Friday, December 27, 2013

My Autistic Journey: Part II

Here is some info about me:

  • I was born April 28th 1988.
  • When I was two years old, my language skills degraded.
  • When I was three, I regained my ability to speak.
  • When I was nine, I was highly impulsive and destroyed another student's textbooks in Catechism class. Earlier that same day I was disciplined at school for throwing snow at another student.
  • When I was eleven, I received detention for not keeping up and had a teacher tell me "see, you know what you need to do, why don't you just do it?" I didn't have an answer I could give.
  • When I was twelve, I was taken out of school and hospitalized for four weeks while I was diagnosed with atypical autism and treated for depression.  During the following months, I received an "F" in an elective computer class.  It was the last time I ever failed a class.
  • When I was thirteen, I was enrolled in all special education classes and had begun to slowly regain my self esteem.
  • When I was fourteen, I made the honor role for the first time.
  • When I was fifteen, I attended my first school honor ceremony.
  • When I was sixteen I had begun to mainstream into regular education science and social studies classes and was still ranked in the top 10 % of my graduating class.
  • When I was seventeen, I was inducted into the National Honor Society.
  • When I was eighteen, I graduated from high school with a 3.85 GPA.
  • When I was nineteen, I received my first "B" in a college class after attending community college for a year.
  • When I was twenty two, I wrote for The Oakland Press as a reporting intern while taking four college classes and working another job.
  • When I was twenty three, I began to write this blog The Voice from the Spectrum, which has received more than 25,000 pageviews to date.
  • When I was twenty four, I graduated from college with a 3.35 GPA as a member of Alpha Mu Alpha marketing honor society which required a recommendation from a professor.

  • Today, I received this in the mail:

Thursday, December 26, 2013

You Think You Know Autism...

People tell me all the time that I don't seem like I'm autistic.  If you are a relatively successful adult who is on the spectrum, I am certain you hear it too.  Why do you think people say that in response to us "coming out?"

Here is what I think:

  • It's because they think they understand autism and I simply don't fall into that category.  
  • It's because small talk cannot relate what autism really is.  Only deep intensive discussions can do that.
  • It's because the face I and so many others present to the face to the world are individual faces of autism and no two of us are alike.
  • And it's because autism has been treated as a disease to be cured instead of what it really is.

The world as we know it has changed a lot in the past one hundred years.  There have been many revolutions driven by business that have changed the world completely.  We have walked on the moon.  You are reading these words right now and you have likely never met me and likely never will.  The industrial age works as a system.  Children are sent to school at a certain age, expected to assimilate certain knowledge at certain times at the same frequency as their peers.  After school is finished, these adults who were once children work for the next 50 years of their lives.  Then, they retire and stay retired the rest of their lives.  This way have life has reshaped the entire world in one hundred years.  Everything has become systematic according to this industrial world.  Education.  Medicine.  Art.  The industrial society has worked hard for the past one hundred years to convince everyone that this is the single best way to live.  A small handful of generations.  When you think about it, one hundred years is really not the long when you consider how long mankind has walked the earth.

Autism is different.  It makes the industrial world feel uncomfortable.  Autism cannot be compared to the standard of what people are expected to know at a certain age.  So the industrial world cannot rely on autism the same way as other people who are trained to become workers since first entering school. So industry assumes that those with autism are less capable.  Then those on the spectrum show that they are indeed capable, producing great works of art, proving extraordinary capability in many different areas of interest.  This makes the industrial world even more uncomfortable.  Autism is something strange, new.  The industrial society is afraid with no clear answer in sight according to their system.  And this takes us to the present day.

Let me reiterate what I am today.  Today, I am a college graduate, a musician, a writer, a podcast host, a friend, an uncle, a son, a brother, an idealist, a dreamer, a visionary, and autistic.  This is the current end result of my autistic journey which is still in progress.  Many successful stories told by those on the autism spectrum are very similar to mine.  Why then is autism still treated like a disease to be cured?  Should we not be patient with all members of the spectrum and try to nurture the strong gifts that can be found in all members of the spectrum?

Here is a fact about ASD.  All cases of autism are like icebergs.  Most of the activity is taking place below outside perception.  Even a kid who is screaming, a kicking, and biting themselves can tell a story, not in the conventional way, but in the autistic way, if minds are opened and this "self destructive" child is viewed in a new way.

That new way is not easy to see.  The industrial world has standardized everything to be based around profit generation, including the distribution of information.  This reminds me of a simple principal of the news industry:

Bad news sells better than good news.  

The public has proven that there is a greater response to negative news than positive news.  So the news industry has been based around the premise that if a worker in the news business has to choose between showing bad news and good news on the evening news than bad news takes priority.  Bad news is better for business.  Bad news makes more money.  So when information is presented to the public about autism it is more likely bad news than good news.  Unfortunately, bad news has also skewed how autism is viewed by the general public and by decision makers who have the power to make a difference.

Autism Speaks is the largest organization in the United States that is based around autism.  They have been under a lot of fire since John Elder Robison, who is on the autism spectrum, resigned from their science board.  His accounts can be found on his blog.   Now that Robison has left Autism Speaks, general outcry has stated that there is little to no representation by members who are on the spectrum.  There are Facebook movements striving to remove the support of sponsors from Autism Speaks.  There are also many who state that Autism Speaks has mishandled funds.

The fact of the matter is that Autism Speaks operates under the principles developed by the industrial world.  These principles have led to their use of sponsors, their hierarchical structure, and nearly every action, every decision they have made.

I think that the single mistake Autism Speaks has made is that they look at autism with the same eyes used by the industrial world when those on the spectrum do not fit into that system.  A possible solution?  Toss aside the system and start fresh.  The system has already proven to not work for those on the spectrum from education to employment.

Viewing autism through the eyes of industry also accounts for the information they report about autism on their website.  Robison stated that the trigger of his resignation was an article written by Suzanne Wright displaying the worst of what autism has to offer.  This is because Wright was using the news principle of the industrial world: bad news sells better than good news.  As a result, many on the spectrum have stated that they find the article offensive.  This is because, like I stated earlier, the system developed by the industrial does not work for those on the spectrum.  The system depends on traits common among the majority of people in order to function.  The simple fact is that autism is not the majority.  The sooner that autism speaks realizes this, the sooner that they will be able to really make a difference.

My point is that everything we think we know about autism, the actions of Autism Speaks, the computer you're using now and the fact that you can even read has been determined by the industrial society that has shaped life for the past one hundred years.  The same industrial society that fears autism because those on the spectrum do not fit into their system.  Like I said earlier, one hundred years is not the long.  Is there a better way?  Is it now time to change the way we live our lives not according to the industrial way but an entirely new way? Comment below with your thoughts.

Great Minds DO NOT Think Alike

It is my viewpoint as an individual on the spectrum that those with autism are beginning to change how Western Society views talent.  Too often, people mistake presentation of talent for the talent itself.  By that, I mean that those who are extroverted are seen as more valuable than those who are introverted or those who are autistic.  Companies require team building activities and colleges require group work under the premise that groups can produce better ideas than individuals working alone.  Those on the autism spectrum are proving this premise wrong by producing excellent creative work without the social skills used during group activities.

I'm not saying I'm against group work.  A few weeks ago, I joined the marketing committee for the community band I play in.  This has worked out very well, a lot better than I thought it would.  The reason for that is that I am able to work within the realm of my strengths rather than being forced to rely on my weaknesses.  The person I have worked with mostly on this project is outgoing and action orientated.  This person's approach complements well with my introverted, idea orientated mindset.  This person told me that the ideas I come up with really gets her thinking when I present ideas in an environment I am comfortable in.  Working together, we have accomplished a lot more than we would have if either one of us would have done if we had been forced to rely on our weaknesses rather than our strengths.

Forcing those into group work who would rather work quietly is counterproductive to success.  Today's job market in America favors the assertive when in fact there are talented, capable individuals being overlooked simply because they are quieter.  Both sets of people have their place.  Those who are quieter work better in support roles alongside their outgoing counterparts, reigning them in when necessary.  Those on the autism spectrum fall into both categories, many high functioning individuals are outgoing and many are quieter.  The main idea is that people on the autism spectrum and those who are neurotypical, those who are introverted and those who are extroverted all work best when they can utilize their strengths instead of being forced to rely on their weaknesses.

Just something to think about.

Friday, December 13, 2013

My Take on Susan Boyle's Announcement

An autism diagnosis is not the end of the world but the beginning of a whole new world filled with wonder and delight.  Many on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum, such as Susan Boyle, lived their lives thinking that something was wrong with them.

I speak from experience when I say that those who grow up thinking differently than most others can discount their inner voices and pursue the expectations of others.  By recently finding out that she was on the autism spectrum, Susan Boyle may have finally found peace with being different.

Susan Boyle announced earlier this week that she was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, a form of high functioning autism.  A few years ago, Boyle received world-wide attention for her singing talent.  In an article on the Daily News website, the 52 year old singer also revealed that she was misdiagnosed as a child.  Boyle is beginning to expand other talents as well with the announcement of her film debut in "The Christmas Candle."

Friday, November 29, 2013

4 Paws for DJ

Here is a message from friend in need (the following was taken from the 4 Paws for DJ Facebook Account):

"Here is our story, also I am a single mom who has a lot of health problems, lupus, arthritis, herniated discs in my back, and more. A service dog will help me also by helping my son! I will have the security of him not running off in public, be alerted for seizures and disrupt the self hurting behaviors that he does without it resulting in an argument with me! 
My family is raising money for 4 Paws for ability in order for my son DJ to receive an autism/seizure service dog. We need 13,000 points to qualify for my son’s service dog; each dollar donated equals one point.
My son has autism, sensory processing disorder, adhd, fine and gross motor delay, epilepsy, selective mustism, anxiety, speech delays, and some health problems. He is 7 years old and home schooled through a cyber-academy because he cannot handle being at school or anywhere where there are groups of children. A service dog will greatly improve his quality of life by providing love, behavior disruption (he pulls out his hair, bangs his head, bites his nails till they bleed), detect seizures, and he will be tethered to the dog while out in public because DJ is also a runner/wanderer when we are out in public.
It will cost 4 Paws $22,000 or more to raise and train a service dog for my son. The money we raise will go to 4 Paws for ability directly to help them help other families like us receive a service dog. Because of this we will not have a waiting list or have to pay to receive my son’s service dog. 4 Paws for abilities is a wonderful organization that helps many families, we are very excited to raise money so they can continue their amazing work in the community.
Any donations made should be made directly to, 4 Paws for ability 253 Dayton ave. Xenia OH 45385
Please make checks out to 4 Paws for ability and please make sure to write on your check memo line – In honor of Dennis Bowman- so that we receive the points from your donation. ALL donations made are tax deductible as 4 Paws for abilities is a nonprofit 501c3 organization. Any services or products donated for an event is also tax deductible!
Please make sure to fill out the enclosed donation sheet.
Thank you for your time and support"

To donate, visit the 4 Paws for DJ Facebook page or email DJ's mother directly:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Animator with Autism Recognized for Achievements

A good friend of mine was recently recognized for her great accomplishments as an individual on the autism spectrum.  Dani Bowman was recently awarded the "Hero Goody Necklace" for teaching animation to over 250 children with autism.   Dani was also awarded the Next Level Artist award and the Temple Grandin Award.   All these awards were given during the Exceptional Ability Awards in Los Angeles.  A short animation film created by Dani also received some well deserved recognition at Comic-Con 2013.  "How Hannah Lost Her Smile," premiered for the Comic-Con audience.  Great job Dani!

For more information, click here:

Visit Dani's website:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Decline in Infant Eye Contact Could Predict Autism

Studies have revealed that autism can be detected as early as six months through use of special equipment.  This is done through observing a decline of eye contact between 6 and 24 months, which would indicate autism.  The quicker the decline of eye contact, the more severe the diagnosis in autism.  Experts state that such observations cannot be observed by the naked eye to to the precision of eye  movement necessary to make an accurate diagnosis.

