Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Towards Real Autism Awareness: a 2014 Autism Acceptance Month Post


For the past nine or so years, a lot of questions and a lot of fascination have been surrounding the world of autism.  Over one hundred million dollars has been raised by various organizations to research causes, treatments, preventions, and cures for autism.  Meanwhile, while all this money has gone to various organizations such as Autism Speaks and the National Autism Association, very little of this money has gone to services that would make a difference in the here and now, when people with autism most truly need it.  The fact is that the overwhelming majority of autistic people have been underemployed (or unemployed), without access to education after college, and many of them not yet living on their own despite being even six or more years over age, and these statistics have not been challenged by the various monies raised to create an understanding of autism.  That’s because you have two different ideas about autism.  One is the medical model, which sees autism as a condition to be treated, prevented, and cured like cancer or AIDS.  Even though autism does not kill or cause you to live in perpetual pain or agony like these conditions, you still have people who want to treat it like that. 
Another model you have for autism is a social one.  This model deals with autism as a difference rather than a medical condition.  More recently, this model has been taken up by psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, and political scientists at various prominent universities throughout the world.  It hearkens autistic people’s struggles in employment and education to the struggles of women and ethnic minorities across the world, stemming from our government and other governments where autistic people have relatively low status, seeing that the fact that modern day public schools and health care divisions, while very effective if you are an able-bodied neurotypical people, is not so effective if you have conditions such as Asperger syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and such.  Of all the money that organizations such as Autism Speaks has raised, charity monitor’s and the organization’s own tax return sheets that all charities are federally mandated to publish, show Autism Speaks’ has given only three to four percent of any money it is given to services for autistic people.  It’s 2012 report verifies that statistic (its 2013 report is not yet available).  Autistic activist Amy Sequinza was once quoted as saying, “Autism Speaks’ latest media budget was shown to be $10 million.  With that money they could have provided 14,226 speaking tablets to non-verbal autistic children.”  The bulk of that money has been spent on medical research that for the average under/unemployed and undereducated person with Asperger syndrome, hasn’t changed our standard of living or our levels of happiness and acceptance.  For the problem is that so much investment in things that will theoretically help the autism community in the future, rather than what is shown to help them now, is a perpetual problem of the medical model autism community.  This model was once applied to the homosexual community, and now that it is no longer used on them, it cannot be denied that they have made significant (albeit unfinished) progress. 
Like the LGBT, autistics are not diseased, but different, and by different, I mean that they are not the same as neurotypicals and allistic (having other intellectual/developmental disabilities-AD/HD, bipolar disorder) people who the world does not revolve around.  Have any of you ever seen the Silicon Valley in California?  Do you think it is like that because all the hard-working citizens there are miss prom queen USA?  Do you think this world would function better with constantly static television sets, no knowledge of the theory of gravity, a world without the U.S. Declaration of Independence or Louisiana Purchase?  Maybe you think it’s odd that (some) autistic people will flap their arms and rock their bodies, but in truth, there are many variations of this behavior, which is called stimming, and in many autistics it is too subtle for many to even notice.  And why not ask yourself why you bit your lips or fingernails, or play with your hair or your earrings?  Is it perhaps because you are nervous or uncomfortable around people?  Why does that make you do those things may be what you should ask. 
One could argue that the Cure Autism Movement and the Autism Rights Movement believe in essentially the same thing: a better life for autistics.  Yet in truth, I see two crucial differences that cannot be bridged.  One is the fact that the Cure Autism Movement would only push for bringing universal equality of life towards autistic people on a condition that has not yet been met, that being a cure for autism.  Meanwhile, the Autism Rights Movement believes in universal equality for autistics based on educational and behavorial accommodations that there are already people qualified to facilitate.  I myself was lucky enough to have those accommodations when I was younger (something my mom’s father had provided as they were not free to the public like public schools that seem to be willing to only adapt to neurotypical and allistic learning styles), and for this I believe that I am able to function as effectively and easily as any person who does not share my condition, and with the knowledge that is available to this world now, I believe the same could be true for the over seven million Americans who are autistic today.  And for me to live a fully integrated lifestyle and success, I don’t have to have something about me, whether it’s part of my brain or otherwise, be changed first.  It’s not enough for people to just have mechanically material equality.  They also have to have integrity and live on their own terms, not objective by other people.  So for parents and advocates of autistic children, I have to ask, do you want your children to be equal assuming that a cure for autism will come out of all this money being donated to public charities, or with the knowledge and information that has already been given to the scientific and education community on the development and functioning of autistic people that can be utilized as soon as the world decides that is what is going to be done. 

