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School strike for climate - save the world by changing the rules | Greta Thunberg | TEDxStockholm - YouTube
"Greta Thunberg realized at a young age the lapse in what several climate experts were saying and in the actions that were being taken in society. The difference was so drastic in her opinion that she decided to take matters into her own hands. Greta is a 15-year-old Stockholm native who lives at home with her parents and sister Beata. She’s a 9th grader in Stockholm who enjoys spending her spare time riding Icelandic horses, spending time with her families two dogs, Moses and Roxy. She love animals and has a passion for books and science. At a young age, she became interested in the environment and convinced her family to adopt a sustainable lifestyle. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community."
gretathunberg  climatechange  2018  sustainability  youth  autism  aspergers  sweden  change  globalarming  activism  extinction  massextinction  equity  climatejustice  inequality  infrastructure  interconnected  crisis  flight  action  money  corruption  anthropocene  goodancestors  resistance  science  climatescience  hope 
december 2018 by robertogreco
The Educational Tyranny of the Neurotypicals | WIRED
"Ben Draper, who runs the Macomber Center for Self Directed Learning, says that while the center is designed for all types of children, kids whose parents identify them as on the autism spectrum often thrive at the center when they’ve had difficulty in conventional schools. Ben is part of the so-called unschooling movement, which believes that not only should learning be self-directed, in fact we shouldn't even focus on guiding learning. Children will learn in the process of pursuing their passions, the reasoning goes, and so we just need to get out of their way, providing support as needed.

Many, of course, argue that such an approach is much too unstructured and verges on irresponsibility. In retrospect, though, I feel I certainly would have thrived on “unschooling.” In a recent paper, Ben and my colleague Andre Uhl, who first introduced me to unschooling, argue that it not only works for everyone, but that the current educational system, in addition to providing poor learning outcomes, impinges on the rights of children as individuals.

MIT is among a small number of institutions that, in the pre-internet era, provided a place for non-neurotypical types with extraordinary skills to gather and form community and culture. Even MIT, however, is still trying to improve to give these kids the diversity and flexibility they need, especially in our undergraduate program.

I'm not sure how I'd be diagnosed, but I was completely incapable of being traditionally educated. I love to learn, but I go about it almost exclusively through conversations and while working on projects. I somehow kludged together a world view and life with plenty of struggle, but also with many rewards. I recently wrote a PhD dissertation about my theory of the world and how I developed it. Not that anyone should generalize from my experience—one reader of my dissertation said that I’m so unusual, I should be considered a "human sub-species." While I take that as a compliment, I think there are others like me who weren’t as lucky and ended up going through the traditional system and mostly suffering rather than flourishing. In fact, most kids probably aren’t as lucky as me and while some types are more suited for success in the current configuration of society, a huge percentage of kids who fail in the current system have a tremendous amount to contribute that we aren’t tapping into.

In addition to equipping kids for basic literacy and civic engagement, industrial age schools were primarily focused on preparing kids to work in factories or perform repetitive white-collar jobs. It may have made sense to try to convert kids into (smart) robotlike individuals who could solve problems on standardized tests alone with no smartphone or the internet and just a No. 2 pencil. Sifting out non-neurotypical types or trying to remediate them with drugs or institutionalization may have seemed important for our industrial competitiveness. Also, the tools for instruction were also limited by the technology of the times. In a world where real robots are taking over many of those tasks, perhaps we need to embrace neurodiversity and encourage collaborative learning through passion, play, and projects, in other words, to start teaching kids to learn in ways that machines can’t. We can also use modern technology for connected learning that supports diverse interests and abilities and is integrated into our lives and communities of interest.

At the Media Lab, we have a research group called Lifelong Kindergarten, and the head of the group, Mitchel Resnick, recently wrote a book by the same name. The book is about the group’s research on creative learning and the four Ps—Passion, Peers, Projects, and Play. The group believes, as I do, that we learn best when we are pursuing our passion and working with others in a project-based environment with a playful approach. My memory of school was "no cheating,” “do your own work,” "focus on the textbook, not on your hobbies or your projects," and "there’s time to play at recess, be serious and study or you'll be shamed"—exactly the opposite of the four Ps.

Many mental health issues, I believe, are caused by trying to “fix” some type of neurodiversity or by simply being insensitive or inappropriate for the person. Many mental “illnesses” can be “cured” by providing the appropriate interface to learning, living, or interacting for that person focusing on the four Ps. My experience with the educational system, both as its subject and, now, as part of it, is not so unique. I believe, in fact, that at least the one-quarter of people who are diagnosed as somehow non-neurotypical struggle with the structure and the method of modern education. People who are wired differently should be able to think of themselves as the rule, not as an exception."
neurotypicals  neurodiversity  education  schools  schooling  learning  inequality  elitism  meritocracy  power  bias  diversity  autism  psychology  stevesilberman  schooliness  unschooling  deschooling  ronsuskind  mentalhealth  mitchresnick  mit  mitemedialab  medialab  lifelongkindergarten  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  pedagogy  tyranny  2018  economics  labor  bendraper  flexibility  admissions  colleges  universities  joiito 
november 2018 by robertogreco
An Autistic Education - The Autistic Advocate
""School is like a universe of sensory and overwhelm shoved in a bottle, cork applied and shaken up. Remove the cork and it explodes in your face."

I've never written much about my children, because I firmly believe that their story is theirs to tell, not mine. But what's been happening in the last few weeks directly relates to me and my story, it's especially relevant.

Quinn, my eldest, who is 8, was struggling hugely at school. His teacher was off sick and had been for a while. He was having a supply teacher, who he only describes as 'VERY TALL', in an ominous voice. She must really be tall, Michelle is nearly 6 feet tall so it's not like he's not used to tall women. Or maybe it's because, when you're anxious everyone seems to loom over you and oppress you.

Quinn's Headteacher has taken his class a few times, which Quinn likes, because he's the kind of man who adds a corny joke in every third or fourth line, which appeals to Quinn's sense of humour. He also has another class teacher standing in, who has kind of become a rock to Quinn as she represents the only piece of stability he has at school at the moment.

School had Ofsted inspections in last week, which obviously made the teachers anxious, which probably fed into Quinn's anxious state. It also didn't help that no matter how much we tried to change his mind, he remained convinced that they were there to inspect him, not the school.

School was also off-timetable because it's Christmas. That time of year which absolutely screws up Autistic children and adults. Houses turn into some deranged Madman's idea of Santa's grotto, with Christmas scenes outside made up of a million high powered searchlights, searing into your eyeballs and your soul. The music blares everywhere you go, the same songs on repeat jabbing into your ears, your skull.

Tinsel. Evil, evil tinsel. It glints and winks at you, sparkling in a merrily Christmassy way that can't help but catch your eye, hypnotise you with its twitch inducing, irritating twinkling. Then some evil entity wraps it round you for a 'joke', where it scratches and scrapes at your skin and feels like it's throttling you.

Our house is always little threadbare on decorations beyond a tree.

Bah humbug.

Every year though I do hang up some Mistletoe, which I keep, with my manly, handsomeness, trying to lure Michelle to stand under, but I always end up with Olivia somehow.

Chocolate and milk breath kisses from a four year old.

How delightful...

Sorry, I got sidetracked on the horrors of Christmas. It's pretty overwhelming.

School have been brilliant and supportive as ever, they listen to us, work with us and, more importantly, listen and work with Quinn to make changes to support him as best they can, but it's still affecting him negatively and hugely.

Basically he's all over the place. One morning he had a huge meltdown and ran to his room, slamming his bedroom door.

Immediately there was a crash.

I went running.

I opened the door and there he was in a crumpled heap on the floor.

As he'd slammed his door, his whiteboard (where we write his timetable for the next day and Quinn draws), had fallen off of the wall and landed on him.

Physically, he was fine, but the look on his face utterly destroyed me. His eyes were dull and raw and wet, with huge bags under them, his lip was actually trembling. His world was crumbling around him.

The teacher he worships was gone, along with the safety and comfort she brings.

