Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Digest 23

Time to share a few links that I've found over the last few weeks that seem especially important or inspirational to me.

1) I have really been enjoying Reports from a Resident Alien. This blog is written by a young woman who is on the autism spectrum and studies biomedical engineering in college. Perhaps it is my science background that connects here, but there is also a piece of me that sees a role model for my own daughter. At any rate, I am always interested to hear from individuals on the spectrum as I think they can teach us so much about how to best support others on the spectrum. Lisa's recent post about "stimming" is an excellent example of this. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what stimming is and how it should be addressed by neurotypical individuals. I especially appreciated Lisa pointing out that neurotypicals use stimming too (ever find yourself fiddling with something in your hand while you are waiting for someone or having a challenging conversation?) and that there are ways to replace one activity that is too distracting or dangerous with another that is more socially acceptable or safer. This is a long post, but it is well worth the read.

2) And here's more from another favorite Lisa, at Lisa Leonard Online. She shared this story of her two sons interacting at school and how her younger son helped explain her older son's differences to some peers. We have not hit this milestone of sibling interaction yet. It may come sooner than I am ready. It is good to see that it can be a really positive interaction for all concerned.

3) I found this article about new genetic research on autism through OUR Journey Thru Autism (OJTA). The article gives some support to an idea I've been considering for a while: that there may be more than one (several even) root causes of autism that we currently lump into one disorder because the symptoms are similar. These root causes may be copy number variants (please forgive the typos in this link - it is the best layman's explanation of CNVs I could find) which I admit I do not fully understand. I have not formally studied biology since high school (um...) more years ago than I want to admit. CNVs apparently relate to the number of gene copies that an individual inherits. Usually you get two, one from mom and one from dad. Apparently sometimes in the copying process some mistakes happen - sometimes a gene is deleted and sometimes it gets stuck on the copier and you get three or four copies instead of two. Generally these mistakes are harmless and the resultant individual is not affected in any appreciable way by their genetic alteration. However, if, for example, key genes involved in neurology are affected then neurological disorders, like autism, may result. Please note this does not rule out the involvement of some environmental factor - perhaps there is something influencing the copying mechanism, or perhaps the genetic damage is "turned on" by some environmental influence. However, from my perspective as a person who studied how chemicals interact with biological systems, understanding the genetic processes involved in autism is key to identifying any environmental factors...otherwise we can chase multiple false leads and still not get to the right answers. There are simply too many chemicals out there that might be the trigger. Please don't say we should just get rid of all the chemicals. They are all around you...everything you touch, breathe, see, and eat is a chemical. I don't think you can understand the environmental factors without the genetic basis and vice is not an either or game, it is both and.

Still two links to go, and I think this is my longest "digest" yet...better find some breezy ones. :-)

4) Okay - I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for ideas of what to pack in my kid's snack AND lunch bags that have to go to school every day. She's a little picky about what she eats, but mostly she just doesn't care about eating as much as she cares about getting attention from other people, protecting her ears from the din of the lunchroom, and getting outside with time to PLAY! So lunch better be yummy, nutritious and INTERESTING! Tall order. I'll be checking out this list of snack ideas (and any others I come across) in more detail.

5) How about some music to lift your spirits? This arrangement of Crown Him with Many Crowns (1995) by Michael W. Smith gets me DANCING (and I don't dance...) every time I hear it. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Heidi said...

Kim- Thanks for these links. I'm always looking for alternatives to store bought snacks. Definitely going to try the cheesy letters.


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