Tag Archives: science

Guest Post, Aspergers: A holistic experience

18 Dec

It’s been a while since I featured any guest post so, when I came across Philip Walterhouse, a 25 year old guy who blogs about his life with Aspergers Syndrome to which he received a diagnosis of at the age of 16, I just had to ask him to guest post and to my delight he agreed. 

While growing up, I had no idea that I might have Aspergers.  It wasn’t until recently that I began suspecting it.
When I was sixteen years old, I was put in a position in which I had to take a participating role in my life.  It was this experience that made me realize that I could change.  I went from not caring about anything to wanting to know everything about life.  This was the moment I began to access the strengths of the Aspergers learning style. There are three characteristics of being an Aspie that I love.  The first one is the strong motivation to learn everything about a special interest.  The second is the ability to connect many different concepts.  The third is the inability to learn common sense naturally.

A person with Aspergers tends to focus on one interest while excluding everything else.  This can be a problem, but it also allows us to learn concepts and ideas very thoroughly and extensively. The second characteristic is being good at connecting ideas.  I usually read about ten books at a time, reading small sections from each book during any given day.  The books are generally all non-fiction involving my special interests like science, philosophy or
religion.  I think about what I read all day and sometimes I incorporate it into my conversations.  My mind begins to connect thoughts and conclusions from various books and conversations, ultimately converging into one thought pattern.

The third characteristics of Asperger’s is the inability to learn social common sense intuitively.  People usually think of this as something that is “broken”, something negative.  But the bi-product of this has become one of my greatest strengths.  Aspies have to break down social processes, then memorize and practice each step, something
which is intuitive to most people. One of my special interests was social interaction.  I didn’t like being around people for too long, but learning how to interact had a solitary aspect to it.  Learning how beliefs and values influenced social interactions was fascinating to me.  I explored everything from math to science to philosophy to art to religion, in the context of how it affected my social interactions. During college, I explored every subject I could get my hands on and
as I learned it, I always asked myself how this influenced behaviour. This curiosity carried over to university where I began to look at the social interactions that lead to oppression.  This was where I went through the second biggest change of my life.  It involved a child with Autism, the book Becoming an Ally by Anne Bishop and the HBO show
The Wire.

At the time I was a child and youth worker, working with a 10 year old boy with Autism.  When I started with him, he had no behavioural program and no goals.  It wasn’t long before I was constantly thinking of goals, and trying to understand and change our ways of interacting with one another. While working with this child, I was reading the book Becoming An Ally, learning about the type of power that can lead to an oppressive environment.  I was also watching the HBO show The Wire.  It wasn’t until a month into these three activities that I made the connection between them. The show was acting out how oppression happens politically when people fight for power over each other.  The book was explaining how fighting for power worked at a personal level and how it was connected to political struggles.  I was practising how to avoid a power struggle at a personal level when responding to the aggressive behaviours of the autistic child. This scenario of connecting ideas and applying them to my interactions was essential for me to understand the bigger picture and learn how to interact in that picture.  I would observe something that would seem insignificant at the time but then realize how it fit into the puzzle of human interactions.  After analyzing so many pieces, I began to see how everything worked as unit. In the scenario of the child with autism, I began to connect the similarities of how we responded to our power struggle, to how people respond generally to being marginalized.  I began to see my work as creating an environment where we were learning to behave in a way that did not marginalize or oppress. It was precisely what my Aspergers enabled me to do that most people viewed as the characteristics that I was the strongest in.  Whatever felt disabling about Aspergers was outweighed by what it enabled me to do.  This is why I would never trade the Aspie learning style for any other learning style.  It has helped me see the significance in how we communicate.  It has helped me access the small details of human behaviour that others don’t notice which has led me to a very holistic understanding of who we are.

To read more articles by Philip, visit his blog  ‘The blog of Philip Walterhouse’ by clicking HERE

Reference & Related Articles  can be found below

A Syndrome for Success

Welcome to Aspie land and what do I mean by neurotypical

HBO: Temple Grandin trailer

AS & the big bang Theory

Why is Asperger’s Syndrome considered a form of autism 

Discover the extreme world

26 Oct

Discover the extreme world

Wow, Little man is completely taken with this book and in all honesty so am I. Many children no longer add books to their Christmas list, but it’s great when they do!

It’s been well documented that children on the autism spectrum enjoy reading reference books and prefer doing so over a story book.

