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THE JOHN AND ROBIN KIRTON INTERVIEW

24 Apr

So the time has come, It’s time for the big Interview. This Month I have John Kirton joining me. He and his wife Robin are the only parents in America who have six children on the autism spectrum. WOW. This Interview is a great insight into the lives of a family with six amazing children. Welcome to the Big Interview. ENJOY ūüôā

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Hi John it’s really great to have this chance to chat with you today.

How are you?


I am doing FANTASTIC, thanks for asking.

 

And how is your wife and the children?

 

We have had a really good winter this year.  The last few years one of the children would bring home a cold or the flu from school, then another would get it. The next couple of weeks it would go through the entire family.  And that happened 3-5 times during each winter season.  It wasn’t much fun.  This year?  Just once and it affected only a few of the children.  We feel that taking supplements and a special diet have helped quite a bit.

 

So John for those that do not know! Why is it that you understand so much about Autism spectrum?

Well I’m no expert on Autism itself, but I am learning all the time.  

Is it true that all six of your children are on the autism spectrum ?

 Yes, it is true.

 

How is life for you and your wife?

 Well, six children were as much as we were counting on. However, when Autism came into the picture it added to the time and emotional requirements.

My son has ASD ( Aspergers ) He can be a little bit of a handful at times! But having Six children on the spectrum wow I’m guessing family life can be a little hectic.

¬†Very true, people do not know the half of it unless they have an Autistic child.¬†¬†I read somewhere that having an Autistic child was the equivalent of having 3-4 ‚Äúnormal‚ÄĚ children. If that‚Äôs true, we have 18-24 children!¬†¬†No wonder we are a little crazy at the end of the day.

 

So Where along on the spectrum are your children?

 

Bobby (15), Emma (11) and Nephi (10) are all Aspergers.  Sarah (7) and Ammon (5) are classic or the most severely Autistic.  And Mary (4) is PDD-NOS.  We have had a number of people ask about the origin of the children’s names.  Some are because of my English heritage and some are from the Book of Mormon.  My Great-Grandfather, John Kirton, joined the Mormon Church in the 1890’s and immigrated from Wallsend, England to Coalville, Utah.

 

How does autism affect each one of your children?

 

Whoa! I can write a book on that question alone.¬†¬†Bobby is very quiet, does very well in school (mostly A‚Äôs), has no real friends and has few social skills.¬†¬†Emma varies from being quiet to very emotional, she does OK in school, she will have emotional ‚Äėmeltdowns‚Äô but has done better with the diet, and she is a fantastic artist, writer and likes to design clothes for her Barbie dolls. Nephi varies from being quiet to very emotional as well, and is a more outgoing male version of Emma.¬†Instead of Barbie dolls, he likes Bakugan and Star Wars/Clone wars.¬†¬†Sarah is very happy and bounces and moves around a lot. One of our many nicknames for her is ‚ÄėTigger‚Äô from Winnie the Pooh. Her favorite ‚Äėstim‚Äô right now is tearing and ripping any kind of paper.¬†¬†She‚Äôll sneak away with a roll of paper towels or dinner napkins and we‚Äôll find her bedroom ankle deep with the shredded remains. She has just a few words that we must coach her to say. And she is not potty-trained.¬†¬†Ammon is much like Sarah in many respects.¬†¬†His favorite ‚Äėstims‚Äô are flapping his hands, bobbing his head and watching doors that he can open and close (see him at the Zoo on my YouTube channel,¬†http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbdkstTZhOE).¬†¬†He can climb anywhere and up and over most everything.¬†¬†He has NO fear. He too is not potty-trained.¬†¬†Mary is our child that is the most ‚Äėnormal‚Äô of the bunch.¬†¬†We thought the Doctor would say she was not Autistic, but she was diagnosed as PDD-NOS.¬†¬†She talks well, has friends at school and is just a bit delayed right now.¬†¬†However, at 4 years, 4 months she too is not potty-trained.¬†¬†But she is at least working on it.¬†¬†Looks like I did write a book.

 

Are any of the children home schooled? 

 No.  Robin says, “What, do you want me to totally lose my mind? LOL.

 

I love your site Autism Bites ,¬†I’m a big fan. Where do you find the time to add to this fantastic site?

I do it in spurts and usually when the children are in bed.

 Do you get much time for anything other then parenting?.  

To get anything else done, Robin and I take turns keeping an eye on things. Much of the time we are both on the job and rely on each other a lot.  During the times that we take an eye off of things… well that’s when we find surprises the children have created for us. Without one another we would never make it.

 

I am in the UK but I have still seen some of the shows you and your family  have appeared on. Good morning America and Larry king being a few of them. How do you find all the media attention? 

¬†Well, I put the ‚Äėmedia ball‚Äô into motion.¬†¬†We went through a lot of grieving, emotional lows and soul searching as we found out about our new lives with Autism.¬†¬†By having our story told we hope that we can help other parents with their trials. We blog, belong to various Autism groups, do TV, radio and Internet (wink!) interviews.¬†¬†We get many emails though our website and so far have answered every one.¬†¬†I‚Äôve just been accepted as an Internet reporter for Autism on examiner.com and will be posting there a number of times each week.¬†¬†People that ask or need more answers or help, we will contact by phone.¬†¬†We have a number of Autistic adults that we talk to quite often.¬†¬†We hope that our experiences can help others with their journey on the road of Autism.

 

And tell us a little about autism 6 on the Discovery Health Channel.

 

I got a call on my cell phone one day from the president, Bill Hayes, of the production company, Figure8 Films.¬†¬†He told me that Discovery Health had been looking for a family that had multiple children with Autism to do a story about.¬†¬†They discovered us from a local newspaper story in Salt Lake City, Utah.¬†¬†They especially liked the idea that we have the entire Autism spectrum in one family.¬†¬†Robin and I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to increase Autism awareness and acceptance.¬†¬†We were of course concerned about how we would be portrayed.¬†Bill said we would be able to see the show first before it was broadcast to insure we were happy with the final product.¬†¬†We are.¬†¬†The film crew started shooting every month for 2-4 days, from December 2007 to May 2008.¬†¬†The crew was four people, the Producer, cameraman, soundman and crew assistant. Some people have expressed concern about our children being exploited or being put through undue stress.¬†¬†We are a very loving family and our children just do not have much of the change of routine problems we hear that other families do.¬†¬†Ammon would climb on the camera tripod and want to be picked up and hugged by all of the crew.¬†¬†He was very persistent and got in the way of filming much of the time.¬†¬†Sarah was going through a ‚Äėsniffing everyone‚Äô stage and did.¬†¬†All the time.¬†¬†When the crew followed Nephi at school, he introduced them to everyone they walked past, ‚ÄúThis is MY film crew!‚Ä̬†¬†The crew got a big kick out of that.¬†The story is a piece on each of the children, with mom and dad comments throughout.¬†¬†We have teachers from the schools and one of the doctors from the University of Utah‚Äôs Autism Research Project talk about their Autism.

 

As you know like yourself I’m a member of model me kids ( A great social network for autism ) Do you find it important to meet other parents of children with ASD and raise awareness for the condition?¬†

 

I really do.  It’s great to be able to find someplace that you like and are accepted.  Model Me Kids is the best I’ve found and I’ve been all over the Internet. (Thanks MT!)  There are too many places where parents fight, call names and are just plain nasty.  No one needs that, especially parents dealing with Autism already.  I just wish I had more time to be available to give comments or suggestions, but sometimes just getting up in the morning is a great day.

 

As it’s Autism awareness month would you be so kind to give us one reason to love and embrace autism. I know there are plenty but I only have the one blog:)

 

Love and embrace your Autistic child, advocate for them and get you and them out into the world so the rest of the world will know and love them too.  I’m not saying it will be easy, but I am saying it will be worth it.

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me John. I know you’re an extremely busy man and I thank you very much. Look forward to learning more and more about yourself and wonderful family. 

