Sunday, January 26, 2014

My Interview with a Recognized Member of the Autism Community

If you missed my interview with Joanne Lara, founder and CEO of Autism Movement Therapy and producer of the new documentary "Generation A: Portraits of Autism and the Arts", click here to listen now:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Fundraiser for a Good Cause

Those who have been following The Voice from the Spectrum for a long time will know of my involvement with Positively Autistic.  For those who do not know, since February 2012, I have been hosting a podcast for an international autism awareness charity based out of Newton Abbot England.  In April of this year, I will be traveling to England to meet members of Positively Autistic who I have communicated with through Facebook for the past two years.  This exciting trip is unlike anything I have ever done before and I find myself feeling a mixture of anticipation, anxiety, and excitement.

In April 2012, I began working with another member of Positively Autistic who lives here in the United States.  Marilyn Francis hosted Positively Autistic: The Poet's Interest with Marilyn and Ryan with my assistance as co-host.  Marilyn is truly a credit to Positively Autistic because she was able to connect to some wonderful people who worked to raise autism awareness through poetry while caring for her severely disabled daughter.

When we first came up with the idea for the England Trip in September of this year, Marilyn had already been planning to travel to England for some time to see members of Positively Autistic and had already put some money aside to cover the expenses.  However, a most unwelcome tragedy took place.  Marilyn's daughter Leslie, who was severely disabled with cerebral palsy passed away near the end of September.  Leslie's passing ripped a hole in Marilyn's already fragile life.  The expenses in the following months wiped out Marilyn's saving so she can no longer afford the England Trip.

That's why, with the help of Joe Westlake, co-founder of Positively Autistic (an exceptionally driven young college student), we created a fundraiser on to help Marilyn participate in the England trip.  Our goal is to raise $2500 by mid-march to help Marilyn pay for the flight to and from England (which cost me more than $1000) and help cover additional costs that may come up during the duration of the trip.  I am not one to ask for monetary support but Marilyn really needs whatever help you can give her.  I spent most of my show last week discussing the fundraiser with Joe Westlake and as of right now, we have not received any donations.

To find out more about this fundraiser, please click here:

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Media usage linked to Sleep Deprivation

Sleep is important to healthy development and growth for children.  A study performed by the University of Missouri has linked the use of easy-to-reach technology and media to less sleep for boys with autism.  I myself am guilty as charged.  Last night I could be found surfing the web on my phone which I charge within reach of my bed.

The study revealed that this not only a problem related to autism but with the general population as well. While easy access to the world wide web has solved many problems, it has clearly created some new problems.

During the study, boys parents of those with autism as well as parents of NT boys were surveyed to determine how much time per day their children use media.  They found a link between bedroom access to a TV or computer and lack of sleep.  There was a much stronger correlation between boys with autism and lack of sleep due to media usage.  Members of the research team stated that further research was needed to see what processes might contribute to lack of sleep in boys on the autism spectrum.

Parents, is your son with autism getting enough sleep at night?  Does he have easy access to media in the place where he sleeps?

For more info about this study, click here:

If You Missed My Show 1-2-14

If you missed my podcast on Thursday, January 2nd, you can listen by clicking on the link below.  My guest, Jake McCorry, discussed the difficulties of living on the autism spectrum and being gay.

Use this link to listen: 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Teacher Training in Autism Care Vital for Success

Here is a heartwarming story where the difficulties of high functioning autism were solved early enough in a child's life to enable her to make the best use of her education.  Seven year old Chloe Burton thrived in kindergarten but started to go downhill in first grade.   She wandered the classroom instead of performing work likely because the significant change in routine between kindergarten and first grade.  The problem was that Chloe's teachers at the time were not trained in handling autism so they disciplined her for not getting her work done.  They prevented her to go out for recess and insisted she use the time to get her work done.

The frustration Chloe felt is something that many people on the autism spectrum know all too well.  The discipline used by the teachers did not help the situation and instead nursed anger within the young girl.  She lashed out at teachers and other students.   The problem was not Chloe but the way the teachers were presenting their instructions.  Chloe's parents settled with the district and moved her to a different school where the teachers were trained to handle autism.  The difference is remarkable.

These new teachers knew how to break instructions down into steps so that Chloe could follow and understand every part of the process and she is thriving.  Positive reinforcement was used instead of punishment and extra time was given to complete assignments when needed. The situation would have been very different if Chloe's parents had followed the advice of the untrained teachers and placed Chloe in a unit alongside kids with behavioral problems.  That being said, training teachers in handling autism can really make all the difference in the lives of those on the spectrum.  Many children and families have gone through unnecessary grief that could have been resolved if the proper knowledge was applied.

For more information about this story, click here: