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!