About this blog.

My son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at 24 months. I created this blog to bring meaning to the often-confusing label. Sometimes I have answers. Other times, just more questions.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Google Critic Wants You Aspies to Appreciate His Pretty Little Designs

Apparently, Google is some sort of hotbed of aspergian thought. Who knew? Google is an employer that values engineering prowess, and doesn't penalize its employees for weak social skill. That's a good thing, right?

Wrong, according to this esoteric rant:

Google was founded by extreme-male-brain nerds and, by all outward appearances, seems to hire only that type of person, not all of them male. Apart from Bowman, I can think of only two Google employees I could stand to be around for longer than an elevator ride.
See, the blogger is unhappy that Google drove its marquee designer, Bowman, to quit. He continues:

My impression of “Googlers,” which I concede is based on little direct knowledge and is prejudicial on its face, is one of undersocialized, uncultured, pampered, arrogant faux-savants who have cultivated an arrested adolescence that the Google working environment further nurtures. Their computer-programming skills, the sole skills valued by the company, camouflage the flaws of their neuroanatomy. Their brains are beautifully suited to the genteel eugenics program that is the Google hiring process but are broken for real-world use.


Isn't this analogous to attending Spelman College and complaining about the emphasis on African studies? I mean, really, it's Google, a company built on a search algorythm.

And for these engineers whom the blogger stereotypically dubs aspergian, Google and companies like Google likely represent an oasis in a desert of prejudice. A place where they are valued because of who they are, not in spite of it. A place where failure to comply with the rules of social order doesn't hold them back.

Here, the coin is flipped. Whereas, in the majority of society, the neurotypical blogger is in the majority, with aspergians in the minority, at Google (and companies like Google), it's the reverse. And the blogger complains: aspergians have no taste and can't entertain him longer than an elevator ride. Well, boo f ing hoo! Isn't that unfair. Welcome to high school for the average aspergian. Newsflash: life isn't fair.

So the good news is that society is moving in the right direction. There are geographic pockets and industry sectors in which aspies can thrive. Aspergians are shining, and society is valuing their contributions.

The bad news is that it appears that an ugly backlash is under way, as evidenced by the rant.

[Via Gawker]

Updated April 29, 2009


Looking forward, in the next month I'm going to blog about various chapters of the book, The Mislabeled Child. It's a good read for parents of A Little Bit Autistic types. Just a "heads up" if you want to follow along.


He may still toddle in the literal sense, but he's not a toddler anymore. Bradley is growing up fast! A quick post to memorialize some of his recent transitions:
  • Potty - I'm happy to report that Brad's potty strike was short-lived. To recap, we did what most parents do in the beginning - we prompted him a lot. So that he wouldn't forget. Well I think all the prompting made him anxious, which resulted in the potty strike. To remedy the situation, we did two things: (i) we chilled out, and (ii) we started him on double fiber sandwich bread, just two slices at lunch time. I don't know if it was the fiber or something else, but he got the hang of it, and today, he's solid. No accidents.
  • Big boy bed - we finally transitioned him out of the crib. We opted for a real bed (with safety rails), rather than a toddler bed since he's a tall 3+ year old. He mounts it on his own with a little stool, but he doesn't dismount on his own. So he still waits for me to get him in the morning and at nap. But the good news is that he really likes the bed, and he didn't have any difficulty with the transition.

And last, my confession:

  • Paci - yes, until recently, Brad was using a paci at nap and overnight. The pacis NEVER left the crib (so they're not a speech delay culprit) - they were only used as a sleep aid. We did the same with Jeremy and I credit the little sleep I was able to get when they were infants to the pacis. Anyway, I was very nervous about this one, but we ditched the pacis when we transitioned him out of the crib and...drumroll...success! It was unremarkable. I think the novelty of the new bed distracted him from the loss.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More Autism Awareness on MSNBC

If you're insatiable, here's a sensory integration-themed clip:

Nothing new here for SPD junkies, other than the latest advances in consumerism.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Recovery" reaches the masses.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

This video segment features Karen Exkorn, author of The Autism Sourcebook, and her son Jake. I read the Autism Sourcebook early on and, as I blogged, I did not find it compelling. Bluntly, I don't personally believe that "recovery" can be sourced to ABA, so I found her story misleading. Rather, I believe that the natural process of maturation, combined with a rich environment (which ABA can provide), causes certain children to cease to meet the diagnostic criteria. (But keep in mind, I'm a blogger, not an expert.) And on a personal note, I bristled at her recommendation that a 2 year old be subject to 40 hour per week of treatment.

To be clear: I'm not discounting the benefits of ABA, where the results are short of recovery. ABA is probably the best therapy for many classically autistic children, and I don't doubt for a moment that ABA is the best bet for a positive outcome for many.

Incidentally, Jake was initially diagnosed with PDD-NOS, not classic autism.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Autism Awareness Month

I figured I'd buck the trend and post on awareness mid-month. Just in case you all forgot: April is Autism Awareness Month.

