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Proprioception and Autism

Jeannie Davide-Rivera aspiewriter.wordpress.com Photo © Lori/Nurse Nerdy on Flickr Creative Commons License [image: person balancing on logs atop water, seen from behind.] So why can I not keep my feet underneath me, or apply the correct amount of pressure when lifting an object? Why do I walk into a room like an elephant in a china shop, or send the milk contain flying across the room when it is too light? In a word — proprioception. What is proprioception? Proprioception refers to one’s own perceptions. It an unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation controlled by nerves within the body. Our proprioceptive system allows us to locate our bodies in space, to be aware of where our arms and legs are in relation to one another, as well as, where they begin and where they end. Proprioception helps us perceive the outside world, telling us whether our bodies are moving…

“Self-Injurious Behaviors” (SIBs): Let’s Discuss

Ariane Zurcher emmashopebook.com I’m continuing to research SIBs, which stands for “self-injurious behaviors.” It’s far too complex a topic to tackle in a quick 800-1000 word post. There are a number of topics it seems important to discuss, which all fall under the heading of “self-injurious behavior.” (Feel free to add more in the comments section, this is definitely a work in progress.) I’ve broken these topics down to include: The language we use to describe such actions. The perception (usually of neurotypical parents, caregivers, doctors, school employees, educators and the general public) of what these actions may or may not mean, this is particularly critical when the person taking such actions is partially speaking or non-speaking. The personal experiences of those who have engaged in such actions that may or may not lead to real injury. The experience of those who want to help and/or are in a position…

Healing

Kate   When I was a fifteen years old, my psychiatrist told me that in ten years’ time, there would be a machine that would scan my brain and tell the doctors exactly what medicine to give me to make me normal, to make me whole. That was thirteen years ago, and though I have not yet heard of any such machine, I’ve realized that I never needed it. What I needed was acceptance. What I needed was love. These are the things that made me realize that I had, in fact, been whole all along. Sometimes, I feel as if my life were a long, cold winter, and that spring took a very long time coming. Like many autistic adults, I did not have an easy time of it growing up. Even in adulthood, I struggled with loneliness, employment, and a host of other issues. Though I was almost…

The Magic of Inclusive Musical Theater

Matt Carey Imagine the most magical theater experience you’ve ever had. Imagine watching a beautiful girl stand up in the audience and start swaying to the music, only to move to the aisles where she pulled other kids out of their seats to dance with her. Imagine kids getting up and moving around. Some banging on empty seats. Some leaving for a while only to be welcomed to come back in when they are ready. Imagine audience members’ lights glowing with the light of some technological device. Only instead of it being someone trying to surreptitiously read his email on a smartphone, it’s a nonverbal kid using an AAC device to type out, “more music, less talking!” Imagine people leaving at the intermission, not because they don’t like the show, but because they loved it and half a show was plenty. Imagine most people staying, even though it was a…

Sensory Issues vs. Behaviors: On the Recent AAP Policy Statement

Brenda Rothman mamabegood.blogspot.com Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement (1) on sensory integration therapies. The AAP recommended that pediatricians should not diagnose sensory processing disorder as a stand-alone diagnosis, but should refer children for an evaluation for other possibilities, like autism, ADHD, motor, or anxiety disorders. AAP also advised pediatricians to inform parents of the limited amount of research for sensory therapy and to help them set up a program to determine its effectiveness. Stating that we should monitor and judge the effectiveness of sensory therapy seems straight-forward and logical. However, the pediatricians’ statements about the policy reveal an underlying problem. Their argument that sensory issues may actually be behavioral is not untenable. But it also has the potential to cause harm. Given the discomfort, the related issues like emotions, relationships, brain science, parenting, and the risks of treating sensory issues as behavioral, we…

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Leo and Autism Acceptance Month

We’re featuring “Slice of Life” conversations with Autistics of all ages — kids through adults — throughout April’s Autism Acceptance Month. Our goal is to help TPGA readers understand that autistic people are people who have interesting, complicated lives and who are as diverse and varied as any other population united by a label. We are the people in each other’s neighborhoods, and the more we know about each other — the more visible autistic people and children are — the more common autism acceptance will be. That is our hope. Today we’re talking with eleven year old Leo, who prefers action to conversation. He answered the first two questions below himself, otherwise the answers are mostly videos, photos, and his mother’s observations, which she hopes are accurate — and which are in italics. Transcription: What is your name? Leo Rosa. How old are you? Eleven years old. He is…

An Autistic’s Advice: Ten Tips for Teachers

Lydia Wayman autisticspeaks.wordpress.com There is so much misinformation and so many misperceptions out there about people with disabilities, and that includes autism. I’ve read some things lately, comments by teachers or people who will teach, that have sent me reeling. In typical Lydia fashion, I will write a Ten Things in an attempt to dispel these myths about people like me. 1. People with disabilities are not always happy, joyful, eternally childlike, or “perfect angels.” People with disabilities are humans. This means that we experience the full range of human emotion, including the uncomfortable ones, such as anger and sadness. Some of us are generally happy, just like some people without disabilities are generally happy, but others of us are confused, angry, hateful, manipulative, and so on. Autistic children display inappropriate and unwanted behavior just like typical children do. 2. Always assume we understand everything you’re saying when we’re in…

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Autism and Holidays: Success Through Meticulous Planning

Shannon Des Roches Rosa www.squidalicious.com As the 2008 holiday season sputtered out and the last relatives left our house, I exhaled, then smiled. I’d really enjoyed all the feasting and fun, from the morning moment the kids’ cousins started frolicking underfoot, until the last precious late-night conversation wound down. But there is no way in hell we can manage another holiday season like that one, because floundering in all the happy happy joy joy was one miserable, disoriented, sleep-disturbed little boy with autism and his equally disoriented parents. Please, learn from our mistakes and successes so that your holiday season can be as enjoyable as ours was but suck less than ours did. Your advocacy skills need to go into overdrive during the holidays. Of course you need to advocate for your child, to ensure they’re accommodated — but you also need to advocate for yourself. Your children are sensitive…

Thanksgiving Table Manners

Hartley Steiner www.hartleysboys.com I hate eating with my kids. Really, I do. Our meal times usually push me to the edge of sanity. And with Thanksgiving just weeks away, I am reminded that I will be eating with my kids in a formal setting with other people. Perhaps the turkey is less nervous than I am. Why? It isn’t for the reasons you may think. I have long ago gotten past the worries about what food my kids will eat, or whether they can stay seated at the table, or their inability to be hungry at meal time, preferring to graze all day. What I haven’t gotten over is their utter lack of table manners. Yes, table manners. I hear you — you think I shouldn’t worry about table manners, that perhaps I have bigger fish to fry. But bad table manners is a pet peeve I just can’t let…

My Child and Me – Keeping Everyone Honest (Or, the Therapists We’ve Fired)

Jennifer Minnelli, M.S., CCC-SLP www.autismsphere.com When your child first gets diagnosed with a developmental disorder, you, as a parent, are in a very vulnerable place. Regardless of your area of professional expertise, it’s almost as if you start over again, as a beginner. A beginner to parenting, and a beginner to this new world of diagnoses, specialists, medications, teacher opinions, and therapists. When we started down the road of diagnosis for my quirky oldest child, I was reluctant. It was hard for me to submit to other peoples’ opinions, when I felt I knew exactly what was going on with her and how it should be treated. Also, I felt, I knew the dark under-belly of the world of allied health professions. Several years out in my career, I had already worked in a variety of settings, from public school to inpatient hospital, and everything in between. I had worked…