Friday, February 27, 2015

Understanding Yin and Yang

From TEdEd

Sartre said that we are our choices. To that end I found this explanation of the two-sides of the human spirit very enlightening. (No I am not promoting Daoism. However, whichever religion you  find  fulfilling (even atheism) then I hope it gives you peace.)  In truth, I have always been drawn to the Yin/Yang symbol and it is interesting to have an understanding, even a precursory one, of what it means.

It's been called "The wisest book ever written," and it's very short, too. If you want to know more about Daoism (often spelled "Taioism") you should definitely check out the Dao De Jing. This excerpt attempts to define the Dao as a force in human life. Do you know anyone who seems to live this way? How so?

"The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Dao.
In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don't try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.
When you are content to be simply yourself
and don't compare or compete,
everybody will respect you. "
(Dao De Jing 8, Stephen Mitchell Translation)

The more you know about China, the better you will understand Daoism. It's been said that Daoism is the Chinese cousin of Buddhism, which grew up in India before spreading all over Asia, and eventually the world. Here's a good website which also can lead you into Chinese medicine.

Here is an interesting article about the Daoist idea of "wu wei." It's about doing without doing, or why too much effort can be self-defeating. It's from Psychology Today, but you don't have to know anything about psychology to read it.

The founder of Daoism was Laotsi (sometimes spelled "Lao-Tzu"). He even has a facebook page!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I have been autistic all my life and I turned out fine....

CM2 had to give a presentation in his public speaking class today. He chose the issue of mandatory vaccinations. Needlesstosay he is for vaccines, and thinks the government should pay for it. In his words..."poor people- duh!"...  (I am not certain that he knows about medicaid and child health insurance for the poor in many states, but my son, the self-proclaimed Social Justice Warrior,  understands that not everyone has enough money for even life's necessities.)

Meanwhile, he did his research, proved how vaccines do not cause autism and presented a cogent argument. In the end he even asked, what was so wrong with autism anyway? He added, it is far worse to die horribly from a preventable disease...

"I have been autistic all my life and I turned out fine..." he told his class.

Monday, February 23, 2015

#StayWeird, Stay Different

Graham Moore, last night's Oscar winner for best adapted screenplay for The Imitation Game, gave this very inspiring speech about being different.

Here is his story:

When I was 16 years old,I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong. And now I'm standing here and so I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she's weird or she's different or she doesn't fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. I promise you do. You do. Stay weird, stay different. And then when it's your turn and you're standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along.


So for all of our children who some like to call weird or different...remember it is those who are different who actually make a difference.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Book Review: Make Social Learning Stick

Social conventions are the bete noir of  a person on the autism spectrum. Most socialization does not come naturally to them. At every stage there are nuances and signals that they need to be taught.

Social regulation is important for everyone inorder to have a successful life. Reinforcement  and support, while generalizing the ideas taught over the years is never inappropriate. Whether we continually practice dinner conversations, appropriate phone conversations or even how to tell a joke, it is always important to keep in mind that social skills, if not practiced and used will be lost.

To this end  I recommend the book Make Social Learning Stick, by Elizabeth A. Sautter, MA CCC-SLP. It is a colorful, informative, fun filled charted lesson plan for how to help anyone learn those little annoying socially appropriate realities. In other words, if you follow along you can make social skills fun.

Actually I enjoyed reading the book. I found it informative, filled with many new ideas and programs to use on that social and emotional journey. I always say that no matter how long you have been a warrior-parent you can always learn something new.

From the AAPC Publishing Website

"The Mom’s Choice Awards (MCA) is a globally recognized program for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. These products and services are evaluated by a respected panel of judges bound by a strict code of ethics. This award ensures expert and objective analysis of elements including production quality, design, educational value, entertainment value, originality, appeal and cost. Know somebody who has autism spectrum disorder? This book offers a “social learning diet” of concepts and actions that can be used in everyday life to increase verbal and nonverbal language, listening skills, understanding of hidden rules, perspective taking, executive functioning, and more. The activities are recipes for social and emotional learning for which parents, teachers, and therapists typically already have the ingredients. With close to 200 fun and easy activities, including contributions from leading experts, this book offers numerous ways to embrace teachable moments throughout daily routines without having to do extra work! Events like getting ready for school, preparing dinner, going to the doctor, and celebrating Thanksgiving become opportunities for teaching and reinforcing expected social behavior for those with autism spectrum disorder. Geared toward children in preschool through elementary school, the ideas are meant to inspire creativity that suites each specific child. Activities can be easily tailored to meet a child’s developmental level, needs, or challenges."

Or go to the author's website HERE.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Social Conventions of Power

From TedEd.

This is a very interesting look at how "power" in society works and how the individual person can harness that power. It is a structured look at social convention and advocating for yourself and your ideals.

Watch Eric Liu talk more about these ideas in his TED talk, “Why ordinary people need to understand power.” Interested in what power really is, who has it and why? Take a look at Citizen University, watch some great presentations about various topics at Citizens University on YouTube, and consider attending the next conference. Watch this introduction by the Citizen University founder Eric Liu. In which direction would you like to push your country?

What would a citizenship agenda look like? How can we revitalize citizenship for every person in America? Read these articles: We Need A Path To Citizenship for All Americans, Not Just immigrants and Why Civics Class Should Be Sexy by Eric Liu and find out. How can we “Americanize” the current curriculum in schools to envelope these ideals? Ask you global studies teachers about their ideals and how the current situation can be changed for the better. Find your voice. Ask for changes.

Is being a good citizen important to you? What have you learned about citizenship in school? Read this TIME article: Can We Teach Kids to Be Good Citizens? Get some new ideas! What would a civics curriculum look like? Here are some ideas from Stanford Center on Adolescence. How does your school compare? Has your schooling taught you to be both a good student and a good citizen? If you really want to take this idea to another level, plan a Sworn Again America Ceremony! Follow some of the ideas presented in this TED Ed lesson and inspire a group of people to get involved with you.

What is patriotism? Does the word make you uncomfortable? What does it mean to you? Read this article and find the three components of citizenship. Then, watch as Eric Liu talks about his speechwriting experience for President Clinton, how to ”show-up,” and get involved locally. Have you ever been involved or wanted to be involved in a community concern? Become something other than a spectator!

Who Will “Us” Be? Watch this video from the Aspen Ideas Festival and think about, “How you are American.” What is your story? What is your family’s story? Do you know your neighbor’s story? Have you ever asked? Watch Eric Liu’s interview about his book, “ A Chinaman’s Choice.” Find out his story.

For more on this educator and author follow him on Twitter: @ericpliu or visit the Guiding Lights Network.