His routine was all messed up. Routines are part of what keep us Autistic people safe. They are our comfort and our safety net. We cling to them and they help keep us together, because they don't change. Change is hard to process. Change involves reassessing situations and scripts, people and places. Change brings us uncertainty, uncertainty brings anxiety and, oh dear me are we anxious creatures.

In that split second between seeing him lying there and picking the whiteboard off him, what he was going through hit me with a Flashback. I've blocked out a lot of my time at school, mostly due to the constant sensory overwhelm, being surrounded by people i struggled to relate to, the bullying, the isolation, and having to learn in what, to me, was a poisonous environment. I look back at school and beyond certain standout moments there is nothing but black. I look into my mind and most of my school is locked behind the door I described in 'The Inside of Autism'.

This Flashback hit me pretty hard. I actually physically staggered and fell to my knees as I knelt to lift the board off of him. The door in my mind, the door that holds my darkest thoughts and memories, exploded open and overwhelmed me with over an hours worth of memory in a split second:

I haven't done my homework.

I got distracted last night, I was supposed to read a chapter of a book and write a book report, but I read the whole book and then I had to go to bed.

I knew I needed to write the report, I tried to tell Mum, but the words were locked in my head. All I could do was comply and quietly nod and agree with Mum when she asked me to clean my teeth and get into bed.

So I did, I lay there, eyes wide open for hours, wanting to wait until Mum had gone to bed so i could get up and write it.

It got later and longer and longer and later and I must have fallen asleep.

I wake up and already, inwardly I'm panicking, screaming and shouting inside my skull.

I try to follow my routine quicker so I'll have time to write it, but i start forgetting things and have to keep going back. I forgot my sock three times and ended up stuck in a causal loop, staring into space, swaying gently.

My Mum shouts at me again and again and inside, like pushing myself out of thick mud, I feel myself rise to the surface enough to shout "Coming!"

It comes out wrong though, it sounds rude and angry and I didn't mean it to sound that way.

Mum is cross, she's shouting at me, my Dad is lunging up the stars ready to smack me and I'm sat on the bed in my trousers, rocking harder and harder, one sock half hanging off my foot, no shirt.

I haven't done my homework.

My brain seizes up and i explode.

Screaming and crying, just an explosion of noise and outpouring of pain and frustration and it goes on.

And on...

And on...

And on...

And on...

My Dad dresses me roughly as I'm still screaming and carries me out to his van. I quieten during the three minute drive to school.

We pull up outside. We're late.

I haven't done my homework.

Inside, a version of me is screaming to be let out.

Outside, the Mask comes down.

I turn to my Father and ask "Do I look like I've been crying?""

...

"I lay back on the bed, looking at the familiar cracks in my ceiling. Lines i have followed for years whilst waiting for sleep.

I'm so tired. Tired to my bones. I don't want to die, not really, I just want to step out, I've had enough. I don't know another way of doing it though. Nobody sees what I see. Nobody is what I am. Nobody else stands on the periphery of life stuttering and farting and misfiring like Mr Toad's car.

79 tablets sitting in my belly. I can feel them there, slowly dissolving.

I close my eyes. I can feel the softness of the pillow as my head sinks into it.

A lifetime of being separate from everything, disjointed and apart starts to feel different, starts to feel like it happened to someone else...

I think of school again, as I did before I took the tablets. It's still just black, still just a sense of hurting and pain and fear, but it feels distant now, far away. It's a nice feeling.

I feel waves of comfort slowly washing over me, almost as if each wave is a tablet dissolving and disappearing into my bloodstream.

I can hear my clock ticking on the wall, it seems to synchronise with my heartbeat.

I'm relaxed and calm for probably the first time in my life. My head is quiet. The Rolodex of my mind has slowed to a crawl.

I'm floating now. Watching myself lie there. Not screaming now, not trying to fight with my body to get anything out. I'm Mute, but in a good way, because I choose to be.

I'm stepping out.

No more confusion.

No more pain.

No more exhaustion.

No more alone.

I sleep.

Just darkness.

I awake to my alarm

The fleeting calm gone.

I sigh and sit up. I look around the room of a teenager who tried to kill himself and failed, the teenage posters, my books. It all feels a little redundant.

Last night I was leaving.

Last night i was dying and i wasn't scared.

The thought of not having to do this anymore made me happy.

And I failed at happy."
autism  experience  schools  schooling  2018  kieranrose  education  children  accessibility  difference  carolblack  standardization 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The Double Empathy Problem: Developing Empathy and Reciprocity in Neurotypical Adults | Ryan Boren
"My oldest is autistic. He attended elementary school until a few years ago, when we started unschooling. He has an incredible memory that provides gritty texture to his stories of his time there. Stories about forced neurotypicalization, lack of empathy and understanding, and color-coded behaviorism. Stories about the pathologizing of his wonderful mind that killed confidence, making room for shame to unfurl. Such stories are common in deficit and medical model cultures, which is why we need a social model awakening.

A pernicious stereotype about autism is that autistic people lack empathy. To be openly autistic is to encounter and endure this supremely harmful trope. One of the cruel ironies of autistic life is that autistic folks are likely to be hyper-empathic. Another irony is that neurotypicals and NT society are really, really bad at empathy and reciprocity. When your neurotype is the default, you have little motivation to grow critical capacity. Marginalization develops critical distance and empathic imagination.

We have an empathy problem, and it’s not one confined to autistic people. It’s a double empathy problem.
The ‘double empathy problem’ refers to the mutual incomprehension that occurs between people of different dispositional outlooks and personal conceptual understandings when attempts are made to communicate meaning.


Source: From finding a voice to being understood: exploring the double empathy problem

Neurodivergent people are forced to attempt understanding of neurotypical people and society. We are constantly judged and assessed by neurotypical standards. We must analyze and interpret in order to conform and pass so that we can get the sticker, the “cool kid cash”, and the promotion. There is almost no reciprocity in return. Let’s change that. Turn the diagnostic lens upon yourself. Question assumptions, learn about other matrices of sociality, and reciprocate.
Empathy and communication go two ways, and neurotypical folks haven’t shown much interest in meeting neurodivergent folks halfway. Reciprocity is a basic tenet of social skills, and neurotypicals are often incapable of reciprocity outside of their usual scripts. We autistics are called mind-blind by folks who have made zero effort to understand and empathize with neurodivergent minds, who are utterly ignorant of alternative matrices of sociality.

Source: Autistic Empathy – Ryan Boren

In that post on autistic empathy are many resources to help neurotypical folks develop empathy for neurodivergent perspectives. My school district’s work on in-class inclusion of neurodivergent and disabled students is a great and wonderful relief. Segregation is always lesser and wrong. Let’s continue that progress toward social model understanding with attention to the mutual incomprehension of the double empathy problem. “When the adults change, everything changes.”"



"“Empathy is not an autistic problem, it’s a human problem, it’s a deficit in imagination.” We can’t truly step into another neurotype, but we can seek story and perspective. I’ll leave you with this video offering a taste what it is like to endure the daily gauntlet of neurotypical questioning. To not respond to questions is to be called rude. To not respond will get you publicly color-coded as an orange or red and denied perks that the compliant NT kids get. To not exchange this disposable social styrofoam is to be a problem. Make it stop. Empathize with what it is like to navigate these interactions while dealing with the sensory overwhelm of raucous environments not designed for you."
ryanboren  autism  neurodiversity  empathy  2017  communication  inclusion  inclusivity  segregation  marginalization  unschooling  deschooling  schools  education  learning  reciprocity 
december 2017 by robertogreco
avoiding the high-brow freak show | sara hendren
"Oliver Sacks is probably the only author many people have read about disability at length. Sacks wrote many books with such a keen eye for description and also a literate, humanitarian lens—he was able to link together ideas in natural history, the sciences, and the humanities with sincerity and warmth, and always with people at the center. But which people? The subjects of the book, or the reader who is “reading” herself, her own experiences, as she takes in these stories? In any good book, many characters are involved: author, characters, reader. But there’s some particular tricky territory in disability narratives.

It’s challenging to write about this subject for a mainstream audience, perhaps because there are so many well-rehearsed pitfall tropes in characterizing bodily and developmental differences. Descriptions of physicality, speech, or idiosyncratic movement can slide so easily into spectacle. And revealing the ways that disabled people* cope, make sense, and create joy and humor in their lives can collapse into inspiration, easily won.

