Saturday, December 15, 2012

Connecticut school shooting and autism?

On Friday, December 14th, 2012, in Newton, Connecticut, Adam Lanza embarked on a mission of death and destruction. He took two 9mm handguns and shot his mother to death. That wasn't enough for him as he took those guns to Sandy Hook Elementary and opened fire in two classrooms. 20 children of ages 5-10 and 6 adults lost their lives.

The media calls this the second worst shooting of it's kind due to the death toll. I say it is the absolute worst of its kind due to its depth of depravity. Historically school shootings have taken the lives of adults. Horrifically, Adam Lanza chose to kill small children.

I am personally horrified at what has happened and my heart goes out to all the families who have suffered such a terrible loss. It's the worst loss any parent could suffer.

But what about the report that Adam had autism? If you read this Huffington Post article, you'll note that there are many discrepancies being mentioned. Just compare to this AP article (sorry I lost the link and now cannot find it, but you really should google search and compare for yourself).

-Huffington reports that he may have autism OR a personality disorder. This tells me that no one knows what he had or how. This is very important! When the media reports that some spree killer gunman was autistic, they create stigma among the uneducated that hurts the autism community.

-Reports on the guns being properly registered is also debated. Some sources say they weren't and at least one says they were. Not that it matters how they were registered at the bottom line. Adam clearly would have used them either way.

-Reports that his mother worked for the school are debated. Apparently there is report that no one at the school knew who she was.

Obviously, the media is not the best source to learn about autism. And I'll say this too: autism does not mean homicidal. Honestly, anyone can become homicidal and there are a wide variety of factors that add together to explain why. Until the media can get the story absolutely straight, we aren't going to know why he did what he did. There's only one thing that matters; what he did was heinous and an act of despicable terror. We need to remember this.

Again, my heart goes out to the families. My own youngest is 10 and I know all of you parents out there share the sentiment. Adam Lanza, for what ever he was dealing with, decided to become a killer. Now there are so many young minds scarred from his final acts in life. I hope they concentrate on the lives and minds of those poor kids. I also hope they eventually get the story straight.

Monday, December 3, 2012

You sent this 10 year old to meet Stan Lee!

Yes you did! I'm talking to all the wonderful people who donated to this cause and gave my son the morale boost and memory of a lifetime.  Today I show you how the convention went for my son. I really hope this makes it around to everyone who pitched in to this cause. I will share it several times to try and make sure.

The autograph signing and photo were done at two separate times. Both times required one of the hardest things a child with autism can do; wait in line. The autograph happened first and we got in line early. Lots of people were there to capitalize on getting Stan Lee's autograph and it amazed me. There was a man ahead of us with two huge stacks of comic books to be signed. What's even more amazing about that is that he had to pay 55 dollars for each one. I'm sure he must have paid over a thousand dollars for all those autographs. Seeing people do this explained clearly for me why it cost so much. All these people wanted was for their collections to be worth more money. Stan Lee deserved every dollar he got from them and more.

We had a copy of How to draw comics the Marvel Way, by Stan Lee and John Buscema. I let Denver hand him the book when our turn came. Denver tried to tell him about the class project he did where he pretended to be a statue of Stan Lee (class wax museum project) and he couldn't get his voice up over the crowd. I helped him and Stan Lee said; "Well I hope he got a good grade!" with a wide smile. I said he did and we were on  our way. It was a great experience but it would be topped.

When time came to stand in line for the photo ops, it was another long line and it took some time. There were lots of people who paid "VIP" so they could go first (just as many as who didn't) so that seemed a little ridiculous but it mattered little once we got there. One of the volunteers came through and told everyone that no one was to shake Stan Lee's hand. I could understand this because we are talking about an 89 year old man. A hundred people squeezing his hands would have to really hurt in short order.

Once our turn came, Stan Lee recognized Denver from before and we were to stand on either side of him. Denver wasn't sure where to stand exactly and that's when Stan Lee reached out and put his arm around Denver. "Come on over here, bud. Now look right over there at the camera." Denver heard  loud and clear, that no one was allowed to touch the man. Having Stan "the Man" Lee put an arm around him after that announcement made it just that much more special. You can see it on his face in the photo and he came away from it ecstatic. Stan Lee made this a very special occasion and he has my thanks. What an amazing achievement for this 10 year old! And that's not all he got to do. I submit this series of photos of Denver's convention adventure after the events with Stan Lee. Hey, we still had the weekend to work with!

Hanging out with Nightwing
It's Lego Deadpool!

Denver ran circles around us from this guy, but he was laughing so it was all good.

K-9 and the Tardis from DR WHO!
Also from DR WHO

Adventure time!

Awww, what a nice alien
More pictures will be posted today at my Facebook Page

Monday, November 26, 2012

Haters Gonna Hate, Time to Start Laughing

There are people out there who manage to consistently do one thing above all else when it comes to me. That's the fact that their antics completely blow my mind. They blow my mind because I can't believe they have time to come up with drivel and tripe about other people when they could be simply taking care of themselves. I guess I should be honored that I own so much of that person's brain and attention span, right?

Recently there have been some interesting accusations brought to my attention and I almost blew my iced tea right out my nose. Yeah, I laughed that hard.

Many of you out there are likely trying to build yourselves and make a good life for yourselves. You may be artists, writers, advocates, or any other thing really. What you need to know is that someone is always going to come along and try to take the wind out of your sails. Why do they feel the need? Who or what are you to them? Here's what you need to remember: these are unhappy people. They are jealous of every single thing that anyone else around them  does or succeeds at. They have nothing better to do than spread lies and drama and try to bring other people down. Instead of just living good and taking pride in their own achievements, they have to bring other people down.

Allow me to give you some recent examples but first: I am an advocate for autism education, a writer and illustrator. I have bridged these from time to time in order to show support for people with autism and to educate. Just because I have autism (and yes other medical conditions) doesn't mean I can't do anything.  The same goes for you. Anyway:

Accusation: Never diagnosed as autistic.   This is what made me spew tea today. I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (explained as a high functioning form of autism and still accepted that way by every doctor I talk to today) right after my son was diagnosed. This person is someone that I have never met in person; doesn't live anywhere that I have lived; doesn't know any of my doctors; and has no access what-so-ever to any of my medical history as in the actual medical files. Hello, HIIPA anyone?  They weren't there as I was diagnosed. They witnessed me in real life. Most importantly this person is not a doctor. I think some far out imaginations are at work here. Maybe they dreamed that they talked to all my doctors and got certified copies of everything I was ever diagnosed with. Ah, but then they wake up. How does this person even get close to such a ridiculous leap (other than being a bold faced liar)? Well, here's the main excuse:

- has other medical conditions: Apparently there's a special law in the fabrics of reality that says you can only have one psychological medical condition. Well someone get me a lawyer! I want to sue the universe for not following it's own law! Well, while this seems to be a brand new surprise to my haters, medical science seems to have known about it for decades now. You can absolutely have more than one condition. There are scales of details and factors that go with it, but hey, I'm not the doctor here. You can have bipolar disorder, Asperger's, a TBI and MS all at the same time. I know this, because I live with it. Ah, but this person thinks that if I were seen by a doctor today I would lose the autism diagnosis. What Hater doesn't realize is that I've been under a doctors care (getting MRI's and such) for quite some time. Not only have I not lost any diagnosis but my doctors have no question about them and they have all my records. So that's that. I have been diagnosed officially every step of the way, end of story.

Accusation: Trying to use autism to sell to people:  Say wha? You know, while there are people out there who demand that you pay attention to what they do because of a medical condition, not everyone is like that. The only reason that I point out my autism or my son's with my work (as posted on my blogs) is because what I'm doing now is my way of overcoming my conditions. The message is meant to be that I am not sitting in a corner going "boo hoo, I have medical conditions and I'm helpless in life" rather just the opposite. I don't want anyone to say "well, he has autism so we better buy his books and art". I would hate that. I would prefer people buy what I have for the sake of what it is. Hater seems to think that everyone is affected the same way by autism and that's not true. There are a lot of people who are having a hard time in life who aren't sure if they can make it. My message is for them. Past that, I support autism education and I'm proud of that. I want what I do to always support autism and mental illness and education for it. For every person that I help to find answers or ease their suffering because of what I do... that's a great success to me. I have outright donated my work for free for just that purpose. So I have stuff for sale, big deal. Some of it is for sale for my own use anyway.

Accusation: Trying to use autism to publish books:  Now if I laugh any harder I'm going to have a migraine. But hold on, let me share something about this hater with you. This one has published several books on and through Amazon. I don't want to knock that because who knows, I might try that one day too. But here's the cold hard fact about self publishing through Amazon. Anyone can do it. I mean anyone! No agent, no editor, no acceptance process except maybe for age range, you just put your book on Amazon and make some selections for covers and stuff. Then BANG! you're published. From what I know this is the only way this person has ever published anything (not that it's a bad thing). I would prefer not to go the self publishing route myself but that's just me.  Now, if you go and start researching agents and consider sending them a query about your work, you might notice they want to know if you've been published. I can't tell you how many times I've seen the words "not on Amazon or internet self publishing". That's because anyone and their dog can publish this way with complete abandon. That's also not to say that there are no good authors on Amazon, I actually know of a couple who are pretty good. All that being said, back to the point of the accusation, the idea that I could sway any self respecting agent with "I have autism" is ludicrous at best. For that matter, it's just flat stupid. And yes, this hater likes to bash away at my work as well.

Special note: I have not read any of this writer's work, nor will I. And why should I? Would you feel like buying anything from someone who targets you like this? I wouldn't.

So, there you have it. Now, while I wrote this all out, I want you to know that I've done this for the good of the reader. Your haters don't deserve your time. They'll call you a fraud, smear you, tell lies, and you'll think they must sit up all night long hunched over books trying to dig for dirt and mud. They'll say you have not talent and try with all their might to belittle and degrade you. Don't let them. I think they've read too many tabloids and believe every word. Don't let them stop you. Don't let them become your demon that gets in the way of your goals. Here's a very important note:

You do not owe these people anything. You do not have to prove yourself to some hater who really doesn't know you close enough to be accurate about you in the first place. It doesn't matter if you are a writer, artist, or just an at home parent. It doesn't matter if you have a medical condition or not. If you are an advocate and trying to help others, then help them. You'll be ahead of the game while haters waste obsession on you instead of their own lives. These haters are laughable and don't deserve anything from you.

And one final chuckle. I was called an "avid reader" of one hater's blog. Hilarious. Just because you look at a page (legal documentation reasons) doesn't make you an "avid" anything.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tickets bought for Denver to meet Stan Lee

This will be the greatest update ever. Not only did we surpass our goal, but we used that to go ahead and get his tickets for the convention, autograph, and photo for Stan Lee. All that's left to do is find a hotel room and reserve it.

I sold a big chunk of my HeroClix collection and added 200 bucks to the mix. With that I bought my wife's convention entry (because what was raised covered mine) and have 70 left over (estimated after hotel and gas) for food and a little fun at the con besides just standing in line to see Stan Lee.  So it does look like this will be a success.

Denver is still having a rocky time, but we are pulling all stops to make sure he gets the best help he can. Doctors, therapists, and a new school IEP are just the beginning.

The donation button will remain active until the week we go to the convention. So if anyone does want to chip in toward Denver's time at the convention you can. I have been given message that a couple of you fine people wanted to do that. Here is the LINK back to that blog post.

I am humbled and grateful beyond words for what you all have done for my son. Because of you, I will be able to give him one of those rare memories that can help shape a child forever.

You know, being a child with a disorder that affects how you interact with the world around you is not a cake walk. Growing up to be a functional adult is a major and tedious challenge. Issues like context, body language, and basic social skills get lost in a dizzying mix of sensory issues. Discipline issues are hard to understand without lots of practice and very clear information. You may be very intelligent, like my son, yet emotionally regressed or late in development. Not fun. Not a picnic. What's worse, you have a nagging sense that something is constantly wrong. I know I did as a child and my son has demonstrated that he gets the same feelings.

"Why can't I understand things right?"
"Why am I such a freak?"
"No one likes me."

All of those things come from social stumblings that cause confusion. Our kids have the challenge of learning past all that and becoming adults who can handle their conditions. To realize that seeing life from lateral views that break context can be a gift as much as a curse. Once you understand it and learn those extra social skills, it becomes a gift.

"Not only do I see what you are saying, but I see another route you may not have thought of."

That's an example of turning that lateral view into that gift. No, not everyone will be able to do that, but it's the best goal you can hope for. That's my opinion any way.

Having my son meet a man who proves this creative lateral way of being (along with being my son's celebrity hero), well, how do you do better than that for a real life example?

GenCon 2004 Child's costume winner!
So I thank you good people, I thank you all. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for praying. Thank you for donating. Thank you for just hoping. May you all be blessed.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Question for you fearless parents out there on Autism in school

Today we are discussing my son's grades and I would like you fearless parents to chime in and tell me what you think! Pass this around and share it. The more input the better.

As many of you know, my son was recently in the hospital for a week because of suffering psychosis that made him hallucinate and hurt himself. It made him rage at everyone around him and I say "suffering" because I mean it. He also hated himself for it. He blamed himself for it. He didn't understand what was happening to him.

Now there's still plenty he know he could have accomplished if he put himself to it, but it was random when he did.

All that being said, we have rules about bringing home an F. There still must be consequences for consistency. The main area of consequence that seems to hit home is losing his DS, and computer games. He is obsessed with his DS to the point that he incorporates video game play into everything he does. A common autistic trait, actually. And he doesn't go completely out of control without his DS. At this point he seems to want to do what's right to earn it back.

Here are his grades:

Conduct: F
Reading: B
English: F (this is the class where most of his rage seems to come out but is slowing down now)
Spelling: B
Writing: Unsatisfactory (not because of difficulties but raging and refusing to even try)
Math: D
Social Studies: A
Science: C

We know he can do this.

