Tag Archives: ASD

Autism Tattoos – Part 2

10 Mar

In January I did a post featuring reader submissions of autism tattoos (you can see that post here). My sister’s tattoo that she had done for our brother was my inspiration for that post. This is my sister and her tattoo…

Lyss

I decided to do a follow up “Part 2” and share more autism related tattoos after the amazing response I got for my original post. Once again, there was no shortage of family members and friends who had decorated their bodies with symbols of autism. And interestingly, this round there was a strong butterfly theme! Whether to promote awareness, spark conversation, or to serve as inspiration, motivation and a reminder, people show their love by their tattoos. Here they are… click to enlarge.

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Search Engine Nightmare- Part 2

3 Mar

After posting on Friday about the terrible issue with Googling about autism, an old high-school friend of mine who works for Google got in touch with me. He sent my blog to a co-worker in charge of the search predictions, who had this response:

“We are aware of the problem, and as you rightly noted, these predictions violate our policies on hate speech. We have a bug open to get rid of them – a solution should be live soon. Feel free to tell your friend that we’re aware of the problem and working to fix it.”

My friend went on to tell me,

“We (at Google) don’t like seeing this stuff any more than you do, and we wish it was easier to keep it off the site. It’s just a constant losing battle so things will always slip through. I’d be happy to continue championing the autism cleanup for you, though.”

So, I’d say that sounds pretty good. They know it’s happening. They agree it’s wrong. They’re going to fix it. And, I’ve been personally assured that at least 1 person out there at Google will fight this fight alongside the rest of us. I believe the only thing left to do (after fixing it of course) is for Google to publicly acknowledge what happened, and how they feel about it. I know the autism community would appreciate the support. I look forward to progress being made here.

In other news…I decided to try my luck with 2 of the other largest search engine sites. Here’s what I found on Yahoo!:

Yahoo1

Besides the shocking “demon possessed” suggestion, and a couple of other hurtful results, the rest were FAR less violent  than what I found on Google. Then, I was impressed when I saw these:

Yahoo2

It appears Yahoo! has put something into place to block any suggestions from coming up when you search “need” or “should” in relation to autistic people. Good for them! And I was pleased to see the positive choices that come up when searching about autistic people. So besides a few that still slipped through (which I hope Yahoo! will address and delete), Yahoo! offered significantly more positive options, and significantly less hateful ones.

Next, I tried Bing. Here’s what I found:

Bing1

Ugh. Several suggestions of death, danger, and evil. Not good!!

Bing2

Okay…now we’re getting somewhere. Still mixed results, but at least I’m seeing some positive ideas like “smart” and “superior souls”…

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Ah-hah….just like Yahoo!  it appears Bing has blocked any results from popping up for a couple of those phrases. Good effort! Unfortunately, although they’ve safe-guarded “autistic kids should”, searching “autistic people should” still resulted in a death suggestion. So, they’ve still got work to do! Bing certainly needs to clean up some of the suggestions they offer up regarding autism.

Overall, Yahoo! seemed to offer the least damaging results when searching about autism. In comparison to Google, their results were significantly less inflammatory. Google remains the most saturated with hateful suggestions. And Bing seems to be in the middle, offering both very negative and some positive results.

My take-away- The fact that these search engines are displaying disturbing content in regards to autism boils down to the simple fact that THOSE are the most common searches conducted. The search engines need to take responsibility for what they are allowing on their websites, and should be actively working to eliminate the hatred they are promoting. But the bigger picture is not about a website that automatically offers popular searches…. it’s that the most popular searches about autism are hateful, violent, and just plain evil. It’s that the world at large still has dangerous attitudes and beliefs about people with ASD.

I cannot wrap my head around what would possess someone to sit at their computer and type that any people group should “die” or “be killed”.  I’m baffled at why ANYONE would say those things, much less why A TON of people would say those things.

It’s depressing that with all the knowledge out there that people are still so uninformed and so aggressive towards people with autism. How could people out there think these horrible things about people like my little brother? I don’t understand.

All I can hope is that once these search engines have fully erased all the hateful suggestions, people will start seeing positive things pop-up about autism. And, maybe…just maybe…that exposure will change people’s minds. Beyond that, we in the autism community can continue to do our best to promote acceptance and understanding, letting our patience and love be an example to others.

We live in such a sad and broken world….

Search Engine Nightmare

1 Mar

Some of you may have already heard about this…

I read an article today stating that Google’s “auto-complete” feature (which gives you suggestions as you type to help finish your sentences, based on the most popular searches) is working to get rid of hateful suggestions for autism related searches. Apparently when Googling about autism, some horrible things would come up. I had no idea. The article I saw said Google would fix this issue. Phew! But, I decided to Google various autism related word combinations and see what suggestions would appear….Just in case….

And unfortunately, I can say with 100% certainty, that Google has NOT resolved this issue yet. This is what I found when I searched…

***Disclaimer*** Please be advised: The language and suggestions below are disgusting.

Google1

 

And just when I thought it couldn’t get worse…

 

Google2

 

So… who’s to blame? Google??? Well… partially. There are certain phrases that just shouldn’t pop up when you’re searching something. They should take responsibility for what they are actually “suggesting” that people search. But how do they even come up with these suggestions? They’re based on the most popular searches! So who else is to blame?? Whoever is searching these phrases!

Is this real? Do people really type these things into their browsers? Who is searching these things? What are they trying to find online by typing these things? I don’t understand.

But, I guarantee that these “suggestions” popping up when people are searching OTHER autism related phrases is only helping to perpetuate the myths and fears and misconceptions. Heck, if I Googled a disorder I knew nothing about and the first things that came up were “violent”, “evil”, “dangerous”, “retarded”, “rude” and “should die”…I’d be freaked out!!! I’d be pretty afraid and I’d want to keep my distance!

So…my guess is, by Google offering up these choices for people to select from when they’re typing about autism, people end up clicking on those options, even if that’s not what they intended to search for originally. Therein lie the issue. People clicking on these suggestions (because they’re what pops up) likely contributes to making those phrases the “most searched”. Thus, they keep showing up as suggestions. It’s a terrible cycle!

So…short of every person who is outraged by this Googling POSITIVE autism related phrases in an attempt to make those the most searched terms… what can be done?

Some new letters…

23 Feb

I have had an amazing past week. On Thursday and Friday I got to attend my states regional ABA conference. I heard lots of thought provoking and informative presentations. (More to come on this!)

Our Keynote speaker was Julie Vargas. Julie just happens to be the daughter of BF Skinner. Skinner, of course, is one of the most influential behaviorists to ever live. His discoveries and theories are still widely used today.

Then, as if my day could have gotten any better…it did!

I found out that I get to add some new letters to my name. I passed my BCBA exam! I am now a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

After years of hard work and studying, I’m celebrating this big success and looking forward to the new opportunities this will afford me. I’m also relishing that this huge milestone along the path I’ve chosen goes all the way back to my little brother being diagnosed 7 years ago. 🙂

There is a reason for everything.

Yours Truly,

Angelina, MS, BCBA, MFTI 😉

Premack Principle

9 Feb

I’m working with a mom who’s young son was recently diagnosed with autism. In helping her think of ways to help him eat protein, I mentioned the Premack Principle (based on David Premack’s research). I did my best to explain it to her, but I wanted to provide her with some type of handout on this strategy; a little cheat sheet perhaps. I searched online and found nothing of the sort. Some definitions and Wiki pages, sure. But no quick-guide to give to parents. So, I created one. Feel free to share with anyone you know who might find this helpful.  The awesome thing about this is that it can be used with people of all ages and abilities! (Click to enlarge)

PremackHANDOUT

Autism Tattoos

20 Jan

A few months back my sister surprised everyone when she got a tattoo for her birthday. I never suspected her as ‘the tattoo type’. But what she got, and why she got it, is really heart warming, and shows just how much our brother, and his diagnosis means to her. This is her tattoo, and her story.

Lyss

“I got my Autism tattoo for my little brother Dylan. I decided to get the tattoo after a rough transition he was going through last summer. The tattoo reminds me why I work so hard as an ABA therapist and as a sister. No matter how hard things get, he is still so amazing to me. Dylan and I used to spend every Wednesday together. I would pick him up from school, play, swim, bake, and snuggle on the couch with him. I no longer get those days with him because of work, and that’s another reason I got my tattoo. I still see him frequently and still do my traditions with him like take him to the pumpkin patch, go trick or treating and wake up early with him on Christmas day. I do a lot more than the average sister would, but its all worth it in the end. Today Dylan is doing amazing, he just received his second award from school for reading/ writing. I couldn’t be more proud of him. So even though we will have more hard days to come, I will always look past them and remember it’s all worth it.”- Alyssa

I reached out on my Facebook account to find others who had autism related tattoos, and the response was incredible. So many people made it their mission to decorate their bodies with some symbol of autism. Whether for spreading awareness, or as a personal reminder, parents and siblings show their love in their tattoos. Here is the autism artwork that was sent in. (Click to enlarge)

(EDIT: Click here to see my follow up to this post…Autism Tattoos 2!)

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Miss America

10 Jan

alexis

Alexis Wineman is 18 years old, and will be competing in Saturday’s Miss America pageant, representing her home state of Montana. She’s not only the youngest contestant, but also the first ever autistic contestant.

She is a beautiful young lady, and she has set out to do amazing things. She is already involved with several autism related organizations, speaks at various conventions, and her platform “ Normal is Just a Dryer Setting: Living with Autism” centers on building autism awareness and acceptance.

As she said, “Being on the spectrum is not a death sentence, but a life adventure, and one that I realize has been given to me for a reason.”

Amen sister! I feel the same way, even being on the other side of the coin. I’ve always known my brother’s autism diagnosis was for a reason.

So, count me in as one of the millions of Miss Montana supporters. This girl is going to do great things, and already has.

Way to go Alexis!!

