Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Surprise plans and interruptions

I remember having trouble dealing with unexpected plans before I knew I had Asperger's. If someone came to me and said, "hey, let's go to a movie," but I had some other idea that I wanted to pursue, I wouldn't like the idea. It didn't matter that going to movies is fun and I should get out and enjoy myself. It was a change from a plan already formed. I would still go, but I felt like the whole thing was in the way of what I was trying to do.

Sudden changes in plan or schedule can be earthshaking to the over-calculative and sensitive autistic. My son has problems very much the same way. On school mornings there are several tasks of routine to be ready to go and get on the bus. In between these tasks he gets a little free time to read a book or play quietly on his own. That's where the trouble comes in. If he's in the middle of something and I give him a "time warning" or tell him that it's time to put his coat on, he may get angry because I'm interrupting his current task.

So, why do we have this problem and why does it take so much adjustment for us to through it? It has to do with the rigidity of our condition. It affects us in a number of ways. Even an expected change can be hard. It just feels awkward to us and when you feel awkward or uncomfortable that triggers natural reactions. My son is very sensitive to having his concentration disturbed. I'm sure part of it is a matter of maturity, but he will have work with this.

Part of being able to co-exist with society is being flexible and able to change tracks on subjects and schedules. As we work with my son, this is being taken into account. It's worked on at school and I work with him at home. I give him warnings that a change is coming up or time to switch activities is about to occur. Even that isn't always enough.

This will take time, practice and lots of explaining. Will it ever feel more comfortable? It still affects me, so I can't say for sure. The awkward feelings require coping. Not everyone with autism is able to do that either. I can tell you it takes small steps and time, though.

It's also important to note, that a negative response should never be taken personally. That off balance, awkward sensation is very intense. I like going to the movies. I like most of the activities that came up sudden. It's the "sudden" that didn't go well.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Speech Therapy

It's not uncommon to hear that persons diagnosed with autism are directed to try speech therapy. This is because, even with high functioning and verbal autistics, there can be marked difficulty in proper use of words. That includes, what to say, when it's best to to say it and who you should say it to.

Ability to use words and communicate our wants or needs with others is one of the many areas that we have found trouble in. Click HERE for an article at About.com

Here is an excerpt from that explaining what types of communication are considered and worked with:

* Non-verbal communication. This may include teaching gestural communication, or training with PECS (picture exchange cards), electronic talking devices, and other non-verbal communication tools.
* Speech pragmatics. It's all well and good to know how to say "good morning." But it's just as important to know when, how and to whom you should say it.
* Conversation skills. Knowing how to make statements is not the same thing as carrying on conversations. Speech therapists may work on back-and-forth exchange, sometimes known as "joint attention."
* Concept skills. A person's ability to state abstract concepts doesn't always reflect their ability to understand them. Autistic people often have a tough time with ideas like "few," "justice," and "liberty." Speech therapists may work on building concept skills.

For more information on speech therapy and pathology try this link HERE.

This is the OEDb (Online Education Database) and I was contacted with info on the link recently. What you see at the link is a list of blogs with information on speech therapy. I hope you find them helpful

As a special note, I want to mention that I am not against pointing out others work, but I have started receiving a lot of "marketing" requests and I will not be able to post them all. I will review some but this is not going to be a habit when it comes to marketing requests of other websites. Thank you for reading and understanding.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Autism spotlight: A list of Autism information

I was recently contacted about a list of fifty sites for autism teachers (and families) to learn more about autism. I posted a link on my Facebook page, but if you haven't added me there, then you can find the information at the link below:

Doctoral Degrees: 50 Great Blogs for Autism Teachers

This is an in depth list of autism material. There are plenty of names you may recognize, like Autism Speaks and some that you may not (and that's any guess depending on what you personally will recognize).

In any case I strongly suggest perusing this list for information. I will say, if you are new to autism, 50 blogs in your lap might seem a bit overwhelming. Just take your time and start with general information first. The best places for this can be found in this list but I will just say Autism Society and Autism Speaks for some starting points.

If anything, this only goes to show that you are not alone and there is plenty of information out there with people willing to help you.

Photo credit to same site.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Perceptions in disability

The other day I was waiting for a bus in the winter cold. I had one of those plastic shelters to sit in and it broke off the wind, but cold is cold. There was a young man walking toward the bus stop and he had a staggered gait that might make you think he was on drugs or drunk. Knowing the possibilities like I do, I realized there could be other reasons. Still, I hoped he wasn't on anything as I was about to sit with him in the bus stop.

He may have been 18, I'm not sure and he wore gloves with the fingers split and worn. His coat had a few holes in it and he sat and rocked slightly facing away from me. He turned toward me slightly and asked if I had the time. His voice showed the struggle to form words that told me he wasn't on drugs. He had a medical condition. The young man has cerebral palsy and meets the challenges of getting through each day with a physical disability.

We got to talking and he told me that he deals with a lot of people who either push him to hard or treat him like and infant. He often wishes they could see him for his critical mind (and he is pretty sharp, let me tell you) and let him set his own pace. When he learned that I'm actually a high functioning autistic his eyes lit up as he saw someone who understands.

Then he said something that I found interesting. He thought that I must be very fortunate that people cannot see my disabilities (as I do have more than autism) so openly. So I discussed this with him and mentioned that there are drawbacks to not being obvious. People have just as hard a time, if not harder, understanding disability that they cannot see. While he gets people who push too hard or treat him like and infant, we get people who feel sorry for us or don't believe us at all.

"So our frustrations really are very much the same," was his thought and realization. And indeed they are. But what we can do is important and can teach others a great deal about us. This young man likes to work on cars. I mentioned that the ones that treat him too much like a child, might be educated to learn how capable he really is. As for the impatient ones, all we can do is shake our head and keep forging forward.

Talking with him was an uplifting experience because we were both able to use some critical thinking, a good exercise for any day. And a normally boring bus ride became much more interesting.