So here's the rub.

The current vote is that he loses his DS until his next report card. He has to show us that his grades are improving and are no longer Fs or Ds. That's 6 weeks. I wouldn't have too much problem with that if it weren't for the fact that he had to be hospitalized.

So I have two counter ideas and want honest input (no put downs please!):

A: Cut the punishment down to 2 weeks flat.

B: Use his conduct grade. We get review of his conduct grade once a week. I could hold back his DS until his conduct grade shows up at least a B. That alone could take three weeks, but would give him something shorter term to aim at.

I have nothing against disciplining my child, I just don't want to use a wrecking ball to drive a nail. I will also say that it is easier said than done. So what are your thoughts my friends? Please chime in and share!

Monday, October 1, 2012

An open message to Stan Lee

Dear Sir,

You know heroes better than anyone in the business, but you don't know this one and I would really like you to.

Denver Justice Wilde was named after the best man and brother I ever knew who was tragically murdered in 1991. So, right from this little man's name, you know he's something special.

DJW was born 3 months premature, and still came out with full lungs and screaming to life. From the very start he was overcoming hurdles. He also had mild hydrocephalus that he grew out of on his own.

As a toddler he developed fits that could not be calmed and started hitting his head nonstop. We didn't know what we were dealing with then but it troubled him. He even asked me one day when I was intervening on one of his episodes, tearfully; "Daddy, why can't I stop?"  He had to wear a helmet for a year while we got meds adjusted to help him stop hurting himself.

At 3 years old he was diagnosed with autism.

At 3 years old he was also making up his own superheroes. There were two of them; Skunk Boy and Diamond Crystal Robot. He even made his own Halloween costume for Diamond Crystal Robot out of cardboard and later out of other costume pieces.

Also from 3 years on up, he developed an uncanny ability to build things out of cardboard. He would make entire cities from cardboard boxes and other pieces he scavenged from us. He had no fear of going up to some clerk in a shop to ask if they had any cardboard boxes for him.

Not uncommon in autism, he didn't potty train until he was 5 and attending Kindergarten. For all our efforts, he finally just overcame his fears on his own. Another hurdle beaten.

He proved he could be in a mainstream classroom too, after we moved from Lincoln NE. to Sheboygan, WI.

In 1st grade his teacher told me that he couldn't learn the material. By the end of the year he proved her wrong.

At the end of  2nd grade he did similar though his teacher already knew there were special things going on with Denver. By the end of the year he taught them something new.

Not long after we moved to Sheboygan, Denver had a lesson in death. His name was Zach and we considered him family. He was killed in a car accident at 19 years old.

Also, before he went into 2nd grade, he went through the divorce of his parents. During his 2nd grade year his Grandmother died on his Mothers side of the family and then his Grandfather died on my side of the family.

It took a lot of support and we (myself, his dr and school staff) were ready to support him. He always seemed to bounce back. For such a little guy, he's been through a lot.

In 4th grade he did so well that he earned an award for keeping a B average through the year. He was also invited to the school spelling bee for being amongst the top three spellers in his class and the top ten for his whole grade.

Now, he's going through a hard time. He's unhappy with himself and we are scrambling and struggling to help him. He gets angry, then he gets angry with himself for his own mistakes. He's hurt himself and had to be in the hospital to readjust his medication. He's still struggling and down on himself. We're applying everything we know and can research in techniques to help him. This can happen when a child is trying to learn how to cope with mental disorders. He feels like a freak (his own words) and we know  he's not.

Now there's an opportunity, a very rare opportunity. In November it may just be possible to have him meet one of his celebrity heroes. Hist topmost celebrity hero next to Matt Smith from Doctor Who. He could meet you at the New Orleans Comicon, just a few hours drive from here in Monroe. If I could get him to meet you, I know it could be the morale boost of a lifetime for this 10 year old.

If I could get him to meet you, get a photograph and maybe a signed book to frame and put on his wall. He would have the memory of a lifetime. I could show him that awesome things can and will happen if you put your mind to them.

And I also want to say that this is totally about him. I'm not coming to pitch my universe, artwork or writing. I'm coming for my son. Nothing else. If all I can do is maybe get you to shake his hand, I know what the impact could be. It could alter his course or at least really help with that.

And I'm willing to lean on my cane (the docs think I have MS) and stand in that line just like everyone else. But you are more than welcome to step out of your way if you want to. But I'm not asking you too. I just want you to know him. I hope that when you see his little face, you might remember him. Because having you say "Hi Denver" as he walks up would really, really blow him away!

My son doesn't know that I'm setting aside dignity to ask for donations for the trip on the internet. He doesn't know that I'm selling a chunk of my collection of HeroClix on Ebay for this specific cause (but he does know I'm selling). He doesn't know how much I'm putting into this.

Some said I should tell you why this would be beneficial to you. My answer to that is a question. When would helping a child (event with just a handshake) not be beneficial to anyone?

So maybe, if you see this, you'll know my little hero and the challenges he faces. I truly hope so.

I have great respect for you in even reading this. I do hope that we will make it. Thank you for your time and hope that all things are going well for you.

David J Wilde

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Send this autistic 10 year old to meet Stan Lee

Happy with just cardboard

At this point the project is still on: Stan Lee is still scheduled for New Orleans.

I know, I was going to start posting the memoirs but something far far more important has surfaced.  I'm hoping that some of you out there are willing to do something to help out.

Many of you who read my work regularly, know that my son and I have a high functioning form of autism.  Though I went through life undiagnosed and through chaos, I'm doing all I can to make sure that my son doesn't have the same hard time.

So far that has been fairly successful. He has a great team of teachers and doctors, but he's had a hard time lately. Big changes have hit his life and he's struggling with them. It is now believed that he has to learn how to control child bipolar on top of autism. Yes, it is more than possible to have both.

Note the arches!
Now he internalizes his struggles and gets angry with himself. He puts himself down, slaps and hits himself and we are scurrying to check med changes and help him any way we can. He has been on the gluten free diet for over a month now. He hates it however because he can't have what his friends get in their school lunches. This 10 year old boy, at such a crucial time in his life, needs a morale boost. It's one thing to tell him about the successes of others out there, but if he could meet his hero, Stan Lee, I think it might just set him on a much better track. He would see that good things do happen. He would see that he is worthy of those things. That's not to say we don't tell him he's worthy every day, because we do.

Stan Lee's name gets real excitement out of my son. For a school project in 3rd grade, he played the part of Stan Lee for his class's "living wax museum". In this he would stand in front of his desk and people would come and poke his shoulder. Then he would recite some of Stan Lee's biography. He hates being poked, people.  But he did it for Stan Lee.

Now we live in Monroe, Louisiana and Stan Lee is going to be at the New Orleans Comicon in November. That creates a once in a lifetime chance to take my son to meet his favorite celebrity Stan Lee right here in the same state we live in. But we need help to make it happen.

I also know that Stan Lee loves to help out young artists. He could to that in this case with a handshake and my kiddo is a very talented little visionary. See that picture up above? He was in 2nd grade when he did that with just cardboard. He still builds things out of his room that are mind boggling. Stan Lee knows heroes better than anyone. Well, this is about my little hero!