Someone Stole Your Identity? How Bad Do You Want it Back?


You may be someone who knows how hard it can be to provide for a family?  Perhaps you have three kids you’ve struggled to take care of on your own, or watched your mother take two jobs just to keep a roof over your head.  In any case, credit cards have made a big difference in the world.  You can buy things when you don’t have the money for the same price as long as you can get the money in the right amount of time.  You may have to buy groceries soon while you have a mortgage and car payment coming up and now you need credit to buy groceries.  Certainly that’s a plus.  But of course, credit can also be dangerous.  Whatever your financial situation, no one wants to owe money and end up having as much stuff as the beggars downtown in one night.  This can in fact happen when you least expect it, and crimes like these can be almost impossible to trace.
                Or at least, that is how it would seem.  If you’ve ever seen CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) (which I haven’t), then you may know about DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) analysis.  With the A-T-C-G arrangements of genetic codes, investigators fortunately are better off in being able to convict or exonerate suspects of crime.  And if this you work for you when you lose something like a credit card, thank goodness!  Who would want their children to go hungry for a night or a week?  No one would want to put humanity in that direction, right?
                Yes and no.  Certainly no one seems like they have that as their chief objective in their plans but what in fact could their plans result in?  Well, for that question, why don’t we bring in our pals from Autism Mythbusters?  Now what I'm getting from these folks is, “Prof Michael Fitzgerald…stated that Darwin was a solitary child, and even as he grew to be an adult, avoided interaction with people as much as he could. He wrote letters often, but did not often partake in face-to-face communication. Writing letters was his preferred means of communication… Darwin collected many things and was very intrigued by chemistry and gadgets. This fixation on certain topics and objects is another characteristic often seen in autistic people. He was a very visual thinker, as many autistic people think spatially and visually. Fitzgerald describes Darwin in this article as, ‘a rather obsessive-compulsive and ritualistic man.’”  Darwin collected samples.  I’ve collected stamps.  Aren’t we two of a kind?  Apparently though, that would cause a funny feeling for most people if ever miss right sitting at the table with the jocks were to see.  So surely, aren’t we all perhaps glad he collected all those samples in his journey to the Galapagos Islands?  Or would you rather lug around a bag full of fossils for all your colleagues and cheerleader crush to gawk at?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Me Casa Su Casa (If I Can Manage it): A Forum on Autism and Independent Living

For my fourth discussion, I wanted to talk about the issue independent living, which is an important issue for autistic people.  This will involve, preparing to and living independently as an autistic person.  As with last week’s discussion, do consider a few things: 1) this forum is not to demean or belittle any individual participating in it, 2) that through this discussion, I hope to learn what sort of struggles and challenges are experienced by people on the spectrum, so we can design better behavioral and educational interventions for autistic people later in life, and to know what autistic people as a whole, do not need help with, and what therapies and interventions are doing right.  If not, we hope you as the readers gain valuable insights into your love life or that of those close to you, but let them all speak for themselves, as their impression may be entirely different from yours, 3) if you not to feel comfortable sharing your name, that is fine, and if you do not want your personal information to be shared without a need-to-know basis (should that be an issue) please mention that at the beginning of your comment.  If sharing your name could create negative consequences or trouble in the life of you or others do not share it, and 4) that bashful and abusive comments are not welcomed and any will be deleted.  Also do not share any information that is too personal (e.g. sex life) using you’re the names or identifying information of yourself or others involved.  5) Remember that everyone may have different views and on all these forums we are not looking for right answers, but to know what you as an autistic person and their loved ones think, 6) If the question is not relevant, feel free to leave it blank; these questions are merely to help each person format their comments.  With that said, here are my questions:
1.       What is your age?  How long have you been living independently?
2.       Are you employed?  How does your job help you live independently?  How do you support yourself?
3.       Are you a student?  How are you able to go to school and still live on our own?
4.       Have you lived on your own before e.g., in college?  How has that affected your ability to live at home now?
5.       How long have you been living on your own?  If you’ve moved from one location (where you live on your own) to another, how long have you lived in each place?
6.       What kind of living space do you live in (apartment, two bedroom house, condominium)?
7.       Where do you live?  Are there supports and facilities for people with autism there?  How can you obtain them?
8.       Have you ever received any services provided for autistic adults to live independently?  How have you gone about doing that?
9.       What sort of lifestyles and careers have your parents/guardians had?
10.   Do you feel that you are socially involved?  How do you get out and how often?
11.   What reasons motivate you to get out of your home and socialize with the larger world?
12.   What sort of diet do you often have for your meals?  Where do they come from (store, restaurant)? 
13.   What do you do to relax?  List anything that is relevant to you (read, drink, video games).
 
14.   Where or who would you go to for help with life, whether independent living, work, school, or relationships?  Have you gone there before?  How often?  Is it helpful?
15.   How do you feel autism impacts your ability to live independently?
16.   Do you have any other neurological or physical conditions besides autism?  What supports have you received for those now and in the past?
17.   What other factors in your life have influenced your ability to live on your own?
18.   What is the easiest or most enjoyable part of living on your own?
19.   What is the hardest or least enjoyable part of living on your own?
20.   Do you wish to change anything about your lifestyle right now?  Are you confident that it will be achieved?  Is it just a desire you have?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Free at Last! Now What? A Forum on College Life with Autism


For my third discussion, I wanted to talk about the issue of college, which is an important issue for autistic people.  This will involve, preparing for, attending, and exploring colleges as an autistic person.  As with last week’s discussion, do consider a few things: 1) this forum is not to demean or belittle any individual participating in it, 2) that through this discussion, I hope to learn what sort of struggles and challenges are experienced by people on the spectrum, so we can design better behavioral and educational interventions for autistic people later in life, and to know what autistic people as a whole, do not need help with, and what therapies and interventions are doing right.  If not, we hope you as the readers gain valuable insights into your love life or that of those close to you, but let them all speak for themselves, as their impression may be entirely different from yours, 3) if you not to feel comfortable sharing your name, that is fine, and if you do not want your personal information to be shared without a need-to-know basis (should that be an issue) please mention that at the beginning of your comment.  If sharing your name could create negative consequences or trouble in the life of you or others do not share it, and 4) that bashful and abusive comments are not welcomed and any will be deleted.  Also do not share any information that is too personal (e.g. sex life) using you’re the names or identifying information of yourself or others involved.  5) Remember that everyone may have different views and on all these forums we are not looking for right answers, but to know what you as an autistic person and their loved ones think, 6) If the question is not relevant, feel free to leave it blank; these questions are merely to help each person format their comments.  With that said, here are my questions:

1.       What is your age? 18-24? 24-30?

2.       What is your gender?

3.       How long has it been since you attended college?  How much of the time since then has been in college?

4.       What options have you explored before making a decision on colleges or are you exploring now to help influence your decision?  What factors have influenced that decision?

5.       When and how in life did you get diagnosed as autistic?

6.       Where do you live outside of college?

7.       Where do you live while attending college?

8.       Do you commute or live on campus property?

9.       Tell us about your college town.  Is it a big city, small town?  Are you out of the country, studying abroad, a foreign-exchange student, etc.?

10.   What type of residence do you live in during college (dorm buildings, apartment, Greek housing, off-campus)?

11.   Do you work while you are on campus, whether in your home town or near campus?

12.   Do you have any dependents while you attend college, fiancée, spouse, children?  Where do they live?  How has that affected your college career?

13.   What kind of educational, professional, or independent living experiences have you had prior to your current college career?  How have they affected your current college career?

14.   How, in any way, do you feel autism has affected your college experience?

15.   What supports, if any, have you had prior to your college experience?  How were they provided to you –the state, parents, family members?

