Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Powerful Mother/Daughter Pair

Wow. I can't stop reading this blog. It makes me wonder if we are severely limiting our students by not trying typing with them (since the evidence-based zealots refuse to think out side the box!).

Where would the harm be in trying? In getting trained in Soma's method? If it can work for one child, where is the harm? This mom is not touching her child while she types, so we can be sure the words are the child's. I have met people who type independently to communicate; so what if they started with someone holding their arms back and providing support, eliminating frantic, impulsive and random typing? Isn't communication  something we have to learn?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Excuses, Excuses

Well, apparently I have not attained my goal of posting regularly.....I have my reasons, which included a week and more of household upheaval while workmen installed new wood floors, a trip to Connecticut to see a Bruce Springsteen show,

(And I FINALLY won the lottery to stand in the Pit, right in front of the stage, so I was THIS CLOSE to the was a lot of fun!)

and then hospitalization and 14 days of IV antibiotics for an infection that started as a UTI and became an infection in my kidneys and blood....and that infection sapped my strength and energy, so getting through the end of the school year was a challenge....

But I did. And one thing I learned about working with the kids with ASD....I do my best work when I am fully present with them, not distracted by having to take notes or data, not concerned about if they were making progress toward my specific goals, but when I can delight in them in the moment, respond to them honestly and intuitively, and be WITH them (with uppercase letters!).

And this experience flies in the face of IEPs, writing annual goals and objectives, taking data to determine if they have met their goals and objectives, and pre-planning what it is they are supposed to learn. What if teachers were absolutely present with their students, responsive rather than directive, following up on the child's initiations rather then telling the child what to do and how to do it? What would that education be like for our kids with ASD?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Random Thoughts

As far as my absence from this blog, I have made a trip to Senegal. You can read about that trip on this blog:

I have been loving this particular blog:

The mom and her daughter write so beautifully and convincingly. It gives me hope to keep on listening to the students I serve.

Then I read this blog, which makes me a little crazy. These writers are totally anti-vaccinations, and consider any article that states that vaccines are necessary for all kids to be outrageous!

And Autism Awareness Week or Month? I have mixed feelings about it. We do a wonderful week at a school where I work, and we really celebrate our students with autism and their friends. I am only sorry I can't post anything here about it because I do not have permission to post those photos or interviews. But what good is awareness without action? Education?  Simple awareness is not enough.....we have to educate!

I hope to be back on this blog on a regular basis.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Taking a Break

Hi all,

There's been a lot going on around here...and I am leaving tomorrow to take a trip to Senegal with students from one of the schools I work for....No, the students with autism who are included are not coming with us. They could if their families wanted them to do so, but they did not apply. We are taking our multicultural group by train to DC tomorrow in the morning, and then catching a flight to Dakar at 7:30 PM.  So I will not be blogging here for at least a week.

Take care and enjoy your April vacation!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Wading Through Information: Tons of it!

I have a question: how do you readers wade through the extraordinary volumes of blogs, newsletters, research reports, articles, studies, and organizations that are available to us on the Internet? I need help!

Sometimes I just troll and click on items that look interesting. I try to keep up with the published literature, but I am interested in parents' blogs, incidental reports on such things as Rapid Prompting Method, the fact that Syracuse University still supports and teaches Facilitated Communication, and try to understand, in general, the puzzle that is autism. I like first-person accounts and, despite the research, I believe that there are genuinely adults who communicate by typing and that the Rapid Prompting Method, although not evidence-based, has helped children learn. Do I believe that there is any method that succeeds with ALL children? No.

So, how do you keep track of the enormous amount of autism information that is out there?

 And, just FYI, the writers at are still condemning the CDC for causing autism by hiding the 'truth' of how vaccines are responsible for the autism 'epidemic'.....apparently we can't trust the CDC at all. Check it, and be sure to comment about how you handle wading through topics in which you are interested.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

New Autism Prevalence Rates Announced Today by the CDA

CNN reported today that the CDC published the results of a study that the prevalence of autism is now 1 in 68, and not 1 in 88 as had been the agreed-upon rate in 2009. The CDC has an Autism Monitoring Network (which can be found here: Keep in mind, however, that this figure was based on information from health and special education records of children who were 8 years old and lived in areas of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina Utah and Wisconsin in 2010. This new estimate does not represent the entire population of the United States.

This new estimate is roughly 30% higher than the estimate for 2008, roughly 60% higher than 2006, and 120% higher than in 2000 and 2002.

White children were more likely to be diagnosed with ASD than black or Hispanic children. And these figures differ depending on where you live. these vary as much as 1 in 175 children in areas of Alabama and 1 in 45 in areas of New Jersey.

This table does not include data from the most recent study.

About 1 in 42 boys were identified,  and 1 in 189 girls.

The majority were not diagnosed until age 4, which is too late for early intervention.

Increase in diagnoses due to increased awareness by pediatricians and neurologists? Likely. Kids I see today would have had different diagnoses in the late 70's (language impaired, mental retardation, intellectual disability)

Increase in diagnoses due to environmental factors? Likely. There is a lot of 'stuff' in our environment that affects developing fetuses.

Increase in diagnoses due to genetic factors ?Likely. Older parents, autism running in families, several generations.

Increase in diagnoses due to vaccines? Not likely at all, although there are many organizations which still believe in autism-regression-due-to-vaccines.

Well, it's mostly just Age of Autism: Check it out. Get their slant on all this!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

New Study: Autism, Environmental Factors and Intellectual Disability

There is a new study published last Monday that connects autism with environmental influences. The particular environmental influences are not teased out, but this county-by-county study points to the environment as a contributing factor to autism and what the authors call "Intellectual Disability". Here is a quote from the Science Daily report:

The team found that every one percent increase in malformations in a county was associated with a 283 percent increase in autism and 94 percent increase in ID in that same county. Almost all areas with higher rates of autism also had higher rates of ID, which the researchers believe corroborates the presence of environmental factors. In addition, they found that male children with autism are almost six times more likely to have congenital genital malformations. Female incidence was linked with increased malformation rates, but weakly so. A county-by-county map of autism and ID incidence above or below the predicted baseline for the entire US is included in the study.

The report on the study can be found here:

I've always thought the autism 'epidemic' (not my word; theirs) would have as a contributing factor environmental toxins. However, in my experience, some of the students identified as having autism whom I see now would not have had that diagnosis in the 70's when I first started in this field. But I also think the fact that more families have multiple children on the spectrum rests on environmental issues. We didn't see families with more than one child on the spectrum in the 1970's. If they had one, their other children were neurotypical, except in extreme situations. 

What do you think? Toxins or changes in diagnostic categories?