Just to show that I'm willing to make my own sacrifices I'm doing auctions  now too like THIS.

So how can you help?   You could start here:


Or you can order artwork from my Cafepress store or my DeviantArt page. We won't get much from the sales but every little bit will help and you'll have something nice to show for it.

This is totally for my son. If you have any questions, please feel free to email them to    Bless you for even considering aiding this project. I don't know how else to show he really is deserving.   OOPS... here is the cost breakdown of making this work. The target number we are trying to hit is 435.00.   Yep, just 435. Well, it's not such a small amount when you see the breakdown. That cost covers the following:

Convention tickets for Denver and one adult (can't send a 10 year old autistic in by himself after all) and that's tickets at the door. Not ordered ahead of time. So 140 dollars.

Gas estimated at 80 dollars.

Hotel stay of 180 dollars.

And with Stan Lee.... his autograph is 55 dollars and a photo with him is 80 dollars.

So what we are asking help with only covers getting kiddo that autograph and photo... it gets one adult and him through the door and into line. If either of us adults wants more that is our responsibility.

Now if you want to send him to the con with anything extra for his own use, you may specify and arrangements are completely open.  If we can just cover that 435, it would be a massive door opener and get him to meet his hero.   You can visit the New Orleans Comicon website HERE.

A lot more on why he's worthy HERE.

VERY IMPORTANT UPDATE As of 9-20-2012! Please read!:  Today we took Denver to the hospital program. The average staying time for the program is 7-10 days. That's really awesome news and I hope that's how this lands. The offer quite a bit out out patient programs as well and I think we will want to be involved in those. So the project can totally go forward. There's even more reason now than ever. When we are in that line and I get him to meet Stan Lee, I intend to tell Denver to remember it because awesome things can and do happen. END UPDATE

UPDATE: 10 dollar donation received 9-3-2012
UPDATE: 55 received 9-4-12 THANK YOU BOTH!!
UPDATE:  A very cool person shared this to Stan Lee's Facebook page. Very cool, you know who you are and we thank you!
UPDATE: 7.77 donation received 9-11-12 THANK YOU!
UPDATE:  9.89 donation received 9-12-12 THANK YOU!
UPDATE:  25.00 donation received 9-12-12 THANK YOU!
UPDATE: 9.12 donation received 9-13-12 THANK YOU!
UPDATE:   9-14-12... another awesome person has contacted me and made many awesome suggestions as well as (this person) is actually going to bat and contacting people of the Convention itself. You know who you are and we thank you! We're blown away.
UPDATE: 10 dollar donation received 9-14-12 THANK YOU!
UPDATE:   25 dollar donation received 9-17-12 THANK YOU!
UPDATE:  25 dollar donation received 9-20-12 THANK YOU!
UPDATE:    5 dollar donation received 9-24-12 THANK YOU!
UPDATE:    5 dollar donation received  9-28-12 THANK YOU!
UPDATE:   25 dollar donation received 9-29-12 THANK YOU!
UPDATE:      75 dollar donation received  THANK YOU!!!!
UPDATE:   20 dollar donation received THANK YOU!!
UPDATE: 2 more donations in so THANK YOU! and that's as of 10-4-12
UPDATE: Another donation received from a person who's really going to bat so GREAT BIG THANKS, you know who you are! That 5% charge from Paypal is vexing but please don't worry about it. This is going very well!
UPDATE: A new donation breaks the 300 mark!

Monday, August 27, 2012

After "Raised in Hell"

A lot of people have seen my first book that has gone to thousands of families for free. The book leaves off at a point where I get on a Greyhound bus in Barstow, California headed for Salt Lake City.

What's the big idea about that? The premise of the book is my growing up undiagnosed (autism and bi-polar disorder) through a chaotic childhood. It was my experiences growing up in an age and location where they just weren't diagnosing my age group for those things. Even though they sent me to a hospital at age 12/13, my diagnosis remained "guarded" for the full scale of it.

In Raised in Hell, I survived a chaotic life that involved:

-living in foster homes (some abusive) during my parents divorce (approx age 4)

-living with an abusive (drunk and drugged) step parent until I ran away from home at 14 (started age 6)

-having self abusive seizure like episodes that I am now medicated for (from age 6 on)

-surviving violent bullying from grade 5 until I left home at age 14 (due to moving this involved several different schools)

-never understanding myself as a person

If you want to catch up before I go on, you can download my book here for free:  LINK

Just scroll down the page until you see the title and the word "download". It is SAFE. You will get a simple PDF.

From this edition forward, my blog will take you into the memoirs of what happened after I got on that bus and headed to Salt Lake City, where I believed I was going to be picked up by an adult who knew me. Well, I can tell you I wasn't picked up by anyone when I got off that bus, but that's for next time.

So I hope you will follow along in the continuation of my story as I moved into a stage of life where I had to learn to fend for myself.  That would be from late age 16 into my adult years, still unaware of my medical conditions and still misjudged for them. Still a shining example of why diagnosis, care and support are important. Remember, I wasn't diagnosed until around 2005-2006 after my son was diagnosed at age 3.

Until then, support each over and be good to yourselves.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Autism designs for you

As many of you know, I have a Cafe Press page and I mostly do my characters and fantasy artwork on it. I also do anti-bullying and autism awareness pieces. Well, I've done one anti-bullying piece and now three autism awareness pieces, but there will be more. There will be more especially for the autism pieces.

I'm not doing them to collect donations, they are just for you to enjoy for your own purpose of raising autism awareness. For these designs you can get everything from T-shirts to keychains. From mouse pads, to greeting cards.

As for the T-shirts, I bought one myself of my top hero, King Falcon. It's a well made shirt and best washed and then lightly tumbled dry or air dried (hang it up). Anyway, let me introduce you to my autism art pieces and I hope you'll consider them for your use in autism awareness.  I can also make a design for you to take to a screenprinter yourself for 30 dollars.  Not to worry, you can get some very good design out of me for that. I can also design your tattoo for the same amount.

Autism Heart
Autism Heart:  This is a small piece I made with an older digital program. It doesn't increase in size well, so I only put it on things that work well with small images. This makes a great keychain, and comes in pocket size on T-shirts. While this image isn't on a lot of stuff it works exceptional on Cafe Press's little stuffed animals. Take a look!

Autism Strong
Autism Strong: Available on a few more items than the first heart, this piece sends a clear message that we can be strong. You can even get this on a keychain or waterbottle. I only selected a few shirts, so if you want a style and don't see it, let me know and I'll make changes so you can get it!

Autism Heart and Key
Autism Heart and Key: This object comes on the most stuff yet as it's got the best resolution of any autism piece I've made yet too! You have to browse this one to believe it! You can even get this one for your electronics like ipads and ipods, whatever you've got! Nook and Kindle sleeves too! It's a simple design so it works on nearly everything.

If you want to see all the pictures available here is the link for the store front of Galaxy Zento on Cafe Press.

