Autism Movie Review: Ocean Heaven Tuesday, Mar 5 2013 


Due to my position with the Autism Society of Northern Virginia I was fortunate enough to be part of a parent panel for this film, which was put on by the Northern Virginia Jewish Community Center for the Reelabilities Film Festival of Greater DC. I would first like to thank those folks for their support in creating disability awareness and, more specifically, autism awareness in the Metro DC area.

The film stars Jet Li as the widowed father of an autistic boy. The opening scenes are confusing, then shocking, then I was totally immersed in the film. The story was overwhelmingly compelling to me, as the thought that my wife might die and leave me alone to care for our son is always somewhere in the back of my mind. I also appreciate the way so many folks in the movie compliment the dad on his dedication to his son, but the film still shows that he is human and makes mistakes.

The film also shows the stark lack of services in China, as once the father is diagnosed with a terminal disease he tries to find multiple locations to place his son. He looks at his old school, but the kids are too young. They look at an institution, but he can’t bring himself to make his son stay there. I find this mirrors what most people experience here in the US, where the community based choices are few and far between.

I’m giving this film 4 out of 5 stars. Its well played, and the actor who plays the autistic son does a great job. The rest of the cast turns in solid performances as well, and the story had me in tears in several places. It manages to touch on many of the aspects of transition as well as the parent/child aspects of autistic life. It is streaming on Netflix if you want to watch. I’d recommend taking the time.

April 2012: Autism Acceptance Month Friday, Apr 20 2012 


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I normally write these posts on World Autism Awareness Day, but this year I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to write until now. Also, I have a lot to say and wanted to let my thoughts coalesce into a more solid form prior to posting my annual self assessment. I like to take stock of where my family has been and where we are now, and I finally feel ready to do that.

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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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Which Autism organization should I support? Sunday, May 29 2011 


I know that’s the burning question on our minds. “There are so many autism based organizations out there. Who deserves my support?” I’m going to approach this from a parents perspective, but I will mention a couple groups for adults on the spectrum as well. I’m going to give a description of each group and, at the end, give you my opinion of said group. I don’t want you to confuse the facts with my opinions, and I certainly don’t want to be charged with libel.

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Does health equal worth? Monday, Mar 14 2011 


I’ve been musing on this concept lately. It seems like our society views healthiness as the measure of a person’s worthiness or ability to contribute. I find that view somewhat skewed, as when I was at my healthiest in terms of BMI and resting heart rate I probably contributed less to society than any prior person in the history of time.

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