Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Learn to Speak Body Tape 5.

So, when I first found this video I didn't realize it was a joke video (stupid literal self) and so I spent 15 minutes searching for the other videos in the set.

It's a joke video but I really wish that there was something like this available.

I hope your weekend was great!

Monday, May 30, 2011

How to become a Jedi

By which I mean learn to use body language.

So obviously, I'm not a doctor, or a psychologist, or any other kind of medical professional, you should use your own judgment, and the judgment of doctors before you use your kid a guinea pig. I just know that these are the things that I found to be helpful. So, yeah, use your judgment and not mine. 

You can't get any better at something if you don't practice it. A lot. Jedi's spend years honing their skills in the academy and they never stop learning. This is totally the same thing.

except ball sports, no amount of practice will make me better at them

But  what do you practice?

Practice Observing

Many non-neurotypicals have the ability to focus for long periods of time on a single task. This is an advantage we may have over NTs. I suggest studying people. The best way to do this is to treat it like a science experiment: create a hypothesis and then go out and test it.

Mixing metaphors.

These experiments are best guided by a parent or other professional. For example: I for many years was not aware of personal space, often entering people's bubbles or yelling at them from across the room. The Matriarch, being a total pro, suggested that we go to the mall and observe how close people stand to each other. Because I was able to use my own observations to inform the my view it felt more like I had "discovered" people's personal space. I was doing original research! If I had just been sent to observe people at the mall, I might not have figured out personal space.

Practice Isolated Observation:

You guys, I love TV. It's pretty much the best thing. And TiVo is also pretty much the bestest thing. If given the choice, I would totally watch TV for hours. Well, TV is also useful for learning about body language.

You see, actors and actresses have to use body language to sell a story. When I was 10 or 11, The Matriarch would watch TV dramas with me and my sister with the sound off. SeaStar and I are both super auditory so removing the sound took away the thing that we most used to gather information from the idiot box. We would watch the TV and try and relate what was going on in the story based only on the actors body language. If we were wrong, The Matriarch would tell us what she thought was going on in the scene. It's also useful because you can rewind the TiVo and pause on specific facial expressions and re-watch certain scenes. TV dramas work best.

Lie to Me is my newest obsession, using body language to solve crimes.

Practice  Research:

Other than parents, I read books. I read books on body language in office spaces and communication in interpersonal relationships. Movie also read books on Evolutionary Psychology, which shows how relationships evolved in humans. So, you know magazines like People, and US weekly, they sometimes run sections on celebrity body language, they show pictures of celebrities and have body language experts analyze them. Pure Gold. The best thing about these, they show body language in a way that doesn't appear in any of the other formats.

I found the best reason to buy one of these
Final Thoughts

The best way to learn body language is the way that you learn best. That sounds unhelpful, but honestly if you find something that works for you, then you should stick with it. I like being able to get my information from lots of different sources.

So, writing about this has made me realize that I have about 10 posts worth of material around body language. Which is crazy, because I think that this is one of the areas that I most struggle with. So, I guess I'll spend some time thinking about it and posting more as I hash the ideas out.

Happy Memorial Day!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Body language is like having a Jedi power

So this is a multi-part post that answers a couple of different questions from SRMM.

Today I want to talk about body language. I've been thinking about writing this post since I started writing this blog. And I've been thinking about this concept since forever.

Here's the concept: being able to read body language and use body language is kinda like having a Jedi Power.

Think about it. Body language is a nonverbal form of communication that guides the way that people interact with one another. If you are NT then this is pretty easy to understand, you can read people's faces and body language, you understand without words the way that people feel.

Obi Wan says of The Force"It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together." The Force is unseen but still incredibly powerful. Many people aren't aware that they have many midi-clorians are powerful carriers of The Force.

You know the scene in Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope where Luke and Obi Wan Kenobi are going into town and they get stopped by storm troopers looking for droids that are totally in the hover craft. Obi Wan waves his hand at the storm trooper and says
"These aren't the droids you're looking for."
 The Stormtroopers are stupefied and let the merry band of do gooders pass on the way without further incident.

That's how body language feels for me. It feels like a super power. If you want to take the comparison further, then you can compare learning to use the force to learning to use body language. It takes discipline and work and is hard but totally worthwhile in the end. Like Luke using The Force to destroy the Deathstar, he had to practice honing his skills in order to become a more powerful Jedi.

Body Language is incredibly powerful, unseen by many NNTs. It is this really powerful thing that exists in the universe that not everybody knows how to access it. Some people are really good at using and reading body language and some people aren't.

I'm pretty sure The Force is strong with my mom. She can meet someone and tell you whether or not the person is worthwhile, and she's almost never wrong. When I was younger, I thought she could predict the future, it turns out she was better at reading people.

Up Next: Teaching NNT's to become better Jedi's.

Friday, May 20, 2011

If I should have a daughter

Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter ... | Video on TED.com

If you haven't heard Sarah Kay's poetry, you really should. I really admire her work and this poem in particular is one of my favorite things she's written:
If I should have a daughter, instead of Mom, she's gonna call me Point B, because that way she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to me.

TGIF y'all. Monday's Post: NNT have Jedi powers.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Holding hands: number one threat to childrens safety.

Y'all I was going to finish writing a kick ass piece about how body language was like having a jedi power (which I will finish over the weekend)

But then I read this article about how these two girls got suspended for holding hands. Their Principle drove up to them in a golf cart and told them not to hold hands, seperated them and outed one of them to her parents. HE SUSPENDED THEM FOR HOLDING HANDS.It's also worth noting that the principle has not suspended any straight students for holding hands. Just the gay ones.

This man seriously needs a high five to the face.

This is unacceptable. Here is a list of reasons why:

1. Why does the principle have a golf cart? If you have money to have a golf cart you have money to spend on special education classes and a Gay Straight Alliance.

2. Why was the principle driving around on a golf cart? Don't you have a real job to do, like, I don't know, EDUCATING THE CHILDREN WHO WILL ONE DAY LEAD THE WORLD/PAY FOR YOUR MEDICARE? Seriously friend, you have that kind of free time to hop in your principalmobile and chase down students who are holding hands? I'm putting a camera in the office and watching what you do all day. Because my guess is it's not your job.

3. It's not okay to discriminate. This really should be reason number one. It's not okay to single someone out because they are different. Didn't you learn that in kindergarten? I did and so did most other people. Also there are laws against this kind of thing. If you aren't kicking out the straight kids for holding hands, you can't kick out the gays.

4. They were holding hands. They weren't doing drugs. They weren't naked. They weren't cutting class. They weren't vandalizing the school. They weren't bullying other students. THEY WERE HOLDING HANDS. Until you fix the other things on this list holding hands shouldn't be a priority.

5. It's not okay to out someone, espcially a kid. So, at Hippie U you learn about what is and isn't acceptable, and it's totally not okay to out someone to their parents. That kind of information is very personal. Information about your sexual orientation is not a topic for discussion between students and authority figures.If you use out a student to their parents, then in my book you're a bully.

Bullies make me cry.

Whenever I see/hear about something like this, I get SO mad. My thoughts on the person who is perpetrating this kind of behavior usually go something like, "Big man made little high schooler cry. You have all the power and authority. Jerk. This is how you get your jollies? Making high schoolers cry? You ought to be ashamed. And fired."

Principal Karlton Johnson:
email karlton.johnson@browardschools.com
phone 754.322.0955

Now I'm all cranky. I'm going to go finish my other post now. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

The time I embarrassed my mother at the pool.

This story has become family lore and gets told at holidays or when my parents want to poke fun at me.

Once upon a time my mother took me to the pool. I had a jolly time splashing around and swallowing pool water.

This water is the best thing EVA

well soon after four hours it was time for me to go home. Mom took me to the locker room.  And then something like this happened.

excuse me why is your booty so large? 

There was a woman in the locker room. This woman had a very large behind. I had never seen a woman with such a large behind. So I asked my mother:
"Mom, why is that woman's bottom so big?"
Well you see I also still had water in my ears so I said this REALLY LOUD. The woman had totally heard me asking about the size of here hinny. 

My poor Mother.
She used her mom voice. She was going to try and use this moment to teach me. It could have worked out so well. She said:
"That's not very nice. You should say you're sorry." 

I had recently watched Bambi and learned from Thumper
If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.
So, with that gold nugget of wisdom in mind I prepared to bridge the gap between myself and this unknown woman. I said in my sweetest, nicest voice possible.
"I'm sorry your bottom is so big."
what did you say to me small child?

The woman clearly did not think that was a nice thing to say. My mother scoped me up half clothed and carried my still wet out to the car.  And that's why my mother can't take me out in public anymore.
I just can't take you to the pool.

Friday, May 13, 2011

How to tell your NNT they are NNT

 [author's note: I totally had this post done yesterday and then blogger decided 'No, all your hard work writing clever things WAS FOR NOTHING' and then it deleted half the work I did on this post. So now I'm all annoyed and the post isn't as good ad the one I wrote yesterday.]
One of these things is not like the other.

So, you have a kid who is NNT? How do you tell them that they are different from all of the other kids?

This is a hard thing to do, but it's well worth the effort

This is a process of realization, not a one step and out the door kind of thing.

this is the beginning of your journey

The first step: Don't panic. Take a deep breath. 

Step 2: know the facts. 
You should know what kind of NNT your child is. Talk to the doctor who made the diagnosis and see if they have an resources about the NNT. Do a google search and read the wikipedia page. The more you know about the diagnosis the better advocate and ally you can be for your child.

Step 3: Tell your kid
If you kid was anything like me, they thought that they were retarded. Like that there was something wrong with them. They thought this because someone either implied it or said it to their face. Or both. Let me tell you what you already know: there is nothing wrong with your kid. Their brain is wired differentlyPromise Promise that any trauma that might occur from telling your kid that they are different is significantly less traumatic than letting your kid go through life thinking that they are broken, dumb or that there is something wrong with them.

Step 3a: Use a metaphor.
Brains are super complex and not much is known about being NNT. So it might be helpful to use a metaphor. Cautionary note: please explain that it is a metaphor, otherwise your kid will think that there are wires in their brains. The metaphor that helped me was the wiring metaphor, saying that I was wired differently, my brain processes information in a different way than other people. NOT WRONG. JUST DIFFERENT.

Step 3b: Use the diagnosis.
So, this one might just be me. But I found it super helpful to use the exact works that were in my diagnosis. This was helpful because as I got older I found I had to explain to adults and my peers why I was acting the way I was. Knowing the words associated with my diagnosis was helpful to learn to self advocate.

Step 4: Tell them that you love them.
I think this is the best way to end any conversation, especially hard conversations.


Side note: using the diagnosis as an excuse
So, I've read comments on a lot of other blogs that say that parents don't let their kids use their NNTness as an excuse. Good for you. It's not an excuse. But I feel like there's an explaination that might be helpful.

NNT isn't an excuse to not do things like chores or homework.

But it can make certain things more difficult, like predicting and generalizing about homework and chores.

For example: If trash day comes once a week, and it comes on Monday, then it is expected that the trash will be gathered up earlier, therefore you should gather the trash on Sunday night. This seems like a simple concept, yes? However, sometimes NNT brains don't make connections that follow the If Then Therefore formula. You might have to explain the formula and generalize about trash day before that behavior becomes predictable.

Honestly, you spend so much time trying to convince people that you CAN do things it doesn't make sense to waste time telling your parents that you CAN'T do something.

Bonus Side Note: what I remember about being told I was NNT
I was diagnosed when I was 6 or 7 years old. We lived in a small town in rural New Mexico. In order to get tested we had to drive to Albuquerque. It was a very long drive. We got to the doctors office and a man who looked a little like Santa timed me while I drew pictures of shapes.

There were little desks and he sat the little desk even though he didn't fit at it. After I was finished drawing, he told me that I had Nonverbal Learning Disability. It meant I had a hard time reading emotions and copying things down from the board at school. He told me I was unique. I told him I liked being unique.

Then in the waiting room there was a tick in SeaStar's hair. It was really gross and The Matriarch pulled it out of her hair with tweezers. She put it in a bag and SeaStar had to go to the hospital.

So that's what I remember, a man who looked like Santa and a tick in my sisters hair.

Different way of viewing the world

Monday, May 9, 2011

NPR: Report says that autism much more common.

So this morning on Morning Addition, there was an article about ASD in South Korea. 

Because all Asian nations are the same right?

The study looked at 55,000 children in a medium sized town in South Korea. The team of scientists then looked and tested all of the kids for Autism.

They tested 55,000 kids for Autism. 

Do you know what they found? 

 They found that rates of ASD are 2.5 times higher than in the united states. One out of every 38 children in the study was found to be on the spectrum. 

2.5 times higher than expected.

That is so much higher than previously thought. Even the scientists were baffled. 

Do you know what? This wasn't even the most surprising number to me. The number that wins that prize? The 2/3 of those with ASD that were in mainstream schools without any help. These children weren't diagnosed because they weren't failing classes, even though they were having difficulties with peer interactions. 

2/3 of those with ASD go without recognition and treatment.
 The study goes on to say that South Korea isn't unique.They think that ASD is probably higher in other places, but it gets missed because kids only get tested if they're failing classes or acting out annoying teachers.

The reason most NNTs get tested.

Further, the authors suggest that children who aren't failing but do have ASD would benefit from treatment. Especially from learning about how to interact with their peers.

This is how school made me feel.
 The take home message from the authors of the study:
"if you really go look carefully among all children everywhere, you find that things are far more common than you previously expected."
The part where I make a snarky comment.
No really?
Of course there are more people out there that have ASD. People who are NNT and parents of kids who are NNT know this is true. How many times have you met another person and just known that they were NNT? 

Do you know how many people's lives could be improved by early testing and intervention?
Sorry! Here is the link to the article if you're interested in listening to it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The best advice I ever got.

I have the chance to answer some questions that came from moms. I'll try and answer the questions to the best of my ability. Some of the questions are also serving as inspiration for future posts. So be patient. 

The first question:

What is the best piece of advice or support your parents gave you? If you could go back in time and tell your parents one thing about parenting you, what would it be?

That's a pretty easy one.

The best advice The Matriarch ever gave me is saved on my phone.  It says:
"You are remarkable. Pursue your interests and the right people will come along to keep you company"
So far, it's worked pretty well. It's pretty easy to get caught up in wanting friends and wanting to be liked by my peers. This advice is a good reminder to focus on my academic interest and not stress too much about the people in my life. 

The best advice Dr. Capt. Daddy gave me was
"It doesn't matter if you can do a job as much as your attitude matters. If you have a good attitude, show up on time and are generally nice to people then it doesn't matter what your deficiencies are."
This has served me pretty well too.  It's also easy to get caught up in what I can't do. You get told so much as NNT that there are things that you can't do. This advice reminds me that even though I am NNT I am also much more than that. I can do a great number of things, including some things that NT's can't do.

The advice I would give my parents if I had a time machine?

Don't forget to use your words. Your words have the greatest impact on my life. Tell me that you love me. 

I never felt unloved as a kid, but it was really meaningful when my parents told me with words.  

The Intersection of LGBTQ and NNT.

So, I've been meaning to write something about this for a while.

But then I didn't. I wouldn't know where to begin. 

So, here we go anyway.

There are lots of groups of "weirdos" out there. They are different from NTs and are often marginalized/unaccepted by society.

The nice thing about weirdos?  

They're More Accepting of NNT Weirdness.
This scene always makes me cry.

LGBTQ is one of those groups.

Think about it. The news the last year has been filled with kids who were LGBTQ being bullied and committing suicide. The high rates of bullying and suicide make schools as scary a place for the Queers as they can be for NNTs. Here is an article about how it sucks to be trans.

