Monday, December 15, 2014

'A Different Brilliant': Aspect Autism - VIDEO

(As appeared on sister blog page 'Josie's Juice'). If this post had a 'like' button, I'd hit it a million times over. If only just for the fantastically brilliant header just above.
Aspect has released a positive awareness campaign on its Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages called, 'a different brilliant.' The campaign includes a centrepiece film and microsite (, which celebrates our differences by introducing viewers to seven quirky real-life characters on the autism spectrum in a beautifull shot, positive and inspiring montage. 
Seven real-life ASD heroes tell the story
The captivating short film captures the stories of seven unique individuals as told by them, their friends, families and communities:
CALLUM THE PUZZLE WHIZ. 14 year-old Callum is enthusiastic about puzzles and completes them in record time without looking at the finished image on the box. He represents the unique talent for sorting and visual problem solving some people on the spectrum possess.
CHELSEA THE DRESS-UP SUPERHERO. Like many girls her age, four year-old Chelsea loves pink, dressing-up, and playing with Barbies™. But thanks to her unique way of expressing herself, rather than dressing up as a fairy like all the other little girls going to a birthday party, she arrives in a self-designed superhero outfit. Those with highly sensitive nerve endings as part of their ASD often delight in specific fabrics and textures that are gentle and familiar to their touch.
SUPERMARKET SURVIVAL, NATHAN. For an ASD child with super-hearing powers, like seven year-old Nathan, supermarkets are a deafening cacophony of disharmonious sounds: buzzing fridges, in-store announcements, checkout noises and errant trolleys. A two-year old is shown sitting in a trolley with ear defenders as an example of how many children on the spectrum with auditory sensitivities, like Nathan, bravely tackle the experience.
SCHOOL BOYS AT HEART, BEN. We see 10 year-old Ben () at the school gates as other children come and go around him. Both he and his brother, Nathan (7) attended Aspect schools and have now successfully transitioned to the mainstream education system. The scene reminds us that people with autism don’t look any different – they could be any school friend or classmate; but take the time, and you’ll discover a different brilliant.
ALEXANDRA, THE DREAMER. Sometimes people on the autism spectrum have trouble with communication, social interaction and sensory overload. The story of 29 year-old Alexandra is told in a café scene. She gazes out the window while conversations happen around her, brilliantly finding a “safe place” in her own mind to block out the overwhelming nature of her surroundings, but eagerly joining in the conversation when a friend asks her a direct question.
ROBBIE, THE VISUAL ARTIST. Passionate photographer and business owner Robbie is in his early 20s. His story is told creatively via a class field trip montage. As others take similar shots to each other, Robbie sees the world through a different brilliant lens.
CAMERON THE WORKER. Cameron is in his 40s and an active member of the workforce. Aspect supports both Cameron and his employer via the Aspect Capable specialist employment service, which offers person-centred employment training and support to jobseekers with ASD, and their employers through coaching, mentoring, job preparation and training.
“So often wonderfully talented, brilliant people with autism spectrum disorder are overlooked by society as being odd, or quirky, or obsessive. With our a different brilliant campaign, we hope to inspire a wider understanding and respect for how people on the autism spectrum are just like you and me, in many ways, but with their own uniquely brilliant take on the world,” says Adrian Ford, CEO of Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect).
The 'a different brilliant' short film was released to the public via social media today, on Thursday 13 November on the Aspect Facebook page, as well as via Twitter and LinkedIn.
The public is encouraged to ‘like’ and ‘share’ the 'a different brilliant' short film with the hashtag #adifferentbrilliant and include links to the a different brilliant microsite in any social media posts:
And so, I am doing my part, to honour my beautiful son Rafael, who is six, and (to borrow a line from one of the best films on the planet, and one of my fave flicks ever, 'Temple Grandin') "different, not less", here is this exceptional video:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Australian Story: 'I am Jack' - ABC TV

Screening as part of ABC 'Mental As' – a week of distinctive programming on TV, radio and online for Mental Health Week - comes this ep of 'Australian Story.'