I’m thinking about Sacks as I write my own words, interpreting my own many encounters with disabled people in a way that both engages readers for whom the subject is ostensibly new, and that also does justice to the integrity and singularity of those people involved. I’m trying to write about disability and its reach into the wider human experience, that is, without making individual people into metaphors. Now: those ideas might be laudable—interdependent life, a critique of individualism, all bodies and lived experiences as endless variation, necessarily incomplete in their own ways—but they are ideas nonetheless. How to make this tradeoff? How to help the uninitiated reader by saying See, see here, your life is caught up in these stakes too, but without flattening the individual subjects on whom those ideas are based?

I keep circling around this review in the LRB of Sacks’s An Anthropologist on Mars and The Island of the Colorblind—analysis of which includes his book Awakenings and could also be applied to The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat. Jenny Diski admires Sacks’s projects and his craft, but she also has this to say:
“A story needs a conclusion whereas a case-history may not have one. In fact, stories have all kinds of needs that a case-history will not supply, and Sacks is insistent that he is writing the stories of his patients, not their cases. This is not intended to fudge fact and fiction, but to enlarge patients into people.

On the other hand, he is describing people with more or less devastating illnesses— that is his raison d’être—and his explicit purpose is to generalize from these, usually unhappy, accidents of life and nature, to a greater understanding of the human condition. In Awakenings he states: ‘If we seek a “curt epitome” of the human condition—of long-standing sickness, suffering and sadness; of a sudden, complete, almost preternatural “awakening”; and, alas! of entanglements which may follow this “cure”—there is no better one than the story of these patients.’

He is offering life, death and the whole damn thing in the metaphor of his patients. And it is true that these patients and others show us what it is like, as he says, ‘to be human and stay human in the face of adversity’. But metaphors are not in fact descriptions of people in their totality. They are intentional, and consciously or unconsciously edited tropes, not complete, contained narratives.

I don’t know any kind of narrative, fictional or otherwise, that can present people in their totality, so perhaps it doesn’t matter, but Sacks is offering us people because of their sickness and the manner of their handling it. This is hardly an overturning of the medicalizing tendency of doctors. And when we read these stories, as we do, to tell us more about ourselves, we read them as exaggerations of what we are, as metaphors for what we are capable of. Their subjects may not be patients as freaks, but they are patients as emblems. They are, as it were, for our use and our wonderment. Around their illness, the thoughts of Leibniz, Kant, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Proust are hoisted like scaffolding, as if to stiffen their reality into meaning.”

Stiffening their reality into meaning! It’s a cutting and exact criticism, especially when it seems that Sacks was utterly sincere in his search for human and humane connection—with these patients as clinical subjects and in his engagement with readers.

Diski hints at the pushback Sacks got from scholars in disability studies, too; scholar Tom Shakespeare took a swipe at him as “the man who mistook his patients for a career,” calling his body of work a “high-brow freak show.” And when I re-read Sacks’s New Yorker essay, excerpted from the Anthropologist book, on autistic self-advocate Temple Grandin, I see a little bit what Shakespeare meant. There is something of the microscope being employed in that encounter, and somehow we walk away fascinated but maybe less than conjoined to Grandin’s experience. It’s rich with connection and with pathos (in a good way!), but there’s distance in it too. So—it’s not perfect.

And yet: people read and loved that book, saw themselves in it. And Grandin went on to write several books in her own voice, to have a wide audience for her work and wisdom. The visibility of autistic self-advocacy has been greatly amplified since Sacks’s writing about it. (And yet—also—Diski says that Sacks has a way of making meaning out of disability that’s essentially a wonder at the human body via its ailments, as in “My God, we are extraordinary, look how interestingly wrong we can go.”) Is there a way to affirm the extraordinary without ending at: there but for the grace of god…? Without ending with gratitude that we don’t share someone’s plight? I want readers to come away uncertain: about where there’s joy and where there’s pain, about how they might make different choices, ordinary and extraordinary choices, if handed a different set of capacities in themselves or in their loved ones.

But can a writer really calibrate that level of nuance? Lately I’m thinking that I can only write what I can write, knowing that it will be incomplete and partial in its rendering.

I want a world full of disabled voices, people telling their stories in their own ways, with their own voices intact. But I also want a world of people to read about the collective stakes inherent in disability—and not just the rights issues that are being ignored, urgent as they are. I want people to see that spending time thinking about disability is an invitation to see the world differently, and to locate one’s own experiences differently. Not to erase the particularity of any one person’s very material experiences, but to help remedy the invisibility of disabled experience outside the inner circle of people who talk to one another, who know that these issues are important. And some audiences will need some interpretation, some cognitive-linguistic bridges to understand the import of disability—its wonder, its overlooked importance, and yes, even its lessons, if we may call them such. Lessons without moralizing, lessons without abstractions.

*Yes, “disabled people,” not “differently abled” or even always “people with disabilities.” There’s no one right answer or moniker, but soon I’ll write a short piece on why “disabled people” is a preferred term among many activists."

[See also this response from Alan Jacobs: http://blog.ayjay.org/writing-by-the-always-wrong/ ]
sarahendren  oliversacks  disability  2017  diversity  morality  moralizing  difference  humanism  individualism  interdependence  variation  jennydiski  conclusions  case-histories  sickness  sadness  suffering  life  death  storytelling  narrative  tomshakespeare  templegrandin  pathos  correction  autism  self-advocacy  meaning  meaningmaking  uncertainty  joy  pain  grace  writing  howewrite  voice  invisibility  visibility  erasure  experience  alanjacobs  disabilities 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Apple's new short film starring autistic teen shows how tech transforms lives
"Dillan has been using an iPad as a communication tool for about three years. His use of the technology actually went viral in 2014, after he used his tablet and an AAC app to deliver a moving middle school graduation speech.

“For Apple, accessibility is about empowering everyone to use our technology to be creative, productive and independent,” Sarah Herrlinger, senior manager for global accessibility policy and initiatives at Apple, tells Mashable. “Dillan’s message is powerful, and we are grateful the iPad and apps are playing such an impactful role in his life.”"

[videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTx12y42Xv4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMN2PeFama0 ]
assistivetechnology  autism  apple  2016  ipad  technology  via:lukeneff 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Dear Teacher: Heartfelt Advice for Teachers from Students - YouTube
"Kids with a formal diagnosis, such as autism, Asperger's, ADHD, learning disabilities, Sensory Processing Disorder, and Central Auditory Processing Disorder -- along those who just need to move while learning--often find it challenging to shine in a traditional classroom. The kids who collaborated to write and star in this "Dear Teacher" video represent such students. So, they wanted to share with educators how their brain works and offer simple ways teachers can help."
children  aspergers  autism  adhd  disability  2015  diversity  learningdifferences  schools  education  teaching  learning  neurodiversity  disabilities 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Meryl Alper | The MIT Press
"Most research on media use by young people with disabilities focuses on the therapeutic and rehabilitative uses of technology; less attention has been paid to their day-to-day encounters with media and technology—the mundane, sometimes pleasurable and sometimes frustrating experiences of “hanging out, messing around, and geeking out.” In this report, Meryl Alper attempts to repair this omission, examining how school-aged children with disabilities use media for social and recreational purposes, with a focus on media use at home."

[book page: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/digital-youth-disabilities

"Most research on media use by young people with disabilities focuses on the therapeutic and rehabilitative uses of technology; less attention has been paid to their day-to-day encounters with media and technology—the mundane, sometimes pleasurable and sometimes frustrating experiences of “hanging out, messing around, and geeking out.” In this report, Meryl Alper attempts to repair this omission, examining how school-aged children with disabilities use media for social and recreational purposes, with a focus on media use at home. In doing so, she reframes common assumptions about the relationship between young people with disabilities and technology, and she points to areas for further study into the role of new media in the lives of these young people, their parents, and their caregivers.

