9.26.2010

I Wonder If You Can Really See My Son

Leo and I had such a lovely day together -- a pleasant day, a day an NT kid might grumble about, running errands and going on outings. Leo was a great sport, and good company. But I suspect that we may have looked odd to anyone unaware of Leo's challenges, or who doesn't know how much effort Leo, his family, and all the dedicated professionals and educators who have worked with him over the past seven years have put into supporting him, into helping him look merely quirky rather than out of control.

So, theoretical observer, let me interpret for you, in case you are curious about kids like Leo when you see them out and about, and wonder what is actually going on with that funky kid and his or her parents. Let me elaborate for you, explain to you just how successful our boy's day was.

At the Soccer Field

We started our day accompanying Mali while her team took soccer pictures, as Seymour was at another park watching Iz play her own soccer game. We were surrounded by lots of yabbering small children. I held Leo's hand the whole time, which might look funny as he is obviously not a small child himself. Why do I hold his hand? Because it makes it less likely that he will bolt. Because noisy, swarming little kids sometimes make him skittish, and holding my hand can help him feel calm. It also prevents him from engaging in his latest stim: spinning and stomping:

video

While we were waiting for Mali to stop making faces at the camera, I introduced Leo to several parents of kids who knew Mali. After I told Leo each parent's name, he replied on his own, "Hi, 'Name.'" This elicited big smiles of delight from several parents who knew of Leo but had never really talked to him before, and didn't realize what a friendly, polite kid he is.

Successes:
  1. Leo didn't bolt.
  2. Leo didn't stim.
  3. Leo waited with me during a non-preferred activity for 30 minutes, without getting impatient.
  4. Leo didn't treat the small kids like the bowling pins to his bowling ball. No one was scared of him, much less hurt by him.
  5. Leo spontaneously inserted correct names in a social greeting, with eye contact, and as an appropriate response to a social question.
What we need to work on: Spinning and stomping. I'm worried that this is an OCD behavior. It's time for us to visit his behavioral psychiatrist anyhow, to monitor his blood sugar levels and liver function (Risperdal being a black box med that requires consistent checking in) so I will ask about the behavior then.

At the Coffee House

After Mali's pictures, we went to our wonderful local, autism parent-owned coffee shop, Cocoa Java, to wait for Seymour and Iz. Leo spied bagels in the food case the moment we entered the cafe, but I asked him and Mali to sit down at a table and wait while I ordered their food. The person working the counter had a workflow pattern slightly incompatible with child patron happiness -- she handed me their donuts on plates immediately, but then went off to make my single-drip coffee before taking my money. So. I had to wait at the counter with the kids' food until the barista finished up, as any donuts I put down on the table would be inhaled instantly, and then there would be impatience while I drank my own coffee when it finally arrived.

While I was waiting, Leo asked me for bagels several times, from across the cafe, in his standard request format, "Want a bagel, please?" It might have appeared odd to another patron, my son's continuing to ask me for a bagel after I'd already told him no. But for Leo, it was a form of self-soothing and processing -- he really wasn't going to get a bagel, that blew, and he had to deal. Eventually the coffee arrived, I sat down, and we all enjoyed our coffee house treats.

Successes:
  1. Leo waited calmly for a highly-preferred food item, without me sitting next to him, and without taking out his frustrations on the little sister who was sitting with him.
  2. He accepted that another highly-preferred food item would not be coming his way, even though he could see it, right there in that display case.
  3. He did not lost his shit completely and cause a scene over #1 or #2.
After a while, Seymour called to say he wouldn't be able to meet us, as Iz's post-game soccer photos were taking forever. I dropped off Mali with Seymour so he could take our youngest to her own game  after Iz's pix, and drove Leo home to his session with Therapist V.

Lunch at Suraj

Seymour and the girls left for a daddy-daughter hootenanny shortly after Therapist V finished his Leo session, which meant Leo and I had the afternoon to ourselves. We immediately took off on one of our favorite mother-son excursions: buffet lunch at a local Indian restaurant.

Once we entered the restaurant, I let go of his hand so he could feel more independent. He then did a giggly happy dance -- the dance of anticipatory naan bread joy. But he wasn't too loud and it didn't last more than fifteen seconds -- if he had been genuinely disruptive to other patrons, we would have left. We've been customers since before we had kids, so the restaurant staff knows and doesn't mind Leo's quirky behaviors.

Leo followed behind me as I pillaged the buffet, asking me for naan bread every thirty seconds. I reassured him each time that he could have it -- but not until we sat down at the table. He remained calm.

Once we sat down, I tore off pieces of naan bread and handed them to him individually, usually requiring that he answer a question correctly first, such as "Who likes naan bread?" (Leo's response: "I do!")

My behavior probably appeared very odd and controlling -- a helicopter mom hand-feeding her chubby son -- yep, that family's got some food issues. But there was actually a lot of work, progress, and practicing going on, for those who knew what to look for.

Every time I handed Leo a piece of naan bread, I was dipping it in my saag -- right in front of him, so he could see what I was doing. (Saag is spinach cooked down and pureed with onions, butter, and spices. And, at Suraj, with a definite chili kick.)
As you can see, I put more than a speck of saag on each piece of naan. What you can't see, because I positioned the bread in this shot for saag-daubing display, is that every other time I handed him a piece of naan, it was with the saag facing Leo -- I was not in any way attempting to hide what I was feeding him. He ate every single piece. Happily.
He then asked for ice cream. Since dessert is included in the buffet (self-serve mango ice cream, mmmm, though I had chai and gulab jamun), I got him a bowl of the orange stuff. He ate the entire thing himself, with his spoon. His grip is still a little bit awkward (fine motor/grasp issues), but he ate all that ice cream all by himself. He even spontaneously mopped up drips! (See video.)
video

Successes:
  1. Leo used the correct pronouns in answering all of my questions (and "I do!" is new -- he usually answer "me!").
  2. Our boy with his history of eating only six food items is now eating a spicy Indian food, willingly. I will be increasing the saag amount gradually, with the hope that eventually he'll eat the saag itself without the naan.
  3. He did not cause a scene in trying to snatch naan bread from the buffet.
  4. He fed himself an entire portion of food using a utensil rather than his hand.
  5. He did not bolt his naan bread, nor did he bolt his ice cream -- actions that have in the past resulting in his barfing on the table at this very restaurant because he doesn't seem to be able to tell when he's full -- or perhaps his compulsion to eat overrides his "I'm full" sensor.
Number 5 is the one we're still really working on, the preferred food compulsions. Seven years of ABA and we still need to monitor all preferred food items, other wise he'll sneak off and/or snatch and bolt them -- as he did in that SF Weekly article about him and his iPad.

Side note: I'm still disappointed in the behaviorist/SF Weekly commenter who declared Leo's food snatching a behavioral failure -- what a dick. As if ABA therapy implants an on/off switch or guarantees 100% compliance! I'm glad my mom and so many other people chastised him for being unable to look beyond that one incident and appreciate the article's lauding of Leo's many successes.

Side note #2. Leo's food snatching has spawns some interesting side effects: He's getting sneaky and plotty, which IMHO demonstrates a degree of Theory of Mind. A few weeks ago, after swimming in our pool with his sisters, I asked him to run in the house and get dressed while I spent 120 seconds closing the pool -- running in the house and getting dressed independently being what he does after every pool session. However, at some point earlier in the day, he must have spied our new jar of Nutella on the top shelf where he was not supposed to be able to reach it -- because when I came into the house, he was standing on the counter -- naked -- with the Nutella jar in his hand, scooping it into his mouth as quickly as he could. Quite the sight -- but I was laughing too hard, and working too hard on not letting him see me laugh, to get a picture.

At the Hair Salon

Leo let this lady cut his hair, without any significant behaviors. He squawked and fidgeted a lot, initially -- which I'm sure drew quizzical glances from the other patrons -- but once I brought out his iPod touch and held it in front of his face so he could watch Ben 10, he settled down. The stylist was then not only able to chop off his luxuriant glossy curls, but she was able to buzz a clean line around his ears and neck.
The result is quite striking, I think -- don't you? Handsome boy! Though I do cry quietly every time we have to cut off those beautiful curls.



Successes:
  1. Leo did not scream and cry and try to escape from the stylist's chair.
  2. He did not need to sit on one of the playground-style kiddie chairs. He sat in a regular chair.
  3. He did not require a lollipop or any other food item to comply.
  4. He did not jerk his head around so violently that his hairline looked badger-chewed.
  5. He was able to focus on a video during the session, and sit extra-calmly.
Leo, with our and his team's support, is still working on some of his issues -- the food bolting especially (we're going to be formulating another new approach, both at home, and with his teacher at school). But I hope this rundown of Leo's today helps some people appreciate that, when you see a kid like Leo out and about town, perhaps instead of thinking, "Why is that kid behaving so strangely," you could ask yourself, "I wonder just how hard that kid is working."

Because I bet you anything, those quirky kids -- they've worked their asses off, just to be able to leave the house and appear in public. In Leo's case, the goal isn't even to blend in, but rather to be able to grocery shop, eat in a restaurant, go to the park, or get a hair cut without disturbing anyone else, or causing a major incident. We got through the entire day without having to abort a single errand -- quite an accomplishment for such an easily overwhelmed boy.

I hope, after reading this, you're as proud of Leo as I am.

9.25.2010

A Favorite Book

So, my birth son. I sent him an anonymous package a while back -- he posted a plea on Facebook, listing his address abroad, begging people to send him stuff. Why not, I figured. He has lots of silly, prank-pulling friends.

And in that package, there was a book. A favorite book. A book that was my bright shiny mind-feeding carrot during those traumatizing first few weeks when Iz wouldn't nurse. A beloved book. A Booker of Bookers book.

A book that is now listed on his Facebook profile as one of his favorite books.

It could be a coincidence. He's a well-read young man, it could have been a favorite already.

But I like to think that, perhaps, it wasn't.

9.24.2010

iPad Apps for Kids With Autism: Fun Ones! Cheap Ones! Free Ones!

Leo's love affair with his iPad continues! It helps that we keep finding fun new apps for him, and that those apps are often either free or inexpensive. We <3 you, app developers! Keep the free and low cost innovation coming!

Here are three of Leo's current faves, apps that engage him for long long stretches. I know that they're helping him with a variety of fine motor, composition, and social skills -- but from his perspective, they're just fun. Which is something he has a hard time finding on his own. Ah, self-direction. Stick around for a while, will you?

Faces iMake
I've written about Faces iMake by Imagine Machine before -- it's much beloved by our entire family. Leo scored his copy for free through the wonderful Moms With Apps App Friday program (oh, hey, look, it's Friday today!), but it's now available in a free Lite version.

Leo doesn't do a lot of face-making at the moment -- he's a more free-form collage guy. But he certainly enjoys playing with all the easily accessible elements, as you can see in the video two images below (he's playing with the Lite version).

Here's one of his creations. I think it displays his budding talent for color composition and complement (e.g., he changed the background color after creating the collage), something he's been demonstration with clothing choices lately as well: if his new shirt has an orange pinstripe in it, then damn it, he is going to wear his orange shorts -- and there will be vocal protests if we suggest otherwise. 


Draw With Stars
Another great play/art app that we also downloaded via MomsWithApps is Draw With Stars. Its interface is simple -- touch the screen to draw, but if you touch a star you've already placed it will fly off screen. For Leo, whose autism symptoms include fine motor challenges and a touch of OCD, it's incredibly engaging. He gets to practice drawing in a free-form environment,  work on his fine motor control, experience cause-and-effect (don't cross the streams!), and methodically clear the screen, in great swaths or star by individual star. He considers this app great fun.

This is my very favorite drawing of his so far -- I've made it our iPad launch screen. Though I'm surprised Leo didn't add more than five fingers -- he's aware that hands have five fingers, but considers the concept limiting, and, as an artist, likes to add three or four extra digits.


The video below shows him starting a Draw With Stars session (he eventually cleared every last star off the screen). Note also how, erm, well-loved the screen is. And his, um, ambidextrousness! (Yes, I will be sending this video to his fantastic new OT at school.)


Fruit Memory
My personal favorite of all his new apps is Fruit Memory, a variation on Concentration created by Paul Mayne. I found it via a recommendation from my friend and probably most favorite blogger of all time SJ. Fruit Memory is not free, but it is only 99 cents.

Fruit Memory's design is adorable. You can't argue with me on that point -- it would be like condemning kitten videos or cats who blog. Which simply isn't done, not by civilized people.
I like Fruit Memory is because it combines one of Leo's strengths -- his strong visual memory -- with an optional social interaction element.

Again, it's a Concentration game. Players can choose the number of tiles and play alone, or -- social element alert -- with up to three other players. Which means turn taking practice! Which Leo needs!

Each person's avatar lights up when it is their turn --- again, a nice visual cue, helpful for Leo and his visuall-oriented friends.

Here's our boy playing on his own -- you should see the speed at which he dispatches each game. (the app is also good for practicing fruit names.)

And you won't get to see a video of this one because I'm a little bit bitter -- every time I play Leo, he kicks my ass. By a margin of several points. Which, when you're only dealing with six points total on the lower level -- you get the idea.

If you get any of these apps for your kids -- or if you have them already -- let me know what you think. Or if you have any tips or tricks or uses we might not have considered.

9.21.2010

A Regular Mom

Here's the thing I've noticed about the autism and special needs parents I gravitate towards -- I love them not just because they Get It, but because the "Getting It" is a secret handshake, a release that lets us all immediately be ourselves, our wonderful, ribald, exhausted, gallows-humor-loving selves. Without pretense. Without eggshells-perching about our children's situations or conditions. Without having to explain or dwell on our kids' challenges. Without -- blessedly -- any mawkish implied pity. We can just hang out. And talk about the kids we love so much -- or not talk about them at all. You know, like regular parents.

Which is why it was such a delight to meet Laura Shumaker last week, at a San Francisco lunch with West Coast Thinking Person's Guide to Autism editors Jennifer Byde Myers and Liz Ditz  Laura is most assuredly one of us. Wry, incisive, and damn good company. And she Gets It, implicitly but unsurprisingly -- she wrote about the necessity of being around other parents who Get It in her book A Regular Guy: Growing up with Autism, which is about parenting her now-adult son Matthew. If you haven't read A Regular Guy yet, you need to. (You can even be like Jen and read the Kindle version.)

A Regular Guy was a friendly cuff under the chin, for me. Laura's and Matthew's story reminded me how fortunate I am to be parenting a child with autism in this Internet era of heightened awareness and support. How important it is to take care of myself, if I'm going to be strong enough to take care of Leo and his sisters. And, most strikingly, just how much autism parents' experiences vary -- and how comfortable I've become with my own family's "difficult." Laura's family's challenges almost had me blurting that most-despised phrase, "I don't know how you do it!"

But I do know how Laura does it, because she's documented it thoroughly. She does it because she's one of us -- doing her utmost to give her son the best life possible, while navigating challenges neither she nor any of us special powers parents ever anticipated.

I have read and admired Laura's writing for years, and did a tasteful happy dance when she agreed to contribute essays to The Thinking Person's Guide. It was a much bigger treat to meet her in person. I hope this is the first of many meetings -- and I hope for the good fortune to meet Matthew eventually as well. Thank you, Laura!

9.20.2010

Autism and Vaccines: Stand Up, Speak Up, Be Smart

We now have several mainstream articles per week on two autism and vaccine issues:
  1. Study after credible study finds NO link between vaccines and autism.
  2. Decreased vaccination rates jeopardize our children's health -- California is experiencing its worst whooping cough outbreak in 50 years, and it just so happens that the counties with the highest rates of whooping cough -- Sonoma and Marin -- also have the highest rates of families taking "personal belief" exemptions from school vaccination requirements.
Which means that those in autism causation misinformation camp are reduced to spreading their beliefs and false claims with foxhole-style fervor, as in today's HuffPo Deirdre Imus interview with two Age of Autism writers, Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted. Here's an excerpt:
Deirdre: "That certainly is contrary to what mainstream medicine and science is saying, which is that autism is basically a genetic disorder. Many argue that there has been no real increase, that it's just more awareness and better diagnosis. And the courts have ruled against families that have claimed that vaccines cause autism, and just recently shut the final door on those cases.

Mark: "That's certainly what some orthodox autism scientists have been saying, but that doesn't make it true. Some of these people, they've made careers of talking a lot, but what they're really saying is basically incoherent blather. The problem is the implications of an epidemic are so profound along so many dimensions, so foundation-shaking that the medical industry and establishment are kind of circling the wagons. But at their core, their arguments make no sense." [Emphasis mine -SR]
I really hope that smart readers, like you, will read through the entire article and not take my word for  why it stinks. That you don't actually need me to point out Blaxill's and Olmsted's information shaping and emotional bait-laying: that because of their backgrounds in loving statistics and  professional journalism, we should believe them and their charged interpretations of data -- and not the "blathering" scientists who as a professional rule present their findings neutrally.

I know why people like Blaxill and Olmsted spread this misinformation. I understand that those in their true believer camp really are believers, and that a fact attack is not going to get them to change their minds. But I'm also done with pretending they don't exist. Such extremists may represent splinter interests, but they are loud and persistent in their need to poke holes in, rather than understand, the science behind the issues. They still have the ability to misdirect gullible or inexperienced readers. And as the California whooping cough outbreak may well indicate, they can cause real harm.

So I'm speaking out against autism & vaccine misinformation like that ceaselessly spread by Age of Autism. And I encourage you to speak out, as well. Because, as I wrote for BlogHer last week, my children, and your children, deserve the very best advocacy we can give them.

