Saturday, May 26, 2012

Play the Flying Colors

When I was in high school, I played the clarinet in the school marching band.  Every year, we donned our uniforms, memorized a patriotic song, and then marched down the main street in my town. We recognized the freedom we celebrate today is the result of the sacrifices made by so many.  On alternating years, the two high schools in my town swapped cemetery duty, where we played the Star Spangled Banner in the grave yard and one of our trumpet players played taps.  My autism made it easier for me to memorize music than it was for my NT classmates.  All I had to do was to hear the music played about a dozen times, and then it was memorized in my head.  Of course, I tended to play first part rather than second part, even when I was an underclassman, as first part stands out more.  Music is one of my creative ventures that allow me to fully explore my abilities.  That same ability was used to watch memorized movies in my head when I was younger.  Just remember, among all the difficulties that are associated with autism, that autism has pros and cons...Just like everything else.

No Draft for Me

In light of Memorial Day, while casting my mind around to find a topic for this blog post, I find myself thinking about the draft.  In the United States, the draft is something that males have to sign up for when we turn eighteen.  In the event of war, a draft is issued and young men are required to participate in training to serve the United States.  I have a lot of respect for the military, I have family in the military, but I have no intention of joining myself.  Even if there was a draft, I don't think they would want me because I depend on my medicine for coherent thoughts and concentration as well as reducing my anxiety in the evening for sleep.  Also, I don't think any amount of basic training would keep me from succumbing to a sensory overload and freezing in a combat situation.  I have a lot of respect for veterans and I thank all veterans for the sacrifices they have made so that we can all maintain our freedom.

Holiday Sensory Overload

With summer just around the corner and Memorial Day festivities at hand, it is important to remember the sensory issues for those affected by ASD disorders.  Holiday parades can be loud and over stimulating for someone on the autism spectrum to cope with sensory overload.  While it is important to include ASD individuals in holiday fun, it might be a good idea to take the ASD individual somewhere where it is quiet or where they can be alone so they can better manage the multitude of sensations that accompany BBQs or holiday parades.  Beaches and parks can be over stimulating for ASD individuals as well.  Sensory overload could be caused by the most unlikely stimuli.  For example, I stock shelves and fold clothes at a local supermarket.  I have noticed that I feel a little queasy by just looking at a certain bright, black and white striped shirt.  It just hurts my eyes to look at it.  It produces a feeling that I can't quite put into words but I can describe in feelings, such as a queasy feeling in my stomach and my vision kind of swims before my eyes.  One thing is certain; I would never buy that shirt!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Junior Positively Autistic Ryans Spectrum Talk 05/21 by Positively Autistic | Blog Talk Radio

Join me for my next broadcast of Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk.  Joining me on this broadcast is autistic artist, Frank Louis Allen, as he discusses his experiences with autism and art.  Frank faces an enormous barrier that may hinder his ability to continue doing what he loves most.  Tune into the show to find out more.
The show will air at the regular time: 1 pm EST, 10 am PST, and 6 pm UK time.  Tune into what will surely be another great broadcast.

Junior Positively Autistic Ryans Spectrum Talk 05/21 by Positively Autistic | Blog Talk Radio

THE POETS INTEREST WITH MARILYN AND RYAN 05/23 by Positively Autistic | Blog Talk Radio

Check out my next broadcast of "The Poet's Interest: With Marilyn and Ryan."  I am the co-host of this show teaming up with poet Marilyn Francis with me as the host of this weekly online radio program.   We will have two very special guests this broadcast:  Linda Lake, who runs a Breaking Free/Therapeutic Riding Center for those who are disabled; and we are also going to hear from a previous guest on our show, Laura Mae Bates, for an update of the annual Hopalong Cassidy Festival.

Here is a message from Marilyn Francis:

“Join us and learn how Autistic Children respond to the therapeutic ridding program and ask any questions you may have. And of course you can read your poetry and hear some great poets that may stop by.”