 

Thanks Claire.  Please ask your readers to be my friend on Model Me Kids (http://modelmekids.ning.com/profile/JohnKirton) and to visit and comment on our blog (http://autismbitestheblog.blogspot.com/). 

COMING SOON TO A BOY WITH ASPERGER’S

11 Apr

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The next Big Interview with John Kirton.

30 Mar

Wow I’m really looking forward to the next Big Interview.

The last two Interview’s have gone down a Storm and I hoping all the readers will enjoy the next one just as much.¬†

With it being Autism awareness Month this April I fault who better to Interview then John Kirton. For those that may not of heard about John or his wonderful family then Please don’t miss this fantastic Interview. John and his wife raise six children on the Autism spectrum. As well as appearing all over American television on shows like Good Morning America and Larry King they also have there show autism 6 on the Discovery Health channel. John talks to me about his life raising six children on the spectrum, the highs and lows ups and downs. It really is one not to be missed. Catch the Interview on Friday the 24th of April. Want to learn more about the Kirton family visit Autism Bites Now:)

RE..THE BIG INTERVIEW

27 Feb

I had the most enjoyable time doing the big interview with Cale. I’m looking forward to the next one which will be scheduled¬†for the end of march. Stay tuned to find out who is up next. Let me just say it’s gonna great. Look out for the big Interview poster which will list the name of the next guest participating in the interview. Post will be up on the site within the next week and again a week before the event.

Interested in taking part? Then leave a comment with a contact email or email me at parkinson.claire@yahoo.com

The Big Interview with Cale Irwin

27 Feb

At last it’s here! The Big Interview.

This month I’m speaking to Cale Irwin a 20 year old with the condition Aspergers. Not only did i enjoy this interview but i learnt a great deal from it’ so thank you Cale.

Hi cale. so you have Aspergers? Is that correct? How old were you when you discovered you had Aspergers? And how old are you know?

I have Asperger’s Syndrome, diagnosed by a psychiatrist in 1997, when i was 8. I was informed about the diagnosis when i started asking about it when I was 17. Since my brother has classic Kanner’s, and autism is genetic, and I know my social skills were awful, it seemed Asperger’s was a possibility. So that’s when i found out about it directly from my parents. im almost 20 now.

Did you ever see yourself as different when growing up? Do you remember what age you were at the time these fellings came about?

I felt different from my peers from the moment I started meeting my peers; the age difference between us was the first factor. Because I was fully¬†conversational at around 14 months, Iwas involved in programs for late toddlers before i’d even learned to walk. By kindergardenthe differences between myself and my peers began to lead to bullying which continued on into my late teens.¬† However, it was not until 14 that I began to understand just how different I was from my peers. I always knew I was smarter ( not in a cocky way, but in a testable IQ way ), and less socially competent. But¬† it wasn’t until then that I realized I perceived the world differently then they did. It was then that i become aware of how they perceived me, as an other,¬†and one who had always been an other and simply hadn’t realized it. I would compare it to when the ugly duckling looked up for the first time and realized he wasn’t with his family, but rather with individuals who bore some similarities but also major differences from himself.

Cale what was school life like for a child with Asperger’s?

I obviously can’t speak for all individuals with AS, but for me, all elementary classes besides my gifted-LD class were hell! I was physically assaulted daily from K-4th, and verbally abused from 3rd on. I knew the material before we learned it in class, but teachers became angry when i sat and read rather then paying attention to their lessons. My gifted-LDclass which was all individuals who would later be diagnosed with Asperger’s or PDD-NOS was the major highlight . I was surrounded with kids who were like me. Offered material that challenged me intellectually, and in a classroom built for kids with sensory sensitivities.

Could you tell me is it true that all children with Aspergers develop special interest?

I think most do! Though i know i didn’t develop my special interest ( which happens to be ASDs ) until I was 15 or so. Before that I sort of bounced around, reading a bit of everything, but never finding anything that stuck. Now I eat, sleep and breathe books on autism, and no one can make me shut up about it.

Do you have any sensory sensitivities or problems with moter tics?

I have both! I can’t be suddenly touched or be around loud noise ( classifying loud as at or above normal television volume ). I can’t filter out background noise so i need conversations to be in a quiet environments. I have proprioceptive difficulties, so I stim almost constantly to gain information about the location of my body in space. I also have prosopagnosia ( face -blindness ), but I’m not sure whether that’s classifiable as a sensory issue in the same way.

Recently I have developed a slew of moter tics, and very recently some vocal ones, which would warrant a TS diagnosis in any¬†country but¬†the US (as DSM says 18 or under onset, but ICD-10 says 21 and under). It would be difficult to say whether the TS is more bothersome because of the activities it prevents me from doing ( I’ve had to change my focus in neuroscience as i can no longer operate needles/scalpels ), or because of the unkind and judgemental remarks i get from others.

So Cale, What’s life like for you now, how are you spending your time, are you happy with where your life is heading?

Life for me know is better then it has ever been . I’ve gained a position in the college which allows me to utilize my devotion to and fascination with autism ( my professors were quite excited to find an Aspie with a special interest in ASDs. Now i can do all their grunt work for them, because it’s far more fascinating to me then to them. ; ) I spend about a quarter of my working hours in class and doing hw, a quarter reading informative materials for fun, a quarter reading informative materials for research purposes, and as of late a quarter¬†with autistic children, one of whom I’m setting up an ABA program for. I tend to get the majority of my social interaction with peers during meals or in the half-hour before sleep, but i do try and schedule a few hours each weekend to associate with friends.

I’mvery happy with where life is heading at this point. Academia was made for Aspies and i’ve certainly found my place within it. I have found a job goal to aim for ( BCBA) which I know will be immensely personally satisfying. And adopting children is certainly in my future, either with or without a partner.

Wow they are some pretty amazing goals! I wish you every luck in succeeding¬† with them. It’s been fantastic speaking with you Cale. Your a person¬†with a strong sense of where his meant to be in life. Your story is one of a young man that never gave up on what he wanted no matter what was but in his¬†path Maybe the years of bullying have made you the strong man you are today. I hope so!

Please come back again some time in the feature with an update on your journey through life, But before you leave would you be so kind to finish by giving us a cool  Aspie fact! one you would like to express to the world?

I can’t think of a cool fact off hand ( other then the speculation that both Steve jobs and Bill Gates are Aspies ), but i will offer my favorite Aspie quote: “For success in science and art, a dash of autism is essential.” – Hans Asperger.

I could not agree more:)

Want to read more on what Cale has been up to? Visit http://frogger11758.wordpress.com or follow frogger11758 on twitter .

UPDATE..THE BIG INTERVIEW

13 Feb

This is a update for my post new features.

The big interview… The date for the first big interview is 28/2/09 This is a feature i have been looking forward to. It’s always great to hear peoples stories. I love reading interviews regarding ASD. It’s gonna be fab as i will get to hear everybody’s views and personal experiences relating to the condition and as a parent to a child on the spectrum i think i could learn some stuff as there’s always something new to learn about ASD.

The first Big Interview is with Cale Irwan a young guy of 20 who is on the spectrum. He has the condition Aspergers! Cale tell’s me what life was like growing up with Aspergers. He talks about school life, sensory problems, motor tic’s and more.

This is a interview i advise you not to miss a must read and a great look into one boys life with Asperger’s.

Cale irwin’s interview 28/2/09

LOOK OUT FOR UP AND COMING INTERVIEWS. WANT TO GET HEARD? GET YOURSELF ON THE INTERVIEW LIST EMAIL ME AT

parkinson.claire@yahoo.com

Aspergers live chat

17 Dec

Are you a parent of a child with Aspergers? I am.

Lets chat, share, laugh and cry. Let not fell alone no more!

I want us to come together, gain advice from one another. I have added a live chat widget to this blog. I have also created a group on google groups called Aspergers. JOIN. We can create group messages, chat as a group or one to one basis. My email address is parkinson.claire@yahoo.com add this to your msn or check the widget in my sidebar for the Aspergers group link. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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