Nothing on the football field or in the rarefield atmosphere of Hollywood prepared former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete and his actress/wife Holly Robinson Peete for parenting a child with autism. Peete writes about his difficulty coming to grips with his son’s diagnosis in a new book Not My Boy! In a recent interview with National Public Radio’s Michel Martin, Peete says: “We have our own goals for our children, especially sons. I wasn’t able to connect with my son, who was my firstborn son, who had my name. I was in denial about what he had, what the doctor was telling us. It was a dark time for us.” You can read more of the interview with Michel Martin here.
One of the hottest new degree programs is the master’s in disability studies. A year ago, City University of New York’s School of Professional Studies became the first to offer a standalone master’s in the subject, its website says. But dozens of universities across the country, including Georgetown and Syracuse, offer similar degrees. Why the explosive growth in such programs now? Need, pure and simple. Georgetown estimates that more than 18 percent of the U.S. population has some type of disability. According to the university’s website: “Disability studies programs provide students with the tools to understand disability; to educate and increase awareness among various audiences about the experiences of individuals with disabilities, as well as their families and support systems; and ultimately to contribute to social change.” However, not all programs are created equal and there’s very little information to date on the relative quality of each program. Anyone interested in pursuing this graduate degree should choose carefully and stick with universities with strong reputations for quality.
If you thought the debate was over on whether vaccines are a culprit in the rise of autism, think again. PBS and its show Frontline tackles the subject anew at 9 p.m. ET tonight. The controversy continues. On one hand are medical professionals, scientists and researchers who wave their evidence that there is no connection between autism and the mumps-measles-rubella vaccine. On the other hands are parents and autism groups who insist there is a link. According to PBS’ website: “In communities like Ashland, Oregon, up to one-third of parents are choosing not to vaccinate their kids at all. And some advocacy groups, like Generation Rescue, argue that vaccines are no longer a public health miracle but a scourge; they view vaccines as responsible for alarming rises in certain disorders, including ADHD and autism.” The controversy has raged for years in medical journals, in the news media and now online. I doubt much new will surface tonight. But for anyone interested in the topic, “The Vaccine War” is must-see TV.
“When you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” Chantal Sicile-Kira wisely positions this anonymously sourced quote at the front of her book 41 Things to Know About Autism. Those 13 well-chosen words capture the truism of what it means to be human. We are all unique — autism or no autism notwithstanding. Sicile-Kira approaches the immensity of the autism spectrum and the individuals on it by compiling a readable, 200-plus pages of FAQs– frequently asked questions — for readers who know little and for those who think they know a lot about autism. Chances are, whichever category you think you fall into, you’ll learn something from this helpful, approachable book. It is part explainer, part advice, part hand-holder. Sicile-Kira, whose son Jeremy is autistic, has been featured on cable television and in Newsweek magazine. She has written several books on autism including Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum.