Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ipads and tablets could help autistic kids social skills


Many of us look towards technology for future improvements in the treatment of a host of diseases and ailments. But technology isn’t always an easy answer; sometimes it does more harm than good.
Like using computers to help autistic kids interact. “Kids are attracted to technology, and computers and devices like iPads can appear to help draw autistic kids out of their shell,” says Haifa University Professor Tamar Weiss, one of the world’s leading experts on the use of technology in autism research. “But sometimes that attraction is not a good thing. Kids with autism ignore social interactions, so they often feel very comfortable with computers, because using them is a singular activity. They can sit with an iPad for a whole day and never look up even once.” The trick, Weiss told The Times of Israel, is to figure out ways to use the attraction of technology to help autistic kids become more social.
Weiss was speaking during a recent International Autism Conference, held in Jerusalem, and sponsored by the Icare4Autism organization, which initiates and funds research working towards treating autism. Among the topics discussed at the two-day conference were the genetic basis for autism, working with preschoolers and grade school children, developing work opportunities for adult victims of autism, medical issues and treatments for individuals with autism — and ways technology could be used to help autism victims. Speakers hailed from around the world, including the U.S., Europe, South America, Singapore, the Philippines, and other countries.
Weiss, of Haifa University’s Dept. of Occupational Therapy, collaborates with teams in Israel (at Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities), Italy, and the UK to develop methods to harness the power of technology to help autism victims. One of the hallmarks of autism is impaired social interaction and communication, a pattern of behavior that becomes evident early on among those suffering from the disease, and continuing throughout life. Researchers say that early behavioral or cognitive intervention can help autistic children gain self-care, social, and communication skills; and technology, Weiss believes, can help autistic kids become more socially interactive, impacting the pattern of isolation and providing them with cues and signals they can use to develop relationships with others.
But just putting an autistic kid in front of an iPad or PC won’t do; the trick is to develop methods of using technology that encourage, even require, interaction with others. And Weiss, along with members of her team, has been developing games and puzzles to do just that. The basic model for these interactive activities was developed by a team at the University of Trento in Italy, using a touch-screen table developed by Mitsubishi.
Massimo Zancanaro of the University of Trento, one of the researchers who worked on that project, appeared at the Conference with Weiss, and told The Times of Israel that “the activities we designed for use with the Diamond Touch table are perfectly designed to encourage interaction. Tasks such as solving puzzles, which require a team, are presented. A puzzle that needs to be assembled by two children will require the kids to add pieces in turn, disabling the possibility of one kid doing all the work, since it recognizes the finger pressure and gestures of each person touching the table. Thus, in order to complete the task, the kids are forced to interact.”
The same cooperation/interaction principle can work with games, virtual storytelling, or even schoolwork, Zancanaro said, and the research group has developed a series of activities using this strategy for high-functioning autistic kids, as well as for children with less well-developed social skills. “The system encourages physical interaction, but also helps kids understand that they can play different roles in a relationship, a key understanding that can help them cope with unfamiliar situations, which is very difficult for those suffering from autism.”
With the introduction of the iPad, said Weiss, touch-screen technology is available to everyone. “We have done several studies, including one recently completed that was funded by the European Union, which showed a marked improvement in participants’ interactive skills.” Because the study was small, Weiss hesitates to draw general conclusions from it, but she hopes that the positive results in the most recent study will prompt a bigger grant from the EU or the United States, allowing an expansion of the study to include more kids, she said.
“We did try to go beyond game and puzzle skills in the studies, but we could not fully examine whether the kids will be able to transfer the skills they learn using our technology to other areas of their lives, interacting more in school or on the playground,” said Weiss. “We believe we have seen signs that there is indeed such a transference, but we will be able to draw conclusions only with a bigger study.”
Eventually, Weiss and Zancanaro expect that their research, and the specific activities they develop, will be released for the benefit of the public. “We are a research group, and even if we produce software we do not have the resources to distribute it,” said Zancanaro. “Instead, we foresee a distribution agreement for specific products with a commercial firm, as well as a general release of the research and technology for use by anyone who would like to develop activities or products. We are also looking at cloud-based distribution to leverage costs of distribution. But this is all in the future,” he added.
Meanwhile, the team is working on perfecting its technology and software. “We are developing this not as a ‘top-down’ project,” said Weiss. “We are trying to involve parents, educators, and even victims of autism in the design of these activities. We believe this is an important method of finding what activities and strategies are most effective.” The team is using this input to work on the next generation of their interactivity technology. “We plan to expand this technology to pervasive, always-on devices’ like smartphones,” said Weiss. “An app, for example, could prompt users on appropriate behavior in social situations, helping to reinforce the interactivity skills they have already learned, and not get flustered in the wake of new and unfamiliar social situations, as happens to many autistic individuals.”
According to experts, autism rates in many parts of the world have jumped dramatically; since 1978, for example, rates in the U.S. have risen by more than 600%. Part of that can be explained by better diagnosis, said Weiss, but there is clearly something more going on. “As it happens, there is a prevalence of autism among people employed in high-tech industries,” Weiss said. A study at Cambridge University, for example, said that a higher-than-average percentage of children born to engineers and programmers are autistic, compared to the rest of the population.
“The increase could be due to lifestyle, but it could also be that programming — with its requirement for didactic concentration on numbers and figures — is attractive to individuals with mild cases of autism.” Whether autism is genetic, medical, or behavioral in nature (scientists are still trying to figure it out), the fact that they are all flocking to a specific industry could be responsible for the higher rate of autism among high-tech workers, Weiss said.
And since the world is getting more technological and autism rates are likely to keep climbing, finding ways to treat autism is becoming more important than ever, said Weiss. “Our technology is about treatment, not a cure.” The cure, whatever it is, will more likely come from the genetic or medical research being done. “Autism is most likely not caused by a single factor, and it will probably be years before scientists have a clearer understanding of the causes of this disease. Meanwhile,” Weiss added, “we want to ensure that victims have as high a quality of life as possible, and we believe our technology can help achieve this.”