For more information, click here:

Monday, November 4, 2013

SENSE Program Uses Theatre to Help Kids with Autism

Those on the autism spectrum are often valued for the high level of creativity that we have to offer to the world around us.  Therefore, I think it is rational to assume that the use of creativity can help solve many behavioral issues that may arise.    Joey Travolta's Inclusion Film Camp is a great example of this.  Also, it has been proven that involvement in another creative pursuit, theatre, can help those on the autism spectrum to improve their behavior.

In the source article I used to derive this blog post, it was stated that those on the autism spectrum were paired with NT peers.  All participants were between the ages 8 and 17.  The camp, called SENSE, taught social skills while working toward the end result of a theatre performance.  

The only part of this article I disagree with is the way the title was used.  I feel that the writer implied that theatre is a one-size-fits-all solution.  Autism doesn't work in that way.  It's the creativity aspect of these programs which determines their success.  Whether it's theatre, or Film Camps, or even surfing.  Based on my experience as an individual on the autism spectrum and through all the people I have met by advocating for autism, I feel that creativity is the driving factor that enables those on the spectrum to display talents and abilities that were previously unobserved.

To read about the SENSE program, click here:

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Thinking in Pictures on the Job

Temple Grandin wrote about the concept of "thinking with pictures" in her book with the same title. Even though that thinking in pictures was something I had done plenty of times before, it was not something that I had really thought about that much before reading Grandin's book about three years ago.

Earlier at work today, I consciously realized that I was thinking in pictures as I was trying to explain something to my manager earlier.  I could perfectly picture the problem in my head but I was having difficulty translating that problem into words.  I thought to myself: if she could just see this picture in my head then there would be no problem.  But she couldn't see it and there was no way that she was going to see it.  I eventually was able to get enough words out to explain the situation so that my boss followed me to see for herself.

Trying to explain something when you are thinking in pictures is like trying to force a rock through a sand strainer.  By bashing the rock, bits and pieces trickle through until the rock is entirely through, but not at all in the same condition it was before.  That's what I experience trying to explain something to another person when I am thinking in pictures.  It's difficult and the other person never knows exactly why I am struggling with words.  I have to resist the temptation to say "just look at it and you'll understand," because the other person will never quite see the picture that I can see quite clearly in my head.

If you Missed My Show 10/10/13

During the 10/10 broadcast of Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk, I interviewed author Travis Breeding  about his book The Reality of Living Within Two Worlds.  You can listen to the interview right now by clicking on this link: 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Company can Help Missing People with Autism

The search continues for a 14 autistic boy, Avonte Oquendo, who is missing in New York City.  Avonte is non-verbal, which increases the urgency to find him as quickly as possible.  Searches are being concentrated around subway tunnels.  It was reported that Avonte has run away three times previously and was found near area train stations. (source)

We all dread stories of missing individuals on the autism spectrum and the horror stories that appear all too often in the mainstream media.

A few months ago on my autism awareness podcast, I interviewed two parents of an autistic child, Bruce and Erin Wilson, who started a company called QR Code ID.  A QR code is a special label that can be read by smart phones and take the phone user to certain websites.  This QR code is placed on the clothing of an autistic child.  When the code is scanned by a smart phone, anyone who happens to find this child alone can receive any information the parent would like them to know.  It gives low function autistic kids a fighting chance if they happen to wander.

Click here to find out more about QR Code ID:

Edit 10-10-13 2:49 EST: Click here to listen to my interview with Bruce and Erin Wilson about their company QR Code ID:

Saturday, October 5, 2013

If You Missed my Show 10-3-13

If you missed my musical extravaganza featuring performances by Colin Brennan and myself, click here to tune in.  Colin is 11 years old, on the autism spectrum, and he is a fantastic singer.  I played some music from memory on my clarinet.

You can tune into this podcast right now by clicking on this link:

My Response to Daryl Hannah's Revelation

A recent confession has caused quite a stir in the entertainment industry.  Actress Daryl Hannah recently revealed that she is on the autism spectrum in an issue of People Magazine.  Hannah claims that she was never happy being in the "center of attention."  Some have criticized Hannah for not revealing this information sooner.

Let's examine this a little closer.  Hannah is 52, which means she was born in a time when autism was not widely understood.  Her mother refused doctors when they said Hannah should be institutionalized and would not function in society.  By age 17, Hannah was acting and in the years that followed she made it big as a celebrity.  However, she was never happy.  Having nearly every aspect of her life analyzed by the media is not easy for anyone, but I can imagine that it caused Hannah uncomfortable anxiety.

I have to admit that I had not heard of Daryl Hannah prior to hearing about this story.  She never acted in the kind of movies I like to watch.   In any case, it seems like Hannah's revelation has led many to questions whether they really knew her.  I think that is nonsense because they already knew her beforehand, from her actions, movies, and decisions.  When I reveal to a new person that I am on the autism spectrum, the first thing that comes to mind is whether this information will change the way people view me.  No wonder Hannah waited so long to make this revelation...

Here are my sources:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk 09/26 by Positively Autistic | Lifestyle Podcasts

Tune into the next broadcast of Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk.  This show will take place Thursday, September 6th at 6 pm EST, 3 pm PST, and 11 pm UK time.
This show will feature an interview with Paul Gomez, who has mild autism.  Paul operates a camera for Joey Travolta's Inclusion Film Camps.  Last summer, Paul traveled with Travolta to Inclusion Film Camps all over the United States.
Tune into what will surely be another great show!

Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk 09/26 by Positively Autistic | Lifestyle Podcasts

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Higher Functioning Versus Lower Functioning

When I attended a social event recently with some friends who are familiar with the work I do to raise autism awareness, someone brought up the topic of autism and mentioned at some point during the conversation that I "don't seem autistic."  I've been hearing that same phrase for years and I think it's because when many people think of autism, the first thing that comes to mind is classic autism.

