Thursday, December 29, 2011

Guest artists and Autism!

As some of you know, I have launched and started building on my project called Galaxy Zento. In that project, guest artists are invited to come and draw their renditions of my characters. Special considerations are given to work that showcase connections to autism, anti-bullying, or anti-abuse. Themes are asked to be family friendly. With that, my second guest artist has come into the fold and this is what I wrote in the Galaxy Zento blog:

My second guest artist is Kevin, known as "ayelid" on Yes, his name is a link to his page. When you're done reading here you really should check it out! Kevin did a pencil drawing of five GZ characters in one picture. I will tell you right now that this has spurred a short story idea with me! But back to the picture (click on it for larger view), from the top you have King Frederick the giant rat, Bloodraizer the assassin with his secret mentor hovering over him, Victor Darksong, and War Horse. King Fred and War Horse are the heroes of this picture by the way. Below you'll see the original works of these characters. The most awesome thing he did, was to create a connection to autism, that's the puzzle pieces.

I want to pause and make note that you will likely see differences between my drawings of my characters and the guest artist's renditions. But that's what's amazing about sharing views of other artists and I am honored and humbled when ever someone comes in and gets involved. It's about involvement and an interactivity. When it comes to autism education, nothing could be more true or of more importance. People with autism need patience and understanding (in general as not all of us feel this way). They need interactivity to help them get along in a world that never quite feels right. So when someone comes in and does this kind of work out of such generosity, I am truly honored and grateful for it. Galaxy Zento, no matter where it goes, will always stand for autism education. I'm also posting this at both my autism and GZ blog for this very reason.

Now about Kevin, I asked him a few questions. Here is the short interview: ME: How long have you been doing your artwork? KEVIN: I've been dedicated to drawing for as long as I can remember. My parents have photos they took of me studiously doodling away on a little chalkboard or paper and such. I guess a lot of parents cherish and encourage creativity, but my whole thing went beyond the folks just putting the random drawing on the refrigerator lol. I was getting awards and such for drawing throughout grade school and all the way into high school. I was known as that guy who draws lol. I could get other kids to pay me while I was still in elementary school for drawings they'd want done. I never attended college, but I continue to research and learn whenever I can. I began to seriously try to hone my skills and pursue a career with my artwork around my senior year of high school. I've also been a student of the guitar and other stringed instruments for about as long.

ME: What are your mediums for your work?

KEVIN: Mostly pencil and black ink on good thick, sturdy sketchbook paper. It's always fun to try other things just to see what results I'll get, too, such as using a throwaway ball point pen on cardboard. If I'm working with black ink, I may cover large areas that require ink with a paintbrush, and do little detailed work with technical pens. When drawing with pencils, I might sketch the basic structure of the drawing with an HB pencil, and add finer details with a 2H pencil and use a 2B for large areas that require darker shading. I've also tried my hand at sculpting small scale figures, and tattooing, in a proper safe environment, of course lol.

ME: And what's your favorite part of art?

KEVIN: I think my favorite part about the art that I do is the part when you begin to have a drawing or sculpture that is taking form and beginning to look like you've created something. It's nice to make it look as slick as possible, and get compliments from people on it, but that point where you're like, "yeah, it looks like what I was going for" is the most enjoyable, I think.

I think I couldn't agree more! There's a journal on Ayelid's page where he talks about doing commissions and you can see that and his work through the link above. This work will also be posted at the Facebook fan page, faves at my Deviantart page and the website when it launches.

Monday, December 19, 2011

How to be and not be an advocate

So you want to be an advocate. You want to help others with a cause in some way. Most advocates on the internet are volunteers, using what they know to help others. Some actually have a good relationship with schools and law enforcement; others even have some legal pull. Whichever of these you want to be, you will have to consider a few things that I strongly advise. I advise this from personal experience and events I have personally witnessed. I hope this helps you. Consider it a ‘do’s and don’ts of advocacy. I’m going to speak from the advocacy of autism, but this really does go about the same for whatever cause you support.

First of all, if you want to be an advocate with legal backing of any kind, make sure you get the education and any proper licenses you need. Take classes and obtain a degree. Don’t go out and make wild claims to puff yourself up, like claiming to be a DC Lobbyist. Things like this (all DC Lobbyists are accounted for and fully listed for the public) are easily found out and will hurt your standing as a trustworthy advocate. Be able and willing to show your credentials if you claim to be a legal advocate. The sad truth is that some people out there just want your money or to be seen as something important. They are willing to use others to achieve this. Don’t be one of them. Advocates like this can do way more harm than good.

Educate yourself on your cause as much as you can and always be ready to update that education as terms and issues change. Research, research, research, learn how to do research. The more you educate yourself, the more help you can be to others.
Aside from your working knowledge, you need to protect your image. A lot of internet advocates don’t do this. Your image is how people see you and worse, how they may choose to portray you. I can tell you that autism is as bad as politics when it comes to advocate mudslinging. There are advocates out there who see this as a competition for who you should go to. Don’t get involved in that. Let me tell you a little story, (some of you long time readers may know it already).

In late 2009, a young man with autism was restrained in his school and struggled to get free. He was charged with felony assault and the family was in turmoil. The boy’s grandmother came to the internet seeking any help she could. Advocates came together and put up a “chip in” to raise money for legal fees. During this time (into 2010) the Grandmother stated she was being harassed and investigated by a group of other “people” on the internet. I stepped in and tried to get them to stop. I tried to be Mr. Internet Hero and let me tell you something. Pay close attention to these words.

It blew up in my face. Do NOT do this.

All I did was make myself a target. I thought I should warn the autism community about my experience and that was the wrong thing to do to. I had my past dug into and slathered on the internet (20 years into my past). There was a case where I filed a suit against and an employer. Naturally they made several accusations against me to protect themselves. Those digging, took those accusations and posted them on the internet for all to see. Accusations that are not an accurate reflection of who I am were posted and they were damaging. I’ve been fortunate to have readers who know me and were able to see how much hostility were in the postings. Since then, to this day, I’ve been hounded, harassed, and even threatened. I’ve been accused of being some ringleader of white collar crime and had everyone who wants to put me in their own internet court room pop out of the woodwork. I’ve had some of the nastiest comments and postings you could ever think of posted at or about me. It’s not pretty, not nice, mature or ethical. All because I thought I was standing up for someone else.

If you want to stand up for someone’s rights, do it with the people who matter to those rights. Tell your client to block all attackers, that’s what the block button is for. And then block them yourself. Do not confront, you have no idea what kind of mentalities you will be dealing with and they will attack your image and anything else they can.

I have found that my advocacy is best done as simply giving out the information that may help others. I give advice where I can and will no longer ever engage in trying to “protect someone” on the internet. I can’t. I will give advice on what to do. Block them, ignore them, and keep up on what’s important. There are many internet advocates who go out and pull the “rallying” card to get people to shut so and so down, etc. It’s not worth it. All you’ll do is make yourself a target. Put the time into actually helping others, a far more rewarding issue. I’ve gone so far as to remove all mentions of negativity and other “advocates” or attackers from my blog for sake of being a more positive place for others. The same cannot be said for my pursuers. So learn something from my mistake, okay? Avoid the dramas the best you can.

So, hopefully, this gives you some ideas on what you should and shouldn’t do to be an advocate. Remember there are several types of advocates, research them to see what you can do best.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Book about growing up undiagnosed

This was going to be pointers on how you can be an advocate. However, I recently found something that I hadn't seen in some time. It's a link to download my book, Raised in Hell for free. Yes, my first book about living with autism from a very special perspective is free and always has been.

Why is it free? Because I know that families seeking answers already have enough on their plates. If you're wondering about seeking diagnosis and there are problems, read my book.

Why is it special? I know there are a lot of books about people and their autism out there. My book is about what can happen when no one knows what is wrong. It's about growing up undiagnosed. My father was often perplexed on what to do with me as were many. No one knew what I had or what I suffered and I couldn't explain it to them. I believe that frustration is connected to the abuse and bullying I survived. If there were the right education available at the time, my life would have been very different.

So I think it's important, very important to see what can happen. It's just one example and there are tougher ones out there.

So there's the LINK to the page where you can download my story (book one anyway) and hopefully it's thought provoking. Wondering about getting diagnosis? Read this. You'll have to scroll down a ways to get to the download.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Understanding Advocates

First, another looks at Webster's definition: A person who writes or speaks about a cause.

That's me. But there are other kinds of advocates out there, both good and bad. On the internet, the differences get blurred. Hopefully, this article will help define the lines. So what kinds of advocacy are there? Here's a list:

Individual: for the rights of a single person

Self: for the rights of yourself

System/Political: to promote changes in a broader system or promote a broader cause that affects a greater number of people

Legal: legal rights of various degrees (this can branch to the others easily, but issues will require someone with legal training)

Legislative: for changing laws which can branch to system political at times.

So, you've got problems. You're child, who needs and IEP is having trouble in school and it seems the school will not listen to you. You may need an advocate. Like many people nowadays, you turn to the internet and you find someone who says he can help. He says he can force the school system to play straight. Sounds great. Then he asks for money for airfare to come and visit your child's school. He plays on your desperation and you give in. You send the money and he never shows. Either that, or he actually contacts the school and ticks them off so badly they'll never work with you. So how do you know if you have found an advocate who can help you?