I hope you enjoy your tour and will consider my designs for your awareness efforts. Thanks for all your support!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Handling phobias and fear in autism

Giant Cicada Killer wasp: Harmless to humans
This morning I checked my messages to find a question from Jill on Autism and Phobias that read:

I also came across your posting after googling autism phobias. My son recently developed a debilitating fear of bees and dragonflies. I'd be interested to hear what you were able to do to help your child deal with his flying bug phobia. Right now we are not able to spend time outside. As soon as he sees a flying insect he starts screaming uncontrollably. Thank you for sharing your experience with this!

Well, Jill, this post is for your and anyone else wondering that same question.

The ultimate answer to a phobia is intensive therapy, but there are steps to take before going that route.

The first steps I like to take, and they seem to help, is education. My 10 year old son is also afraid of just about any flying insect that he can see. He worries that they all are bees or specifically the Mahogany wasps we have in this area. 

I think the first thing that gets them is that these are speeding objects that are hard to identify and can't be controlled. This sets off a sensory and startle reaction. Once that happens it's a chain reaction the rest of the way and hard to reverse. He will need a great deal of reassurance and comforting. Reassurance that these insects aren't looking for him. And that's where education of these things comes in.

Green Dragonfly: Harmless to humans
There are children's level books on just about every bug you can think of at any library. Get your hands on some and let your child know you would like to teach him with some pictures about the bugs in your own backyard or at the park. If there's resistance, get him to agree that pictures can't hurt and then start teaching him about them. 

Next step, check Toys R Us for bug toys that he can handle and touch. He may balk but show him that it's just rubber and not real. With things like dragonflies it's safer than with things you don't want him to touch, like spiders. 

Make it a game. See how many bugs he can identify as they fly around and tell you about them.

Through is all, it will take time, constant reassurance, patience, support and a loving attitude. With enough of that, he can start to grow out of his fears. 

Similar steps can be used for fear of sounds, like thunder. Teach about it, make it a game, and use lots of hugging and supporting. And he will want to retreat, the first odd number of times, it will be hard to get him to do it. You must not give up. Our kids take a very long time to make changes. If in doubt and absolutely unsure, consult a specialist.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Setting an example for our autism youth

My desk area for Galaxy Zento
You might remember, a couple blog posts back, where I wrote to you all about my Galaxy Zento project and what you could do to help with the setting of that example. Well, you worked wonders, my friends and tripled the number of people I was reaching. That's not a million people or anything, but it was a record and I'm grateful. The record? 676 people reached. That's more than 5x the number of LIKES on the page. Thank you!

So today I want to share more about my experience growing up and my son's experience in comparison with autism. I want my experiences to give hope to families struggling with understanding their kids and hope to kids who aren't sure where their lives are going.

This is NOT to say that I have the final answers to anything in autism. It's not meant to give false hopes to anyone. But if you have no hope to draw on at all, where does that leave you?

When I was growing up I was considered to be one effed up kid and that's just the language that got used. During the divorce of my parents I vanished into a fantasy world tried to get others to believe that I had bionics like the Six Million Dollar Man. Today, my son is trying very hard to convince us that he's a star in outer space with super powers. The fantasy is still there.

My son and I collect together
I developed rituals before I was ten of doing things in even numbers. I had to turn lightswitches off or on twice, zip zippers twice, turn objects twice and so on. I felt severely compelled to do this and I don't remember thinking there would be anything but bad luck if I didn't.  I developed a stim of clearing my throat, just like my son does today. I had other stims too and sensory issues. I liked the feeling of some fabrics under my fingernails and cool surfaces were calming to me.

I developed trouble in school early. In my last article I explained that my son has gone through a spot of bad behavior, stealing back his DS when grounded and sneaking out of the house at night through a window with a six foot drop. Well. When I was 8 or 9, I was told to stay after school. I knew I would be in trouble at home if I were late and I told the teacher my father needed to be called. She said it was my problem. I asked to go to the bathroom. She let me and I snuck out of school and ran home. I destroyed letters I was supposed to deliver to my father from the teachers before that (only two days before) and had to stay after again. This time she said I was NOT going to the bathroom. However she left the room,  summoned by the principal and I was gone.

When the phone call came, I got the most horrifying belt beating you can imagine and sentenced to my bed for thirty days. I was to come home, do my homework on my bed, eat dinner on my bed and I could only leave my bed to go to school or the bathroom. I could have one stuffed toy. My father let me out of that punishment after a week. He didn't think I could handle the whole thing, but I never, ever did that again. I won't punish my son like that, but he is in a lot of trouble right now. The difference is I have a team of people to work with him and explain things and teach him. All the while he still gets disciplined. The point is, I had my behavior rough spots too. I had my ticks, my stims, and all the things I see in him today.

By the time I reached 6th grade, I had very few friends (there were 3 of us) and two of us were bully magnets. Before I went to Jr High (a total freaking nightmare) I was playing with kids 5 years younger than me. Just like my son prefers to play with kids either way younger or almost adults (sound familiar?). I didn't understand kids my age at all. It was a concern but not addressed very well, so continued. Those were the times. Now I'm hoping to keep him from being bullied like I was.

A painting I did for autism
Despite my life and all I went through, despite not having support for autism as kid; despite running away from home at 14; despite my random life that I will be sharing here soon; despite the fact that my medical health has gained deteriorating factors, I am still doing things. I still became a parent of four kids, I still have a part in their lives, I still held jobs, and now I'm still striving to do something, anything. I want kids with autism (who are unsure of their lives) and kids with bipolar or who are being bullied, to know that they can do something too. That is what Galaxy Zento stands as an example of.

You can do this too. You can take the accomplishments of your life and show them to your kids. Show them that it's not over until it's over and life has possibilities for them. Show them other people who do amazing things despite disability. It's not about being gainfully employed either, it's just about doing something that you can be good at. And that's a great start!

So thank you for sharing Galaxy Zento. I hope more of you will continue to "like" and follow the page. And when the first novel (The Chessmen) gets published, you'll hear about it first. Thank you!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Even I can stumble in autism parenting

My kiddo when he was doing homework
Raising a child with autism is a series of challenges. Parents get flustered and we are no exception. Yes, I've been an advocate for education on autism but that doesn't make me more than human or immune to stress and frustration.

It's easier to give advice on someone else's child because you can almost do it with a clearer head and a different point of view. But that's why we have a community isn't it? So let me bring up to date.

Last week my son was grounded from his DS games for three days because of lying. He accepted that up front but got up in the middle of the night and stole his DS back from our bedroom. For that, he lost it until the 1st of July (with a vacation right around the corner). I warned him if he did that again, he couldn't take his DS on vacation. We spent the day talking about it and doing what is right. That very night, he stole it again.

I hid the DS in a new place that truly confounded him. We woke up at 2 am with him in our closet looking for it.

