Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Positively Autism November 2011 Newsletter

Our topic this month is perspectives of people with Autism. Here are the articles and resources added this month.

Tips for Teachers from Individuals with Autism -

A Closer Look: Stephen Shore -

A Look Inside Temple Grandin's Mind -

"New Day New Opportunity:" Perspectives of a College Student with Autism -

Presuming Intellect: 10 Ways to Enrich Our Relationships Through a Belief in Competence -

November 2011 Positive Autism News -

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November 2011 Positive Autism News

Autism Can Be an 'Advantage,' Researcher Says
My Health News Daily/Fox News
November 3, 2011

Autistic Man Excels In Photography
Fox2 St. Louis
November 19, 2011,0,3985201.story

College material: More students with autism, learning disabilities and special needs attend campuses in Genesee County
Flint Journal
November 29, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

AAPC Teacher Appreciation Sale!

For the Teacher in Your Life:
Three Great Books at 30% Off

AAPC Publishing is pleased to announce our best sale of the holiday season on gifts for that special teacher in your life who works with students on the autism spectrum. 

The three books listed below are on sale this week only, November 21 through November 27, for 30% off of the retail price.  Also, for every online order you place from now through the end of the year, you will receive one free book. 

A Buffet of Sensory Interventions: Solutions for Middle and High School Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders
A Buffet of Sensory Interventions: Solutions for Middle and High School Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders by Susan Culp, MS, OTR/L
Code 9058
Sale Price: $13.97

Strategies at Hand: Quick and Handy Strategies for Working with Students on the Autism Spectrum 
Strategies at Hand: Quick and Handy Strategies for Working With Students on the Autism Spectrum by Robin Brewer, EdD, and Tracy Mueller, PhD
Code 9004
Sale Price: $7.67

Big Picture Thinking-Using Central Coherence Theory to Support Social Skills  
Big Picture Thinking: Using Central Coherence Theory to Support Social Skills -  A Book for Students by Aileen Zeitz Collucci, MA, CCC
Code 9071  
Sale Price: $17.43

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Look Inside Temple Grandin's Mind

Thanks to The Hartford Courant for permission to reprint this article.

How The Brain Works: A Q&A with Temple Grandin
A Look Inside Temple Grandin's Mind
Autistic Professor Among Panelists At Friday's Connecticut Forum On 'The Glorious, Mysterious Brain'

February 24, 2011

Temple Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University and a designer of livestock-handling facilities. But Grandin's true claim to fame is being the world's most prominent person with autism.

She was profiled by neurologist Oliver Sacks in his 1995 book "An Anthropologist on Mars" (her description of how she feels when interacting with non-autistic people). Last year, HBO showed a feature film about her life, "Temple Grandin," which has received numerous awards, including Emmys for best made-for-TV movie and best actress for Claire Danes. It's now available on DVD.

Also last year, Grandin was included on Time magazine's list of 100 people who most affect our world. She does that by raising awareness of autism, a neurological condition that occurs across a wide spectrum.
Its most high-functioning form, Asperger's Syndrome, inhibits social skills but allows for fully functioning, often extraordinary cognitive ability. Those with autism in its lower-functioning forms engage in repetitive behaviors, such as rocking back and forth, and are severely inhibited in their language skills; people at the most severe end of the autism spectrum are nonverbal.

Grandin, whose autism is high-functioning, will be in Hartford Friday night as part of a three-member Connecticut Forum panel discussing "The Glorious, Mysterious Brain." Her co-panelists are Yale cognitive scientist Paul Bloom, author of "How Pleasure Works" and "The Moral Life of Babies," and Steven Pinker, a Harvard professor and author of "The Blank Slate" and "How the Mind Works." Mary Hynes, host of "Tapestry," a weekly Canadian radio program about spirituality, will moderate.

Much more is known about high-functioning autism than low-functioning. As Sacks wrote, "The ultimate difference, perhaps, is this: People with Asperger's syndrome can tell us of their experiences, their inner feelings and states, whereas those with classical autism cannot. With classical autism, there is no window, and one can only infer."

Grandin embraces her autism; she told a lecture audience years ago, "If I could snap my fingers and be nonautistic, I would not, because then I wouldn't be me. Autism is part of who I am."

She believes strongly that those with high-functioning autism can turn their so-called handicap into an advantage. This belief was shared by Hans Asperger, who in 1944 published the first definition of the syndrome that would later bear his name. Asperger felt that those with high-functioning autism tended toward "a particular originality of thought and experience, which may well lead to exceptional achievements in later life."

Grandin has written several books, including "Thinking in Pictures," "Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior" and "Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals."


In advance of her local appearance, Grandin, 53, did a phone interview from her office in Fort Collins, Colo., about how her mind works.

Q: The subject of the Connecticut Forum talk is "The Glorious, Mysterious Brain." Do you know what you're going to talk about?

A: I'm going to be talking about visual thinking. I don't think in words. Steven Pinker thinks in words, not pictures. But pictures are in my imagination. Ask me something, and I will tell you what I think about it.

Q: OK, how about the weather?

A: I've seen snow on my doorstep this morning. On my computer, I've looked up some weather maps. On the TV, there are pictures of really bad snowstorms. In New York during a snowstorm, they hadn't plowed the side streets by my friend's house.

Q: The HBO film showed many drawings. Is that an accurate depiction of your visual thinking?

A: Some of them were actual drawings of my projects. The movie did a very good job of showing what I think. When I think, pictures come up.

Q: Is this a particularly autistic thing, to think in terms of pictures?

A: No, other people think in pictures, too. Non-autistic people think in pictures. I'm just an extreme visual thinker.

Q: How would you explain to a non-autistic person how the brain of an autistic person works?
A: First of all, it works bottom-up rather than top-down. Most scientists have to have a hypothesis before they experiment. My method is to collect data and then see what happens. It takes lots of small amounts of info to put them together to find what it means.

Q: Can you understand the thinking of people who think in words?

A: Not usually. People who are good at playing the futures market in cattle do not understand my drawings. I show them a drawing and build it, and they decide they hate it and cannot visualize it from the drawing. They just don't understand a drawing. Me, I can look at the drawing and see a finished job. But the futures market is beyond my understanding.

Q: Have you made all the manifestations of your autism work for you, rather than keep you down? Or are there still manifestations of your autism that give you trouble?

A: I have to take antidepressants to keep my anxiety controlled. I had a brain scan done that showed that my fear center in my brain is three times bigger than normal. I'm hyper-vigilant and always worried something might go wrong. It's now tamped down with medication.

Q: How does your autism help you understand animals?

A: Thinking in pictures is how an animal thinks. They don't think in verbal language. Their thinking is sensory-based. … Animals communicate by tone of voice. It provides a lot of emotional information. It's the tone-of-voice communication rather than words themselves. Dogs can tell if you are happy, upset or angry just by what [an owner] does with his voice. You could say to a dog, "I just hate you; you are just awful," and he'd be wagging his tail because of your tone of voice.

Q: You have gone from being famous among a small group of people in the autism community to being famous worldwide. How has fame affected your life? Do you like it?

A: I feel it's a responsibility. I have to make sure I give people a lot of correct information. It's a lot of work. I like doing what I do professionally. I have to fight to keep that. I don't want to give up that.

Q: Did the film depict your life accurately? What do you think of Claire Danes' performance as you?

A: I thought she did a fantastic job. They depicted my life pretty accurately. My projects were accurate. I designed all the things [shown in the film]. It depicted my visual thinking accurately, my anxiety accurately, my science teacher accurately. Some events they had to switch around and compress.

Q: Do you think the movie has had an effect on the public perception of autism and autistic people?

A: I think it has. The thing is, half the Silicon Valley has mild autism. You wouldn't have a computer to type on if it wasn't for autistic genetics. If you disconnect the social circuits in your brain, there are more circuits to do fun, deep stuff like design computers. ... If you get a little bit of autism disconnect, you get a brilliant geek running important companies. ... In a lot of school systems, Einstein would be labeled autistic.

Q: So autism has a constructive place in society?

A: In its milder form, it provides some advantages. ... The problem [with public perceptions] is that autism, at one end of the spectrum, you need a lot of special ed. ... Autism in its severe form is severely disabled. ... But at the other end, people need social-skills training, but they're brilliant. ... There are too many smart, geeky kids going nowhere. He could be geeky, but with an I.Q. of 150.

Q: What would you say to young adults with milder forms of autism just starting out in life to help them on their way?

A: Get some work skills. Get some time-management skills. When they get out in the workplace, they can get and keep a job. Way too many smart kids never had any work skills.

THE CONNECTICUT FORUM panel on "The Glorious, Mysterious Brain" will be held Friday at 8 p.m. at Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, 166 Capitol Ave. in Hartford. Tickets range from $25 to $60. Information: At press time there was a waiting list for tickets.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Closer Look: Stephen Shore

From a 2004 issue of the Autism Asperger Publishing Newsletter:

Most of us get up in the morning and go to one job from 9 to 5, with only minor variations. How would you handle the daily tasks connected to at least four different careers in one day? You would probably feel overwhelmed.

But for Stephen Shore, it's all in a day's work. On any given day Stephen may find himself in the college classroom, busy writing his latest book or finalizing notes for his next workshop. Even after all this, he still has time to teach private music lessons to children with autism spectrum disorders and work on his doctorate in special education. All this from a man who was diagnosed with atypical development with strong autistic tendencies himself.

Stephen was born in Boston on September 27, 1961. At the time, his mother suffered from undiagnosed agoraphobia, an atypical depression. His older brother had been recently diagnosed as mildly retarded. At birth, Stephen seemed perfectly healthy. He began talking at about six months, but then quickly stopped. He didn't talk again until he was four years old! As Stephen's parents contacted various professionals suspecting that something was wrong with their son, they were told he was too sick to be treated on an outpatient basis, and it was recommended that he be institutionalized. But believing that there was potential for improvement, his parents refused to follow the recommendation. Stephen's mother spent a lot of time talking and playing with him, especially after his older brother started preschool. Stephen says even though he didn't appear to be aware of her and what she was doing, she continued her efforts believing that, somehow, what she was doing was beneficial to him. It worked, as he slowly began admitting her into his world. Later, with a lot of help from his parents, teachers and others, Stephen worked hard to find his place in school and among his peers.