This is something I've actually helped people do several times over. My form of advocacy is in education. I believe that the more we learn, the better off we are. I advocate for people to learn about conditions to help erase stigma and abuse. So I give lots of advice for people looking for help.

What to watch out for on the internet with advocates:

Asking for money. Depending on the kind of advocate you are looking for, you shouldn't be looking to connect with them on the internet. Any advocate who's asking for your money, you need to look at closely. As in my last blog post, ask questions. Often they'll make wild claims of what they can do and what degrees they have. If they can't be verified, run. If you ask and they get belligerent, run. Verify all information. Let me write that again, verify ALL information before giving any money to anyone for their "advocacy".

Now let me tell you what an advocate is not and shouldn't be. An advocate is not some special authority who goes around demanding answers of individuals or other advocates for every detail of their doings and lives. They are here to help people, not police them. When Nick Dubin, a well known advocate for autism, was arrested; I was contacted and asked why I wasn't demanding answers and writing blogs about Nick Dubin. Simple, because that's not what an advocate does. I'm not trying to write the National Enquirer of Autism here (some people are and do). I'm not writing the gossip column of autism either. That's not what an advocate does. That's not an advocate, period. Now, there are plenty of advocate blogs out there and some of them are indeed doing just that, some aren't. You have to judge for yourself, what kind of information you are looking for. But I challenge you, look up definitions for yourself of "advocate" and see how many times you see "vigilante" or "gossip columnist" in the description. You won't.

Now, what's the best way for you to find help for your child? Every place and state has lay advocates of some kind somewhere. You just have to know where to look for them. Here are some updated ideas:

-Look in your phone book or online for your states Ombudsman's offices. Call them, they can often give you solid advice of where to go if they can't help you themselves.

-Contact your state's chapter of the Autism Society. You can google it by "state name" Autism society, try it. They often have lots of links with people and groups you can call.

-Google for your state and a chapter of NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) and contact them.

-Contact your states or county school board and request a hearing for your child. Most times, this costs nothing and it's part of your rights for your child.

-you cold google School Advocate and your area, town, county, or state and see what you get, but remember the above.

Just a few ideas. Do you want to be an advocate? In my next writing, I'll tell you the do's and don'ts from personal experience and more.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Holiday scam season

It's that time of year where finances run high and people are out after your hard earned dollars. Unfortunately, scams are everywhere and you have to watch out. It's gone far beyond your doorstep or phone. Now it's all over social media sites and you might be surprised at who gets involved.

Donations. This is one of the worst because they tug at your heart strings and make you want to help out. People will claim they are collecting for some family who went through a fire all the way to collecting for big name charities. Well, I'm about to give you some pointers to avoid giving your money to unsecured donation scams.

First is a big rule you need to follow. Make it your policy and don't break it. When people come to your door or call you on the phone for donations, DON'T DO IT. Almost no one goes door to door for sales anymore because of all the scams and dangers involved. None of the big charities do this. NONE of them. Even school fundraisers have instructions telling kids not to go door to door. That's not to say you have to worry about little Jimmy next door. If you know him, know his parents, and know his school, you're probably fine. Even the Girl Scouts aren't supposed to go door to door anymore. I know that's a bit extreme, but it's to deliver a point. Joe Blow who you don't know is in your area selling magazines for the Autism Society? WRONG! Get it?

Now, as for those people claiming to collect donations for big charities, there's a few things you need to know. Here is the most important:

Anyone, ANYONE, claiming to collect donations for a major charity or organization (who is not part of that organization) MUST do so with the approval of that charity or organization. If they don't, they risk themselves towards things like jail time.

Even if a person is legitimate and still doesn't have approval of the charity organization to represent them and collect donations for them, they are doing it WRONG. I have personally seen people get into trouble for posting that they are collecting for the Autism Society or March of Dimes when they had NO approval to do so.

Check this out LINK. This man was arrested for selling raffle tickets for the Make a Wish Foundation. He even claimed to be authorized but he blew a big rule. NO door to door! On top of that, Make a Wish said he was never authorized to collect donations in their name.

Make a Wish's official status is this: Anyone collecting for them in any fashion must do so ONLY after going through an approval process. That will result in a signed agreement and letter of authorization that one must be able to show upon demand.

So, even if someone is collecting legitimately, one phone call could get then arrested. Protect yourself and do it the right way if you are considering this. If someone can't show you they are legitimate (as pretty much ALL the organizations do it this way) don't give them you're money. Don't give them your money for this, no matter what.

But how else do they look convincing past that?

