Sensory Sensitivity and Problem Behavior

Sensory sensitivity in children on the spectrum can go unnoticed by parents and teachers, but cause big stresses in the classroom.

The Uncounted Costs of Sensory Sensitivity

After decades of living as an autistic person, I'm still learning about sensory overload, and its unexpected consequences.

Shootings, Stigma, and the Myth of Safety

The holiday season is often difficult for me. It’s s a time of particular loneliness for many on the spectrum – where the emphasis is on a social world that isn’t easy for us to navigate. For me, it’s also difficult for other reasons. Because it brings back bad memories.

When Pride Means Pain

Parental praise. Pride in accomplishment. Those are supposed to be good things, right? Recently, I read a book that made me challenge that assumption.

Labels and Expectations Part 3: Fear

The last 10 years or so, I have done a lot of thinking about what my life would have been like had I been labeled in childhood. Unquestionably, there are areas where knowledge of autism would've been a godsend. But I also wonder how it would have changed how I was perceived.

What Is Empathy?

What is empathy and how does it impact our daily lives? Beginning 9/24, and lasting the entire week, The Guggenheim museum will be sponsoring an online forum, “The Greater Good” which will cover this complex and nuanced topic.

Labels and Expectations Part 2: Preconceptions

"You know," I said to a classmate one day, "I flunked Kindergarten." My classmate laughed, thinking I was joking. I assured her I was not. Flabbergasted, she responded with disbelief, "How can that be?!"

Deadly Data: Sometimes Numbers Lie

Data. It’s something we draw upon in science, policymaking, and any number of other settings. It’s important. But there are times when blindly trusting in data can be devastating. Let me give you an example.

Labels and Expectations Part 1: To Label or Not To Label?

Labels. Do they help, or do they hurt? Looking back on my life, the answer to this question isn't always clear cut. How do we prevent a label from being limiting?

Meaningful Vulnerability: “Go Big Or Go Home?”

The other day, I read a blog post that spurred me to think about vulnerability. The author cited the work of writers like Maya Angelou, whose stories reflect intense vulnerability. The blogger wondered if she could have the same impact. Would her story measure up? When it came to vulnerability, did she need to “go big or go home?”

Come Into The Garden: Hidden Issues With Expressive Language

Some time back, my mother and I were reminiscing when she mentioned something that brought me up short. She was remembering some of our earliest visits with my maternal grandmother. “You were so charming,” she said, “You kept running to the back door. In your chirpy little voice you’d call to us. You’d say, ‘Come into the garden! It’s a beautiful day!’”

Of Vulnerability and Rainbows

Vulnerability is not a word that is commonly associated with those of us on the spectrum.  When those of us on the spectrum are discussed the most common words you tend to hear are words that imply a lack of vulnerability.  Words like “enigma” and “mystery.”

Being Evil and Doing Evil: Are They Always The Same?

Are people who do evil things inherently evil? It’s a question my life experience has often driven me to explore.  Not only because the ugliness I’ve witnessed, and experienced firsthand.  But also for another reason...I’m one quarter German.

Thinking About The Unthinkable

In the 1990 movie, Awakenings, there is a scene that I’ve always found chilling. In it, Dr. Malcolm Sayer, a fictionalized character based on Dr. Oliver Sacks, visits with an expert in an attempt to understand the condition (post-encephalitic parkinsonism) of a number of the patients in the chronic hospital where he works.

Sorting out Synesthesia

“You know, it’s sad,” my father wistfully remarked to me one day, “Before MTV, you had to come up with your own pictures in your head when you listened to music.” I didn’t think there was anything unusual in his comment. After all, everyone saw pictures when they listened to music. Didn’t they?

Pity, Respect, and the We/She Dynamic

In my last post, I talked about “othering” autism. What exactly is othering? Some who responded to the post seemed to feel that othering and ill will are synonymous. I disagree. In my experience, it can often be done by those with the best intentions.

Stigma and the “Othering” of Autism

There’s been an ongoing debate in the autism community. One about ideology, one about words. It’s about what it means to support an autistic child (or adult), and it’s about how one feels about the word “autism.” Is it something to accept, or something to fight?

The Damaging Legacy of Parent Blame

When I read explorations of many possible dynamics that may have caused the increases in the rates of autism diagnosis, I am pleased to see the diversity of causal factors considered. But there is one dynamic that I have yet to see covered, and it's one that's very personal for me. It's the legacy of parent blame.

Re-Playing the Past

Since I learned about Asperger's, I've done a lot of "time travelling"...reviewing my past through a new lens. In this process, I made some very surprising discoveries, some of which I've written about previously. Sometimes these discoveries have come from places that I least expected.

Social Justice and the Autism Spectrum

As the debate about the DSM 5 proposed revisions rages on, the focus of the media turns more and more to the upsurge in autism diagnoses. What does the increase in autism numbers mean? Are the standards for diagnosis too lax? Is autism really becoming more common? Or, is it that we are getting better at recognizing it?

Is Asperger's Overdiagnosed?

In recent months, the New York Times has gotten a lot of positive press in the autism community for Amy Harmon's series of sensitive articles regarding the many issues that impact those with autism and their families. But two recently published pieces are causing a great deal of anger in the very same community. The thrust of these two op-eds: Asperger's is over-diagnosed.

A Dream That Leads to a Nightmare

Last night, I had a dream. I was in a store with family, and I had an outburst, what we in the autism community call a meltdown. As the stress and frustration boiled over, I had to get out. So I ran.

The Dark House: Assumptions and Attitudes Regarding Disability

A few years ago, I was having a conversation with a coworker about her husband's passion for the television show CSI. "Did you know," I asked, "that the actor who plays the medical examiner, has a disability? His legs were amputated due to an accident." "Really!" she exclaimed, "I wonder if my husband knows that!"

Finding Meaning in Muppets

The value of special interests don't always lie in a future career. Sometimes, special interests have different, but equally important purposes. Like learning how to live.