The Training Quandary Wednesday, Oct 26 2011 


I often hear from teachers, parents, administrators, therapists, social workers and even adults on the autism spectrum that there is not enough training and knowledge out there for our population. That means that almost everyone involved in the debate agrees that there has not been enough training or there are not enough trained personnel to deal with the up and coming explosion in the autism population. However, when I personally ask teachers and administrators to get more training for their staff, I am almost always rebuffed. Why?

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The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA: Part 2 Q & A with DOE Monday, Oct 24 2011 


To continue and expand on our discussion of FERPA, I called the Department of Education for some clarification. The number I used was 800-872-5327 (800-USA-LEARN). I reached a courteous and knowledgeable woman who had some great answers to my questions. I didn’t tape it, nor did I get her permission to quote her, so the replies are my paraphrasing based on my notes of our conversation. If you have questions, I encourage you to call DOE. Be prepared for the post call survey though, which will come a few days later. It freaked me out when a recorded voice said “This is the Department of Education…”

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They’re our kids, not our causes. Sunday, Oct 23 2011 


As the dad of a kid with autism I go to battle a lot. I fight stereotypes, debate our politicians and argue with the school. However, as much as I am passionate about the causes involved in autism I am still aware of why I’m fighting. I’m fighting for my son.

Its easy, when I get into heated debate mode, to start “letting people have it.” I’m a fairly witty guy with a knack for turning a quick phrase, and consequently I have the dubious gift of being able to make people feel inept or uneducated. However, when I start to go down that road I try to ask myself a few questions.

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Reblog: Teaching Social Skills Frontwards, by Dan Coulter Friday, Oct 21 2011 


Wow. What a great perspective on teaching social skills. Its easy to get lost in the reactive mode instead of thinking ahead. Thanks for helping to reorient other parents.

Autism Society of North Carolina Blog

Why do we tend to teach social skills backwards? Instead of consistently teaching our kids manners, many of us wait until they do something wrong and then correct them.

Imagine using this approach in a driver’s education class. They’d put you in a manual transmission car with no training. Then they’d turn on the engine and shove the car into the street, expecting you to learn to drive from the helpful suggestions yelled at you by other drivers.

Anybody think that’s an optimal learning situation?

To give us parents the benefit of the doubt, we don’t use poor teaching tools on purpose. We do what seems obvious at the time. But, looking back, I’m sort of amazed that I kept trying the same thing for so long when it wasn’t getting results.

Even though I knew my son had Asperger Syndrome and that he had trouble learning social skills intuitively…

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Need some help with school advocacy? Try V.O.P.A.! Thursday, Oct 20 2011 


Okay, we all know that the folks in the school try hard. In spite of that, sometimes things go wrong. None of us parents want to do some of the things we say, like hire an attorney, sue the school, or complain to the state and federal departments of education. However, sometimes we know the school is doing something wrong but, since we’re not educators, we don’t know how to say what is wrong in a way the school will understand. If you’re in Virginia, you can get some help from V.O.P.A., the Virginia Office of Protection and Advocacy.

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Sleepless nights? Try melatonin! Thursday, Oct 20 2011 


We are believers in the biomedical side of autism, and existence for that matter. It does make a certain amount of sense to me that garbage in = garbage out. One of the most effective supplements we have found to help our son sleep is, of course, melatonin. However, until about a year ago I never really thought to use it for myself.

Then I developed cluster headaches. Cluster headaches are a fairly rare form of migraine that comes and goes but are grouped around a time period. The pain, for me, was excruciating. Naturally I turned to my best doctor, google, to get some solutions. A number of them were pretty off the wall, but one that I thought might work was a high dose of melatonin.

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Autism Parenting Skills Part 5: Base expectations on facts, not conjecture Wednesday, Oct 5 2011 


We attend a lot of meetings at schools and with doctors due to our sons autism. I’ve noticed that many folks try to tell me how things will unfold for my son, or set limits on his abilities. I have a tendency to think less of people who do that, but it does seem like a somewhat common flaw to assume that expertise is the same thing as divination.

As a dad, I’m fairly skeptical when it comes to anyone limiting my son’s potential. We have been told repeatedly that he wouldn’t be able to do things, like make friends, ride a bike, hop on one foot, etc. Without fail, those folks have been wrong. It takes extra support for Raymond to learn how to do some of those things, but he manages to do them.

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