Peter H Brown Clinical Psychologist

Psychology News & Resources

Sally Thibault: Author Of ‘David’s Gift’ On Tips For Parents Of Children With Aspergers Syndrome

For More Information Click Image Or Visit davidsgift.com

On April 2nd, World Autism Day, I blogged this post about the amazing new book “David’s Gift” by author, speaker and mother Sally Thibault. On Friday 16th, Sally was interviewed on the Nine Network Show ‘Today’,During the 4 minute interview she  provided a number of practical tips for parents. Here’s the Video. Make sure you visit http://www.davidsgift.com !

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April 19, 2010 Posted by | Aspergers, Aspergers Syndrome, Autism, Biography, Books, Child Behavior, diagnosis, Education, Parenting, video | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Video: A Conversation With Temple Grandin

Not long ago I posted a video of a lecture by Temple Grandin. Temple is autistic,  a designer of livestock handling facilities and a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. She is an icon in the Autistic Community. Her life has been a beacon and an inspirational story and recently her story was told in a biopic produced by HBO. She is the author of several books on autism and the autistic spectrum.

Yesterday I came across this amazing one-on-one interview with Temple. The video is a re-broadcast of an hour long intimate discussion with Temple about her life, her work and her journey with autism. If you are at all interested in the area of ASD you will want to watch this!

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April 9, 2010 Posted by | Aspergers, Aspergers Syndrome, Autism, Biography, podcast, Technology, video | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

World Autism Awareness Day: “David’s Gift” A Mother’s Journey

As today is World Autism Awareness Day, I thought I’d highlight A new book by Australian author and mum Sally Thibault, whose son David, now 24 and studying at University, has Asperger’s Syndrome. Below is an interview with Sally and the story of “David’s Gift”

Credit : davidsgift.com.au: A new book called David’s Gift by Australian author Sally Thibault is a real-life story about her long struggle to cope with son David’s Asperger’s Syndrome – an autistic spectrum disorder. The book was released in mid March 2010 to help other parents facing challenging behaviours with children.

The message of the book is for everyone – that it’s not what happens to you in life that’s important, but how you handle it that matters.

Sally was a pioneering parent dealing with autistic spectrum disorder when it was unknown and first being diagnosed in Australia about 12 years ago. Now this complex neurological disorder is the most common developmental disorder in Australia. One in every 166 children in Australia has autism and that number has increased to one in every 91 children in the USA. Three out of every four are boys.

Interview with Sally Thibault ABC Queensland 1st April 2010 Download

Already being touted as a must read for all parents, teachers and health care professionals, David’s Gift helps others understand the pain and emotions parents deal with as they navigate the challenges of having a child with ASD.

Thibault’s story is inspirational and offers hope to people from all walks of life, especially those with disabilities. The book reveals useful information about Asperger’s Syndrome and autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), and gives parents real, tangible tools to assist them to come to terms with the diagnosis and create strategies to ensure their child grows to be a strong, self-actualised and confident young adult.

“When Asperger’s Syndrome first came into our lives it presented us with a challenge that, at the time, seemed sad, unfair and overwhelming. It is only now I can see that it was in fact an incredible gift,” said Mrs Thibault.

“As parents, we had to become the people we wanted David to be. What we learned about ourselves and who we became as people was David’s gift to us.”

Find Out More & Order The Book or eBook at davidsgift.com.au

“The book transcends the issue of autism and can be transferred to anyone’s life situation. The story has the potential to transform how people view the challenges they face, by helping readers see how those challenges are a gift offering them opportunity to grow and have a better life.”

Sally Thibault is a ‘wise mother’ of three children aged 24, 22 and 16, who has lived with autistic spectrum disorder for 24 years. She hopes her honest account of parenting a child with Asperger’s Syndrome will help other parents learn through her experiences.

When her eldest son David was a toddler, Sally knew he was different from other children. After searching for answers for many years, it wasn’t until David was 12 years old that he was finally diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, an autistic spectrum disorder, in 1997.

“Back then, there wasn’t nearly as much information about Asperger’s as there is today, but judgements still haven’t changed in 12 years,” said Mrs Thibault. “One of the greatest challenges for children with ASD and their families is coping with a world that doesn’t accept difference very well.

As Barack Obama said: “My advice is to cultivate a sense of empathy – to put yourself in other people’s shoes – to see the world from their eyes. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.”

Asperger’s Syndrome is the mildest and highest function end of the autistic spectrum. People with Asperger’s find it difficult to understand social skills, often misunderstand the use of language and can be considered ‘obsessive’, focussing on one particular area of interest. People diagnosed with Asperger’s are generally intelligent, intense and self-focussed individuals who usually find success in a career that requires enormous amounts of attention to detail.

Steven Spielberg was diagnosed with Asperger’s as an adult. Today, David is following a similar career path and studying to be a digital video editor, which is perfect for his personality type.

Bill Gates is suspected to have Asperger’s Syndrome, along with Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin and Ludwig van Beethoven. David’s Gift has parallel themes to the award-winning book and film, The Horse Boy – a true story about a father’s quest to heal his autistic son by traveling with horses through Mongolia.

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April 2, 2010 Posted by | Aspergers, Aspergers Syndrome, Autism, Biography, Books, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Aspergers in the News: “Temple Grandin” & “House Rules”

An HBO biopic about Temple Grandin starring Claire Danes, and a new Jodi Picoult novel bring the issues and experiences of people with ASD to the general public this month. Reviews below:

Temple Grandin

By ALESSANDRA STANLEY     http://www.nytimes.com    Published: February 4, 2010

In her autobiography, “Thinking in Pictures: My Life With Autism,” Temple Grandin explains that she values “positive, measurable results more than emotion.” The HBO movie “Temple Grandin” honors its heroine’s priorities, stressing deeds over tearful setbacks and joyous breakthroughs.

That restraint, unusual in a portrait of a person who heroically overcomes a handicap, is oddly captivating and makes the story all the more touching. “Temple Grandin,” which has its debut on Saturday and stars Claire Danes in the title role, is a made-for-television biopic that avoids the mawkish clichés of the genre without draining the narrative of color and feeling.

Ms. Grandin was born in 1947 in Boston, and her autism was diagnosed when she was a child. At that time most psychiatrists considered it a mental disorder caused by cold, withholding “refrigerator mothers.” Helped by a mother who was anything but, Ms. Grandin was nurtured at home and by a few farsighted teachers who helped her unlock her talents. Most comfortable around animals, she grew up to become a sought after animal behaviorist and livestock consultant, world famous for designing humane slaughterhouses.

In some ways her story is harder to tell than other, similar tales of valor, be they “The Miracle Worker,” “My Left Foot” or “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” in which success is so intimately linked to disability. Helen Keller, Christy Brown and Jean-Dominique Bauby, the subjects of those movies, became famous because of their extraordinary personal histories; in all three cases their most lasting work is autobiographical.

Ms. Grandin credits autism for her achievements, arguing that she would never have been so attuned to animal sensibilities or the fine points of agricultural engineering without the distinctive vision and hypersensitivity that comes with autism.

But to the outside world her eminence and inner workings are incongruent. Ranchers don’t commission her stockyard designs because they are moved by her life story; parents and teachers of autistic children don’t care about her theories on curved cattle chutes, but view her accomplishments as a yardstick for their own hopes.

“Temple Grandin” fuses the two with a wonderstruck look at feedlots and loading ramps and a practical, pragmatic view of autism.

Viewers are thrown into the mindset of the teenage Temple with little introduction or fanfare, experiencing the world as she does: in blisteringly vivid images that pop into her head faster than a Google search and that she describes in her book as “full-color movies, complete with sound, which run like a VCR tape in my head.” In that sense, at least, her condition is ideally suited to moviemaking.

In an early scene in which Temple goes to visit her aunt on a ranch in Arizona, she gets off the airplane as startled and fearful as a feral animal. Sounds and sights are heightened — the screeching whirr of the propeller, shouted greetings, the flaming desert heat — to capture how overwhelming and unbearable they are to an autistic girl who flinches at the squeak of a felt-tip marker and cannot bear to be touched.

Ms. Danes is completely at ease in her subject’s lumbering gait and unmodulated voice. She makes Temple’s anxiety as immediate and contagious as her rarer bursts of merriment, laughing too loudly and over and over, as she re-enacts a scene from a favorite television show, “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” And as the character ages and learns more social graces, Ms. Danes seamlessly captures Temple’s progress.

Julia Ormond looms surprisingly large in the small role of Eustacia, Temple’s mother, a fighter who insists that people treat her daughter as “different, but not less.” Ms. Grandin’s autobiography didn’t go into the family background — proper Bostonians with old money. Eustacia Cutler gives an account of it in her own, highly emotive autobiography, “A Thorn in My Pocket,” which has all the makings of a more lurid Lifetime movie and is perhaps wisely left out of the HBO film. But Ms. Ormond conveys the back story elliptically, adding a slight upper class inflection to her voice and showing Yankee stubbornness just beneath her sorrowed beauty. When a psychiatrist patronizingly tells Eustacia that her child has infantile schizophrenia brought on by maternal coldness, she snaps, “I’m supposed to have done this, well then, I can undo it.”

She sends Temple, who loves horseback riding, to Arizona for a summer, which introduces her to her life’s work, as well as a device to relieve her panic and anxiety: seeing how cows appear to calm down in squeeze chutes — metal stalls that press against the sides of animals to still them for inoculation — Temple tries it on herself, and finds comfort in the pressure. She designs a squeeze chute for herself, and that plywood contraption is just one of the many eccentricities that set her apart.

Temple finds a mentor, her high school science teacher, Dr. Carlock (David Strathairn), one of the first to train Temple to expand her intellect rather than merely control her impulses.

Students and other teachers were less kind. So were many of the ranchers and meat growers who stood in Temple’s way — and threw bull testicles at her car — when she began her studies in animal husbandry.

