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NBC’s ‘Parenthood’ Explores ‘Tough Love’ and Autism

February 15, 2012 3 comments

This is a re-post from NBC‘s ‘Parenthood‘ ‘The Experts Speak.’

Many of us know the feeling of being chosen last for a team or the wish to “ditch” gym. We all know the desire to make a friend. In this episode, we see Max struggling with these issues. In some ways, these are typical struggles for a middle school student.

There are at least three issues here. The first issue is Max’s not wanting to be part of a group that wants to exclude him; the second is using his Asperger’s disability as an excuse to avoid a difficult social situation; and the third is his taking the time to make a friend. All in all, except for using the Asperger’s diagnosis as the excuse, Max sounds like almost any adolescent to me. That’s a great thing.

The central concern in the episode for me is the gym teacher’s failure to facilitate both Max and Micah’s participation in gym. It isn’t Max using his Asperger’s to get out of an awkward situation that is the problem, but the teacher’s failure to use it as a teaching moment for both him and the other students. However, because Micah is sitting out, too, we know that she isn’t one to look for accommodations.

With regards to Micah, she simply isn’t doing anything to accommodate him during the class at all as he sits alone on the sidelines with his electronics. Regarding Max, she does nothing to facilitate his being part of the group so he can learn and participate by accommodating his social disability. Her actions are not simply wasting the boys’ time, but are actually depriving the boys of a free and appropriate public education (in this case, the physical education curriculum) as required by law. She and the school, by extension, are breaking the law. She is also unfortunately teaching the children that it’s okay to discriminate.

This is a serious breach of the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), a law that protects students with disabilities from being discriminated against in the public school system and mandates that children with disabilities receive a “free and appropriate public education” (FAPE). The laws governing the education of a child with disabilities also assert that education take place in the least restrictive environment. The gym – with all of the nondisabled students – is a perfect, least restrictive environment to make the accommodations necessary for the boys with disabilities to learn the lessons we all learned in physical education.

As I was thinking about what to write regarding this episode, I talked over the general issues it raises with Sarah Vinson, one of the Emory Medical School residents I teach in my clinic. Sarah astutely pointed out that students aren’t ever allowed to simply “not participate” in math class. This, of course, is true: if either boy had a math disability, the math lesson would be modified to allow their full participation at a level appropriate for them, and they would be expected to participate. The time wouldn’t simply be wasted. The boys wouldn’t simply be left to their own devices, literally.

Thank goodness Max and Micah find one another and use what could be completely wasted time to work on their social skills and to make friends. Good for the boys!
I remember nearly every time Frankie has made a friend. These have been times of celebration and pride for us as parents. I am sure parents who have children who struggle with mobility, sight or reading have the same memories of their children’s successes in overcoming their core difficulty. For those of us with children on the spectrum, our child making a friend is the real measure of winning against the autism. In the blossoming of Max and Micah’s friendship we see all of his, his parents’ and his therapists’ hard work paying off as he overcomes his Asperger’s. Too bad the school isn’t doing their part to help both boys.

Written by Roy Q. Sanders, M.D.

I’m Joey and I Met President Obama!

February 15, 2012 7 comments

Hi I’m Joey – I got to meet President Obama at the White House Science Fair. Meeting him was really fun, and he’s really nice. I showed him my Extreme Marshmallow Cannon. The White House Staff told me not to encourage the President to fire it, but he wanted to fire it! You can’t really say no to the President of the United States.

I never thought that it would become this big – but if more kids see my cannon – then more will realize they can build or do what ever they put their mind to, big or small. I want lots of kids to see how cool it is to MAKE and go to Maker Faires. Thanks to ‘Make and Cognizant’ for giving me this awesome experience!

Don’t be BORED…MAKE Something!

Joey Hudy and President Barack Obama

You can follow Joey on Twitter at @Joey_Hudy

The Autism Speaks Puzzle Piece Appeared on ABC’s ‘Grey’s Anatomy!’

February 10, 2012 9 comments

Last night we couldn’t believe our eyes! The Autism Speaks Puzzle Piece appeared on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy! There was no autism storyline, just our poster! Thanks so much ABC for helping to spread autism awareness!

You can watch full the episode here!

PS: We are on the 24th minute!

Autism America Radio – Saturday February 11th

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Autism America Radio welcomes special guests Dr. William Frea of Autism Spectrum Therapies.  Join hosts Nick Geber and Special guest host, author Dr. Ricki Robinson for two hours of talk and interviews this Saturday 6:00 to 8:00 PM EST on Sirius/XM Family Talk Channel 131!

People wishing to participate should call 800-679-7650 During the show or Tweet their questions to @Autismamericar. Listen online at http://www.live365.com/stations/autismamerica?play or as a podcast on iTunes! You can also visit Autism America Radio on Facebook!

SheKnows.com Launches Campaign to Benefit Autism Speaks

February 10, 2012 1 comment

Our friends at SheKnows.com, a top women’s lifestyle website, have launched “SheKnows Where the Other Sock Went,” an awareness and fundraising campaign benefitting Autism Speaks. The campaign will kick off at a star-studded celebration on the first Friday of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York City.  The centerpiece of the campaign is a couture gown constructed from single socks donated by six-time Grammy Award winner and autism advocate Toni Braxton and designed by Project Runway star Michael Costello. A print campaign featuring the dress will be shot by famed fashion photographer Nigel Barker. The gown and print ad will be unveiled at the Sheknows.com Fashion Week celebration, and the dress will be auctioned off at an event in May, with all proceeds benefitting Autism Speaks.

We’ve Reached 1 Million Facebook Fans!!!!

February 9, 2012 2 comments

Today we are proud to announce that we have reached 1 Million Facebook Fans milestone! We have had the pleasure of watching the page grow and evolve into what it is today. It got us to thinking… what does 1 million fans mean? Those 1 million fans are people who care about autism; people who are looking to share their stories and connect with others; they are people who want to make a difference.

On behalf of Autism Speaks, we would like to thank everyone who is a part of this very special community. Together, our million voices will be heard.

Autism Speaks Teams Up With Autisable

February 1, 2012 3 comments

We are so excited to announce our new partnership with Autisable. Autisable is an online community that connects people who want to tackle the puzzle of autism. They encourage discussion surrounding all aspects of Autism/Aspergers, and associated issues surrounding those with special needs.

Autisable’s goal is to create a community of individuals with various viewpoints surrounding the controversies of autism, and to give back to the autism community through donations to organizations that help the autism community.

Our Blog will be syndicated onto this platform as we are thrilled to become a part of this community, while connecting with others in the autism community.

Friend and subscribe to our blog on Autisable: http://autismspeaks.autisable.com

Don’t have an Account on Autisable? – Please join and share your journey. Start here: http://www.autisable.com/register.aspx

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