Autism Awareness

ASD

April 2 is World Autism Awareness day. Autism is much more in the news today, making more people aware. But few people know or understand the complexity of this disorder.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is extremely difficult to define and serves as an umbrella term for a group of complex disorders connected to brain development. Most of these are characterized by differing levels of difficulty in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviour.

I listed a few symptoms of ASD on the photo, but it has many varying symptoms. Here are a few more:

Social communication difficulties

  • Difficulties with verbal and non-verbal language
  • Taking things very literally (this has landed Genevieve in a few funny situations)
  • Difficulty reading facial expressions or tone of voice (Genevieve’s main motivation for studying nonverbal communication – so she can understand others)
  • Difficulty or inability to understand jokes or sarcasm
  • Unable to take turns in a conversation
  • Prefers to talk about their own interests

Social interaction difficulties

  • Unable to recognise other’s emotions or feelings (often because of their inability to read body language)
  • Difficulty expressing their own emotions
  • Appear insensitive
  • Prefer spending time on their own
  • Seem to behave inappropriately (also mainly because they take things so literally, they don’t read social cues very well.)

My journey into ASD has taught me much about neurotypical and non-neurotypical behaviours, autistic meltdowns and shutdowns. As all you guys know, Genevieve (for those who don’t know – she’s the main character in my series) is known to go into a shutdown when things become too much for her, usually mentally writing a Mozart composition to regain control over her emotions or to calm her mind enough to find the solution to a problem. She would be termed as high functioning (others might diagnose her as having Asperger’s) because she is completely independent and verbal. On the far end of the spectrum, other people are nonverbal and dependent on others for daily care. In extreme laymen terms, these would be the people who live in their heads, never making contact with others.

Daily, people with ASD are faced with challenges to function ‘normally’ in a society that very seldom embraces anything different. Today, I want to salute those brave souls. And even more… I want to salute the incredible saints who stand behind these people: the parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, spouses, educators and therapists who empower these wonderfully unique people to integrate and live their lives to the fullest.

 

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14 thoughts on “Autism Awareness

  1. Bravo! While I have never knowingly shared my life with a person with ASD I applaud those who support them and those who raise awareness about them. For me, your writing gives me a “fly on the wall” opportunity to learn about the conditions and the various means of managing them. Thank you.

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  2. Awesome post! I love love love your series. I work with nonverbal elementary age kids many of whom are asd. I find them to be compassionate, brilliant and funny. It is just that at times it is hard for others to find those traits because of their often extreme reaction to sensory over stimulation. I often wish for just five minutes inside their heads to better understand how they view the world. I feel like your books have helped with that while entertaining me greatly. Thank you! Have always wondered how you chose the write about Genevieve, so if you are comfortable with me asking, please share 🙂
    Thanks again for the hours of entertainment!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Linda. You are the true hero in my eyes! You’ve asked a very good question and I think I will need a whole blogpost for that. 🙂 I’m serious! I’ve actually just made a note and will post about it within the next two weeks. Until then, please accept my virtual hugs (and loads of hugs for your students!)

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  3. I’m currently working (in social media) at a special needs school that serves many autistic people, teens through adult, who are all over the spectrum from “high-functioning” to entirely non-verbal. As Linda said above, I have often wished to be able to see the world through their eyes and understand better how they view things. Genevieve is an amazing and wonderful depiction of a non-neurotypical person. Thank you for her and for all her adventures!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi, I just discovered your wonderful series. My 30 year old son has high functioning autism- I recognize so much in Genevive! We spent many years teaching him idioms and figures of speech, yet he still will surprise me and ask me what something (that seems to obvious!) means.
    Temple Grandin was my inspiration when he was growing up. He “only” has a Master’s degree, but I sometimes think of him as the Temple Grandin of his generation.
    We always try to teach our children how to become independent- then miss them like crazy when they do it! This week, he is home for Thanksgiving- I always love it when he is back home.
    Keep up the good work! I often wonder about your inspiration – you definitely get the autism spectrum, and how it presents itself.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Carolyn! I’m thrilled that you enjoyed Genevieve’s adventures. And her struggles. I hope you have a fantastic Thanksgiving – especially with your son at the table. 🙂

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  5. I have been blessed with a son who has found a God given gift….teaching autistic children! Your book has enlightened me in so many ways. I truly “stumbled” into finding your collection online late one night and have been reading them back-to-back. I’m only on the 4th, but know that I’ll treasure them all. Thank you for Genevieve… My son’s greatest joy is when one of ‘his kids’ hugs his parent(s). We can only guess the parent’s thrill at that moment. You have my deepest respect….best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, my goodness, Judy! Thank you so much for your kind words.
      I completely agree with you that your son has been gifted with something so very precious to be able to reach and teach these special kids.
      I hope you enjoyed The Flinck Connection and possibly Genevieve’s other adventures as well. 🙂

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  6. I enjoy your books; they approach the suspense genre in a different way; i.e., ASD and Genevieve. I have thought my son has Aspergers for some time. Now I am considering ASD. I am not medically trained, but have an interest in being able to interact with my son effectively. He is forty-two years old and high functioning as a field biologist.

    I do have one problem with one of your books. The problem is common in society – a misunderstanding of ACRONYM. See the following excerpt from chapter 22 of The Dante Connection:

    “This is worse than the friggin’ US of A,” Vinnie said. “FBI, CIA, NSA, GSPR, GIPN. All these stupid alphabets.”
    “Acronyms,” I said. …”

    Excerpt From: Ryan, Estelle. “The Dante Connection.” Estelle Ryan, 2013-02-26. iBooks.
    This material may be protected by copyright.

    Check out this book on the iBooks Store: https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewBook?id=608060219.

    None of the initials in the excerpt is an acronym. Genevieve is too educated to misunderstand that an acronym is a set of initiates that can be pronounced like a word. IBM (International Business Machines) is not an acronym. DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) is an acronym.

    Regardless of my personal quirk at insisting on the correct use of the term acronym, I will continue enjoying your books.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I truly enjoy your wonderful series. I am an art conservator and when I meet with other conservators at professional conferences we sometimes joke about the comments made about us by “outsiders”. These comments usually have to do with how “weird” we are . We know we are obsessive compulsive. We could not do our jobs if were not. In fact we take joy in the process that is so obsessive compulsive (like in the cleaning of a painting or in the inpainting of one). So many of us didn’t realize that were considered on the spectrum.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Mary. What an amazing job you have!! Some people might say weird, I call myself (and everyone else) ‘interesting’ – because we really are! 🙂

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