Archive | September, 2010

Autism is not an excuse for failure, it’s a reason to try harder to succeed

This is something I tell people all the time and my wife summed it up rather well the other day: “Autism is not an excuse for failure, it’s a reason to try harder to succeed!”

Too often I hear about people not going out because they don’t want to deal with the meltdowns or judging glances, or I hear about them just never trying to feed their child anything but what they will eat without a fight, or even worse… they let them get away with being rude or even bad behaviour because it’s easier than dealing with the backlash from discipline.

This child is still YOUR child! Your child is still YOUR responsibility. And no matter how violent, non-verbal or even how incredibly smart they may be… you are the parent and should be parenting your child. No it’s not easy sometimes, especially with Autism in the picture but no one said it would be.

I’ve written before about a comfortable rut, where you just continue along with what is easiest but in this case, I mean more than that.

I cringe every time I hear “sorry, he’s Autistic” come out of the mouth of a parent as an excuse as to why their child does something wrong or rude. It’s fine to explain that they’re Autistic and may be attributing to their behaviour, especially if it’s due to sensory overload or something of that nature, but it’s still not an excuse.

Practice makes perfect

The simple fact of the matter is, if you never take your child out because you don’t think neither of you can handle it, then your child will never go out… ever. How can you expect your child to develop coping mechanisms, or to learn how to process all that information or learn how to deal with it within themselves… if they’re never exposed to it?? They can’t. They won’t.

Avoiding the problem does not solve the problem.

So your child hits others, maybe a sibling… do you just accept it? Put oven mits on them so it doesn’t hurt as much? Or do you sit at your computer as long as it takes to find some possible solutions? Do you pound the pavement looking for doctors/therapists that have possible solutions of their own? Do you work with your child to find other outlets? Do you take them aside every single they do it, or just once in a while?

Being tired is not a reason for giving up.

Autism is not easy, even for the most gifted savants, they have issues that you and I couldn’t dream of… and life is not easy. But that’s not an excuse for failure. That’s not a reason for an apology in place of dedicated determination.

You have to try harder. Your child has to try harder.

I give my son no exemptions. He needs to be told every single bath time not to put the water in his mouth, so I tell him every single time. And every single time he gets disciplined. One day, he’ll stop.

He is not allowed to hit, no matter what his sensory processing disorders may be telling him. It’s simply not acceptable and no matter what his mind is telling him, I won’t allow it. It makes things hard and probably interferes with what his mind is telling him but that’s just a reason to try harder at finding a way to stop it.

There are always exceptions to every rule, there are times when circumstances mean removing your child from a situation instead of disciplining… also it’s important to note that when I say ‘disciplining’, I mean anything ranging from time outs to simply talking to them about it.

You don’t have to be the bad guy (mean parent) all the time, you just have to realize that you can’t allow yourself to be a pushover and let your child get away with things they normally wouldn’t… just because they’re Autistic.

No matter how severe or high functioning your child is, there’s no easy ways out. You have to go into the public and face the meltdowns so that you can both learn how to handle and even avoid them better in the future. You have to stop them from hitting, whether it means constant talks, time outs or doing more research than you ever thought possible.

You have to do more, your child has to do more. No one ever got further in life by giving up. Autism is not an excuse, it’s a hurdle. A much bigger hurdle for some than others but a hurdle just the same. The bigger the hurdle, the harder you have to try to succeed…. it’s not fair, but the alternative is to accept failure, for now, for always.

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Make the most of the online Autism community, Part 2 – Facebook

At this point, you don’t even have to be on the Internet at all to still be able to recognize the name, Facebook. It’s the largest of the social networking websites, meaning that it brings together friends, family, co-workers and more and provides you with the tools you need to share your lives, such as photos, videos, links, notes, games and more.

The thing about Facebook is that it also has a few ways to to help you support the cause you are passionate about, let’s say…. Autism!

1. Causes

Causes is the section of Facebook where you can donate to your favourite charities or even invite others to donate, or simply join with you. The causes you join will appear on your main profile page in the Info tab. This will also keep you in the loop of what they are doing, providing they send out periodic newsletters or updates (not all of them do).