9.17.2010

The Great White Shark Song!

I swear to you, Seymour has the best job in the world. I came home from tonight's very successful SEPTAR 2010-11 kickoff meeting to a find my handsome husband beaming over the launch of his team's exclusive new music video:


This one's for anyone who loves sharks more than girls or beer, and who appreciates lyrics like "ambush style is how they hunt; seven rows of teeth, lorenzini in the front."


Note: All shark footage is from the Farallons.

9.15.2010

Thoughful Analysis of the No Link Between Autism & Vaccines Pediatrics Study

Emily Willingham, a scientist and autism parent (and, OK, the science editor for The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism) has analyzed the recent Pediatrics study that found no evidence of a link between autism & thimerosal/vaccine exposure:
http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com/2010/09/pediatrics-study-finds-no-link-between.html
It's worth your time - Emily breaks down not just why the study is comprehensive and inclusive in both approach and findings, but preempts potential criticism about conflicts of interest or conspiracy. She also highlights something I'd not read before: researchers have noted a *negative* association between thimerosal exposure and autism.

Thanks Emily!

9.11.2010

Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo SUPERFAMILY Sunday!

An appreciation day for families who have kids with special needs:

Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo

Sunday, Sept. 19th
10am - 12:30pm

Join us for this FREE! event when the JMZ will be open exclusively
to families with children who have disabilities.

This is a time to recognize parents who work extra hard on their child’s behalf!

Children with all disabilities are welcome as well as siblings and grandparents.

Come and meet some of our animals up-close!

Enjoy coffee sponsored by Peet's!

In order to maintain a non-crowded environment:
SPOTS ARE LIMITED. RESERVATIONS REQUIRED.

Contact Tina Keegan to make a reservation or to request special accommodations:
email Tina or call (650) 329-2624

9.09.2010

SF: iPads & Fog

Leelo & his iPad were featured in another article, this one by SF Gate's Laura Shumaker. Thanks Laura! I'm glad she noted my advice for folks thinking about getting an iPad: if you can, cruise an Apple store during a slow period and check out the display iPads, first.

And here's a reminder that Leo is interested in more than his iPad. He drew this person last week on his magnadoodle. He was very careful to add all eight fingers on that left hand -- he even counted them out as he drew them.

Things have been a bit stressful here lately. When you find yourself in a similar state, I encourage you to watch this meditative video from Seymour & crew, on The Science of Fog. Really, anyone who's ever wondered what the hell is up with San Francisco's cold foggy summers needs to see it.

9.06.2010

What 7th, 4th, & 1st Graders Look Like

Here's what our trio looked like when they hit the first day of school two weeks ago. Can you believe we have such tall children in this house? Iz's head fits right under my chin, Leelo can put his head on my shoulder when he sits next to me, and Mali -- she is enjoying the last days of being hip-hoistable. Sob.

Iz: 7th grade. Middle school for real. Tough caring teachers with x-ray vision when it comes to excuses. I hope she will thrive rather than crumple. I may be needing to unearth some of my crusty former cheerleading skills on her behalf. She is surprisingly nonchalant about our never really having time to go back-to-school shopping, and wearing last year's clothes and shoes on her first day back. In her stead I would have Lost. My. Shit. Completely. Good for her.

Leelo: 4th grade, in The World's Greatest Autism School. So far, everything is peachy. We will need to meet with his teachers to fine tune some matters of visual supports, etc., but Leo comes home from school happy every day. He also is harness-free for the first time in his short bus commuting career (though he now rides in a van). Even cooler -- guess who commutes with him? Jennyalice's Jake. Planets aligning. It is too cool. Jen says Leelo giggles every morning when he arrives at their house to pick up Jake, and sees a bunch of his favorite people waiting. His 1-month new school IEP is coming on the 22nd, and Seymour and I have a lot of prepping to do to make it a productive, team-building, Leo's best interests event. Onus on us. Heh.

Mali: 1st grade, with Iz's stern but fair and loving Galician teacher from 2nd grade. Who is not letting our beloved little monster getting away with a damn thing -- thank GOD. Though this did mean Mali spent her first two weeks complaining about hating school. She even tried out a good cry about not wanting to go to school, one morning (she got sent in anyhow). Now Mali says she likes class, even though it is really hard to sit at tables and do all that work and not play so much. Sigh.

I'm glad they're back in school. They're glad they're back in school. But wow, what a summer. Can't believe it's already over -- and even though it almost killed me, I miss it already.

