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Autism and Coping With Pandemic Stressors: Advice from TPGA Community Members

Photo © Tony Cheng | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Blue medical mask painted with a toothy, red-lipped smile.] Content note: Discussion of self-injury, self-harm, and aggression. —- Of all the varied stress bombs COVID-19 has lobbed at autistic people and their families, one of the more universal is the stress caused by routine disruption, coupled with constant close quarters. Few of us are at our best under such circumstances, so we wanted to share some advice and insights from autistic people and/or parents who are experiencing what you are experiencing about handling some of the tougher aspects, like increased tendencies towards self-injury and aggression. We also want to direct people towards our existing resources: Autistic Insights on Meltdowns, Aggression, and Self-Injury Understanding Autism, Aggression, and Self-Injury: Medical Approaches and Best Support Practices Behaviour Analysis, The Autistic Way  Eleven Ways You Can Make Your Autistic Child’s Life Easier First, we…

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Elizabeth Torres on Autistic Neuromotor Differences: The TPGA Interview

Photo © Shannon Des Roches Rosa [image: two white kids in bathing suits running on a beach towards some waves.] Elizabeth Torres is Director and Principal Investigator at the New Jersey Autism Center of Excellence, and a researcher at Rutgers University, where her lab “develops new methods for precision medicine and mobile health.” We spoke with Dr. Torres about her work on autism’s motor and movement underpinnings, and why research in this area could lead to autistic people getting greatly improved and highly person-specific accommodations and supports, and why autism research is so rarely truly evidence-based. Why is understanding neuromotor-based factors in autism so important? Elizabeth Torres: As you know, autism is currently defined by observation. Think about a continuum from zero to ten, where at zero you have opinion, and at ten you have hardcore rigorous science, mathematically based. And somewhere in between, you have pseudoscience and soft science…

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What Is Light Sensitivity Like for One Autistic?

Photo © Jasper Nance | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Photo of lightning exploding in a purple night sky above silhouetted conifer trees.] M. Kelter theinvisiblestrings.com I’ve had a life-long aversion to lights. I wanted to share what this means in terms of the subjective experience, and how this sensitivity generally seems to operate. The concept of a sensory aversion is probably self-explanatory, but it can include more subtle effects that may not be as apparent. I’ve noticed two primary factors that can cause my eyes to feel pain (no surprises here): brightness levels, and sudden changes in lighting. What are the types of “pain” involved, specifically? This can vary. Certainly an intensely bright light can cause a sharp pain, but that’s probably true for many people. Let’s define “intensely bright” as something akin to a camera flash. That can cause a sharp, stabbing pain, and that pain can persist…

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An (Autistic) Review of Vibes Hi-Fi Earplugs

Vibes Hi-Fi Earplugs. Photo from www.discovervibes.com [image: White earplugs resting in a black box with red sides.] Jeff at Spectrum Disordered www.facebook.com/asdisordered First off, I am quite sensory sensitive/defensive to noise. “Bad” sounds shut me down and hurt, even at low volumes, if it is the wrong type of noise. My existing coping mechanisms have been playing music through in-ear headphones, and foam earplugs. I haven’t tried many stand-alone active noise-canceling products, save for a few hi-fi music headphones with noise cancelling features. In reviewing the Vibes earplugs, I am primarily contrasting them with foam earplugs. Unboxing The Vibes come in an attractive small package, containing items similar to what you would expect from music earbuds: the earplugs themselves, additional small and large fit rubber earbud inserts, and matchbook-sized carrying case. For anyone who has carried foam earbuds in a pocket, the carrying case is a bonus. Though the case is…

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Supposed “High Functioning” Autism, and Maladaptive Behaviors

Kaelynn Partlow Facebook.com/AutisticAngle I’m an adult with supposed “high functioning” autism. I drive my own car, and for the most part, I have many self help skills. There is nothing obviously different about the way I speak. I also work as a therapist, with young autistic children. Due to the nature of my job, I am required to get a tuberculuosis (TB) test every year. The test involves a needle, and I’ve had a severe phobia of needles for as long as I can remember. To be perfectly honest, I’ve always had a general phobia when it comes to medical procedures, even the painless ones. So, when it came time for my yearly test, my supervisor accompanied me to provide extra support. She and I have been close for several years and she has been there to support me in many other ways, even before my employment. In the waiting…

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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…

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…