Maybe they are selling something? Doesn't matter. If they claim proceeds go to a named organization, they have to protect themselves by following protocol. Otherwise you just can't be sure.

Maybe they say their kid is doing it. Same answer as above. People use their kids for personal gain all the time and it's pretty sickening. "My child has cancer and six weeks to live. It's his personal wish to give to the American Cancer Society and he'll draw you a Christmas card for just five dollars so he can give." (note the quotation marks, I am NOT looking for donations at all), I have personally seen this one on the news with parents who's child wasn't sick at all. They even did the Christmas cards and were caught with over 60,000 bucks!

Maybe they claim to be advocates or some special interest group? They might even have a list of tips like this on their website. That's right, they'll advise you on how not to be scammed by practicing due diligence their way. Well, just throw their own questions back at them and see what happens. If they are legitimate they:

-won't get offended
-won't insult you or bash you in any way
-will give you a DIRECT answer
-will be able to show proof requested

When they don't give you a direct answer based on above... run.

So what do you do when you come across these people?

Two things:

1: Do not confront them. Even on the internet. Many of them are willing to be major internet bullying nightmares and you won't hear the end of it for a long long time.

2: Call authorities and inquire. Call the organization and inquire. Leave it at that and don't buy or donate if in doubt.

It's really just that simple. Protect your money and don't give it out to support fakers and scammers. Be sure to check in next time for another survival blog dealing with advocates.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Still an advocate

Advocate: Webster's Dictionary: One who speaks or writes in support of a cause.

If you've been following my blog then you will know that I both speak and write (especially write) in support of autism education. To me that is a worthy cause to write about. I'm sure we can all agree on that.

Now it's true that I am pursuing a great goal in my life in my writing and illustration of my fantasy universe, Galaxy Zento. Even so, I remain an advocate. I still write and speak in support of a cause. I volunteer my efforts to help others understand. I have even incorporated this cause and others I support into Galaxy Zento.

I may only get a good post on here once a week, but that doesn't mean I'm turning my back on the autism community. I will always support autism education. I have already made steps toward this. Granted, I'm not making money at this, but I'm building something. I'm building something positive and good.

I would think that stands as an example of what people can do. So, I'm still an advocate and my blog still stands. Anyone can peruse through the entries or google me and find my work any time they like. They can share it with anyone it may be of help to. I love sharing! So long as credit is given where it is due.

As for me being a cartoonist... THANK YOU! It's so nice to be recognized for my talents. Of course, cartoonists are much better at drawing the same thing a hundred times over for motion than me. I'm really just a humble illustrator/artist.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Social interpretations

One of the things I see my son struggling with is social interpretations. He thinks he means one thing, while everyone else sees his activity as something else.

This morning a lesson came to being when he was caught tormenting the cats with a roll of wrapping paper. He thought he was "just playing". The cats didn't agree. So, I devised a lesson to today to help him how things are socially interpreted.

Interpretation is how we understand something we see or hear. Because of varying points of view, interpretation can be very broad and different from person to person.

For this lesson I made four flash cards and asked him what he saw of each one.

First, (you can click for larger view) the top photo. He said someone was punching someone else. I asked him, what the thoughts might be of the two people. What if the person doing the punching really thinks he's "just playing". Does the person taking that punch feel the same way? And what if they are both "playing"? Will people who see them think they are playing? Things we see in social settings are at the mercy of interpretation. It's why we have to be careful of the things we do.

Now take a look at this picture. It looks like someone is crying. Why do people cry? Are they hurt or sad? That's the automatic thought and usually true. But what if they are crying because they're happy? What if they just laughed so hard, they couldn't help but cry? What if they just have allergies and it makes their eyes tear up? It's hard to judge from just a tear in the eye, but this demonstrates how many ways something as simple as a tear can be interpreted. Of course, the best thing to do is ask why they're crying, but that isn't the lesson here.

Next we see a person running. Why do people run? Usually it's for two reasons; to get away or to get to a place. People are either running from something or to something. Many times it's both. So why is he running? Is he in trouble, late for class or scared? There are many interpretations that can be made from the sight of someone running down the street. Mind you, I'm not adding anything else to the scene of the person running on purpose. Try to add interpretations only to the act of the person running. How many can you come up with?

Finally we see a person pointing and laughing. The second person is frowning. What are their interpretations? Is the person laughing being cruel? Maybe. Maybe they just thought something was honestly funny. The other person likely doesn't understand and may accidentally have their feelings hurt as a result. And how many ways can this scene be interpreted by a third person? Finally, can interpretations get us into trouble?

Our discussion was very thought provoking and my son appeared to get a lot out of it. Could your child use some interpretation advice?

