Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Autism Awareness

We're heading towards April, "Autism Awareness Month." Somehow I always have mixed emotions about this concept. Is Autism Speaks defining awareness in the same way that I do? Is autism awareness a matter of just giving everyone blue wristbands and raising money? Is it enough that people be made aware of the number of people that are on the spectrum that they bump into in a day? Or is there some sort of understanding required?

Amidst these mixed emotions I got an email from one of the Baltimore Saints hockey coaches, marking the end of the inaugural season of the team. The Saints are a Special Hockey team, with lots of autistic members. Here's an excerpt:

When my brother came to me and asked me to help I had no idea what to expect, but as I met parents and players I started to learn that this was going to be something I was going to look forward to every Saturday. As I talked to some parents this weekend in Buffalo I learned a lot about your children. There was a time when I went to a store and saw a child not behaving, all I could think was, "Wow, how could that mom or dad not handle that child?" Now that I have been with your children, all I want to do is see if there is something I can do to help, knowing that the child may be like one of the children on my hockey team.

I've decided that this coach is more than just aware of autism and other neurological challenges. He has a level of understanding, he's involved, and most importantly, he cares. Maybe that's what we should be shooting for in April.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Going on a trip

We're pretty excited about going on a big trip at our house. Sometimes though, excitement can turn to anxiety when you don't really understand what's going on. That's why I made a visual schedule. With a few whiteouts for anonymity (plus all of the pictures are from the web), here it is:

PS - If you know someone in the Baltimore area who would like to do special hockey (i.e. they have a traumatic brain injury or developmental disability such as Autism and Down Syndrome ) tell them to check out the Baltimore Saints.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Another quick link post

Anyone interested in autism really needs to check out this blog. It totally rocks. I especially recommend it to neurotypicals out there who feel tied to the autism = tragedy paradigm. If you honestly read this young man's blog, I don't think you can persist in seeing the autism spectrum in terms of black and white anymore.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

One more time

I know I've posted about Wendy Portillo twice already (here and here), but sadly it appears this story is not done with. Now it's turned into a court case pitting parent vs. teacher and those are usually pretty ugly. This case is too personal and disturbing for me to try to see from the teacher's point of view. If you teach special needs kids you have to feel compassion towards them. You can be frustrated that you don't have the time, training or whatever, but for me it's unforgivable to treat a 5 year old autistic child so cruely. Clearly, Ms. Portillo hates kids and it's time to find a new profession. Sorry, no compassion from me. If you even moderately agree, please read and consider signing this petition.

Positive note for the post? My special one is in an inclusive setting that is staffed by teachers that are nothing like Wendy Portillo. They care about him and all of the students in their school. We are very, very lucky.
image above: "Broken Heart" by Fabu