Tag: Autism

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I make a living in the afternoons doing ABA therapy with small clients who have autism. Before I started working there, I hadn’t had much contact with kids on the spectrum.  Although I’ve been interested in the field since I wrote a paper on autism back in 12th grade, I had little idea of how […]

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Note: These pieces can be enjoyed a la carte or as one of a series you can access here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four A young woman sits at a small table opposite a little girl about preschool age. She lays several objects in a neat row in front of the preschooler […]

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The early afternoons of September 2019 found me racing off from my online work to arrive breathless at a small outbuilding where I was being trained in my new job working with kids who had autism. The bell affixed to the front door jangled as I entered, glanced at the large digital clock high up […]

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“Can you start August 27th?” Here it was, a whole new routine in front of me, working afternoons for an organization that provided services for children with autism. Our two daughters were off at college, my online job was flexible, and I needed to supplement my income and take a daily break from the computer […]

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Content to Be a Cog, Part Two: Pursuing Opportunity


I scored the job interview–the one vetting me as a candidate to work with kids who have autism–but I almost canceled it. The process looked intimidating: thirty minutes to read and respond to questions, followed by an in-person meeting with multiple hosts. And honestly, if driving were to be a big part of the job, I wasn’t sure I was up to that level of responsibility behind the wheel. I was also considering a lucrative role as a dog sitter and childcare provider for a couple of doctors, one that would leave me free to work on my online job during the day. Why put myself through a rigorous interview process and waste everyone’s time if I didn’t plan to take the job? I felt tired just thinking about it.

However, I decided to keep the appointment for several reasons. First, I had learned that being open to experience was often more rewarding than not. I knew I was vulnerable to narrow judgments that, should I hearken to them, could result in missed opportunities. Second, plain old inertia had me considering action soon before the interview, and I thought it would be bad form to cancel so late. Besides all that, I was a second-stringer in the doctors’ home position, waiting on whether the young candidate they were currently trying out would sink or swim–and that was a job where I’d be regularly ferrying the professionals’ precious cargo to and from school. So, I opted to pursue opportunity by getting my car professionally cleaned (a small drama in itself) and following through on the invitation to talk further about the autism position.

Content to Be a Cog, Part One


In the afternoons, I have been leaving my online work for a second job. This supplemental employment is a change from typing up documents at a keyboard, and that’s what I needed after fourteen years. In this job, I drive a half-hour into town. I wear a small apron around my waist, with pockets that hold small toys, containers of crackers and sweets, and my phone, which comes in handy in this line of work. After an active several hours of leading a small person about by the hand, I go home with snatches of nursery songs in my head and put off the required quarter-hour of note-taking until late in the evening. Now and then I think, “I’m sure glad it worked out this way.”

It started a year ago; the need to earn a few hundred bucks extra per month and get away from the glowing screen for a few hours a day. It just did not seem healthy to spend my life in a chair, straining my eyes mercilessly, reading and writing, and fighting distraction. Substitute teaching, which had been the attempted supplement for the past decade, was just not cutting it. While often satisfying, including riffs of real teaching and enjoyable relationships with colleagues, substituting not only did not pay enough for the required outpouring of energy and time; it also sapped the resources I needed for my online job. It was time to look for a regular source of income, but I couldn’t see myself at a grocery store or working retail. I answered ads for tutors of young kids; these seemed hopeful, and then fizzled to nothing after promising phone interviews and even a meeting with a family. My photographer sister sympathized, all too familiar with the phenomenon. It’s called “ghosting.”

Mask Wearing: Must it Be So Complicated?


While some people comply with wearing masks with a degree of resignation, others are angry and frustrated when required to wear them, as the controversy about the need to wear them drags on. But for some families, mask-wearing is especially difficult for certain children with autism. I suspect that other conditions also create emotional and physical difficulties when wearing masks. In particular, the Ross family with a seven-year old daughter with sensory processing disorder as a result of her autism traveled to Disney World.

