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Receiving an Autism Receiving an Autism Diagnosis: What I Learned and How I Survived: What I Learned and How I Survived

autism diagnosis May 21, 2018

By Shannon Kennedy Hewett

I have been a mother for almost seven years now, and I have been a mother to a child with autism for almost four. Although I have had four years of experience being an “autism mommy” to my son, TJ, I am still no expert. It is a learning process every single day, and I am always reflecting, learning from my mistakes, and seeking advice from other parents who are also on this journey. For me, one of the most memorable and challenging times was the long process that led to the day that my fears were finally confirmed – diagnosis day. If you are a parent who suspects that your child may have autism, or if you have just received an autism diagnosis for your child, then I would love to share my story with you. Not because I am an expert, but because I have been there. I have felt many of the same feelings that you are probably feeling right now, I have survived, and I have learned so much about my son, his diagnosis, and myself.

I always wanted...

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The Patience for Their Passion

Planes, trains, keys, and lights. There are one thousand different little things that someone with autism can be interested in. However, is there a difference between an interest and a passion? According to Webster’s dictionary, an interest is defined as “a feeling that accompanies or causes special attention to an object or class of objects” and a passion is defined as “intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction”. Webster shows the difference between the two words, passion is almost uncontrollable it is a conviction. Where as an interest is just merely special attention. This is what autistic children feel when they are passionate about something. However, it is not just a small conviction it is a large conviction. One that they have absolute no control over. Understanding this can help one understand how an autistic person functions.

If we want to get into the physiological side of things. There is actually a neurological reason that...

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You feel what you eat - Why diet can be important for people with Autism

autism diet eating food health May 12, 2018

The connection between gut and brain

In every language of our planet, people use proverbs connecting gut, brain and feeling with each other. We may follow a “gut feeling” or feel “butterflies in the stomach” when in love. Scientists have in recent years uncovered that these may be more than just words.

When a gut feeling makes us anxious or nervous, that signal might actually come from the second largest concentration of nerve-cells in our body (besides the brain): Our intestines. Discoveries about the “brain in the belly” have revolutionized our understanding of how diet, digestion, mood and health are connected with each other.

The long standing medical consensus was, that problems like depression or anxiety contributed to gastrointestinal symptoms. Now there is significant evidence, turning the image of culprit and victim upside down.

These findings give a much better explanation for why a disproportional number of people with digestive issues...

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A History of Universal Design for Learning

 A History of Universal Design for Learning

This is a two part series on universal design for learning. In this article, I will cover the history of universal design for learning. In the next article, I will be covering easy ways to make your lessons, courses, and curriculums universally designed—both those you are about to create and those you have created.

As teachers, many of us have thought it. “I already have so much work to do, I can’t start doing universal design for learning as well.” The jobs of teachers and professors is already overwhelming. As a former special education teacher and university composition professor, I can relate to this sentiment.

However, is it too difficult? Well, we need to know what exactly universal design for learning is before we can begin to answer that question in an informed manner.

 

  • Definition of Terms

 

Throughout this article, I’m going to use the phrase “divergent learners.” I...

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Autism Coupled with Obsessive-Compulsive Behaviors

Some children with the unique ability of autism spectrum disorder, from mild to severe, may also have other overlapping diagnoses. One of these is known as obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD. This anxiety condition is characterized by overwhelmingly consistent and persistent thoughts of things the individual feels must be accomplished, or something unfortunate will occur. These behaviors depend completely on the person, and can be those such as spinning, handwashing, cleaning, having everything perfectly in the same exact place and arrangement, or doing a task over and over again until it is perfect. Performing the same ritualistic behavior at great lengths, such as praying and counting, is also a characteristic. People who are obsessive-compulsive may also constantly worry about ethics and morals, apologize a lot, worry about germs, and more.

If you notice any repetitive, obsessive behaviors from your child, you may wish to take him to his physician. Often, your child’s...

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Animals

What do you think? Do animals help children with autism? Why do animals tend to be a fascinating topic for me when it comes to the subject of autism? To me, it's because there are times where I can relate to them.

  • Quiet
  • Curious
  • Mysterious
  • Pretty to look at
  • Fearless
  • Calm
  • Relaxed

Some examples of a cat, and I do tend to like cats. Dogs too, but cats can be a bit more quieter at times. Many of these animals can relate in some way, even if it's a bear. I don't encourage others to have bears for pets, but thinking out loud, if I were to be sitting by a river stream and a bear comes up close to me, I would remain calm, look at the bear for a moment, and keep watching the stream. Not causing any harm, no cubs in the area, not catching any fish, just sitting there. Not a bear expert by any means, but that's what I think I would do. The way I kind of see animals is that it is neat to talk like them too. Talking to them without making a single sound; So relaxed body movements, eye contacts,...

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Pullman

 

In the most recent keynote event I have attended to, I have been contact by teachers in Pullman, Washington. It's way out in the East close to the state of Idaho.

I got so excited to go! Sometimes it's nice to take a break from the trees in the West of Washington and enjoy some of the desert areas. The trip was nice, and I took a lot of pictures. The ones up above are a few of my favorites. Dad took that one of me when I was speaking.

This was a high school that I went. Teachers wanted me to speak about autism and I delivered. Main theme of the three separate talks was about "what I wished my teachers knew then about me" when I was going through school. Sort of reversed that topic question with a little something of my own. "What I wished I would have said if I had the ability to communicate properly during the beginning years of school." It was a great time talking in front of teachers, and I think some students even came into the room too. Crazy part about it was that in...

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What Public Speaking Means to Me

I love to perform in front of people. Ever since I was very little. I was never the: "Look at me! Look at me!" kind of kid, and I'm not like that today, I just like to share and to challenge myself when it comes to entertainment and education.

Public speaking in the topic of autism. Honestly, I was very surprised when people want me to go up there and talk about the subject. Autism doesn't really come to mind when it comes to my work and the way I think; But then I learned that not all people who have autism would have the guts to go up and give out keynote speaking engagements. I understand though too; Lots of people looking at you, have to be social and engaging, and in a way expect what they came to see oftentimes.

I would do these little segments that involve questions and answers, and I really enjoy those parts! It feels like an interview when people ask questions and I get to answer; Challenging too, and I love a good challenge! Do my very best to answer whatever question is...

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The Figure

The cover person

Who is The Figure?

The Figure is a humanoid being that can form into any shape resembling the human body. The Figure can transform from fat to thin, from clean shaven to scruffy, from young to old, from tall to small. The Figure represents you. It represents whoever that they want to be and who they want to accept. The Figure has no gender because of its transformation to male and female and cannot talk. It is the only one of his kind.

Think of The Figure as a reflection, and I have spent a long time figuring out The Figure and how it can be seen to others other than myself.

It all started off with the same concept idea of space being a metaphor to life like I have mentioned in the first book. Planets are people, being a part of someone’s world, resulting in a population depending on a person’s own viewpoint. The Figure is seen on rare occasions when someone is in their own world by themselves. I can imagine it being someone to talk to without ever...

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Pinball

The pinball machines! For those not so familiar with what a pinball machine is, I’ll do my best to explain. A pinball machine is a table that involves a little metal ball and a pair (or how many there are in the table) of flippers in the table. The object of the game for the pinball machine is to keep the little metal ball from going all the way down on the tilted table. Use the flippers to keep the ball from going all the way down. Pinball machines are all different, all containing different themes and they can be either slow paced or fast paced depending on how the table is tilted. The other object of the game for those who want to become really competitive for glory, the object is to get the high score! Rank up the points and have that metal ball bump into all sorts of cool things!

I used to hate pinball back then. Wasn’t because I wasn’t good at it, but the main reason why was because those tables are so loud and noisy! Think the first arcade experiences...

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