It's the story of radio and TV personality Ian ‘Dano’ Rogerson and his wife Nicole, who gave up their home, careers and an exciting lifestyle for the love of their son, Jack.

Ian Rogerson is a successful national broadcaster and media star who in the 1980s was best known for his professional partnership with Jonathan Coleman. As ‘Jono & Dano’, the pair had a 10-year run with top-rating radio shows and a string of national television programs. 

While Jono Coleman went on to forge a successful career in Britain, Ian Rogerson all but disappeared from the entertainment scene for more than a decade.

Five years ago Australian Story filled in the missing years.  Ian Rogerson had thrown in his career – “career suicide”, according to many in the industry – to care for Jack.

Diagnosed with autism as a toddler, Jack Rogerson was hyperactive, could barely speak and was unable to express ordinary affection. Like many parents of autistic children, the Rogersons soon discovered there was little help available. But they were determined to do whatever they could to enable their son to lead a mainstream lifestyle.

The turning point came when they met Elizabeth Watson, a therapist pioneering a treatment called Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). 

When we first visited the Rogersons, Jack had just completed his primary school education.  Now, five years on, the family’s determination is being richly rewarded.

At 18, Jack has recently graduated from a mainstream high school and is looking forward to a career in the hospitality industry.

In this program, the Rogersons candidly discuss the highs and lows of Jack’s life and explain how he has been able to reach his full potential. 

"Jack’s progress shows what is possible," says Nicole Rogerson, who is now CEO of Autism Awareness Australia and also runs an early behavioural intervention centre in Sydney to help other children with autism.

"We know that kids in Australia, one in a hundred of them, have Autism Spectrum Disorder. The reality is the vast majority are not getting anywhere near best practice guidelines for treatment of Autism. So unless the government makes a genuine investment in this area, so many children are not going to reach their best outcome and I think that’s a tragedy." 
Also featured are the Rogersons’ younger son, Tom, high school director of students Adam Lewis, and family friends Angela Catterns and Jonathan Coleman, together with therapist Elizabeth Watson.

'Australian Story – I am Jack' will screen on Monday October 6, at 8pm on ABC.

UPDATED: if you missed the episode tonight, you can watch the whole ep right here.

Note from ABC: This episode was broadcast at 8:00pm on Monday 6 October 2014. It was published 59 minutes ago and is available until 9:01pm on 20 October 2014. File size approx. 144 MB


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Daryl Hannah on her Asperger's: The Big Interview - Dan Rather VIDEO

'THE BIG INTERVIEW' is a new series which features interviews with some of the most well-known talent from the entertainment industry.

Recently, Daryl Hannah opened up for the first time on her struggles with Asperger's Syndrome (a condition similar to autism).

In her first television interview about her affliction, she discusses how her family helped her deal with it when she was a child.

She also discusses her life with the late John F. Kennedy Jr.

"Daryl Hannah: The Big Interview" aired on US TV on June 23 on AXS TV.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Michael Bublé's message to 6 year old fan with autism

Super cute video by the super cute Michael Bublé  for a super cute fan… who has severe autism.

Says the YouTube description:

"Griffin is a 6 year old boy with severe Autism who lives in Calgary, AB. He has a passion for music, and has acquired an incredible love for Mr. Buble. He asks for 'Michael Buble' throughout the day, and his therapists use Mr. Buble's videos as rewards for good work."

Monday, May 19, 2014

University of Sydney study: no link between vaccination and autism


The idea that vaccines were linked to autism took hold in 1998 when British gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield published a paper that hypothesised that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine could lead to the condition.
The paper has since been discredited and his research was found to be fraudulent.
In 2011, pharmaceutical scientist Dr Dennis Flaherty called Wakefield’s findings “the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years”.
And now, this article reports on settling that annoying, very damaging argument to rest. It starts:
Many parents feel immunisation is unnatural and there are prevalent fears about a link between vaccination and autism.
A new report led by the University of Sydney appears to have settled the argument.
A review of available data from around the world has found that there is no link between vaccination and the development of autism or autism spectrum disorders.
The study examined seven sets of data involving more than 1.25 million children and concluded that there was no evidence to support a relationship between common vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough and the development of autism.
The paper’s senior author, Associate Professor Guy Eslick from the Sydney Medical School, said he was inspired to look into the issue after watching some documentaries on the medical debate.
“I thought, surely someone has put this data together. I searched; there was nothing,” Prof Eslick said.
To read more, click here.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Sensory Sensitivity In Autism: Viral Video

