Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Until All the Pieces Fit...

What do you think of when you see a puzzle piece?  For the legion of families dealing with autism, it means that all the pieces are not fitting together the way they should.  Thankfully we have come far from theories like "refrigerator mothers", but we have a long way to go.

April is Autism Awareness Month.  Many good people are working to find the cure to this disorder, and some have found their "cure".  The fact that each person does not fall in line with everyone else, is demonstrated by the name of Autism Spectrum disorder.  There are a wide variety of people with autism, and no two are alike.  This is what can make autism so baffling; what works for one person doesn't work for another.

One of the best-known people with autism is Temple Grandin.  She wrote "The Autistic Brain: Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed"In this book she argues that "raising and educating kids on the autism spectrum must focus on their long-overlooked strengths to foster their unique contributions."  Her theory is that if all we do is focus on weaknesses, we overlook strengths that can be utilized to help individuals with autism lead productive lives.

From half a world away in Japan comes the book "The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a 13-year-old boy with Autism".  The author, Naoki Higashida is able to communicate through typing.  This book takes a question-and answer format, with the questions coming from his co-author, David Mitchell. Naoki communicates insights that are often unknown by family members of non-verbal autistic individuals.  Even those who can verbalize may not have the self-awareness that Naoki possesses.

Going from the topic of "what is autism" to "how can we make it better" brings us to the book "Autism Revolution: Whole-Body Strategies for Making Life All It Can Be" by Martha Herbert, MD, Phd.  Herbert is an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard.

Dr. Herbert believes that there are many treatments that can restore health to those with autism.  Although autism often reveals itself in stereotypical behaviors, it is at its root a physical disorder.  Autism comes about in a perfect storm of seemingly unrelated events, which she believes can be unraveled and improved through nutrition, reducing toxic exposures and limiting stress. 

Today there are more options available to improve the lives of those on the autism spectrum than any other time in history.  These individuals are stepping out of the shadows and into the light of lives lived to their fullest potential.

To find our collection of books on Autism, go to 616.85882 and look for the ducks pictured above.

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