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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

As is usual, I missed a prompt about trust from the Daily Post recently.  I just don’t always have time to check in, and then my blog languishes and I let it go a little longer, and a little longer.

However, that prompt, about trust, is a big one for me.  I’ve had some of the most monumental bits of my trust shaken in the last year and a half – things that built the backbone of who I was and who I wanted to be.  Trust in others, yes, but trust in myself, too.  My ability to make judgments, and reasoning and my skill in evaluating others. I think nothing is so disappointing as losing trust in yourself.

My 9 year old son has been struggling with trust lately.  He’s balancing a child’s natural selfishness (he wants to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it, like all 9 year old boys) with understanding that being a trustworthy person is an important part of his personal standards – his integrity is developing right now. It’s brilliant to watch it grow.

He recently broke a rule for the second time, after promising not to do it again.  I asked him to write me a short essay on what trust meant, and what it meant for us to trust him and for him to trust us.  I think he’s pretty insightful.  I think he’s taught me a lesson.

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It’s the right thing to do

It is very important for your parents to trust you and for you to trust them.  If you can’t be trusted with a certain object, you won’t have that object again.  It is your responsibility to follow and respect the rules.  You hae to remember that if you do this, if you do that, you will probably get in big trouble.  This is why you need your parents to trust you.  You need to trust your parents because they will help you in bad situations when you are being attacked or robbed.

Myself


The reason I got into trouble was that I was watching a YouTuber that swore and it was not right.  They say bad things about people and game.  Descriptively, they are mean, horrible and terrible at times in their videos, as well as other things like apps and creations by other people. They sometimes do gender abuse toward women which I do not appreciate. Though habits are strong, we can always overcome their ability to convince us as it’s the right thing to do.

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Autism, sexuality, law

Title:

The Autism Spectrum, Sexuality and the Law: What every parent and professional needs to know

Authors: Tony Attwood, Isabelle Henault, Nick Durbin

Review:

It is not difficult to understand that individuals with hampered ability to recognize social cues, interpret interpersonal data, and process the long term outcome of antecedent/behavior/consequence will at some point also have hampered ability in the realm of sexuality.  The premise of this book is to take a specific circumstance, that of Nick Dubin, and make that circumstance tangible and educational for individuals affected by Autism, their families, care providers, doctors, therapists, and legal counsel.  That is a lot to ask of one book.  Unfortunately it falls short of the mark, not because it doesn’t aim properly, but because some of the contributors don’t make the effort to put power into their pull.  

Dubin’s tale is disturbing because it is both relatable and abhorrent.  His story will be particularly difficult to accept by those who were victims of childhood abuse.  At the same time, so much of the story is believable and creates compassion for Nick and his family.  Nick’s chapter and his mother’s chapter are least beneficial in terms of actual education and material.  By contrast, Nick’s father’s chapter is gripping, and filled with applicable information from the very beginning.  It is worth the read of this book simply for this section. It may have been preferable to have an entire book written in this voice. 

Tony Attwood’s section is perhaps the most disappointing.  His section reads like a university psychology student’s homework assignment, writing 500 words based on a bullet list of subjects.  Considering some of the monumentally influential work Attwood has contributed to the field of ASD literature, it is disappointing.  He does include a nice list of reading suggestions for the reader to pick up from their local library or bookstore, if they are seeking more specific information.

Dr. Isabelle Henault’s section concludes the book, and is secondary only to the section written by Nick’s father.  Henault does the work that we previously expected of Attwood, as she takes the reader through developing sexuality, how social and relational deficits in conjunction with targeted bullying and conflicting sexual sensory data can cause those on the autism spectrum, particularly those with Asperger’s Syndrome, to struggle with their sexual identity.  Many will confuse issues of privacy and legality.  Henault provides information for therapists and psychologists, assisting them in identifying risk factors and in assisting their clients as they navigate this new and confusing territory.

This book is not for those who are teaching emerging adolescents about their sexuality. Books on that subject matter, such as Sexuality and Relationship Education for Children and Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorders by Davida Hartman, are great guides on the specifics of adolescence and sexuality.  The Autism Spectrum, Sexuality, and the Law is appropriate for those who feel they, or their clients, are already struggling with this intense issue.

*Review originally appeared in the Psychology section of Library Journal

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The following link is an interesting post from a person with Autism, addressing self-stimulatory  behaviors.  I remember in the early days of DS’s diagnosis being really concerned about stims.  His stims are large, gross motor stims that get more noticeable as his body grows larger (he is now taller than I am).  But you know what? He processes thoughts while he is stimming.  And he comes to conclusions while he is stimming.  Much like I do, when I twirl a strand of hair around my finger tip and flick it against my ear, or my lip.  This is a stim.  Many people have them.  Get over it.

