Essential Reads

Charles Darwin/Public Domain

Why Does Autism Still Exist?

By Barb Cohen on March 07, 2017 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
Some gene variants associated with autism are also significantly associated with high intelligence. “Smart” genes are advantageous from an evolutionary standpoint, so they persist.

Autism in the South Pacific: A Different Way of Seeing?

By John Elder Robison on February 26, 2017 in My Life With Asperger's
Were Polynesian navigators who settled the Pacific autistic? Americans are used to thinking about autism in the context of disability. Other societies may have seen it different
"drinking water"/darwin Bell/CC BY 2.0

Finding the "Why" of a Special-Needs Child's Behavior

By Barb Cohen on February 23, 2017 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
Behavior is a form of communication, and more often than not, especially in young children, it is not communicating a desire to be non-compliant or troublesome.

Lessons From Luke Skywalker

By Dean Olsher MA, MT-BC on January 26, 2017 in A Sound Mind
It is a gift to have a common intergenerational reference that embodies the hero’s journey in the character of Luke Skywalker.

More Posts on Autism

Disney Research Pioneers New Frontiers Using Virtual Reality

Walt Disney researchers are fine-tuning virtual reality (VR) technologies that could be used to improve athletic performance and many other "proprioception-based" daily activities.
Zach Hyman/Sesame Workshop

Sesame Street and Autism: The PG-Rated "Extras"

By Barb Cohen on March 22, 2017 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
Young children accept any playmate who is not hostile. It is the parents who usually communicate discomfort, caution or pity, and it is the parents who have the most to learn.
"Lime Butterfly"/giovzaid85/CC BY 2.0

When Is Reimagining the Past a Sign of Emotional Health?

By Barb Cohen on March 17, 2017 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
For counterfactual thinking to be functionally beneficial, we need a coherent story of cause and effect that makes us an essential actor in the story.

Harvard Study Finds Genetic ‘Toggle Switch’ for Sociability

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have pinpointed specific neuronal circuitry and a 'toggle switch' that can turn a mouse's sociability "on" and "off" in the laboratory.

The Great Aspie

Loving a partner with Asperger’s can be both challenging and rewarding

An Autistic Saint?

Modern understanding of autistic spectrum disorders may shed light on the eccentric behavior of the Hindu saint, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.

Why Not Circumcise Your Boy? Risk for Autism

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on February 19, 2017 in Moral Landscapes
New research raises new questions.
Erik Hans Krause in employ of WPA/PD-US-not renewed

"Refrigerator Mothering" Is Dead but the Blame Game Lives On

By Barb Cohen on February 16, 2017 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
The mother—and now the father too—are still suspect. Suspected of what? Nobody knows for sure, but whatever it is, we are expected to defend ourselves against it.

Early Brain Over-Growth Is Indicative of Autism as Predicted

The imprinted brain theory links brain growth to autism, and a new study confirms the association.

Data, Not Ideology (Part 2)

By Amy S.F. Lutz on February 16, 2017 in Inspectrum
Instead of pushing ideologically-based options, why aren't policy-makers investing in evidence-based approaches to increasing happiness in the severely cognitively disabled?
"Brain Clock"/bzztbomb/CC BY-NC 2.0

Autism, ADHD, and Executive Functioning: Parenting Insights

By Barb Cohen on February 09, 2017 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
We have tried visual strategies; we have tried planning discussions; we have tried scripts' we have tried first/then; we have tried IEP goals; and we have tried threats.

What “Counts” for Autism Has Been Dropping: Is That Good?

By David Rettew M.D. on February 08, 2017 in ABCs of Child Psychiatry
Compared to decades past, the diagnosis of autism now encompasses many more children with “milder” behaviors. This likely underlies much of autism’s apparent increase in rate.
"La Mama de los Politos"/Jorge Elias/CC BY 2.0

Incubating a Political Conscience

By Barb Cohen on February 01, 2017 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
Figuring out when asserting yourself reflects courage and when it reflects imprudence takes, for many of us, a lifetime.
Abraham Lincoln/CC BY SA 3.0

Abraham Lincoln Tops List of Famous Jewish Swimmers!