Causes is a great way to give/donate and to show who you support, but not a huge inroads into the community. But it’s definitely a great place to start.

2. Groups

There are a lot of Autism Groups but a Group is basically considered to be an extension of a personal account. As such, you can join them and share amongst the group but keep in mind that they’re most likely to be people like you and I administering them and doing with them as they please.

That’s definitely not a bad thing, the goal is to make the most of the online Autism community and as such, these groups are invaluable for discussing the topics of the group.

Groups are NOT indexed by search engines such as Google, so what ever you do there is within the confines of the group. If you are shy or just getting started, finding a small’ish group of like minded individuals discussing a topic you feel strongly about is a great way to get started.

For discussing causes in general, groups offer you the best freedoms as they aren’t usually specific to a person or company or brand.

Autism Groups –

3. Pages

Pages are basically profile pages but instead of people, they’re companies, organizations, celebrities, products… just about anything to be truly honest but usually is a thing or person. For example, you would make a Group on people who love bananas while you’d make a Page on banana peels…  and people would become fans.

Speaking of which, instead of being friends of these Pages, you are instead a fan.

As a fan, discussion is often limited to the discussion forums, rather than right on the wall (although many do allow wall posts) and discussions are almost always confined to the top of the Page itself. For example, the Autism Speaks Facebook Page is a place to discuss Autism Speaks, not necessarily Autism in general.

Pages actually are indexed by search engines, such as Google, which means that the information found within may be read by anyone anywhere if they find it in a search.

If you are sharing links to your website, information you feel is important or you just want to get your name out there, this can be quite valuable as their pages may have well established rankings already. If you wish to ease into the community unnoticed, this might not work out well for you.

If it’s information you would like to have, right from the horses mouth (so to speak), then joining Pages is a great place to start as it gives you a direct link to the people that you might otherwise have to wait on hold for hours by phone to talk to.

Of course, you can’t forget the community surrounding the Page of which you join. If you support or believe in a charity strongly, joining their page and discussing that charity and their events/benefits with other supporters is a great way to get started. You can all relate and share common goals.

Autism Pages –

4. Events

Events almost take care of themselves as you begin joining Groups and Pages, as any events they hold will automatically be sent to your notifications… however, you may want to know what events are being held without knowing what Groups or Pages to join ahead of time, for that you use the search.

The Events search allows you to search by keyword, just like everything else but it also allows you to drill down which ‘type’ of event you wish to find, such as ’causes’. You can also narrow down the time line, should you be out of town for the next week but want to see what’s happening in 2 weeks.

Events can consist of just about anything that you can attend… concerts, walks, runs, bbq’s, sporting events… you name it. If it’s something you could be at, it’ll be listed as an Event.

Autism Events –

5. Search

By now, you should have noticed that each link in each section already takes you to the search, just different parts of it. This really shouldn’t even need to be covered but it does need to be and this is why: most people forget it exists!!

On just about every single page of Facebook that you can visit, there is a white box at the very top with the word ‘Search’ on the left and a magnifying glass on the right.

This little magical box will start auto filling in listings for you as you type, which is very handy, but in this case, I implore you to ignore it. Type in your desire, for example, ‘Autism’ and let it fill in the listings… and then mouse to the very bottom of the list where it says ‘See More Results for Autism’ and click on that.

This is what will take you to the search results page with the filter on the left, which allows you to be more specific with Groups, Pages, Events and more. You can even see what friends are saying about Autism or everyone else (if their privacy settings allow it).

If your favourite Autism group, charity, magazine, etc is on Facebook, this is a great way to find them.

Search –


Facebook is mostly about friends and family and connecting with people you haven’t heard from in a while, but it can be a valuable tool for finding like minded people or even hearing from (or talking to) corporations/charities that you can’t otherwise get that close to.

Never ever forget that search bar is there, use it to find what you are interested in. Also, let your mouse clicks take you forward using the ‘Favorite Pages’ box in the left column.

Many Groups and Pages are able to pick other Groups and Pages to be members/fans of themselves and will list them in a box in the left column for you to see. Naturally, these will be something that should coincide with the Group or Page you are already looking at. You may find others that also share your interests.

Once you are searching and going from Group to Group or Page to Page, you’ll quickly find a lot of people who share your thoughts and feelings and when you do, you’ll either form friendships on those pages or those people will be sending you friend requests to actually begin sharing more of your lives than just your thoughts on a specific topic.

Before you know it, your newsfeed, notifications, messages and even your friend list will be filling up quickly. Add in those Events and you’ll be meeting new people face to face and taking the ‘online’ Autism community to the next level!

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Make the most of the online Autism community, Part 1 – Twitter

The Autism community is global, there’s no race or group of people that Autism does not affect. The problem of the past was in bringing these people together to compare notes and support each other but these days we have a lot of ways to find each other. In the next few articles, I’d like to bring up a few of them but each one has it’s own distinct group of people and features to use. To begin with, I’d like to discuss the micro-blogging site Twitter.

TwitterIf you’re already familiar with Twitter, skip this paragraph, if not, then here’s the basic concept. Twitter is a ‘micro-blogging’ site in that all you get is a small box that accommodates 140 characters (numbers, letters, symbols) to share information with others that ‘follow’ you. You can follow anyone and anyone can follow you but you also have the choice of blocking people or making your entries (called Tweets) protected, so that only people you hand select can read them. That’s Twitter in a nutshell.

Twitter is a great place to help encourage each other and share small pieces of advice/wisdom with other like minded people, in this case, Autism. But first you have to accomplish two goals:

  1. Find people to follow, preferably people that you’re actually interested in.
  2. Get people to follow you, again, people that actually share your interests.

When you first join, this can seem like a very daunting task and for most, the numbers do not rise very quickly. I am going to share a few tips I’ve learned in getting your foot into the online Autism community.

1. Your bio – Settings

Far too often I find people following me that have a genuine interest in Autism, maybe even are Autistic themselves or having a family member who is Autistic but they do not put it in their bio. That’s great if they feel it’s not that important or not who they are but you know what? I feel no great need to follow them back as they do not fit my interest, which is raising Autism awareness.

If you’re reading this, I am assuming that being an Autism advocate and raising awareness is on your mind so add a little something to your bio. Doesn’t have to be a lot, you can write 3 lines on things you enjoy and tack on “Autism Advocate” to the very end and that will be enough to ensure that anyone involved in Autism will hit that follow button and include you into the community.

It’s a simple thing but often overlooked.

2. There’s more to you than your cause

It’s great that you feel passionately about something but you have to realize, we all do. It is the ‘Autism Community’ after all, and we all have our various issues we feel strongly about. That being said, we would love to hear about you and yours and support you as best we can however we also want to get to know you, and that means you’re going to have to tell us a little more than just what your cause is.

You don’t have to get personal, just share jokes, links to sites you find interesting, tell us something funny that just happened in your house. It’s a little unnerving at first sharing things with people you don’t know but if you want people to relate to you and feel for you… you’re going to have to let us in and not overwhelm us with your passion, or else it will just sound like a chant to us.

3. Conversations – Simple, but sometimes we forget

Twitter is a micro-blogging site and in that, sometimes we feel we should just be making a statement and leaving… but it is also a bunch of human beings on the other end of those tweets that you’re trying to reach. And those people are sharing things with you, what they’re eating, what they’re reading, the funny thing their kids just did… if you want those people to be interested in you, you’re going to have to be interested in them.

Most of the time when we read something funny, we chuckle to ourselves and then move away. In this case, don’t move away, actually hit that reply button and put “That’s funny, thanks for sharing” and before you know it, you’ll have a new follower, maybe even a new friend.

And the next time you share something funny, you’ll be getting responses as well… and that person that responded has their own followers and they’ll want to see what was so funny and then.. their followers will find you!

4. Retweet!

If you find that someone links to some brand new research just released, or some great advice or even just something generally interesting to most people, retweet it. It only takes 2 clicks… and you just know that you really want those people to retweet your stuff. So in this case, you’re going to have to give a little to get a little.

On top of that, you’ll be sharing stuff that others will find interesting and want to retweet themselves. Before long, they’ll think of you as an information source even though you didn’t go get that information yourself. Retweeting is a great way to show that you do your homework, that you care, that you share and that you’re someone valuable to follow.