This article brings up the point of high function autism and low functioning autism from a parent's perspective, stating that those with higher functioning autism face their own challenges as well.  The writer says this is because society has higher expectations for those with higher functioning autism.  Individuals on this end of the spectrum are expected to suppress any autistic behaviors that does not comply with expected behavior in society.  I'm not saying whether this is right or wrong.  What I'm saying is that those with higher functioning autism face challenges that are often understated, even by those who are familiar with autism.

I have seen high functioning autism advocates that receive negative feedback from parents or classically autistic children.  I have been told before that I don't really understand what autism is really like because I am high functioning.   Either autism is too broadly defined or people still don't understand the spectrum, I don't know.  When a group of people with varying symptoms are classified as autistic, there is going to be many differences in perspective.  Hopefully my words lead some people to think about this subject a little more.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk 09/19 by Positively Autistic | Life Podcasts

Tune into the next broadcast of Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk.  During this show, I am going to interview Matt Page, an adult with autism who runs the Facebook group Aspergers and Business.
This show will air September 19th at 6 pm EST, 3 pm PST, and 11 pm UK time.
If you would like to join the discussion, you can do so by calling (619) 393-2848 or you can call in through Skype.
Tune into what will surely be another great show!
Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk 09/19 by Positively Autistic | Life Podcasts

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk 09/12 by Positively Autistic | Life Podcasts

Tune into the next broadcast of Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk.  During this show, host Ryan Comins will interview Kevin Mackie, who is the producer of the anti bullying CD "All About Bullies Big And Small." This CD features various artists addressing both people who have been bullies and bullies themselves. This CD actually won a Grammy in 2012.
This show will take place Thursday, September 12th at 6 pm EST, 3 pm PST, and 11 pm UK time.
Stop by for what will surely be another great show!

Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk 09/12 by Positively Autistic | Life Podcasts

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Autism Did Not Cause Attack in Best Buy

A 29 year old man is facing charges for attempted murder in an incident that took place at a Best Buy in Florida.  The article states that this man was on the autism spectrum and strongly implies that autism was the reason behind the attack.

I strongly disagree with this article.  This is enough confusion circulating around about autism for reporters to associate autism with violent acts.  It's just like the aftermath of the Newtown Connecticut shooting where speculation emerged that the shooter was on the autism spectrum.

While the man was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, there had to have been more issues involved that would prompt this violent attack.  I hope that this message reaches the right people and that the publication of this story does not result in further confusion about autism.

To read more about this incident, click here:

Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk 09/05 by Positively Autistic | Life Podcasts

Tune into the next broadcast of Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk.  During this broadcast, I will interview Jake McCorry, an adult on the autism spectrum, as we discuss his interests, his challanges, and the day Jake and I spent hanging out with Dani Bowman a few weeks ago.
This show will take place Thursday, September 5th at 6 pm EST, 3 pm PST, and 11 pm UK time.
If you would like to join the discussion, you can do so by calling 619-393-2848 or you can call in through Skype by clicking on the Skype icon anytime during the broadcast.
Tune into what will surely be another great show!

Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk 09/05 by Positively Autistic | Life Podcasts

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hate Letter Sparks Outrage in Autism Community

You have probably heard the story by now, about the grandmother in Newcastle Ontario who received a hate letter from her neighbor about her grandson, who has classic autism.  If this story is news to you, click here to find out more.  I have made many friends within the autism community through social media over the past few years and this story has been everywhere on my Facebook news feed.  The support I have seen from the autism community is just amazing.  It also shows how strong we are as a whole.

I was hesitant to draw any attention to this story at first because I believed the letter in question was the work of a prankster but sources (like the one above) believe that this letter was legitimately sent by a neighbor who does (or did not previously) understand autism.  I hope that the response her words have induced from the autism community has made this mother think twice about how she views those on the autism spectrum.

Meet Anthony Barrett: a Business Owner with Autism

Anthony Barret is a 24 year old man with autism who has started a delivery service.  He travels around with his aide, Mikey Hamm, to deliver things to people.  While Anthony is mostly independent, he still needs assistance with certain aspects of life.  Mikey says that he likes hanging around with Anthony because of how positive Anthony is throughout the day...well, maybe not always in the early morning.

This two-men delivery service is looking for more business, so if you live in the Edmonton Canada area, remember to contact Anthony is you need anything delivered.

To find out more, click on these links:

Visit Anthony's website:

Surfer Boy with Autism

Change is usually very difficult for those on the autism spectrum.  Which is why 11 year old Shea Edmondson-Wood, a boy diagno"sed with Aspergers Syndrome, did not respond well to his new home in least at first. Shea experienced sensory difficulties from walking on grass, among other things, but his parents noticed that he did like going to the beach to watch the surfers.  When his parents heard about inclusion surfing lessons being offered in their area for children on the autism spectrum, they enrolled Shea, not knowing what to expect.  To their surprise, Shea experienced immediate improvement while attending Surfers for Autism under the guidance of the inclusion class instructors.

During one of his first surfing lesson with Surfing for Autism, Shea loses his balance and falls off the board, disappearing under the water.  When he emerged, Shea's parents thought that was the end of surfing.  They thought that Shea would reject this new interest.  They could not have been more surprised when Shea surfaced, screaming in excitement.

Through exploring the passion of surfing, Shea began to improve in other areas of his life as well.  It lead to what his parents can only call a "transformation."  Shea now dons a blue mo-hawk and even is brave enough to "hang ten."

To read more about Shea, the surfer with autism, click on the links below:

Shea's parents, who call Shea the "Puzzled Surfer" have also started a website to celebrate Shea's interest:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Meeting Dani Bowman

It has been almost three years since I first heard the name "Dani Bowman." Autism advocate.  Animator.  At the time Dani was a sixteen year old girl with autism who had an animation company.  I just missed meeting her at the 2011 Joey Travolta Inclusion Film Camp held by OUCARES at Oakland University.

