The film is about the world travels of two middle-aged autistic men with severe communication difficulties. They travel to Sri Lanka, Japan and Finland to meet other adults with autism and to share more information about autism to different parts of the world.
In 'Wretches & Jabberers and Stories from the Road', two men with autism embark on a global quest to change prevailing attitudes about disability and intelligence. With limited speech, Tracy Thresher, 42, and Larry Bissonnette, 52, both faced lives of mute isolation in mental institutions or adult disability centers. When they learned as adults to communicate by typing, their lives changed dramatically. Their world tour message is that the same possibility exists for others like themselves. At each stop, they dissect public attitudes about autism and issue a hopeful challenge to reconsider competency and the future. Along the way, they reunite with old friends from the USA, expand the isolated world of a talented young painter and make new allies in their cause.
I talked with Dan a while back in episode 86 about their first product, iPrompts. One of the things I enjoy most about our conversations is the facsinating picture Dan paints for the future of these handheld devices and how they can help individuals with ASD.
Here is more about AutismTrack from their website:
AutismTrack™ A new app from the makers of iPrompts®! Featured by Apple as "New and Noteworthy"
AutismTrack™ is a portable, customizable data tracking tool that empowers caregivers of those with autism to easily track interventions, behaviors and symptoms. Checkboxes allow daily recording of any therapy, medicine or diet. Simple "sliders" allow rating of any behavior or symptom (e.g., eye contact, aggression and echolalic speech).
With multiple reporting features, this information can then be reviewed and shared, to help parents and other caregivers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) answer the ongoing and ever-puzzling question: "What seems to be working, and what's not?"
The other day I came across an article called “Aging with Autism.” It talks about adults with autism and working. As my son ages (he is ten now) I more often think about his future and how it will all play out.
So I contacted the Dr. Scott for an interview. Shannon and I discussed the Adult Autism and Employment Guide that he wrote (find it here) as well as his March 3-4, 2011 conference on autism and employment.
Shannon and I talk with Marty Kelly who has twice made the trip to Central America for stem cell transplants for her autistic son. After the first trip, Marty noticed significant gains in many areas and decided to make a recent, repeat trip.
We discuss the process of how stem cells work and the procedure used for her son.
Marty feels, and explains, that there is no downside to a stem cell transplant other than it not working. However, stem cell transplants are not allowed to be done in the USA and the Mayo Clinic writes on their website that: ” A stem cell transplant poses many risks of complications, some potentially fatal. Although some people experience few problems with a transplant, others must endure frequent tests and repeated hospitalizations.” For more information, see here and here.
Robert W. Sears, MD, is a father of three, board-certified in Pediatrics, and a co-author in the Sears Parenting Library. “Dr. Bob”, as he likes to be called by his little patients, earned his medical degree at Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1995. He did his pediatric internship and residency at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, finishing in 1998. Dr. Bob is the proud father of three active boys, Andrew, age 15, Alex, age 12, and Joshua age 6. He and his wife, Cheryl, reside in Dana Point, CA. In his spare time Dr. Bob enjoys surfing the California waves, mountain biking, playing bass guitar with his teenage son guitarist, and trying to keep up with his three children.
Shannon Johnson and I talk with Megan Drane of Fire Fly Nights Photography. Megan, a professional photographer, has a young son with autism. Realizing that there is a need out there for quality photos of families that have a child with autism, Megan moved into fill that gap.
We discuss her patient, flexible approach she uses to grab some fantastic photos. We also get into the range of emotions and feelings she comes across as she meets parents looking to get, perhaps, their first family photo shoot with a photographer who empathizes with their situation.
I conduct a follow up discussion with Dr. Paul Law about the Interactive Autism Network (IAN). My first podcast with Dr. Law took place three years ago when the program was in its infancy.
Dr. Law also has a son with autism.
We discuss some of the latest studies that have come forth from IAN as well as where it might all lead to in the future. More about IAN from their Website:
The Interactive Autism Network (IAN) is an innovative online project bringing together tens of thousands of people nationwide affected by autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and hundreds of researchers in a search for answers.
Lori Boll and I talk with Dr. Tracy Alloway about working memory versus long term memory. We have an interesting discussion working memory (think short term) and how it relates to people with autism. We also discuss her working memory enhancing program called Jungle Learning.
Here is more about Tracy from her website:
Tracy Packiam Alloway, PhD, is the Director of the Center for Memory and Learning in the Lifespan at the University of Stirling, UK. She is the author of over 75 scientific articles and books on working memory and learning, and has developed the world’s first standardized working-memory tests for educators published by Pearson. Her research has received widespread international coverage, appearing in outlets such as the Guardian, Daily Mail, Scientific American, Forbes, US News, ABC News, and NBC. She is much in demand international speaker in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. She is an advisor to the World Bank on the importance of working memory.
Shannon Johnson and I speak with Dr. Susan Wilczynski of the National Autism Center. We cover a range of topics including evidence based practices. We pay particular attention to an educators' field guide the National Autism Center put together for educators of children on the autism spectrum. You can see a copy of that guide here.
