Autism: 9 things I learned. Plus: A great giveaway.Posted by Donna Freedman on Apr 3, 2017 | 63 comments
Last September, the Dollar Dig cash-back site sponsored a giveaway of $150 worth of Amazon gift cards. This was a real win-win, since I like giving things away and you guys like the chance to get them. (The giveaway garnered more than 140 responses.)
Now site owner Rich Chrobak has asked my daughter and me to do posts to call attention to Autism Awareness Month. Since a giveaway does tend to get more eyeballs on a site, Chrobak is sponsoring giveaways in both places.
But that’s not the only way Dollar Dig is involved with Autism Awareness Month. Chrobak is putting his money where his heart is: All net profits for the month of April will go to POAC Autism Services, a New Jersey nonprofit that offers support, education, training and activities for families experiencing autism.
And if you like, you can be part of this effort.
In this month’s Dollar Dig newsletter, Chrobak notes that shoppers can keep their cash-back rebates. However, he also offers the option of donating those funds to POAC “or any other charity that is near and dear to you.”
9 things I learned about autism
Shortly after Rich contacted me I received my monthly issue of The Sun, a fascinating (and ad-free!) magazine. Prominently featured was an interview with Steve Silberman, author of “NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity.”
(A snippet of the interview can be read for free at the magazine’s website; to get the rest, you’ll need to subscribe. The Sun has thought-provoking articles, essays, fiction and poetry and is, in my opinion, well worth the $42 subscription fee. No ads = more room for stuff that others magazines might not see fit to print.)
Before I read the piece I knew a little bit about autism. Now I know a whole lot more about the history of and current research on the subject. Can’t list everything I learned – it’s a really comprehensive interview – but here are some things that jumped out at me:
Institutionalization used to be the primary “treatment.” While there, children were subjected to one or more of the following: seclusion, restraint, corporal punishment, the administering of Thorazine and LSD (!), and electroconvulsive and insulin-shock therapies.
Although some think autism is overdiagnosed, Silberman thinks it’s underdiagnosed in two groups: women and people of color.
“Childhood schizophrenia” was one of the labels applied to some autistic kids.
Up into the 1970s parents were blamed for autism. Psychiatrists would ask them why they did not love their children. “You can imagine the agony, frustration and guilt of these parents, who not only had a difficult-to-manage son or daughter but were blamed for it by medical authorities,” Silberman notes.
The Israeli military has a special unit of autistic soldiers who do satellite-imagery interpretation.
One possible reason autism is so often diagnosed among boys: “Autistic boys exhibit more-aggressive behaviors, which comes to the attention of (authorities)…Girls (are) more often taught to fade demurely into the background and to agree with those around them.” The author believes we should be paying more attention to girls who are “quiet, standoffish, intensely interested in their hobbies and struggling to thrive socially,” as some of them may be on the spectrum and could benefit from support for their ways of learning and being.
“Face blindness” is common among people with autism.
Texting is increasingly a preferred method of communication, since it gives autistic people time to “compose their thoughts at their own pace.”
Some children see a reduction in the intensity of their traits as they get older, but people don’t “recover” from the condition. “That’s one of the problems with thinking you can cure autism: It can take resources away from support,” the author says.
Another point that really resonated for me: that there’s no clear delineation between Asperger’s and “mere eccentricity.” It’s become something of a parlor game to diagnose quirky famous people (Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jerry Seinfeld) as being “on the spectrum.”
“If we think that’s what autism is, we’ll underestimate how much support autistic people and their families need,” Silberman says. “If we go too far in the direction of medicalizing eccentricity, we risk trivializing the challenges that autistic people and their families face in their daily lives.”
Incidentally, “NeuroTribes” is currently on sale for $10.33 on Amazon. It has an average rating of 4.6 (out of five) from 389 reviewers, many of whom work with the autististic, are autistic themselves or have autistic children.
Why shop on Dollar Dig?
Regular readers know that I’m all about making each dollar do its utmost. If you’re shopping online anyway, not ordering through a cash-back site like Dollar Dig is like asking to pay extra.
Dollar Dig gets affiliate fees any time it sends send buyers to online retailers. Then a portion of those fees go to us, the shoppers. Easy enough, right? (But do check “How it works” section to avoid any mistakes that might negate your rebate.)
You’ll get a $5 bonus when you sign up at Dollar Dig. Once you’ve earned an additional $20 in rebates you can request a withdrawal.
I encourage you to enter over on Abby’s site, too, even if you aren’t interested in a VR headset. Perhaps it would be a good gift for someone you know. Or you could always put it on Craigslist. Her giveaway runs through April 18.
To enter the giveaway, do one or more of the following:
- Sign up at Dollar Dig
- Leave a comment below
- Subscribe via e-mail or Feedburner
- Sign up to follow me on Twitter or Facebook
- Sign up for my bi-weekly newsletter (go to WriteABlogPeopleWillRead.com/blog and look on the right-hand side of the page, or e-mail me at SurvivingAndThriving@live.com and ask to be added to the list)
Be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry (e.g., “Registered at Dollar Dig,” “Subscribed to your writing newsletter” or “Follow you on Twitter”).
The deadline to enter is 7 p.m. PDT Tuesday, April 18. If I don’t hear back from the winners by 7 p.m. PDT Wednesday, April 19, I’ll have the random number generator pull another name.
Note: While Dollar Dig is donating the Amazon Echo Dot for the giveaway, I received no compensation to write this post. However, my affiliate sign-up link is used in the piece.