Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Updates to follow

I've enjoyed the medium of blogging. However, it has seem more like journaling to me then actually publishing. I'd be more inclined to write on a regular basis if I felt that people were reading it. The last couple of years has been a strange trip. I've continued being involved in the Asperger's community. My son Ryan is doing well and attends the New School In the Heights in Houston Texas their focus is helping children transation back into a regular school after two years. Besides a small teacher to student ratio 6 to 1. They also spend time on counseling and social interactions.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Harry Potter theory for Book 7 Deathly Hallows

Is Grandma Longbottom up to something?
In the Order of the Phoenix while visiting the closed wing of the Hospital the fab four (Harry, Hermonie, Ron and Ginny) stumble across Broderick Bode who was on his way to making a nice recovery. While there Bode was given a plant that turned out to be devils snare (pg. 512 Order of the Phoenix American Edition). Grandma Lonfbottom well known as a herbalist (the only class that Neville thrives in) would be able to spot Devil snare as easily as a cub scout master could spot poison ivy. More importantly she would be able to disguise it as Flitterbloom. My theory is that Grandma Longbottom dropped the plant off with the other packages on the way in.
Even her description is not one used to describe a loving grandmother with such phrases as a formable witch ... wearing a hat ... with a stuffed vulture... a shriveled, claw like hand.... casting a sternly appraising look down her rather bony nose.
My theory is that to protect her only grandson Grandma Longbottom sold out her own son and daughter in law (who she un-affectionately refers to as his son’s wife). The prediction that only one can survive could have refereed to either Harry or Neville. In conclusion, I feel that Grandma is up to something that we will soon learn about in the next book Deathly Hallows.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

It's been a while

I have not written anything in a while. However, I have been involved in a lot of different things. Since leaving the program I have spoken to a graduate school Childhood Disorders class about High Functioning Autism with the focus being on Aspergers Syndrome. I have also been a speaker at a parent support group discussing the role of the school counselor in working with children on the spectrum. I was also a co-teacher and helped to develop a summer program for HFA children. The program was a challenge but turned out quite well. I hope to develop an undergraduate course that would be taken by teachers to help them meet the challenges that are involved with this population an occasional workshop is not nearly enough. Further updates to come.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

this is an audio post - click to play

Mentoring and Autism

As I looked over the notes from the class I missed it would seem the main topic had to do with mentoring kids on the spectrum. I was fortunate enough to have had an opportunity to be a job coach for some kids on the spectrum while I was in grad school. The high school that I was TA at had it's own restaurant where students would work to explore that as a vocation. I remember being assigned to one particular student that was having great difficulty learning the different roles at the restaurant. I remembering asking the teacher AKA head cook/manger about her training thus far and he replied we told her what to do and how to do it. After a couple of days I realized that they had missed a key component they never actually showed her the task with a demonstration and some follow through. Since, I would perform the task first she was able to have the must needed visual piece and was able to acquire new skills and responsibilities.

Having Dyslexia myself I understand the need for visual input. I also remember my first job as a bus boy at an Italian restaurant when I was 14. It was the first time anyone had called me hard working. I had struggled in school for so long because my dyslexia had gone undiagnosed so I was often written off for lack of effort. I still spend a lot of time helping out others at work to compensate for my short comings. I also feel that people with dyslexia would make good mentors for people on the spectrum. Often my own son will miss interpret something said and I will be able to figure out his interpretation because I can also visualize what was said.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Superheroes and Asperger's

As I was reading other peoples sites on Asperger's and wondering what comments to make it occurred to me to that I could speculate if their were any super-heroes that may have Asperger's Syndrome. Obviously when one thinks of super-heroes Superman is one of the first to pop into anyone's mind. After further consideration I don't think Superman fits the Bill. First and for most he is from another planet literally and the DSMIV does not address extra terrestrials. He also has a steady job with adequate peer relationship and even has a girlfriend. He does not appear to have sensory issues or trouble with transitions. The next Super Hero that came to mind was Batman. Here is someone who definitely may be on the spectrum.

Batman is a loner. He has two notable people who he confides in his butler (Alfred) who is considerable older then him and is paid. The other is his ward (Robin) who is much younger. In addation Batman has an unusual intense interest in Bats and has a passion for computers and technology. He is also millionaire (Bruce Wayne) and does not seem to ever go to work. He prefers to come out at night maybe due to a sensory thing with light.

What about his pragmatic skills. He shows up out of no where immediately interrupts commissioner Gordon and the sergeant. He gives his theory on the criminals motives which is a complete monologue. Then he does not wait for a response and just leaves with out proper termination of the conversation. Unfortunately, his parents were killed so we are unable to get a proper history on his language development so assuming he had the normal milestones Asperger's would seem the most appropriate diagnosis.

I remember one time on the TV show Batman played by Adam West jumps in the Bat-mobile with Robin. Batman refuses to chase after the criminals because Robin is not wearing his seat belt. This demonstrates a person who is rule driven too a fault. Also his purpose-seems to be to stop criminals that interfere with daily routine of Gotham's citizens.

There are those critiques who would point out that his parents were killed in front of him and Post Traumatic Stress disorder would be more appropriate which may be the underlining cause to his sleep disorder. Batman may have a dual diagnosis I am unsure because he is fictional but the disorder is real. I write this because we speculate if great man and woman in history had this condition. Why not a super hero? My hope is that people will read this and think hey you might be right and having a super hero on your side is not a bad thing. How great would it be to have two kids talking and one mentions having Asperger's and the other saying doesn't Batman have that too. We all need to relate too something and have hereos that we can identify with.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Subject: Podcast Award Ceremony at Sullivan School
Larry Welkowitz did an interview with a teacher at his daughter's school. The school held an award ceremony where every student received some type of an award. This ceremony was to identify the individual strengths of each student at this small school of only 50 students. It reminds what Alex Haley the author of Roots once said "find the good and praise it." Larry Welkowitz recognized this approach as being a Multiple Intelligence approach to education. The teacher said that was the approach and she was looking at something from the author Howard Gardener of Multiple Intelligence as they spoke. The point being to realize that each child gives off their own unique beam and "the beam is stronger at a small school". The teachers also have to take on more roles which allows them to know each student in a more personal way. The awards are to instill a sense of pride and to encourage them to work harder to develop those strengths. In the world of Asperger's we often worry that if the Asperger student focus too much on their strengths their social weaknesses will also increase. If by focusing on their strengths, may allow them to make great contributions but will that ultimately make them happy. In this dilemma I would apply what I refer to as the platinum rule: 'treat others the way they want to be treated.' In conclusion I will leave you with the words of Howard Gardener:

I want my children to understand the world, but not just because the world is fascinating and the human mind is curious. I want them to understand it so that they will be positioned to make it a better place. Knowledge is not the same as morality, but we need to understand if we are to avoid past mistakes and move in productive directions. An important part of that understanding is knowing who we are and what we can do... Ultimately, we must synthesize our understandings for ourselves. The performance of understanding that try matters are the ones we carry out as human beings in an imperfect world which we can affect for good or for ill. (Howard Gardner 1999: 180-181)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Autism Spectrum Disorder Program

Over the weekend classes were held at Antioch for the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) program . Featuring some of New England's leaders in the field John Moran, Tersa Bolick, Elsa Abele, Tracy Gilman, Katherine Shultz Ransom and Larry Welkowitz. Each providing their insight and knowledge in their area of speciality. The group of students is also made up of wide variety: para professionals, school counselors, psychologists, ABA specialist, special education teachers, administrators and parents all exchanging their experience. I apologize if I missed anyone. ( for further information on the program contact Shelly Viles at Antioch New England in Keene NH (

This log will be an outlet for some of my theories and to make comments that I have about topics that arose.

Poor or no eye contact is often a characteristic associated with this population. One of the reasons could be linked in the way that they retrieve information. How often have you asked someone a question and there eyes immediately shout up towards one side of their brain. It is as if their eyes can look inside their head for the answer. When we do this maybe we need a break from the sensory piece of looking at someone while we find the answer. A similar break from distraction, like when you become lost while driving, you turn down the radio to better focus your energy on the task at hand.

My son who has PDD-NOS when he becomes overwhelmed, he chooses to part take in his favorite activity which at the time happens to be monopoly. This provides him with some degree of comfort or something to occupy his mind. Similar to Dustin Hoffman when he starts to repeat the Abbot and Costello "Who's on First" Routine in the movie Rainman. Both being very linear always going pass go or back to first base.

When I first started working at an elementary school I noticed how accepting children are of each other in the primary grades (1st and 2nd). I remember a child coming up to me on the playground with another student who had just moved from another country and did not speak the language. The child said "she doesn't speak what I speak but we're still friends." How come if verbal communication is not a necessity for kids then why are kids on the spectrum so quickly unaccepted. I think it has to do what I feel is one of the first discriminating factors for children which is age. As a child the older you are the better you are. How often do we here only 7 years old can come up the slide or be in the club. Since kids on the spectrum have pervasive developmental delays, their behavior is often years behind their classmate, opening up the door to discriminate against them based on ageism. A first grader who tantrums like a two year old may be looked upon as being a baby. We all know that the only one who lets the babies in the club are those kids who want to baby the baby. These children need to learn to asses the situation and talk the talk. They need to observe and be able to mimic people who are successful at it.

There are two people who I know that are especially good summing up a social situation, my friend Kav and my brother Dave. I will start with my brother who was hired to coach Lax on the west coast. He drove across country on one of his stops he was in Tennessee. He walked into a bar and was surrounded by the biggest bunch of good old boys you ever saw. He immediately assessed the situation. Here he was a yankee in the deep south with one of the strongest Boston accents on record. He determined they must be Tennessee Volunteer Football fans so he yells "Alabama Sucks." The clientele started buying him drinks and treating him like one of their own.

Kav was done on Martha's Vineyard as a guest. His friend brought him to the local dive that was known for it's tough characters. His friend's advice was "don't mess with the locals!!!" The next thing you know Kav is in the corner arm wrestling some guy. They both had a great night and didn't have to sit there feeling intimidated. Exemplifying the usefulness of knowing the surrounding social situation and what the appropriate behavior would call for. {Sorry to end with a dangling participle but my editor and chief (a.k.a. my wife) is asleep}.