Friday, November 18, 2011

My neuro update

So, yesterday I made the hundred mile drive to Shreveport to see a neurologist about my MRI. It was a good visit. She listened to me, answered my questions, and formed a diagnosis plan.

We did a big blood draw for an auto-immune panel. This way, if it's not MS, we can see if it might be one of the other auto-immune diseases. It's not easy to diagnose these on just an MRI after all.

I will be scheduled for a new MRI for after the holiday to see if anything has changed. If nothing has changed, it's not likely MS. If it has changed, then it may be MS. If it's not conclusive a lumbar puncture is the next step.

I really felt good about this trip. I wasn't treated like it was all in my head or that I was a waste of time. I didn't feel like I was the next project on the conveyor belt. That alone was enough to make me feel like this trip was a step forward. So, the fact that this takes time and multiple tests is easier to accept.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Multiple Sclerosis and Autism

If you google the two conditions together you will see an interesting trend of articles and studies. Those studies are mostly about parents with MS having children with autism. This suggests a link they are currently studying, but have no distinct answers on yet.

My own conditions have been getting progressively worse over the years. I fatigue faster, lose coordination a lot, have trouble forming words and speaking, and I have increasing random tremors that are more like lightning jolts. Autism isn't particularly know for being a progressive condition. So what's the difference?

I found this information about the nerve effects of the two conditions:

MS is a degeneration of protective layers around nerve endings, eventually leading to progressive nerve damage.

Autism is a developmental disorder of the nerves themselves.

So, from those two descriptions, it's entirely possible to start out with Aspergers or some other form of autism and develop MS later on. Like Autism, MS can have profusely different effects on each person. It's another broad spectrum with a hundred million combinations.

In any case, I am sitting on a possible MS diagnosis. That's why I'm researching it to learn what the possibilities are and what I can do about it. No, I can't stop it from happening, but knowledge is power. If I have to live with this condition, I want to know as much about it as possible. I see the neurologist this month.

I find the connection thought provoking to say the least. There are connections being drawn to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's as well. Is there a common root to link them all? If so, how do you find it? It must be like finding a specific needle in a stack of needles as big as the proverbial haystack.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Step-parenting and special needs

It's tough to be a parent of a special needs child. It's even tougher to come in as a step-parent to a special needs child. I'm going to sing some praises today and I hope this also serves as useful information to you who read this.

The step-parent is the one who is coming in, late in the story of your child and has to take a major crash course in your child's needs. They weren't there from the beginning like you. They didn't have to deal with diagnosis or all the research you've taken years to do. They are, for lack of a better term, taking "baptism by fire". Statistics aren't kind to these relationships either.

If your child is lucky enough to have a step-parent like my son does, you'd know they deserve a great deal of praise. My Lisa deserves just that.

Not only has she tolerated a great deal with him, she's stepped up to bat, rolled up her sleeves, spit on her palms and gotten to work on the matter. She's been a great partner. She catches things I miss and taken her position as a step-parent very seriously.

She was the one who insisted that our boy needs a dog. Even with his fear of dogs, she found one that now plays and sleeps with him. She helps him with his homework more often than I do (even though he tests her by giving up easily or throwing fits). She pays him a small allowance for a clean room once a week. She easily pays for half of his rewards for good days, weeks or months. For that matter she printed him a brochure reward menu with his picture on it. Then she has a hard time sleeping from time to time with worry that she's doing okay with him.

We need to remember what our step-parents put up with. The best step-parents are the ones who are able to be "parents" in spite of the challenges. This is especially true in special needs families.

When it comes to being a SP of a special needs child, you have to be prepared to get your hands dirty. It's hard and there's a lot to tolerate. For many it's too much. And it can be tough on in-laws too, no doubt (just to mention).

So what do we do, that makes a success of our story?

Rules: We are on the same page with the rules and back each other up on them. If she sends him to his room for something he did, I back it up. If we don't agree on a discipline, we discuss it. We don't let him play us against each other.

Activities: We are all involved on this. She's constantly on the look out for activities he might enjoy as rewards or just in general.

Family Discussions: We talk about important issues together and he is included.

Respite: Uh oh. I have to admit, this is where our current difficulty lies. You must have respite and a break from time to time. You need to go out on dates with your partner and let someone else help with the kids. I'm sure, though, many of you can sound off here and show that you have a hard time with this too. The realities of child care will likely be my next blog. It's hard for several reasons. Yet, it is oh so needed and important. I can tell you that because we don't have it right now. We feel the pain and know what it's like.

Step-parents, should also start things out slowly. Get to know the child and spend time with them. Don't move into disciplinarian right away. That comes with time if at all. Parents should also never allow disrespect of a step-parent. Learn the needs of the child and take up a teamwork approach in fulfilling those needs. With us, my word is the final one on what is done with my son. However, I have great respect for her input and we've done a lot to help him through various difficulties.