16.   What other conditions to you have besides autism?  How have they been accommodated in the past and through what sources?  What kinds of supports do you use, find helpful, or have available on your campus or in your area?  When and how in your life did you receive the diagnosis for these conditions?

17.   How would you describe your expenses in college?  What, if anything comes to mind?

18.   What type of academic program or major are you enrolled in (e.g. nursing, education, social work, undecided)?  Do you have any other type of academic commitment, such as a minor?

19.   Where do you feel you can go to get help with things related to your condition on campus or in your area?

20.   How easy do you feel it is to keep up with the pace of college life?  Is it too fast?  Slow enough?  How do you deal with it?

21.   What sacrifices have been made or have had to been made to attend college life?

22.   Have you been involved with a person romantically before college?  How has college affected that relationship?  What impact have they had on you as an autistic in college and as an autistic person, college student, and person in general?  Have you found new love (boy/girlfriend, fiancée, spouse) in college?  What impact have they had on you as an autistic in college and as an autistic person, college student, and person in general? 

23.   What type of social networks or supports exists for people with autism on campus or in your area?

24.   Have you found many friendships or close relationships at college?

25.   Where do you go to meet people (friends, potential dates, etc.)?

26.   Have you joined many clubs, societies, or social organizations (e.g. fraternities/sororities, religious organizations, community service outreach programs, etc.)?  How has that affected your college life and experience as an autistic person?

27.   How easy do you find it to start on school projects?

28.   Do any of your friends, professors, Greek brothers/sisters, co-parishioners, Community Advisors, Residence Hall Directors, or anyone you associate with on a regular basis know about your condition?  Have you told them?  How well do you think any of these possible people understand your condition?  How open are you about your condition?  How might your acquaintances find out?  What is there to be gained from disclosing your condition more?  Less?  Differently?  How do they affect your college life and experience as an autistic person?

29.   What is your favorite or most enjoyable part of college life (academically)?

30.   What is your favorite or most enjoyable part of college life (socially)?

31.   What is the hardest or least enjoyable part of college life (academically)?

32.   What is the hardest or least enjoyable part of college life (socially)?

33.   Have you been in a committed relationship before college?  How did college affect it?

34.   What are you most proud of in college?  Is there anything looking back that you wish you could have done differently?

35.   Have any major events in your life made it harder or easier to attend college (death in the family, new marriage, new job, etc.)?

36.   What makes you want to persevere in your college career?

37.   What, if anything, ever makes you tempted to give up on college?

38.   How have you changed in any way since college, whether personally, socially, emotionally, professionally?

39.   What do you feel you have gained from college, in both your life in general and as an autistic person?

40.   What more do you hope to gain from college, both in your life in general and as an autistic person?

41.   Is your experience in college what you’ve planned?  What do you wish, if anything, you had been able to do differently?

42.   Where do you hope in life to go and achieve after college?  How do you believe college is helping you with or influenced that?

Something to Think About When You Appreciate Living Without Cold War Hysteria

By this time, of course, everyone is scared.  The threat of Soviet nuclear annihilation seems probable and by this time, you have not realized in fact that the Soviets are incompetent and could never truly take every country in the world and make it communist as thought by President Eisenhower’s Domino Theory.  Of course, you wish for a way to make a moral victory against the Soviets, especially now that they have in fact made so many new developments in science and technology that have drawn so much of the world to Communism, and today could really be Capitalism’s big break in post-World War II society.  You hope to send your children to college, want to be a new car, and will hopefully buy a new house someday. But soon there could be a big decisive moral victory for Communism that could devastate American economic interests in the Third World and elsewhere, and you got nothing new that the Soviets don’t have.
                Actually you do!  Because of the discovery of the Theory of Gravity made four centuries ago by Sir Isaac Newton, we now in fact know that there is gravity on the earth while there is none in space that we know of.  With that it is possible to in fact for America, on behalf of itself and the Western bloc to travel into space.  Now that they have beaten the Soviets to the moon, those commies all of the sudden don’t look so tough.  So who do we owe this to?  Well for one thing, you can look to Sir Isaac Newton, but what’s so different about him that would have made him contribute a later world-saving landmark?  Is he your average human being who cares about approval, conformity, and common opinion in the days of the rat-filled streets of Europe where the plague is declared to be an act of God despite all the trash that liters the streets and remains of human feces everywhere?  Or is there another possible answer?  According to Autism Myth Busters, Isaac Newton, “was very quiet and not very good at ‘small talk’, or typical day to day conversations.  He was extraordinarily focused on his work and had a hard time breaking away.  He was often so focused that he forgot to eat during these times of intense focus.  This is a trait very commonly found in autistics and this extreme focus often blocks out other things that would likely capture an individual's attention.” 
                That simple enough for you?  When you think the world is a scary place because of autism, and your children could have it, or have it already as it’s happening everywhere, ask what would drive a human being to hide in a steel shelter without leave while your friends live in one several blocks away, as you your relatives and family, or rolls of toilet paper crowd your living room?  Is that the world you want to live in today?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Eight Facts Your Average Autism Awareness Hawk Doesn't Know

