Positively Autism


"Top 10 Lists"
Volume 2, Issue 2 ~ February, 2007

This issue contains...


Ten Things I've Learned from My Students with Autism


Ten Questions with Ellen Notbohm


Busy Bee Book Review -
"Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew" by Ellen Notbohm



Positive Autism News

Ten Positive Characteristics of Autism



Product of the Month




New Resources on Positively Autism



Thank You/Future Issue Contents
More details about what's coming up next month!





Ten Things I've Learned from My Students with Autism

1

Take time to appreciate the simple things.
In a busy society people tend to forget to take time to appreciate simple things. I remember a time when I saw one of my students with autism walking away from the group at the playground, and toward the far edge of the fence. I followed him in order to guide him back to the group, but was pleasantly surprised with what I saw when I arrived at the fence. He had picked up the "seed puff" of a dandelion plant. He looked up at me, smiled, then blew gently on the plant. We both smiled and watched the seeds fly through the air.

2

A schedule is helpful for everyone.
A schedule (whether in text, pictures, or a combination), can benefit all students by letting them know what to expect, but it also helps the teacher! I have found that having one posted helps keep me on track, as well as the students. It is our job as educators and parents to find a way to balance scheduled activities with necessary flexibility (such as a fire drill or unannounced visitor to the classroom).

3

No two individuals with autism are the same.
I've met students who are very verbal, and some who do not communicate with spoken words. I have met students who are very social, and students who prefer to work alone. There are specific diagnostic criteria for autism, Asperger's Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), but individuals are not required to meet all of the criteria, just a specified percentage. This, among other factors, may account for the wide variations among students with the same diagnosis. It takes time to get to know individuals, and how to best meet their unique needs.

4

All children can learn.
Some children may need more visual aids, some children may need to be taught in small steps, some children may need behavior supports, some work best independently or in a small group, but they all can learn! It is up to teachers, parents, and other educators to discover the way our children learn best, and teach them such that they can be successful. I believe that Ivar Lovass was right when he said, “If a child can’t learn in the way that we teach, then we must teach in a way he can learn.”

5

Social skills really are complicated.
People use "How are you?" more as a greeting than a genuine question; people ask questions that they really don't want an honest answer to; some people pretend to be kind and friendly, when they really are not. And it's a wonder anyone can understand some teen conversations: "So I was like 'whatever,' and she was all 'as if.'”

6

Children with autism can benefit from learning in the “natural environment.”
In many intervention models, children with autism are taught in a one-on-one environment at a table or in a “therapy room.” I certainly see the benefit of this arrangement, and think it is very beneficial for many students. However, I think we sometimes forget the power of learning in a child’s natural environments: the classroom, home, the dinner table, the playground, the grocery store…the list goes on and on. This not only may make learning more comfortable for the child, but helps with generalization of skills to new environments. For example, children can learn requesting skills by asking for preferred games and toys around the house (it helps if the toys are stored in a location that the child can see them, but not get to them by himself, such as a latched box). For more information on this method, conduct a web search for “Incidental Teaching” (this will also be covered in more detail in future issues of Positively Autism). Inclusive classrooms (the “natural environment” at school), can also be a source of great learning opportunities, even when you least expect it. I’ve seen students who often appeared like they were not paying attention to the teacher spontaneously make a comment or ask a question about the topic being discussed. Students also can be very successful with learning centers, independent work, being assigned a classroom job, such as turning off the lights when the class leaves the room, etc. With support and any necessary accommodations from the school and teaching staff, students with autism can be very successful in inclusive classrooms.

7

Believe in each individual’s potential.
I have two favorite quotes on this topic, “Children are apt to live up to what you believe of them,” by Lady Bird Johnson and “Whoever alters a person's expectations changes his behavior,” by Rudolf Dreikurs. I’ve heard so many people make statements like, “Well, he has autism, so he can’t be expected to ________ (do chores, have a job, make friends, etc.).” With the right supports (if needed), I believe that children with autism can, and should, be expected to do these things. If we don’t believe they are capable of these things, will we invest much time in teaching the skills needed to achieve these goals?

8

Penguins can’t fly, but they can walk as fast as a person…The longest rail line in the world is in Russia and is about 5,600 miles long…A galaxy is a grouping of stars, gas, and dust that is kept together by gravity...
You can learn so much about a student’s special interest area by listening to them or, in some cases, watching them. I’ve seen students with limited expressive language, for example, be very proficient at art or using computers. It’s intriguing to think about how these students might use their special interests for their future careers. I read about one person with autism who turned his childhood interest in “The Wizard of Oz,” into a career, so you never know!

9

Consistency is key.
As adults, children look to us for guidance and boundaries, whether it seems obvious to us or not. I think it is very important for both educators and parents to ensure that their expectations for the child, whether in terms of behavior or specifications for assignments/homework, are clear and understood by the child. Visual aids/pictures or models may be helpful. For behavior support systems, it is important to be very consistent when using a reinforcement/reward system (following it consistently and accurately). Examples include rewarding only positive behaviors, as specified in the behavior plan. Although we all know this is difficult with certain behaviors, it’s still important! In Applied Behavior Analysis terms, this is known as the principle of contingency (reinforcement/rewards are given contingent on a particular behavior or behaviors). More information about this topic, including Functional Behavior Analysis, will be covered in future issues.

10

We can't see the see the future for any child.
I have heard many stories from parents of when their child was first diagnosed (often around age 3). Their doctors told them that their child would probably never speak, have a job, or function in society, and would probably live in an institution. Many of these children did not grow up to have that future. I hate to think what might have happened if the parents had listened to the doctors and had lowered their expectations for their children's futures. I have also heard teachers, therapists, and other service providers speak about their young students in similar ways… “He'll never have any friends...he'll never be successful in school…” We're not fortune tellers, and we don't have a crystal ball to view any child's future, so I believe in expecting a positive future for each child. My mentor teacher during my teaching internship shared the following quote with me: “Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.” I believe that we should "shoot for the moon" by having high expectations for each child's future. Even if all of our expectations are not met, the child will still achieve much more than if we didn't have this attitude, and will surely “land among the stars!”

Sincerely,

Nicole Caldwell



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Ten Questions with Ellen Notbohm
Author of “Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew,” “Ten Things Your Student with Autism Wishes You Knew,” and "1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders"

January 22, 2007


Positively Autism: What inspired you to write your books?

Ellen Notbohm: The character and heart my sons displayed in raising me inspired me to write my books, although I was shoved from behind by any number of their teachers along the way. Way back in preschool, Bryce teachers who told me he had ‘something extra,’ that I was raising a ‘special creature,’ that my approach to parenting a child with autism was not typical and that I must write a book. It took me seven years to become ready to write that book, but I needed that time for Bryce and his brother Connor to teach me the things I am now able to share. The growth I saw in Bryce was a result of both his own character and the character and efforts of the many wonderful people who worked with him. I saw problems and challenges that seemed insurmountable overcome, and eventually I saw that the limitations placed on him by autism were largely negotiable, according to how diligent and patient we were willing to be at seeking solutions and answers, and how strongly we believed that nothing about his future was pre-ordained by his autism.


PA: I love the positive attitude toward autism that is expressed in your books. How did you come to have this positive outlook?

EN: I could say it is partly inherited and partly a matter of choosing to be so. My mother and my grandmother is/were both strong, practical women who believed that life is a blessing and that there is no value whatever in crying over split milk or lamenting what might have been. I took a page from them in allowing myself to look only forward. This only makes sense: the past cannot be changed, but the future is an unwritten page. The old adage about not being able to unscramble an omelette is true. However, once you are handed that omelette, it’s your choice whether to put motor oil on it and make it disgusting, or to add any number of items that enhance it. You can even decide that the plain omelette is fine just the way it is. Raising a child with autism means making a thousand choices every day, minute by minute. You will make many of these decisions without even realizing that you exercising choice. Making a conscious choice to be positive in your outlook is perhaps the most singular choice you can make in determining your child’s outcome. For me, it wasn’t hard to see that anger, blame, denial, never-ending grief, bitterness or self-pity wasn’t going to get me or my child anywhere worth going. All of those emotions are normal parts of the grieving process, by the way. It’s natural – and may even be helpful -- to move through them on your way to accepting your child’s different ability. But if you get stuck there – that may be more potentially damaging to your child than is the fact that he has autism.

As Bryce’s childhood unfolded and I could see that he was growing and progressing beautifully, the positive outlook continued to build upon itself. When you live with a small person who is so determined himself to be positive, to like himself and to overcome (or make peace with) his challenges, you come to feel that you yourself can do no less.

And I choose optimism because in no previous generation has there been a better time to be optimistic. Progress in the fields of medicine and education happens every day, and social awareness of autism is growing at an unprecedented pace. The Internet makes it possible for parents like all of us to touch each other’s lives and be interconnected in a manner that has vanquished so much of the despair and isolation felt by many parents of children with autism, especially in the early days following diagnosis. We keep each other strong.


PA: One of the “Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew” is to “Please focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can’t do.” What are some examples of how this can be done?

EN: Many times, it’s a matter reframing our expectations, which may not even be conscious. Parents have a certain expectation of what the parenthood experience will be (or what we want it to be), and when the child doesn’t fulfill those expectations, disappointment rushes in and blocks our childview. I see this a lot in parents. There are those who are sports-and-outdoor minded; they become irritated that their child resists baseball or camping but spends hours alone in his room with his Legos. Parents with musical inclinations are frustrated that their daughter would rather catch bugs in a jar or sort heirloom tomato seed packets. Mom is a world-class cook, but Kyle won’t step foot in the kitchen, busy flooding the bathroom by dismantling the toilet tank to see how it works.

It is the job of all parents to identify their children’s strengths and support their efforts to develop them. The child with the Legos may be a budding architect, engineer or physicist, or he may just enjoy Legos. Find him a Lego club where he can practice his social skills in a group that shares his interest. The daughter with the bug jar and the seed packet needs a garden plot and someone to help her plan it, plant it, tend it and see real results from her interest.

Those are two rather obvious examples, but all children have strengths if only we can adjust our frame of reference to see them. Here’s an exercise that can be helpful in shifting perspective: list some of your child’s challenging behaviors, then rephrase them as positives. Is your child a ‘loner,’ or is he able to entertain himself and work independently? Is she a pest who asks a never-ending stream of questions, or is she curious about what she encounters in the world each day? Is he a compulsive neatnik, or does he have excellent sorting and organizational skills?

You can get some insight into what your child ‘can do’ by reading up a little on the nine learning intelligences, which describe the different ways in which people learn, and how that plays out in their strengths and weaknesses. Many children with autism are visual learners; that is a rather well-known fact. But some of the other intelligences are less well known. For instance, a spatial learner likes to plan, build or draw things he sees in this head, like construction projects or chess moves. He may be good at physics and geometry but poor at spelling and memorizing verbal passages. A kinesthetic learner is your little perpetual-motion machine, a runner, climber, dancer; they learn through the movement of their bodies. Naturalist learners learn best in natural settings among naturally-occurring elements. They may shun typical plastic toys in favor of sticks and stones, and may demonstrate an unusual ability to sort, categorize, organize or preserve information.

It takes practice and conscious effort to see the world through your child’s eyes, but that is the path to understanding and reward.


PA: What advice do you have for parents of children recently diagnosed with autism?

EN: My first piece of advice would be, don’t let yourself become overwhelmed with advice! There can be a tendency to want to go out and read and learn everything there is to know right away, immediately upon diagnosis. This is a great way to burn out before you even get started. So start by knowing that you have lots of time guide your child to adulthood – years and years. Trust the process, believe that progress will come. Explore resources and opportunities as they present, knowing that your child’s needs will grow and change as he travels the developmental timeline. Yours will too – you are also on a developmental journey, and you too have your own unique spot on the spectrum. And don’t become so immersed in autism that you fail to see and celebrate all the typical child-development milestones he will reach as well.

Remember to see your child as a whole person, not a packet of broken parts or a ‘fix-it’ project. His autism does not change the fact that he has thoughts, feelings, ideas, wishes, fears, opinions and preferences just like you or any other person. He also has quirks, flaws and challenges – just like you or any other person. As you guide him, love him unconditionally, as you would want for yourself. To be on the receiving end of messages like “I love you, but...” or “I would love you more if you would just....” is just crushing, whether those messages are spoken or implied. You are the most important relationship in his life, and that relationship will be the single largest determinant of his success in adulthood. If you can’t see him as a capable, interesting and worthwhile person and instill that belief in him, no amount of handing him off to therapists, educators or doctors will make the kind of difference you want to see.


PA: In your book, “Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew,” you describe an Occupational Therapist (OT) as “an indispensable member of any child’s autism team.” What services do OTs provide? What resources and research studies are available regarding occupational therapy and Autism?

EN: The context in which I used that phrase was describing what I consider to be the monumental significance of sensory integration therapy for children with autism. People with typical sensory integration simply have no concept of the chaos that sensory dysfunction causes our kids every second of every day. We may be familiar with obvious signs of sensory distress, such as noises that are too loud, but the sensory difficulties of autism include all seven senses – yes, there are seven, including the little-understood vestibular and proprioceptive senses – as well as how input from all those senses are trying to arrive in the brain at the same time, and the child with autism generally will have trouble processing multiple modalities. In this regard, there is nothing funny at all about not being able to ‘walk and chew gum at the same time.’ That type of sensory dysfunction translates into everyday difficulty such as not being able to listen and take notes at the same time, not being able to eat a meal and converse at the same time, not being able to play a sport (gross motor skills) and remember rules at the same time.

Occupational therapists play that indispensable role in identifying where and when sensory problems are occurring, in designing a sensory ‘diet’ of therapeutic activities – which are generally quite simple – and in constructing a ‘sensory map’ of the child’s daily routine that will prevent sensory overload and its consequences.

Those ‘consequences’ can manifest as many things, a meltdown being the most noticeable. But you may also see self-injury (such as biting oneself), aggressive behavior towards other people or objects, “stims” – repetitious, self-stimulating behaviors, withdrawal. Or you may see physiological signs, such as dizziness, sweating, stomach cramps or flushing/paling of the skin. And it’s important to recognize that hypersensitivity is common in sensory dysfunction, some senses may be hyposensitive – under-responsive. In cases of hypersensitivity, OTs provide strategies calm overstimulated senses. In cases of hyposensitivity, they help us try to alert those senses.

I’m a sensory integration zealot, and I believe that nothing, nothing you do for your child with autism in the way of therapy is more important than recognizing and addressing sensory dysfunction. Sensory dysfunction means that the child is uncomfortable inside his own skin, literally cannot tolerate the environment around him, however ‘normal’ it may seem to you and me. In such as a state, it is unrealistic to expect that any cognitive, emotional or social learning can take place.

Occupational therapists can also play a crucial role in the development of your child’s fine motor and gross motor skills. Handwriting is the skill that jumps to mind first, but think of how difficulty with fine motor skills can complicate everything else in a child’s life, such as dressing himself, feeding himself, brushing teeth and innumerable other self-care tasks. Inability to perform these tasks in an age-appropriate way can spill over into frustration, ‘behavior’ and trampled self-esteem.


PA: “Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew” describes the importance of a positive self-esteem, where individuals with autism do not view themselves as having something “wrong” with them. How can parents and teachers avoid sending this message?

EN: It’s easier than you might think. Start by seeing your child as the whole person that he is – just as you would want to be seen yourself. Every human being on the planet is a work of imperfection, we all have quirks and flaws that we are working on (or should be working on!). Think about your own childhood, or about your current employer, spouse, parent, whatever. Would a constant barrage of criticism, however ‘constructive,’ make you inclined to work harder to please, or does it cause you resentment and resistance? Would you be inclined to work harder for someone who recognizes your strengths and abilities and uses those as a springboard to further learning and achievement? Did you fulfill every expectation your parents (or employers) had for you, and would you like being constantly reminded that you didn’t?

Let your child know that you love him just the way he is, without qualifiers. Celebrate his efforts even more than your celebrate his outcomes. Interact with him at every level you can, and make sure that his life includes things that are fun for him. There is more to life than school, clinics and therapies.


PA: How can a teacher support a student with autism in an inclusive classroom?

EN: This is a very large question, of course. Whole books have been written about it. I wrote a book about it! I can discuss several broad ideas here, but I do it with the caveat that we remember that inclusion is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Inclusion can take place in degrees and increments as appropriate to the individual child. Partial inclusion or phased inclusion may be right for some children; the “right” amount of inclusion may morph and change over time as the child develops, and for some children, inclusion may not be the right model at all.

Having said that, supporting a student with autism in a general education classroom is as much a matter of understanding the core manner in which their way of thinking and responding is different as it is a manner of teaching methods or tactics. These are the Ten Things I discuss in Ten Things Your Student with Autism Wishes You Knew. We’ve already talked here about how the student with ASD experiences sensory inputs differently. It’s important that teachers also understand that nearly all students with autism have a different thinking architecture; it impedes their ability to think abstractly, to generalize information, to take multiple perspectives. This difference in thinking architecture is really rather overwhelming, but absolutely critical to understanding how an ASD child learns. On my website, there is an excerpt from my book that deals with this difficult concept: http://www.ellennotbohm.com/ten_things_student_excerpt.html .

Successful inclusion requires a multidisciplinary team approach coupled with a free exchange of information between all parties. The teacher will be at the core of the team; the composition of the rest of the team will vary from student to student, but at the least should include a special education teacher, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, and the parent. Other specialists such as behavior specialist, nurse, physical therapist, psychologist or adapted PE teacher might be included too.

Teachers need to keep in mind always that most kids with ASD require some form of adaptive communication. Whether it’s visual supports, cleaning up sloppy language (imprecise instructions, slang, idioms, sarcasm) clarifying multi-step directions, slowing down the pace of instruction or allowing extra processing/response time, the burden is on the teacher to ensure that she is communicating in a manner that can be understood. In this regard, a speech/language pathologist runs right alongside that occupational therapist in the ‘indispensable’ category. Many of us neurotypicals confuse the ability to talk with the ability to communicate. Talking is formation of words as achieved by the articulator muscles of the lips, tongue and cheeks. Communication is much more difficult, as it encompasses all the nuance and unspoken meaning embodied in language -- learning to use language flexibly, understanding the abstract nature of it, being able to hold information in your head, synthesize that information, carry it over to a new setting, pull it forward in an efficient manner, make connections between things, read body language. Those are really language-based activities. So everything the kids do in academics is really a language-based activity.


PA: What is the most helpful thing that a school has done for your child?

EN: The single most important thing our elementary school did was create and enforce a zero-tolerance “No Put-Down Zone” throughout the entire school; instances of unkindness were always dealt with promptly, and in a proactive rather than punitive manner whenever possible. This might include a discussion with the principle about why the school demands that students be kind, respectful and helpful to one another, and where the boundaries fall between acceptable behavior and harassment. In some cases, students would write notes of apology. Upon second offenses, letters requiring a parent’s signature went home.

The resource center, located in the heart of the school, was viewed simply as somewhere students went to get extra help, with no stigma attached. During my son’s fourth-grade year, a full 25% of his general education classmates were in the resource center for help with reading or math at some point during the day or week. The school also made a point of filling its unused classrooms with special education preschool classes and a day care center. The diverse population of the school and its emphasis on celebrating all different types of learners put a solid base of self-esteem under all students, which was the best possible launching pad to learning.


PA: In terms of challenging behavior, “10 Things…” gives an overview of using a Functional Behavior Analysis (FBA) to teach positive behaviors. Please give us a brief description of what an FBA is and how it can be used.

EN: The terms can be slightly confusing. A Functional Behavior Assessment is used to pinpoint the cause and effect of behaviors, sometimes called “the ABC of behavior.” It involves identifying the antecedent, or trigger, of the behavior, the behavior itself that we see the child display, and the consequence or result of the behavior. The assessment then becomes part of the Functional Behavior Analysis. FBA can be anything from informal observation to detailed, quantified data collection. Either is best done with the involvement of a person or persons trained in behavior analysis: behaviorist, child development specialist, occupational therapist. A Web search of ‘functional behavior analysis’ will quickly give you several excellent sites with overviews and suggested data collection forms.

I cannot stress enough: identifying the cause of the behavior is more important than identifying the result. If the underlying cause of the behavior – sensory overload, communication failure, biomedical discomfort, emotional distress – is not addressed, any attempt at extinguishing a behavior will only result in a new variation of the behavior. Behavior is always a result of an unmet need, and as long as that need goes unidentified and unmet, you’ll see ‘behavior.’


PA: What would you like to tell us about your new book, “Ten Things Your Student with Autism Wishes You Knew?”

EN: The premise of my book is that all of us are teachers and all of us students, every day, all the time. Learning and teaching are not one-way streets where the teacher’s responsibility is to put forth knowledge and the student’s responsibility is to absorb it. Teachers (and this includes parents and family members) must be willing to learn from their student with autism in order to be able to teach him effectively. We’ve covered some of those big concepts in this interview: that the student with autism is a person whose thoughts generate from a completely different frame of reference, who experiences the environment differently, who requires adapted communication. The force of this ‘circular learning’ is so potent, and so essential: in the course of the book we come to realize that the Ten Things our student with autism wishes his teacher knew are the very same Ten Things s/he needs to teach and instill in him.

Many of the Ten Things discussed in are universal. That is, although they are critical to students with autism, they are applicable and beneficial to all kids, all teachers – all learners.

For book excerpts and articles, or to sign up for Ellen’s newsletter, please visit
www.ellennotbohm.com.

© 2007 Ellen Notbohm
emailme@ellennotbohm.com
www.ellennotbohm.com



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Busy Bee Book Review - Quick, Important Highlights of Books about Autism
"Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew" by Ellen Notbohm

Title: Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew

Author: Ellen Notbohm

Publisher (Date): Future Horizons (2005)

Recommended for: primarily teachers and parents, but also useful for anyone who knows or works with children with autism!

Summary: Based on the popular article of the same title, "10 Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew" describes characteristics of autism from a parent's perspective. Additionally, the book shares educational/intervention methods and the author's personal experiences. Topics covered include sensory issues, visual aids/supports, assessment of behavior, social skills, and self-esteem.

Review: Ellen Notbohm has written an insightful book with a unique perspective on autism. She approaches the book's topics and the parenting of her own children with a positive outlook. As she notes in this issue's interview, this is an important factor that contributes to children's success. The book is a mixture of practical tips and ideas, the author's opinions, and personal stories about raising a child with autism. Entertaining and powerful, this book is a must-read for everyone in the life of a child with autism.