Socially Inappropriate.

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Finding the right words for your child with autism is difficult. My child is amazing, fantastic and has deficits in learning and social development. His deficits do not define him, but often, we are asked to define what autism makes of us in 2 word sound bytes.

a diary of a mom

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My girl cracking herself up with scripts last night

I was once asked, “If you have so much trouble with the fact that Autism Speaks uses the words “disease” and “cure” in its marketing materials, what would you have them say instead?”

I thought about it for a moment, and said, “Well, I suppose I’d like them to implore the public to help us find ways to mitigate the disabling aspects of autism while recognizing and celebrating its more positive attributes.”

My questioner cocked his head. “Okay, so how does that read on a sign?”

I’ve never felt more awkward (this is a lie, but go with it) than when I answered, “Celebrate diversity! Mitigate Disability!”

I recognized the folly of my attempt at copy writing long before he said, “Wow, you suck at this.”

He was right. I do.

Because for me, trying to reduce autism awareness / education / advocacy…

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As those of you who know me – well, know – I have three lovely boys.  They’re wonderfully average boys.  They are neither brilliant nor miserable. They are rambunctious, but empathetic and loving.  And, to date, I have not had any idea or reason to think they will become either astronauts nor axe murderers.  I’m the type of mom to consider this success.

I did have a lot of worries about them adjusting to school in the UK, but I was also VERY excited to give them the chance to do so.  In the U.S., the schools (and their quality) are very much dependent upon the area where you live.  Schools have different curriculum standards state by state, and even local communities can adapt or change curriculum standards.  There is national testing, but it is not necessarily a good indicator of what one is good at, only what one has memorized.  So, comparing this to the UK educational system left me wondering exactly where and how the boys would fit in.  The short answer for my younger two:  Quite well.

The youngest is top of his class in Math and in Reading.  He’s been moved from year 3 to year 4 for spelling.  He has issues with sitting still and being as quietly attentive as the other students do.  I think that the U.S. teachers are a bit more permissive when it comes to those types of outbursts.  The middle child is top of his class in Math and in Science.  He is a bit behind in spelling and in writing (they all have miserable penmanship).

DS2 and DS3 before starting the first day of school

My oldest son is the child I was most worried about.  For those new to this blog, he has Autism Spectrum Disorder.  He has classic Kanner’s autism, which means he’s not a prodigy or secretly brilliant or a miniature Einstein.  He has difficulties with dyspraxia, coordination, fine motor skills, social environments, auditory processing, and abstract concepts.  Being unfamiliar with how children with special needs are educated in the U.K. (but VERY familiar with the educational battles of the U.S.), I was really concerned.  I felt it was a chance to let him grow and experience new environments, but worried that we were making the wrong choice, that it might be too much for him.

I’m happy to report that every.single.one of those fears was unfounded.  I’ve had meetings with the educational boards from two different boroughs (counties) and have not experienced a single bit of red tape.  They seem concerned most, and foremost, with making sure that DS1 has the right supports to receive the best education possible FOR HIM.  Not the least expensive, not the most expensive, not the least they can get away with.  The best ones FOR HIM.  They also engage him in the process, asking him what is most difficult for him, what is easiest, where his interests lie, etc.  He’s thriving in this environment.

His intake was done quickly.  His intake testing was done quickly.  He’s had all of his reading levels, math levels, science levels, etc. evaluated and mapped. He continues to excel at memorization (spelling win!) and struggle with abstract analysis (reading comprehension).  They have such a clear pulse on his strengths and weaknesses, and they work with me as much as I want them to.

The stress of finding a school that was RIGHT for each of them, figuring out a way to get them to and from school, and hoping against hope we were making the right choices for them – suddenly those stressors seem so very much worth it.  I’m not saying one is better than the other.  But, in this case, one seems better FOR US.  I wouldn’t have found this type of school environment anywhere in the U.S., without paying a large portion of our salary in tuition fees.

This blog has languished in recent months.  This is because my OWN schooling, the schooling I’ve been doing for the betterment of – whatever that is – is in its last gasping death throes.  I have one week – exactly one week – left.  I’m hoping to be able to have more time documenting our transitions in the coming months.  In the meantime, here are some more pictures of my  handsome children on the first day of school, mostly because they are absolutely gorgeous. Said without bias, I swear!

 

 

 

 

 

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