On Nov. 1, Oklahoma joins an increasing number of states providing more resources to people on the autism spectrum. A new law goes into effect aimed at expanding the number of therapists serving children with autism. The law creates a licensing process for national board certified behavioral analysts and trains more doctors to treat autism.
Artist Stephen Wiltshire took to the sky in late October 2009 to draw the Manhattan panorama with the exquisite and precise detail for which he is renown. Wiltshire, who studied Fine Art at City & Guilds Art College in London, completed the project in one week on a 20-foot canvas. You’ll be amazed and delighted at the specificity with which he draws. Diagnosed with autism at age three, Wiltshire’s work is now known the world over. He has written a number of books, been the subject of several documentaries and news features, and drawn stunning panoramas of Rome, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Madrid, Dubai, Jerusalem and London.
All this week, colleges and universities across the country are conducting workshops, showing movies and providing a range of educational and fun activities to raise awareness of the special challenges facing people with disabilities and the resources available to them. During National Disability Awareness Week, Spoon River College in Canton, Ill., is emphasizing the invisible disabilities, such as autism and Asperger Syndrome. “When we hear the word ‘disability,’ we often picture a person in a wheelchair, a person who is visually impaired using a cane, or a person who is hearing impaired using sign language or wearing a hearing aid,” said Janet Munson, Student Services Advisor/Disability Services. “Many disabilities are not visible, however, and the majority of our students with disabilities have ‘invisible’ disabilities. UCLA and Oklahoma State University will host a variety of workshops and activities related to disabilities. Films Raising Kate and Tints of Autism will be featured at UCLA. This week also marks the final days of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which highlights the talents and contributions of Americans with disabilities in the nation’s workforce and works to tear down employment barriers.
Identity thieves are going after your cell phone in an effort to trick you into giving up your debit or credit-card information. Here’s how it sometimes works: You’ll get a text message telling you there’s a problem with your credit or debit card. You’re then asked to either call a number that they provide — or go to specific website and enter your personal information. Once the thieves get your info, they have the tools to steal your money or your identity. The new scam has been dubbed smishing. To protect yourself from data thieves, never click on links in emails from unknown senders and never give your personal information over the phone unless you can verify who you are talking to.
Reading comprehension and critical thinking skills are fundamental to success in school. SATs, exams, GREs all test your abilities to decipher, decode and analyze information. Teachers and professors will ding your grade for failure to organize your footnotes and bibliographies according to style, but the root of what they are looking for in your papers is your ability to synthesize and enlarge on the information you assemble. Here are a few things you can do to keep your mind nimble and continue to strengthen your reading skills.
1. Break reading assignments into small digestible amounts and make sure you understand a few pages before moving on.
2. If you don’t know a word, look it up. Create your own mini glossaries. You’ll expand your vocabulary exponentially over time.
3. Find out what assistive technology your schoool or university offers that can help improve reading comprehension.
4. Read a national newspaper daily. Not only will it broader your knowledge of the world but will build your skills at deciphering more complex writing.
5. Fiction can be harder for people who tend to be more concrete in their thinking. But the more familiar you become with the imagery and the ideas, the easier fiction reading becomes.
Eat, exercise, sleep and study. It’s that time. Pedal to the metal. Rubber meets the road. Hammer time. Midterm exam season is here and, along with it, test anxiety for many. That’s normal. But there ARE a few things you can do to lessen the stress. Skip lots of candy; sugar-laden and caffeinated soda, coffee and tea; and fatty foods. Eat healthy fruit and veggie snacks and several small meals a day instead of loading at one or two big ones. Break up library sessions and study time with stretches and a short walk or a gym break. For some people, working with a study partner can help. I can tell you from experience that all-nighters rarely yield the expected benefit. I tried pulling one in college, fell asleep sometime in the wee hours of the morning, and missed an exam. Unforgiveable. Plus most minds are not wired to download a lot of information and retain it when the body is sleep-deprived. If you’ve worked hard and studied consistently over the past several weeks, your efforts should pay off. Good luck.
You won’t find the word “autism” in the health care reform bill passed Tuesday by the Senate Finance Committee. But cloaked in legislative jargon — and nearly hidden in footnote 18 on Page 22 of the measure — is a provision that would push insurers to pay for “behavioral health treatments.” The provision is strongly supported by Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. Only 15 states currently make insurance coverage mandatory for some autism treatments. The proposed $829 billion bill faces many hurdles. And insurance companies are mounting a major ad campaign in opposition to health reform. But the coming debate is one that will be closely watched — especially by those interested in treatment coverage for autism.
The November 2009 issue of The Atlantic honors CEO Thorkil Sonne, founder of Specialisterne in Copenhagen, Denmark, as one of its “brave thinkers.” Sonne is singled out for his courage in founding a software-testing company and hiring people on the autism spectrum disorder because of their special gifts and talents. In the article, Sonne is quoted as saying “in our company people with autism are the norm.” Some 37 of his 51 employees have some form of autism. And Specialisterne, which had annual revenue of $2 million, includes Microsoft among its clients. The Danish company was featured in the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Innovation Journal. And Harvard Business School “now uses Specialisterne as a case study in social-enterprise business,” says the Atlantic.