Read more: iPads and tablets could help autistic kids learn social skills | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/new-technologies-could-help-autistic-kids-learn-social-skills/#ixzz3NSCrVKsn
Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

Sunday, December 28, 2014

How to help someone with sensory overload feel better

Like I have mentioned in previous post sensory overload IS VERY PAINFULL FOR THOSE WHO EXPERIENCE IT!  One thing that you can do if they do experience sensory overload is to help take them out of that enviorment and let them catch their breath a little.  This should be a place where they don't experience anything that overloads them.

This is also something that can be a good idea after school.  I remember one of the people I worked with after school he didn't really feel like relating to people.  He said he felt edgy.  Sometime school can be a stressful experience and someone with aspergers needs a little time to just recover from that.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Showing that you have something to offer

An important thing to be able to do (for anyone) is to be able to show that you have something that can be of value to others.  An example of this happened last week I was talking to someone about people with aspergers, and he could see that I have so much knowledge about aspergers.

If you want to get a job you also need to be able to show them that you have something to offer not just making people pity you.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The importance of developing skills

One thing that can really improve an asperger person's life is teaching them skills.  This includes hygine, cooking (a very expansive area), and so many other things.  When someone sees that they can do something they feel better about themselves.  They will believe in themselves and be able to acheive so much more.

This can help a person with Aspergers get a job.  Who is more likely to get a job a person with a disability or a someone without?  The answer is simple the person without a disability.  But what if the person with a disability knows something like selling on ebay, ironing clothes, or with other skills, and the person without a disability doesn't know anything about that area.  It changes the situation.

Monday, December 22, 2014

A meal with another Aspie

This week I went to a family for a meal Saturday afternoon.  I met a guy there I figured out, and he admitted that he had aspergers.  This guy was with his mother and we had an interesting conversation about Aspergers.  This guy has been spending some time learning in a yeshiva which is a place where Jews study Jewish law, and other topics of Judaism.  We were talking about how because of his aspergers that is an advantage for him.  He can easily study, and memorize facts.  He also mentioned he feels he is a very moral person like I know I am.

This guy has found a place that he is able to succeed in, we all need to search for that place that we are able to utilize our potential

Friday, December 19, 2014

Looking for disabled talent to be featured on my blog

I see many people who have a disability and don't think they can do much.  I'm looking for people who succeed despite having a disability to give encouragement and show people that they too can succeed.  e-mail me at Craig.kohn@yahoo.com if interested.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sensory Overload a view inside

I found a video on youtube that shows a little of what sensory overload is like.  I am thanful that I didn't have it (did have something for sound at one point, but never really serious), but understand how painful it could be from the fear of experiencing it).  Please note that this is not how everyone experiences it (some people feel overwhelmed by being around too many people, smells, and even the clothes people wear.  Each case is different.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Spread the light

Judaism is not a missonizing religion, but there are valuable messages that can apply to everyone like the one I'm going to share today.

Last night started the first night of Hanukah which commemorates the rededication of the holy temple from the Greeks.

A very relavent teaching that everyone Jews and non-Jews can take is that A LITTLE BIT OF LIGHT GETS RID OF A LOT OF DARKNESS!  What this means is one little act of kindness can get rid of a lot of negitivity.  With our little acts of kindness to others we can bring light to the world, and make the world a much kinder place for everyone.

Monday, December 15, 2014

More choices an advantage of customized employment

With a lot of places that try to help people with disabilities they restrict themselves to what jobs the assesment mentions.  There are so many other jobs that are not mentioned in an assesment.  Some examples are human service field, ebay/amazon, and locksmith.

Customized employment focuses on a person's strengths, and what they are interested in.  Most importantly it doesn't have people with disabilities competing with non disabled people.

An area that aspergers people excel in

I remember all the way back to middle school that I excelled in this subject.  It has for so long been one of my best subjects by far.  That is history.  Memorizing facts was always easy for me.  For a lot of other people with aspergers this also holds true.

This doesn't only apply to history.

Last Friday night I ate dinner by a family I know back from Kansas.  I was able to remember quite a lot of things about them that I had not been using for the past 2 years.  I mentioned a conversation I remember having, and even a class that the husband gave right before he left Kansas City.

