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Posts Tagged ‘Autism’

Whew!  Remember me?  It’s been way too long.

Believe me, I would like to have been blogging a lot more in the last several months (it suddenly occurs to me that I have posted nothing on Into the Dance in 2017 up to this point).

But when you (more…)

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DisgustJust published another post on Forming Horizons.  If you are a member of the autism spectrum community — which includes not only people on the spectrum but also family members, professional supports, etc. — I warmly invite you to read the post and share your thoughts (even if you disagree with me; I welcome all perspectives).

Once again, if you like this post or would like to comment, I respectfully ask that you do so on Forming Horizons rather than here.  It would help me tremendously.

Check it out: The Worst Way to Approach Autism.

Image obtained through a Google Advanced Image Search

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sad childThought I’d share my most recent post for my other blog, Forming Horizons — which is meant to serve as an online community and resource for people on the autism spectrum and their families, teachers, employers, and others.

Just FYI: Forming Horizons will feature a new post every Wednesday, unless otherwise noted.

What is this week’s topic, you ask?  Let me “borrow” from myself real quick to give you a taste:

I occasionally do a little freelance journalism.  Yes, that means one of my many hats is that of a reporter…perish the thought!

But there are some useful skills to be learned from this practice, not least of which is the classic “outline” for a story or situation: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How.

Goodness knows, parents – and teachers; and therapists; and siblings; and anyone else involved – of people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have their fair share of detective work to perform.

So this seems a perfect opportunity to put my amateur journalist’s experience to good use.

For the rest, here’s the link: Six Key Words For ‘Investigating’ Your Child’s Behaviors.

(I would just politely ask that if you choose to “Like” this article, please do so on Forming Horizons rather than here)

Image obtained through a Google Advanced Image search

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Young red-haired boy facing away from camera, stacking a seventh can atop a column of six food cans on the kitchen floor. An open pantry contains many more cans.

Not long ago, I mentioned that I was working on a website related to autism spectrum disorders.

Well, it’s ready.  I am very excited about it, and I hope you will join me in this new adventure!

The website, Forming Horizons, is intended for people on the autism spectrum (of all ages) and their families, teachers (as well as other professionals), and employers, as well as any other interested parties.

Disclosure: I have Asperger Syndrome myself.  Between sharing my own experiences and dialoguing with the various parties affected by autism spectrum disorders  (ASDs), I hope to play a small part in the bigger conversation being sparked by the increasing prevalence of ASD diagnoses.

I would encourage you to visit the “About” page first to get a more in-depth explanation of what Forming Horizons is all about.  For recent posts, you can go straight to the homepage.

Acknowledgements

      The original uploader was Andwhatsnext at English Wikipedia The original uploader was AndwhaThe original uploader was Andwhatsnext at English Wikipedia The original uploader was Andwhatsnext at English Wikipedia – Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is/was here., CC BY-SA 3.0,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index/php?curid=5118840

 

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Young red-haired boy facing away from camera, stacking a seventh can atop a column of six food cans on the kitchen floor. An open pantry contains many more cans.

So we’re right in the middle of Autism Awareness Month, and a friend of mine recently shared with me a wonderful video documenting the struggles and triumph of Carly Fleischmann, a nonverbal autistic teenager.

But before we get to the video (and I do encourage you to watch it; it’s less than 10 minutes long), I should spend a moment on how it fits into the overall purpose of Into the Dance — specifically, how I see it in relation to the Catholic worldview I hold dear.

What it comes down to is the inviolable dignity of the human person.  This dignity is much greater than we think — so great that it cannot be expressed in the trappings of fame, power, prestige, accomplishment, or even ability.  On the contrary, it is at its height in hiddenness.

Thomas Howard puts it this way:

[Speaking of a wheelchair-bound child]: Who knows what glory inhabits that enfeebled frame?  What honor is incubating there, quite hidden from worldly eyes?  Or what of the Down’s syndrome child?  What exquisite fruit is adumbrated in the sweetness and vulnerability that gild this child’s limitations?  The answer to such questions lies hidden among the secrets laid up by the Divine Mercy. (pg. 219-20)

Lest we doubt this, let us see how this can become clear in the natural course of things:

Reference

  1. The original uploader was Andwhatsnext at English Wikipedia The original uploader was Andwhatsnext at English Wikipedia – Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is/was here., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5118849
  2. Howard, Thomas.  On Being Catholic.  San Francisco: Ignatius, 1997.

 

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Whew!  Ever wish life didn’t keep you so busy?  I sure do — if only so that I could blog more often.

I intend to get back into the proverbial saddle over the next couple months (especially since next month marks the three-year anniversary of “Into the Dance”), and I thought I’d offer a quick look at some of the post topics I plan to cover (not necessarily in this order):

1. True Detective

TrueDetectiveDVDCoverI recently “binge-watched” the first season of the HBO series True Detective.  While disturbing at times, the show is artistically excellent and very profound.  I have a lot to say about it, especially with regard its treatment of marriage, manhood, family, and existence.

2. The Rosary

RosaryOctober is the Month of the Rosary, one of the most beautiful and powerful treasures of the Catholic Faith.  Before the month is out I’d like to share a few things about this prayer, and hopefully answer questions people might have (feel free to leave some in the comment section here, if you’d like).

3. Drug/Alcohol Awareness

HeroinOctober is also when “Red Ribbon Week,” which is dedicated to drug and alcohol addiction awareness, falls.  I used to work in this field myself (in the prevention department), and I do have some insights I’d like to offer — not only for those addicted to alcohol or illegal drugs, but also for anyone who might be caught in the midst of addictive habits that may seem deceptively harmless in and of themselves.

Last but not least…

4. My New Blog

question mark

I intend to embark on the adventure of starting a for-profit blog in the very near future.  I will post a link and detailed description when the blog is up and running.  Until then, I won’t say too much about it…but here’s a hint: If you have children, relatives, pupils, friends, or other acquaintances on the autism spectrum — or if you yourself are on the spectrum — you may be interested.

That’s all for now.  Thanks for stopping by, and God bless 🙂

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Acknowledgements

1. “TrueDetectiveDVDCover” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TrueDetectiveDVDCover.jpg#/media/File:TrueDetectiveDVDCover.jpg

2. “An Egyptian Rosary with a Coptic Cross, 2010” by Silar – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:An_Egyptian_Rosary_with_a_Coptic_Cross,_2010.JPG#/media/File:An_Egyptian_Rosary_with_a_Coptic_Cross,_2010.JPG

3. “Anal Heroin” by Psychonaught – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Anal_Heroin.jpg#/media/File:Anal_Heroin.jpg

4. “Question opening-closing” by Vadmium – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Question_opening-closing.svg#/media/File:Question_opening-closing.svg

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“Rain Man” is a great movie, and there are a number of other artistic works — some good, some not so good — that offer insight into autism from both the “normal” perspective and that of the autistic person.

But I feel like I’d be remiss if I didn’t close out Autism Awareness Month (it’s still April 30th as I type this, despite what the heading says) with my own thoughts on the autism phenomenon, having studied it in an academic context as well as having professional and personal experience with it.

Autistic-boy-sleeping

One thing I’ve heard people say is that autistic children have no love in them (or some variation of that).  Well, that’s not necessarily true.

We have to keep in mind that such judgments are born of our own perspectives, rather than from the very perspectives that give rise to these apparently “unloving” behaviors.

Imagine you are autistic.  Your senses are all thrown off.  Some are too strong, others not strong enough.  The sound of a door closing lightly is like a bludgeon being rammed right into your eardrums.  Shirts that most people would normally wear feel like porcupine quills against your skin.  A simple hug can make you feel like you are being enveloped by a bed of nails.

Or, think of the social aspects of autism.  By way of introduction, let’s state the obvious: A construction worker would not be comfortable if one day he were suddenly forced to work in an accounting firm; a preschool teacher would be thrown off if she found herself working in a maximum security prison; a surgeon going into the kitchen at an upscale restaurant would find himself similarly baffled.

You might have the same feeling as an autistic person in a standard social situation.  Your brain is wired a little differently, so you are coming into these situations from a completely different vantage point.  Social situations are therefore scary, their rules and nuances strange and unfamiliar.

All human beings have an innate desire for closeness, for interaction…and the autistic child is no exception.  But keep in mind that social interaction — to say nothing of love — always involves a certain degree of risk.  It requires us to go out of ourselves in order to meet the other, and at the same time it demands that we have sufficient confidence in ourselves to make that leap.

Autistic children don’t know how to form that kind of relationship, and I think that has much to do with the fact that they have all they can do just to feel safe and make sense of their day-to-day world.

So what do we do?

autism

Above all, I think we need to approach autism in a spirit of openness.  We should pay attention to autistic people and get to know them.  What makes them tick?  What do they respond well to?  What makes them anxious, afraid, angry, or otherwise agitated?  What do they seem to want?

The same holds true for autistic people as for any other human being: If we can find a way to connect with them on their level, we can make progress (though we have to keep in mind that “progress” might mean something different from what we expect — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing).

Ian's WalkIf you are looking for some illustration of how this might play out, I would highly recommend “Ian’s Walk: A Story about Autism,” a picture book by Laurie Lears.  This is a great story about a young girl who draws closer to her autistic brother by learning to see the world as he does.

I hope these reflections are helpful.  I am by no means an expert on autism, but hopefully my $0.02 have meant something to somebody.

Photos from Wikipedia

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