Category Archives: kids

I Worry About Autistic Children – Trouble in the School System

I was extremely fortunate in life, born into a large family who loved me greatly. Every one of them wanted to see me succeed. They pushed me and taught me things. My grandparents made sure I had good manners and my aunts and uncles taught me art and music. Cousins and family was fun but teachers and school was very difficult.

At home I felt confident and competent, this was always crushed when I went to school. My individuality was not cherished and teachers said I was too much of a distraction to stay in class. Eventually when I learned to sit still (which even now is hard on me) I was allowed to return to class with my peers.

They were strict and it was hard but in the end I had to want to go back to the regular class room so I would be motivated to sit still. Autistic people can do very well if they are motivated but our motivations my not make sense to others.

I’ve learned to use my own motivations as rewards for good work. I tell myself “if you do this now you can have a reward at the end”. Sometimes the reward may be a stretch or stim break, it could be a cup of coffee, or a snack. I need to be motivated and as an adult I have to motivate myself to create good habits.

It’s not much different than what I would do for my dog when helping him learn new habits. All creatures love rewards and I love my dog. I want to help grow good habits so my dog can have a happy life – we just both happen to love treats.

Teachers who punish, call out flaws, and ostracize children who are different were some of my biggest adversaries in school growing up. They didn’t know what to do with me back then. I was “smart and dumb at the same time”. Teachers also called me lazy. There were no accommodations for me growing up, I had to learn to blend in or get kicked out of school.

Fast forward thirty years and parents advocating for their own children often struggle to get reasonable accommodations for their children in the public school system. Schools want to offer many Autistic kids a minimal education and with our current political situation I worry things may get much worse.

Many great historical thinkers had trouble in school growing up. Imagine if they encountered a system that told them they were not worth teaching. What if nobody had taken the time to help them learn and grow?

Everybody deserves the chance to learn and grow. We need to make sure Autistic children do not get shut out of an education just because they have a different way of experiencing the world.

Letter to My Younger Self

Dear Me, so bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Wild child, who can’t sit still, full of joy bouncing off the walls. Yes you are strange, but please don’t fear your uniqueness. Be you, don’t grow bitter.Stay strange and amazing.

You have so much potential. Yes, your mother is right you are smart. Stop believing when people tell you otherwise.

It’s okay that you don’t need people. That makes you independent NOT defective. You are not cold and robotic you are calm and logical. Yes you do things differently but some day this will be your strength.

The people who picked on you never made it far in life. It was them not you who had the problem. Bullies are insecure and often suffer on the inside, lashing out to make themselves feel bigger. Don’t be like them. Stay kind.

Silly girl, who talks to the animals and trees. Never stop. Don’t worry about what other people think of you. You are perfect just the way you are.

 

With deepest love,

-Me

Standardized Testing Isn’t Totally Useless, but It Does Miss the Point | Scott Barry Kaufman – Big Think

This video from Big Think has some great points. I have never felt like the public school system was fair to me and the way I needed to learn in my own way.

Teachers wanted me to sit still and my peers bullied me. I have always loved learning but I HATED school. Something is wrong with that picture.

The world needs different types of minds, all minds, different perspectives. They are all valuable.

I can take no credit for Big Think‘s video below. Please check them out for more content.

When People Say Children With Autism Are Products of ‘Bad Parenting’ – Kerry Magro on The Mighty

This one gets me.

Autism is a measurable neurological difference in brain development. Brain scans reveal that Autistic brains are physically different and react to external stimulus in different ways than “normal brains”. These differences are visible in behaviors from early childhood. (Mine were VERY visible from the beginning.)

Autism also seems to be genetic. Looking at my parents, grandparents, aunts, and cousins – I have NO doubt that this is true. I know this now, but I did not always think this way.

Maybe it was my Autistic perspective, but my family was fairly strict with manners and public behavior.

I could be wild like the Tasmanian Devil but I knew when to turn it off. I learned NOT to have outburst in stores and could hold myself together until I was alone or in the bathroom.

From my point of view, working SO hard to behave, other kids who could not hold it together looked like brats.

I know because I WAS this child in my teen years. I did not make my mother’s life easy, but she loved me and accepted me. That is what I needed more than anything.

We did not know I was Autistic and my own mother OFTEN called me a brat, spoiled, and other names. She did the best she could. It was all just a misunderstanding.

My mother did the best she could raising me. She worked hard, long, hours. We argued, but she loved me unconditionally. I am the result of amazing parenting.

Saying I am the result of bad parenting is just another insult – telling me I am defective and broken. Stop telling us that there is something wrong with us. We are different and that’s okay.

Kerry Magro is an AMAZING voice in the Autism community. He is helping to change the way the world sees Autism and Autistic people. Kerry had the following to say in a recent post on The Mighty.

I can take NO credit for anything below. Please check out Kerry Magro and read the full article here on The Mighty.

It’s ridiculous to think “bad parenting” is a cause of autism. That should be the end of the conversation right there. But I do usually follow up these conversations after sharing about my personal experiences by saying the following:

“By being a champion to your child on the autism spectrum, you can make a difference in their lives.”

By showing your child unconditional love, learning more about autism and providing them with supports whenever possible, you can do wonderful things for your child. Advocate for them, and whenever someone says autism is “caused” by bad parenting, make sure to educate those around you about the harm of these misconceptions. And the next time that happens, you can use this quote from one of our leading autism advocates, Dr. Temple Grandin“Autism is a neurological disorder. It’s not caused by bad parenting.”

Please read the full article here.

How ‘Autism Warrior Parents’ Harm Autistic Kids – How Cure Culture Hurts

The other day I commented on one of those “Child Cured by Autism” posts on Facebook. What on earth was I thinking? The sharks appeared.

Disbelievers and angry parents who HATE Autistic aduts with the “high functioning” / Asperger’slabel. These people can not stand to see us grouped in with their children.

Things get ugly fast and I remove myself from the toxicity.

I see them on Facebook and hide them from my news feed. Memes by Autism Moms talking about how difficult being a parent of an Autistic child is. I get it parenting an Autistic child is hard – but so is parenting a typical child.

My biggest issues with these posts that these parents make the children feel like a burden they focus on the problems these parents have and are negative. Why can’t we focus on the positive parts of this child?

Focusing on someone’s deficits and shortcomings and telling them that they are defective or broken is NEVER okay – especially for a developing child.

Telling the world of your child’s “faults” via the internet is cruel.

Eventually, when your child is old enough they may desire to start speaking for themselves. This is a personal choice and should be respected.

When and if the time is right, I hope they DO grow to self advocate – we need more Aspies sharing in this world.

Adults usedto talk for me when I was a child. I believed everything they said about me – that I was stupid, rude, strange.

My parents spoke for me, often inaccurately but I never corrected them. I have never been very good at explaining my inner workings out loud.

Children should never have to grow up feeling like they are not good enough the way they are.

Autism Awareness month happens every year, but we don’t need awareness we need acceptance. We need love and understanding.

Like a flower, when nurtured, Autistic children will grow and bloom. Please don’t pour poison on your flowers.

I can take NO credit for the text below. Please check out the full article by Shannon Des Roches Rosa  HERE on The Establishment.

Autism Warrior Parents (AWPs) insist on supporting their autistic kids either by trying to cure them, or by imposing non-autistic-oriented goals on them—rather than by trying to understand how their kids are wired, and how that wiring affects their life experience. Ironically, an AWP’s choices not only interfere with their own kid’s happiness and security, but contribute to social biases that prevent autistic people of all ages from getting the supports they need. Worst of all, by publicly rejecting their own children’s autism and agency, and by tending to hog the autism spotlight, AWPs are partially responsible for the public’s tendency to sympathize with parents rather than autistic kids —which, at its most extreme, can mean excusing parents and caretakers who murder their autistic charges.

But parents who learn how to spot and sidestep AWP mindsets can make their autistic child’s life (as well as their own) so, so much easier.

Read the full article here.

To the Parent of an Undiagnosed Autistic Girl

Every now and then I come across something that really hits close to home. As an adult women on the spectrum – who was diagnosed late – the following post REALLY stopped me in my tracks.

Anna Nibbs contributor the The Mighty.com shares a passionate letter to “the parent of an Undagnosed Autistic Girl. This could have been a letter to my own mother although I can take absolutely no credit for Anna’s writing below.
Please check out the full post HERE on The Mighty.

Yes, she’s a little on the “quirky” side, but on the whole, she seems to be coping; you’ll just leave things as they are. Besides, you don’t want to “label” her unnecessarily.

Thing is, though, we’re always labeling people.

Clever. Talented. Bright. Inquisitive. Curious. Compassionate. Kind. Funny. Sociable. Chatty. Tomboyish. Earnest. Bookish. Quirky. Eccentric. Precocious. Gifted.

Those don’t sound too bad, do they? Sure, you might be more keen on some of these “labels” than others, but on the whole, there’s not a lot to worry about here.

What about these?

Bossy. Opinionated. Controlling. Aloof. Selfish. Rude. Shy. Anxious. Naughty. Irritating. Antisocial. In your face.

Is it that you don’t want to label your girl, or is it simply that you don’t want to label her as “autistic”?

She’s fine now. She’s coping, as you say. But what about in the future?

As she grows older, other labels might start to creep in.

Withdrawn. Lazy. Lacking in application. Arrogant. Inconsistent. Over-sensitive. Away with the fairies. Disorganized. Teacher’s pet. Uncooperative. Defiant. Difficult. Out of control.

And it might happen that you seek out professional help on behalf of this girl, who may seem to be so brilliant in some ways, but to be struggling so desperately in others. And then, other labels might be used.

Bipolar. Borderline. Obsessive-compulsive. Clinically depressed or anxious. Anorexic. Bulimic. Suicidal.

Some of these will be wide off the mark. Observed autistic behaviors will be wrongly categorized, and a wrong diagnosis applied. And the struggles will continue.

Other labels might be correct. She might feel pain, confusion, frustration, stress, and exhaustion from puzzling over her identity; from trying, or at times refusing, to fit in, in a world which she doesn’t understand and which doesn’t understand her. From the onslaught of overwhelming information and sensory input. From trying to “cope.”

At times she may try to “mask.” And if she does so, sometimes she will do so successfully. And at other times she will get it woefully wrong. And either way, it’ll be stressful to keep up, year upon year upon year.

She might struggle with education and employment.

Or she might still do well in life.

But even if she does, something inside will never feel quite “right.” Something will be missing. The key. The glue. I hesitate to use the words “puzzle piece,” they’re too loaded and emotionally charged for many of us; but perhaps they’re appropriate here. This girl is not the puzzle, but she isn’t getting the full picture. Something that should be identified will not be.

Please check out the full post HERE on The Mighty.

Autistic Confessions – I Wanted to Wear a Leash

When I was a small girl, no older than 6, I begged my mother to get me a leash  (because I sometimes had an overpowering urge to run). She assumed, and told everyone, that I wanted to be a dog. She still tells the story incorrectly and I have never corrected her.

Woof.

Pokemon Go Gets My Son With Autism to Play Outside

More good things from my news feed. More positive stories about Autism and Pokemon Go. Today I came across a post by Elizabeth W. Barnes contributor to The Mighty. Once again – I can NOT take credit for this post – please do check out the full article via the link below. 🙂

The boy who fantasized about his whole summer being in front of his computer was voluntarily outside walking around.

I set up the game so it can’t access things I don’t want it to, and I walk with him to make sure he does not trip or injure himself while playing.

We have seen others out and about on the hunt in our otherwise sleepy neighborhood — kids with their tell-tale phones in hand, stopping to look around them, looking at the phones, and then moving on.

We stop, say hi, share our experiences, and then continue the hunt.

He commented regularly how it would be more fun if he were hunting dinosaurs instead of Pokemon, but he also showed clear signs of enjoying himself. His being willing to leave the house was a huge sign, and to me a big deal.

Please check out the original post by Elizabeth here.

 

Can Google Glass Help Kids With Autism Read Faces? — CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

 

An interesting idea from my news feed.

Like many autistic children, Julian Brown has trouble reading emotions in people’s faces. But now ,the 10-year-old boy is getting help from facial recognition software that runs on Google Glass.

via Can Google Glass Help Kids With Autism Read Faces? — CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

Temple Grandin Explains Why It’s Necessary to Pull ASD Children Out of Their Comfort Zone

I agree – although it was difficult, my mother forced me out of my comfort zone and made me do things I did not want to do while my sister “the baby” of the family was treated much more softly.

The difference in our independence is night and day. We both suffer with problems with anxiety and social situations, but I have learned to push through the anxiety  and she seems to have a much harder time than I do.

Once again I can NOT take credit for the following article, but I wanted to share as it was worth a read.

Temple Grandin is a huge inspiration to me and listening to her audio book actually sparked the “aha moment” that led me to realize that I was on the spectrum. If Temple is “the woman who thinks like a cow” than I am the woman who thinks like a dog.

A new autism book, The Loving Push, encourages parents to gently and lovingly nudge children on the spectrum to perform activities outside their comfort zone. This book is written by Dr. Temple Grandin, a leading spokesperson on autism, as well as psychologist Debra Moore.

In the book, Dr. Grandin gives an example of how her mother encouraged herto step outside her comfort zone; she urged her to go to the store to get lumber for something she was building. Grandin’s mother had deduced that her child’s motivation to do the project would help her overcome her anxiety. She was right. Dr. Grandin encourages other parents to do the same for their children, gently pushing them to reach their full potential.

 

Please read full article here.