For many, the concept of autism awareness simply means blue ribbons, light bulbs, puzzle pieces, and a culture of being continually perplexed by the “mystery” of their behaviors, despite the fact that dozens of autistic activists, such as Lydia Brown, Amanda Baggs, and Amy Sequinza have been explaining the purposes behind these behaviors very clearly for years.  What real autism awareness ought to mean is an understanding that goes beyond homegrown notions and ideas of autism, and understands autistic people in terms of facts and scientific data, besides just where it relates to causes, prevention, treatment, and cure, which in the last two decades, really have not achieved anything for the betterment of autistic lives.
                Ask even people with PhDs in psychology and psychiatry though if they know many of these facts to be discussed here, and they will respond with amazement or puzzlement.  In reality, the medical model for autism has not been very helpful to the world’s understanding of autism, not because autism is puzzling, but because maybe the medical model is not a very effective model for understanding autism at all.  This model used to be applied to homosexuality, before, like autism is finally being seen as, an integral part of a human being that cannot be changed any more than the color of one’s skin.  The new concept of autism, being a cultural identity as inseparable as being Italian or Christian, however, while its proponents can also miss out on some of these facts, generally know much better than medical ideologists of certain facts.

#1 People with autism are far more commonly harmed or abused by their own trusted parents and caregivers then they are by shady strangers.


 
 
The media is flooded with stories of autistic people who lose their lives in the hands of stranger pedophiles, rapists, and serial murders after going out wandering and getting lost, yet more commonly, autistic people are harmed, abused (physically and emotionally), even killed by doctors, educators, care-givers, and even parents and grandparents than they are by people who they don’t know.  Yet this is rarely shown in the media, except to applaud these people’s “brave and hard decisions.”  Loved ones of autistics who murder them are often given shorter sentences, even just a slap on the wrist, than parents, teachers, doctors, and caregivers who injure, abuse, or kill non-autistic children, saying their lives aren’t as valuable or will not be as happy or fulfilling, and these people are “putting them out of their misery.”  Karen Frank-McCarron, a mother of a four-year old autistic girl was responsible for murdering her daughter and was sentenced to thirty-six years in prison, with thirty months of supervised release and a $25,000 fine on accounts of first-degree homicide, obstruction of justice, and concealing a homicidal death.  Media coverage was later flooded with descriptions of Frank-McCarron as a hero.
#2 Bullying is far more than just the product of insecure children.  Bullying in essence is much more akin to the treatment of the Jews in Auschwitz. 
 
Burning_Synagoge_Kristallnacht_1938
 
Bullying can lead to people (of whom autistics are particularly vulnerable) never leaving home for fear of being harmed, abused, or humiliated by the perpetrator.  Children (and adults) who do leave can find themselves the victims of great physical and psychological trauma, illness, and suicide.  During the Holocaust, Jews could not own property, had strict curfews, could not own or operate businesses, or go to school.  In this respect, autistic people have suffered from bullying the same way Jews and others suffered from the Nazi Holocaust.  Bullying can also be orchestrated and done by teachers, students, and even entire school boards.  Adults, too, get bullied.
#3 Dr. Hans Asperger was NOT the first person to discover Asperger syndrome.
 
