Friday, April 27, 2007

Book Review: Children's Fiction

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis
Did you ever watch that wildlife show with Marlon Perkins that was on Sunday nights before "Wonderful World of Disney"? Marlon Perkins was so unflappable and smart, like a scholarly grandfather. Emma-Jean is sort of like Perkins, observing the behavior of her fellow 7th graders at William Gladstone Middle School. Their antics are quite messy and illogical, according to her. But they don't bother with her much, so she is free to observe them at her liesure. But one day she stumbles on Colleen Pomerantz crying her eyes out in the girls' bathroom, and Emma-Jean decides to see if she can apply her knowledge and intellectual abilities to solving Colleen's problem. To her great satisfaction, Emma-Jean's efforts are successful. This leads her to try to fix the problems of other students and some teachers at her school. What happens next teaches Emma-Jean a lot about matters of the heart and the mind.
It's hard for me to be subjective about this book. I devoured it in about a day and absolutely loved it. Though it is never stated, Emma-Jean displays many hallmarks of high functioning quirky kids on the autism spectrum. What is so cool is that Emma-Jean may be odd, but she is not really any stranger than the kids at the public school she attends. And by the end of the book, Emma-Jean takes her place among them - even though she is a bit odd, she finds a way to belong. Phew! Even thinking about it now makes me a little bit verklempt. I truly hope kids take to this book - it's got such a positive, affirmative message - we are all different, and we all belong.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Spanish Language Site

Here is a web site providing information and support for Spanish-speaking parents of children with autism.

I found this on my colleague Ellen's blog. Thank you, Ellen for your encouragement and hard work on behalf of families of autistic children!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

TV Show Alert

Nick News on the Nickelodeon network is broadcasting a show entitled "Private Worlds: Kids and Autism" on Sunday, April 22. It will be hosted by Linda Ellerbee and profile one child with autism, one with Asperger's and one with savant abilities. Temple Grandin also appears, asking kids not to tease their classmates with autism.
More details here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

New Early Diagnosis Test

Found this on the Special Education Law Blog:
Researchers have discovered that something as simple as calling out a baby's name to see if he or she responds could be the first step in early diagnosis of autism. "If a child fails the test at 12 months, they're highly likely to have some abnormal developmental outcome that could probably respond to therapy," said Dr. Sally Ozonoff, a professor at the University of California, Davis' M.I.N.D. institute.
Full article here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sensory Wall

An Occupational Therapist has designed a wall that helps kids with sensory integration issues. The article includes this description of SID:
"It's like when you are watching television," explained Merrin Brown, registered occupational therapist at BMH and team leader for Blount County Schools. "You are using your sense of sight, sound, touch and also taste if you are eating. You are also using cognition to enjoy your favorite show. But if the dog starts barking or the kids are screaming or the phone rings, you will either get frustrated or yell at someone to be quiet. With children with sensory needs, it's like that every day."

Monday, April 16, 2007


It's National Library Week! If you haven't visited your local public library lately, give it a try. There's lots of good stuff there, including DVDs, magazines, and books. Check out what they have on ASDs - you might be pleasantly surprised. And it's a lot cheaper to borrow books than to buy them!
In celebration of reading, here is a heartwarming story from a mom with two children on the spectrum.
"...when my twins were diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, I could feel my legs go numb as I read all the things an autistic child might never do. One of my favorite activities with my children has always been reading books to them; could it be they would never share that joy? Would I never hear them read "Go, Dog. Go!" to me?"
"...although there are many fears for our children, they can reward you with wonderful surprises, just like a colorful flower suddenly pops from the barren and cold ground. It was there the whole time, just waiting for everything to come together."

Monday, April 09, 2007

Did Mr. Darcy Have Asperger's?

At first I thought this was a bit silly, but upon further reflection, maybe it demonstrates that people on the spectrum have been around for a very long time, and represent a predictable, recurring aspect of human nature.

I may touch more on this after I finish reading Unstrange Minds, a new book on autism written by a medical anthropologist. It explores the labels we give to different human behaviors. So far it is really good.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Learning Social Skills by Watching

Two new studies at Indiana University demonstrate that videos depicting exemplary behaviors can be effective in helping children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders develop social skills and daily living skills.
Details here.