This viral video - created for the UK's National Autistic Society by Rattling Stick - is said to show what it's like for a child with autism and sensory sensitivity:

As a mother with a child with a mild autism diagnosis, I don't believe this is the way he necessarily sees the world because… I asked him.

Now, his speech is not developed enough where he can tell me if this is what he can and can't feel and see and hear, but I did show him the video and asked him: are you scared? Or do you like this? He said he liked it… and he wanted to watch it again!

While he was initially far more resistant to loud noises and it distressed him, now - with therapy and one and a half years of schooling - he is a different child.

And so, to be more accurate, sensory defensive people would relate to this - not every person with autism.

The National Autistic Society describes itself like this:

"We are the UK's leading charity for people affected by autism.
We want a world where all people living with autism get to lead the life they choose.
We will transform understanding of autism and make sure everyone living with autism gets the support they need."

What do you think of the video? Does it relate to your child? Or you?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Vaccines Don't Cause Autism: Healthcare Triage #12

This. A VERY comprehensive video on the NON link of vaccines and autism. Must watch and share:

The video description for this video - uploaded in January 2014 - says:

"There is almost no topic in health and health policy that immediately polarizes people more than the idea that vaccines cause autism. Even though the original big paper on this topic came out at the end of the last century, the anger this causes is still raw and potent. But there is a very, very large amount of research showing that vaccines and autism are unrelated. Please, watch the video before you jump down my throat."

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Carly Fleischmann: 'Autistic Girl Expresses Unimaginable Intelligence' - VIDEO

A friend of mine alerted me to this amazing video the other day. I am sure I have watched it before, when I was new to the autism journey. But this time, it had an even greater impact. It has more meaning now. I understand what milestones mean, more than ever.

Watch as Carly Fleischmann finds her voice:

Carly describes herself like this on her web page:

"My name is Carly Fleischmann and as long as I can remember I’ve been diagnosed with autism.
I am not able to talk out of my mouth, however I have found another way to communicate by spelling on my computer. (and yes that is me typing on the computer by myself)
I used to think I was the only kid with autism who communicates by spelling but last year I met a group of kids that communicate the same way. In fact some are even faster at typing then I am.
Last year a story about my life was shown on ABC news, CNN and CTV here in Canada.
After my story was played I kept on getting lots of emails from moms, dads, kids and people from different countries asking me all sorts of questions about autism. I think people get a lot of their information from so-called experts but I think what happens is that experts can’t give an explanation to certain questions. How can you explain something you have not lived or if you don’t know what it’s like to have it? If a horse is sick, you don’t ask a fish what’s wrong with the horse. You go right to the horse’s mouth."
You can follow Carly on Facebook here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

'World Autism Awareness Day' 2014

It's 'World Autism Awareness Day' today!

In Australia, you will see participation in 'Light It Up Blue' - a global campaign that sees thousands of iconic landmarks, cities and towns around the world turn blue on April 2 to recognise World Autism Awareness Day.

The campaign highlights the pressing need for greater public education and awareness of autism in our community.

This Australian organisation is proud to have initiated and hosted Australia’s participation in this campaign for the past three years and this year their aim is to see all of Australia go blue on April 2.

Do your bit by wearing blue today - it'll be a nod to those around you who you know love someone with autism.

Visit for more info one how you can get involved

Want to know more about autism?

Watch this.

And this:

What does this day mean to me? Just knowing that you know about it, and that you support me and my son… that's enough. That, and knowing that some days, it's bloody hard. No sympathy required. Just knowing that if you see someone in a supermarket having a meltdown, down assume, don't judge… just be understanding. THAT'S autism awareness for me. And for my son.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Kristin Cavallari Didn't Vaccinate Son, Fears Autism

Appearing on the Fox Business show The Independents on Thursday, March 13, Kristin Cavallari - the pregnant former Hills star - mother to son Camden, 18 months, with another baby boy on the way - said she and husband Jay Cutler had chosen to not vaccinate their kids.

"You know what, I've read too many books about autism," Cavallari, 27, said. "There is a pediatric group called Homestead or, shoot, Homestead or Home First - now I have pregnancy brain, I got them confused - but they've never vaccinated any of their children and they've never had one case of autism. And now, one in 88 boys is autistic, which is a really scary statistic."

"Well, my mom vaccinated us, and she doesn't have any cases of autism either," host and ex-MTV VJ Lisa Kennedy Montgomery (a.k.a. Kennedy) argued. "Isn't that weird?"

"But the vaccinations have changed over the years," Cavallari replied. "There's more mercury and other [stuff]…"

Kristin later clarified her position in an interview with Fox & Friends on Friday, March 14. Asked how the response has been to her earlier comments, she admitted, "It is a harsh response. You know, it's not something that I publicly wanted to come out and say. I was in an interview and it came up, and it wasn't what I was expecting."

She continued: "But, you know, listen, to each their own. I understand both sides of it. I've read too many books about autism and there's some scary statistics out there. It's our personal choice, you know, and if you're really concerned about your kid, then get them vaccinated and it shouldn't be a problem."

I am kinda gobsmacked.


Read more here.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mum creates birthday Facebook page after son says he's friendless

This is pretty darn cool.

Ten year old Colin, from Michigan USA, told his mum not to throw him a birthday party because he has "no friends." Here is Colin:

Colin, who has Asperger's, told his mother there would be no point in throwing a birthday party because all of the kids at school "don't like me" and "make fun of me."

That's when Colin's mum came up with a special surprise. She created a Facebook page called "Happy Birthday Colin" where people can leave birthday messages for him, and it's getting lots of attention, 'likes', and the most sensational messages - even photos - the world over (I even spotted one from Sydney!).

For more info, click here.

And to leave Colin a message on that Facebook page, click here.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

'Today' show: Dr Josie Barbaro and Nicole Rogerson - VIDEO

Did you catch the report this morning on Channel Nine's 'Today' show?

Dr Josie Barbaro, from La Trobe University, explained the new research in the cues they have established for early autism detection.

Here it is. Click on this link.

Why is early detection important? The longer you leave a diagnosis, the less you are engaging with early intervention, such as speech therapy, play groups, and occupational therapy.

These may not make much sense now if your child has not been diagnosed (but you suspect he or she has autism), but it will once you set off on that journey, and can later look back at the benefits of intervention when you see vast improvements over time in your child.

My fave part of this 'Today' clip? When Nicole Rogerson, founding director and CEO of Autism Awareness Australia and managing director of the Lizard Children's Centre (provider of early intervention programs for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder), says, "Don't listen to the lovely cousin Joyce who says, 'Look, Bill was 25 before he spoke, and now he's heading NASA!'"

Brilliant, Nicole.

I know EXACTLY what you mean by that.

When I got the diagnosis for my son Rafael at age 2 (although I know at 1 year and 8 months. Yes, I can pinpoint it), I vividly recall saying to my husband: "I don't want to hear any bullshit from anyone who says, 'Don't worry! He will grow out of it!'

"Here is the diagnosis. We have work to do. There is no point denying it, or listening to any stories about anyone's anybody. This is our son, and we know what we are doing."

Trust me, you become 'tiger mother' who has to roll up sleeves and get to work. Listening to well-meaning stories is okay, but don't let it derail what you know is the truth. As Nine's Lisa Wilkinson says in this interview, "trusting your gut."

Amen to that.

Bravo Dr Barbaro. Here's to more and more research into early detection into autism, and helping families to figure out what to do, sooner.

