Tag Archives: Autism Awareness Month

An Autistic Brain #AutismPositivity2014

By Debra Hosseini

“Have you had a brain injury?” the neuroscientist asks me after performing an EEG.

“No,” I say.

She points to diagrams of my brain with the different colors which measure delta, theta, alpha, and beta waves.

“You have an autistic brain.”

“You see this?”

I look at the four pictures which are labeled Z Scored FFT Coherence.

It looks like a platter of tangled red spaghetti on all four pictures.

“You have hyper-coherence. Whether your eyes or closed or open your brain waves look the same.”

“Well, I guess that explains Kevin,” I say. Kevin is my Autistic son.

“I can help that with neurofeedback,” she says.

She places another cap on my head which has lots of wires. She puts some sticky goo in my hair and hooks the wires to a machine which is attached to a computer. She inserts the movie “Pretty Woman” in the DVD drive.

I’m to control the brightness of the screen with my brain. This is called brain training.

“You’re doing really well on this,” she says. I’m motivated to make Richard Gere brighten up so I try extra hard.

After the session she takes off the cap and my hair is plastered to my head with the sticky goop.

“I hope you aren’t going anywhere,” she says.

At home, after I wash my hair I call up my best friend and tell her about my brain training session.

“What’s wrong with having an autistic brain?” she asks. She like me has a child on the spectrum.

That makes me ponder.

“I don’t know,” I say.

I wonder how my hyper-coherent brain effects me.

When I google hyper-coherence I find Tourette’s and OCD are symptoms. I know I can get stuck on a thought. Kevin does this too. And so does Kurt my Aspie boyfriend. Stuttering is also a sign of hyper-coherence. I never stuttered but have difficulty with word retrieval sometimes.

“A lot of programmers have hyper-coherence,” Ben, my friend Nancy’s son, says. Ben is Aspie and probably hyper-coherent too.

My past occupation was as a computer programmer and systems analyst.

I continue the biofeedback sessions for six more times and get another EEG. Guess what? I’m no longer hyper-coherent.

Do I feel any different?

I feel my brain is a little sharper now. And I’m a little more relaxed.

“I’d like to do an EEG on Kurt’s brain,” the neuroscientist says.

“Kurt has Weitzulsucht,” I tell her.

“Huh?”

“It’s a disorder that causes incontinent punning. Oliver Sacks talks about it. He can’t control himself. It’s from a frontal brain injury when he fell into the diaper pail as a baby,” I continue.

“Well, I bet his brain EEG would be really interesting,” she says.

Yea, that’ll be another story.

So I’m writing this for the Autism Positivity Day Flash Blog. As I reread it I don’t know if it’s positive. I know that Kevin, my Autistic son, Kurt my Aspie boyfriend and myself all fall somewhere on the spectrum and I feel pretty positive about that. I do know I like to be around autistic people. They have no artifice, make good friends, and are empathetic (unlike what most people seem to think).

Freud once said that nobody is “normal,” and that to me is a good thing. It’s the people who pretend to be normal who may have the real issues.

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Awakening: Reinventing Mommy Celebrates 1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013

This post was originally published on Reinventing Mommy at http://reinventingmommy.blogspot.com/2013/05/awakening-reinventing-mommy-celebrates.html and is reprinted here with permission from the author.
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When I sat with my screen open to a blank page contemplating what I would write for Autism Positivity 2013, I had a hard time selecting one specific aspect of my sweet 4-year old autistic son that does not fill me with boundless joy.  He is positivity and love and goodness personified.

Yet, when thinking on this journey that both my boy and I walk hand-in-hand each day, one word came to mind – awakening.

You see, before my son was born, I was a workaholic quality engineer for a tissue processing company.  On the day I went into the hospital to give birth, I had been on bed rest for two weeks.  I looked forward to returning to my normalcy – the hustle and bustle of my career.  If not for my son’s special needs and eventual autism diagnosis, I might still would be in that same building, cranking out reports day-after-day.  My son would be in daycare like so many other children his age.  We would be looking at private schools for his coming Kindergarten year.  He might have a sibling.  I would hurriedly make my usual Earl Grey Tea without enjoyment and would speak to people in passing.  We would be an absolutely ordinary family.  Nothing remarkable about us, really.

