BCCS, Behavioral Consultant
What? Can you repeat that, please? Yes, May is Better Hearing and Speech month. Let’s participate by celebrating the two projections on the side of our head that do so much despite being so little. The importance our ears play in activities of daily living is often overlooked or taken for granted. From infancy, we utilize sounds to get our needs met and learn about the world around us. Hearing loss can have detrimental impacts on a child’s ability to learn and develop speech and language, as well as safety concerns.
By Carol S. Weinman, Esq., Autism Legal Specialist
“My son didn’t do this. He wouldn’t even know how to do this.” These are the words I hear uttered over and over again in my work with criminal defendants on the autism spectrum. That’s when my challenge begins. My mission: to persuade others in power to understand why this individual could not possibly have committed the crime he is charged with. Of course, each case is as different as each individual. In certain cases, it is possible that someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may have knowingly committed such an offense. But, in most scenarios, after reviewing all the information on this particular defendant, I arrive at the same conclusion – it just isn’t possible, at least not intentionally.
Of course, that assumes you understand ASD. If not, well then, all bets are off. If the police officer, attorney, judge or prosecutor views this defendant through the lens used for more typical criminal offenders, then the situation looks very different. The behavior that resulted in an arrest is perceived as criminal under the law. For the court and prosecutor, it is that simple. But, is it? I would argue it is anything but. Because ASD is very complicated. It is at times often subtle and unrecognizable to the uneducated eye. That’s what makes it so imperative that those making what can be life-altering decisions for these offenders understand that it isn’t what it looks like. This is exactly what I set out to do when I represented an individual charged with stalking.
By Guest Contributor Claudia Cortez
World Health Day is April 7 and this year the World Health Organization (WHO) is tackling depression. Per statistics from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults suffer from depression in the United States alone. Globally, that number escalates to an astounding 350 million people. The prevalence among children and adolescents is much higher: 1 in every 4 teens will have a major depressive episode in high school. Depression also accounts for the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29 year olds–suicide. In an ongoing effort to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and mobilize the community to learn, recognize, and treat depression, WHO has implemented a year-long campaign with the slogan, “Depression: Let’s Talk.” The campaign began October 2016, but it’s not too late to take part in the conversation.
My daughter’s future is bright. She is thriving at school because they are meeting her every need with an admirable flexibility, thoughtfulness and respect. All of which has been achieved with close cooperation between home and school, something that I believe are key factors in improving a child’s quality of life. Why? Because, on one hand we have the child’s parents, who are experts in the child and on the other hand we have the teacher, which is an expert in teaching methods and goal setting. When these two respect each others roles and take the time to listen and work together, magic happens!
Our teacher’s mentality is priceless. They have so much respect for my daughter and they put every effort in customizing her curriculum and learning environment to her needs. As an example I could mention that she always arrives late for school. Is that okay? Imagine this; she arrives into an empty school building and is exposed to minimum sensory input, which means that her stress levels are low and she gets a good start of the day. Otherwise it would take her teachers about an hour to unwind her after a chaotic school start and a maximum sensory input. That kind of a solution requires flexible thinking and caring.
I’ve written many articles about how the lack of having a peer role model growing up on the spectrum affected me. I didn’t know about Dr. Temple Grandin and others who had autism that I could look upon to show me how far I could go. As I reached adulthood though I learned about advocates such as Dr. Grandin, Carly Fleischmann, Alexis Wineman, John Elder Robison, Amy Gravino, Jesse Saperstein, the list goes on and on.
One person though who I particularly look up to is none other than international speaker Dr. Stephen Shore. Stephen Shore is not only a dear friend but also one of the biggest role models I currently have in my life.
When I first met Stephen it was at an Autism Society of America conference. He immediately befriended me and wanted to get to know me better. After our first meeting I’d go on to read several of his books and later would be able to contribute a chapter to a book he co-authored called College for Students with Disabilities: We Do Belong. I to this day use his quote “if you’ve met one individual with autism, you’ve met one individual with autism” in a majority of my presentations. It shows how wide and unique our spectrum truly is.
Another quote which I enjoy from Stephen is on his website where he mentions the “unlimited potential for people on the autism spectrum.” What a wonderful message. I think that’s something our entire community wants to see for our loved ones.
Now even years later it’s been astonishing to see how many times our paths have crossed. Although we are only a trade ride away from each other, me being from New Jersey and Stephen teaching in New York at Adelphi University, we still end up running into each other around the world speaking at different events. Most recently, our paths even crossed at ISCRD 2017 hosted by IBCCES in St. Augustine, Florida.
By Elayne Pearson, CAS, Speaker/Author/Disability Advocate
World Down Syndrome Day, March 21st – was created for public awareness, promoting fundamental freedoms, and encouraging inclusion for individuals with Down syndrome.
Many know Down syndrome is a genetically-based condition resulting in a range of mental impairments and developmental delays. It’s official term, Trisomy 21, is caused by an unusual division of the two 21st chromosomes into three. Hence, the term Tri-somy 21.
So, March is the third month, and the 21st day designates World Down Syndrome day. Get it? Trisomy 21 on 3/21. Clever, huh?
Scientists hypothesize the chromosomal change happens at conception, and currently, there is no known cure for Down syndrome. I could go on with boring scientific stuff, but I won’t. But believe me, life with a child with Down syndrome is anything but boring! We testify of that. Having Heidi in our family has been a joyous adventure for almost 30 years.