Alper considers the notion of “screen time” and its inapplicability in certain cases—when, for example, an iPad is a child’s primary mode of communication. She looks at how young people with various disabilities use media to socialize with caregivers, siblings, and friends, looking more closely at the stereotype of the socially isolated young person with disabilities. And she examines issues encountered by parents in selecting, purchasing, and managing media for youth with such specific disabilities as ADHD and autism. She considers not only children’s individual preferences and needs but also external factors, including the limits of existing platforms, content, and age standards."

PDF page: https://mitpress.mit.edu/sites/default/files/9780262527156.pdf ]
books  toread  via:ablerism  merylalper  2015  disability  technology  media  homago  social  informal  screens  adhd  autism  disabilities 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Assistive Technologies and Design: An Interview with Sara Hendren | superflux
"SF: You think a lot about the "the future of human bodies in the built environment". What are the most important insights you have gained in your research so far, about how the human body and prosthetics adapt to the built environment, or the other way around? How can we design a more symbiotic relationship, that is inclusive, but also unique to individuals?

SH: Those are questions I think about all the time! I’d say broadly that design researchers need much, much more user interview data than we have now—too often there’s a very small sampling of data that’s used to represent human-centered design research with user-experts. Because aging and sightedness and autism and so many other conditions are wildly various, we need much bigger and more robust data sets for understanding wayfinding and product use. See Boston’s Institute for Human-Centered Design’s new user expert lab as an example. They want to be as large a resource as possible, and one that clients can access and pay for when doing market research.

I also think there’s so much more thinking to be done at the systems level, rather than at the product level—but it should be systems research where designers and artists are key contributors at every stage. I think, for example, in cultures like the US and the UK, there’s a pretty narrow focus on individual independence as the only goal worth seeking out—and that independence is thought to be delivered solely via personal technological devices.

But what about community support programs that would be points of contact throughout a city, for help when a person with developmental disabilities needs help after a bus line has been rerouted, or when an elderly person needs assistance getting groceries in the door/shoveling snow? These kinds of systems would help people get and stay employed and stay in their homes for longer than might otherwise be the case.



"SF: What according to you are the drivers / weak signals / to which inclusive design for cities should be paying attention? From a technological, as well as social and cultural perspective?

SH: I think designers should first try to be more granular in their approach to “canonical” disabilities: blindness, deafness, and so on. I’d think, for example, about the gradations of sightedness that tend to get overlooked in tech for vision impairments: Most people who are technically blind, after all, *do* have some kind of visual field. They see high contrasts or bright lights only, perhaps. But they don’t operate in total darkness and they do use their vision to see.  There’s much more to be done with design accordingly, especially with *editing* cities for enriched use. Like: consider the high-contrast black and yellow markers along stairs and crosswalks and subway platforms and so on. What would users say about making those more tactile environments—even more than they are now? What else would they like to see in structural and architectural forms that could be better imagined or augmented, again with partial and low vision in mind? This would also address aging and the overall slow degeneration in vision as well."
sarahendren  2014  assistivetechnology  technology  design  community  blindness  deafness  impairment  disability  vision  aging  sight  sightedness  autism  difference  disabilities 
may 2015 by robertogreco
How One Boy With Autism Became BFF With Apple’s Siri - NYTimes.com
"For most of us, Siri is merely a momentary diversion. But for some, it’s more. My son’s practice conversation with Siri is translating into more facility with actual humans. Yesterday I had the longest conversation with him that I’ve ever had. Admittedly, it was about different species of turtles and whether I preferred the red-eared slider to the diamond-backed terrapin. This might not have been my choice of topic, but it was back and forth, and it followed a logical trajectory. I can promise you that for most of my beautiful son’s 13 years of existence, that has not been the case.

The developers of intelligent assistants recognize their uses to those with speech and communication problems — and some are thinking of new ways the assistants can help. According to the folks at SRI International, the research and development company where Siri began before Apple bought the technology, the next generation of virtual assistants will not just retrieve information — they will also be able to carry on more complex conversations about a person’s area of interest. “Your son will be able to proactively get information about whatever he’s interested in without asking for it, because the assistant will anticipate what he likes,” said William Mark, vice president for information and computing sciences at SRI.

The assistant will also be able to reach children where they live. Ron Suskind, whose new book, “Life, Animated,” chronicles how his autistic son came out of his shell through engagement with Disney characters, is talking to SRI about having assistants for those with autism that can be programmed to speak in the voice of the character that reaches them — for his son, perhaps Aladdin; for mine, either Kermit or Lady Gaga, either of which he is infinitely more receptive to than, say, his mother. (Mr. Suskind came up with the perfect name, too: not virtual assistants, but “sidekicks.”)

Mr. Mark said he envisions assistants whose help is also visual. “For example, the assistant would be able to track eye movements and help the autistic learn to look you in the eye when talking,” he said.

“See, that’s the wonderful thing about technology being able to help with some of these behaviors,” he added. “Getting results requires a lot of repetition. Humans are not patient. Machines are very, very patient.”

I asked Mr. Mark if he knew whether any of the people who worked on Siri’s language development at Apple were on the spectrum. “Well, of course, I don’t know for certain,” he said, thoughtfully. “But, when you think about it, you’ve just described half of Silicon Valley.”

Of all the worries the parent of an autistic child has, the uppermost is: Will he find love? Or even companionship? Somewhere along the line, I am learning that what gives my guy happiness is not necessarily the same as what gives me happiness. Right now, at his age, a time when humans can be a little overwhelming even for the average teenager, Siri makes Gus happy. She is his sidekick. Last night, as he was going to bed, there was this matter-of-fact exchange:

Gus: “Siri, will you marry me?”

Siri: “I’m not the marrying kind.”

Gus: “I mean, not now. I’m a kid. I mean when I’m grown up.”

Siri: “My end user agreement does not include marriage.”

Gus: “Oh, O.K.”

Gus didn’t sound too disappointed. This was useful information to have, and for me too, since it was the first time I knew that he actually thought about marriage. He turned over to go to sleep:

Gus: “Goodnight, Siri. Will you sleep well tonight?”

Siri: “I don’t need much sleep, but it’s nice of you to ask.”

Very nice."
ios  siri  apple  autism  companionship  sidekicks  audio  technology  voice  2014  judithnewman 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Creative Growth Art Center
"Creative Growth Art Center serves adult artists with developmental, mental and physical disabilities, providing a professional studio environment for artistic development, gallery exhibition and representation and a social atmosphere among peers."
art  autism  oakland  disability  ablerism  disabilities 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Autism, Like Race, Complicates Almost Everything : Code Switch : NPR
"Autism, like race, complicates almost everything, especially questions of who's privileged. Almost everyone with a child on the spectrum is living with constant anxiety, and navigating from one crisis to another. When I'm with parents of kids with autism or other disabilities, I feel like I'm in one of those zones where race doesn't matter as much. Autism is its own identity; the parents and our children, we are a People. There are conversations we have with each other that we can't have with anyone else.

All of the parents — white, black, Latino and Asian-American — have to grapple with indifferent or hostile teachers, worry about cops who think their kids are acting strange or suspicious. They're fighting to create a place for their children to thrive in a world that views them as worthless or scary. And there's that fear — the one that I used to think only black parents really understood — that you could do everything right, spend every dime, minute, ounce of energy on your child, and it still might not be enough."
autism  race  society  parenting  2014  identity  aliciamontgomery 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Autism | Mada Masr
"In prison I try to make up for my inactivity, my helplessness, by reading. Maybe I can get information or wisdom that would be of use to those who visit me, or could help me the day I'm released.

I read — among other things — about autism. I lose myself in reading and find myself thinking about the troubles of the revolution. I imagine that autism is a good metaphor for our condition. I start writing texts that contrast a child losing — or not having — the ability to speak with a generation gradually losing its ability to chant. Or that compare his impaired communication with our inability to understand those queues of dancing voters.(1) Or that try to develop an image where an extreme sensitivity to sound makes it painful to hear the bullets fired regularly by the state — bullets inaudible to those who don't share our disability. Our disability causes us to be troubled by the sight of the blood of those martyred to things other than duty — a sight which clearly does not offend the eyes of the delegates.(2)

The texts are poor, inaccurate and with no basis in science. You don't get autism because of the shocks life delivers. It's a condition that is known and documented. It's mostly to do with learning difficulties and what we can do about them. The books talk about the importance of paying attention to the "secret curriculum."