And, don’t forget to tune into the Miss America pageant Saturday January 12, at 9 PM EST.

Links to her story:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2259242/Alexis-Wineman-Miss-America-hopeful-opens-life-autism-makes-bid-national-title.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2013/01/10/miss-montana-alexis-wineman-to-become-first-autistic-miss-america-contestant/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/10/alexis-wineman-miss-america-montana-autistic_n_2448848.html

http://thelook.today.com/_news/2013/01/10/16447581-miss-montana-is-first-autistic-contestant-for-miss-america

http://helenair.com/news/local/miss-montana-speaks-at-autism-convention-in-helena/article_b3eae75c-09f8-11e2-bb92-001a4bcf887a.html

Not Forgotten

28 Dec

I said goodbye to a long time client earlier this year, after working with him for over 3 years.

On our last day we wrote a social story about saying goodbye. We took turns filling in the pages; I’d write a sentence, he’d write a sentence. And he got to draw all the pictures. This was our story….

*His name, and the names of his other therapists have been taken out.

SocialStory1

SocialStory2

SocialStory3

It was the perfect way to end our time together: with a story. He even got a kick out of drawing the picture of me with tears. When I wrote “Angelina would miss ___” He looked at me and asked, “Angelina is sad?” I told him, “Yes, it’s sad to say goodbye”. He proceeded to laugh hysterically. He thought it was great to draw me crying. *Shaking my head*

Anyways…9 months after our last session, I saw this client again last week. He attended my company’s client Christmas party. I saw him from behind and couldn’t believe how big he had gotten. I tapped him and exclaimed, “Hi ___!!!!” He turned around, looked at me, and without hesitation he said, “Hi Angelina.”

He remembered me!!!!

I was sooooo happy he remembered me. Without a pause, he knew right away who I was. I gave him a huge hug and told him I missed him and that he was so big.

It was really great to see him again, and I was so glad to see he still knows who I am. After spending so many years together, I would expect him to know who I am. But, you never know with our kiddos what they might recall and what they might not. It was an awesome run-in. And, he has no idea how special it was for me to see him again and have him remember me like it was just yesterday that we worked together 🙂

Merry Christmas

27 Dec

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

I know I did!

I’m so behind and have so much to share…

First was Dylan’s school performance. He rocked it. Seriously. His rendition of Feliz Navidad was one of my favorites. He stood on stage so nicely and sang along to most of the songs. He would look over and smile at me every few minutes. He knew I was so proud of him.

Then, last week I got to take Little D to see Santa. The company I work for put on a big Christmas party for their clients. They had arts and crafts and of course, Santa. Dylan did so well at the party! He participated. He followed rules. He greeted. He made eye contact. And he smiled nicely with Santa.

On Christmas I got to celebrate with him again. We have a tradition, he and I. We do a gingerbread house together every year. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and didn’t get to do it Tuesday. But, I still gave him one and I know he will enjoy building it. He was engaged and participating in most of the Christmas celebration. My husband and I both noticed how much calmer he was this year, as compared with years past. Every year he seems to be doing better and better with holidays. He did an awesome job, and he really enjoyed opening all his presents.

Here’s a photo summary of my Christmas with Dyl.

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Siblings- Part 2

12 Dec

I saw an article online today entitled, “Autism’s Invisible Victims: The Siblings,” by Barbara Cain.

You can read the full article here.

This is the last paragraph, and I thought it summed things up very nicely:

“Autism isn’t just a health crisis; it’s a family crisis that impacts all members. Sometimes the impact on siblings can be positive. Aware of their comparative good fortune, these siblings were inclined toward sacrifice and mature beyond their years. Most were prepared to assume full responsibility for adult siblings in later years, and many enter an array of helping professions. But until we recognize autism’s collateral effects and attend to the special needs of the whole family, we will not really be grappling with the far-reaching but deeply felt impact of this disorder.

What I love about that last paragraph is how it mentions some good things that come from having an autistic sibling, while not negating the potentially ‘bad’ things that come with it.

I appreciate the writer’s attempt to enlighten families about the unseen impact of autism on the siblings. Often,  the deep effects go unnoticed. Sure, most parents are aware that sometimes siblings feel neglected or forgotten. Most parents have heard that kids can be jealous of autistic siblings sometimes. But do most parents know that siblings might feel pressured to grow up, to take on responsibilities they weren’t ready for? Do most parents know some siblings may have social stressors revolving around peers making fun of their autistic sibling, or the fact that they may not want friends coming over for fear of their sibling embarrassing them, or that they may have a hard time relating to friends because their life is so drenched in all things autism? There are a million and one ways autism might effect a sibling. So what I think the author was trying to say, and what I would like to echo, is that you just don’t know all the ways autism might be effecting your other children. You might find autism to be a huge blessing and a wonderful thing that should be celebrated, not lamented. But it doesn’t mean your other children feel that way. Be aware. Be alert. Be attentive. And never, ever, overlook or deny a sibling’s experience. And, like the article said, some great things just might sprout from your child having an autistic sibling.

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