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In the News

Teen with Asperger's Syndrome Shares Photography at Art Gallery
16-Year-Old Sarah Schoenhaar recently displayed around fifty of her color and black-and-white photographs for an art gallery exhibit. This news article describes her art as "quite captivating" and "more intriguing and eye-catching, more original, than work by polished professionals." Of her art, Schoenhaar states, "I'd rather not take pictures when people pose, it seems a lot more real when they don't."
Read the Complete Story Here

Scout With Asperger's Syndrome To Become An Eagle
18-Year-Old Robby Cvejanovich has achieved a goal that just four percent of all Boy Scouts obtain: the rank of Eagle Scout. To obtain the rank of Eagle Scout, an individual must earn twenty-one merit badges, as well as organize and complete a community service project. One of Robby's fellow scouts described him as, "the knot genius...Whenever we needed to tie knots in a scout competition it was always, `Robby, how do we do this?' and he'd jump in there and tie whatever knot had to be tied in that situation." Buy the complete story here.

Student with Autism Awarded "Student of the Month"
A big "Way to go!" to Ellen's son Bryce, elected by the faculty as Jackson Middle School's 8th grade Student of the Month for November. "The theme was Responsibility, and he certainly deserves the recognition," says social studies/language arts teacher David Molloy. Science teacher Rachel Lee adds, "We thought he was the perfect choice." The Notbohm family thanks Jackson for this honor and applauds their spirit of team teaching, their desire to see all learners achieve, and their willingness to adapt to different learning styles. "Bryce does indeed personify responsibility," says Ellen, "but credit also must go to his wonderful team of teachers this year, all of whom are devoted to bringing out the best in him. They are all among the best public education has to offer and we appreciate it each and every day."

Note: This article was taken directly from Ellen Notbohm's website at http://www.ellennotbohm.com/news.html. Thank you to Ellen (the author featured this month) for sharing this news!

Autistic Arizona Couple Continuing to Blaze Trails
Jerry Newport and Mary Meinel, an Arizona couple who both have Asperger's Syndrome, are gaining national media attention, and providing insight into the Autism Spectrum. The 2005 move, "Mozart and the Whale," was based on their lives, and the two have just published a new book, "Mozart and the Whale: An Asperger's Love Story." The Newports have published several other books about Autism and Asperger's Syndrome, and have appeared on television shows such as "60 Minutes." Commenting on whether she believes that her Asperger's Syndrome is a disability, Mary states, "I always considered it a plus." Read the Complete Story Here



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Ten Positive Characteristics of Autism

Lisa Jo Rudy, About.com's Guide to Autism, has written a wonderful article entitled, "Top 10 Terrific Traits of Autistic People."
Click here to read this inspiring article!

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Product of the Month

Product of the Month
Autism Awareness Tote Bag!

Perfect for teachers, grocery shopping, travel, and gift-giving!

Visit Positively Autism's Autism Awareness Shop for this and other great awareness products!

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New Resources on Positively Autism



New, free resources this month are independent work task ideas. These activities are structured and visually oriented to allow students to work independently (after brief instructions/modeling on how to use the materials). Explanations of how to set up and use the tasks are included.

Visit our Free Downloads page to access these and other resources.

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Thank You!

Thank you for visiting this issue of Positively Autism! If you have any comments or suggestions, or any topic ideas for future issues, please feel free to e-mail me at
admin@positivelyautism.com.

The theme of next month's issue is sports! It will include the results of Positively Autism's Sports Survey (click here to take the survey), and an interview with Dave Donch, author of "Beast," a fictionalized memoir about a young boy with autism who loves to play baseball.

"For some of us neurotypicals, having an autistic person in our lives has had a profound positive impact on our perceptions, beliefs and expectations. For me, at least, being the mom of a son on the autism spectrum has released me from a lifetime of 'should' -- and offered me a new world of 'is.'" - Lisa Jo Rudy, in "Top 10 Terrific Traits of Autistic People"

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