Monday, April 15, 2013

How I Experience Empathy

For a couple of years now, I have wanted to write something about autism, and empathy.  I wasn't sure what, though.  I (as usual!) don't fall into the same belief system as anyone else I know of about this subject.  I find most views to be be extreme.

On one side, I see the ones that think we have no empathy, or at least the typical capacity for it.

Then , the other that contends we have too much to the point we're all empaths.

I don't believe either of those to be true for myself, or my boys from what I have experienced, and known of ASD. So, where does that leave me?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Aspie Negativity

This is a stir the pot kinda post.  You've been warned now. If you're not in the mood for thinking about broad issues, then you might not want to keep reading. If you think you can keep an open mind, then keep reading. If comments get out of hand I will have to moderate them.  Please, don't make me do that by leaving nasty comments. Thank You!

There is this thing that I see happen often among autistic people. As with everything, it's not black, and white.  Not every autistic person does this, and NTs can do it, too, but I find it to be a very, very common trait among autistic people.

Basically, it's not seeing the forest for the trees type of thinking. It's the idea that if one tiny thing is wrong (in their eyes) in a vast quantity of right, the wrong is still worth bringing up, and making a big deal about it.

Monday, April 8, 2013

School Update

As promised, I am updating about the school situation with Bubby.

I won't give you a run down of who said what, and a play by play, because that takes too long, and is frankly boring to read.  It went, overall , well.  As requested, the behavior consultant, and the autism specialist attended, as well as Bubby's special ed teacher.  This wasn't really a strcuctured meeting, but rather a forum to throw out ideas, and strategies to take to the IEP meeting, so that we can amend the IEP appropriately.  Normally, we would not have to hold a full meeting to amend the IEP, but since the staff seems to never be on the same page we will have a full meeting.  I think the date was scheduled tentatively for the 25th, with the understanding that much of what we discussed would be put in place immediately.

We decided that it would be best at this time if Bubby never had any homework to take home.  Instead, we found a space in his day where he could work on any unfinished work he might have at school.  If there is no unfinished work, then he might  have time to relax, and do something fun. This is going to make the rest of the team mad, because they vehemently disagree with the idea of no homework. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Mindfulness In Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorders-Guest Post

Guest post by: Dr. Annelies Spek. She writes at : Autism and

Information about the author:

Dr. Annelies Spek is clinical psychologist and senior researcher at the adult autism center in the southof the Netherlands (Eindhoven). Her Ph D thesis was entitled: cognitive profiles of adults with high functioning autism (HFA) or Asperger syndrome. Now she examines the effects of treatment in adults with autism. She also gives lectures about diagnosis and treatment in adults with autism.

Furthermore, she gives mindfulness training to adults with autism and she developed a training program for clinician s (who work with adults with autism) on this subject. For more information about (mindfulness in) adults with autism: here- mail address is

The original book ‘Mindfulness in adults with autism’, has not been translated in English yet. If you would like to be informed about this in the future, send me an email. If you have any ideas that might help to have the book translated in English, please contact me!

Kind regards,
Annelies Spek


Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder that affects functioning in multiple  areas. Recent studies show that autism is often accompanied by other psychiatric  symptoms, including depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, inattention and distress in general. Evidence suggests that depression is the most common psychiatric  disorder seen in autism (Ghaziuddin et al., 2002). Especially adults with relatively high cognitive ability seem at risk for developing symptoms of depression, possibly because they are more aware of expectations of the outside world and their inability to meet those.

Symptoms of depression in adults with autism seem different than in other individuals, ranging from irritability to an increase in difficulty with change and sensitivity for sensory stimuli (Ghaziuddin et al., 2002). An important aspect of depression and distress in people with autism is the tendency to ruminate. This can be described as a drive to think repetitively and experiencing difficulty to let thoughts go. For instance, adults with autism often lay awake at night, pondering about the events of the day and analyzing those in detail. The tendency of people with autism to ruminate appears related to the detailed information processing style that characterizes autism.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Revisiting an Old Special Interest-RIP Kurt Cobain

Nirvana was one of my first, and definitely the strongest to date of my special interests. I typically didn't speak to many people as a teenager. It was such a tumultuous time for me. Full of misunderstandings, and parents that couldn't, wouldn't and didn't want to deal with my differences. The subject of music, particularly Kurt Cobain was always a way for people to get me engaged in conversation with them. When my husband had long hair he strongly resembled Cobain. This is how far my special interest went! Nirvana's music got me through a lot of hard times, and for that I am grateful.  Hard to believe it now, but today marks the 19th anniversary of Kurt's tragic passing. In remembrance I share with you my favorite Nirvana song: Lithium- "I'm so happy, because today I found my friends. They're in my head"

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Square Pegs and Civil Rights

I mentioned some school issues with Bubby in the post before last  New Places & Trying New Things.  I left everything kinda up in the air during that post, and promised a follow up.  So, here it is.

We did make it safely to the new counselor's office, despite sleet, blown tires, and broken windshield wipers.  The counselor was very nice, and appeared to have a good understanding of autism.  I was really nervous that she would either a). not know much of anything about autism, or even more so Asperger's. Or b). think that I am one of those moms that like to make a big deal out of nothing, and doubt he is autistic at all.  So, I was relieved when my fears were baseless in reality. I think she and Bubby will get along great, and I look forward to continuing to see her.

So, that is a super positive in our corner.

The behavior consultant observed Bubby for the second time yesterday, and called me as I requested to discuss what she thought. The first time, it was all rainbows, and flowers. That worried me, because even though I know 2/3 of his day is pleasant as she observed, there is the 1/3 that is not, which is the third that is causing serious issues.  This time when she observed it must have all just lined up right, because she was able to see his every button pushed, and severe meltdown ensue.  I was not the least bit pleased at the meltdown in, and of itself, but that she was able to see it unfold. It's hard to write a behavior plan, and make recommendation on a student that you've never really seen the problem "behaviors".  We discussed several things that may help on the phone.  She also disclosed to me that she will be meeting with the special ed. teacher tomorrow to discuss with her what her thoughts were.  I sent an email, and invited myself to the meeting.  I'm sure the special ed teacher is less than thrilled with that, but at this point I feel I must get pushy.  The behavior consultant also disclosed to me that she had at one point asked the special ed teacher if she would like for the county's autism specialist to come out, and do some training, and that idea was turned down. That did not make me happy, so I have called the autism specialist myself, and am asked for her to consult with the behavior consultant to decide the next steps should be. I have met the autism specialist a few times, and she is a bit abrasive, and difficult to get along with in a lot of ways, but I am desperate. This may backfire on me, but I have to take that chance. I asked around to people that have worked with her before, and the general consensus is that she does not work well with children, but is great at putting together plans, and training. So, I am feeling like bringing her into the picture is worth the risk.

So, at this point it is just a lot of research, and searching out the right people to help me help my son.  The local advocacy center didn't have anymore ideas, than the ones I am already pursuing.  I sometimes think I ought to get a job there. lol  I am scouring our state's ed. website, and printing pages that speak to the issues we are having, and what the law says about Least Restrictive Environment, Behavior Plans, Present Levels of functional Performance, ect... I am also searching through Wrightslaw site to determine what actions I need to take, and what actions have been successfully taken by parents before. I am printing out documents of such court cases.

I feel like I am doing all that I can to ensure a proper education of my son in a regular ed environment. It may not be easy, but it is necessary.  If all else fails, I will homeschool him, but that is last resort.  To me, I am not just fighting this fight for him, but for every disabled child that comes through our tiny town's education system.  They try to break them to fit them into what they want, and if they can't they send them to special classrooms in another town. Nope. Not happening here, if I can help it.  He deserves to have a place in school, just like anyone else.  He also is well liked, and accepted by his peers.  It's the adults that are the issue here.  It's time for outmoded beliefs, and ideas to get an update. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What's an Obstinate Aspie To Do On Autism Awareness Day?

Today is Autism Awareness Day.

I posted this on my personal page in regards to Autism Awareness month:

"April is Autism Awareness month. I usually join in, but this year I don't think I have it in me, unless I am to somehow gain some momentum outside of dealing the pressure that I am under from so many areas, mostly the school who is autism unaware, and fine with that unawareness. Willful ignorance is probably a better description. I am done with what seems to be me preaching to the choir, because they're the only ones listening anyway. If you want to know more about autism, and are not already on my autism page, or aware of my blog, let me know. I can direct you to all the information you could ever want to know, but I'm done spinning my wheels trying to make others get it, that never will. I'm too busy making sure my boys have a better chance at life than the autistics that went before them. I don't have time for the petty ignorance of who has the right to say what, or wearing certain colors for this or that. It's time to move up and onward. Only action oriented advocacy can do that, and my actions start at home with my family. My sons, especially Bubby, need my focus to be on them, and their rights. Making sure they are taken care of, has a fair education, and is treated with respect is my contribution to the autism community this year."

This is pretty self-explanatory in what I mean, and why. But, there is another reason why I don't participate in big organized events. One more silly, and one that I don't think I understand, but it's a tightly held character trait, nonetheless.

I'm completely oppositional.

Monday, April 1, 2013

New Places &Trying New Things

I thought this might be a good day to bring back some more journal type of blogging. Sometimes, it's nice to blog in a more structured form where there is a clear beginning, middle, and end to the whole piece.  Those kinds are like essays, and they have their place in the blogging world, but then there's something to be said for the freestyle of writing that flows naturally from the writer as if you were having a conversation with them. It's a really authentic way to write, because readers can really feel they know you, and are a part of your everyday life, whereas essays type writing, while passionate, can be a bit colder. Soapbox persuasion is meant to express a particular point of view with a means to explain, or persuade, rather than to just discuss.

So, to kick off autism awareness month I am here to just write about my experiences. I may get an idea in my head later on about a good topic to write about, but right now I am too busy living my life, and doing what I do to really do much more.  Autism awareness is something I engulf myself in everyday.  April is not different in that for me. My page, this blog, and my advocacy at my boy's schools is what I do for autism awareness everyday.  Sharing some social media photos, and wearing blue is not autism awareness to me.  It does not do anything to change the current status of how autism is viewed.

So, here we go... Today, we have an appointment with