Monday, January 27, 2014

How Do Vaccines Cause Autism?

This. Just in.


Click right here:

Now. Can we carry on? Can I be left to help my son, please?

I am sick to death of reading that vaccines cause autism.

They don't.

I won't list all the reasons this theory has been discredited. Google that yourself.

The theory is as old hat - and damaging to the job parents have on their hands to help their child - as the disgusting theory that 'infantile schizophrenia' (as autism was once called) is a result of the 'refrigerator mother'. That is, a cold, unloving mother.

Yeah. Really.

Our time is best spent helping our children who need us, not listening to things that tap into a particular brand of mother guilt that only a parent of a child with autism can understand.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dear 'Daddy' in Seat 16C Flight 1850 From Philly: VIDEO and letter

Mum boards flight with three year old daughter who has autism.  Expects judgement.
Instead, get this (this is her thank you letter the man who happened to sit beside her and her gorgeous daughter, below:
Dear "Daddy,"
I don't know your name, but Kate called you "daddy" for the entire flight last week and you kindly never corrected her. In fact, you didn't even flinch as you could probably tell that she was not confusing you with her own "daddy," but instead making a judgment regarding your level of "safety" for her. If she calls you "daddy" then you better believe she thinks you are alright.
I sat Kate, my 3-year-old who has autism, in the middle seat knowing full well that there would be a stranger sitting next to her for the duration of this flight. I had to make a quick decision and based on her obsession with opening and closing the window shade, I figured she might be less of a distraction if she sat in the middle. I watched the entire Temple basketball team board the plane, and wondered if one of these giants might sit by Kate. They all moved toward the back. She would have liked that, she would have made some observations that I would have had to deal with, but she would have liked those players. I watched many Grandmotherly women board and hoped for one to take the seat but they walked on by. For a fleeting moment I thought we might have a free seat beside us, and then you walked up and sat down with your briefcase and your important documents and I had a vision of Kate pouring her water all over your multi-million dollar contracts, or house deeds, or whatever it was you held. The moment you sat down, Kate started to rub your arm. Your jacket was soft and she liked the feel of it. You smiled at her and she said: "Hi, Daddy, that's my mom." Then she had you.
You could have shifted uncomfortably in your seat. You could have ignored her. You could have given me that "smile" that I despise because it means; "manage your child please." You did none of that. You engaged Kate in conversation and you asked her questions about her turtles. She could never really answer your questions but she was so enamored with you that she kept eye contact and joint attention on the items you were asking her about. I watched and smiled. I made a few polite offers to distract her, but you would have none of it.
Kate: (Upon noticing you had an iPad) Is dis Daddy's puduter?
You: This is my iPad. Would you like to see it?
Kate: To me?????? (I know she thought you were offering it to her to keep)
Me: Look with your eyes, Kate. That is not yours.
Kate: Dat's nice!
You: (Upon noticing that Kate had an iPad) I like your computer, too. It has a nice purple case.
Kate: Daddy wanna be a bad guy? (She offered shredder to you and that, my friend, is high praise)
You: Cool.
The interaction went on and on and you never once seemed annoyed. She gave you some moments of peace while she played with her Anna and Elsa dolls. Kind of her to save you from playing Barbies, but I bet you wouldn't have minded a bit. I bet you have little girls, too.
Not long before we landed Kate had reached her limit. She screamed to have her seatbelt off, she screamed for me to open the plane door and she cried repeating, "Plane is cwosed (closed)" over and over. You tried to redirect her attention to her toys. She was already too far gone at this point, but the fact that you tried to help your new little friend made me emotional.
In case you are wondering, she was fine the moment we stepped off the plane. Thank you for letting us go ahead of you. She was feeling overwhelmed and escaping the plane and a big, long hug was all she needed.
So, thank you. Thank you for not making me repeat those awful apologetic sentences that I so often say in public. Thank you for entertaining Kate so much that she had her most successful plane ride, yet. And, thank you for putting your papers away and playing turtles with our girl.
Here's a video on her experience: