Truly of Asperger’s & Autism in general

This is the link to a great article by Dr. Anthony Hollander and I wanted to weigh in with some thoughts.

DSM V: There is a school of thought that the APA thinks that removing Asperger’s Syndrome as its own classification will add to the credibility of Autism being a Spectrum Syndrome on its merit, I suppose.  I think that there’s room for all of us in the new DSM.  Low functioning and high functioning alike.  There’s a lot to be said for Asperger’s standing by itself in the DSM V.  However, I would like to see Asperger’s under the umbrella of autism, but with its own classification within that umbrella.  We all recognise that not all Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD) is autism but all autism is PDD.  So, we should be able to say something similar about Asperger’s.  Not that it’s not synomynous with autism, but there are distinctive differences from lower functioning kinds of autism.  We should be able to all agree that Asperger’s is different with the IQ and speech functionings.

Wakefield: At this juncture, we should all be able to be grown ups and say that Wakefield was wrong.  He stirred up some great controversy and gave the people over there at Autism Speaks a lot of great mileage for their tennis shoes, but in retrospect, how could anyone jump into a boat not knowing if it actually floated?  No one could ever replicate his results.  It was embarrassing at best.  I’m happy that the people at Autism Speaks got such great mileage out of this ridiculous claim, but seriously, vaccines cause one thing: immunity to a particular disease.  They don’t cause a completely different thing that is a neurological disorder.  I’m autistic because of the way my brain is wired.  I don’t know what caused my brain to be wired the way that it is, but I’m sure it didn’t have anything to do with some vaccine I got after my birth.  Your brain wiring happens before you get your shots.  My mother says that she knew before I was born that I was going to be different, and I knew before my son was born that he was going to be different.  It was in him before I ever had him vaccinated.

IEPs:  New York state has made what may possibly be a ground shaking decision in the land of IEPs.  It should be interesting to watch and see how they are going to satisfy their own definitions of ESY (extended school year). They have decided that all students with the autism classification will qualify for the ESY.  However, school systems will probably find that it will be next to impossible to qualify this as the ESY is defined as a 12-month school year.  Why this should be a special treat for autistic students is beyond me.  Just like all children, autistic people need to be able to learn how to deal with down time such as summer vacation.  Obviously, you must be much more creative as a parent of a student on the spectrum when dealing with summers, but there are still things that can be done.  There are summer camps and other things that can help you to get an autistic child through the summers.  We had our struggles getting Wee Geek through the summers when he was younger, but as he got older, he used the summers to re-energise himself and refuel for the school year.  He often enjoyed spending his summers cruising between our house, his best friend’s house, and my in law’s house, mostly wasting time and messing around, but that is a valuable skill sometimes.  You should be able to learn how to fill empty time and sometimes it’s not a bad thing to be left to your own devices (even if you stay up half the night watching movies and playing video games and sleep until 11 every morning with reminders from mom to get out of bed, brush your teeth and scare your hair).  So, I’m in favour of summer vacations and even school breaks for autistic children.  In real life, there are changes and you occasionally have to change your routine. This is an important life lesson to be learned.  Every day cannot be exactly the same, and although it’s uncomfortable and it may even suck if you have to change your plans, but the reality is that it’s okay if it’s different.  It doesn’t have to always be the same.  These little changes are what makes life interesting and whether we like it or not, they make it better for us.  We become tolerant to change in these little ways.   Tolerance is good, whether we are comfortable or not.  Another factor in this change in IEPs is how students on the spectrum will be evaluated.  This is another area of contention for many people.  In and of myself, I think that Asperger’s students should be evaluated as close to other students as they are able.  Mainstreaming is good for some autistic students.  I understand how autistic students that are in a more inclusive environment would need special evaluation standards, but if our goal is to make autistic people as close to neurotypical functioning as they can be, then this could be counter productive.  It will be interesting to watch.  It will mean that goals for autistics will have to be written in concrete terms, which is something that should make services much better.  It also calls for goals that will make maximal functioning in school as well as community.  This is probably the best part of the entire thing.  We should have goals that actually do address school and community. Not all autistics will be successful in an academic setting so it is important that they are successful in a community setting. Autistic people can be valuable community contributors in a community.  This is important and helps us to have better theory of mind.  In a community we realise that we depend on others and they depend on us as well.

Insurance: New York state is also making some revolutionary changes in the area of insurance. The new bill that they are refining will actually make sure that diagnosis, care, and treatment of people on the spectrum is covered by insurance. This is unheard of in the industry. Especially when I think of how I had to trick my insurance into paying for my son’s diagnosis.  We had to rule out everything else under the sun before we got to the Asperger’s.  I was lucky.  If my insurance had gotten wind of what we were really doing, it probably never would have been looked at and certainly would not have been covered.  In fact, I seem to remember my insurance carrier specifically telling me that if we were seeking an autism diagnosis, it would not be covered at all.  How silly is that?  If he had been diagnosed as being bi-polar or schizophrenic, that was fine.  So, indirectly we were getting the message that it was more okay to be crazy in some way than to be autistic. Sigh….the story of my life.  Hollander makes a very important point about the squabbling between advocacy agencies makes it appear that we are not united in our goals. Our goals should be to to help children and their families have access to the best possible resources for them.  Not to fight about who is most right about the issues in general.  We need to be united in our efforts to get good quality services for our students.  All other things are secondary and unimportant until after we have the access open to all.

Mindsets:  This is important to understand that all mindsets affect our students and ourselves.  Our own mindsets of whether students are of static intelligence or whether or they can be improved with appropriate services and helps.  Anyone who has worked in early intervention for any amount of time will tell you that a child’s functioning can be increased by buckets with the correct intervention.  All of us who work with autistic children can tell you that we can drastically improve the functioning level of students with appropriate services.  My severely sensory impaired child improved by bounds and leaps with sensory integration training.  A little of the right movement goes a long way in improving our attitudes, dispositions and interactions.  Anyone with a little sensory training can tell you that.  The right movement will definitely put your wah into whack, so to speak.  This is all important when working with our students because all children are “lumps of clay” so to speak.  If we have the mindset that our children cannot improve no matter what, then what sort of hope will our children have for themselves?  Children live what they learn.  If we live in a manner that tells our children that they cannot improve, then so will they.  If we live with the hope that there is always room for better functioning, then so will they.  The more that we show them that there is always something higher to aspire to, then they will continue to reach for that improvement.

So, that is my insight into autism for the week.  I hope that this gives those readers who work in the area of autism something to think about.

My ex’s poor wife…

I know, you are wondering if I’ve finally lost it.   But let me explain. Court again today.  Somehow my poor ex husband who makes $70,000 more a year than I do and never lived up to any of his obligations, has gotten a judge to order that I should pay 37% of his legal fees.  Now, why do I feel sorry for my ex’s wife?  It must be awful that he spends so much of his time figuring out ways to fuck me.  It’s almost epic how much time he must spend on this. 

The amount of illegal orders given on my case are almost epic in themselves.  Today, they tried to order that I must observe supervised visits with my 18 year old adult son.  Really, it’s ridiculous.  I have to keep reminded myself that some day this will be over.  I don’t feel like it ever will be, but I suppose it could happen.  They also want me to pay his lawyer what is the equivalent of one whole paycheck before the end of the month.  I’ve decided that they aren’t getting any more of my money.  They are already garnishing as much of my check as they can.  So, that’s what they get.

It’s entirely ridiculous.  The judge has contributed to my son being alienated from me and possibly ruining our relationship altogether.  My ex has been patted on the head time and time again for being an asshole.  I feel the need to do something.  I don’t know what.  But I think that it may involve me  picketing the courthouse non stop.  Any ideas that my lovely readers, all one or two of you may have, would be appreciated.