Many children with Aspergers syndrome are reasonably good with facts and process and store such information better than if it was fiction. Many gain a greater enjoyment when learning and discovering new and exciting facts or scientific theories. Little man is no exception, that’s why I jumped at the chance of reviewing this delightful hardback, ‘The extreme world’ in association with the discovery channel. All though this book isn’t centred around his all time “special interest” in buses, trains and other forms of public transport, I knew it would still provide him hours of entertainment (well, not in one go, lets remember his concentration level differs from most).

Little man is a child that like many others on the autism spectrum, he processes information on a much better level when text is combined with visual stimulation in the way of images or illustrations. This book wasn’t short on images, the type that gets ones brain working overtime.

There were a total of six sections within this book, all covering specific areas, all extreme as one another!

Section (1) ‘Active earth’ This section offers a host of fascinating information, such as, the ends of the earth; the mightiest mountains; ultimate volcano’s and more.

Section (2) ‘Awesome animals’ which surprisingly turnout to be one of the Little man’s favourites, talked about; the gross factor; deadly defence; strange babies; wicked assassins and loads more besides.

Section (3) ‘Incredible science’ was Little man’s preferred section overall. Issues here covered, Strange brains; black holes; the birth of the universe (which I loved) and lots more.

Section (4) ‘Ultimate machines’ Here you could read about dramatic dragsters; rocketing away; jet power; the force of water and more.

Section (5) ‘Super humans’ One section I myself very much enjoyed. Topics such as the amazing human body and the things we can do as human; ultimate jobs; brilliant brain waves and more could be found within this section.

Section (6) and the last sections of the book, ‘History Revealed’ A really informative section in the book that shared content on the living dead (mummification) which rose a lot of questions from Little man, hero’s & villains; war and peace; rat-atouille (the black plague) and even crawl killing (documenting the death penalty and the belief and punishment for witch crimes).

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The cover of this book is very appealing and really catches your eye with a 3D effect and metallic colours. From the front to back cover this book offers some pretty amazing content.

What’s great is the fact the text within the book is kept short and sweet, yet extremely interesting and right to the point, just opening the first page makes you want to go on to explore more!

Each and every page is packed with cool images surrounded by interesting and readable text.

When I asked Little man if he liked it (Once he had finally taken his head out the book so to speak) he stated,

“Mum, I really like this book, I’m defiantly taking it to show and tell at school on Friday”

‘Discover the extreme world’ is a look into our awesome planet as you’ve never seen it before! This fantastic hard back is brought to us in association with the ‘Discovery Channel’ and ‘Miles Kelly’ publishing Ltd and has a RRP of £17.99 and can be brought from all good bookstores.

Would I buy it! Defiantly, I wouldn’t have to think twice either!

If myself and Little man could give it more than the top marks of ***** 5 stars then we would.

With the rise in Measles it’s decision time!

24 Mar

This is such a hard post to write, and I really don’t know how to word what it is I’m feeling.

Nevertheless I need to try.

Tomorrow the 25 th March 2011 is the day I will make an appointment for my youngest child, (Little mans baby brother) to have his immunisation  (MMR) with our local GP.

He is almost 16 months old and should have had the vaccine almost 4 months ago. I wish I could just keep my baby under house arrest away from the worlds harmful viruses, but with two school age children how is this possible!

As a mother to a child with Aspergers this has been one of the hardest decisions of my life, but it’s one I must make as a parent. Both little man and his sister had the MMR jab with little man having his at the height of the controversy over the possible link between that of the MMR and autism.

I decided to opt for single vaccinations but sadly with the country having no supplies of the mumps vaccine this is a no, no. So, I called the local surgery and arranged the baby’s appointment for his immunisation with much fear and dread.

With reported cases of measles rapidly affecting a huge proportion of the UK, the pressure rises.

Do I want my child to be autistic? No!
Do I want my child to catch a virus that can potently cause him brain damage, even death?
No!

I don’t wish for either. However with their being proven risks associated with each of these conditions (especially that of measles) do I want to realistically take that chance on my son’s life? Again, No!
I don’t think I can live with myself if anything happened to him!

Measles can kill, It’s not some myth, but a fact that a child’s life can be taken by a virus that has the capability of becoming deadly.

I think I would rather have an autistic child then run the risk of having no child at all.

Some may say that is selfish! Then again some may say the same to those who choose against such immunizations as it’s  not only their own child’s life in danger but those around them, particularly that of pregnant women! Regardless of what society thinks, I love this little person with all my heart and I can’t help that.

