Tag Archives: Autism

Sensory Processing Disorder Through A Child’s Eyes

Understood is a website that provides information and support to parents and those interested in helping kids who have learning differences and attention issues. I found this website through the National Center for Learning Disabilities which is one of the well know non-profits that helped create the website. One of the features of the website is called Through Your Child’s Eyes. Which gives the perspective of the child’s experience with their learning issues. Here is a great one describing Sensory Processing Disorder.

I have seen a child cover her ears and scream when she went into a gym filled with noisy kids. If you understood it is actually painful for the child to hear all the noise, it explains the behavior.

Sensory Processing Disorder does not just affect children with Autism. It can exist by itself or with other conditions like ADHD.

Photo from Sensory Processing Disorder 101 by Priscilla Scherer

The Myth of the Normal Brain

I want to share an article that Thomas Armstrong Ph.D. wrote in the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics about neurodiversity that proposes that there is no such thing as a “normal” brain.  I have always felt that kids labeled with Learning Disabilities, ADHD, and Autism have learning differences, not learning disabilities. I do not like the way people with learning differences and mental health issues are often pathologized.

A great thing my credential program in Special Education emphasized was to focus on the person’s strengths. And as this article says, everyone has strengths. Kids can actually develop Depression from being labeled and having everyone focusing on their weaknesses.

Dr. Lara Honos-Webb Ph.D. talks about her experience in her article ” Just Down- Not Out!” that many times after kids are diagnosed with ADHD they develop depression. She states, ” Being diagnosed with ADHD often makes a child or adult feel like there is something intrinsically wrong with their brain..that it impacts all areas of their life…, and that the disorder will not go away. In short, an ADHD diagnosis is a formula for developing depression.”

Dr. Armstrong points out all the things that people are labeled for may actually be adaptive in survival and can still be seen as a strength. Dr. Edward Hallowell was one of the first to write a book about ADD and has resisted labeling ADHD as a disorder. He says, ” The best way to think of ADD is not as a mental disorder but a collection of traits and tendencies that define a way of being in the world. There is some positive to it and some negative, some glory and some pain. If the negative becomes disabling, then this way of being in the world can become a disorder. The point of diagnosis and treatment is to transform the disorder into an asset.” (1)

It makes sense that if you label someone as disordered or tell them they have a disorder they are going to be seen as defective and feel defective. I hope more people in education and medicine adopt the attitude that Dr. Armstrong proposes and see these differences as diversity not disorder. And to focus on the strengths when working with kids.

The Myth of the Normal Brain: Embracing Neurodiversity, Apr 15 – AMA Journal of Ethics (formerly Virtual Mentor).

1. Delivered from distraction: getting the most out of life with attention deficit disorder
By Edward M. Hallowell, John J. Ratey
Published by Random House, Inc., 2005
ISBN 034544230X, 9780345442307

The Around the World Reading Challenge 2015-The Rosie Effect

The Rosie ProjectThe Rosie Effect

This is my first book review for The Around The World Reading Challenge 2015 on Booking It. I have read both of Simsion’s books but I will review the most recent one, “The Rosie Effect.” This is sequel to “The Rosie Project.” The author is based in Melbourne, Australia.

Both are novels and humorous stories about a man, Don Tillman, who is a bit quirky and is unidentified as having Asperger’s Syndrome. He is a believer in having his whole life scheduled down to the minute and uses spread sheets to make important decisions like how to find a suitable mate through the internet. He designs a 16 page questionnaire to help him determine his ideal partner.

In the second book, he is now married to Rosie and living in New York City. Don has trouble with his social skills and interpreting the nuances of conversation. This often gets him into awkward situations. He has a few close relationships and really cares about them. Don has learned to be more flexible due to his relationship with Rosie. He still has trouble with things that are unplanned, like the news that Rosie is expecting their first baby. He works valiantly to adjust to this major life-changing event. He really wants to be supportive of Rosie and learn about being a father. He enlists the help of his male friends who give him the benefit of their perspectives on marriage and fatherhood. This leads him into some crazy situations. Especially when he follows the advice of his friend Gene which gets him into trouble with the NYPD.

At times, I wasn’t sure if Don and Rosie’s marriage would survive and he would be able to adjust to his new role. I became frustrated with the messes he got himself into at first. But in the end, I can say that I really enjoyed this book. It has a positive hopeful message about human relationships.


images autism via academicconcepts.org on creative commons

Children with special needs and learning differences do have to fight big battles every day. They are trying to relate to a world which often does not make any allowances for their differences. A world where they are seen as strange and not accepted.

They struggle to engage with the lessons that are presented to them in the classroom. Their learning styles or best way of accessing the material may not be taken into consideration.

The pace at which the material is presented may be too fast and not repeated enough for them to be able to process it.

They may have sensory needs and sensitivities that are impacted. They can be distracted by a noisy classroom or the noise itself can be painful for sensitive ears.

They may struggle to answer questions when called upon because it takes them a longer time to formulate their response.

They may prefer to work alone but are often required to work in groups where there are demands for social skills that they lack, and with other children who are more naturally adept in group interactions.

They may need down time, sensory breaks, and just plain time alone to regroup, recharge, and not be given those breaks.

With all the stresses that are not understood by others, kids can start acting out and have meltdowns. Their behaviors are not understood or easily tolerated by the other kids and the teacher. So that causes them to stand out again as different or strange.

The IEP report stated ” He comes to school every day with a smile on his face and ready to work.”

That is what I call bravery.

Meeting Sensitive Santa

So many parents enjoy taking their kids to meet Santa at the mall and getting their pictures taken. It is such a common event this time of year. The lines of kids with their parents waiting to take their turn sitting on Santa’s lap. Waiting to tell Santa what they want for Christmas.

For some children and their parents this is a major challenge. What most people take for granted as an easy holiday season activity the parents of children with autism find to be almost impossible.

These parents have the same wishes for their children as all other parents. To participate in all things that other children do. To be able to sit on Santa’s lap and get their pictures taken and be able tell Santa what they are hoping for on Christmas.

Children with autism are often very sensitive to noisy, crowded and over stimulating environments. It is hard to them to wait patiently in lines for long periods. So their parents must often give up on them ever doing something other parents think of as a normal thing to do around Christmas time.

I read a story in the LA Times by Hailey Branson-Potts about a place in Northridge, California, called Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym, that has found a way to make Santa accessible to kids with autism. I have a link to the article here:  Sensitive Santa   The story is very touching as it describes the kids’ reactions when they were able to approach Santa in an environment that was comfortable for them.

I wonder if anyone else has heard of this being done for kids with autism in other places? I think it is a great idea and could easily be copied. What do you think?