Monday, June 27, 2011

Rex, the Musical Savant

This is a wonderful story of how an individual's strengths can more than make up for their shortcomings. Compassion and patience are the building blocks of success. Who's to say that Rex is impaired?

I believe Rex will discover a rich future full of beautiful, original music. He will be able to find his way through the world through texture and noise. When you can perceive so much, the areas in which you are lacking don't really matter. I wish Rex and his mother all the love and happiness in the world.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

QuickCues and other Mobile Apps for ASD's

The Non-profit organization Fraser has produced QuickCues, a mobile app which helps to provide cue cards for those on the Autism Spectrum. Here is a demo video:

I don't know much about this app other than what is shown in the demo video, but it seems like a wonderful idea. With all of the technological advances taking place, why not take advantage of this?

In middle and high school, my aide encouraged me to write down hints for communicating in a notebook. I simply wrote down the names of my peers and a thing or two I could discuss with them, something simple like music, tv shows, or a sport we played together.

The only issue with this is its inconvenience, and visibility. I remember in my sophomore year, a "friend" (read: mean-spirited acquaintance) was going through my notebook, and came across my page of conversation starters. Her eyes started darting intently across the page, as it wasn't the usual doodle-filled chemistry notes; she asked, "what's this?" I turned bright red and grabbed it back immediately. I told her that it helped me figure out what to say to other people, trying not to make a big deal out of it. For a second I felt like a complete stalker, tracking the actions and interests of my peers. I stopped carrying around visual cues after that.

Though there is a useful aspect in writing down things to help remember them, it just gets inconvenient at times. Flash cards take up space, are cumbersome, get dirty easily, and could easily reveal your differences. An app like this, or even a word document on your phone with reminders, is discreet and private. If you don't want such an app to be revealed, a vague title like "QuickCues" can be written off as a general study guide - also, it doesn't hurt that iPhones and iPods can be password protected. You can give yourself as little or as much security as you feel is necessary.

This app is $4.99. Though I personally feel I wouldn't want to spend so much money on it (I'm a cheapskate), I think Fraser is providing an important service and such an app would be worth investing in for a lot of people. If you don't want to spend the money, you could probably create flashcards, or a word document with text from an online guide - it would be free, but with a similar idea.

I hope this app becomes available for more devices, and not just the Apple devices. You don't even need an iPhone to use it. Though I don't have this app, I've found my iPod Touch indispensable. Along with all my music, it has relaxation sounds, Theta and Beta waves (also for relaxation), some photos, games, books, my calendar, and the small internet browser doesn't hurt either. I've written papers on it, and even a few of these blog entries! It's nice because I can carry a lot with me in such a compact package. If you don't want to spend the money on an iPod Touch, I'd reconsider - there are some less expensive models out, and they can be purchased on different websites for even less! I got my iPod on eBay and saved about $80 off of Apple's price.

Sorry, I just sounded like I'm pitching a product! Haha. But seriously, this is a great idea. Would you use an app like this? Why or why not? Do you know of any similar ones? I want to hear about them! Maybe we could start a list. So show me what you've got!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Aspies and Cats

My cat does this thing when he's happy where he'll curl his front paws in and out. It reminds me of a stimming thing, as I do this with my toes too.

He also is very sensitive to noise. He'll run away when my mom drops something on accident, and if I stomp too loudly. He's afraid of the dishwasher, as well as my guitar. If he hears something noisy, he'll run away in panic.

He's terrified of new people. The only people he lets close to him are my immediate family and a few quiet, gentle friends. With us he is very loving and affectionate, but if we ever have a lot of people over, he'll hide, shaking under my mom's bed.

His motor skills aren't very good, either - he can't run in a small circle - he can only run in large, clumsy ones. He is constantly invading my other cat's personal space as well - he's socially awkward, like me.

My kitty and I have a lot in common. Sometimes I wonder if he's an aspie too.

Whether he is or not, though, we make a good team, and I'm happy to have someone in my life as eccentric as I am (even if he's a cat).
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