United you stand, divided you fall. It's hard work, but also very rewarding. Our kids have their best chances (even when it looks bleak) by what we do with them now. I see it in my home, and hopefully many of you do in yours.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Asperger's and delayed maturity

I recently posted a comment on my facebook page that created some decent discussion. One point of Asperger's or mildly affected autism that I and many studies have noted is a delayed maturity. That means that maturing (socially and emotionally) appears to be delayed in children and adults with these conditions.

Comments left by other parents were quite enlightening. Many of us do deal with temper tantrums and outbursts in our kids where it seems like the behavior of a child three (or so) years younger. It naturally varies from child to child.

This can create inappropriate behavior that isn't intentional, rather they just haven't grown out of it. For example, a "huggie" and "kissie" child may continue the behavior years past where most children mature away from it. When the child is 9 years old and is still kissing peoples arms or stomaches (when hugging them hello or goodbye) it can seem rather odd to some people who don't understand. A hug and kiss goodnight is still appropriate for parents, but some may want to hug and kiss everyone in the room. Don't think that can't last until 11 or 12, because it can.

The important thing to do is constantly be ready to correct and teach. My son is learning handshakes for others instead of smothering hugs and kisses that make others feel uneasy. Just as one example.

"You are old enough and big enough that it's time for you to (fill in the blank here)." Explain what is expected of them.

When the behavior carries over to school, it can quickly invite bullying and being socially outcast from groups of more mature children. Schools are getting better at understanding this so they can teach better social skills too, but it's best if Mom and Dad are the ones really on the ball.

Late maturity also affects capability to handle stress (note my past blog on the subject) and childish tantrums can result easily. There are reports of such behavior even into 20+ years of age. Not all of it can be helped or taught out of. All we as parents can do, is our best, to teach them from youth. Many of us, who are around my age, have had to "go back" and relearn after our diagnosis and researching our own conditions. I know I struggled as a child and now I know why.

For those of us who have young children on the spectrum, this is the perfect time to apply those practices.

(Be sure to visit my other blog Galaxy Zento and it's fan page on Facebook! Click the like button and follow along!)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My neurological journey

Conditions are deteriorating. Things that remind me of that happen more frequently now. In the beginning no one could find any proof of the damage in my brain. I've researched websites to include places like the Mayo clinic and found that it's not easy to find the proof sought. It has to be drastic to show up on MRI's without a dye contrast. I was unlucky enough to have doctors who wouldn't run an MRI with contrast unless I was flailing on the floor. That compounded getting diagnosis accurately.

I even saw two neurologists and both of them discounted and dismissed me. The second literally kicked me out of his office only because I have bipolar disorder. He wouldn't hear anything I had to say.

In the mean time, I've consistently and slowly been losing my balance. I wear out faster than ever, despite exercise. I have vertigo over simple and slight movements of my body or head. And my cranial nerves hate it when I try to lift something heavy, even if I'm physically strong enough to. I faint or have a fainting spell. Coughing is dangerous, it will knock me out. Sneezing causes nerves in my neck and shoulders to react and stun me. It's called a brachial stun, used by police officers to subdue unruly suspects. And the contused nerves in my forehead hurt a lot and often. All of this seems to go hand in hand with my sensory disorder and make it worse too. It's all be gradual, but I can definitely tell the difference.

Maybe my problem was how the doctors in the areas I lived did things. The first time I spoke about this to a doctor here in Louisiana he set me up with a contrasted MRI. It came back as quote: "unusual". To that I say THANK YOU, it proves I'm not crazy or imagining things. I've talked to lots of people who have gone through this in trying to track their health and take care of themselves. It's a diminishing and dehumanizing feeling when doctors won't listen to you. Then it's a Godsend when they do. Maybe, now that I have an updated MRI that actually shows something, I'll have better luck with the new neurologist next month. Yeah that's as soon as I can get in and I have to drive fifty miles too.

In the mean time, my short term memory is crud. My coordination is worse. Last night, I was having a bowl of chili. I went to get a spoonful and slammed my hand into the steaming hot mixture instead. It dumped on my lap and scalded my hand. I can't tell you how much that messes with my head when that kind of thing happens. Two days before that, I spent an entire day in what felt like a narcotic fog. No, I hadn't taken anything stronger than tylenol. I was useless for the whole day. I didn't hit my head, or get sick. I was just fogged beyond belief. I've had to catch myself on doorways, walls, and getting up out of a chair is treacherous.