And I can't believe we have such tall children. When did this happen?

9.04.2010

Antivaccinationist Misinformation and Conflicts of Interest Make Me Swear Out Loud, Too

Ask Kim recently highlighted, not every one with concerns about vaccines should be labeled an "antivaccinationist." And some people have solid reasons not to vaccinate (compromised immunity, etc).

But people who believe the willfully perpetrated misinformation spread by antivaccinationists and let that inform their decisions about vaccinations? That, as Penn and Teller declared in their recent documentary on autism, vaccines, and alternative autism treatments, is Bullshit!

If you know someone who's still on the fence, have them watch this video. P&T capsulize and fatally skewer major autism myths in less than 30 minutes, demonstrating that:
  • Vaccines protect our kids, critically -- a modern luxury that should not be taken for granted. If you're crunched for time, watch the first two minutes for a stellar depiction as to why vaccinations are so important, regardless of autism concerns.
  • There is no link between autism and vaccines, and yes, scientists have investigated the matter thoroughly.
  • Vaccines are not Big Pharma cash cows. But -- ooh irony -- the alternative autism treatment industry is quite the golden goose.
  • There is more mercury in a tuna sandwich than there was in an entire lifetime's worth of vaccines -- but the mercury in the vaccine preservative Thimerosal was removed from scheduled vaccines years ago [and anyhow it was ethylmercury, not methylmercury -SR].
  • Andrew Wakefield played a very large role in the decline of vaccination rates, and he deserved to have his medical license pulled for shoddy work that harmed children (which he laughed about - on camera).
(Note: peppery profanity plus brief nudity near the end, so, NSFW. Also, click directly on the video's arrow or you'll be redirected.)


I am three weeks behind on everything, so for deeper and more timely takes on P&T's exposé, see Respectful Insolence and Bad Astronomy.

---

Appended 9.6, originally as a comment:

I have to admit, I felt sorry for the two featured antivaccinationist parents -- but they smeared themselves with their own ignorance. Freaked out about ingredients in vaccines? How about researching the reasons why those ingredients are incorporated, and comparing them to those in other over the counter meds? Etc.

Unfortunately, antivaccinationsts are usually not rational thinkers or synthesizers -- qualities necessary to engage in this debate and be taken seriously (P&T qualify; that they set their evidence in a NSFW context is irrelevant). Antivaxxer activists are jackdaw superficialists. Loud ones.

Note: we need to point out group antivax  shortcomings and falsehoods, but it is rarely productive to engage antivaxxers individually. They are interested in spin and agenda, not dialogue -- and certainly not facts.

9.03.2010

Think Before You Comment!

I'm going to pull a Foghorn Leghorn on you: Have you seen -- I said, have you seen -- the astounding weekdaily essays we're showcasing at The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism? In just the past three days:
There's been a bit of a stir in the comments section on that last post. So, I'm going to repeat here what I commented there:

I believe some commenters may have misinterpreted Pia's open letter, and inferred negativity and hostility where none was intended, and when in fact Pia was apologizing for any misbehavior on her (and our, the parents', part).

We consider teachers and the other professionals who work with our children part of our community. We also consider TPGA a community-building space, one where we promote greater understanding and the greater good on behalf our our children and (again) community. I would ask that everyone try to come from a position of understanding and questioning when commenting, rather than defensiveness.

If an entry makes you upset, I would ask you to do four things before considering commenting in a way that could cause harm or strife:

1) Walk away from the screen for a while, and think about why you want to comment.
2) Re-read the essay or comment. The writer might not have written what you think they wrote.
3) Consider why you want to comment. Are you trying to bring about greater understanding of important perspectives for the good of the community, or are you feeling angry and defensive? If it's the latter, go back to #1.
4) Ask the writer if they are saying what you think they said. Think carefully before using provocative phrases.

And remember that you're never alone.

9.01.2010

Talking iPads and Autism With Autism Hangout's Craig Evans

The affable Craig Evans of Autism Hangout invited me to do an interview about Leo and his iPad just yesterday. We talked about the many ways in which our boy's beloved iDevice has benefited him, and I got to have a good laugh over concerns about us using the iPad as a "babysitter" for Leo -- our child who has always had so much difficulty self-directing his free time until Apple gave him the tools he needed. But what if Leo spends too much free time having fun, instead of being frustrated and needing 1:1 direction? What then?

Really appreciated the opportunity to chat with such a nice guy about Leo's many iPad successes.

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