The show airs at 6 pm EST, 3 pm PST, and 11 pm UK time.  Stop by and join us for will surely be another great broadcast.

THE POETS INTEREST WITH MARILYN AND RYAN 05/23 by Positively Autistic | Blog Talk Radio

A Year of Reflection

It has been nearly a year since I first started writing The Voice from the Spectrum.  In this blog post, I wanted to take a little bit of time to reflect on what has been an amazing journey that has lead to so many different opportunities for me.  Also, I think it's safe to say that I learned a thing or two about myself writing to raise autism awareness.

Beginning to write about autism awareness through this blog was a big step for me.  It was not without hesitation that I begun to write about my autism to an audience that was undefined.  At that time, I didn't know who would want to read what I had to say.  The nervousness that accompanies anticipation was present: what if no one found what I had to say interesting or helpful?  Such is the nature of new experiences.  I'm glad to say that I could not have been more wrong.

My writing about autism has made a difference.  Regular readers of this blog will surely agree.  I try to make it as personal as possible because that is what I have to share: a first person account of what it is like to live on the autism spectrum.  Sharing my words have lead to an additional blog, OUCARES-Did you Know..., two weekly blog talk radio shows which air online; and a recent speaking engagement at a symposium about autism and employment.

Looking ahead to the future, I know that I would like to write a book about autism; I just don't know what direction I would like to take yet.  In the meantime, I am concentrating my effort on my fantasy series, about a young heroine who has to come to terms with a whole new world and face far greater challenges than she had ever imagined.  I don't want to give away too much here.  All I can really say is progress has been steady.  I will continue to write to raise autism awareness as a blogger and continue with my online radio programs.

In my life, I would like to accomplish two things: first of all, I would like to leave behind a world that is does not necessarily understand autism better but is more accepting of autism.  I would also like to create a truly great piece of fiction that will become my legacy and live on far longer than me.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Junior Positively Autistic Ryans Spectrum Talk 05/14 by Positively Autistic | Blog Talk Radio

Tune into the next broadcast of Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk on Monday, May 14th 2012.  During this broadcast, I will interview Frank Louis Allen, an artist who is on the autism spectrum who is from the UK.  Frank is a very talented artist who has made the most of the creativity associated with his ASD disorder.  This show will air at 1 pm EST, 10 am PST, and 6 pm UK time.  Remember, you can call into the show by dialing (619) 393-2848 or you can call in through Skype to give any feedback you might have or to ask Frank any questions you might have.  Tune into what will surely be another insightful and inspirational broadcast!

Junior Positively Autistic Ryans Spectrum Talk 05/14 by Positively Autistic | Blog Talk Radio

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

I wanted to wish all the mothers out there a happy mother's day.  For autistic children, their mother is often the most important person in their life.  I want all the mom's who read this blog to recognize that you are all appreciated for the hard work and sacrifices you make for your children.  A really special thank you to my mom who has worked hard to help me to overcome many of my past challenges.  Thank you mom!  I would not be the same person without you!

Strong points by Temple Grandin

The increased autism rates announced in early April have stirred the autistic community, prompting a heated debate that searches for the cause of this phenomenon.  Through Facebook, I found an online article written about Temple Grandin's response to this recent event.  Temple is arguably the most recognizable autistic individual on the planet today.  She was concerned about the increase of severely autistic individuals but stressed that autism diagnosis is not very precise.  What really stood out to me in this article is that Temple stated that there are negative reactions to "too much" autism awareness.  She argued that a childhood obsession held by children on the spectrum could be very useful later in life when it comes time to find a job. If autistic children face too much autism awareness exposure, then their interest could be directed towards the autism itself.  Temple argues that she would rather have the kids "fixate" on something that could be useful as a career later in life.  I have to admit that I never thought of that before and will strive harder to balance my writing projects between my fiction and writing to raise autism awareness.  To read the article referenced in this blog post, click here.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

"Is autism just another Identity" Response

Recently, someone shared an article, written by Sandy Starr, about the autism spectrum that touches on a controversial aspect of autism: is an ASD diagnosis a disorder or strength?  After reading some of this thought provoking article, I have to admit that I felt threatened by some of the ideas in there.  Most of all, I felt threatened that the author, who was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, still thought of autism as a disorder and questioned the validity of his own autism diagnosis.  After taking some time to reflect on the words, I was able to overcome the emotional defensive response and look at the content more objectively.

Perhaps my initial response in is light of the time and effort I have put forth in the past year to raise autism awareness by sharing my own story.  That decision alone to come out and share my autistic journey is motivated, on my part, by two reasons:  first of all, I want to help others to understand autism, something that had been suggested to me repeatedly ever since I first started writing at age sixteen; secondly, I hope by raising autism awareness, I would initiate my own presence as a writer and begin to build a writing platform that I could use to launch my published fiction and nonfiction work in the future.  By raising autism awareness, I am finding that I am rather possessive of my autism diagnosis.  I have come to view autism as a large part of my identity.

Looking at the article more objectively, I was able to identify something that I had been semi-consciously aware: that I have all but completed a shift in the way I view my ASD diagnosis: previously, when I had less understanding of autism, I was more prone to view autism as a disorder.  That was perhaps the result of my low self esteem when I entered my teenage years or the fact that I had so many difficulties growing up and I needed to blame it on something other than myself.  After sixth and seventh grade, I was more than ready to accept that my behavior was not entirely my own fault.  Although I still needed time to recover and grow further.  Most recently, ever since I have started to raise autism awareness through blogging and eventually Blog Talk Radio, I have come to view autism as an identity rather than a disorder.  This explains why I was threatened by the writer of this article, who stated otherwise.  

Another practical example of this shift lies in the way I treated my ASD disorder when I was in high school.  After coming out of my difficult middle school years, I had many friends that, for the first time in my life, praised me and accepted me for who I was.  They had no idea of the difficulties that I had dealt with during the previous years.  Therefore, I found myself in the position where I could hide my autism from my classmates for two reasons: the first reason is that my PDD-NOS diagnosis is a very high functioning form of autism to begin with; and two, I am such a quiet person that it was really no problem for me to conceal my black and white perspective and my social anxiety, for the most part.  The fact of the matter was I still viewed my autism as a disorder at that time which was not helped by my own lack of understanding of the autism spectrum at that time.  I was being accepted by my classmates for who I was and had no desire to reveal my ASD disorder condition to them, out of fear of rejection.  I don't know for sure whether I would have been rejected.  I am certainly receiving a lot of support from those friends and a few new friends as well in light of my efforts to raise autism awareness.

To read the article discussed in this blog post, click here.

Useful Autism Resource

Attention parents of autistic children!  Here is a great resource that was recently brought to my attention: The Dan Marino Foundation.  Located in Ft. Lauderdale Florida, the Dan Marino Foundation has provided support programs to improve the lives of ASD individuals for the past twenty years.  Among the services provided is the "Vocational Campus," which is designed specifically to help ASD individuals develop the job skills desperately needed to compete in today's workforce.

For more information, click here.

Junior Positively Autistic Ryans Spectrum Talk 05/07 by Positively Autistic | Blog Talk Radio

Tune into my next broadcast of Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk on Blog Talk Radio.  This broadcast will air at 1 pm EST, 10 am PST, and 6 pm UK time.  During this broadcast, I will continue striving to raise positive autism awareness.  

We also might hear from Colin Brennan, a nine year old singer who is on the autism spectrum, as he talks about a recent accomplishment.  Just this past weekend, Colin won a singing competition in Toronto, Ontario.  It will surely be a very exciting show!

You can participate in the action too!  Just dial (619) 393-2848 to call into the show or you can also call in through Skype!  Make sure to tune into what will surely be another outstanding broadcast!

Always remember that under the right conditions with the aid of a strong support group, individuals on the autism spectrum can literally change the world.

Junior Positively Autistic Ryans Spectrum Talk 05/07 by Positively Autistic | Blog Talk Radio