It's always important to remember and know your strengths.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Teaching not letting sensory overload stop an aspergers person from going out in the world

I had 3 people I worked with in New York who had sensory overload issues from other people.  I remember seeing one teenage boy as his eyes filled with terror as he looked into a crowded New York subway car.  He was frozen in fear, but I knew how we could still get on the train.  "Let's see if the next car is less crowded" I suggested.

It can be as simple as that, but if someone with sensory overload knows there are ways that they can go out and do things that will enable  them to do things.  If they don't know how to do this then they will more likely go outside and do things (not being in fear of sensory overload).   

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Happiness is an attainable choice!

I'm doing this because I have seen a number of negative statements about being positive.  Yes you know what sometimes it is hard to be happy with what life gives you, but you know what you always have a choice.

Some people think that happiness is having a struggle free life.  Some people want a life without pain.  The true secret of happiness is appreciating what you have.  That is a choice that we have every moment of the day.  When we realize all the abbundance we have than we appreciate with our lot in life we can enjoy life much more.

EVERY PERSON IN THE WORLD HAS PROBLEMS!  The difference is appreciating that we can do something about them, or at least hope for a solution.

When I was a kid I didn't get invited to many things.  Did that bother me, no.  I now appreciate what friends are, but I was clued in.  I had a lot of things in life that I appreciated so I was happy.

For many people looking at the holocaust and what the Jews in the camps had to deal with can show us the depths of what we can be apprecitive.  But I also realize that there are many seemingly insurmontable diffucult sittuations that people face.  But even those we can do all we can, and hope for the best.

A negative attitude can only help you go lower.   A positive one can change your life!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

sensory overload

A lesser known aspect of people with Aspergers or autism is sensory overload.  This is when a person with aspergers is really sensitive to one of many things (texture, touch, smell, or many people).  This can be painful to someone with aspergers who has this sensitivty.  Several people I have worked with get overwelmed when they are around to many other people.  I remember seeing one teenage boys stare in fright of going into a packed subway car.

I'm going to do a little series talking about different ways of dealing with sensory overload.  If you have some startagies you have found helpful please share them.

The only disability is a bad attitude

Note that the Ravens won the Super Bowl that year 34-31

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

You label yourself not your disability

I have heard quite a few people who focus so much on the fact that they have a disability is such a limiting thing in their life.  For them it is because they let themselves get caught up in the fact that they have a disability.

Growing up I didn't view myself as someone with constraints.  I didn't know what I was lacking, but I knew I had the ability to do many things.  When I ran Cross County in high school, I didn't focus on the fact that I WAS THE SLOWEST (GUYS AND GIRLS) runner on the team, I just kept on running and went from 31 minute 5K to 24:40 5K in 4 years.   I didn't focus on my stutter, and people came to like what I said.  I didn't let that so many people could only imagine me doing something like accounting which I did not like because I liked being locked in a cubicle stop me from believing there was something out there that I could actually enjoy doing.  I didn't let aspergers, and failing 7 interviews stop me from hoping to do something helping other people which I knew I enjoyed doing,

This is not to say someone who is having trouble should just suddenly improve.  I am just saying don't limit yourself!


What someone with a disability needs

This last weekend I stayed by a friend from college.  This friend has a son who has down syndrome. I had experienced down syndrome people in school, and I have one cousin who I was close to (in the fact that I saw her often).  I told the friend that I don't have experience with down sydrome.  I did tell him and his wife one thing I could suggest to him is that the way his son should go about getting a job (if hopefully he is able to work at a job) is not by competing against everyone else (disabled people are at a disadantage when compared to non disabled people.

This friend though had a good outlook on his son.  He was focusing on his good point and not getting bogged down on what he couldn't do.  I myself could see that his son didn't have a hard time smiling (which quite a few normal people have trouble doing).

What anyone with a disability (and anyone) needs is love, and encouragement.  If you believe that they can overcome diffuculties and you give them that belief they can do amazing things!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sibling support programs


These types of groups can help siblings who are having trouble dealing with their disabled I encourage people to learn more about sibling support groups.

The Sibling Support Project is a national effort dedicated to the life-long concerns of brothers and sisters of people who have special health, developmental, or mental health concerns.
About what we do: We believe that disabilities, illnesses, and mental health concerns affect the lives of all family members. Consequently, we want to increase the peer support and information opportunities for brothers and sisters of people with special needs and increase parents' and service providers' understanding of sibling issues. Our mission is accomplished by training local service providers on how to create community-based peer support programs for young siblings; hosting workshops, social network sites, and websites for young and adult siblings; and increasing parents' and providers' awareness of siblings' unique, lifelong, and ever-changing concerns through workshops, websites, and written materials.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Discussion: What advantages has aspergers given you

Aspergers is different from a lot of other disabilities in that the people who are affected can actually get advantages from it.  Everyone has some different things that Aspergers has affected them in different ways.

Share some advantages that Aspergers has given you.

For me I am a fun guy (because of the eccentriciness), I can be detail oriented, I can REALLY DEDICATE myself to a task if I really believe in it, I'm able to help fellow aspies, and I don't go with herd mentality, very honest (probably are more).

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Yeshivas in Israel that accept people with aspergers

I know something I wanted to do very much when I was starting to become religous was go to a yeshiva or a place where Jewish guys learn G-d's wisdom better.  So many of my friends did it.  Although my aspergers has been more subtle than a lot of other people's I know at least one yeshiva that did not let me in because of some of the subtle things about me (which will be nameless).  If you are hard to detect that you have aspergers JUST DON'T SAY ANYTHING!

If not but you are still able to interact with people pretty normaly, but your aspergers is detectable than you at least have a few choices.  Darche Noam Shappels and for girls Midreset Rachel http://www.darchenoam.org/shapells/ (unconfirmed on the girl side, but pretty sure they will accept) is an option.  I remember talking with them and mentioning having aspergers, and they were aware of it (having had quite a number of people with it there).

One other place is Bircas Hatorah http://www.bircas.org/.  I spoke with the Rabbi Tagger and he said as long as someone is able to function in the learning seder than that's fine.

For those who a normal yeshiva is not right yet for them there is also Darkeinu (and Midreshet for girls) http://darkaynu.org.il/

Also I know that Yeshiva University, and I have heard Landers (from my best friend Michael Davidson) have quite a number of people with aspergers (remember they are people who may suffer from way above average IQs).

If you know of other places please contact me.

New HU research could help treat autism | ISRAEL21c

New HU research could help treat autism | ISRAEL21c

Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers have shown that the different genes involved in autism tend to be involved in specific processes in the brain. The scientists say their study has potential implications for early diagnosis as well as for treatment of autism in the future.
Eyal Ben-David (left) and Dr. Sagiv Shifman (right)
Autism spectrum disorders are neurodevelopmental syndromes characterized by social deficits, language impairments and repetitive behaviors. Recent studies indicate that autism is considerably more common than previously supposed, with a prevalence rate that is as high as one percent in some regions.
HU scientists Dr. Sagiv Shifman and his doctoral student Eyal Ben-David of the Department of Genetics at the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences set out to test the contribution of rare genetic mutations, as well as the genetic variations which are common in the population, and to see whether these different types of genetic risk factors are related. Instead of testing individual genes, the researchers chose to study gene collections, in an attempt to understand general pathways involved in autism.
The scientists constructed a network based on the expression pattern of genes across different brain areas. This allowed them to discover groups of genes with shared function in the brain. Next, based on genetic data from thousands of families with autistic children, the researchers studied the contribution of different groups of genes to autism.
To their surprise, they found — when looking at mutations found in autism as well as thousands of common gene variants that are more frequently seen in autistics — that these mutations and variations are located in specific functional groups.
The study was recently published in the journal PLoS Genetics.
Israeli research in autism is internationally recognized and the first global research and education center for autism is now being built in Jerusalem.
The Hebrew University scientists believe that their work could pave the way for large-scale genetic scans in the future that could allow for early diagnosis of autism.

Analyzing your health by phone [video] | ISRAEL21c

Analyzing your health by phone [video] | ISRAEL21c

An Israeli company has developed a new emotional decoding program that can analyze your voice and discover how you’re feeling, and even whether you’re sick.
Innovative new voice analysis technology has been developed in Israel that can decipher your emotional and physical state.
eXaudios console
The program developed by eXaudios Technology can identify a caller’s emotional state in real-time.

The technology, developed by eXaudios Technologies, is already being used to transform the world of sales, and future applications could include diagnosis of conditions such as autism and Parkinson’s, as well as their severity.
The software was developed by Dr. Yoram Levanon, founder and CEO of eXaudios. He began working on the technology after analyzing more than 50,000 voices speaking various languages and realizing that intonation is the key to communication.
One of the first applications of the new technology was in a project for call centers calledMagInify. Companies in the US and Israel are already using MagInify, which analyzes both the customer’s and the agent’s voice in real time to provide the agent with feedback to enhance sales, such as advice to be more positive in the conversation.
Levanon then discovered that certain diseases, such as cancer, Parkinson’s and autism, influence our intonation, and he hopes that the eXaudios software will also be used as a diagnostic tool in the future. Another application in the pipeline is an adaptation of the software to provide an emotional search engine on-line.

Monday, December 1, 2014

How I got myself to smile all the time


I did smile a little in the past, but I worked on myself enough that I was able to make a noticeable difference that a cousin of mine commented on my improvement.

I was going through some hard times.  I wanted to be in a different enviorment, one where I would have more of an oppurtunity to learn about my Jewish heritage (because I realized Hebrew school taught me nothing)).  But then I realized why I was feeling so bad.  I was focusing on the negatives in my lifes and not on the positives.  I worked on being more grateful and started a gratitude journal.

Becoming interested in a Rabbi Nachman of Breslov I took to heart a saying he said "It is a big commandment to be happy all the time".  So I took another statement of a rabbi (the Rambam) "That your outsides (body) can affect your heart", so I decided to get myself to smile all the time.  I just concisously worked to keep myself smiling, and it became a habit.

Although someone commented that it requires a fake smile, it is a lot like doing acts of kindness the more you do the kinder a person you pottentialy can become.  The happiness that a smile generates in you does become a part of who you are.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Top 10 Israeli advances in autism | ISRAEL21c

Top 10 Israeli advances in autism | ISRAEL21c

In recent years Israel has become a major hub for studies on autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder that is today the second most prevalent among children.
People with autism, which is included in a group of developmental disorders known as the autism spectrum disorders (ASD), have social and communication difficulties that often make it hard for sufferers to leave home and live independently. They often engage in repetitive behavior, and can have intellectual disabilities.
In the US alone, the estimated prevalence of ASD is one per 88 children and steadily increasing. Among Israelis, autism diagnoses have increased as well, from 1,507 in 2004 to 7,344 in 2011 – or 48 out of every 10,000 children.
Israel offers a range of diagnostic, supportive and educational services for families of autistic children, such as the Mifne Intervention Program in Rosh Pina, which treats Israeli and foreign children from infancy to age two; and ALUT: The Israeli Society for Autistic Children, providing services and programs from the time of diagnosis through adulthood.
During April, World Autism Awareness Month, ISRAEL21c looks at 10 ways Israel excels in autism research, as well as innovating products and services for families of children with autism.
1. The BioHug Vest by Haifa-based BioHug Technologies provides hug-like pressure to soothe people with autism. The portable, non-restraining vest works on the proven principle that pressure on certain parts of the body has a measurable calming effect. The vest’s air bubbles can be pumped up automatically according to a pre-defined script, or manually via remote control, while the location and duration of the “hug” can be varied. It’s used primarily in school and therapeutic settings.
A child doing homework while wearing the BioHug.
A child doing homework while wearing the BioHug.
2. Neurobiologists at the Weizmann Institute of Science, along with colleagues in the United States, identified a method of accurately identifying a biological sign of autism in very young toddlers by scanning their brain activity during sleep. Children with autism exhibited significantly weaker synchronization between brain areas responsible for language and communication. Using the scans, the scientists were able to identify 70% of the autistic children between the ages of one and three, a target age for early intervention.
3. Production of the hormone oxytocin (the “love hormone”) is stimulated by reproductive activities such as sex, childbirth and breastfeeding. Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem showed in 2011 that people with autism have half the normal amount of oxytocin in their blood. A 2013 study, at Jerusalem at Hadassah University Medical Center’s obstetrics and gynecology department, found that disruptions in prenatal exposure to oxytocin may be associated with autism. It’s another piece in the puzzle of how oxytocin affects child development.
4. Dogs for People, founded in 2006 by trainer Paul Elmakes, uses dog-handling courses to build human participants’ self-esteem and communication skills. Partner Asia Pavis told ISRAEL21c, “Autistic children respond well to the highly communicative canines. This is good for kids who have trouble expressing themselves to the outer world. The dog gives them a reward and motivation to keep trying to reach out and connect and not stay in their bubble. We see that children who didn’t speak a word are starting to speak to the dogs.”
Dogs for People therapy session.
Dogs for People therapy session.
5. Children conceived through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) are three times more likely to have mild to moderate autism, according to a 2010 study done at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center near Tel Aviv, one of the country’s leading academic hospitals. The study revealed that 10.5 percent of surveyed children diagnosed with ASD were conceived using IVF – a significantly higher number than the 3.5% rate of autism in the general Israeli population.
6. Yad Hamoreh (“Teacher’s Hand”) is a one-of-a-kind Jerusalem public elementary schoolthat integrates about 50 severely to moderately autistic children with 187 first- through sixth-graders without autism. The pupils have separate classes within the building but join for all other activities, from eating to swimming and even music, horticulture and animal therapy sessions. Educators from other countries often visit to learn how they might replicate the program at home.
Children with and without autism sing in the Yad Hamoreh choir.
Children with and without autism sing in the Yad Hamoreh choir.
7. A 2012 Sheba Medical Center/Tel Aviv University study showed a possible genetic connection between autism and schizophrenia, based on data from Israel and Sweden. Both disorders are characterized by social and cognitive dysfunction. People with a schizophrenic sibling are 12 times more likely to have autism than those with no schizophrenia in the family.
8. Hebrew University geneticists provided a better understanding of the genetic pathways involved in autism by scrutinizing genetic data from thousands of families with autistic children. Mutations and common gene variants found in autistic individuals were found to be located in specific functional groups.
9. During the first week of March 2014, leading Israeli and Canadian autism researchers convened for the First Canada-Israel ASD Symposium at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Conference participants shared the latest research and lay the groundwork for binational collaborations.
10. Researchers at the Hebrew University, together with scientists at New York University and Princeton University, discovered that body language conveys a much clearer message than do facial expressions when trying to decipher someone’s mood. Dr. Hillel Aviezer told ISRAEL21c: “From a practical-clinical perspective, the results may help researchers understand how body/face expressions interact during emotional situations. For example, individuals with autism may fail to recognize facial expressions, but perhaps if trained to process important body cues, their performance may significantly improve.”

VoiceITT wins audience favorite honor at WSJ.D startup showcase | ISRAEL21c

VoiceITT wins audience favorite honor at WSJ.D startup showcase | ISRAEL21c

The Israeli startup VoiceITT, which is developing voice-translation technology for the disabled, recently won the audience favorite award at a startup showcase at the WSJ.D Live global technology conference.
VoiceITT’s translation app, Talkitt, is translates unintelligible pronunciation from any language into understandable speech.
The company says people with ALS, autism, Parkinson’s disease and other disabilities will be able to use the technology.
The company raised $25,000 on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo and has additional funding from the Israeli government.
Rabea Ziuod, Voiceitt’s vice president for business development in the Middle East and North Africa (who also has two siblings suffering from cerebral palsy and the inability to speak properly), presented the technology to the conference.
VoiceITT was chosen by Wall Street Journal editors as one of five finalists from more than 200 applications. The audience at the conference then voted on their favorite – giving VoiceITT 55% of the vote.

A tale of two people with asperger

Like I mentioned in previous posts I was not as skilled at social skills when I was younger.  I worked on my self, and the results were very much seen on Friday night.

I made plans to go to a family I didn't know for a Friday night meal.  This family had many other guest there.  Very ironicly there was a guy I KNOW has aspergers.  I know because of the way he was conducting himself.  He was not able to read a lot of the social cues, he was doing things that made other people look at him, hijacking the conversation to what he wanted to talk about, and he was not aware that you have to have in mind where some of the other people were on understanding what he was saying (like it was obvious that we knew what he was talking about).  This guy is undiagnosed, but has a proffesion, and even mentioned he made 2 movies (sound like home movies).  I have had experience with people with aspergers and telling people about how to get better social doesn't always go so well (I usually just hint, or immerse them in a social situation).

On the other hand myself I initiated conversation with other people, asked them about themselves, looked to read the social cues.  I have worked on myself, and it has shown that someone there complimented me on my social skills (unaware as usual that I have aspergers.

There are two things we can all take from this.  1.There is no one way that aspergers always looks like 2.People with aspergers can get better, they have to want it.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Look carefully at different thearpies

There are a lot  of different therapies out there to help people on the spectrum.  I remember finding out that a place near where one of the people I worked with had "theraputic horseback riding".  I knew that this guy obsessed about animals and thought it would be a good idea.  To a degree thankfully it was full.  I say this because I realize like many on the spectrum this boy was unique,  He obsessed about animals, BUT I started to notice he would do not nice things to those animals, so a lot of things I thought of for him to do with animals were things I realized needed to be avoided (although going to zoos and muesames would be alright).

With perspective I also see that you need to know what and where the benifits come from.  I have a cousin who is fully autistic (non verbal).  I was talking with his father, and he said they tried "theraputic horseback riding" but it didn't help their child much.

One of my roommates also mentioned a family that purchased a dog trained to help their child who had autism.  Unfortunately the dog died.

The morale of the story.  Before you try a type of therapy look at what it does, and in what ways it helps people to see if it is right for your child (instead of blindly trusting that it will work (because each autistic kid is different (and there are still many people whose kids did it an are still on the spectrum).

Talk with people who have done it and make an informed decision.

Utalizing video games to increase socialization

 Before I discuss this trick let me say that I endorse parents to set limits for their kids on video games, so they can do other things.

Having been a big video gamer in the past I know how much a kid can love video games.  I can imagine for many kids it's one of the few things that it is easy to get a kid to do. THAT IS WHY I SUGGEST UTALIZING VIDEO GAMES TO HELP A KID MAKE CONNECTIONS WITH OTHERS.  What do I mean by this you may ask?  There is a type of game where you can play against other people (multiplayer).  They should not just be playing

If you set a limit for your kid in playing video games, give them a little more time if they are playing with someone else.  Usually you will have to communicate with someone when you play with them (and at least they will need to maintain a relationship with someone that they will be willing to play with them).

With video games you always need to know the ESRB ratings (which tell what is in a video game).

Two sets of games that just came out that I know are popular and are multiplayer are Super Smash Bros (E10 (everyone above 10) and Pokemon Omega Ruby, and Omega Saphire (rated E).

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bringing it to them: Board games a great way to build socialization

Quite a few of the people I worked with (and too a degree myself (as a child) although I was doing something (watching A LOT OF TELIVISION)) will not easily find something to do.  In my last post I suggested trying to involve someone in a game (that is approriate for the level they are at).

One thing that really can help someone on the spectrum (mainly aspergers) actually do something and hold the potential for them to learn social skills is with board games.  Board games often require human communication.  When you practice communicating you become better at it.  The best is if the child gets into it then you can really get some good growth out of them.

Some favorite games of mine are:
Apples to Apples
Settlers of Catan (hint if a child likes it and other kids around like it you can get the 5-6 player expansion pack)
5 second rule

There are many more out there, and as always with Bringing it to them know what game may 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bringing it to them: an effective way to expand a child's horizon

When I was young I remember being a part of a soccer (futball) team and in cub scouts.  I'm pretty sure that I got in there because my parents got me in there (how many 5 year olds say I want to join this club or group).  They were great oppurtunities for me to learn social skills (immersion).

With almost all of the people I worked with they could easily do almost nothing (and I am not talking about just spending so many hours on facebook (I litteraly mean doing nothing)).

THE MORAL OF THE STORY: BE PROACTIVE WITH YOUR ASPERGERS KID.  Sometimes if you bring an experience or something to them then they will like it.  They may not, but you will more likely get your child doing something.  ALWAYS CONSIDER THEIR INTREST WHEN DOING THIS, AND DON'T FORCE!