School is hard. Stay a baby forever

Queers and NNTs are kinda in the same "School is/can be an awful place" boat.

The nice thing?
They Make Pretty Good Friends and Allies for NNTs. 

Let me explain where this thought comes from. 

The first real friend I made was a queer person. We were in elementary school. Neither one of us fit in the conservative, Catholic, Hispanic town. We were both pretty much outcast from having friends. They liked to swing from trees, and climb rocks and skateboard. They had video games where you beat people up.They also liked to play Pokemon. That was why we were friends. 

The other kids at school didn't like this person because they did not dress like their assigned gender. They didn't like to wear skirts, and had short hair. They probably got made fun of for dressing the way that they did. 

Their favorite phrase was "Dang Dude"

This person liked me because I hadn't considered that those things mattered. My brain didn't filter that it was Socially Acceptable for girls to only dress like girls. 

I completely missed the social cues that said that I shouldn't be friends with this person because they dressed and acted like a boy.

This would not be the first time my friends would be different.
My first year after college, I went to Central Asia. 
Here, more or less.
  Before I could leave the country, I had to take classes.

Well, the classes were only weeks long, and I wasn't about to pay for housing with the school that I wasn't going to use. No sir. 

So, where was I going to live?
I was going to live with the  
captain of my crew team and hir's house of queer circus folk.

Who doesn't love the Circus?
It was pretty awesome. Here is a list of reasons why:

1. I was younger than everyone in the house by at least 3 years, they still included me in discussions. 

2. I learned a lot. I mean a lot. The house was really open about talking about their experiences of being LGBTQ.  They dealt with people asking them a  lot of questions in day to day life, so my questions seemed normal to them.

3. They were tolerant of my weirdness. It was normal-ish for them. I could read my books out loud, spread my homework out on the kitchen table, plug in my head phones and not talk to anyone for long periods of time without anyone so much as blinking an eye at what I was doing. 

But that's not all. 

The more I interact with my peers who identify as being LGBTQ I also think some of them might be on the spectrum too. 

I was watching TV on the computer yesterday and something caught my attention. The show was called TransGeneration. It's a documentary series about about 4 students who are changing their gender while going to college. 

The character that caught my attention was Gabbie. Gabbie was born a male and was transitioning to being a female at the time of the documentary. While that was story line was really cool, what struck me most was the way that she acted.

 Gabbie's part is from 2:10-6:10. 

Gabbie's friend comments: "When I first met Gabbie she definitely didn't have the common sense thing yet. She doesn't quiet know the social rules. So she'll touch you, all the time."   

HHMM. Interesting, she doesn't know the social rules. 

Later in the video, the same friend is shown telling Gabbie to go away because she is in her personal bubble.
Through out the segment, Gabbie is shown to over react, or react in a way that her peers find odd. 

Does this sound familiar to anyone else?  

Further Anecdotal Proof? 
Let's consider one of my favorite movies, Mean Girls
Gay, also a good friend.

And the most tolerant
  Who is still friends with Lindsey Lohan even though she spread nasty rumors about them? Damian and Janice. Boom. I hope that blew your mind.

Conclusion/Final Thoughts

So, we've learned that members of the LGBTQ community are probably NNT and make really good friends and allies for NNTS.

As a High Schooler I got involved in LGBTQ rights, it gave me an outlet for my NNT weirdness, and I got to meet some really cool people. 

Here is a brief list of what I learned/what I like about my LGBTQ friends

1. They are patient. They deal with as much discrimination and more. This means they don't sweat the small stuff.Like my need to have all of the drawers shut in the house at any given moment.

2. They are really kind to genuine people. Because they deal with so much discrimination they are pretty good at judging genuinely nice people.Often they are just relieved to be with someone who won't judge them for their weirdness. 

3. They are accepting. The LGBTQ community is as diverse as the NNT community. There are people of all walks of life, and all kinds of life experience. This includes NNT life experience.

Pop Icon Lady Gaga Supports the Gays.

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