In his book Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome, Stephen describes the struggles he faced in elementary, junior and high school before finding a more accepting place in college.

"Acceptance is getting better. There is a greater awareness now," Stephen said during a recent phone interview with AAPC.

Over the years, one of Stephen's biggest struggles has been whether or not to disclose that he has autism. "I was working with a mentor to help me with facial recognition. I didn't tell my mentor for a long time I was on the spectrum. When I finally did, my mentor was pretty surprised!"

As Stephen became more comfortable with himself, he found it easier to tell others about his autism. And he found ways to fit in that have made his life full.

Most days find Stephen teaching classes on autism, statistics, computers, special education or music on the college level. He is associated with five different institutions of higher learning - Boston University, Salem State College, Emerson College, Leslie University, and a local community college. If he's not teaching, he may be in the classroom himself, as a student. He is completing work on his doctoral degree in special education at Boston University with a focus on helping people on the autism spectrum develop to their fullest potential.

Stephen's teaching extends beyond the classroom to his love of music and children. He works with children on the spectrum, teaching them how to play a variety of musical instruments. "But I don't teach drums! They are too loud," he said. As a person on the spectrum, loud noises can seem even louder to Stephen than they would to others. He starts most children off on the piano or the recorder because these instruments are simple and easy to learn. "It's very therapeutic," Stephen says. "Learning how to play an instrument gives them a real life skill for community interaction they can use in life." Stephen's wife, Yi Liu, also plays music. Many times they collaborate at home, with Yi Liu on the piano or the harp and Stephen playing the trombone, flute, piano or the latest instrument he is attempting to learn.

When not in the classroom or teaching private lessons, Stephen travels the world giving workshops and lectures on autism and related issues. As a highly sought after speaker, he makes about 40 to 50 appearances a year.

All that Stephen has learned and experienced over the years as a person with autism has been a basis for his two books, Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome and
the recently released Ask and Tell: Self Advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism Spectrum.

Stephen's schedule is very busy but his life is very fulfilling. "Just like with all people, the potential of those on the autism spectrum is unlimited," he notes. And Stephen Shore is proving the sky is the limit.

Update (Provided by Stephen Shore in 2011)

Currently, Stephen serves as an assistant professor of special education focused on designing and instructing in courses related to the autism spectrum.  His research agenda concentrates on matching best practice to the needs of children with autism.  When not giving music lessons to children with autism Stephen continues to travel internationally consulting and presenting on autism.  Two of Stephen's latest publications include the critically acclaimed Understanding autism for dummies and a DVD with Robert Naseef and Dan Gottlieb on what it means to have autism or Asperger Syndrome. 

More information about Stephen and his work is available at

Reprinted with Permission from Stephen Shore.

Books by Stephen Shore:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tips for Teachers from Individuals with Autism

In a 2004 article entitled, "Autism, Autobiography, and Adaptations," published in Teaching Exceptional Children, Dr. Paula Kluth shares tips and ideas for making classrooms more friendly for students with autism. Dr. Kluth states that the tips were primarily "inspired by the autobiographical accounts of people with autism and Asperger's syndrome." She states that it is important to consider the perspectives of individuals with autism because they are "the only true autism experts." A brief overview of the strategies she identified is as follows:
  • Keeping in mind that students with autism may be extremely sensitive to light and sound.
  • Providing a "safe space" in the classroom or on the school campus that a student can use to calm down or de-stress when needed.
  • Using literal language, as students with autism may have difficulty understanding figurative language, sarcasm, idioms, etc.
  • Not requiring students to make eye contact.
  • Incorporating a student's interests into the curriculum.
  • Using visual aids and supports.
This article can be found in the March/April 2004 issue of Teaching Exceptional Children. This issue is Volume 36, Number 4. If you have access to this article through your Council for Exceptional Children membership or a university library, I highly recommend reading it!

Here are some of Dr. Paula Kluth's excellent books that explore many of the topics from the article.

You're Going to Love This Kid!

Just Give Him The Whale!: 20 Ways to Use Fascinations, Areas of Expertise, and Strengths to Support Students with Autism

A Land We Can Share: Teaching Literacy to Students With Autism

View a complete list of books by Dr. Paula Kluth here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November/December 2011 Topic

The topic of Positively Autism's newsletter and blog posts for November and December will be "Perspectives of Individuals with Autism." These perspectives are not about any specific topic, so I tried to include a range of topics and authors. However, there are so many individuals with autism who have written books, essays, articles, music, videos, etc., that it would be impossible to include a comprehensive list of them in this issue. Even though it is impossible to include all viewpoints, I strongly believe that parents, teachers, and service providers of individuals with autism should directly consider the perspectives of those we serve.

I hope you enjoy viewing these articles and videos as much as I enjoyed collecting them!

Please note that the opinions expressed in the featured articles and videos are the views of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Positively Autism.

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