What does this include?
religous institution (a great place to at least help your child create a network)
board games (more on that soon)
Taking the initive to go somewhere the child would like

Monday, November 24, 2014

Autistic boy discovers gift after running away from state run therapy


Contributing Writer for Wake Up World
In yet another example of how an out-of-control Goliath state system can cause more harm than good, a teenage boy who was diagnosed with autism at a young age has risen to stellar heights after quitting the special ed system with the help of his concerned mother.
State therapy specialists claimed Jacob Barnett would never tie his shoes, read or function normally in society. But the boy’s mother realized when Jacob was not in therapy, he was doing “spectacular things” completely on his own.
She decided to trust her instinct and disregard the advice of the professionals. Instead of following a standardized special needs educational protocol, she surrounded Jacob with all the things that inspired passion for him – and was astonished at the transformation that took place.

Don’t fix what’s not broken

Following a diagnosis of autism at age two, Jacob was subjected to a cookie cutter special education system that focused on correcting what he couldn’t do compared to normal children. For years, teachers attempted to convince Kristine Barnett that her son would only be able to learn the most basic of life skills.
When exposed to the state system of educational therapy, Kristine noticed Jacob would withdraw deeply and refuse to speak with anyone. Even though she found it “terrifying to fly against the advice of the professionals,” she knew in her heart “that if Jake stayed in special ed, he would slip away,” Kristine relates in her memoir, The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius.
So began a journey for Jacob that would lead to such unexpected achievement that the whole premise of standardized therapy for this ‘special needs’ child would be blown to bits.

A path of passion and discovery

After years of frustration and little progress, Kristine made a radical decision in the eyes of the special ed system — she took Jacob out of school and prepared him for kindergarten herself. As described in the New York Daily Times:
She let him explore the things he wanted to explore. He studied patterns and shadows and stars. At the same time, she made sure that he enjoyed “normal” childhood pleasures – softball, picnics – along with other kids his age.
“I operate under a concept called ‘muchness’,” Kristine said “which is surrounding children with the things they love – be it music, or art, whatever they’re drawn to and love.”
By the time Jacob reached the age of 11, he entered college and is currently studying condensed matter physics at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis. According to an email Professor Scott Tremaine wrote to Jacob’s family:
“The theory that he’s working on involves several of the toughest problems in astrophysics and theoretical physics … Anyone who solves these will be in line for a Nobel Prize.”
Jacob also has an IQ of 170 — higher than that of Einstein. He is history’s youngest astrophysics researcher, has spoken at a New York TED (Technology, Entertainment & Design) conference, and appeared on a variety of news interviews, including 60 Minutes and the Time magazine website.
Not bad for someone who was classified by state experts as so severely disabled that he would never tie his own shoes or learn to read. If Jacob had stayed within the system, the prediction may very well have come true.

Do we make aspergers a bigger thing for many people than it is

Because my roommate was using my computer last night he found my article (hadn't told him).  He was surprised (like many).  He commented to me that he doesn't feel that I am that awkward (which usually I'm am good but every now and then I do still make mistakes).  I realized that I wasn't giving my social skills the credit they deserve.

This reminded me of a friend of mine from Yeshiva University.  I was talking to him about him dating.  He felt that he was still a little awkward.  I told him that wasn't the biggest thing that would hurt a relationship for him (because he is able to interact with others).

My question to everyone here is what is it that is affecting me and my friend that we don't realize where we are socialy?

My theory is that some of us even though we have the skills still feel a little awkward in those situations, or are at least more aware of our faults than others.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Better to be Kind

Better to be Kind

Better to be kind.
Kindness is a trait that many "go-getters" of modern society need to learn. So what if the Downs people and the autistics are different? You're right; but, it's better to be kind than right.
- See more at: http://lazerbrody.typepad.com/#sthash.YcwHPBFi.dpuf

Immersion the best way to help someone with aspergers social skills

A while ago I wrote that for someone with aspergers learning social skills is like learning a forigen language.

Being someone who can have a conversation (at least a basic conversation) in several language I know a little about learning a forigen language.

Like learning a forigen language there are several ways to go about it:

1.You can go to someone who teaches bit by bit how to master the forigen language

2.You can help the person be in an enviorment that they can be constantly exposed to the forigen language.

The way you immerse someone with aspergers is you find something they really like, and find a way to get them involved with other people around that.

Example a kid who loves video games you make a rule that he can get multi player games, and he gets to play more video games if there are other people he is playing with (assuming you restrict video game time (which can be a healthy option).  What kid would just sit around letting others beat him at his favorite video game (he'll try to look at what other kids are doing, and at least you are getting him to look at interacting with other kids.)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Advantages of Customized employment

Having looked at going the mainstream way of getting a job, I can understand how for peolpe with aspergers or other disabilities stand very little chance of a job when they look for a job that way (because they are going against everyone else and seem to have less to offer).