As these things happen, I find myself saying "what the hell?" I'm only 41. Didn't I have enough to deal with in my autism and bipolar? Or maybe it's something more depreciating than bipolar ever was. What if the bipolar was MS all along? I don't know, but sure hope to find answers soon.

I do everything in short intervals, even this blog. It sits on my screen as I stop and rest my hands in between. It's a struggle I won't give up, even if I eventually have to have someone else type it. If I can get someone (ha ha on that). Well, I will post on my journey more as it happens. Till then, be well.

(Do you like heroes? Please be sure to visit my Galaxy Zento blog, follow it and come to my fan page at:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Making Changes

Hello, my friends. I am making some changes to my blog and you may notice this in the coming months. I have deleted some negative entries that really don't help anyone so that the more helpful entries are easier to find. I will likely still be deleting a few more that don't need to be here, but in any case I will also be slowing down on my autism blogging.

I will also stand for autism education and try to find subjects that help with that from time to time. I don't know how often that will be, but I will certainly try.

So why the change? I am pursuing something in my life that has been put all but on hold. I invite you all to follow along in the new blog titled Galaxy Zento. It's my fantasy universe I have had since I was a kid. I want to do more on my fiction writing and that requires time management.

So, I'm not quitting this blog, just rearranging my time in writing. What that will eventually do to his blog in the future, I cannot say. It will remain online however, even if not active. As always, I welcome new readers and would love to have you add me on Facebook or become a fan of my new work. If you like heroes and villains and a good story, you'll like Zento.

Always moving forward and always standing for education!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Proof on the Wildeside, Wildeman's credentials

I've been waiting to write this one until I found on last missing piece of information. It's not that I owe anyone an explanation. It's personally satisfying to be able to show proof. So this has a dual purpose; one is that it's good to look back once in a while and realize you have made accomplishments in life, and two is the satisfaction of proving what I claim. So what was that piece I was trying to find? It's in this link:

Police arrest 19 year old after downtown shooting

Give it a read and you'll find my name down near the end. This was back in 2007 after closing time at the bar I was doing part time at. To quote me in the article I copy paste this:

"Dave Wilde, who was working security at Sur Tango, said he heard someone screaming about a gun around closing time.

He saw the man lying across the street, and “I just ran out there and got to the victim,” applying pressure to the wound until police arrived, he said."

Mind you, the shooter had not been apprehended yet. I was not armed sufficiently to handle a man with a gun, but there was someone bleeding in the street. I did what was best to do. So yeah, that was me. And yes, my over-developed sense of justice may have driven me, my career may have too. That brings me to the next items.

I've had people from an old posting still sending me messages and posting about how that rotten Dave Wilde goes around calling himself a cop. Well, that's obviously not true. I was not a police officer, nor have I ever claimed to be.

This is what I was, an Animal Control Officer with the power to issue court citations. I did not have the power of arrest, however I had a radio and that brought in those people when ever needed. And anything that had an animal involved, our office had to be there. I've been on drug busts, house fires, murder scenes, suicides, arrest warrants (no, I only handled the animals- note above), and anything else an animal was found in. Officers from my division have even been on dangerous standoffs. And no, I didn't carry a firearm. I didn't even have a bulletproof vest until the last couple years of my employment.

And I was published in periodicals for my work, including the newspapers. Enjoy some more photos. For that matter, if you are on my Facebook page, check out my photos under "accomplishments" for more. Of course, the people who thought they had the right to demand this information aren't allowed on my page for being hostile. I know they still follow here however. Oh well.

Then they even said I was lying about being in the military. Hmm. And before anyone says anything, no I'm not worried as much has having a small piece of personal justice. I know I don't owe any of these self important internet bullies anything. But here it is.

Nothing like photos and real news articles to prove the truth. Now I have this to be found whenever someone googles and finds the other trash that some people posted with their false authority. Yeah, it has bugged me over the years and you have to gain a thick skin. I have learned a lot from these experiences that I hope will help me with future plans. I have a lot to be proud of, especially today. I'm proud of a great lady in my life and my great kids. I don't need anyone elses acceptance but theirs. Yes, to be successful as a writer, I need readers acceptance, but that's different. So, since finding that (apparently) the misused information is going to stay on the net and get passed around forever, I decided I would feel better if I had something else just as permanent. So here it is. Let it float the internet forevermore.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Autism and learning social skills

A wonderful question was posed to me recently from Lisa on Facebook who said:

"You mentioned that folks on the Autism Spectrum are affected by autistic blindness and do not necessarily do well at recognizing other folks' feelings and needs. Do you have some specific suggestions about how to be autistically un-blind?"

That got me thinking and I have a few ideas. Maybe some of you helpful readers could add your own in comments? Comments are moderated for being family friendly.