Understanding a little more about sensory processing disorder might be helpful. The condition and its manifestations can vary from child to child, and includes (but isn’t limited to) not wanting to be touched, eating only certain foods, wearing only particular clothes or cutting the tags out of their clothes, or having meltdowns in crowded public places. As an example, a balloon popped when the Ross family were at a local fair and the daughter was triggered and ran into a four-lane highway nearby. The potential for this extreme behavior requires ongoing management.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and and Greg Corombos of Radio America find themselves drowning in crazy martinis again today.  They slap their foreheads as a new GOP congressman from Tennessee – who is also a doctor – appears to tell a constituent that he’s hesitant to accept the government’s denial that childhood vaccinations cause autism and says he thinks the Centers for Disease Control have “fraudulently managed” data on the issue.  They also rub their hand with glee at the possibility of political inroads with young people as Democratic regulators in California consider a tax on text messaging and then consider some far more annoying aspects of modern communication that ought to be taxed.  And they can only smile as Nancy Pelosi somehow jumps on the bandwagon for term limits in the Democratic leadership in exchange for four more years as Speaker of the House.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America slam BuzzFeed, and to some extent CNN, for irresponsible reporting on alleged dirt that the Russians have on Donald Trump.  They also rip Pres. Obama for his delusional farewell speech, including his patented move of urging Americans to understand one another while demonizing anyone who disagrees with him.  And they wonder why Trump would meet with someone as loony as Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on the issue of vaccines possibly causing autism.

The Accountant – A Movie in the Black


accountant-movieIt’s nice to pay for a movie and not be disappointed. I know that sounds odd, but in this day and age of Hollywood where more and more movies are created for foreign consumption, it is nice to be able to say it. Not only was I not disappointed–I actually enjoyed it.

I watched The Accountant starring Ben Affleck. Here are some more things to like. None of the characters are really unlikable, not even the bad guys. It doesn’t bash any group or take political shots—when it could. Even Ben Affleck’s character, a high functioning autistic, manages a small smile once in a while.

The plot twist is pretty good — clever and original. I won’t give it away, but you’ll like it. Hollywood moguls must have rejected this script 100 times until someone decided to treat the viewer like they had a brain. That or someone screwed up.

Autism and the Thomas Sowell You Haven’t Read


51CRJ5V7UfL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Most people know Thomas Sowell from his political writing.  I came by Thomas Sowell differently: My kids didn’t start talking until they were well past the age of three.  During those non-verbal months, plenty of parents, teachers, doctors, and others suggested my twins were autistic.  Sowell’s book, Late Talking Children, was a reasoned counterpoint to that suggestion, not to mention my lifeline to sanity.

This lengthy post (and it IS lengthy!) is for any parents or grandparents with little ones that don’t hit their growth milestones on time, raising the question of autism. I sincerely hope it helps.

My twins were born in 2001.  At 36 weeks, they weren’t too premature, but they were small and had to spend time in neonatal intensive care gaining strength.  In those first weeks, my husband and I were stressed but overjoyed, especially since we had struggled to conceive.

Unusual Intelligence


shutterstock_27901960Jeffrey Goldberg’s article last month in The Atlantic about the Obama administration’s disdain for Israel raised eyebrows with its now-infamous galline-related expletive. Analysts also highlighted a more substantial concern: that the administration was gloating that it had neutered Israel vis a vis Iran. But there was a third insult in the article as well, one that touched a certain group very deeply:

Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and “Aspergery.” (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.)

Advocates for those with disabilities have rightly criticized the administration for using “Aspergery” as a slur.

Slugs and a Mother’s Joy — D.C. McAllister


I was in the kitchen cooking dinner when my iPhone rang. It was my son from college. I answered, and his face filled the screen, framed by gaming posters and a chart of the Periodic Table in the background. “Hi Mom,” he said.

“What’s up?” I asked a bit distractedly as I sliced a yellow tomato for the salad.