By Barb Cohen on January 23, 2017 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
"Famous people with autism" lists are not created primarily to motivate our children. They exist to motivate us adults to adjust our own beliefs about autism.

Ideology, Not Data

By Amy S.F. Lutz on January 22, 2017 in Inspectrum
Some disability advocates and policy makers want to force adults with I/DD into small, dispersed residences. But studies actually suggest size is not the determining factor.
"Johnathan Meath as Santa Clause"/Jonathan Meath/CC BY-SA 2.5

Learning to Tell a Lie

By Barb Cohen on January 12, 2017 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
Lying through your teeth requires more social awareness than most of us appreciate.

Autism and Screen Time: Special Brains, Special Risks

By Victoria L. Dunckley M.D. on December 31, 2016 in Mental Wealth
Is your gut telling you that your child with autism has too much screen time? Here are 11 reasons why ASD kids are more vulnerable to screen time effects, including addiction.

“Obese” Mothers and Autism: Not As Simple As It Seems

Maternal BMI is a simplistic measure—particularly when related to the complex issue of the cause of autism.

Autism and Creativity

By Barb Cohen on December 18, 2016 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
Autism is associated with rigid thinking, restricted interests, and a literal interpretation of speech and behavior. How could a person with these traits possibly be creative?
James Coplan, MD

Perfectionism, Part 2

Do you have gremlins below decks, countermanding the captain's orders?

Hormones and Brain Regions Behind Eye Contact and Empathy

Clues to the hormonal and brain correlates of eye contact and empathy have been provided by studies of people with autistic symptoms.
"Wish List"/Sam and Barb Cohen

A Wish to Be an Aspie

By Barb Cohen on December 11, 2016 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
If your child needs the space to get up and walk around the classroom, what difference does it make if that need arises from AD/HD or ASD?

When Autism Parents Are Hesitant to Share the Diagnosis

By Darren Sush Psy.D., BCBA-D on December 05, 2016 in All the Pieces
How inappropriate speculation related to Donald Trump’s son, highlights the concerns of many parents of children with autism about how and when to share their child’s diagnosis.

Special-Needs Parenting and the Lowerarchy: Part Two

By Barb Cohen on December 04, 2016 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
The lowerarchy is more than a boundary; it is an edifice of alternating comfort and despair, always at the expense of other people and their children.
Looking downward/Barb Cohen

The Lowerarchy of Special-Needs Parenting

By Barb Cohen on November 27, 2016 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
Instead of using the rhetoric of “better than,” we shift to “not as bad-off as,” as in “my kid is not as bad-off as yours. "We’ve created a lowerarchy.
"Copenhagen broken bike"/Jens Cramer/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

"Mom, Am I Disabled?"

By Barb Cohen on November 18, 2016 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
Identifying a person as disabled entails locking that person into a world of very limited expectations. Having a disability describes all of us.

How Does Brain Symmetry Influence the Workings of Your Mind?

By Christopher Bergland on November 18, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
Is symmetry between the 'left brain-right brain' a good thing? It depends. New research suggests that a blend of symmetry and asymmetry between various brain regions may be ideal.

Autism Employment: The Importance of Mentors

By Chantal Sicile-Kira on November 17, 2016 in The Autism Advocate
If your child appears to have skills or a real interest in a specific area, someone who works in that field can help the child realize the application of his interests.
Reading bedtime stories with Sean-bear/ktbuffy/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

When May We Change the Topic From the Election?

By Barb Cohen on November 13, 2016 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
We will want the predictability of our routines. Even the meltdowns will reassure us that our own small corner of the world is recognizable—and still needs tending.

Autism, Violence, and the Media

By Jill Del Pozzo, MA, and Lindsay Cherneski, MA on November 03, 2016 in Fractured Minds
There is no scientific evidence that autism, by itself, increases the risk of violence. In fact, individuals with ASD are less likely to engage in criminal behavior.