Thursday, June 24, 2010

Words of Wisdom

Don't hide your scars. They make you who you are.
- Frank Sinatra

Words of Wisdom

This may perhaps be the most important thing I've ever heard:

Always remember to surround yourself with good people. If you have a family full of horrible people, create your own family. Your close friends will become your new family.
- My mother

She's just one example of someone who's had a hard life but has come out on top. I attribute this to her caring nature and the wonderful, nurturing way she treats others.

If I end up inheriting the tiniest bit of my mother's compassion, then I'll be the most fortunate girl alive.

An Open Letter

Dear Freshman Year Roommate,
Hi, it's been a while. I know you're about to transition into a new chapter of your life that you're far too young for, but I just wanted to tell you that I came to a conclusion about the time we lived together.

Yes - two years ago. That dreaded year. We were both new to college, neither of us knew anyone. I was friendly, you told me outright that you were a loner. I'm a loner too, so that was fine with me. Little did I know that "I'm a loner" translated to "I'm a loner because I dwell on my problems and create new ones for others."

That didn't stop me from trying to be your friend. Though I was a horrible roommate, I made countless efforts to be considerate, ask you how your day went- I even make you a sweet birthday present. I was determined to be a good friend, despite your efforts at being a bad one. I never you would perceive that behavior as a nuisance.

Well, guess what? You're THE ONLY one who saw my friendliness as a nuisance. Now, I know my constant doting affection may have seemed inappropriate at times, especially when you were rude to me. I can't tell if this was my Asperger's or sheer determination taking control here, nor do I care. I don't know if your misfortune or constant negativity are to blame for your rudeness, but moping and whining won't get you anywhere. Who cares if all you see in life is pain? YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE THAT. Grab life by the balls. What goes around comes around, my dear.

I just wanted to thank you. After two years of constantly worrying about something that was long past, about someone I'll never have to see again, I've finally realized, that: despite the fact that living with you was an absolute nightmare, I now know that I should never settle for having shitty people in my life. I better understand that if something sucks, GET OUT OF IT. Being helplessly dragged around doesn't pay off in the long run. Furthermore, because I trudged through the dreaded misfortune of living with you, I know now how to NOT treat people, and I know how to be a wonderful roommate. This is why I hadn't had a negative rooming situation in the two years after I lived with you.

Because I lived with you, I better understand how to make the most out of the relationships I have in my life. Because of the respect I treat others with, I have wonderful friends, and my life isn't nearly as painful as it could have turned out. I also have a better understanding of who is a true friend and who isn't, and who to treat with the respect and good fortune I love to spread around.

I'm pleased to report that in all of my 21 years, I've never been happier, and things are just looking up. I don't know if I'd be in such a great state if I hadn't lived with you. Sure, it sucked, but I'm a better person than I've ever been. And even though, based on the way you treat people, you're probably subject to a life of misery and pain; I hope you've learned something beneficiary from living with me, even if it does equate to "avoid bubbly liberal-minded girls who want to be your friend." If you perceive that as an important life lesson for yourself, then good for you. To each her own, my friend.

In summary, we learn from our mistakes. I now know who to embrace and who to avoid from having spent time with you. Isn't life great?

Wishing you happiness, even if your pain is your happiness-


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Aspie Theatre Camp

When I reflect on my childhood into my adolescence, and think about the experiences I gained the most from, the performing arts are at the top of the list. Starting from the 5th grade, I was heavily into theatre. I think what drew me to it was seeing my sister, a natural, be the star onstage. It was fascinating seeing her transfer between completely different roles, all with ease.

I didn't get very many leads during my time doing theatre. With the small roles that I did get, however, I was able to step outside of myself and embody someone else. I really had to think about the motives of each character, their personality, behavior, and how they reacted to the other characters. Though shy in real life, onstage I can be outgoing, sensual, the life of the party, and many other things - all at once, even.

I learned how to socially progress and travel from one point to another. Theatre also taught me how to further empathize with others and understand other peoples' motives and not just my own.