We might have difficulty learning the official school curriculum. We might find some subjects difficult, and autism might make it up for us by making others easy. But the heart of the problem is in the secret curriculum: the lessons and skills and bases and rules of human communication. Nobody hid this curriculum: humans assumed it was known and understood and so no-one wrote it down. Why do we ask each other "how are you" when we meet though we've no wish for a detailed answer? What pushes us to declare a love we don't feel and hide the love we do? What's the importance of showing various kinds and degrees of respect to colleagues and bosses? Why does the teacher want to hear a pin drop though she has no pin in her hand?

And that's not to mention the complex rules for speech and clothing and behavior that depend on distributions of relationships and that change in response to time and place and social context. We live by a complex and complicated system that is always in flux. Most of us don't need to actively learn all its details, but most people who live with autism stand helpless in front of it. Their isolation increases unless someone makes the effort to teach them the secret curriculum. It doesn't matter if the details of this curriculum are useful or logical or not; if you don't conform to them society will reject you. Which is easier? To persuade society that a response to "how are you" with a real report about one's feelings does no harm and might even be useful, or that it's OK not to ask how one is doing if it's a quick meeting and doesn't allow for a conversation about feelings — or to train the disabled minority to respond with "al-hamdulillah" (fine, thank you) whatever their real feelings.

The books warn: don't train for conformity. Our duty is to teach the curriculum and to empower the "disabled" person to register and grasp what society expects and then decide of his own free will how he should behave. He might decide to conform or he might rebel. "What's easiest" isn't the only question. Pay attention to what's richer and more beautiful and more compassionate and better.

I like the idea of the secret curriculum. Which one of us "normal" people has not been confused or suffocated by the assumed rules of behaving and communicating. Which one of us hasn't been seized by the wish to scream or cry or curse or hug or kiss inappropriately? Practically half the secret curriculum is to do with how to hide the effects of the rare moments with which you explode — hide them or rebel and don't conform.

They arrive and break my train of thought and my reading stops. We've expected them since the news of their torture was leaked into the papers and since we learned that the prison administration was expecting newcomers from Abu Zaabal prison. We tried to prepare to receive them, but how do you welcome a friend who went through the battle with you but went through his experience alone? Will he be comforted if you tell him that your old jail/his new jail is safe and that his ordeal is over? Will he be angry? Should I feel guilty or grateful? We must have learned this in the secret curriculum; the gradations in the acuteness of injustice and in the price people pay are nothing new. I've spent my life with these gradations so why am I confused by the heat of their anger? We adopt autism. We receive them with a detailed report about the facts: there is no torture here but you're probably here to stay, the law means nothing and the constitution offers no hope and the courts are worth nothing. We shall stay until they're done with their damned road map. They reply with similar autism with a detailed report about the torture in a steady mechanical delivery with no embarrassment, no concealment. The books tell me not to assume the absence of feeling; autism hampers expression and communication, it does not negate feeling."



"Which is easier? To train the minority unable to conform to the hidden constitution to ignore injustice as long as it falls on others, to avoid challenging authority and to assume its good intentions, or to persuade society of the absurdity of trying to live with an authority that allows itself murder and torture and detentions as long as it adheres to hidden rules?

The books warn us: don't train for conformity. Our duty is to learn the curriculum to empower the "disabled" person to register and grasp what society expects and then decide of his own free will how he should behave. He might decide to conform or he might rebel.

"What's easiest" isn't the only question. Pay attention to what's richer, what's more beautiful, more just, more compassionate. What's better."
madamasr  autism  learning  hiddencurriculum  communication  2014  conformity  injustice  society  torture  war  egypt  secretcurriculum  hiddenconstitution  alaaabdelfattah  expression  emotion  emotions  prison  behavior  violence  power  control  colonialism  domination 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney - NYTimes.com
[Don't read this here, go read the entire article.]
[Update (20 Sept 2014): Now Radio Lab has done a story. http://www.radiolab.org/story/juicervose/ ]

"Owen’s chosen affinity clearly opened a window to myth, fable and legend that Disney lifted and retooled, just as the Grimm Brothers did, from a vast repository of folklore. Countless cultures have told versions of “Beauty and the Beast,” which dates back 2,000 years to the Latin “Cupid and Psyche” and certainly beyond that. These are stories human beings have always told themselves to make their way in the world.

But what draws kids like Owen to these movies is something even more elemental. Walt Disney told his early animators that the characters and the scenes should be so vivid and clear that they could be understood with the sound turned off. Inadvertently, this creates a dream portal for those who struggle with auditory processing, especially, in recent decades, when the films can be rewound and replayed many times.

The latest research that Cornelia and I came across seems to show that a feature of autism is a lack of traditional habituation, or the way we become used to things. Typically, people sort various inputs, keep or discard them and then store those they keep. Our brains thus become accustomed to the familiar. After the third viewing of a good movie, or a 10th viewing of a real favorite, you’ve had your fill. Many autistic people, though, can watch that favorite a hundred times and seemingly feel the same sensations as the first time. While they are soothed by the repetition, they may also be looking for new details and patterns in each viewing, so-called hypersystemizing, a theory that asserts that the repetitive urge underlies special abilities for some of those on the spectrum.

Disney provided raw material, publicly available and ubiquitous, that Owen, with our help, built into a language and a tool kit. I’m sure, with enough creativity and energy, this can be done with any number of interests and disciplines. For some kids, their affinity is for train schedules; for others, it’s maps. While our household may not be typical, with a pair of writerly parents and a fixation on stories — all of which may have accentuated and amplified Owen’s native inclinations — we have no doubt that he shares a basic neurological architecture with people on the autism spectrum everywhere.

The challenge is how to make our example useful to other families and other kids, whatever their burning interest. That’s what Team Owen seems to be talking about. How does this work? Is there a methodology? Can it be translated from anecdote to analysis and be helpful to others in need?"



"The room gets quiet. It’s clear that many of these students have rarely, if ever, had their passion for Disney treated as something serious and meaningful.

One young woman talks about how her gentle nature, something that leaves her vulnerable, is a great strength in how she handles rescue dogs. Another mentions “my brain, because it can take me on adventures of imagination.”

A young man, speaking in a very routinized way with speech patterns that closely match the “Rain Man” characterization of autism, asks me the date of my birth. I tell him, and his eyes flicker. “That was a Friday.”

When I ask the group which Disney character they most identify with, the same student, now enlivened, says Pinocchio and eventually explains, “I feel like a wooden boy, and I’ve always dreamed of feeling what real boys feel.” The dorm counselor, who told me ahead of time that this student has disciplinary issues and an unreachable emotional core, then compliments him — “That was beautiful,” she says — and looks at me with astonishment. I shrug. He’d already bonded in a soul-searching way with his character. I just asked him which one.

It goes on this way for an hour. Like a broken dam. The students, many of whom have very modest expressive speech, summon subtle and deeply moving truths.

There’s a reason — a good-enough reason — that each autistic person has embraced a particular interest. Find that reason, and you will find them, hiding in there, and maybe get a glimpse of their underlying capacities. In our experience, we found that showing authentic interest will help them feel dignity and impel them to show you more, complete with maps and navigational tools that may help to guide their development, their growth. Revealed capability, in turn, may lead to a better understanding of what’s possible in the lives of many people who are challenged."



"For nearly a decade, Owen has been coming to see Griffin in this basement office, trying to decipher the subtle patterns of how people grow close to one another. That desire to connect has always been there as, the latest research indicates, it may be in all autistic people; their neurological barriers don’t kill the desire, even if it’s deeply submerged. And this is the way he still is — autism isn’t a spell that has been broken; it’s a way of being. That means the world will continue to be inhospitable to him, walking about, as he does, uncertain, missing cues, his heart exposed. But he has desperately wanted to connect, to feel his life, fully, and — using his movies and the improvised tool kit we helped him build — he’s finding his footing. For so many years, it was about us finding him, a search joined by Griffin and others. Now it was about him finding himself.

“Owen, my good friend,” Griffin says, his eyes glistening, “it’s fair to say, you’re on your way.”

Owen stands up, that little curly-haired boy now a man, almost Griffin’s height, and smiles, a knowing smile of self-awareness.

“Thank you, Rafiki,” Owen says to Griffin. “For everything.”

“Is friendship forever?” Owen asks me.

“Yes, Owen, it often is.”

“But not always.”

“No, not always.”

It’s later that night, and we’re driving down Connecticut Avenue after seeing the latest from Disney (and Pixar), “Brave.” I think I understand now, from a deeper place, how Owen, and some of his Disney Club friends, use the movies and why it feels so improbable. Most of us grow from a different direction, starting as utterly experiential, sorting through the blooming and buzzing confusion to learn this feels good, that not so much, this works, that doesn’t, as we gradually form a set of rules that we live by, with moral judgments at the peak.

Owen, with his reliance from an early age on myth and fable, each carrying the clarity of black and white, good and evil, inverts this pyramid. He starts with the moral — beauty lies within, be true to yourself, love conquers all — and tests them in a world colored by shades of gray. It’s the sidekicks who help him navigate that eternal debate, as they often do for the heroes in their movies.

“I know love lasts forever!” Owen says after a few minutes.

We’re approaching Chevy Chase Circle, five minutes from where we live. I know I need to touch, gently, upon the notion that making friends or finding love entails risk. There’s no guarantee of forever. There may be heartbreak. But we do it anyway. I drop this bitter morsel into the mix, folding around it an affirmation that he took a risk when he went to an unfamiliar place on Cape Cod, far from his friends and home, and found love. The lesson, I begin, is “to never be afraid to reach out.”

He cuts me off. “I know, I know,” he says, and then summons a voice for support. It’s Laverne, the gargoyle from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

“Quasi,” he says. “Take it from an old spectator. Life’s not a spectator sport. If watchin’s all you’re gonna do, then you’re gonna watch your life go by without you.”

He giggles under his breath, then does a little shoulder roll, something he does when a jolt of emotion runs through him. “You know, they’re not like the other sidekicks.”

He has jumped ahead of me again. I scramble. “No? How?”

“All the other sidekicks live within their movies as characters, walk around, do things. The gargoyles only live when Quasimodo is alone with them.”

“And why’s that?”

“Because he breathes life into them. They only live in his imagination.”

Everything goes still. “What’s that mean, buddy?”

He purses his lips and smiles, chin out, as if he got caught in a game of chess. But maybe he wanted to. “It means the answers are inside of him,” he says.

“Then why did he need the gargoyles?”

“He needed to breathe life into them so he could talk to himself. It’s the only way he could find out who he was.”

“You know anyone else like that?”

“Me.” He laughs a sweet, little laugh, soft and deep. And then there’s a long pause.

“But it can get so lonely, talking to yourself,” my son Owen finally says. “You have to live in the world.”"
autism  learning  parenting  comics  disney  health  movies  communication  fables  myths  legends  morals  ablerism  capabilities  abilities  differentlyabled  capacities  howwelearn  howweteach  neurotypical  psychology  dignity  interestedness  connection  love  howwelove  friednship  teaching  listening  folklore  via:timmaly  ronsuskind  interested 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Neurotypical | POV | PBS
"Neurotypical is an unprecedented exploration of autism from the point of view of autistic people themselves. Four-year-old Violet, teenaged Nicholas and adult Paula occupy different positions on the autism spectrum, but they are all at pivotal moments in their lives. How they and the people around them work out their perceptual and behavioral differences becomes a remarkable reflection of the "neurotypical" world — the world of the non-autistic — revealing inventive adaptations on each side and an emerging critique of both what it means to be normal and what it means to be human."
autism  neurotypical  2013  film  towatch  via:ablerism 
july 2013 by robertogreco
David Mitchell: learning to live with my son's autism | Society | The Guardian
Novelist David Mitchell looks back on the heartbreak – and joy – of learning that his son had autism. Plus, below, an extract from the book by a young Japanese boy that helped him
autism  2013  davidmitchell  naokihigashida 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Family Recipe - Metropolis Magazine - June 2013
"A young designer creates an ingenious set of cooking tools (with accompanying app) that enables her autistic brother to cook for himself."
design  autism  cooking  kitchen  via:anne  2013 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Andrew Solomon: Love, no matter what | Video on TED.com
"What is it like to raise a child who's different from you in some fundamental way (like a prodigy, or a differently abled kid, or a criminal)? In this quietly moving talk, writer Andrew Solomon shares what he learned from talking to dozens of parents -- asking them: What's the line between unconditional love and unconditional acceptance?"
andrewsolomon  parenting  love  children  acceptance  2013  prodigies  disabilities  sexuality  diability  autism  downsyndrome  disability 
june 2013 by robertogreco
The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism: Colin Meloy and Positive Autism Parent Role Modeling
"The autism parenting community could use more role models like singer, musician, and writer Colin Meloy. We spoke with him earlier this month about the awesomeness of his son Hank, why it's so damaging when parents publicly promote negative messages about autism and autistic people, and why autism parents should put their energies into better autism accommodations and resources instead of "fighting" autism."

[See also (referenced within): http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2012/11/19/121119crbo_books_heller?currentPage=all ]
autism  colinmeloy  parenting  2013  horizontalidentity  identity  children 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Synesthesia's blended senses - latimes.com
"The study of synesthesia has helped shift the way scientists think about the brain. In the past, they have focused on matching different areas with specific functions; now, the entire organ is viewed as a tapestry of interwoven connections.

"The whole system is a giant network," Eagleman says. "It's no longer sufficient to think about single areas in isolation."

Like synesthesia, many neurological disorders — such as schizophrenia, autism,Alzheimer's disease, depression and epilepsy — have been linked to abnormal communication between brain regions. The hope is that as neuroscientists learn about how the connections in the synesthetic brain differ from those in normal brains, they will also gain insight into how these differences develop — and how they sometimes manifest as harmful disorders."
davideagleman  sensoryprocessingdysfunction  depression  epilepsy  alzheimers  schizophrenia  autism  music  sudio  sounds  smells  colors  numbers  ucsd  networks  senses  brain  neuroscience  2012  synesthesia 
february 2012 by robertogreco
An Introverted Boy Against An Army of Label Makers | A.T. | Cleveland
"I certainly still lie awake some nights worrying that I am in denial, that Simon has some gross deficiency not yet identified, and I am did him great a disservice. I worry constantly that I should limit his reading and solitary time and push him into sports and classes and social activities. But just when I am about to write that check for ice hockey classes I touch base with my instinctive sense of my son, this imaginative, overly verbose happy creature, and decide not to risk ironing out his uniqueness.  Until we can figure out more creative ways to educate and encourage introspective boys who are neither high achievers nor troublemakers—boys “in the middle,” like Simon–I will keep holding my ground, my breath and my tongue, and shoo away the well-intentioned label makers who cross our path."
males  boys  academics  introspection  nclb  productivity  howwelearn  unstructured  creativity  specialized  learningdisabilities  slowprocessing  add  dysgraphia  dyslexia  adhd  overdiagnosis  autism  schooliness  schools  learningdifferences  learning  parenting  education  teaching  introverts  susancain  2012  annetrubek  shrequest1 
february 2012 by robertogreco
‘This Stuff Doesn’t Change the World’: Disability and Steve Jobs’ Legacy | Epicenter | Wired.com
"My son is on the autism spectrum and has a severe receptive and expressive language delay. He’s 4 years old, and can read and spell words, and sing entire songs, but is more like an 18-month- or 2-year-old in normal conversation. He cannot use a telephone and has a hard time sitting still for video telephony. He has a thoroughly well-loved iPod Touch, filled with videos and apps that have helped him learn to speak and augment his ability to communicate."

"Apple never had a perfect record when it came to user accessibility. No technology company does. But I bought my first iPhone when I broke my arm, because it let me use a computer with one hand. And on Tuesday, when I saw Apple’s demo video for Siri, its new voice-command AI assistant — which ends with a blind woman using Siri to send and receive text messages — knowing that blindness has been the disability least well-served by the touchscreen revolution — I wept. I’m weeping again now."
disability  timcarmody  accessibility  ipodtouch  itouch  stevejobs  2011  communication  autism  blind  blindness  design  disabilities 
october 2011 by robertogreco
What diversity means « Snarkmarket
"…if you’re broke or have less education, your child’s more likely to go undiagnosed/misdiagnosed & be treated as slow or mentally retarded…even if you get the “right” diagnosis, the therapies offered & your ability to take advantage of them will vary wildly depending on your resources. Maybe especially time.

…just as autism stories overwhelmingly focus on children, not adults, they also overwhelmingly focus on the wealthy, not the poor…& the link between autism & poverty is extraordinary once a child becomes an adult — what “independence” means in that context is very different.

This is also to say that while all these additional considerations are important, fuck that shit. Because autism does cut across class, race, gender, sexual identity & physical ability, etc…because of that, it changes what we mean by diversity, what kinds of diversity count, what diversity we ought to care about, & how we think about all of these issues of identity & privilege taken all together."
autism  aspergers  timcarmody  2011  poverty  class  race  diversity  gender  wealth  independence  childhood  parenting  adulthood  privilege  identity  education  diagnosis 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Specs that see right through you - tech - 05 July 2011 - New Scientist ["Boring conversation? Accessories that decipher emotional cues could save your social life – or reveal that you're a jerk"]
"Picard handed me a pair of special glasses. The instant I put them on I discovered that I had got it all terribly wrong. That look of admiration, I realised, was actually confusion and disagreement. Worse, she was bored out of her mind. I became privy to this knowledge because a little voice was whispering in my ear through a headphone attached to the glasses. It told me that Picard was "confused" or "disagreeing". All the while, a red light built into the specs was blinking above my right eye to warn me to stop talking. It was as though I had developed an extra sense.

The glasses can send me this information thanks to a built-in camera linked to software that analyses Picard's facial expressions. They're just one example of a number of "social X-ray specs" that are set to transform how we interact with each other. …Our emotional intelligence is about to be boosted, but are we ready to broadcast feelings we might rather keep private?"
technology  culture  psychology  nonverbalcommunication  nonverbal  communication  listening  rosalindpicard  paulekman  ranaelkaliouby  simonbaron-cohen  affectiva  autism  social  faces  mit 
july 2011 by robertogreco
The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism: On the Matter of Empathy [To be applied also with teachers and students, claiming to know them better than they know themselves.]
"unfortunately, too many lay people look to credentials as opposed to experience when it comes to understanding non-normative conditions. Recently, in response to one autistic person’s upset at mainstream theories of impaired autistic empathy, an autism parent said that the experts should know all about it, since they’ve been studying the issue for years. & those of us who have lived it for even longer? If we were talking about the difference btwn a non-Jewish scholar of Judaism & a practicing Jew, most people would say that the practicing Jew would be the expert on Judaism. & yet, autistic people are rarely accorded this level of respect.

A refusal to listen to our experiences & to be sensitive to the real-life consequences of pervasive stereotypes shows a problematic relationship w/ empathy, to put it mildly. In the midst of this lack of true autism awareness, any assertion that autistic people lack empathy is nothing less than a textbook case of pot calling kettle black."
psychology  empathy  autism  aspergers  understanding  credentials  experts  experience  2011  behavior  cognitive  cognitiveempathy  emotionalempathy  expressedempathy  testing  measurement  nonverbal  nonverbalcommunication  stereotypes 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Bipolar kids: Victims of the 'madness industry'? - health - 08 June 2011 - New Scientist
"Spitzer grew up to be a psychiatrist…his dislike of psychoanalysis remaining undimmed…then, in 1973, an opportunity to change everything presented itself. There was a job going editing the next edition of a little-known spiral-bound booklet called DSM - the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

DSM is simply a list of all the officially recognised mental illnesses & their symptoms. Back then it was a tiny book that reflected the Freudian thinking predominant in the 1960s. It had very few pages, & very few readers.

What nobody knew when they offered Spitzer the job was that he had a plan: to try to remove human judgement from psychiatry. He would create a whole new DSM that would eradicate all that crass sleuthing around the unconscious; it hadn't helped his mother. Instead it would be all about checklists. Any psychiatrist could pick up the manual, & if the patient's symptoms tallied with the checklist for a particular disorder, that would be the diagnosis."
children  psychology  health  2011  add  adhd  bipolardisorder  psychiatry  dsm  jonronson  robertspitzer  overdiagnosis  mania  pharmaceuticals  psychoanalysis  checklists  healthcare  mentalillness  mentalhealth  medicine  treatment  diagnosis  ptsd  autism  anorexia  bulimia  society  conformity  hyperactivity  childhood  parenting 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Giving Students Room to Run | Teaching Tolerance
"In 3rd grade, near end of WWII, I learned why I wanted to be a teacher…Mrs. Wright…taught me what every child needs to know…

…She was a gentle, supportive & knowledgeable person who was obviously born to be a teacher…voice never rose in anger or frustration…pleasant, plain face…never displayed anger or disappointment.

& in back of room…sat Joel, active 7-year-old w/ dark unruly hair, lopsided glasses & fidgeting hands…decided lisp…did not speak to rest of us often…math genius…exceptional intellectual ability…taking math classes through local HS & college-level classes…Today…would be identified as ADHD, or perhaps even as autistic…spent most…time running around classroom…

Joel was different in how he worked, but we respected his differences because Mrs. Wright respected them.

…if I could make 1 child feel as comfortable w/ “specialness” as Joel was made to feel…help 1 child accept another who was “different”…I would do something really wonderful.

&…that is why I teach."
lornagreene  teaching  tolerance  differentiation  differences  specialed  patience  howto  ability  adhd  autism  communities  modeling  appreciation  tcsnmy  specialness  respect  understanding 
february 2011 by robertogreco
The Trouble With Experts : CJR
"By abandoning the assumption that gold-plated credentials equal expertise, the press might even change history. Could journalists have helped to take down, say, Bernie Madoff, before the feds did if they had questioned the sec’s experts more? Shirky wonders.

And then there’s the chance that authentic experts (not necessarily credentialed experts) could become journalists of some kind. It’s happening already. Take the flock of professor-bloggers masticating the news on the Foreign Policy Web site or economist bloggers like Tyler Cowen. There are journalists who have become experts via either peer or crowd review…To cheaply paraphrase Isaiah Berlin, journalists can’t all be clever hedgehogs, but perhaps some generalist foxes can start growing some quills."
society  journalism  generalists  specialization  specialists  credentials  experts  expertise  autism  jennymccarthy  science  blackswans  tunnelvision  via:coldbrain  vaccines  amateur  amateurism  unschooling  deschooling  clayshirky 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Master of metaphor > Robin Sloan
"Aris­to­tle via Frank Chimero:

"The great­est thing by far is to be a mas­ter of metaphor. It is the one thing that can­not be learned from oth­ers; it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an eye for resemblance."

Noth­ing reveals like a good metaphor. And I think—just mak­ing this up, here—that maybe metaphor­i­cal think­ing and empa­thy might live in the same part of the brain. I won­der: if you’re autis­tic, do you have a tough time with metaphors—understanding and/​or craft­ing them?"
metaphor  empathy  robinsloan  frankchimero  aristotle  resemblance  understanding  learning  genius  autism 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Autism and HIV: when maths can be misleading - Telegraph
"Moreover, the number of people involved was small: 20 with autism, 20 without. With that small a group, it’s hard to tell whether any association that shows up is meaningful. You can train a computer using photos of the family cat, and it will calculate whichever combination of size, colour, and whisker length best detects autism in its owner. There are so many potential combinations that in all likelihood one of them will appear to perform pretty well. But try it on another bunch of people, and the odds are it will fail."
hiv  autism  statistics  math  mathematics  research  falsenegatives  accuracy  numbers 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Vaccines don't cause autism
"The debate is essentially over and the final word is in: vaccines do not cause autism. The results of a rigorous study conducted over several years were just announced and they confirmed the results of several past studies. … So get your kids (and yourselves) vaccinated and save them & their playmates from this whooping cough bullshit, which is actually killing actual kids and not, you know, magically infecting them with autism. Vaccination is one of the greatest human discoveries ever -- yes, Kanye, OF ALL TIME -- has saved countless lives, and has made countless more lives significantly better. So: Buck. Up." [Wish that this would be enough reason for change for a few people I know, some of which have been part of this whooping cough bullshit here in California. Frustrating.]

