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Eliminating Restraints and Seclusion Improves Outcomes for Injuries/Trauma, Expenditures, and Student Goal Mastery

Photo: Nancy Marie Davis | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: sepia-tone print of a clenched fist, with superimposed scratched lines.] Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com A little over two years ago, Crystal Garrett wrote an article for Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism about the long-term traumatic effects on her Autistic son of the restraints and seclusion used against him at school. Garrett chose to end her career as a journalist to stay at home and school Zachary herself. Garrett wrote, “We know a restraint and seclusion free environment is realistic. Virginia-based Grafton Integrated Health Network, an organization that works with children and adults with autism and co-occurring psychiatric diagnoses, went restraint and seclusion free ten years ago. Since then, their client and staff injury rate has dramatically gone down, while employee satisfaction has increased. They are now teaching their system, Ukeru, to others across the country, in order to create a trauma-informed…

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Neurodiverse-Friendly Workplaces in Your Community: A Symposium Report

Photo courtesy Max Sparrow [image: Symposium organizers and presenters stand in front of the Dirt Coffee Truck while the Dirt workers smile from the left window of the truck. From left to right, the people pictured are: Dr. Elaine Meyer, Bill Morris, Lauren Burgess, Kris Harrington, Drew Webster, Dr. Stephen Shore, Dr. Kristie Koenig, Thomas Koenig, David Finch, Becca Lory Hector, Philip Tedeschi, Antonio Hector, Erica Elvove.] Maxfield Sparrow UnstrangeMind.com I am sitting in Dirt Coffee in Littleton, Colorado. Ryan, an outgoing young woman with enormous blue eyes, has served me a massive Americano to which I’ve added tons of cream. “Do you know about our mission?” she asks me. I do know the mission of Dirt Coffee, but I let her tell me anyway because I want the joy of hearing the words again.  I discovered Dirt Coffee earlier today when I attended a symposium at the University of Denver’s…

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I Might Be You / Neurodiversity: A Review of Two Books

[image: Cover of the book “I Might Be You,” showing two seating white women facing and engaging with each other.] Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com I Might Be You: An Exploration of Autism and Connection (2012) By Barb Rentenbach and Lois Prislovsky; Audio version (2013) read by Lois Prislovsky PhD and Ariane Zurcher Neurodiversity: A Humorous and Practical Guide to Living with ADHD, Anxiety, Autism, Dyslexia, The Gays, and Everyone Else (2016) By Barb Rentenbach and Lois Prislovsky; Audio version (2016) read by Chad Dougatz, Lois Prislovsky PhD, Carol Riggs Holloway, John Bond, and Jery Yarber I read “I Might Be You” in 2014 and loved it, but never thought to review it back then. When I discovered that Barb Rentenbach and Lois Prislovsky had a second book out, I got it in an Audible version and, on a whim, decided to get the Audible version of “I Might Be You” as well, and…

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Are Co-occurring Conditions Part of Autism?

Photo © NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Photo of two neutron stars ripping each other apart.] Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com Sometimes when I’m talking with someone about autism it feels like we’re talking about two different things. For example, I’ve had countless conversations that go something like this: “You’re nothing like my child. My child has the serious kind of autism,” they might open with.  “Autism is serious stuff,” I respond. “It’s important to take it seriously.”  “No, I mean my child has the autism with digestive stuff and physical involvement. The severe autism.”  “I have intermittent gastroparesis that has sent me to the hospital multiple times. I have a connective tissue disorder that has caused pelvic organ prolapse. These things aren’t autism.” And it’s the truth: the co-occurring conditions we cope with are not autism; they are the “genetic hitchhikers” that love to travel…

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The Protective Gift of Meltdowns

Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com Photo © 2017, Maxfield Sparrow [image description: a turtle in the middle of the road on a hot, sunny day. His skin is dark with bright yellow stripes and his shell is ornate, covered with swirls of dark brown against a honey-yellow background. The turtle is rushing to get across the street and his back leg is extended from the speed and force of his dash toward freedom.] I hate meltdowns. I hate the way they take over my entire body. I hate the sick way I feel during a meltdown and I hate the long recovery time—sometimes minutes, but just as often entire days—afterward, when everything is too intense, and I am overwhelmed and exhausted and have to put my life on hold while I recover. I hate the embarrassment that comes from a meltdown in front of others. I hate the fear that bubbles up…

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Autism and Addiction: A Problem with Deep Roots

Photo © Taston | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: A white person’s hand reaching for a blister pack of red & blue pills] Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com Autistic people stereotypically don’t drink alcohol, or take drugs. We love clear boundaries and rules, so we don’t do anything illegal. We’re generally less susceptible to peer pressure. And everyone knows drinking is a social activity, so obviously autistic people wouldn’t even drink, let alone become alcoholics. Right? Wrong. Not only do some autistics drink and/or use drugs, but we risk addiction as well. The roots of autistic people’s addiction can go all the way back to childhood, so it’s very important to think about how we are raising autistic children today—if we want to help them avoid the pitfalls of addiction in the future. Why Do Autistics Drink and/or Use Drugs? This question is easy to answer. Ask any autistic person—even those who…

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When Autistic People Have Epilepsy

Photo © Ivo Dimitrov | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Illustration of a human brain, in profile, made of colorful cogs in various sizes and shapes.] Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com [Content note: This post discusses suicidality, mental health, and death.] In the early 1990s, I was engaged to a man with epilepsy. He had tonic-clonic seizures and he was a big guy, so I was always alert to the possibility of an episode. I knew there were stores we couldn’t shop in, and roads I couldn’t drive down. I caught his body and lowered him safely to the ground more times than I can remember. I guarded him from the pressing crowd of curious onlookers when he came around after a public seizure. And I worried, feeling helpless, when his medication levels were off, and he had seizure after seizure. I can’t know what it is like to have epilepsy or…