undergraduate I learned at the feet of Jean Ayers’ generation of occupational therapists. For reasons that are most easily characterized as my professional “developmental” trajectory, I became a physical therapist, also. A complete psychological profile of me might read that I received a great deal of reinforcement in an academic setting. From my Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Human Development and Family Sciences I claim the title of Child Development Specialist. If the words “occupational therapy” (OT) are new to you and accompanied your child’s diagnosis, you are not alone in struggling to understand what…

Autism: Feeding Issues and Picky Eaters

Judy McCrary Koeppen www.septar.org www.sagetherapy.com www.sagetherapy.blogspot.com Autistic children are often very picky eaters, or have eating issues. Having your child refuse to eat any foods that are not white and soft in consistency can be maddening, but as a speech therapist and parent I’ve found it most helpful to have a clear understanding of why a child self-limits their diet. Eating is a multi-sensory experience. Each mouthful brings the possibility of a variety of flavors, textures and temperatures. A feeding specialist would break this down further, identifying “Flavors” including sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter and neutral; “Textures” including crunchy, chewy, soft, mixed, puree, thick liquids, and thin liquids; and “Temperatures” including cold, room temperature, warm, and hot. In addition, we experience food odors, and often the way they feel in our hands. Many children who are picky or problem eaters may have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). In her book The…

Supporting and Promoting The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism

Some of you have asked how you can help us promote The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. Here are three simple actions: Follow our Twitter stream at @thinkingautism and retweet our posts. We publish a new essay every weekday, between midnight and 3 AM PST. Join the conversation: comment on our posts! We’ve had some great discussions, and look forward to more. Visit our Facebook page. You can also install “like” code for our Facebook page on your blog, as we have in this blog’s right-hand sidebar.  Email us and we’ll send you the code. Thanks so much, Shannon, Liz, Jen, & Emily Editors, The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism

Choosing a School for Children on the Autism Spectrum

Kristina Chew autism.typepad.com My son Charlie has been in both public and private placements. He is 13 years old now; he started attending school — a special education preschool classroom in the St. Paul Public School District — when he was just around 2 years old. Looking back, he’s been through most every kind of placement, from special education classrooms located in a public elementary or middle school, to a small private school only for autistic children, to a large public center for some 200 children with autism and other disabilities. Again and again, we have found ourselves looking for a school for Charlie. Too often, we have thought we have found “it” — a school, a school district where the right program and supports and staff seem to be in place, and then things started to seem not so good, and then to fall apart. At no point have…

The One-Two Punch of Autism: The Case for Insuring Our Kids’ Future

Liane Kupferberg Carter http://www.huffingtonpost.com/liane-kupferberg-carter Though this essay references legislation and congressional matters specific to New York State, the entire autism community could benefit from improved insurance coverage. -Eds “Your child has autism.” It’s a devastating diagnosis for a parent to hear. But it’s a one-two punch when your insurance company then refuses to cover the critical, medically necessary therapies your child desperately needs. When our then-2-year-old son was diagnosed with a developmental disability 16 years ago, a team of medical experts prescribed a rigorous program of therapies. However, state-funded early intervention services were only able to offer us an hour and a half a week of speech therapy — for a child who wasn’t talking. We found private therapists to work with our child. But when we tried to file an insurance claim, the insurance company turned us down flat. “We don’t cover educational treatment,” they told us. We appealed.…

Autism and Biomed Protocols: A Primer on Pseudoscience

Emily Willingham and Kim Wombles Emily’s family has kept their biomed treatment — or any treatment excepting occupational and behavioral therapies — to a minimum, primarily because of some inherent skepticism. Their current biomedical interventions are limited to fish oil, probiotics, and some vitamins.  The Wombles brood has generally taken a similar approach, although they spent four years gluten and dairy free (with Kim worried she was getting ALS every time she ate her own GFCF baking! Cough cough — dry stuff) before admitting that it made no difference for them whatsoever, except that there were five much happier people once they went off the diet. Many autism parents investigate biomedical or “biomed” approaches as a way to ameliorate negative manifestations of their child’s autism. These parents can also find themselves overwhelmed by biomedical protocol possibilities. Sorting through these protocols can be a daunting task, which is, of course, one…

So What’s the Fascination With Autism and Sex?

Lindsey Nebeker nakedbrainink.com A slight uncomfortable laughter was shared among the crowd of mothers sitting in a circle as one mother said quietly, “I’m really trying to avoid bringing up the topic of sex to my son. I hope that day doesn’t come up soon.” This was during a recent speaking engagement I gave to a parent support group. I arranged for all of us to sit around in a circle since the group was small enough to pull that off. I often find that with circle-style seating, the conversation becomes more open-ended, and I hear more from my audience. And the conversation can get very interesting — such as when it turns into a conversation about autism and sex. I was tempted to chuckle at the level of discomfort these mothers had in linking the words “autism” and “sex,” but kept to myself and gave a quiet smile. I…

The Eyes of Autism

Brenda Rothman mamabegood.blogspot.com It was a coolish summer day, no humidity, a perfect day on the porch. We have an old-fashioned front porch, meant for eating, for socializing, for calling out over the railings to neighbors and friends. A large, narrow-planked porch with columns, rockers, sofas, ceiling fans, and lemonade. We dragged the sand box, literally a box filled with sand, to the middle of the porch. I lugged buckets of water from the kitchen and kaplooshed the water into the water table. I fetched a spoon and a tin of baking powder and Jack was set. Jack: Then a little salt and a little more sand and stir, stir, stir. I could watch him do this all day. When he was three and the other three-year-olds at preschool were doing this, Jack wasn’t. He wasn’t talking, he wasn’t interacting, he wasn’t playing. And he was worried. More worried than…

Rotten Food, Lousy Service: Dodge the Restaurant Mentality to Get Your Kids the Services They Need

Carol Ann Greenburg Brooklyn Special Needs Consulting, www.bklynsnc.com Sometimes I feel like getting services for my autistic son is like trying to dine at the world’s worst restaurant. You can’t afford the best eatery in the city, who could? You’re still really hungry so you walk into some local dive and the wait staff, whose entire job it is to feed you, is standing around staring blankly at the many obvious health-code violations. They’re clearly offended by the interruption when you ask for a menu. You’re the one who is hungry after all, why can’t you come in knowing what you plan to eat? Finally someone ambles over with a menu, drops it on your table like they’re doing you a favor, and you realize there’s nothing even remotely edible on it. Specials, Substitutions? Forget about it! After you wait an unholy amount of time, someone brings you the wrong…