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The Spark > 2. Background with autism

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message 1: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 562 comments What was your background/experience with Autism prior to reading the book? Did it change the way you thought about it?

message 2: by Pam (new)

Pam | 218 comments My undergraduate degree is in Speech Pathology so I’ve studied autism in the course of my studies. It is very different today from when I was studying in the late 70s. 2007-2008 I worked for a woman in Las Vegas, NV who was writing a book about her own experience with autism in her son. She was finally able to pull him out of it, but she was very wealthy and traveled the world in search of the leading experts on autism and chelation. Her belief was that onset of autism in her son occurred after multiple vaccinations were administered at once.

message 3: by Carol (new)

Carol  Jones-Campbell (cajonesdoa) | 690 comments Mod
Pam, interesting report. I don't have any personal experiences with autism at all. I have known two young men that have had Aspergers, and that is all. They both seemed fairly normal but I don't have any experiences at all. Again, the Mom is an amazing woman. How she was able to learn and study and figure out what she needed to do was amazing to me.

message 4: by Cindy (new)

Cindy | 522 comments I had a 2nd cousin who was autistic. I didn't see him often, but when I did, he always made me nervous. He was completely non-verbal and usually seemed kind of out of control. I know his parents really had their hands full with him. This was ignorance on my part - he was the first person I'd ever heard of with autism. I believe he now lives in a group home of some kind and seems pretty happy. This book did change my opinions. I had no idea that it could be treated with such success.

message 5: by Barb (new)

Barb (deckerbunch) | 227 comments The school I teach in is the Autism Magnate for our school district. Most of the autistic students in our area attend school at our school. I have the honor of being the classroom teacher for most of the first graders that come our way. And it truly is an honor. I have been able to experience working with students who are very severe (although they nearly always have an assistant with them when they're in the regualar classroom, and are out of the room receiving the necessaray therapies they need much of the day), to fairly high functioning students. I can sympathize with Jake's parents, and I also see where his classroom teachers are coming from. Most schools aren't equipped to adequately teach a child of Jake's intelligence even with the Gifted and Talented programs, etc., that are available.

message 6: by Pam (new)

Pam | 218 comments Barb, I’m curious, are most autistic children able to be self sufficient at some point? If you have any info on prognosis based on your experience I would be very interested in understanding more. Also, what did you think about the notion of focusing on abilities vs standardized limits? What is the philosophy of the school you teach at?

message 7: by Angela (last edited Apr 02, 2018 09:15AM) (new)

Angela (angeladecker814) | 104 comments 1. My brother has Asperger's (a high functioning variety).

2. Two of my cousins are autistic.

3. A good family friend's son is autistic, and functions pretty well. There was a point where we visited the family at least weekly (they lived across the street then), but now it's monthly. We've known them since he was 2, and known them well since he was 4. My husband and I taught him in Primary (church class for kids) when he was 4-5.

4. Another set of family friends has two autistic sons. The oldest doesn't function as well as the others, at least when we had him later in our Primary class, so I didn't get to know him as well. His younger brother is also autistic, but is very different--different triggers, stims, interests, etc. The "spectrum" isn't just a line from bad to good; think of it as a circle with multiple lines radiating from the center, where each line is a different skill set. See https://themighty.com/2016/05/rebecca... However, both these kids go to an autistic school (of which there are a few really great ones here in Utah) and that has been an immense help. I attended an auction dinner there once to celebrate their 20-year mark or something, and they had as a speaker a former autistic toddler who is now in his 20s and is pretty much mainstreamed. He is not cured, as that isn't how autism works, but he has learned and worked hard on the skills he needs to live and succeed in the world. Schools and therapies have come a very long way since the author's son was small, and she also didn't have access to much of anything out where she lived.

5. I have my suspicions (some mild form of Asperger's) about a guy I went to high school with.

Edit to add: I watched his TEDx Teen talk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uq-FO...) and his mannerisms remind me of autistic people I know.

Knowing all these kids (notice they're all boys--more boys are autistic than girls) definitely changed how I viewed the book. Her son is extremely rare, and parents need to be extremely careful before pulling kids out of therapy. I don't think the vast majority will have the success she did, simply because their kids are not savants and most parents are not willing to or capable of going to the lengths she did. Yes, absolutely listen to your gut and your mother's intuition, but do it in partnership with the experts (like she did with her friend). I do think her focus on kids' strengths was good, because discouragement is good for nobody, and it makes so much sense to teach kids in ways they'll be best able to understand. Unfortunately, this is really only possible with extremely small class sizes or individualized help, so it's not hard to see why it's difficult to get kids who need it this sort of help.

Edit: An important thing I forgot to mention. Autism is absolutely NOT linked to vaccines , and it is abhorrent that such false, disproven information continues to circulate, such as the book Pam mentions reading above (by Jenny McCarthy, if I'm not mistaken). The doctor who "found a link" did so with fraudulent studies and got his medical license revoked for such irresponsible behavior.

message 8: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 562 comments I honestly can't think of someone I know that has autism. Growing up we knew certain people that were "handicapped" but I have no idea what their issue was. But recently a friend of my son was just diagnosed. He's 2. He knew all of his letters at 13 months but has delays with expressive speech and gross motor. Reminded me a lot of Jake.

message 9: by Barb (new)

Barb (deckerbunch) | 227 comments Pam wrote: "Barb, I’m curious, are most autistic children able to be self sufficient at some point? If you have any info on prognosis based on your experience I would be very interested in understanding more. ..."

Pam, many of the autistic students will grow to be able to take care of themselves and to lead productive normal lives. Einstein and Edison were both autistic. Dan Akroyd is autistic. Temple Grandin (there is a great movie and great books about her) is autistic and has been a pioneer in autistic research (among other things). But sadly, there are many that will always need someone to help care for them. On the autism spectrum, there are vast differences in abilities.

message 10: by Carol (new)

Carol  Jones-Campbell (cajonesdoa) | 690 comments Mod
I'm a big fan on Temple Grandins. Mark and I have seen the movie and read some of the books about. What a Gal. I really admire her being able to take the bull by the horns and make it work for her. She created a device that squeezed her such that it brought her security. Very interesting. Didn't know about the others. Thanks for sharing with us.

HAPPY EASTER YOU ALL! I found yesterday's conference one of the best ever. Enjoy today's!

message 11: by M.E. (new)

M.E. Hembroff (mhembroff) | 93 comments I have never know anyone with autism or had to deal with it. My only exposure to it would be through TV programs. I never even had any exposure to handicapped people when I was growing up. It seems there is a lot more of those types of diseases these days.

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