Hans Asperger
 
Both Dr. Kanner and Dr. Asperger studied children who could by today’s standards be applied with the label Asperger syndrome.  In addition to children with Asperger traits, Dr. Kanner also studied children who could be given the label Kanner syndrome, and Kanner published his treatise, which later formed part of the basis for understanding of autism, Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact in 1943, while Asperger published his papers on autistic psychopathy a year later in 1944, which were compared considerably to the work of Russian neurologist Grunya Sukhareva in 1926.  Much of Dr. Asperger's work and writings were also lost in the devastation of World War II.  For a lot of autistics, the terms Asperger and Kanner syndrome are considered neurotypical inventions that do not reflect the diversity or nature of autistic people.  There are in fact autistics with uniquely Aspergerian traits, such as Daniel Tammott, and with distinctly Kanner traits, such as Amanda Baggs, but terms such as Asperger and Kanner syndrome have a great tendency to oversimplify autistic people's unique and individual condition.
 
#4 Asperger syndrome CAN bring speech delays.
 
 
Albert Einstein, believed by many modern professionals to have Asperger syndrome, had speech delays.  He also had obsessive interests, the tendency to speak in monotone, and social awkwardness that usually tends to be characterized as being part of Asperger syndrome, even though speech delays more commonly are associated with Kanner syndrome.  Thus, one either has to admit that someone with Kanner syndrome can also have Asperger traits, or that someone with Asperger syndrome can have Kanner traits (both of these basically the same thing).  (Note: I myself had speech delays from the time I was three-and-a-half).
#5 Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has a long, dark history of abusing children.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Unbeknownst to most parents, Applied Behavior Analysis used to involve physical punishment, based on behavioralist notions of punishment and reward, including shock therapy to the skin, for children who did not do as the therapist said, based on the idea of making them “normal.”  It was only when Michelle Dawson, an autistic woman who suffered from the indignity of ABA as a child, brought these issues to light that the practice was finally reformed.  The practice still remains in affect however, at the residential Judge Rotenberg Rehabilitation Center for people with developmental disabilities, of which the United States Congress has only recently, with the help of autistic activists such as Lydia Brown and Ari Ne’eman, started to investigate.
#6 Asperger syndrome is NOT conducive to social and emotional immaturity.
 

Dr. Laurent Mottron, a Canada-based psychiatrist specializing in autism, has listed “Six Traits of Asperger Perfection.”  They are:
-Logical
-Intuitive
-Creative
-Original
-Direct
-Resilient
                How many of your average drunken frat boys can be described like this?
#7 Non-verbal autistics can communicate and often times lead fully independent or semi-independent lives.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 








Autistic people such as Amanda Baggs and Amy Sequinza (in the picture above) are non-speaking autistics who speak very well for themselves.  Sequinza is a poet and writer who was interviewed with Ariane Zurcher in The Huffington Post.  I am in fact Facebook friends with Sequinza and she has even messaged me personally, in which I found her communication via social media to be far more articulate and eloquent than many speaking neurotypical people.  Baggs meanwhile has produced a video called In My Own Language, in which she communicates very effectively and clearly the meaning behind her so-called “mysterious” hand-flapping and stimming, which inspired autism specialists to reexaminewhat they know about autism. 
#8 Autistic People do not like to be portrayed as puzzle pieces.
 
I am not a puzzle. I am a person. Respect autists now.
 
For many autistics, the puzzle piece symbolizes autism (and by extension autistic people) to be confusing and impossible to understand, when in fact autistic people have been explaining their various behaviors through pamphlets, music, social media, and other means for over a decade, though few outsiders cared to listen or even know that they were publicizing this information.  To many, this puzzle piece is a symbol of autism/autistics through the myopic understanding of the neurotypical, thus deepening the view of autistics that the medically-modeled, neurotypical dominated world sees autistics as objects, not people.
 


Monday, April 14, 2014

Square Pegs Don’t Roll off Tables: A Photo Essay on the World Due to Autism

 
The first kidney transplant, due to John Hartwell Harrison going to the University of Virginia, started by Thomas Jefferson.
 
Are Plasma Tvs Good
 
The plasma screen TV, due to the knowledge of electrons that interfere with a television’s reception, first discovered by Albert Einstein.
salt
 
Gandhi’s non-violent civil disobedience, due to Henry David Thoreau’s essay Civil Disobedience.  Plus a film with the charming BenKingsley.
 
Gandhi (1982) Poster
A Novy Ranch wood-grilled burger — dry-aged, grass-fed, free-range beef on a “pretzel” bun with tomatoes, lettuce and slivered onions marinated in balsamic vinegar — sits ready to be eaten at Ladyface Alehouse & Brasserie.
 
Free-range beef, thanks to Temple Grandin’s improvements in the slaughterhouse.
 
Benedict Cumberbatch breathes life into J.R.R. Tolkien's dragon in"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)
 
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, because of Nikola Tesla’s invention of the Tesla Coil.
 

 
Chaco Canyon National Historic Park, thanks to the archaeological research done to promote and save this site made possible by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
 

 
A happy couple about to wed, due to reforms inspired by Gandhi’s method of non-violent resistance, which in turn was inspired by Thoreau’s essay.
 
mother with young child
 
A child and mother happy together because of Michelle Dawson who made dramatic improvements to Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA).
 
Are individuals and families affected by autism?  Yes, they are affected with great boons to human society in arts, literature, science, and health.  Without autism, ask yourself Where would this world be?  Would I want to live there?






Love is All You Need (and Interventions): A Forum on Autism?Asperger Syndrome and Relationships

For my second weekly forum for Autism Acceptance Month, I wanted to discuss love and relationships among people on the autism spectrum.  As with last week’s discussion, do consider a few things: 1) this forum is not to demean or belittle any individual participating in it, 2) that through this discussion, I hope to learn what sort of struggles and challenges are experienced by people on the spectrum, so we can design better behavioral and educational interventions for autistic people later in life, and to know what autistic people as a whole, do not need help with, and what therapies and interventions are doing right.  If not, we hope you as the readers gain valuable insights into your love life or that of those close to you, but let them all speak for themselves, as their impression may be entirely different from yours, 3) if you not to feel comfortable sharing your name, that is fine, and if you do not want your personal information to be shared without a need-to-know basis (should that be an issue) please mention that at the beginning of your comment.  If sharing your name could create negative consequences or trouble in the life of you or others do not share it, and 4) that bashful and abusive comments are not welcomed and any will be deleted.  Also do not share any information that is too personal (e.g. sex life) using you’re the names or identifying information of yourself or others involved.  For this discussion we welcome all autistic people and their committed partners, regardless of whether they themselves are autistic or not.  If both people in the relationship are answering, please answer in the same comment space while making sure you distinguish yourself as the one making each passage.  With that said, here are my questions:

1.       Are you first off in a committed relationship?

2.       Are you the autistic person in the relationship, or the partner?  If you are the partner, are you yourself autistic, allistic (not autistic but having other intellectual/developmental disabilities), or neurotypical?

3.       Are you married?  Dating?  In a civil union?  Divorced?  Separated?  Engaged?  Widowed?  Seeing multiple partners?

4.       What is your age and the age of your partner?

5.       How long have you and your partner been together?  If you have been together in different capacities (e.g. first dating then married) please state the amount of time you have been together in each capacity.

6.       How did you two meet?

7.       What is your employment status (if applicable)?  What is that of your partner (again, if applicable)?

8.       What is your level of education (high school, college, some college, graduate school)?  What is that of your partner?

9.       What do you love about your partner (looks, personality, money, etc.)?

10.   What does your partner love about you?  Why is he/she with you?

11.   What have you two done together (e.g. travel, live together, raising children, etc.)?

12.   How do you two spend your time together (e.g. watching movies, eating out, hiking in the wilderness)?

13.   What conflicts exist in your relationship (e.g. financial, emotional, etc.)?  How do you two deal with these (talking, couple’s counseling)?  How has that worked out?

14.   How often do you two spend time alone together (once a week, every day, etc.)?  How frequently do you two enjoy each other’s company?

15.   What are your future plans (move in together, start a family, get married)?