Hers is a tale that could be easily be played up for drama, intrigue and weepy reconciliations, but this narrative is loyal to Ms. Grandin’s credo: emotions are secondary to tangible results. And the result is a movie that is funny, instructive and also intangibly charming.

HBO, Saturday night at 8, Eastern and Pacific times; 7, Central time.

Directed by Mick Jackson; written by Christopher Monger and William Merritt Johnson; based on the books “Emergence” by Temple Grandin and Margaret Scariano, and “Thinking in Pictures” by Ms. Grandin; Emily Gerson Saines, Gil Bellows, Anthony Edwards, Dante Di Loreto, Paul Lister and Alison Owen, executive producers; Scott Ferguson, producer. Produced by Ruby Films and Gerson Saines Productions.

WITH: Claire Danes (Temple Grandin), Catherine O’Hara (Aunt Ann), Julia Ormond (Eustacia) and David Strathairn (Dr. Carlock).

House Rules

by Jodi Picoult
Review by Karen Campbell March 4, 2010  Boston Globe (excerpted)
http://boston.com/ae/books

Jacob Hunt is startlingly verbal and blisteringly intelligent. The 18-year-old has an uncanny ability to retain facts and figures and can take apart a broken microwave and fix it inside of an hour. He can also analyze a crime scene with remarkable accuracy and speed. What he can’t do is read social cues, make eye contact, and sense what another person is feeling. He lives in a literal world, unable to read between the lines, and he thrives on rules and closely monitored routines, becoming easily over-stimulated by touch, lights, sounds, smells, even textures.
Jacob has Asperger’s syndrome, a neurological disorder on the autism spectrum, and as the main character of Jodi Picoult’s new novel, “House Rules,’’ he offers a fascinating and informative glimpse into a condition that has become common – affecting as many as 1.5 million Americans – yet is little understood.
However, the beauty of Picoult’s book, as in most of her topical bestsellers, is that it brings to vivid life not just Jacob’s condition, but the impact it has on those around him. “House Rules’’ is told through the alternating voices of Jacob; his mother, Emma; his 15-year-old brother, Theo; and two characters pulled into their world when Jacob’s social-skills tutor Jess is found dead and Jacob becomes the primary suspect. Oliver is the inexperienced but passionate young attorney Emma hires to defend her son. Rich is the arresting officer, who initially assumes Jacob’s odd behavior, including his fascination with crime scenes, must be a sign of guilt.
When Jacob is charged with Jess’s murder, “House Rules’’ begins to unfold as a compelling and suspenseful whodunit, as the trial slowly uncovers what really happened. But along the way, Picoult beautifully evokes the tribulations of living with Asperger’s. Emma’s entries chart the exhausting daily struggles of a single mother dealing with the overwhelming demands of a child with special needs who can never connect emotionally: “A son who tries to be like everyone else but truly doesn’t know how.’’ She also deftly addresses the controversy over vaccines as a possible cause, presenting findings on both sides of the issue as well as her own carefully reasoned conclusion.
But the most engaging and heartbreaking voice in the novel is little brother Theo, who perennially feels like a freak by association. Though he loves and supports his brother, he admits to secretly hoping that Jacob will wander off and never be found so he can get on with his life, and Theo’s penchant for risky behavior adds an extra layer of ambiguity to the story …]
[… “House Rules’’ is a page-turner.[..,] well-paced and thoughtful. And it certainly leaves readers with more compassion and understanding for sufferers of a condition that puts them always on the outside without a way in.
Karen Campbell is a freelance writer based in Brookline

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March 5, 2010 Posted by | Adolescence, Aspergers, Aspergers Syndrome, Autism, Biography, Education, Resilience, Resources, Social Justice | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Aspergers in the News: Claire Danes as Temple Grandin in New HBO Biopic

HBO’s Biopic Temple Grandin is in post production according to imdb.com. This is one biographical movie that will be a” must see” for me.

Autistic Dr. Temple Grandin, a designer of livestock handling facilities and a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, is an icon in the Autistic Community. Her life has been a beacon and an inspirational story and after a long negotiation is getting her biography brought to HBO.  Claire stars as Grandin in the film which is finally in post production after nine years in the making. Claire Danes may be known to you as Angela Chase in the 1992-94 pioneering TV drama series “My So Called Life.” Who better to play Autistic Temple Grandin from her high school years to her post academic period?

Temple Grandin obtained her B.A. at Franklin Pierce College and her M.S. in Animal Science at Arizona State University. Dr. Grandin received her PhD in Animal Science from the University of Illinois in 1989. Today she teaches courses on livestock behavior and facility design at Colorado State University and consults with the livestock industry on facility design, livestock handling, and animal welfare.

Grandin has written a variety of autism books, such as  Thinking in Pictures,My Life with Autism

and The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships

(references imdb.com, wrongplanet.net )

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July 15, 2009 Posted by | Aspergers Syndrome, Autism, Biography | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments