What Kinds of Therapies Actually Help Autistic Kids?

At two-and-a-half, my autistic son spoke more often than several other kids in his regional center-funded speech and language class. Two years later, several of those kids talked non-stop, whereas my son continued to speak only occasionally, and mostly kept his own counsel. We parents of those kids constantly compared notes, as parents of autistic kids often do, about the differences in our kids' speaking abilities. Which different therapies and interventions were our kids receiving? How did they make a difference, and why? ...more
The three paragraphs about ABA are very wrong. We sometimes focus on compliance because that's ...more

Happy 15th to Our Resident Dude

Low fat low sugar cupcakes -- that Leo graciously ate anyhow[image: yellow cupcakes with pipedchocolate frosting.] Leo's 15th birthday was two days ago. There was much cupcaking, over three birthday events over two days -- which meant three iterations of being sung Happy Birthday, which Leo looooved.He also enjoyed the cupcakes I made for him even though they were from a low sugar, low fat recipe. I ate one, and it wasn't .. ....more

5 Reasons Autism Communities Are Divided (and Why That’s Not Necessarily a Bad Thing)

I hate conflict, yet the autism corners of the Internet -- where I spent most of my online time -- are rarely without it. So I get why well-intentioned parents and professionals periodically send out can't we all just get along calls for "autism unity," because I want things to be smoother for all of us, too. ...more
"spent decades being silenced" We're still silenced. Groups like Autism speaks have a megaphone, ...more

Pumpkin Patches and Mezcal

Autism acceptance doesn't magically turn Leo's or my life into sugar-topped cakewalks, just so you know. (Allow me a smidge of irritation over how often Pollyanna charges gets leveled at us.)I accept that many things are hard for Leo because he's autistic, that I can't understand why they're hard if I approach those roadblocks like a non-autistic person would, but that if I try to see and understand matters from his perspective -- his unique autistic perspective -- things get easier for both of us.But I can't make everything in his life about being autistic either, because that means I end up underestimating him in other ways, specifically regarding how much he is maturing. Oftentimes, I'm the one who's lagging behind, in terms of adjusting to the sometimes decreasing amounts of backup Leo needs to navigate this world.An example: last week, after several days of promising Leo I'd take him to a jumpy house pumpkin patch, I finally managed to get him and Mali to the closest one ....more

Achievement Unlocked

[image: white teen girl with long curly dark blonde hair holding up her new driver's license.] This kid is now a licensed driver. In the scant few hours since getting her license, she has:1) Driven to a friend's house in another city2) Driven herself to and from soccer practice3) Decided that she wanted a specific kind of snack from the grocery store, drove herself there, and paid for the snack with her own money (did I mention that she also has a job?)All good things, all good things. All really weird things....more

Don't Blame Autistic People, or Mental Illness, For Mass Shootings

The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) felt compelled to issue a statement debunking media myths linking autism and mental illness with violence: "Recent media reports have attempted to suggest a link between individuals on the autism spectrum and violent behavior. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network [ASAN] is concerned by the proliferation of misinformation which may contribute to increased stigma and discrimination against Autistic Americans. Autistic people are no more likely than any other group to commit acts of violence ....more

No, He Really Can't Have It. Please Don't Sabotage My Child's Special Diet!

My son Leo is on a medically managed diet. Which is easily manageable, as long as we plan ahead. Every so often, though, we find ourselves in social situations with dietary complications, and encounter folks who dismiss our, "I’m sorry, he can't eat that," with, "But why can't he have just one bite? Surely that won't hurt." 

 If you've ever been that causally dismissive person, I'm asking you to please stop. Please stop right there. And listen hard, and then repeat: Do NOT contradict someone who has told you their child can't have a certain food. Don't do it. Just don't. Again, please. ...more
An uncle actually told me once that if I just prayed over my food I could eat it.  I have ...more


[image: black and white photo of a white teen boy holding the book NeuroTribes, in front of bookstore shelves.] You probably know, if you know us, that a chapter in Steve Silberman's new book NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity is about Leo. The chapter is called "The Boy Who Loves Green Straws," and is excerpted here, at Science Friday(!!)....more

Autism's Past, Present, and Future: An Interview With 'NeuroTribes' Author Steve Silberman

Steve Silberman is not the first writer to invest a significant chunk of his life in a book about autism. But he's the first whose book NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, does right by autistic people, and those who care about them. ...more
I wish that Lydia Brown and Ari Ne'eman had been around seventy years ago to fight for my great ...more

Get This Book: Sunny Side Up

[image: Light blue book cover with Sunny Side Up in white textabove an illustration of a blondelittle girl in a pink bathing suitlying on a pool raft.] The kids and I are long-time fans of Jennifer and Matt Holm's graphic novels Babymouse and Squish. So we are extra-excited about their new non-Babymouse, non-Squish graphic novel Sunny Side Up, about a ten-year-old girl, Sunny, whose planned idyllic friends-filled summer is upended when she suddenly and without explanation goes instead to stay with her grandfather in a Florida retirement community.Sunny Side Up is full of the characteristic Holm humor -- with bonus alligators (it does take place in Florida). I actually read it when my kids and I were staying with their own grandparent -- my mother (through she lives in a condo, not a colony) ....more