To stop that behavior we removed the DS from the house, but a new situation came up. It was 10:30 or so at night and we were in the opposite end of the house watching television when I got a phone call. It was the stepfather of one of my son's friends (not keep in mind my son's 10 years old). My son was standing in his friend's driveway on the opposite side of the block from us. I couldn't believe it. I went straight to his room and sure enough, he wasn't there. He had climbed out his bedroom window and left. We didn't hear a thing and no one saw anything either. I went and picked him up.

How did he manage a window with a six foot drop? His bed was how he reached the window and pushed out the screen. My mountain bike was parked under the outside of the window and that's how he got down. He was lucky, way too lucky to describe. The following morning we went into protocol mode. Call the therapists office and report to his psych dr, get his counselor and a police officer to come over and talk to him about how dangerous it was for a child in his pajamas to run off at night.

He hasn't run off again, but he's still getting up at night and getting into mischief. He snuck his laptop into his room and has gotten candy. The candy is no big deal but we are worried for his safety so there are rounds of us playing guard duty. His bedroom has been completely rearranged so there's no more reaching that window. I need to be taking his shoes and sandals at night. And I've set up a table in the living room so I can be right in sight of him while working at my computer instead of being in the office.

We've already received lots of wonderful advice. Good friend Neil from facebook suggested that his DS may have become his special interest and therefore as powerful as a stim behavior for him. Taking it away makes him too unbalanced. I missed that thought and thank Neil for pointing it out. So a new schedule is under way. He's saying he needs more of us. He's not throwing violent tantrums or anything like that.

But even an advocate can get flustered and need advice. No one is perfect.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

To all my Autism Friends and Family

Just because you have autism or a debilitating disorder, doesn't mean you can't leave your mark on this world.

I plan to be a living example of what I just wrote above this line and I'm asking for your support in doing so. NOT monetary support, so just put that out of your mind. I'm asking for moral support in another fashion that won't cost you a thing. I'm asking for a show of numbers. Let me explain.

As some of you know, I have moved on to another project called Galaxy Zento. It is my universe of heroes, villains, fantasy and sci fi and has it's own blog (linked to the name). This universe is how I survived some of my childhood.  I want you to remember that this is the work of a man with increasing health difficulties, disability (autism, brain injury and possibly MS or related). On top of that I want you to remember that this is a man not giving up. So let my example be your example. I want to share that with you.

You are the best of readers and I have enjoyed your support in my autism writings since I started in around 2008. The works of this blog will remain online until the internet ceases to exist (or blogspot does and I hope that never happens). We have shared so much in the world of autism. We've laughed and cried and my work has actually helped a few people here and there. I do hope it helped way more than that. So here is how you can help me with my project.

1: If you have been a "follower" of this blog, please do so on the Galaxy Zento blog too. Even if you never go back to it, it shows support. I really hope you do come back and enjoy the stories I'm writing there, but just the fact that followers show is wonderful and I will be grateful to you for that.

2: Share it! If you like what you read or know someone who likes to read online, share my work where ever you want to! So long as there is a link and I'm posted as the owner, you can even print and share (not sell).  Share anywhere you like and go, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Stumbleupon, whatever!

3: Comment! I would very much enjoy to see comments from anyone. You can post anonymously or sign in and your email will not be spammed (I've checked on that with Blogspot). I will not use your email for anything at all. I would just love to get the interaction. The items above are more important, but this would be very cool to see.

4: If you are on Facebook, come to the Galaxy Zento fan page and click LIKE. That will also NOT spam you and shows your support. Feel free to browse the more than 200 illustrations I have drawn so far (and more to come before I lose any more use of my hands). I hope you will visit there often too. The more "likes" the better. Naturally, as above, comments and all sorts of picture likes are very welcome!  And again, share the same way if you would. On the fanpage there will be updates to all sorts of things Galaxy Zento, that includes the book work and more art.

Now, if you want to, and you see something of my art that you really really like or want to show off Galaxy Zento in other ways, that's where you could make purchases if you want to. I do NOT expect you to. But it is available and I have done Autism art as well. The autism art and T-shirts are available on my CafePress page. Kids sizes are there too. If you want a mug or mouse pad compare prices with my DeviantArt page before you buy. I don't get much out of any sales. I get 2 bucks if you buy a mousepad at DeviantArt for example. But you could get something to show off and enjoy.

Sorry, no T-shirts on DeviantArt.  I will take Autism art requests and make them available!

 My stance will always be for autism education. Want to know who I think you should donate to on autism?   Easter Seals and your local Autism Society chapter, that's who.  If you are in another country and have a group that's helping your community (that's legally recognized and legitimate for taking donations) go with them.

So, what I'm asking to recap is for follows and likes on the blog and facebook and sharing. Commets and interaction would also be nice. So there you have it. I will be passing this around to my friends of autism on facebook and email and I hope you will consider it. Let my example be yours. And know that no one with autism is alone. You are not alone. Thanks and I hope you enjoy what you see!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Autism in the workplace

I'm going to use the term Asperger's for high functioning autism here because it's recognizable and familiar. I could say HFA too, but whatever. This is for those who are able to go out and seek employment. You know who you are.

This post is inspired by a comment a while back:

"I've got Asperger's syndrome and so will probably be re-diagnosed as now having mild autism. Since resources are limited, those with a supposedly less severe disability such as myself will likely lose what little support we are getting.

I've read many blogs on the subject and no-one seems to be discussing the fact that the needs of people across the autistic are so very different. Many people with Asperger's, myself included, are capable of living fully independent lives but need a lot of intensive and expensive support...especially in the area of employment

First of all, we would do well to remember that our needs across all of us vary dramatically from one end of the spectrum to the other. That's why it's referred to as a spectrum. It's hard for us to do that sometimes because of our social blindness that trips us up so much. That same "social blindness" (as I call it- not a medical term) can really screw things up on the job.

Seeking employment with our conditions is a daunting task. Sometimes, as you try to explain yourself, (especially if you do it in an interview) you can almost see the interviewer rolling their eyes:

"Oh gawd, seriously?"

And you know you aren't getting that job. It's a nerve wracking experience to say the least.

So what do you do? Hide the fact that you have any condition? Sure, but then if things mess up somewhere and you try to explain it, you wind up with them either not believing you or penalizing you harder. I've had this happen personally. I've lost jobs because I thought I was following directions and they came around and said, "How could you do that!"  Employment is not such an easy world for those who have autism at any level. No, that doesn't speak for everyone. Some never have a problem, or at least don't look like it. Others with more difficulty wind up with unforgiving employers who have no patience.

And that's what we need, patience and often direct and literal instruction on the job. In todays financially stressed world, there aren't as many patient employers as there should be. So there are some things that we need to do the best we can.

1: Never give up looking for ways to be employed or self supporting.
2: Get career minded and seek schooling for what interests you most.
3: Seek out special programs in your area or state that may help you get training or work experience.

I know, not all of us can do this, and many will need help and guidance. That's why the rest of us advocates need to educate employers and bring this to the attention of our politicians and special programs. Employing someone with autism may take some adjustment and clear communication skills but there are rewards for doing so.

