Category Archives: Home Educating

High Functioning and Asperger’s

This is a great article from Very Well Health to help identify a ‘high functioning’ autistic person or one diagnosed with Asperger’s.  As Dallas, my child (who, at 24, is no longer a child) puts it about himself, ‘I’m not so bad that people can recognize i’m different, I just seem obnoxious.’

Shalom!

tauna

Why ‘High Functioning’ Autism Is So Challenging

‘High Functioning’ Isn’t Synonymous with ‘Mild’

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© Verywell, 2017

 At this point in history, there is disagreement about how many people on the autism spectrum are on the high or low end of the spectrum (or whether most people with autism are “somewhere in the middle”). It is clear, however, that the lion’s share of media attention goes to folks at the high and the low ends of the spectrum—that is, the profoundly disabled and the very high functioning.

The fact is that life with severe autism is extraordinarily difficult.

Myth: People High Functioning Autism Are Unusually Intelligent and Successful

If the media is to believed, the high end of the autism spectrum is peopled largely by eccentric geniuses—Bill Gates and Albert Einstein are often mentioned, along with Dan Aykroyd and Daryl Hannah—who by and large do very well indeed, though they march to the beat of their own drummer. The reality, however, is that “high functioning autistic” and “genius,” “business tycoon,” and “Hollywood star” rarely go together. In fact:

  • People with high functioning autism, while they may or may not be unusually intelligent, rarely have the kind of intense motivation for public success that sends a Bill Gates to find funders or an Einstein to find a publisher.
  • They may also have significant challenges which stand in the way of living a comfortable life, succeeding in work or romance, or achieving a sense of self-worth. Those issues are made more challenging, in part, because they surprise and upset others who don’t anticipate odd behaviors or reactions from people who “pass for normal” in many situations.
  • While people with more severe autism are not generally expected to just suck it up and get through difficult moments, people on the higher end of the spectrum are expected to do just that.
  • Lastly, people with high functioning autism are, in general, very aware of their own difficulties and extremely sensitive to others’ negative reactions.

Fact: High Functioning Autism Is Very Challenging Every Day

Here are just a few of the issues that get between people on the high end of the autism spectrum (including those diagnosed with the now-outdated Asperger syndrome) and personal success and happiness:

  1. Extreme sensory issues. People at the higher end of the spectrum are just as susceptible as people in the middle or lower end of the spectrum to sensory dysfunctions. These include mild, moderate, or extreme sensitivity to noise, crowds, bright lights, strong tastes, smells, and touch. This means that a person who is bright, verbal, and capable may be unable to walk into a crowded restaurant, attend a movie, or cope with the sensory assaults associated with malls, stadiums, or other venues.
  2. Social “cluelessness.”  What’s the difference between a civil greeting and a signal of romantic interest? How loud is too loud? When is okay to talk about your personal issues or interests? When is it important to stop doing what you enjoy in order to attend to another person’s needs? These are tough questions for anyone, but for a person on the high end of the autism spectrum they can become overwhelming obstacles to social connections, employment, and romance.
  1. Anxiety and depression. Anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders are more common among people with high functioning autism than they are among the general population. We don’t know whether the autism causes the mood disorders, or whether the disorders are the result of social rejection and frustration—but whatever their causes, mood disorders can be disabling in themselves.
  2. Lack of executive planning skills. Executive functioning describes the skills we use to organize and plan our lives. They allow typical adults to plan schedules in advance, notice that the shampoo is running low, or create and follow a timeline in order to complete a long-term project. Most people with high functioning autism have compromised executive functioning skills, making it very tough to plan and manage a household, cope with minor schedule changes at school or at work, and so forth.
  3. Emotional disregulation. Contrary to popular opinion, people with autism have plenty of emotions. In fact, people with autism can become far too emotional in the wrong situations. Imagine a 16-year-old bursting into tears because of a change in plans, or a grown woman melting down completely because her car won’t start.  These are the types of issues that can arise for people with high functioning autism, who are capable of doing a great many things ONLY when the situation is predictable, and no obstacles arise.
  4. Difficulty with transitions and change.  Lots of people have a hard time with change, but people with high functioning autism take the issue to a whole new level. Once a pattern is established and comfortable, people with autism (by and large) want to maintain that pattern forever.  If a group of friends goes out on Wednesdays for nachos, the idea of going out on Thursdays for chicken wings can throw an autistic adult into a state of anxiety or even anger.
  5. Difficulty with following verbal communication.  A person with high functioning autism may be more than capable of doing a task—but unable to follow the spoken instructions provided. In other words, if a policeman says “stay in your car and give me your license and registration,” the person with autism may process only “stay in your car,” or only “give me your license.” The same goes for instructions given, say, at a ballroom dance class, at the doctor’s office, or by a manager in an office setting. As you can imagine, this can cause any number of issues, ranging from serious problems with the police to inadvertent mistakes at work.

As you can see, the term “high functioning” does mean what it says. But high functioning autism is not an easy or simple diagnosis to live with. For those caring for, employing, teaching, or working with people on the higher end of the spectrum, it’s important to remember that autism is autism.

Sources:

Andersen, Per Normann.Associations among symptoms of autism, symptoms of depression and executive functions in children with high-functioning autism: a 2-year follow-up study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. August 2015, Volume 45, Issue 8, pp 2497–2507

MaianoC., et al. Prevalence of school bullying among youth with autism spectrum disorders. Autism Res Treat. 2014;2014:502420.doi: 10.1155/2014/502420. Epub 2014 Sep 3. 

Williams, Diane. Associations between conceptual reasoning, problem-solving, and adaptive ability in high-functioning autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, November 2014, Volume 44, Issue 11, pp 2908–2920.

The Fall of Thor’s Hammer

Book Review

Follow along with Levi Prince and gang in this Book 2 on their fantastical adventures at camp.  This series is geared towards young adults, but i had a blast reading along.  Easy read, fast-paced, excellent story line, and message.  Print and kindle copies available at several venues.  Click through on Goodreads.

Other great young adults books by Amy C Blake:

The Trojan Horse Traitor (Levi Prince) Paperback – November 17, 2015

Whitewashed: On the Brink Series Book 1 Paperback – February 7, 2015

Colorblind: On The Brink Series, Book 2 Paperback – February 7, 2016

Looking for gift ideas?  Don’t even forget about books – and these are highly recommended.

Cheers

tauna

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The Fall of Thor’s Hammer – Amy C. Blake

Keeping Records

Yeah, i’ve harped before about keeping good records and tracking expenditures and income, but when i hear the same people complain about having no money to pay bills, yet when asked if they keep records, they say ‘no,’ it causes me to wonder if they just want to complain, don’t have any idea of where their money is being spent, or perhaps don’t want to know.  But, like anything, if one doesn’t make improvements, then you’ll always be able to complain about something and that is stressful.

Here’s a short article i stumbled upon.  “Make a Personal Budget and Keep Track of Spending

It’s imperative and so easy to keep track of expenses.  Most can simply use a notebook and pencil.  Even easier is to have a calculator in the mix. (Coffee optional)  Write down the amount or ask for a receipt when you stop by the coffeeshop for a latte.  Picking up a soda from a vending machine – well, you’ll have to write it down.  Whatever you need to do, keep track of even the smallest expenditure and categorise it.  THEN, you can make decisions to change and improve your financial situations.  Reimburse your cash expenditures by writing a check to maintain your petty cash stash.  Sure, you can take cash out of your paycheck each month, but it makes it more real when you have to write a check.  Keep your petty cash in balance.

This can be applied to businesses as well, but managing one’s household and personal expenses is the first step.  Personal finance record keeping should begin in the preteen years – as soon as you earn or spend money.

Cheers!

tauna

Roadbank Grazing

Friday morning the plan was to fence off a portion of Cord Drive to let the cows in to graze the road banks.  Worked perfectly, except the cows had already had their brekkies, i guess ,and were really not interested in grazing!  Next time, i’ll put them on short pasture the night before, then they’ll be eager beavers.

They were mostly interested in watching me sit on the Gator and read my new book, Colorblind, by Amy C. Blake.

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Tools of the trade.

Shabbat Shalom!

tauna

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View from my ‘office’ window yesterday.
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Coming out of the pasture into the road.

Moonlight Sonata

The only regret i have for my children and their formal piano and vocal lessons is that i didn’t have them start much earlier in life.  Now, we’ve always listened to music or music history when we homeschooled, but no formal training until Jessica was 14, Dallas was 12, and Nathan (starting later) was about 11.  Nathan didn’t take for very long because their teacher moved away, although we did find another wonderful teacher who gave him lessons for about a year later on and introduced him to the world of stage production musicals.  Jessica became good enough to earn a small vocal scholarship at Central Methodist and was very active in their music programme and even participated in rehearsals, special ensemble small group called ‘Chorale,’ and was an officer in SAI.

Dallas, through his training actually showed the most improvement!

Nathan is a good vocalist, but not quite good enough to snag a singing part in Carousel Production of Les Misérables a couple years ago as a sophomore in high school.  It was a great experience for him anyway as he participated with four different roles in the musical.

Anyway, I started playing the piano when i was nine – hated practicing -but was required to continue for five years.  Only way later in years did i appreciate my parents forcing me to continue for as long as i did.  My children, however, really enjoy playing the piano and enjoyed their lessons, although none of us are accomplished pianists.

Those of us who play or teach piano know that it helps our brains.  It’s even scientifically proven according to some.  Playing the Piano Might Make You Smarter is a neat article that gives some of the evidence for that.

Now today, I struggled through playing a part of a song (Sonata quasi una Fantasia – First movement) i used to be able to play, but i cannot now.   Although, it’s far from starting an unknown piece, it will be a long time before it sounds decent.  So my question is – can old brains be made smarter and/or improve memory by playing the piano?  Hmmmm  Maybe if can push forward and learn Movements 2 (i can stumble through) and 3 (only in my dreams) by L van Beethoven.

Listen to Sonata quasi un Fantasia in its entirety by L van Beethoven

Shabbat Shalom

tauna

Music Parlor

Although I had renovated all five bedrooms in our old Sears-type 2-story house for use as our guesthouse, and we had used all five as such until recently, I was wont to move my old piano back home and out of my father-in-law’s basement where it’s been these past two years.  Jay Shearer, our piano tuner, came Thursday morning, so it’s sounding great.

So, the former master bedroom is now a music parlor.  I plan to purchase a queen size futon, so a quick bed can be made if necessary, but with two children moved out by and large, we still have two bedrooms open upstairs.  When i had four strong boys available, they moved a lot of furniture around, including moving the queen size bed upstairs to Jessica’s room.  It’s kind of big for that room, but it’s more comfortable sleep in than the full/double size she did have.

Shabbat Shalom!

tauna

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This is the first book I started with when I started lessons at age 9 – the same time my grandparents bought this piano for me.  They paid $950 for it in 1971 and our piano tuner appaised it a few years ago for $950.  But an ebay search shows this style more in the $650 range now.

 

Nathan’s High School Graduation

For some reason, I never blogged about my home schooled children’s high school graduations.  Here is my youngest, who graduated this past May (2015).

This writeup is what i submitted to the newspaper.  The photo, however, is one we took on the front porch after he had his hair cut.

Having completed 12 years of home education, Nathan Allen Powell, rural Laclede, MO graduates high school with a 4.0 GPA, Summa Cum Laude.  Nathan is the son of Allen and Tauna Powell.  He has received Bright Flight scholarship (having scored 33 on ACT) and the President’s Competitive Award ($20,000) from Northwest Missouri State University at Maryville, MO where he will be pursuing a 4-year MBA degree in International Business through NWMSU’s CATapult program – CATapult is an accelerated program designed for high-achieving freshmen to complete a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Business Administration within four years. 

 

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Senior Pictures – Nathan turned 18 today! October 10, 2014
Nathan Powell, at Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Scotland – the ancestral home of his 14th great grandfather, William Keith, 4th Earl of Marischal, whose granddaughter married Alexander Falconer in 1543.

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POWELL SEED FARM, INC

23116 Hwy 5

Linneus, Missouri 64653

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660.895.5434 or 660.412.2001 (Allen’s mobile)

 

Buying and selling field and grass seeds – Selling retail and wholesale

Custom Seed Cleaning