This little boy I carried and delivered that day had other plans.  He was here to change the world for more people than he could possibly imagine.  There would be nothing ordinary about him; he was destined for an extraordinary life.

Indeed, he has been my greatest teacher.  After my son was diagnosed, his very wise developmental pediatrician recommended that I seek training in DIR/Floortime from a very respected professional at Floortime Atlanta.  I immersed myself in her teachings and those of Dr. Stanley Greenspan, but their most poignant piece of advice was this:  Follow Your Child’s Lead.

And I have been doing so ever since.

It was a radical shift in everything I had learned about parenting.  For the first two years of his life, I had operated on the principle that so many are taught – parenting is a dictatorship.  It was my role to command; it was his to follow.  I had to throw away the parenting books full of advice and milestones and take his hand, giving him control over the life through which I was to lead him.  Instead, I gave him control, stayed at his side, and was determined to let him determine the course in the days and months and years ahead.

Floortime and my son reversed those roles and – in doing so – opened my eyes to the world as I had never seen it before.  No longer did I see flapping hands as a negative; they were a sign of my son’s overflowing joy.  When I got down on his level, put my head alongside his, and looked to see what he was seeing, I saw incredible wonders and beauty in our world that I never knew existed.  In trying to take into account his sensory needs, my senses were opened to experiences that I never imagined.  I learned just how little we really needed words for communication, that I could understand my boy without him ever saying a word.

It is through my son that I have come to understand what true beauty really is.  It is through him that I take the moment to breathe in each experience and live life to its fullest.  My morning tea no longer is made in a rush.  Instead, I inhale the aromas and watch the leaves swirl peacefully in the infuser.  I listen to the gentle clinking of the rock sugar as it hits the bottom of my glass.  I see hues of color in each bubble and marvel at its travels on the breeze.  I know that all behavior is communication and I open my eyes to hear what it is that he has to tell me.  I know that love comes in so many forms that I cannot say that his lack of spontaneous hugs and kisses means he doesn’t love; rather, his whole existence is an outpouring of love.

My little boy – my little boy who says so little while saying so much – taught me all of this.  I’d argue that it is because of his autism that he has opened my eyes and ears and heart and soul to all of the richness that life has to offer.  I followed his lead and he’s showing me the world through his eyes.

What a beautiful awakening I have experienced…all because of one little boy.

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Cari Noga Celebrates 1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013

This post was originally published by Cari Noga on http://www.carinoga.com/2013/04/30/1000-ausome-things/ and is reprinted here with permission from the author.

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So it looks like one thing. Son spells out name with train tracks. Cute.

Alphabet tracks

That’s what I would have thought three years ago. And then dismissed it.

But when my son did this two nights ago, it took my breath away. After all, difficulty with communication is a hallmark of autism. That’s what the professionals say.

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Restless Hands: What Autism Means To Me #AutismPositivity2013

This post was originally published on Restless Hands, at http://restlesshands42.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/restlesshands42-celebrates-1000-ausome-things-autismpositivity2013/and is reprinted here with permission from the author.

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It’s been a rough week so far, and I’m tired, so this will be short.

Autism has brought so much positivity into my life. I still don’t know if I qualify for a “formal” autism diagnosis, but it doesn’t really matter. The autistic community has accepted me, and supported me, and helped me to understand myself, and now I no longer feel isolated for my scattered handful of mental functioning deficits, and that is enough.

Autism has given me friends, and new hobbies, and new ways of thinking about myself, and of thinking about others, and thinking about thinking, and about education, and about human rights and dignity and intelligence.

A few days ago, I saw a screening of the documentary “Wretches and Jabberers,” the story of two men who grew up without any codified means of communication and then, as adults, traveled the world teaching others about autism and about the fact that intelligence does not require speech.

And I cried at the times in the film where I could understand the body language and needs of these men and their own aides did not.

And my dear friend and housemate flapped zir hands with me at the wonderful parts.

And zir boyfriend laughed with the two of us at some of the ridiculously clueless comments that a few allistic (non-autistic) audience members made afterward, and the three of us cheered for the two autistic young men who volunteered to come up to the microphone and tell the whole audience that they liked the film.

Autism means many different things to different people, including people on the spectrum and their families. I know that for many people, being autistic has involved a lot of pain and suffering and stigma and struggle.

I will continue to fight for a world in which being autistic does not have to involve any more pain or suffering or stigma than not being autistic.

Because to me autism means, and will always mean: laughter with happy flaps, and the fun of pointing out patterns and oddities to each other, and rocking while brainstorming about disability rights, and geeky jokes, and people who squee in joy with me at rainbow colors and the unexpected beauty of under-appreciated things like math, and science, and solitude.

To me, that is autism.

And I hope they never find a cure.

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My Boys with Autism are Awesome #AutismPositivity2013 Kat’s Cafe

This post was originally published by Katrina Moody on Kat’s Cafe, at http://katscafe.org/boys-with-autism-awesome and is reprinted here with permission from the author.

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Being Positive about Autism

Last year I was a part of the Autism Positivity project because I felt it was so important to present the positive side of autism. Our reality, yes, but not always so awful, autism is just a part of who my boys are, and my boys with autism are freakin’ awesome!

I’m not going to say it’s always rainbows and puppy dog tails, but my three guys have shown me, time and time again, how utterly awesome they really are, and this year’s Autism Positivity Project asked us to focus on that “Ausome” and share it around.

I couldn’t ask for a better reason to share a bit of our reality with you all. You see, it’s easy to be depressed, to feel overwhelmed, and to worry about the future when you have children with special needs. It doesn’t matter if your kids have autism or some other diagnosis, if you can’t see the positive in it and who those amazing kids are then it’s harder than ever to be the best parent you can be.

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Cissi Tsang: Believe in your strengths – 1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013v

Lots of people will tell you about what you can’t do. About how debilitating having autism can be. This is what I’ve noticed from a lot of non-autistic people. They either lower their expectations of you, or if you are deemed “high functioning”, then they will insist you are not autistic. That is wrong.

Remember: there’s a lot of things you CAN do as well. There are a lot of positives with autism, so work with your strengths. You are more capable than what some people would like to tell you. Just because you have autism doesn’t mean you’re meant to be a vegetable. We have a lot to offer to the world.

Sure, autism is pervasive. It defines us by colouring how we perceive and interact with the world. That doesn’t make how we operate “wrong” in any way. It’s just different.

I’m autistic, yes. I don’t make a big scene about it, but I do let people know that I have it. It’s a part of me and it shouldn’t be denied, in the same way as my ethnicity and background. I’m also a photographer, I’m studying for a Master’s in Art and Design, a freelance writer and a musician.

Do I have difficulties from autism? Yes, all the time. I’ve been described as having “extreme difficulty with sequential thinking” and “global cognitive difficulties”. Considering some of the…well, stranger ways my brain works sometimes, yes, I agree with that.

However, I refuse to let those labels restrict my aspirations. Don’t let your labels restrict you, too. There are always methods to work around anything.

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Autismcollage Celebrates 1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013

This post was originally published by Rachel on Autism Collage at http://autismcollage.tumblr.com/post/49333861042/autismcollage-celebrates-1000-ausome-things, and is reprinted here with permission from the author.

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Today I would like to celebrate getting to know my Autie little brother.

I met him a few years ago. He was a startling addition to our family and immediately became the prince of our home. His favourite foods are cereal, ice-cream, and chips, which he would gobble up (with passion) at any opportunity.  He is most skillful at riding his scooter at great speeds, through narrow spaces and around sharp corners. He even rides backwards at times, scaring my Mother to bits.

My brother is an expert of his environment – he taps sticks to explore different surfaces and sounds within his surroundings, and listens carefully to reverberations within enclosed spaces. He loves water – splashing it about, placing his hands and nose on the skin of it, jumping into it. I often wish I could perceive my environment the way he can.

My brother is an intelligent, intuitive person with a strong independent streak. He might not say much, but can understand much more than he can express. He chooses his company wisely, and is not afraid to show his displeasure towards anyone who upsets him.

I love my brother to bits, and will always strive towards understanding him, and the Autistic community better. I hope that one day he will be able to join the online community himself.

Today I celebrate getting to know him – it has been an honour! Thank you lil Matt, for absolutely changing my life.

 

 

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