But awareness is a double-edged sword, isn't it? After all, a little knowledge can be dangerous. (Cue the video of Jenny McCarthy on Larry King during Autism Awareness Month 2008.) People by and large are familiar with the face of autism in its severe form and the ubiquitous prevalence data. And so - and perhaps I'm being pessimistic - the popular conception of autism is: scary and prevalent, and maybe related to vaccines. Superficial awareness - I'm not a fan.

And that's why I'm blogging to support not the promotion of superficial awareness but rather the promotion of a real, multi-dimensional understanding. For me, as a parent, I've come to understand autism through the stories of real life parents and of autistic persons alike. The nature of the disorder - the good and the bad - comes to life and takes shape through these stories.

And on that note, I'm recommending Autism the Musical, a video that served to promote my understanding back in April of 2008, when I was three months into my journey. It represents a pretty good cross section of the autistic spectrum, from classically autistic to PDD-NOS to asperger's. One of the cast members, Lexi, stole my heart, and to this day, the memory of her beautiful voice warms my heart. This blogger's advice: buy the video and steer clear of CNN. My two cents.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Recalibrated Expectations

It's human nature to have hopes and dreams for your child. I love Brad unconditionally, but I can't turn off that part of my brain that hits the fast forward button and imagines the future.

And like so many parents, Brad's diagnosis initally shattered those dreams. Then I learned about autism, recalibrated my expectations and came up a with a new vision for Brad's future. He would be different, in a good way.

The rosy outlook culminated when Brad was evaluated by his school. His teacher made an observation in his written report: "superior attention and eye contact during the 50 minute evaluation." When we met in person, he went on to tell us that Brad isn't what he expects for the PDD diagnosis.

Superior, I thought. Not "good", not "sufficient", but "superior". There it was, in black and white. He's going to be okay in school. He might not even need special education for long. My expectations crept up.

Flashforward to Wednesday of this week. I met with the school district to check in and see how Brad's doing now. The verdict: not well. There's a massive delta between his one on one performance (i.e., when he was evaluated) and his performance in a group setting.

Bam! Serves me right for having high expectations and getting ahead of myself.

He's withdrawn. Socially, he's an island, off on his own. Cognitively, he's having difficulty following instructions. He goes for the playdoh by himself when the other kids are monkeying around with each other. He doesn't attend, which is his shining strength in a one on one setting. Bottom line: he's barely keeping up. And keep in mind, this is a special ed class. His peers are, for the most part, not socially advanced.

I've blogged before that Brad doesn't melt down. And from this I've concluded that he doesn't overstimulate. I think I'm wrong on that point. I suspect that he does overstimulate, only instead of melting down or expressing upset, he withdraws and blocks the world out.

I pressed for one on one "pull outs" for OT to fill the soon-to-be void, assuming we have to stop private OT. As I predicted, the school shut me down. Something about the law requiring services "in the least restrictive environment." They're going to add Brad to the OT's informal rounds. This means she'll visit him in the classroom and facilitate in a group setting. Not what I wished for but it is something.

The physical therapist will do something similar, visiting Brad when he's on the playground with the group to facilitate his physical play. He'll also get ad hoc one on one as needed during regular class to help him keep up. His IEP is being revised to reflect these new accomodations.

So, once again, I am recalibrating expectations, hopefully to something realistic this time. As for Brad, I'm grateful that he has a great educational team that really understands and appreciates him. Onward, with realistic expectations and a realistic IEP.


"Q: What's the difference between an extroverted actuary and an introverted actuary?

A: The extroverted actuary is going to look at your shoes and their shoes when they're talking to you."

January 19, 2009, Tonya Manning, Chief Actuary of Aon, poking fun at the members of her profession

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Little Bit Autistic Against the Machine

The insurance machine, that is. After covering occupational therapy for about 10 months, our insurance carrier has denied future services because our insurance covers OT for rehabilitative, short-term purposes only. OT for developmental maladies is regarded as habilitative - gaining new skills - rather than rehabilitative or regaining old skills. So I've lodged an appeal, complete with six enumerated exhibits. (I'm completely serious.) One such exhibit is cutie photos of Brad ostensibly to demonstrate that he had no signs of hypotonia as an infant (whereas he does have hypotonia now, and therefore OT would be rehabilitative). But the real purpose of the pics is to make an emotional appeal. Claims reviewers do have emotions, don't they???

Also, we've put the wheels in motion to try to get one on one OT through the school system. Right now he gets OT in a group setting, which is great but one on one, and the monitoring that goes with that would be better. The road block with the school system is different, but equally impenetrable - I need to make the case that his DCD or whatever impairs his ability to functionally access the classroom. Bottom line: the children who get one on one OT are bumping into stuff or toe walking, and Brad doesn't do either of those things. So this is probably a long shot.

We'll hear back on both fronts in the next month...