That being said, there’s nothing wrong with retweeting something that you know very few will like besides you, because it shows who you are, but you have to realize that this won’t be something to entice new followers your way. Sometimes keeping things in your bookmarks is a better way to go.

5. Search + hashtags

Hashtags are keywords with a # in front of them. Basically, it’s just a way of flagging a word such that it becomes very easy to find in the search. For example, searching for #Autism in the search box will return a huge list of people that are sharing great information and advice right now! Find the ones that look to be sharing the best stuff and follow them. Chances are they’ll follow you back. If not, no big loss, they’re providing you with great information to retweet or use in your life.

Conversely, if you tweet about something important, such as Autism, put a # in front of it to ensure that others are finding it. It takes a little practice to know when to use it, what words to use them on… but if you have a few conversations and browse enough, you’ll get the hang of it pretty quick. Think ‘topics’ when you think of what to hashtag. Some examples: #Autsim, #ASD, #ADHD, #parenting

6. FollowFriday

Now that I’ve mentioned hashtags, one hashtag is extremely popular on Fridays called #FollowFriday. This tag is not really used for searching but for 2 other reasons. One is to give a shout out to people they follow that they enjoy reading and two is to recommend those people to the rest of their followers.

For example, if I find your tweets to be very informative and/or entertaining, I may put your name into a tweet with a #FollowFriday hashtag which tells others that you have something valuable to offer and that they should consider following you as well.

If you follow steps 1 – 5 (and throw in your own personal brand of personality), then people will be compelled to recommend you the next Friday that rolls around and gain you more followers.

But keep in mind, this also goes both ways. If you never recommend anyone, chances are you won’t be getting many mentions yourself. Most people won’t take it personally but they still won’t be as keen no recommending people to their followers that don’t share the kindness.

8. Remember, we’re all human.

Seems a little silly but often we forget that the weird names with weird tweets are real human beings out there, with real lives, with real issues of their own. Those people sharing their lives and issues are what draws you into reading about them and you sharing yours will be what draws them into yours.

Try not to offend, we all share something in common in the Autism community but we all also have our own view points on various things. Agree to disagree, try to keep an open mind and read what they have to say as something they believe. Right or wrong, your opinion or not, real people have their reasons for thinking how they do. And if you want them to respect you, you have to keep that in mind.


Twitter is a great way to become part of the community, get and share information, advice, knowledge, experiences and so much more. It can be slow going at first but keep in mind that when you get higher in numbers, the speed also picks up. If you treat people well and share (to and from), then before you know it, you’ll be struggling to keep up with it all and loving every minute of it.

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Parents – Explanations vs Apologies

All to often, we’ve been in the situation where our child is in public and totally at random we find ourselves in the middle of a meltdown, an non responsive zombie or just a very bizarre act that people just see as weird.

Our first response is to look around, see who’s looking at us… are they saying anything to the person next to them? Are they obviously thinking something we’ve heard before?

First thing we can think to say is… now say it with me “I’m sorry, my child has Autism”.

Are you really sorry? I’m not. I have nothing to be sorry for. In fact, my child has done nothing wrong. All children do these things, mine just happens to do it more often than most but you know what? They don’t know that. They’re witnessing it for the first time. And they’re making judgments. No, my child has done nothing wrong. They have. Shame on them for passing judgments without all the information.

That being said, there’s nothing wrong with explaining yourself… “my child has Autism, he’s just really overloaded by all the sights and sounds in here. He doesn’t mean to bother you.”

See the difference there?

I can assure you, with almost 100% certainty, that the person you’re talking to will get far more from that than an empty apology. They don’t know what Autism really is, they don’t know you or your child. But your tone does come across, whether you know it or not. You’ve apologized a million times and you’ve never really meant it, not really. You’ve done nothing wrong, neither did your child. And that person will walk away, still judging you and and still judging your child and you’ll finish what you’re doing and go home feeling angry, defeated… depressed.

Do not apologize for what you do not have to apologize for. Instead, explain what is happening and why. It doesn’t take long. And in so doing, you’re raising awareness, you’re not faking a smile behind anger and tears.

