Thursday, February 25, 2010

Very Busy News Day

It wasn't really my plan today to spend all day on the computer. But you know how it goes, some days the mailbox is overflowing with messages and links. Somehow, all those mundane household tasks don't have much appeal.

I won't write much this time; instead will hope you are able to pursue any of the following stories that appeal to you personally.

I will make a brief, POSITIVE, comment on each topic and will deliberately not include the current story about some politician who is saying that having a child born with a disability is a punishment from God. YIKES! What is he thinking????

Time Magazine: "Who's Afraid of Jenny McCarthy?"

I am certainly NOT afraid of Jenny McCarthy, although I usually choose not to watch when she is on one of the many TV shows where she is a regular. I have known so many parents like her - amazingly strong advocates for their children AND convinced that autism is caused by vaccinations and/or curable by dietary changes or supplements. What I like is that she is always positive about her son's autism and his potential. We need more of that optimism. I see autism as so much more complex, and as a lifelong condition, so the "cure" idea doesn't really resonate with me personally, nor the overly simple explanation of a single cause.

New York Times: "Do Toxins Cause Autism?" by Nicholas Kristof

Be sure to read the comments that follow this article. I happen to be a serious follower of Nicholas Kristof, and very impressed by the causes he takes on. He might be surprised at the hornets' nest he stirs up on this one. But I give him tons of credit for entering the fray. I do think we are dealing with a condition that is essentially genetic in origin, but triggered by environmental factors. But our environment is so full of poisons -- how will we ever sort it out? Again, autism is a complex condition; simple answers are unlikely.

Temple Grandin and TED: "The World Needs All Kinds of Minds"

Don't miss this one. Temple Grandin has taught all of us SO MUCH about autism. I love her emphasis on making the most of a person's strong interests and talents. I agree totally that the world NEEDS autism

National and state legislation regarding the use of restraints and seclusion:

My state (Wisconsin) is one of the many that is currently dealing with this issue. It is not surprising at all that people become very emotional when discussing this topic. Having been a teacher for about 30 years, I have some empathy for the stand of teachers and admininstrators that they have to provide a safe environment for everyone in their buildings. But I know that far too little is done to help teachers understand autism and act proactively to support students with serious differences in sensory processing, poor communication skills, and extremely high social anxiety. Restraint and seclusion are invariably over-used once they are introduced as acceptable policy. I am all for modifying the environment rather than focusing on modifying behavior. We must do more to educate everyone!

New Book from Amazon: "Autism and Talent" by Fransesca Happe and Uta Frith, eds.

This sounds wonderful. What is it about autism and genius/talent, anyhow? It's about time we recognize the rich resources of people with autism. Can't wait to see this book. But it is VERY expensive. I wonder if my local library will order it???

Disability Studies Quarterly/"Autism and the Concept of Neurodiversity" edited by Ralph and Emily Savarese:

Lots of great reading here. I will need more than a full day to absorb all this. Mark it as a favorite!

NPR interview (Ralph and Emily Savarese, Jamie Burke and others):

This is my personal favorite, but so far I have been unable to find it online. If anyone finds a link, PLEASE let me know!

Happy reading, listening, viewing


  1. Hi, this is Ralph Savarese. It's Iowa Public Radio's "The Exchange" on Feb. 23rd. They have a podcast.

  2. Thanks, Ralph. I am hoping this link will work for anyone interested in listening.