1: Detail oriented. We can be so detial oriented that, once we know our job, we don't vary. And we'll work hard to prove it.
2: Loyalty to company. Once we get into a company and work for them, we can be fiercely loyal to who we work for. We'll be ready to go to bat. We'll help with special projects (so long as we have clear instructions).
3: While not all of us can be awesome with the public (we'll sure try!) many of us can be awesome in behind the scenes project support that will knock your customer's socks off.

Now some final advice for you seeking employment. Something you need to ask yourself:

Are you responsible with your medical conditions? If not, that can and will get in the way of your employment opportunities.  For example, if you have bipolar disorder (severe enough to require medication) and you don't take your medication, you could have problems. It's one thing to be doing the best you can with what you have. It's another entirely to be irresponsible, commit crimes, drink, do drugs, or not take care of yourself. So, if you want to succeed here are a few things to remember:

1: Hygiene... go to work clean! Take showers, brush your teeth and hair, clean yourself and wear clean clothes. Use deodorant! Use soap! Do it everyday if you have bodily odor problems. As you get older you will find your body needs it more and more. Mine sure does!

2: Stay out of legal trouble! Don't get into illegal drugs, don't abuse any drugs, don't drink alcohol. Stay away from people who do these things.

3: Don't be lazy. Get out of bed in the morning, be on time or even five to ten minutes early. Keep to your schedule.

It is hard out there. We do need support. What's sad is that there are areas where we still don't get that support and my own story proves it. I think it's about time I actually share that story.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Shifting tics and drifting minds

This morning, the car needed gas. The poor thing had to be running on fumes as I took my wife to work. Unfortunately, as so often happens, my mind drifted off elsewhere and I drove right on by the gas station. I got all the way to her work and she handed me her bank card.

"What's this for?" I asked.

"To get the gas for the car."

Then it struck me what happened. I know what you're thinking; "Hey man, that happens all the time. It's normal."

Well I have two things to say to that:

1: It doesn't feel normal to me.
2: I could understand this and research shows it's normal to a point.

I hate it when my brain does its drift away thing. It can make it very hard to get where I'm going and finish what I'm doing. It makes me space off important things like current tasks, making dinner, making important phone calls and more.

I've taken the trash out to the can outside and wound up staring at the trash container, wondering why I was there. It may be normal at a certain point, but in my case, I find it terrifying. In any case, my next MRI will be of full spinal and brain so we can try to get a further look at what's going on. So far, concussion causes permanent brain damage cannot be ruled out and is highly likely. Even so, it wouldn't cause me to progressively get worse, so my doctors are concerned on that point.

Finally on me, for a long time there wasn't much of pain involved, but now there is. It's in my calves, knees, elbows, neck and back. The other night, my wife was rubbing the back of my hand gently with her fingers and I was surprised to find that this actually hurt. It felt like my hand was severely bruised, but nothing showed. Now it seems fine. I've experienced the same pain in my scalp on occassion now.

So what about the tics I mention? Well, that brings me to my son who's tics and stims have shifted. They will do that many times as he gets older. All we can do is try to help him work through them and concentrate on what's happening. Some say you can't stop your autistic child from stims or tics, but some have to be addressed. Like forcing a hacking cough that sounds like a cat gagging on a furball. He's developed some new obsessive traits as well that we are trying to help him with.

He's obsessed with the idea that his fingers stink and that he's stepped in something with his shoes. He stepped on a giant slug the other day that kind of sealed the deal for his feelings. Now he does strange tip-toed walks around the back yard that worry us. Maybe I need to step in something gross and handle it like it's no problem just to show him? We really aren't sure. I try to reassure him that something on the bottom of his shoe is why he wears shoes in the first place. I can see it will take consistent application. At times like this I have to remember that he's overcome worse, like being a "poopie picasso". When he was a toddler he would smear feces (it's a texture issue) and nothing tops that, absolutely nothing.

So we carry on and that's all for the update, for now.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Overcome: Never give up

I find myself having to keep this cane of mine closer to me lately. Apparently, my sense of balance and the nerves in my knees conspire to throw me on the ground more often now. I'm trying some new medication for the trembling to steady my hands and help me get more sleep at night, but we still don't  know what this progressing condition is that I have in my collection of "conditions".

I especially want to keep my hands as useful as possible for as long as possible for sake of my current mission. As many of you know know (who follow along), I am growing the project of my fantasy universe, Galaxy Zento as a symbol of many things.

It is a symbol of overcoming, of "doing" in spite of conditions, of functioning with these medical conditions. It is about functioning in spite of Autism, Traumatic Brain Injury, and whatever the other thing is (next MRI will of full spine).  It's about abolishing the stygma and myths that come with all of them as well.

So far, I have written two novels on my project with one under agency consideration as we speak. I have drawn, circulated and donated an anti bullying poster to my son's elementary school. I have drawn and circulated an autism awareness poster with another of my heroes as well. I won honorable mention from Writer's Journal for a short story of one of my characters. I have drawn, inked, and computer colored over 200 illustrations. I've put together about 100 custom miniatures of my characters too. I'm still writing and working on showcases for the GZ blog. And I'm still not stopping.

I'm doing this to show my son what you can accomplish, despite what may or may not be "wrong" with you. My son, like me, has autism. I'm doing this to show anyone who has doubts about themselves for the exact same reasons, just what you can accomplish.

Yes, I walk with a cane (a four pod cane no doubt), yes I am disabled, yes I have to take daily naps because I run out of energy fast...... but I'm still ticking.  I'm still going and I don't intend to stop.

Galaxy Zento, is an example and I always want it to shine that way, no matter where it ultimately lands. The fact is, what matters is, that I never give up.

You can do what you want to do or find something new. And I'm not talking about getting a job when you are disabled. I'm talking about, your personal worth. You are worth something. You must never give up.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My personal view of the word CURE

Sometimes it just doesn't pay to say anything, especially on the internet. I recently got into a discussion that derailed over the use of the word "cure". Here were some of the points of view:

-A couple of people felt that people should stop using the word altogether in light of autism. They find it offensive and compare it to vulgar racial slang.

-There were the viewpoints of how looking for a cure is offensive.

My point of view on this word is this: There is no cure for autism. Because there is no cure for autism I often use paranthesis around the word lik this, "cure". Because there is no cure for autism there is nothing to realistically define the word "cure" as it pertains to autism.

I do not think all people with autism need a cure.

I do think getting personally offended because someone else wants a cure (what ever that may be) is a waste of energy.

My opinion on stopping people from saying cure in regard to autism is that it won't work. It's an unrealistic approach and there are better ways to educate people. It also won't work because, like autism itself, you are crossing a variety of personaly points of view on the word. Unfortunately, I couldn't get my real point of view past the instantaneous offense taken on the other side.

You aren't going to get people to stop saying cure because it doesn't have the same meaning to everyone. It's not being used in the same context by everyone. It's not like racial slurs where the context is clear and obvious. 

Now just about any term can be used in a derogatory manner and I don't like that either. If someone were to use the word cure on me in that manner I wouldn't feel friendly towards them either. I agree that treating people with autism or any other condition in a derogatory manner is wrong.

You see, I prefer to dislike the derogatory behavior more than any word. The behavior is the root of the issue. Truly derogatory or bigoted people can find more words to use.

That brings me to my next point. If you want people to stop being derogatory to you, then you need to show the same courtesy you expect of them. If you are honestly going across the internet page in question with remarks like:

"those brainwashed NTs"
"that pervasive JC stuff" (religious remark)

Well, then you'll only be seen as a hypocrite and you'll get the same respect you give.  And attacking people as a general group (NTs)... how can you do that and then demand they accept you?

When someone attacks you, do you feel like accepting them? Of course not! You want distance from that person and plenty of it.

But, this is a discussion I have had enough of. I refuse to try and be polite and helpful to people who will turn around and go to war with me. I'm not your enemy. I am not pro-cure and I am not anti-cure. I know that there is no cure and fear is our greatest enemy. I know that how you treat someone is how you will be treated in return. Your behavior speaks volumes. The "cure" debate is now on my "banned" list because it's just too volatile and stressful to deal with on either side, and that's a big red flag people should pay attention to.

I end this with a link to my best blog on the "cure" debate I could have ever written and then that is that. LINK

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hallucination or Imagination?

My son has a powerful sense of imagination. It's clear to me that it's very vivid to him and has created concern. Not only can he drift off in his imagination at any unexpected moment, but it can be very hard to reel him in. It takes him off task and delays in getting things done. Drifting off into your own world is fairly common for children with autism (who were once considered Asperger's). But what if this is something more than imagination? What are the risks of hallucinations. What do you watch for?

Having a powerful imagination can be unsettling. Just ask Stephen King, who once stated in an interview that he uses a nightlight or leaves his closet light on. Maybe he said that to sell on how scary his stories can be, but then again, who remembers being scared of the dark as a child? A vivid imagination can take some understanding.

According to the article in this LINK, there is a significant difference you can watch for. Better yet, let me quote it:

"True hallucinations, unlike normal childhood imaginary play, are often frightening to the child and cause great distress. They come on suddenly without warning and often linger around for a while before suddenly disappearing. Whether the hallucinations are short or last for a longer duration, the fear and panic they cause the child is very real."

Hallucinations are not part of the description of the autism scale and its comorbidities. But that doesn't make them impossible.  While schizoprenia is extremely rare in children, there are other things that can lend to hallucination. You can see them in the same article but here:

-Lack of sleep
-Reactions to medication
-Illnesses like cancer or with various internal organs
-concussion or other head injury
-severe psychological trauma

Imagination is powerful, there's no doubt about that, but most of it is normal under given circumstances. If your child is excited about Christmas or Easter, for example, he or she may swear up and down that they saw Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. This is fine and changes as they catch up in maturity.

Speaking of maturity, it's also important to remember that our autism kids (Asperger's) are often delayed in maturity so this may happen in years that are considered inappropriate. Support to your child and reminders of reality versus imagination are usually sufficient in coping with this process. Under most circumstances, such as seeing Santa Claus, you can disregard. You don't want to put undue pressure on your child to mature at a pace they aren't capable of.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Reflecting on World Autism Day

Whenever I see a comment that says "Autism is everyday, not just once a year" in reference to Autism Day, I have to pause for a moment. Some say that just to add to awareness, but some are genuinely insulted that there is a day on the calendar named for our cause. And that's not just the cause of people like me who are lucky enough to be verbal, or parents working with their children, but everyone who lives with autism, everyone.

Having a day on the calendar given to us in this manner is not to suggest that people should only pay attention to autism once a year. It is a grand step towards educating and awareness and we should all be proud of it and thankful for it. Every step that goes towards awareness is a good one and having a day is no small achievement. And lets also not forget that April is also Autism Awarenes Month!

Let me put it another way with an example. Take Veteran's day. Veterans should be thanked whenever you come across them, not just once a year. But there's a lot more to veterans day than that, isn't there? It's a day set to commemorate them and honor them.

Yes, to those of us who live with autism, it's every day. To those who don't, we need to not expect people to wake up and pay homage to autism every day. There's only so much you can expect out of people who don't live with it. There's a fine line between education (awareness) and shoving something down someone's throat. Don't shove it down their throats, the results always turn out bad.

Now, look how far Autism Day has come. It's gone from being celebrated with blurbs in the newspaper to being heralded on all media sources. I saw an advertisement that said "make it blue" and liked that. It's for awareness and everyone sees it. It won't be long before you go buy a calendar and find it marked on that day. That's a great achievement towards awareness.

So I say "thank you" for autism day! Thank you for a day that brings awareness to so many people across the globe. Thank you for a day I don't have to break my own back to give out that awareness. Thank you for a day that may mean less stigma and more understanding for a growing issue. Thank you for showing me how much you are trying to understand.

The day is an honor, not an insult. It's recognition, not ignorance. Should efforts continue to provide awareness and education year round? Of course! No one is saying it shouldn't.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

1 in 88 versus the DSM for Autism

There's a whole new line of fear-mongering being launched right now across the internet about how the new DSM will supposedly change how autism is reported. This will supposed change the new number of 1 in 88 children back towards 1 in 110 or even further off of that.

First of all, you have to ask yourself one question: Based on what proven statistic?

You see the idea of 1 in 88 is not NEW news by any means. It's been under study as a possible change in statistics for three years (give or take). So here we go again, freaking out over old news. Just because they've decided to place confirmation on it doesn't mean the world is going to change. All these people had autism and tomorrow they still will, but I get ahead of myself here.

As I posted in my last blog about the DSM (and the one before that), the changes in diagnosis that people are freaking out about, were implemented LAST YEAR. So Asperger's was already dissolved into being called simply.... autism. So, again, nothing new. And by the way, that didn't change my diagnosis or my son's diagnosis. Want to know why?

Because it's up to your doctor! Moreso it's up to you and your doctor as a team. Doctors don't go through all their patients and change diagnosis just because the DSM says so. Can you imagine the kind of man hours that would take? Doctors don't have time to quibble over terminology just because a panel of experts say so.

There is no law that says your child has to be rediagnosed. If your doctor has been supportive of your child's needs so far, that is highly unlikely to change. And ask your doctor, yes a profound thought, ASK YOUR DOCTOR if you are worried. Don't read some bilge on the internet and go into hysterics, it does nothing for you.

Doctors don't like being told how to diagnose their patients. Read that over and over again until you'll never forget it.  Since the last fear wave went through I mentioned it to real live doctors myself. One of which rolled his eyes and shook his head. He knows his patients IN PERSON. The people writing the DSM don't.

The comments that will fly by your pages will have little in the way of educational merit and be nothing more than blind fear. I've seen comments on "accurate reporting" and "losing diagnosis" and as I dug into them, I found that there was no supporting evidence to any of them.

So, the final advice that will clinch it all is to talk to your doctor! The internet is a fine place for advice, but none of these people know you or your family personally who may be giving this advice.

Past that, I'm not surprised they were able to confirm the 1 in 88, I'm sure that number will increase as time goes on.