Autism Wars: Can’t We All Just Get Along?

autism wars

Parents of autistic children are at war. Autism tends to produce polarizing supporters, perhaps because of the spectrum of symptoms. One major argument comes from parents of “higher-functioning” autistic children advocating for neurodiversity and even the perspective of embracing autism as a “gift” while parents of more severely disabled or “lower-functioning” autistic children insisting that autism is no “gift” but rather something they would shed in a second if they were given the option. Unfortunately, this debate has been as much in the public view as information about the complexities of autism itself.

Feeding Aversion Part 2: Feeding Strategies for Children with Oral Sensory Issues

feeding strategies, chocolate sandwich

Jalapeño Pringles, chocolate chips, and Pediasure. This was my son’s breakfast, lunch and dinner for weeks at a time. Every couple weeks it might change to one specific type of dry cereal and chocolate or saltine crackers. And that was it. Nothing else. As I detailed in my previous post, My son had a complicated medical history that led up to severe oral aversion and oral sensory difficulties. But we have seen significant progress since his first solid feeding attempts.

This post contains a variety of different feeding strategies that might help children with oral sensory issues. I am not a doctor or therapist, and this shouldn’t replace medical advice. I am writing based on anecdotal experiences I’ve had from the past nine years of working with my son and my own personal research. Some of these topics are specific feeding strategies for different ways to help your child interact with food. Other suggestions illustrate how to communicate a positive attitude during meals. I hope some of this information will help you to safely encourage your picky eater to gain more confidence in eating skills.

Understanding Feeding Aversion Part 1: One Family’s Story

feeding aversion, jalapeno chips

It’s a gross understatement to say my son is a picky eater. The eating progress I could brag about would horrify the typical parent. I am grateful for each of his successes and his potential to continue improving. Many individuals on the autism spectrum have feeding challenges; however, they differ in their specific difficulties and needs. This is my son’s story and a summary of what I want other parents to know about their own feeding journey.

Autism Interview #5: Dr. Stephen Shore on Autism and Education Part 2

Stephen NYU Citibikes PhotoThis week’s post is a continuation of Part One on autism and education based on the advice from autistic professor, author and international speaker Dr. Stephen Shore. In this week’s post, Dr. Shore emphasizes the importance of identifying and developing a student’s strengths in order to achieve academic and personal success and how best to go about accomplishing this.

Autism Interview #4: Dr. Stephen Shore on Autism and Education Part 1

Stephen NYU Citibikes Photo

Dr. Stephen Shore is a professor at Adelphi University, autism author, music teacher, and international autism speaker. He recently spoke with me about his experience living with autism and offered educational advice for autistic students. Part One of this post offers an overview of his personal schooling and suggestions for families trying to help their children transition into general education settings and get the most out of an I.E.P. conference. His answers from our interview have been transcribed below.

Eye Contact and Autism: Reflecting on Your Agenda for Your Child

Eye contact and autism

One of the first signs of autism in infancy is a lack of eye contact, and autism spectrum individuals may experience this difficulty as a result of neurological differences in visual processing.

Do you remember your parents telling you, “Look at me when I’m talking to you!” demanding you show them respect? Eye contact and autism is a controversial and complex issue. Therapists, educators, and parents often insist autistic people make eye contact with them. They assume that people cannot listen and understand what they are trying to say unless they are making eye contact. Since communication breakdown is a central issue to autism spectrum disorders, parents and professionals naturally feel that eye contact is an important first step to teaching. But anyone who has talked to autistic individuals understands that this issue is more complex than we realize.

Autism Interview #3: Gavin on Employment

GavinThis week’s interview is with Gavin, an autism blogger and IT specialist who spoke about his experience and advice for autistic individuals in the workforce. He has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and has two sons who are also on the spectrum. Gavin blogs about some of the positive aspects of autism at Life with Asperger’s with the overall aim “to increase the amount of first-hand knowledge about Asperger’s.” His blog includes several series articles to help parents and children on the spectrum with a variety of topics including autism acceptance, bullying, advocacy, medication, and employment.

7 Autism Myths: “High-Functioning Autism” and Asperger’s Syndrome

“He’s a little autistic, but he’s fine.” You may have heard someone describe an individual with “high-functioning autism,” Asperger’s Syndrome, or PDD-NOS in this way, actually believing they are being complimentary (See how Ben describes this label in my earlier post). The language used to describe verbal autistics (in terms of how they compare to neurotypicals) leads to some common misunderstandings about autism. Individuals with what some refer to as “high-functioning autism” (See Autism Language Mistakes download for why not to use this term), Asperger’s Syndrome, or PDD-NOS often experience regular discrimination due to these misunderstandings.