Rants and Ramblings

A sudden surge in the demands of both parenting and work have kept me from writing lately. Here’s a few of the things I’ve been thinking about during my down time from writing.

Rant: Jenny McCarthy. I admit that I haven’t paid much attention to Ms. McCarthy but there’s one aspect of her views (or at least how some of the media is presenting her views) that I find particularly disturbing: How can one come to the conclusion that autism is “healed” in someone that is only five years old? There is an incredible amount of development that occurs after the age of five. My own children have changed tremendously from the age of five. Some of the manifestations of autism are less pronounced while others are more prominent. I challenge that it is reckless to make conclusions about the future of any child based on their developmental profile at five years old. It’s helpful to make predictions about a developmental track, but unhealthy to assume that some developmental characteristics will or will not be present in the future. That said, I’m glad Ms. McCarthy has found things that help her son.

Rambling: I’ve found it very hard to keep up with reading blogs this past year. One of the big reasons is that there are now so many people writing blogs and I’m very easily overwhelmed. I remember when there were only a dozen people blogging on autism and it was much more manageable then. Another reason is that, while much of what I read is worthy of further dialog, it’s too hard for me to stay involved in a conversation via blog comments. Reading blogs is something I’m able to do only about every other day at most and that’s not often enough to keep involved in a conversation in this format. Lastly, I’ve done so much reading of books and blogs over the past few years, I’ve felt the desire to be more immersed in my children’s autism and less immersed in reading about autism. As John Mellncamp sang “I know there’s a balance, I see it when I swing by”.

Rant: It frustrates me that my school system too often treats autistic children with behavior challenges as “emotionally disturbed” (an official IDEA identification related to special education). The root causes of behaviors can be completely different with autistic children relative to those that are emotionally disturbed. There may be overlaps in both these conditions and the causes of behavior but effective approaches in dealing with behavior must be based on correctly understanding the cause of the behavior. I’ve seen too many educational placements for autistic children fail because the programs approach behavior issues using methods designed to be effective with emotionally disturbed children and not with the causes of behaviors in autistic children.

Rambling: Paraprofessionals are the unsung heroes of many exceptional educational placements. It’s the paraprofessionals (often called ‘aides’ where I live) that are on the front lines, and have the ability to make a program succeed or fail. They receive far less training than teachers and other professionals but are the first adult our kids turn to for help. Our boys have been fortunate to have some exceptional aides that have made a world of difference. One of them reads this blog and I hope she knows that I count her in this group.

Rant: OK, there’s some bad aides out there too. Some are slow to change their ways and fail to adapt to the individual child. As an aid can contribute to making an educational placement successful, they can also be a cause of a placement that fails.

Rambling: Should I be concerned that this blog got the most visitors ever in December, when I hadn’t posted in almost two months? Maybe the material I don’t write draws more people than the material I do write. At least the material I don’t write has fewer spelling and grammatical errors!

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8 Responses to Rants and Ramblings

  1. Kristina says:

    First, happy new year! Wishing everything good for you and yours—-really good to read your writing again. Your rant/ramblings about education and aides are particularly helpful—–and Jim and I have been talking a lot about what it means to be 5 years old and “recovered from autism,” and how much, as you write, can change.

  2. Casdok says:

    I have only recently found your blog, as you say there are so many out there.
    I enjoyed your ramblings!
    Happy new year!

  3. Club 166 says:

    I totally sympathize on finding time to write. It’s been a bit of a struggle around my house, too.

    The whole ED category really gripes my butt, as they tried to saddle my son with that in Kindergarten. I think that they do that so they can warehouse them somewhere and not really spend any money or time on teaching them (which isn’t right for the ED kids, either).

    Good paras are worth their weight in gold.


  4. Amanda says:

    It is very easy (yet unacceptable) for school staff and administrators to fail to understand behavior as it relates autism. This is especially true for our higher functioning children with autism disorders who are perceived to be willful, defiant, manipulative, or aggressive. It is much easier for the school to slap on an ED label and push a child into a restrictive setting rather than build capacity in district. Behavior does not occur in a vacuum and children with autism are not inherently aggressive. Staff need to understand how the environment, the tasks, as well as their own interventions can lead to either positive or negative behavioral outcomes. Positive behavior support including antecedent control, skill development, and a rich program of positive reinforcement can go a long way to minimize inapporpriate behavior. Typically this is not found in many of the private special ed facilities in my state that are geared primarily for the ED population and use school-wide level or point systems, seclusion and restraint to manage behavior.

  5. aspiemom says:

    I agree about the aides, who are unsung heroes. I really do. The aides in our local school are fantastic and we would all be lost without them.

    I am a relative newcomer to the autism blogging world. You’re welcome to come by, but wouldn’t recommend it. There are other, better ones out there.

    I agree about your assessment of Ms. McCarthy. I’m glad that she’s happy with the treatments that her son is receiving, I really am. I disagree with many things and will not be reading her book. However, like you, I’m glad that whatever she’s doing is working for her.

    I came by via the Autism Ring. I hope you have a wonderful New Year.

  6. Jerry Grasso says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more about the aides. Demetrius, thank the Lord, has had two good ones in a row…and that makes a difference, big-time.

  7. Artemisia says:

    There are a lot of autism blogs out there, but I’m surprised I haven’t read yours before, it’s very interesting.

    I agree about the mistake educators make treating autistic children’s behavior problems like emotional problems. At best, it’s ineffective – at worst, it’s damaging to the child. I love inclusion when it’s done well, but these mistakes in particular are a strike against it.

    Also – maybe I don’t know enough about children with emotional problems, but I’d think that treating their problem behaviors in a more behavioral way would be quite effective, no?

  8. Beverly says:

    Jenny McCarthy & ALL of the DAN practitioners can all go away and help the children by doing so !!!!!Jenny has NO CLUE whether or not her son is cured !!My grandson is being “OVER REMEDIED” by a DAN Practioner. They claim the child’s body is full of TOXINS and they give more YEAST REMOVAL, CHELATION, toxin removal meds. of one type or another > B.S.!! My grandson has NOT had a decent, good tasting meal in 8 months with this Gluten Free/Cassein Diet and there is NO IMPROVEMENT AT ALL !!! He is non-verbal and it is so hard to watch how distended his stomach gets after taking the yeast meds. and he sometimes pulls his legs up in pain!!! Jenny has “jumped at the opportunity” to make money because her “sexy” days are GONE. You CANNOT CURE a child as quickly as she CLAIMS > period. Hopefully, one day, the REAL medical world will find a CURE for AUTISM > but, the answer is NOT with DAN or JENNY McCARTHY vocalizing – THAT IS FOR SURE!!! Oh, I forgot to mention > my grandson is 4 1/2 yrs. old and has been to two DAN Practioners and NEITHER ONE has helped him. ALL he has gotten is pain, diets, more medicines and , of course, this last one threw in MOST AUTISTIC CHILDREN have ASTHMA and of course – he needs PREVENTIVE MEDICINE for THAT also. These children are at the MERCY OF THEIR PARENTS and THE PARENTS are desperate, I know, BUT – consider your child, their condition after seeing a DAN Practioner. DAN is QUACKERY and JENNY is “getting her attention” and making money with her book signings !! LOVE your “precious child” that is the utmost importance and do NOT subject them to these DAN rituals !! YOU will be “monetarily broke”, disappointed and your “precious child” WILL still have AUTISM till the “MEDICAL WORLD” finds a cure. Let everyone pray that happens SOON and STOP letting your child be “over remedied” by these “QUACKS” !! I am FURIOUS that these DAN Practioners are allowed to even “LEGALLY” give so much medicine to a child. Being involved in the AUTISTIC WORLD for the past 3 yrs. (he was diagnosed with a low I.Q. also at the age of 18 months) has made me see that MANY times a parent will follow the suggestion of a friend that also has a AUTISTIC CHILD before stopping to seriously THINK, RESEARCH & MAKE UP THEIR OWN MINDS without it being biased. My grandson attends a “special school” for 2 yrs. now and he is doing well there > Thank God, they do not have DAN SCHOOLS !!!

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