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The Bastard Autism


illustration by Troy DeShano[/caption]

Sometimes i forget that you’re there.

It was once so obvious. He was here with us, and then he was just gone. You’d stolen him.

You threw the first stone, and we stepped up to the fight.

But you are crafty, aren’t you? Deceitful.

The way you camouflage yourself to avoid our attention and distract our sense of urgency.

The rescue operation becomes more of an exercise in tolerance.

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Odorifous: Miller Mobley

Earlier this year there was a bit of a buzz about an article in The Atlantic about Donald Gray Triplett—who in 1943 was the first child to ever be diagnosed as “autistic.”

The article itself (by John Donvan and Caren Zucker) is really fantastic. Even though it is a bit long for a web piece, it is totally worth your time. I love the introductory story where Donald’s talent (in other words—savant capabilities) for math catches the attention of a travelling entertainer who asks if Donald can join him for his travelling show:

whether they spoke this aloud to their guest or not, [there was] the sheer indignity of what Polgar was proposing. Donald’s being odd, his parents could not undo; his being made an oddity of, they could, and would, prevent. The offer was politely but firmly declined.

I really can’t say enough about this article. I haven’t read anything on the topic that I’ve appreciated so much.

But of all the connectedness of an article like this to my own heart’s strings, it is this image that invoked the most emotion.

For even in a photograph you can see his eyes are so piercing that they’re transcendent. Like the eyes of most individuals whom I’ve met with autism—on the rare occasion that they happen to look straight into your own, they’ll see right through into your soul.

After years of practice I’m lucky to now get a chance to look my son in the eye at least once every day and it still gives me butterflies every time.

Luckily it took very little research to discover the man behind this particular lens—Miller Mobley.

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Traverse City Walk for Autism

Northwest Michigan Autism Walk

I’ve been involved with the Northwest Michigan Autism Resource Network for the past 4 years.

The tricky part about an autism community/support group is that everyone is so busy with their own kids (babysitters are rarely an option) that meetings are difficult and volunteer involvement has to be spread thin across a lot of people.

I wish I could be involved more, but the least I can do is create some cool designs for ARN from time to time…

(like the logo and the art-show poster and a few other pieces)

This year I got to do this super-fun poster for our first Autism walk fundraiser that features some iconic halloweenie costume characters.

(and for some reason reminds me of that Neil Young lyric “Marlon Brando, Pocahontas and me”)

Help us out!

I’m trying to raise $500 for my Autism Walk team. ARN has been such a great resource to me over the past few years and I would love to help them do more for the NW Michigan community.

If you’ve enjoyed the writing or illustration or whatever on Strong Odors and you’d like to show your appreciation, would you consider supporting us in this event?

Just visit the ARN website to donate via PayPal and mention “team Gideon” in the comments section.


Join Us

Do you live in or around Traverse City? How about Petoskey or Benzonia or another northwest Michigan town?

Come on out on October 30th and walk for autism! You can download the registration form and support-raising forms on their website.

See you there!

The Truth about Autism

A couple big news stories in the world of autism have parents frustrated once again.

First, the infamous Dr. Wakefield was stripped of his license by Britain’s medical council, and then later in the week Reuters published an article suggesting that early intervention may not really make a difference when treating children with autism.

Which is in direct contrast to the only one absolute we’ve ever had… that your best hope is to intervene early.

Early. Early. Early.

So parents everywhere are reacting in anger, throwing emotionally charged adjectives in support of their personal intervention strategies, and pediatricians everywhere can be a little more smug once again, repressing those feeling of guilt that had sneaked in after failing to diagnose so many children earlier than they did.

Here’s the thing… these studies must be done. Their results must be published.

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Six Benefits of LEGO Play for Children with Autism

When my kids were finally old enough for LEGOs, I was glad.

Pretty much everything about LEGO is awesome.

What was interesting (though not totally surprising) was how beneficial LEGO play seemed to be for my 6-year-old who has autism.

Interestingly enough, some serious studies are now being done to develop LEGO-based therapy for children with autism.

It makes a lot of sense:
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