Supportive employment does a little bit better by making it so that there doesn't need to be competition from everyone else for the disabled indiviual.  The indiviual and family may need to rely on people who are very nice or an organization.  Unfortunately not everyone has all those things going for them.  One other disadvantage is that you have only a limited amount of oppurtunities to do (a lot of jobs are not for everyone, and if you hate your job it's not a fun thing).

Then there is what I teach people.  Customized employment.  I help people find out their intrests, teach them how to go about finding a job you will like, a job that the indiviual does not have to compete against neurotypicals (or "normal" people), and them be able to do this again in the future if they need to.

You decide which one is the best

This method does involve work on your part (as I likely do not live where you do), but from this work you will be able to find yourself a job you can do (and in the future as well).  This is why I say I can work with anyone in the world (who speaks a language I understand).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Check me out on Facebook


A thought on why a lot of jobs that are good for people with aspergers are not so well known

I have a few ideas why people may not think about so many of the careers I am putting on my blog.

1.PEOPLE UNDERESTIMATE US: Just because we don't have the greatest social skills doesn't mean that there are only a few jobs that we can do.

2.PEOPLE DON'T INTERACT MUCH WITH THESE JOBS: Part of why people don't think of these jobs is because they don't interact with these jobs much (if you don't talk to those people, and social skills is the big weakness of someone with aspergers couldn't that be the answer?)

3.PEOPLE WITH ASPERGERS FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH THE JOBS WE GIVE THEM: I very much admit this with myself and have seen it in many people with Aspergers that we can be very easily be conteted.  My current roommate marvels how very simple food keeps me very satisfied, and one of the people I am working with is doing a very simple job right now (which doesn't bother him (although I am happy to say he has hopes that he will get more complicated work)).

On bullying

Unfortunately too many people know of the pain of being bullied.  One person I worked with really bring it home to me how much bullying can ruin a person's life.

This person was a teenager when I met him.  It stood out to me that he was a kid who had a really good heart.  From the what he talked about I could tell he wanted to do things that would make other peoples lives better, and he also very often looked to do the right thing.  One thing that really hurt this guy was that he had so many bad experiences with bullies.  He told me that he had friend who betrayed him, and started to bully him, and he even teachers who bullied him because of his disability (which he couldn't help).  I remember him telling me about a teacher who was tallking about picking on him (where that is the oposite of what a teacher is supposed to do (to build up a student).

I once spent a holiday staying at a well known rabbi's house.  One of the nights the rabbi talked to us about the bullying he went through when he was young.  How one kid always worked hard to turn the other kids against him.  When he was a teenager he looked forward to getting the guy who was coming to his school from abroad as a roommate, because all of the other kids had turned against him (because of the bully).  When he saw the new kid also turned against him, he begged his parents to send him to a different school.

That's a horrible story, but there are still other details that need to be shared.  The rabbi continued, and told us how because he  left that school, the next school he went to he made a friend.  This friend helped this rabbi meet his wife (the friend's sister).  He told that because he was bullied he also became a kinder person.

Part of the message here is that there are times like when you are bullied that are hard.  But the fact is that where are a lot of valuable stones found?  In the dirt or the times in our lives that are not so great.  Sometimes you have to go through a long process before you can find those blessing in your life.

For those who are dealing with bullies here are some steps that can help you


2.Follow some of the advice on this wiki how (I like this one because it recognizes that there are different circumstances with bullies) 

My Story on Friendship (PART 1)

Friendship is one of the biggest areas I have seen improvement in my life.

I remember when I was in elementry school, I was liked by the other kids because I have always been a kind guy.  The thing was I didn't totatly automaticly understand all those details everyone else gets.  At school I would always be able to interact, and do things with others.  I was also involved in a soccor (Futball) team, and was in scouts.  A great proof of that was that in elementry school I remember at least once that I was elected to be the student council repersenitive of my class.  When I was able to be in the same place with others I could interact, but going beyond that was a level I was not on.  Figuring out all the other things about friendship that didn't come easily to me.  I remember my parents trying to help me understand how to develop real friendships, but I didn't understand everything they tried teaching me on making friends.

I was still enjoying life, and knew how to treat other people.

I am thankful that the schools I went to I was able to find people who were nice to me.  I heard from at least one person I worked with of the horrors of bullying he had to endure.

Sunday, November 16, 2014



This is another job where your abilitiy is more important than a disability.



How I help people find jobs or a career they like

Jobs for people with Aspergers is a big thing.  About 80% of people with Aspergers are unemployed.  Thank G-d while I was working for HASC in NY my supervisor told me that I could do the mandatory training through online courses.  Once I completed them, I took a better look at the courses offered, and one of the ones I took taught me great ways of how to help people with disabilities get an advantage in getting a job.

The method I use is called Customized Employment

If you are curious about what the proccess I ue is like here is a little of what I do.




I do this one hour sessions to help coach people on how to go about this process charging $30 an hour.

The First Meeting is a trial (no requirement to pay) for you to see if you like it!

What you will get from the first meeting is that we will meet. and I will get to know the indiviual.  We (you and me) work as a team to figure out what types of areas the person would like, or do well in).

If you like what we come up with, and want to continue using me then I will e-mail you some home work (because you are capable of doing a lot of things without me).  And after a few days I'll meet with you again to go over how to actually go about winning the job.