Saturday, June 30, 2012
I hope you all have a fun and safe Independence Day. Remember to be conscientious of those who are on the spectrum. It doesn’t matter whether you are a parent, a sibling, someone witnessing a public meltdown, or even another individual on the spectrum who does not have the same problems. Everyone who has autism is different. Remember the phrase: "when you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism." Everyone on the spectrum has different challenges they all face every day. Let's try to make the world a better place for all of us!
When I was a kid, one of my favorite summer activities was to take the boat out on Loon Lake and cruise around, maybe go fishing or tubing, enjoy the great outdoors. There are many lakes in my hometown, Waterford Michigan, but the lake I went on the most was Loon Lake. My grandparents used to own lakeside property over there, and they had a pontoon boat which we took out many times. Sometimes, we went out on my dad's smaller boat which was better for tubing and traveling through the intersecting canals that lead to nearby lakes.
The only issue I really had with boating had to do with my anxiety. I could not help imagining the worst. What if the boat sank? What if I fell out of the boat, hit my head, and no one noticed? Okay, that seems like an extreme example but when you are in that state of mind, the anxiety is very real. It is also didn't help that I have the imagination of the inspiring fantasy novelist that I am, which made my scenarios sometimes tend on the surreal, at times.
Anxiety is a big problem for many higher functioning individuals who are on the autism spectrum, including myself. What things might your child be anxious about? In my case, I can find something to be anxious about in almost every situation I find myself in. This is something that I am working on and I'm getting better.
Fireworks are a traditional part of Independence Day here in American. Apart from organized events scattered throughout the country, firecrackers, sparklers, and numerous other pyrotechnic goodies are available in retail outlets for anyone to use and enjoy.
I was born and raised in Waterford Michigan. In this area, you cannot go for a mile without coming across a lack. They are the direct result of glaciers that traveled across this area in another time. Due to numerous lakes, there are a series of fireworks events leading up to and following Independence Day. When I was younger, Fireworks really hurt my ears. I had to cover them in order to avoid the pain. When I was about six or seven years old, my mom had me try to fall asleep during a firework show. This was not a pleasant experience.
This was before I knew about autism and sensory processing disorders. My advice to parents is to try to avoid fireworks shows with your autistic children or at least keep a close eye on how they react to the displays that charm so many. If he seems distressed during the show, then it is hurting him. Get him out of there and try to soothe the meltdown.
For whatever reason, my hearing is not as sensitive as it used to be. Fireworks don't bother me the way they did when I was a child. So, try to be conscientious of the sensory difficulties your child might have during a firework display, but other than that, try to enjoy the show!A
Saturday, June 23, 2012
For many kids, summer time means more time to do the things that they love. For high functioning autistic children and teens, this means more time to pursue their obsession. World famous autism advocate Temple Grandin believes that childhood obsessions have a high likelihood of turning into careers. My advice for parents is that if, for example, your high functioning autistic child would rather look at rocks through a magnifying glass than play outside with NT children, don't try to force him to do something he or she does not want to do. Encourage this interest in any way possible. Who knows, he might be a geologist. Just some food for thought.
Summer is in full swing now and the temperatures are rising to eighty, ninety, and even one hundred degrees Fahrenheit. In these warm temperatures, many of us prefer to perform a lot of fun activities outdoors. These warm temperatures also bring a certain danger: dehydration. While having fun outdoors, is very important to drink enough water. Individuals on the spectrum, particularly those who are nonverbal, might not be able to communicate effectively that they are starting to feel bad. My message to parents is to make sure your children are drinking enough water. Most especially, I advise that you observe your autistic children to identify the signs of dehydration or worse issues, if necessary. I hope you all have a fun and safe summer and make sure that you stay safe and drink enough water.
Friday, June 22, 2012
Sunday, June 17, 2012
I just wanted to take a moment to wish all the fathers out there a happy father's day! My dad is not the type of person to sugarcoat what he has to say. He has been called abrupt and isn't bothered by it at all. He is better with cars than I will probably ever be. When I was younger, my dad sacrificed a lot in order to get a college degree so that he could continue to give my brother and me the best life possible. While he is not always the most patient person in the world, he still talks about all the things he should have said to a teacher who gave up on me when I was having my difficulties. Right now, I have an arrangement with him to leave college without any debt, which will give me a huge advantage over other college students who are entering the workforce. This is the best gift I could ever hope to receive as a graduation gift later this year. While he is not perfect, I could not ask for a better dad! Happy father's day to my dad and all the other dads out there!
While there are many difficulties associated with autism, there is one trait that can distinguish many individuals who are on the autism spectrum. We are the ones who can be counted on to tell the absolute truth. It is a trait that is embedded in our nature. This trait can make it difficult to understand irony and sarcasm: although I can understand some instances of sarcasm and use it myself, I can still be thrown off by a sarcastic statement spoken in a normal tone of voice. Anyway, we who are on the spectrum instinctively tell the truth. Honesty is a widely undervalued virtue in today's society. Would you rather have a friend who tells you the absolute truth all the time or one who tells you what they think you want to hear?
Monday, June 11, 2012
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Parents of autistic children know that their children have difficulty coping with change. One aspect of coping with change that I have observed in my own life is something that I will call settling. This is a term I came up with earlier that describes when I begin to accept that a change in my life is inevitable and I start searching for a new routine. This is basically framework that I can begin to find some order in my thoughts and feelings while coping with change. It can be a certain activity I perform at a new position at work in a certain order or it can be a certain place I might place my things while staying in a hotel room. Sometimes, a small change can make me feel lost and uncertain. Settling or finding new routine or familiarity can help me to adjust better, otherwise change is much more difficult to bear and that feeling of uncertainty becomes increasingly agitating. Since I have high functioning autism, it will, of course, be very different for those with different forms of ASD.
Have any of you noticed your child settling after a change? Comment and share your experiences.
Have any of you noticed your child settling after a change? Comment and share your experiences.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Near the end of April, my friend and fellow autism advocate, Dani Bowman, asked me to write a script for a cartoon she was working on. Dani is the CCO of Powerlight Studios, a company that Dani, who is on the autism spectrum, started with the help of her aunt and uncle when she was eleven years old. Now seventeen, Dani is now striving to make a difference in the lives of those impacted by autism spectrum disorders. I am glad to say that everyone who contributed their talents for this cartoon, including myself, have some form of an autism spectrum disorder. The purpose of this cartoon was to try to interest kids in science as well as introducing the guest speakers at the world science fair, which will take place later this month. To view the cartoon, click here.
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Saturday, June 2, 2012
A popular pastime during the summer is to go to the beach, to lie out in the sun, maybe splash around in the water. That is something that is viewed as enjoyable and relaxing by so many, but what do people on the spectrum think about going to the beach? In my case, I don't find going to the beach very enjoyable, not the way I viewed it as a kid. Growing up, I liked to play in the surf and pretend that the soft sand right on the waterline was quicksand, and that my toys were in peril. I also liked to throw piles of mud at toy boats to try to get them to sink.
Now that I'm twenty four, going to the beach is not as enjoyable. The sand is always to hot, the sun is too bright, and I'm not the kind of person who enjoys horsing around in the water. I might play Frisbee-catch with my younger brother or sit on the beach with a book, but nothing more than that. It has probably been a year and a half since I last went to the beach, when I was camping August 2010 with my family.
Of course, others on the spectrum might view the beach experience differently than me. This account is just one of the many accounts made by individuals on the spectrum. What are your thoughts about the beach experience?