This year at the film camp, I did receive a chance to meet her.  I've spent a lot of time this week with Dani and other members of Joey Travolta's crew.  On Thursday, I hosted my weekly podcast live on location at the OUCARES Film camp with Dani sitting in front of me most of the time.  Other activities this week included some karaoke at a local bar, where Dani and I both participated (yes, I actually sung two songs. Unfortunately for me, Dani's Aunt Sandy recorded both of my performances...)  To finish off the week, on Friday, I went to a cook out with Dani, Joey Travolta, and the rest of the crew.

Overall, last week was a great week and I expect this week to be even better!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

An "Unrecognized" Autism Population?

There has always been a lot of attention spent on children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and a reasonable about of attention is now being paid to adults with autism as they try to cope with sensory issues among other things.  However, what about the senior citizen population that is on the autism spectrum?

Donald Triplett, 77, of Forest Mississippi was the first person to receive an autism diagnosis around 1943.  According to my source, Triplett was known as "Case One" regarding what was considered to be an extremely rare condition.  Only ten other children were diagnosed with autism at that time.

This brings attention to a hardly discussed population on the autism spectrum: the senior citizen population.  Does anyone know someone over age 65 who is on the autism spectrum?  What are their individual needs?  Do you feel like enough attention is paid to oldsters on the autism spectrum?

Leave a comment below to share your experiences.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk 08/15 by Positively Autistic | Life Podcasts

Tune into the next broadcast of Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk.  The first of a two-show special, this broadcast will feature an interview with Joey Travolta and a walking commentary of Joey's Inclusion Film Camp at Oakland University.
This show will air Thursday, August 15th at 1 pm EST, 10 pm PST, and 6 pm UK time.   
Cohosting during this two-broadcast series is Joe Westlake, co-founder of Positively Autistic, and Diana Lowther, a volunteer for Positively Autistic.  Tune into what will surely be a great show!

Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk 08/15 by Positively Autistic | Life Podcasts

Monday, August 5, 2013

Tune in to Learn how QR Code ID can Save the Lives of Children with Autism

Tune into the next broadcast of Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk.  During this show, I will interview business owner Erin Wilson as she talks about a product that saves the lives of those on the autism spectrum.  
Erin's company, QR Code ID, uses computer codes embedded in T-shirts to help find children on the spectrum who wander away from home.
This show will take place at a DIFFERENT time this week: Wednesday, August 7th at 5 pm EST, 2 pm PST, and 10 pm UK time.  Stop by to find more about a unique product that can save the lives of children on the spectrum.
To find out more about QR Code ID, visit their website at

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Children with Autism/ADHD More Prone to Video Game Addicitions

A new study has revealed that children with autism and ADHD are more prone to excessive video game usage, according to an article published in the August issue of "Pediatrics."  Experts say that video game addictions result from difficulties experienced in relating with peers.

Video game addictions is something that I have experienced with varying degrees throughout my life.  In fourth grade, I would have much rather played the computer game "TIE Fighter" than worked on my homework.  Even today, at age twenty five, there are times when video games have cut into my writing and autism advocacy work.

If I had to give a reason, I would say that playing video games still gives me a sense of control that I don't always have at work or in my social life.  In any case, excessive video game use can be harmful if not controlled.  While attending school, I tried to set a timer and take breaks from studying for class to play video games. When the timer went off, I returned to my studies.  This routine worked reasonably well although there were times I was tempted to keep on playing instead of returning to my studies.

To read more about this topic, click here:

A Great Resource for those Affected by Autism

When I wrote for The Oakland Press as an intern reporter during early 2011, I got to know reporter and disability advocate Jerry Wolffe.  Jerry, who is currently a Disability Advocate for MORC, was born with cerebral palsy. Over the years, Jerry has become a strong advocate for those with disabilities.

In his blog "Voices of Disabilities," Jerry lists a number of resources for those affected by autism.  Click here to view that list:

If You Missed My Podcast 8-1-13

My show Thursday August 1st was a success.  If you missed my interview with Dani Bowman and her Aunt Sandra Vielma, you can listen to the show on demand by clicking on the link below.  Among the topics discussed were Dani's recent high school graduation and her plans for the future.  We also discussed the topic of autism and dating/relationships which was started during my show last week with Frank Allen, as he talked about his recent marriage.

To listen to my interview with Dani and her Aunt, click on the following link:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tune into My Podcast 7/25/13

There is always hope for those on the autism spectrum.  Artist Frank Allen, a friend of mine who is on the autism spectrum, recently married.  Frank, who is an artist with a degenerative eye condition, has been on my show several times in the past.
For this week's show, Frank is coming on Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk to talk about his marriage and the long road that led him where he is today.
This show will air Thursday, July 25 at 6 pm EST, 3 pm PST, and 11 pm UK time.
Join in on this discussion in the chat room (just create an account on Blog Talk Radio to access the chat room just below the show screen) and by calling (619) 393-2848 to join the conversation live on the air.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tune into my Rescheduled Show

Unfortunately, last week's episode of Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk did not work out due to technical difficulties.  So this week, I am going to hold last week's intended show with guests Colin and Gordan Brennan.
This show will air Thursday, July 18th at 6 pm EST, 3 pm PST, and 11 pm UK time.
Special guestsColin Brennan and his father Gordon will talk about Colin's upcoming birthday, his new sister, and his plans for future vocal performances.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Show with Singer Colin Brennan

Tune into the next broadcast of Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk.  This show will air Thursday, July 11th at 6 pm EST, 3 pm PST, and 11 pm UK time.  This show will feature special guest Colin Brennan and his father Gordon, who will talk about Colin's upcoming birthday, his new sister, and his plans for future vocal performances.  Click here to tune in:

Monday, July 1, 2013

My Rescheduled Podcast Info

My show last week did not go as planned due to me losing power during some storms.  So I'm rescheduling the show for this Wednesday at 3 pm EST, 12 pm PST, and 8 pm UK time. PLEASE NOTE THE DIFFERENT DAY AND TIME DUE TO THE 4TH OF JULY HOLIDAYS.  During this show, I will discuss routine and autism as well as some 4th of July tips for parents with autistic children so everyone can enjoy the holiday fun.  Click here to find out more:

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Note to my Readers

Unfortunately my podcast for Thursday, June 27 was interrupted when I lost power 45 minutes before show time.  I am going to reschedule the show for the tentative date of Wednesday, June 3.  More updates to come in further posts.

High School Graduates Win Autism Scholarship

Three graduating high school seniors with autism are receiving some much needed funds for college after winning the Spring 2013 "Making a Difference for Autism Scholarship."  Derek Stiner won the $500 scholarship, which he plans to use to major in psychology at Murray State University.  Two Honorable Mentions, Cameron Cassali and Dani Bowman, each won $250 to meet their college needs.

Kerry Magro, founder of "Making a Difference Foundation," also has autism.  This is the first year the scholarship has been offered to graduating high school seniors.

To read more, click here:

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tune into my Autism Awareness Podcast

Tune into the next broadcast of Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk.  During this show, I will discuss how people on the spectrum might depend on routine referencing the sitcom "Big Bang Theory" and my own experience as an aspiring novelist.  Also, I will discuss some things parents should keep in mind during the 4th of July Holidays.  This show will take place today at 6 pm EST, 3 pm PST, and 11 pm UK time.  Click here to tune in:

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Vicar Awarded for Work with Autism

Reverend Dr. John Gillbrand is the first person to win the Autism Heroes Lifetime Achievement Award.  The Welsh Vicar has a son with autism.  Dr. Gillbrand advocated for autism in his community and set up the Cross Party Autism Group in the National Assembly of Wales.  Also an author, Dr. Gillbrand's book is titled Disabled Church, Disabled Society: The Implications of Autism for Philosophy, Theology, and Politics. This book was shortlisted last month for the 2013 Michael Ramsey Prize for Theological Writing.  This man is certainly one dedicated father.

To read more, click here:

Did You Miss My Podcast on 6-20-13? Tune in Here!

If you missed my show the other day, click here to listen to my interview with fellow Positively Autistic member Erik Estabrook.  Erik is a poet, autism advocate, and the host of Poetic Vision.  We also received a special message from Joe Westlake, the co-founder of Positively Autistic.

Click here to tune in: 

Air Pollution may Increase Risk of Autism

Mothers exposed to air pollution during pregnancy show an increased risk of developing autism, according to a study performed by Harvard School of Public Health.  The autism-air pollution link was first made by Gayle Windham of the California Department of Health Services.  Referencing the Nurse's Health Study 2 and using data from the Environmental Protection Agency, researchers determined there is a strong correlation between air pollution and increased risk of autism.  More research is needed to determine higher risk contaminants.

To read more, click here:

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Classic Car Redesigned to Raise Autism Awareness`

Jeff Finly is redesigning a classic car to raise autism awareness.  Finlly's Honda Del-Sol is already a unique car due to some design features.  It's going to be even more unique once Finly finishes adding puzzle pieces to the interior and body of his car, to raise autism awareness.  Since his brother-in-law is on the autism spectrum, Finly has a personal stake in the cause of autism awareness.

To find out more, click here:

A Sidelong Glance at Autism

"Normal is defined by the majority or those with the loudest voice."

-Ryan Comins

I often wonder how my life might have turned out if I was born at some point in the past.  At a time when autism was not as understood as it is today.  If I was born in medieval times, I might have had holes drilled in my head.  My point is that we have learned a lot about autism and we are learning more every day.  We still have a long way to go but we have made progress.

Autism may not be a social deficit after all but a difference in brain function that has been interpreted as a social deficit.  It has been proven that those on the spectrum place more emphasis on their peripheral vision than on objects or people within the center of their vision field.

From the beginning, people have assumed that autism is a type of social deficiency but studies have revealed new information about why those on the autism spectrum might avoid eye contact.  It has to do with how the brain processes visual information.

To read more on this subject, click here:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bikers Trek East Coast for Autism

Cyclists on the east coast of the United States have come up with an exhilarating way to raise autism awareness.  The first of three 100 mile summer bike treks took place last Friday, starting in Manhattan and ending at Westhampton Beach. A second riding event will take place August 2 from Washington D.C. to Dewey Beach, Delaware and a third will take place August 30 from Boston to Newport Rhode Island.

Participants are required to raise a minimum of $500 for Autism Speaks in order to participate.

To find out more, click here:

Saturday, June 8, 2013

NASCAR Supports Autism Awareness

NASCAR is getting involved with autism awareness.  The FedEx 400 race last weekend benefited Autism Speaks.  The racing sports commitment to raising autism awareness is proven through a partnership between NASCAR and Autism Speaks.  Driver Lorri Unumb is the founder of the Autism Academy of South Carolina and recipient of the 2012 Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award.  Unumb also received a $100,000 charitable donation from NASCAR.

To find out more, click here:

Autism Awareness Television Commercial

This is a short, new video about eye contact.  Sponsored by Autism Speaks, this video appears to serve as an advertisement to educate parents about autism awareness.  If a child does not make eye contact, autism is definitely a possibility.  While an autism diagonsis can be life changing, it is not the end of the world..  The creation of this video is a step in the right direction.

To view the video, click here:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tune into my Show Tomorrow

Join me for my next show tomorrow at 6 pm EST, 3 pm PST, and 11 pm UK time.  My guest will be Kristin Rohrbeck, Program Coordinator at OUCARES, which is a center for autism at Oakland University.  Click here to tune in:

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Great Autism Video

This video is designed to help clear up some of the common misconceptions that people have about autism.  It is not too long, it runs just over nine minutes.   The main idea is that autism is an invisible condition.  Also, autism statistics from the UK are cited.

Click here to watch the video.

Friday, May 31, 2013

If you Missed my Show Yesterday...

If you missed my interview with artist Frank Louis Allen yesterday, you can tune in by clicking here.  Frank has autism and is from the UK.  He is in America for a few weeks to visit a friend.  Some of the topics discussed on the show were culture shock, differences between the US and the UK.  We also discussed how someone on the autism spectrum might handle those changes.  Tune in and hope you enjoy the show.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Happy Memorial Day

I wanted to take a moment to wish my readers in the United States a happy Memorial Day.  Also, I wanted to say that I have family in the military and I am proud to recognize the sacrifices they have made to serve our country.  God bless all military veterans and those who made the ultimate sacrifice to serve our country!  :)

Band with Autistic Members to Tour Spain

An all-autistic member band goes on tour to Spain.  Members of AutistiX have overcome many challenges to get where they are today.  Drummer Saul Zur-Szpiro, 20, has lower functioning autism.  He still needs help with nearly every aspect of his life except drumming.  Other members include Luke Steels, 17, who plays electric guitar/base and Jack Deaven-Duggan, 18. who also plays electric guitar.  Also members of the band are Jack's father John, Saul's dad Michael, and non-family member musician Jim Connelly.  The band is based out of the UK.

One cool fact about this band is the members of AutistiX are all about the music.  They have not yet experienced stage fright while performing.  While autism is expected to present some difficulties while on tour, such as adaptability to a constantly changing environment, but they have a plan to deal with that.  They plan to arrive at each town included in their tour during the day, so that members of AutistiX can get familiar with the environment.  They are also viewing the towns on YouTube to get familiar with the area before arriving.

To find out more, click on the following link:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Autism Friendly Screening of "Addams Family"

Autism Speaks and Olympia Entertainment are working together to offer the first autism friendly screening of THE ADDAMS FAMILY.  This show will take place June 14 at 8 pm at the Fox Theatre in Detroit MI.  Tickets (priced $15, $30, $45, $55, $75) are on sale now and can be purchased here or by calling Olympia Entertainment at (313) 471-3099.   While tickets are available to all members of the public, buyers should indicate that they would like to see the Autism Friendly performance.  

Working in conjunction with the producers of THE ADDAMS FAMILY and Autism Speaks, Olympia Entertainment have pledged to create a fun, inviting environment for individuals and families with members who have ASD while providing the opportunity to experience a live Broadway production in its entirety.  This experience will surely brighten many lives and give those on the spectrum an experience that they will remember for a long time.

Accommodations offered include a "run of show" prior to the performance, so parents can be aware of what special effects and other exciting moments during the show might prompt sensory overload in ASD viewers.  There will also be quiet areas set up so that viewers on the spectrum can take a break from the performance, as needed.  

"We had overwhelming support following our first ever Autism-friendly Sesame Street Live Performance at the Fox Theatre," said Tom Wilson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Olympia Entertainment.  "We are thrilled to offer another opportunity for families to again enjoy a wondrous theatre experience in a welcoming and inclusive environment."

This Autism-Friendly performance was reviewed and approved by Autism Speaks.

'We are so pleased to continue our partnership with Olympia Entertainment and to host this performance of THE ADDAMS FAMILY," said Tom Riopelle, Michigan Director of Autism Speaks.  'Being able to provide a world-class theatrical performances that all can enjoy here in Michigan is an incredible gift that we are all so proud of and something we can look forward to doing with Olympia for years to come!"

The partnership between Autism Speaks and Olympia Entertainment, Inc. was created as part of the Michigan is Listening initiative, which is a statewide awareness program that asks the people of Michigan to pledge to tell 10 people about autism.  This will raise awareness to those who would otherwise be ignorant of autism. As part of this campaign destinations around the state who make a commitment to creating a welcoming experience for those with autism receive a designation as a Michigan is Listening Destination.

To find out more about Autism Speaks, click here.  Also, check out Olympia Entertainment on Facebook.  For more information about the Addams Family Tour, click here.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Great Voice for those with Disabilities

If you missed my show the other day, tune into my broadcast of Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk.  My guest during this show was Jerry Wolffe, former reporter at The Oakland Press.  We had a great discussion, not only about autism, but about disabilities in general.

To listen to our discussion, click here: 

An Autism Awareness Podcast

Erik Estabrook, fellow member of Positively Autistic, invited me to come on his show Saturday, May 18.  If you missed the show, you can listen using the link below.

Autism Challenges the Norm

For the past few months, I have been reading the book "Icarus Deception" by marketing guru Seth Godin.  After finishing the book last month on my Kindle, I flipped back to the beginning and started reading it again. The book is that important.

I went to college for marketing rather than writing (my greatest talent).  Why?  Because my dad suggested it. It was better to major in business rather than my passion because it would be easier to find a job with a business degree.

The Icarus Deception speaks of the "connection economy" replacing the "industrial economy."  This is a change that will be difficult, but one that I think will ultimately benefit those with autism and those with other disabilities as well.  Why?  Because the industrial economy thrives on standardization.

In the past 100 years, the industrial economy has standardized many aspects of life including schools.  The industrial economy was not designed to accommodate people on the spectrum because those on the spectrum are outliers.  The industrial economy serves the need of the masses, influencing society to contribute by producing and then buying what was produced.  In order to produce faster and cheaper with higher quality, industrialists have dehumanized many aspects of everyday life.  Wonder bread was mass produced, removing the personal touch that can be found in homemade bread.

Those on the spectrum challenge the industrial machine without really trying, just by being who we are.  Why?  Because people have been trained to accept standardization and norms over the past one hundred years.  To be human is to be unique, make mistakes, and possess qualities that others do not possess.  The standardized school system was not designed to accommodate those on the spectrum; it was designed to accommodate the mass of students that would eventually contribute to an industrial society.  But things are changing.  According to Seth Godwin, marketing guru and author of the Cirrus Deception, the industrial age is dying.

The Internet has leveled the playing field.  This blog is an example of it.  Why?  Without the Internet and connections that I have forged in the past two years, you might not even know my name.  And yet, here you are, reading these words because you and I have been connected somehow.  Through the Internet and the connection economy.  By using the Internet, anyone can create something meaningful and then share it with others.  That is the point of the Icarus Deception: to encourage others to create art.

Many people on the spectrum create art.  Not just art work, but meaningful decisions that are risky at times but are completely human too.  I am creating art right now, as I write this.  I have no idea if you will see what I am trying to say here.  I have no idea who will even read this.  My point is the change will be difficult.  All change is.  But the demise of the industrial economy will ultimately benefit those on the spectrum most of all.  Being human means making mistakes, taking risks, and standing out.  That being said, those on the autism spectrum are far more human than an industrialist who thrives in keeping things predictable, secure, and standardized.

If you would like to find out more about the Icarus Deception, click here:

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Great Discussion about Autism and Dating

Take a look at a podcast I hosted a few weeks ago.  During this show, I had a great discussion with Arman Khodai about austism and dating.  Arman is participating in a Documentary about Autism and Dating to educate people about some of the challenges that those with autism might face in the dating scene.  We also heard from  a caller who had another unqiue perspective to offer about the subject.  This is a very important topic as many on the spectrum including myself are looking for companionship and understanding from that special someone who is still out there.

To tune in, click here:

Slipped through the Cracks

Last month, I connected with an adult who is on the autism spectrum.  He self diagnosed himself with autism just a few years ago.  He was wondering how many adults have not received a diagnosis and have slipped through the cracks.  People who could benefit from services but cannot receive them because there is no formal diagnosis.  Together, this man and I are working to start a non profit organization called A4C which will hopefully find a way to address those needs.

A question for my readers: do you know of any individuals who you suspect are on the autism spectrum who have never received a formal diagnosis?  Answer in the comment box below and help us try to find ways to help you!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Singer with Autism goes to England for Autism's Got Talent

I wanted to take a moment to announce that ten year old singer with autism, Colin Brennan, was successfully able to raise the money he needed to fly to England.  Colin will perform tomorrow in Autism's Got Talent.  Thank you to all my readers who donated to help Colin achieve this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  Colin will also participate in a special Positively Autistic podcast this Sunday at 11 am EST.  To listen to this show, click here:

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Awareness is only the First Step

Autism awareness month may be over, the lives of those on the spectrum will continue.  For families with people on the spectrum, every day is autism awareness day as they fight for understanding.  The writer of a news article states that his sister is on the autism spectrum.  He is simply asking for others to be aware of autism.  It defines the life of so many people, including myself.  All we ask is that others consider that there are things that we deal with that they do not on a daily basis.  "We are different, not less."

Michigan Autism Plan

Late last year, the state of Michigan released their plan to cope with the growing numbers of people diagnosed with ASD.

For anyone interested in viewing the Michigan ASD State plan, click here:

Friday, May 3, 2013

Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk 05/06 by Positively Autistic | Blog Talk Radio

Tune into the next broadcast of Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk.  This show will take place Monday, May 6th at 5 pm EST, 2 pm PST, and 10 pm GMT.
This show will feature autism advocate Erin Clemens.  Individuals with Aspergers Syndrome are still unique individuals that are not defined by their diagnosis.  Albert Einstein and Henry Ford are both believed to have had Aspergers Syndrome. 
Tune into the show to celebrate the special talents of people with Aspergers Syndrome.

Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk 05/06 by Positively Autistic | Blog Talk Radio

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Beauty Queen Lends Support for Autism

One of the best ways to raise autism awareness is to involve a public figure in the picture.  This helps to gain interest from people who would not otherwise pay any attention to autism awareness.  Jessica Billings, Miss Pennsylvania participated in the HeART for Autism family program earlier today.  This beauty queen is passionate about raising autism awareness.  Jessica has an older brother who is on the autism spectrum.

Click here to read more:

Red Sox Raise Autism Awareness

In light of autism awarenss month, many people and organizations are getting involved with the action.  This includes the Boston Red Sox.  Tomorrow, the Red Sox are going to offer accomodations for those on the spectrum who would like to attend the big game.  Also, during pregame ceremonies, children on the spectrum will also perform activities that include throwing the first pitch of the game.  Among the accomdations offered will be a quiet zone for children dealing with sensory issues as well as providing information about how families of those children on the spectrum should prepare for game day.

To read more, click here:

Friday, April 26, 2013

What DSM-5 Means for Autism

Starting a May, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistic Manuel of of Mental Disorders, otherwise known as DSM-5, will be published and implemented in the medical community.  This development has received a lot of media attention lately due to the effect that this revision with have on the way autism spectrum disorder is diagnosed.  Most notably, individuals who receive an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis will no longer be labled with the following two conditions: Aspergers Syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified.

There has been some concern as to whether the revision will effect services received by those on the autism spectrum.  Services that are necesarry for daily function and peace of mind.  While only time will tell, the revision website states that "no information about treatment is included in DSM.  While determining an accurate diagnosis is the first step for the clinician in defining s treatment plan for a patient, DSM contains no recommendations on what that course of treatment should be." (DSM website)

Since individuals on the spectrum are so different from one another, treatment is varied depending on individual needs.  While there are many concerns based on the information on this website, those on the spectrum will continue to receive present services ASD related needs.  Of course, only time will tell as these changes go into effect next week.

For more information about DSM-5, click here:

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk 04/25 by Positively Autistic | Blog Talk Radio

Tune into the next broadcast of Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk.  This show will air Thursday, April 25th at 6 pm EST, 3 pm PST, and 11 pm GMT.
This show will be the first broadcast in the series adults with Aspergers.  The point of the series will be to highlight a number of unique adults diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome at different life stages to give them an  opportunity to tell their stories.  Featured guests will be John Bowen Brown and Cassidy Eden.
Mark your calendars.  Hope you can make it.  If you are busy during the scheduled show time, you can always come back and listen to the show on demand at your convenience.

Junior Positively Autistic: Ryan's Spectrum Talk 04/25 by Positively Autistic | Blog Talk Radio

In Recognition of a Hard Week

I just wanted to take a moment to say that I am saddened by the tragedies that have happened this week in Boston and in West, Texas.  My heart goes out to all those who were affected by both tragedies.