Here is some more about Dr. Wilczynski from her website: Dr. Wilczynski is the Executive Director of the National Autism Center. In her role as Chair of the National Standards Project, she has worked in collaboration with experts from around the country in order to establish national standards for the treatment of individuals on the autism spectrum. Under Dr. Wilczynski’s leadership, the National Autism Center has recently published Evidence-based Practice and Autism in the Schools. This resource manual for educators is being distributed to school systems across the country. It is the first in a series of manuals to support families, educators, physicians, and service providers.
Shannon and I talk with Max and Zak of Autism Ambassadors These two fine young man (along with others) have developed-- and are developing -- programs in schools around the world designed to help students with autism. Their program encourages autism awareness and promotes relationships between typical students and those with autism.
Zak and Max hope to have well over 100 Autism Ambassador programs up and running before the end of 2010
We discuss the relationship between strep infections and OCD.
In Beth's words:
"When my middle son was twelve, he was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and then Tourette Syndrome. Confined to our home by the horror of his illness, a lifelong placement seemed his likely fate -- until I learned that a strep infection might be the cause (a disorder known as PANDAS). Most doctors said I was wrong; but I was right, and two doctors helped me cure him. He is now fully recovered."
We have a wide ranging conversation about "explosive" children and how best to work with children that do not easily transition from one activity to another. This podcast does not specifically apply to children with autism.
I talk with Dan Tedesco of HandHold Adaptive about iPrompts, their new iPod Touch/iPhone application for people with special needs. In their own words "iPrompts: [is] the portable, customizable, visual prompting tool for those with special needs."
Basically the app lets me put together a visual schedule (think Teacch )for my son on my iPod Touch. I can import pictures and customize it as needed. Great product. We also discuss HandHold Adaptive's other products they have in the pipeline.
Shannon Johnson (foggyrock.com) and I talk with Erik Linthorst, father to a child on the spectrum and creator of the film Autistic Like. We have a very interesting conversation about his son, Graham, who was initially diagnosed with autism at an early age. After much research and discussion with various therapists, Erik has come to the conclusion that his son’s behaviors and learning patterns are driven primarliy by a sensory processing disorder. He describes his son as autistic-like rather than autistic. For more information check out his website.
Shannon Johnson and I talk with Chiropractic Neurologists Drs. Robert Melillo and Peter Scire. Dr. Melillo is the author of the book Disconnected Kids and founder of the Brain Balance Centers. We discuss his book and therapies that relate to his form of treatment. The discussion gets a bit heated at times.
Shannon (FoggyRock.com ) and I talk with Samuel Sennott about his iPhone App, ProLoQuo2Go . It is an AWESOME application for those looking for an AAC device. If you know PECS , you may find this app is for you. (Our PECS interview can be found here .)
Here is some more information from their website:
Proloquo2Go™ is a new product from AssistiveWare
that provides a full-featured communication solution for people who have difficulty speaking. It brings natural sounding text-to-speech voices, up-to-date symbols, powerful automatic conjugations, a default vocabulary of over 7000 items, full expandability and extreme ease of use to the iPhone and iPod touch.
Here is more about Nancy from her website, Firstsigns.org:
Nancy D. Wiseman
As the founder and president of First Signs , Nancy Wiseman is dedicating her life to improving the lives of children and families affected by developmental disorders. Since 1999, Nancy has made a significant contribution to changing policy, improving awareness, and changing pediatric practice in how we screen, refer, and detect young children today. Before devoting herself to First Signs , Nancy worked in corporate communications for over 20 years building brand awareness, educating the public, and generating qualified leads for international companies in the financial, travel, office products, computer, and software industries. She now utilizes her skills in fundraising and development, staff and financial management, film and video production, as well as public relations and education, to direct First Signs, Inc . She has counseled parents worldwide and she has appeared in interviews with USA Today, Parents, and NBC’s Today Show. She is the author of Could It Be Autism? A Parent’s Guide to the First Signs and Next Steps and The First Year®: Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed Child . Nancy serves as president and treasurer and she is the mother of Sarah, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. Today—at age 13—Sarah stands as a powerful example of the impact that early identification and intensive intervention can have on young children with developmental delays and disorders. Nancy is the 2006 recipient of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Dale Richmond/Justin Coleman Award for her outstanding achievement in the field of child development.
Elaine is a single mother raising her fifteen year-old son Neal who is on the autism spectrum. We focus mostly on her work as an acting coach and the programs she as developed that enable people with special needs to take part in the world of drama.
Shannon Johnson of FoggyRock.com and I talk with the co-creators of iConverse an iPhone/iPod touch application that functions much like a picture exchange communication system (PECS ).
While the application is new and currently contains only six icons, the potential for this efficient, useful, and compact assitive communication device is strong. The creators talk of users being able to generate their own icons at some point in the future as the software matures.
Shannon Johnson of Foggyrock.com and I talk with Keri Bowers of normalfilms.com Keri, a single mother to two children, one of whom is on the autism spectrum, has forged an interesting path. She is the creator of at least three films about children with disabilities, an advocate, speaker, and most recently, a seminar leader about “Mapping Transitions To Your Child’s Future.”
I talk with Dr. Brooke Ingersoll about her relatively new treatment: Reciprocal Imitation Therapy (RIT). We discuss the methods behind the treatment as well as ways parents can implement it in their own home.
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