Theatre, along with being an art form, can also be used as a testing ground for social interaction. I think this is why so many programs are being created that use theatre in a roleplay technique, to teach children with Autism Spectrum disorders how to socialize. It's a safe place to learn the right and wrong ways to interact, and it allows the actor to break out of his or her shell.

Because of theatre, I am no longer afraid of having the spotlight on me. I'm less inhibited and am not afraid to act silly and crazy in front of a lot of people. Acting has also taught me to take initiative, thereby helping to break the ice for others involved. I can attribute almost everything I know about human interaction from socializing at rehearsals and being onstage, in someone else's shoes. Theatre has helped me better understand the rules of social interaction.

This is why I think more theatre programs should be created, not even just for special needs children, but a safe place where children of all abilities can practice socializing and step outside of their comfort zone by using theatre as an outlet. A theatre program would also give a child common ground to socialize with other children about: it would give them another thing they have in common. I've always found I do my best in structured environments, and a theatre or improv program would be the perfect place for that. I find it a wonderful way to learn, and it goes hand-in-hand with Occupational Therapy in a child's enrichment.

I think a theatre program would be a great place for a parent to bring their autistic child. I learned so much from it, and I want others to experience the same. Just my two cents. What are your thoughts on theatre as a social skills teaching tool?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Autism: The Musical part 2

For those of you who have seen the movie, I think you'll really appreciate this: Jack Black teams up with Wyatt to sing about sensory issues.

AWESOME. I love it!

If you've found any similar songs about autism send them my way!


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Autism in the media: Daniel Tammet

Dear 20/20: on behalf of the Autistic community I'd just like to thank you for featuring Daniel Tammet on your show. He is just one positive example of what someone on the Autism Spectrum can accomplish.

A select quote:

Daniel Tammet was born in London, in 1979, with congenital childhood epilepsy. A series of seizures as a young child changed forever the way Daniel saw the world around him. For one thing, Daniel was able to literally ‘see’ numbers in his head as if they were images. Not surprisingly, he quickly became proficient in number patterns, able to figure various roots, powers; even the decimal expansions for prime number fractions—often quicker than a friend with a calculator.

A high-functioning autistic savant, Daniel outgrew his disability. His astonishing mental skills however remained. As an example, following an invitation from organizers, he attended the largest ever ‘Memory Olympics’ in London in 2000. He won a gold medal and was subsequently invited to London’s Institute of Neurology to undergo tests for a landmark study of prodigious mental ability. The summarized data, co-written by some of Britain’s leading brain scientists, appeared in the New Year 2003 edition of the highly prestigious
Natureneuro-scientific magazine.
- Wisconsin Medical Society

In the documentary, "The Boy with the Incredible Brain", Daniel discusses the way in which he solves mathematical equations: Because he has synesthesia, he sees every number as a shape with a particular color; every number in an equation will fit together, with the answer wedged in the middle. It is truly phenomenal what the brain can accomplish, even if we don't have brains such as Daniel's.

Here is a video of Daniel explaining his synesthesia:

On a dare, Daniel was also able to become fluent in Icelandic, one of the world's most difficult languages, in a week.

Not only am I proud to have people like Daniel to represent us on the Autism spectrum, I am pleased that news reporters have chosen to focus on his positive traits and the amazing things he's done, rather than his shortcomings. I'm proud of Daniel for stepping up and giving the world a wonderful view of what he can do, allowing us to step into the marvelous thing that is his mind. Hopefully this is a new age in the representation of Autism in the media. Autism Speaks, your days are numbered!

I'm also astonished that our brains can accomplish such incredible things. As humans, we are equipped with the capacity to do amazing things, far more than we are able to realize. Even if we can't memorize thousands of digits of Pi, we are able to create images and new dimensions that we ourselves can't even dream of. I'm often astonished by what I can create, including realizations and artwork. Never stop being amazed at your capacities!
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