It’s not like I haven’t spent time going over this in my mind! It’s been there since the day he was born  December 2009′ Its something that’s always been there niggling away at me.

Since I discovered I was having a boy I’ve faced that worry of him having an ASD. Of course girls have this condition too but the risk seem much higher for boys (regardless of the number of girls who remain un-diagnosis). Whenever Harley does something ‘odd’ or someone comments how like Little man he is I feel my body freeze. Don’t get me wrong, I love little man just as much as I love his siblings, and though I see his Aspergers as a gift, it’s not something I choose for him. I would never change him but this isn’t the point.

Little man has AS and if anything as a baby/toddler I didn’t notice any developmental delays! My child seemed very advanced. His language was amazing and he was out of nappies being dry throughout the day & the night by the age of 2. I didn’t notice any regression once he had received the immunisation. However what I did notice after this time was his in-tensed interests, obsessions, poor play skills etc. However these were things that I would not have noticed prior to the MMR and would have only become noticeable with age!  I believe little man has always had some degree of sensory sensitivity and sensory seeking behaviours from the day he was born. He only eats certain food, would gag if given a dummy, screamed if his blanket was in the washing machine, and had his bottle to age 6 (just for bed) I also remember his interest in trains from a very young age, he loved lining them up. By around the age of two, he was absorbed in Thomas the tank engine mesmerized by it whenever it was on the telly he was there eyes glued to the scene

There was one change I noticed in little man after the immunisation was given. His sleep pattern become a whole lot more unpredictable. Before this time he would sleep well but only in my arms or my chest (would never sleep in a cot, which is funny as he isn’t a cuddle seeker  at least not no more) As a newborn he had bad colic that kept him awake for hours on end screaming, otherwise he slept through anything.

He wasn’t pre-term but 4 days over due. I did have quite a difficult delivery, with him being born with the cord tightly around his neck, very swollen head and features due to becoming stuck in the birth canal and a very strange tone of blue. His little lips trembled and he was placed under the light to warm him up.

He never cried (apart from them few times he had colic), he never went through the terrible twos, he actually didn’t start the meltdowns till he was around 4 years old.

Harley (baby brother) had a great delivery despite him weighing a whopping 9lb. He was ten days overdue which was quite a surprise given the doctors were trying to keep him in there from week 30!

His extremely advanced! At first I didn’t think so, but he said his first word at 5 months, was taking steps at 7 months and wait for it, “having huge full-blown tantrums at 6 months” these involve head-butting everything, resulting in him looking a tad like Mr bump.

Harley is very advanced in his language, even stringing together a three word sentence and he could count to three by 13 months.

Little sister who was born 3 weeks early and the smallest out the three, met all her milestones at a pretty average pace. She is two years younger than little man and isn’t on the spectrum. She had the MMR jab at 12 months.

I know there is a huge proportion of the world who are very anti vaccine, I also know that many of these parents claim their child/children have been affected by the vaccine! I’m not here to say whether I agree or disagree, that’s not the plan at all. I’m writing this as a parent who needs to make an informed decision on what’s best for her own child!

Harley was very sick at five weeks old and we stayed in the hospital by his side for over a week. He had developed a chest infection that progressed into pneumonia and then he went on to contract H1N1 even through I had already contracted the flu virus while in the latter stages of pregnancy. I never want to see my child with feeding tubs and relying oxygen ever, ever again. If Harley caught measles, mumps or rubella and it affected him in such away how could I cope knowing I basically put him there! Contributed somehow.

Harley’s appointment is in 2 weeks time, he will be sixteen months old. Yes, I will sit pondering questioning my decision for that entire time, but I will also be clinging to the hope he doesn’t contract measles, mumps or rubella either.

I could go on forever writing this, reasoning with my own mind while putting it down for the world to see! But I won’t drive my head crazy no more (at least for the rest of today anyway)

This topic has always produced a debate and is bound to for many years to come! Science is a wonderful thing that sadly normally leads to worry. With medical professionals working hard to prove each other wrong which is mainly done in a display of public statements smeared all over the press, us parents hold little hope of maintaining a smooth ride. Faced with choices that have become some of the most frightening choices we will ever have to make!

I guess this is one us parents will never escape.

NOTE…
This is a personal opinion and choice! I am not stating that those that chose not to vaccinate are bad parents etc. For this reason please have respect if commenting. Although I’m happy for all to comment what ever the opinion, abuse and rude comments will not be published.

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