I've written on teaching out kids social skills, but I hadn't really thought about helping those of us who are adults today. We didn't have the same supports that are there for our kids today. It's a different world.

So what are some key and important things to know about socializing that help us recognize how others are feeling? As I go over these, the key is being able to add them together to get an accurate feel for the other persons attitude. This takes, practice, practice, practice. So try not to get discouraged. Also, click on images for larger view.

Facial expressions: While they are inconsistent in the autistic world, in a typical person they can tell you alot about how someone is feeling. Expression works best in the eyes (something that may be intense for you in the first place, I know). Other telling features are the eyebrows and mouth. Tightly shut mouth (pressing lips together hard) and furrowed (v shaped) brow suggests agitation or tension. Not necessarily anger, but could head that way. Raised eyebrows show interest. Tight lipped and avoiding eye contact (looking at the ground or off into the distance) could mean being emotionally upset. Smiles can be tricky. Usually they mean amusement or just having a good day. Maybe glad to see you? Sometimes it means they're nervous. Confused? This is where the next area comes in.

Body language: The positions people hold their bodies in as they interact are very telling of how they are feeling. When it comes to smiling, as above, this is particularly helpful. So lets break down body language.

Head: Tilted to one side is curiosity or interest. It can also be silliness if the person is acting out with wide gestures and strange facial expressions. Tilted forward (with eyes looking up at you) is a "get down to business" expression. It means they want you to get to the point of what you are talking about. Tilted back and looking down their nose at you is of interest but scrutinizing. This isn't necessarily unfriendly, but the person is likely reserved on what they are thinking. I should mention that the "down the nose" look is commonplace with street gangs. You can tell them by their clothing most times. It's more pronounced with them though. In average people it's more relaxed. You can google pics of expressions which I highly suggest for practice.

Shoulders: Drooping down means boredom (especially with the head tilt and a curved lip) or frustration. It also signifies depression or sadness. Generally it's not a positive thing. Held upward and level is a sign of confidence and alertness. These area extremes and mid ground is possible.

Arms: A big "tell" is crossed arms. This usually suggests that they don't want their personal space invaded. It's a matter of personal security and may signify discomfort. If they back away, draw clothing around them tighter, cross arms (the tighter the more you should give them space) then they are uncomfortable. Don't close in on this person. I'll get to personal space in a bit. Arms just hanging at the sides or in pockets is casual and relaxed. Movement of arms can tell a lot too. Wide sweeping gestures with raised voice and agitated expression may be something to stay back from. That person is likely upset.

Hand: Watch for clenched fists. This is the fastest way to tell if someone is agitated enough for you to steer clear. You don't have to run for the hills, but something is upsetting this person severely. They may be traumatized (watch for crying, shaking shoulders, and trembling in arms) or angry (watch for gritted teeth, v shaped brow with similar trembling). Hands that just tremble may be from a medical condition and not something alarming by itself depending on the person.

Legs: While sitting, crossed legs is very similar to crossed arms, though not as dependable because a lot of people sit this way. Both crossed legs and arms is almost definitely a security issue. They don't want you that close to them (or maybe anyone else either). While standing, shuffling feet around a lot could be a sign of agitation or just being antsy and having a hard time standing still. They may be in a rush to go do something else. Be careful not to stare at peoples legs, especially in the region of the waist line/torso. Guys, that is especially important for you. It makes people uncomfortable.

Note that there is no perfect way to recognize what people are feeling. With practice you can be right 7 or 8 times out of ten. Don't be discouraged if you don't see it all right away.

Now for some pointers on interaction.

When you approach someone, if they back away, do not close in. They are telling you how close they want you to be by backing away. Give them their space.

Be careful of staring too much at a person. If you are going to hold your eyes anywhere, look at their nose and cheeks (if not the eyes). Veer away casually from time to time as if just noting your surroundings.

If a person is nodding while listening to you, you are generally okay in your position. They are interested in what you are saying. Or they're just playing along, hard to tell sometimes. You may be able to tell by adding in other factors as above. Are they constantly looking away other places and shifting around? They may want to be somewhere else.

In closing tips, study facial expressions. Lots of pictures are here on the internet that you can find and look at faces. Same to be said for body language. The more you look and learn, the better you can interact. There is no perfect way, but remember to give people personal space and try to relax.

For personal space when facing someone, imagine the length of your arm, that is how far away you should stop (and don't approach fast, that startles people). Standing next to someone (unless in a crowded place) can be half that distance, but should be full length in most open areas.

Hopefully this information will help some of you out there in recognizing how others are feeling or reacting. Remember; practice, practice, practice. Never give up.

Good resources: Internet, or check out books on facial expressions for artists! Same for body language.