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A new school year begins, and the summer-silent halls of schools erupt in a marching band of voices. For educators and school staff, this generally happy hubbub is also an urgent call to action—to listen to those voices in new and unexpected ways. If ever there’s an environment in which children’s voices should be heard, [...]

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Autism Misconceptions for Smarties

Published on August 5, 2015 by in News

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No one would talk much in society if they knew how often they misunderstood others. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe  What’s the difference between a smarty and a dummy? Merriam-Webster.com defines a smarty as “a person who thinks and behaves as if s/he knows everything,” while a dummy is “a stupid person.” As an autism [...]

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Like any warm-blooded parent, my friend flushed with delight when her daughter handed her a lovely crayon-inscribed homemade card. On the front, it read “Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy! Even though . . .” But my friend’s warm-blooded glow cooled to mortification when she opened the card: “. . . your breath smells really bad in [...]

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 A therapist asks: I’m a family therapist offering in-home sessions. I have a client with a three year old boy with autism. Each time he sees me, he throws a screaming autistic tantrum, hitting his head with his fist and raking his fingers across his face until red.  There’s no outward reason for the tantrums. They aren’t typical [...]

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Just be a grandma

Published on June 1, 2015 by in News

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A grandparent asks: I have a beautiful 4-year-old grandchild who may be on the spectrum somewhere.  His parents do not want to have him tested.  I need to get this child potty trained and he seems to be resisting their efforts.  He reads and does math on the 4th grade level, can spell words that [...]

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A reader asks: What levels, if any, are the autistic adults able to experience and process the concept and feelings of spirituality?  And why? Ellen answers:  “The autistic adults” are not a monolithic, homogenous block; they are individuals, each as unique and complex any of “the non-autistic adults.” The experiences of people with autism range [...]

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Squelching echolalia—or not

Published on April 8, 2015 by in News

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A parent asks: We’re just learning about echolalia and find it fascinating. Our child has always done it, and we call it parroting.  How do you think children with autism match an appropriate phrase to the situation so quickly and smoothly?  What kinds of things did you employ to try to stop your child from using [...]

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Autism awareness is not enough

Published on April 2, 2015 by in News

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What does autism “awareness” mean to you? Better question—what does it mean to those who think autism doesn’t touch them? “Awareness” may be another one of those words I have to consign to quotation marks, along with “normal” and “typical.” Awareness was an ambitious goal ten years ago, and still is in many countries, but [...]

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Is our child suffering from autism?

Published on February 6, 2015 by in News

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Dear Ellen: We have a preschooler who is otherwise perfect, normal and talks a lot at home, but is very shy with outside folks. Unlike other kids who are carefree and casual, she takes a long time to come out of her shell and play. She prefers playing with one friend, doesn’t like to be [...]

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The R-word You Want for Your Child with Autism

Published on December 17, 2014 by in News

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“That’s it! It’s all over! I’ve just completed my Associate’s Degree in General Studies. I am officially a college graduate!” I couldn’t possibly overstate the elation in our household as Bryce posted those words to Facebook. But any autism parent knows that the simplicity of Bryce’s statement comes with a back story about the road [...]

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