We’ve all been there, we’ll all be there again. There’s no need to feel bad, there’s no need to feel mad. Either they get an explanation or they don’t deserve one but never ever do they deserve an apology when you’ve done nothing wrong.

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Raise Money for Charity and Get a Great Gift – Bill Goldberg!


Congrats to Bill Goldberg (@therealgoldberg) and to all who participated in raising US $3,901.99 for charity, the money will go towards raising a school for orphaned children in Haiti. Also, a hearty congrats to all of the celebs who took part in this auction for such a good cause, many of whom also put some extras into the prize list to entice as much generosity as possible.

These tweets are from Bill Goldberg:

In this economy,asking someone to give $4 to charity comes with a sense of guilt..but to get $3,900 for my #TwitChange auction.. #SPEECHLESS

**********THANK YOU ALL*********

Please read all of this, even if you don’t know who Bill Goldberg is. It’s for charity and it’s important. Thank you.

If you are in the slighest bit involved in Twitter, you’ve probably heard about the TwitChange charity going on right now. If not, it is a twitter based charity from a LOT of celebrities, where you bid on eBay to have your favourite celebrity follow you on Twitter, mention you, retweet you, etc.

Some celebrities are matching the winning bids to double the money sent to those in Haiti, some are offering a few extras… and then, there’s Bill Goldberg.

The reason for this post is that even though I am aware that you may not know who he is (most of my readers are hard working moms), I am most certain that someone in your family does…. husband, father, son…. women who love good action??

Bill Goldberg was the first and only man to go undefeated for 173 matches in WCW wrestling, even beating Hulk Hogan during his run. He went on to star in television shows and movies, like Universal Soldier: The Return and The Longest Yard.

The reason I’m writing this today, instead of my usual advice or experiences on Autism is that I believe that this is a great charity, goes to a great cause and I’m inspired by all that Bill Goldberg is willing to do above and beyond what is asked of him to raise money.

In addition to following the winner, or other twitter stuff… he’s willing to phone the winner for a personal call, do a webcam chat, give the winner his name plaque from Pros vs Joes, some memorabilia from his movie The Longest Yard and even have the winner visit him in San Diego. In fact, he’ll pick up the winner at the airport personally in the muscle car of your choice (well, from what he has in his garage).

On top of this, he’ll continue to add on to the pile of winnings for each day that the charity runs, which still has 5 days remaining as of the time of this writing.

Even if you do not know who he is, even if the things he’s done does not interest you, someone in your family likely does. Ask around, find out, get this as a gift if you can. If you can’t afford these bids, ask those people anyway because maybe they can, or can find a way and would like to win this great package.

Bill Goldberg is doing a wonderful thing far beyond what is asked of him and I’m saddened to see that the support just isn’t there. The bids aren’t that high. However, that is good news for you as you could get all these winnings for someone in your family at a relatively low bid.

I have vowed to support him as best I can because I, like many who read my blog, do not have much to offer but we still support each other, especially when what we support is a wonderful cause. And this is one.

Other celebrities are getting tons of bids simply based on who they are. That’s great, they do not require my support nor warrant it quite as much because they are simply coasting on their fame and not offering any more than what is asked of them. I still wish them the best, of course.

But if I can help Bill Goldberg get even one more bid than what he had previously, then I have to try. It’s worth it.

You can bid for Bill Goldberg here:

Updated Listing, You get:

Bill Goldberg (@therealgoldberg):

  • follow you on twitter
  • retweet you
  • mention you
  • he’ll phone you
  • do a uStream webcam chat with you
  • you get his autobiography – signed
  • his name plaque from Pro’s vs Joe’s
  • swag from his movie The Longest Yard
  • he’ll pick you up in San Diego personally in the muscle car of your choice
  • dinner
  • VIP concert at @BellyUpMusic
  • Alice Cooper signed guitar
  • @TheFatBoys CD set
  • @TheFatBoys will follow you on twitter as well
  • $100 gift card from AutoZone
  • gift card for Dominos
  • @HeadBlade shaving kit
  • more!

And he’s not done adding more!

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