[Related: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129929225 ]
autism  vaccines  science  research  parenting  kids  health  family  vaccinations  immunizations  whoopingcough  medicine  2010  kottke  immunization 
september 2010 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: On KIPP, and the question, does philosophy matter? [links to comment, quoted below, from 'htb']
"very idea of 'behind'-ness is what's under attack…When you standardize what it means to be an educated child, you create a line in sand that defines some kids as 'ahead' & some as 'behind.' As anyone w/ learning disability knows, these sorts of lines are increasingly arbitrary the more you examine them. They shut you out for all manner of reason. They create a situation where those who are 'ahead' get a free bonus happy career, & those who are 'behind' get either short stick or sanctimony. Or both.

If I had been in a class that demanded…eye contact at all times, I would have become discipline problem, because I am autistic. There is no room for me in a 'SLANT' classroom…teacher would then be allowed to humiliate me for non-compliance, or send me off to 'special ed.' Either way, it's amply demonstrated that I'm valueless to the class or school. …

Defining some people as 'behind' is what allows the school to abuse them in this way, & really that's what it is."
kipp  autism  standards  standardization  policy  us  education  learningdisabilities  learning  sorting  ranking  arbitrary  tcsnmy  schools  discipline  onesizefitsall  allsorts  arneduncan  rttt 
september 2010 by robertogreco
iHelp for Autism - - News - San Francisco - SF Weekly
"Since the iPad's unveiling in April, autism experts and parents have brought it into countless homes and classrooms around the world. Developers have begun pumping out applications specifically designed for users with special needs, and initial studies are already measuring the effectiveness of the iPod Touch and the iPad as learning tools for children with autism. Through the devices, some of these children have been able to communicate their thoughts to adults for the first time. Others have learned life skills that had eluded them for years.<br />
<br />
Though there are other computers designed for children with autism, a growing number of experts say that the iPad is better. It's cheaper, faster, more versatile, more user-friendly, more portable, more engaging, and infinitely cooler for young people. "I just couldn't imagine not introducing this to a parent of a child who has autism," says Tammy Mastropietro…"
autism  ipad  interface  education  communication 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Students, Meet Your New Teacher, Mr. Robot - NYTimes.com
"Standing on a polka-dot carpet at a preschool on the campus of the University of California, San Diego, a robot named RUBI is teaching Finnish to a 3-year-old boy.

RUBI looks like a desktop computer come to life: its screen-torso, mounted on a pair of shoes, sprouts mechanical arms and a lunchbox-size head, fitted with video cameras, a microphone and voice capability. RUBI wears a bandanna around its neck and a fixed happy-face smile, below a pair of large, plastic eyes.

It picks up a white sneaker and says kenka, the Finnish word for shoe, before returning it to the floor. “Feel it; I’m a kenka.”

In a video of this exchange, the boy picks up the sneaker, says “kenka, kenka” — and holds up the shoe for the robot to see.

In person they are not remotely humanlike, most of today’s social robots. Some speak well, others not at all. Some move on two legs, others on wheels. Many look like escapees from the Island of Misfit Toys."
robots  robotics  education  autism  ai  schools  teaching  ucsd 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Temple Grandin: The world needs all kinds of minds | Video on TED.com
"Temple Grandin, diagnosed with autism as a child, talks about how her mind works -- sharing her ability to "think in pictures," which helps her solve problems that neurotypical brains might miss. She makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids."
autism  ted  templegrandin  learning  understanding  language  nonverbal  visual  patterns  verbal  neuroscience  tcsnmy 
february 2010 by robertogreco
An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All | Magazine
"Ah, risk. It is the idea that fuels the anti-vaccine movement — that parents should be allowed to opt out, because it is their right to evaluate risk for their own children. It is also the idea that underlies the CDC’s vaccination schedule — that the risk to public health is too great to allow individuals, one by one, to make decisions that will impact their communities. (The concept of herd immunity is key here: It holds that, in diseases passed from person to person, it is more difficult to maintain a chain of infection when large numbers of a population are immune.)"

[more at: http://kottke.org/09/10/killer-vaccines-and-the-killers-who-kill-with-them ]
culture  children  healthcare  publichealth  pandemic  drugs  politics  autism  conspiracy  safety  medicine  fear  reading  health  parenting  science  vaccinations  vaccines  antivax  epidemics 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Clay Marzo's Liquid Cure | Outside Online
"Clay Marzo is one of the world's most gifted surfers. Clay Marzo has Asperger's syndrome' a form of high-functioning autism. And it is only when the 20-year-old steps off of dry land and immerses himself in the water that these two statements make perfect, miraculous sense."
surfing  surf  autism  aspergers  success  sports  brain  behavior  psychology  cognitive  cognition 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Autism as Academic Paradigm - ChronicleReview.com
"Autism is often described as a disease or a plague, but when it comes to the American college or university, autism is often a competitive advantage rather than a problem to be solved. One reason American academe is so strong is because it mobilizes the strengths and talents of people on the autistic spectrum so effectively. In spite of some of the harmful rhetoric, the on-the-ground reality is that autistics have been very good for colleges, and colleges have been very good for autistics."
tylercowen  academia  aspergers  autism  psychology  neuroscience  intelligence  education  learning  culture  advantage  neurodiversity 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Autism Myths - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
"seeing that the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has became popular, I feel that I must explain why it should not to be taken seriously when many people (including teachers & autism professionals) recommend it as reading material on autism"
autism  books  fiction 
june 2008 by robertogreco
The Truth About Autism: Scientists Reconsider What They Think They Know
"Autistics like Baggs are now leading a nascent civil rights movement...This movement is being fueled by a small but growing cadre of neuropsychological researchers who are taking a fresh look at the nature of autism itself."
autism  science  neuroscience  change  culture  brain 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Neuroscience: One Pill Makes You Autistic -- And One Pill Changes You Back
"Need to finish that work project, and wish you had the mental intensity to do it? Just take a synapse-regulating inhibitor, induce temporary autism, and you'll want to ignore your friends and do nothing but number-crunching for days."
brain  future  cyberpunk  autism  psychology  science  drugs  concentration  neuroscience 
january 2008 by robertogreco
Incharacter.org - I Cannot Tell a Lie - what people with autism can tell us about honesty
"People with autism, who can perceive patterns better and concentrate better than their peers, are also more honest. Rather than regarding autism as a “disease,” we should recognize it as a difference that deserves our respect. Some features of it, li
autism  brain  childhood  development  honesty  psychology  science  sociology  obsession 
july 2007 by robertogreco
the biology of imagination
"In this essay, I will argue that the content of the imagination is of course determined more by culture than biology. But the capacity to imagine owes more to biology than culture."
biology  brain  cognitive  communication  creativity  culture  evolution  imagination  psychology  science  learning  mind  autism 
june 2007 by robertogreco
LA Weekly - A Terrible Thing to Waste
"Convicted as an ecoterrorist, a brilliant young scholar nose-dives in prison UPDATE: Excerpts of letters from Billy Cottrell in prison"
prison  terrorism  environment  activism  ecoterrorism  autism  local  losangeles  caltech  pasadena  science  psychology  justice 
march 2007 by robertogreco
YouTube - In My Language
"This is not a look-at-the-autie gawking freakshow as much as it is a statement about what gets considered thought, intelligence, personhood, language, and communication, and what does not."
autism  brain  cognitive  communication  human  intelligence  neuroscience  psychology  linguistics  language  mind  video 
january 2007 by robertogreco
Seed: When Two Minds Think Alike
"From this and other observations, we've formulated the "assortative mating theory." Its central idea is that both mothers and fathers of children with autism (or its milder variant, Asperger Syndrome) share a common characteristic and have been attracted
autism  creativity  brain  neuroscience  science 
november 2006 by robertogreco

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