Tag Archives: autism

Search Engine Saga Continues…

10 Jul

You may recall my post about Googling autism and the horrific things that popped up. I then did a follow up, sharing Google’s response as well as my findings on other popular search engines.

I decided to re-examine search engine suggestions and here is what I found today… (click to enlarge)

GoogleAutism

On the whole… the results look pretty similar to the way they did 3 months ago. Some things have changed…slightly…like some of the #1 suggestions being positive rather than negative. But there is certainly still work to be done, as at least half of the searches still propose murder. I get that some people will always think those with autism are “annoying” or “rude”. And as much as I wish that wasn’t the case…I know that ignorance and entitlement to opions are going to exist. But, death wishes are unacceptable. This kind of hatred needs to end. Any response, Google??

Prom Night

30 Apr

This story has been going around Facebook and I wanted to share it… (click to enlarge)

Prom

This picture has gone viral with thousands of “likes” and hundreds of thousands of “shares”. I think what people love about it is that it serves as a reminder that there are kind, loving people out there. There are people who want to bridge the social gaps between typical kids and their special needs peers. There are people who see beyond diagnoses and disabilities. There are people who love, unconditionally.

Good for that school for having a club to bring peers together. It’s clearly making an impact.

I only wish this dad would post a follow up letting us know how Jon felt about going to Prom 🙂

Happy Birthday Dyl!

14 Apr

Dylan’s birthday party was this weekend. He gets really excited about his birthday every year. He loves parties and piñatas and cakes and candles. This year he chose to have a bowling party, and he got to celebrate with friends and family. But the best part (as it is every year), was singing to him during cake time.

You see, what my brother loves most about his birthday is the Happy Birthday Song. I mean, he LOVES it. He squeals with delight, smiles from ear to ear, and the joy he gets from people singing it to him is unparalleled and extremely contagious. His excitement is ridiculously adorable, and it’s the highlight of all his parties. Here are some pictures from PhotoStro.com, which captured his priceless expressions. I dare you not to smile…

DylBdayPix

10 years ago

9 Apr

JPG2719

 On this very day, 10 years ago, my littlest brother Dylan was born. I remember spending the day at the hospital with my siblings waiting for him to come. I was so excited when I finally got to hold him. I think I even skipped school the next day to be able to hang out at the hospital again. I was a Junior in high school at the time. And, I remember bringing his chocolate bar birth announcements to school with me and sharing with my friends.  I was so excited to have another baby brother!

My family and I had no idea the impact his little life would have on so many. But here we are, 10 years later, doing our part to share our experiences with those finding themselves on similar journeys. I know he will continue to inspire others, make them laugh, and maybe even change people’s perceptions. The effect he’s had on the world, unknowingly, in just one decade…incredible. I’m excited to see what the next 10 years bring us. But then again… can he just stay little, please?

Happy Birthday Little D!

Autism Awareness Month

4 Apr

I wrote this 2 years ago, in honor of World Autism Awareness Day, and ended up not sharing it…Until now.

“April 2, 2011- I thought long and hard about what to write for today. I came up with this… an honest look at what autism means to me.

Autism means heartache. It means fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of vaccines, fear of the future, fear of stagnation, fear of stigmatization, fear of failure, fear for safety, fear for when I’m gone. It means a family changed forever. It means loss. It means sadness, and anger, and hopelessness. It means worry, and panic and anxiety. Autism means pain beyond words. It means planning, and hoping and wondering and wishing. It means praying in tears for a cure, or even just for progress. It means a broken relationship. It means behaviors, and stims, and prompting, and teaching. It means uncertainty. It means waiting. It means denial, and repression. It means powerlessness, and inability. It means guilt. It means inadequacy, and unbearable hurt that I can’t take autism away. It means tough love, and pushing for more, and not giving up. It means the life I wish for my brother may never happen for him. It means the relationship I wish to have with my brother may never happen for me. Autism means making the best out of what you have. It means looking for the silver lining in everything. It means quirkiness. It means screaming and crying and tantrums and aggression. It means repetition and routine. It means triumph in every small victory. It means pride in every accomplishment, because they were so much harder to achieve. It means being aware. It means devastation. It means despair. It means frustration and hatred and boiling blood. Autism means sorrow and longing. It means different. It means embarrassment. It means never being satiated. It means advocacy and fighting and educating. It means a life-long battle. It means silliness. It means being perplexed and stuck. It means dichotomy. It means ambivalence. It means being misunderstood. Autism means caring, and compassion, and sympathy and empathy. It means a sweet smile. It means hugs and kisses worth more than a million bucks. It means redefining. Redefining success, redefining hope, redefining progress, redefining values, and strategies, and priorities. Autism means struggle. Struggle for the afflicted, struggle for their families. Autism means strength. Autism means weakness. Autism means faith. It means a new direction. It means helping. Autism means broken hearts. Autism means passion. It means finding joy and elation in every feat. It means never giving up. Autism means unconditional love.”

It was interesting for me to go back and read where I was at in 2011. I remembered writing about the gut-wrenching pain of autism, and just how many emotions a person can have about it. I didn’t remember my piece being quite so… What’s the right word?….depressing?? I can see that I’m in a different place, emotionally, now than I was back then. Not that the deep pain of autism has disappeared! No, I don’t suspect that it ever will. But I have seen so much progress in my brother that it’s allowed even more hope and excitement and pride to come in. (Those have been there all along, by the way.) All of the hardship and turmoil remains. I don’t think I’ll ever NOT be sad that I can’t have the type of relationship with my brother that I would like to have. But, I am just so overwhelmed with happiness and gratefulness for the relationship I do have with him. And I don’t think I’ll ever NOT be heartbroken that he may not have the life I wish he could have. But I’m determined (like the rest of my family) to make sure he has the best life he can.

He makes me smile unendingly. He makes me laugh, and beam, and he motivates me to do what I do. Autism is a beast. But it will never take away how remarkable my little brother is. And, let me just say, he’s pretty darn remarkable!

AngDyl

So tall…

1 Apr

My brother turns 10 soon.

 

I visited him yesterday for the first time since Christmas. Even though my mom and his dad live within minutes of me, I find that I get so busy with work and church and friends and my husband and everything else going on. Life gets in the way, and I’m not able to visit him as often as I’d like to. But I got to see him yesterday to drop off an Easter basket, and when I walked in, I was shocked….

 

He was so tall!!!

 

Somewhere between December 25th and March 31st, my little baby brother grew what seems like a mile. Okay, so it was probably 3 inches or so… but oh my gosh! He was huge!!

 

It made me sad. I know that’s typically a parental response… sadness that their little baby is growing up. But I felt it! My little brother, my Little D, was not little! And, I realized I can no longer carry him (not easily, anyway). I know I picked him up to get my goodbye hug on Christmas. I had no idea that would be the last time I’d be able to lift him.

 

Where did the time go? How did he get so big?

 

It was a loud reminder of the fact that he’s getting older, and he’s maturing. And, while it’s sad on the one hand, it’s also extremely exciting on the other hand. He has come such a long way. He amazes me everytime I see him. Literally. Everytime.

 

The way he gains people’s attention by calling their names…

The way he asks questions…

The way he asks for help…

The way he writes and spells….

Even the way he cooperats with calming techniques when he’s frustrated….

 

He’s so awesome. And even though he’s up to my chest now… He’ll forver be my Little D.

1 in 50

21 Mar

Yep, you heard right. The CDC announced yesterday it’s new findings that show 1 in 50 school-age children have autism.

Naturally, articles instantly popped up about how this doesn’t really mean anything, the numbers are the same as they’ve always been. We’re just more “aware”. This article was my favorite: (<— sarcasm)

“You will probably see a lot of headlines about the 1 in 50. Some organizations might even try to use those numbers to scare people, to talk about an “epidemic” or a “tsunami.” But if you look at the numbers and the report itself, you’ll see that overall, the numbers of people born with autism aren’t necessarily increasing dramatically. It’s just that we’re getting better and better at counting them.”- Forbes.com

“We’re betting better and better at counting them”…??? Seriously!?

Are we as a society more “aware”. Of course. Are there probably some percentage of kids who are misdiagnosed and don’t actually have autism? Sure, the same is true of ANY diagnosis. But does that account for the ever-increasing autistic population? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

People LOVE to deny an increase and tell us we’re overreacting to these numbers. If the numbers aren’t increasing…prove it. Show me 1 in 50 sixty-year-old adults with autism.  You can’t! Because they don’t exist!

THAT is the research I’d love to see. If people are so sure that we’re just getting better at recognizing autism, then let’s look at the adults around us and see how many of them currently qualify for an autism diagnosis. How many ADULTS (ages 30, 40, 50, 60+) have autism? Let’s compare those numbers to the numbers we see today.

And for those parents out there who say they agree with this Forbes article, and don’t think there’s a real increase in autism…ask yourself these 2 simple questions:

How many autistic kids do I know?  How many autistic adults (ages 30+) do I know?

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.

12 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

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”…

Bing3

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?

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