Monday, December 24, 2007

A Christmas Meme

I have been tagged! By a fellow parent of a recovered child Artemisia. She is a gifted writer and mom, and best yet she makes me think. Her son is now a teen, so I relish hearing every single bit of what his life is like. It's a good life I'll tell ya! So here's to Artemisia, Boo, and a shot to the rest of the recovered children out there. We may not be popular, but we exist. I may not be happy that I am considered part of a faction(s), but I am happy that I have company. It's nice there are minds that don't feel I am less worthy just because my son no longer requires services. I'd much prefer that factions just go away and us Autism families can just co-exist with acceptance,support, and tolerance. We only really have each other. A tall order, a dream Christmas Gift!

So here goes:

Best Childhood Gift
A plastic horse statue (model?) with a real leather saddle and bridle. My mother would store the saddle and bridle carefully in foil up out of reach in a kitchen cabinet. I'd sit for hours putting that saddle on and off, pretending I was the Barbie taking care of it and riding it around town (my fort made of couch pillows).

Best Adult Gift
Leo's Clinical Supervisor said it was a go to begin our fading program (fading services). A gift for all of us, after the holidays his hours would be less. This also meant we could go to California to visit my family for two weeks instead of one. We didn't need to cut it short for a fear of a regression.

What You Hope For In The Future
That my husband and I can figure out the best school/town scenario for Leo's middle school transition. I hope both of my kids can have an uneventful but excellent middle school and high school experience. As much as one can hope for anyway! This topic is what keeps me up at night. I totally obsess too much over this topic!

I tag Erica and Maddy. Maddy's been quite busy with Memes, so please don't feel like you must post something. I just had to include you in my mention of honorable moms. I also tag Laura, another mom that is as funny as they come and has great creativity when it comes to costumes. They are uber moms that also make me think like Artemisia. I also tag all lurky loos and other people that really know me. You know who you are! Just post me a lil' ole' comment. Cheers (as Maddy says)and Happy Holidays to you!, Ashley

Hi all. This is an addendum to the post. I've unfortunately had to enable comment moderation. The negativity during the holidays just didn't work for me. I'll never understand how people take the time to post hate, rather than just move on to reading blogs they agree with.

Here is a copy of the regular comments people left me up until now:

Maddy said...
See! Aren't you glad you're on my google feed reader now! Thank you for the tag. How come you've not linked to Artemisia? Do I need to type that into google blog search.

I'm up to my ears in cookies, sausage rolls, snot and children [not necessarily in that order] but I'll put this on my to do list for as you noted I am well behind on these meme's [I have 27 in the works!]

Many happy seasonal greetings to you and yours.

This is my calling card or link"Whittereronautism"which takes you straight to my new blog.

2:01 PM
Ashley loves Leo said...
You are funny. Now that's a list! I went back and fixed Artemisia and added her as a link. It's
It's also on my blog list. Have a great time with all that cookin'!

2:05 PM
Casdok said...
Lovely meme!

2:49 AM

Monday, December 17, 2007

Autism is on Google's Top Ten "What Is" list.

Thanks to the Schafer Report, I found this little depressing nugget way too interesting: The Google Top Ten "What Is?" Questions By English Users Around The World are:

1. What is love?
2. What is autism?
3. What is RSS?
4. What is lupus?
5. What is SAP?
6. What is Bluetooth?
7. What is Emo?
8. What is Java?
9. What is HPV (human papillomavirus)?
10. What is gout?

Full article here:

Now you may ask yourself(or not), why I find this depressing? or even frightening about this list? For me, it's the fact that 4 out of the 10 are health related questions. About disease and disorders. What in the heck is going on people? Why isn't this list in itself a top 10 news story?

It's certainly a wake-up call for this generation. Music, love, and computers can only keep us motivated and going.

Is it me, or does anyone else out there think this is really really REALLY scary?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New Jersey Makes Flu Shot Mandatory

Well, officially next week, the state commissioner will add the flu shot to the list of mandatory vaccines for school children and day care children. They'll be the first state to add this shot. New Jersey of all places, a hub of Autism stats.

The coverage of this news does include the fact that parents can sign a religious or medical exemption form. Just a sentence, lost somewhere in the middle. Taming of the herds I suppose. I guess I should be happy they still have a choice. Hopefully parents will educate themselves of their choices.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Asperger's and Reality T.V., NY Times Take

I am in heaven. My favorite topic, the Autism Spectrum, is paired with my favorite way to relax, watching reality t.v. For weeks I've been watching the show, America's Next Top Model, fascinated by the whole thing. Caleb's mom, a fellow recovered mom that I wish would blog, got me hooked.

Each week I'd imaginine what it's like behind the scenes, conversations about how to carefully play the "different" girl. Trendy, controversial, a risk? Who knows. Either way, I'm happy, and in my own world and on my on blog, I'm content. Sure, things weren't perfect, but for layman, the airings went along nicely in my opinion. My new mantra comes to mind and I'll share it with you, which also comes in handy when visiting relatives during the holidays.

"Take what people can give you."

We miss you Heather, so here's a shot out to you.

Here's the NY Times coverage from yesterday:

Asperger’s Syndrome Gets a Very Public Face

Heather Kuzmich has the neurological disorder known as Asperger’s syndrome. She is socially awkward, has trouble making eye contact and is sometimes the target of her roommates’ jokes.
But what makes the 21-year-old Ms. Kuzmich different from others with Asperger’s is that for the past 11 weeks, her struggle to cope with her disability has played out on national television.
She is one of 13 young women selected by the supermodel Tyra Banks to compete on the popular reality television show “America’s Next Top Model.” The addition of Heather Kuzmich to an otherwise superficial show has given millions of viewers an unusual and compelling glimpse into the little-understood world of Asperger’s.
The disorder, considered a form of autism, is characterized by unusual social interaction and communication skills. Aspies, as people with the condition like to call themselves, often have normal or above-average intelligence, but they have trouble making friends and lack the intuitive ability to gauge social situations. They fail to make eye contact and often exhibit a single-minded fixation that can be both bizarre and brilliant.
By definition, people with Asperger’s are outside the mainstream. Even so, in recent months the syndrome has been cast into the limelight. “Look Me in the Eye,” a memoir about living with Asperger’s by John Elder Robison, who once created special effects for the rock band Kiss, has been a best-seller. In August, the Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic Tim Page wrote a poignant article for The New Yorker about life with undiagnosed Asperger’s.
Mr. Robison says the popular appeal of these stories may be due, in part, to the tendency of people with Asperger’s to be painfully direct — they lack the social filter that prevents other people from speaking their minds.
“It’s important because the world needs to know that there are tremendous differences in human behavior,” said Mr. Robison, whose brother is the writer Augusten Burroughs. “People are all too willing to throw away someone because they don’t respond the way they want. I think books like mine tell the world that there is more to us than that.”
But while Mr. Robison and Mr. Page tell the story of coping with Asperger’s from the perspective of men in their 50s, Heather Kuzmich is just beginning her life as an adult with the disorder. And it is often painful to watch her transition from socially awkward adolescent to socially awkward adult.
A gifted art student from Valparaiso, Ind., she has a lean and angular look well suited to the fashion industry. But her beauty doesn’t mask the challenges of Asperger’s. The show requires her to live in a house with 12 other would-be models, and cattiness and backbiting ensue. Early in the show, she appears socially isolated, the girls whisper about her within earshot, and viewers see her crying on the phone to her mother.
One girl is frustrated when Heather, concentrating on packing a bag, doesn’t hear a request to move out of the way. At one point, the others laugh when they stake out their beds and Heather has no place to sleep.
“I wish I could get the joke,” Heather laments.
“You. You’re the joke,” retorts another model, Bianca, an 18-year-old college student who is from Queens.
But while Heather’s odd mannerisms separate her from her roommates, those same traits translate as on-the-edge high fashion in her modeling sessions. In interviews on camera, she often glances to the side, unable to hold eye contact. But Ms. Banks, the ’60s-era model Twiggy and the fashion photographer Nigel Barker, who all appear on the show, marvel at Heather’s ability to connect with the camera. The pop star Enrique Iglesias is so taken by her haunting looks that he chooses her for a featured role in a music video.
In an interview last week, Ms. Kuzmich played down the conflict with the other contestants, saying many more “civilized” exchanges weren’t broadcast. “They didn’t make fun of me that much,” she said.
She tried out for the show, she explained, partly to test her own limits. “It was a point in my life where I was thinking either Asperger’s was going to define me or I was going to be able to work around it,” she said.
To her surprise, she was voted the viewer favorite eight weeks in a row, making her one of the most popular contestants in the show’s four-and-a-half-year history. “I’m used to people kind of ignoring me,” she said in the interview. “At first I was really worried people would laugh at me because I was so very awkward. I got the exact opposite.”
Heather made it to the top five, but flubbed her lines while filming a commercial. Later, she got hopelessly lost in Beijing, managing to meet with only one out of five fashion designers. She was eliminated last week, but has since made appearances on “Good Morning America” and “Access Hollywood.” She says she hopes to continue modeling and eventually become a national spokeswoman for Asperger’s.
“I had no idea it would be this big,” she said. “My mom is beside herself. She watched me when I was a kid not have any friends, and she saw me struggle. She’s glad people are starting to understand this.”