Archive for September, 2009

Cleveland Clowns Fans

September 29, 2009

Are Cleveland Browns fans smart enough to deserve a winning football team?

In 2005, the fan base clamored for a rookie, local product Charlie Frye to start over Trent Dilfer, who had won a Super Bowl.  Frye went on to go 6-13 with the Browns and he is now on his third team, the Raiders, and won’t likely see the field.

Once again, most Browns fans wanted the local player this year, Brady Quinn, over the better player, Derek Anderson.  Anderson was 10-5 as a starter in 2007, but the Browns went with the heralded unproven Quinn who is 0-3 so far this year.  He makes more money, so he must be better, right?

This forlorn franchise should stop listening to its fans and let players earn their positions instead.

Ohio Wesleyan University Transcript: 20 Years Later

September 27, 2009

I went back to the archives to pull out an article I wrote 20 years ago as the Sports Editor of the Transcript, the Ohio Wesleyan University student newspaper, the oldest independent student newspaper in the nation.

The article below was about an eventful soccer game, and after the paper came out, the OWU coach told me he appreciated the fact that I didn’t make the brawl the main focus of the game.

Here is the article, from 20 years ago.  The paragraphs seem short because the paper had columns that were about 1.5 inches wide.

Men’s Soccer Team Wins Brawl-Marred Game

By Mike Frandsen, Sports Editor

Charlie Blanchard scored a goal in the opening minutes of each half to lead the Ohio Wesleyan men’s soccer team to a 2-1 victory over Oakland (Michigan) in a physical battle Friday at Roy Rike Field.

“This was our best win of the year,” said Bishops coach Jay Martin.

Blanchard also scored a goal in a 2-1 loss at Wilmington Tuesday.

Bishops Still No. 1 in Nation

Oakland, last year’s Division II runner-up, came into the game off a win over Division I Cleveland State.

The Bishops, ranked No. 1 in the nation in Division III, improved their record to 14-3.

“They have a good team,” said Pioneer coach Gary Parsons.  “They played a good, high-pressure game.”

The game was marred by a bench-clearing brawl with just over a minute left in the game.  Blanchard and Domenic Romanelli of Ohio Wesleyan and Alan Stewart of Oakland were each issued red cards.  A red card is an automatic one-game suspension.

Blanchard Scores Two

Blanchard scored just four minutes into the game on a penalty kick after teammate Bob Barnes was tripped by an Oakland defender in the penalty box.

The rest of the half went back and forth with each team having chances to score.

Ohio Wesleyan went into the locker room at halftime with a 1-0 lead.

Blanchard scored another quick goal to open the second half, this time less than two minutes after the intermission.  Romanelli assisted on Blanchard’s 18th goal of the year.  With 20 minutes left in the game Earl Parris had a breakaway for Oakland. Bishop defender Basil Levy tripped Parris and was called for a foul.

Kaplan guessed wrong on the penalty kick and broke to his right as John Stewart put the ball in the other side of the net.

Oakland’s best chance to tie the game came two minutes later when Paul Phillips outran two Bishop defenders.  But Kaplan grabbed the ball and made one of his 11 saves for the game.

Bench Clearing Brawl

The bench-clearing brawl occurred with 1:25 remaining in the contest.

Romanelli was dribbling the ball in Oakland territory in front of the Bishop bench.  Alan Stewart of the Pioneers kicked Romanelli in the leg right after Romanelli kicked the ball away.  Romanelli turned around and shoved Stewart, and Stewart shoved Romanelli back.

Then, all hell broke loose.

Several Ohio Wesleyan players left the bench and ran after Stewart. Immediately, every player on both teams ran from the field or the bench and an all-out brawl ensued.  Martin tried to break up the fight as did the referees but the melee lasted for several minutes.

At least five different fights were in progress at the same time near the sideline.

Coaches Upset

Parsons was furious after the game.  “I don’t approve of the fact that their (Ohio Wesleyan’s) bench unloaded on a player on the field.  That is not a class act.”

Martin agreed.  “I am mad about it too.  It was 100 percent wrong.”

Blanchard said, “They just went out to protect Domenic.”

Bishop midfielder Eric Warn said Martin had mixed emotions in the locker room after the game.

“He said he feels great and at the same time feels terrible because we came together as a team but the fight is not something he likes to happen,” Warn said.

Referees Criticized

Parsons said the referees let the game get out of hand by not calling enough fouls on both teams.

“The referees allowed the players to foul from behind,” he said.  Parsons said most of the non-calls should have gone against the Bishops.

Martin pointed out that the referees called 19 fouls against the Bishops and only eight against the Pioneers.  Martin added that the referees did lose control of the game.

Martin said that the Oakland game, which followed a 2-1 loss to Wilmington Tuesday, might have been a turning point for the Bishops.

“If we didn’t play well we would have been in trouble the rest of the season,” Martin said.

Ohio Wesleyan will end its NCAC schedule against Denison Saturday in Granville.

Martin said the Bishops need to beat either Kenyon or Denison to receive an NCAA tournament bid.

Songs

September 27, 2009

Here is a sampling of songs I heard on Sirius Satellite Radio the first week of September as I started a new venture.  Great for inspiration. There is something about hearing a song on the radio that is better than hearing it on a CD, etc., because of the spontaneity of it. Here they are in order starting with the best.

  • The Waiting by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers*
  • Killing Moon by Echo and the Bunnymen
  • Long December by Counting Crows
  • Rapper’s Delight by Sugar Hill Gang
  • Jumper by Third Eye Blind
  • Where the Streets Have No Name by U2
  • Eyes without a Face by Billy Idol
  • Back for More by Ratt
  • Seek and Destroy by Metallica

*This has to be one of the greatest songs of all time.  The video is very plain – it was the very early days of music videos. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLCJEYLIBQY

The Cult of Personality

September 27, 2009

It used to be that the stereotype of the salesman was that of the smooth, slick, fast-talking used car salesman.  The reason was that it worked.  People were drawn to someone who was outgoing, aggressive, and made a lot of promises.  In recent years, the image of the salesman has changed somewhat, or at least I thought so.  People wised up a bit, and realized that it wasn’t how loudly or authoritatively someone talked, but instead, there was a trend toward being natural and authentic.  So much so, in fact, that salespeople, as well as broadcasters, were taught to talk naturally, as if you’re talking to someone, more so than to just shout.

But sometimes, it still seems like it’s the person who uses the traditional sales approach, or more accurately, has a loud or outgoing personality, who flourishes, especially for people who aren’t quite sure what they are looking for and are therefore looking for a figure of authority.  You know the type – the person who can dazzle you with a speech and make your eyes glaze over (“Wow – this person really knows what he’s talking about.”).  Then at the end of the speech, you don’t remember what was said, just that it was said in an authoritative way.  They can do a Powerpoint presentation but aren’t always the most effective at getting the job done.  But it’s comforting to have a person tell you what you need to do.

We see the love of this personality in sports.  Look at the Brett Favre phenomenon.  He’s outgoing and emotional, so the fans and media love him.  But as good as he is, he only has one championship in a nearly 20-year career.  He also is a mistake-prone quarterback, throwing more interceptions than anyone in NFL history.

Look at tennis.  Who do you think the casual fan would say is was the best tennis player out of this group:  Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe, Mats Wilander, Stephan Edberg, or Boris Becker?  Hands down, people would say McEnroe, despite the fact that all of the players listed won between 6 and 8 Grand Slam championships.  It’s McEnroe’s personality – he made a lot of noise and people remember that.

I’m not saying that all loud people lack authenticity, or that all laid back people are genuine.  I’ll I’m saying is don’t be fooled by the person who talks with an air of authority without authenticity.  Don’t overlook the person who is down to earth, which is easy to do if your head is in the clouds.

Bernard Rimland and Autism

September 27, 2009

Sometimes I buy used books and resell them at http://www.amazon.com/shops/mikeneedsakidneydotcom.

The other day I bought an interesting book:  “Infantile Autism: The Syndrome and Its Implication for a Neural Theory of Behavior,” written by Bernard Rimland and published in 1964.  Someone bought it as soon as I put it on amazon, so I just had a chance to briefly skim through it.

Rimland was one of the first researchers to state that autism was a neurological disorder.  He also founded the Autism Research Institute and the Autism Society of America.  Rimland was one of the first researchers to advocate biomedical treatments that have improved the symptoms of countless children and adults with autism.  He also served as the chief technical advisor on the movie “Rain Man.”

According to Wikipedia, Rimland’s book “is credited by many with changing the prevailing view of autism, in the field of psychiatry, from an emotional illness -widely thought to be caused by refrigerator mothers – to the current recognition that autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder.”

I picked out a few interesting quotes from the book.

“Many writers consider the child’s hostility or indifference to his parents as evidence that the parents are guilty of causing the disease…It would seem more reasonable to regard the child’s actions as ‘symptoms,’ not as symptoms of etiology.  In the case of the adult who insists that he is being persecuted by the Communists, one does not take his statements at face value but only as an indication that he is ill.”

So Rimland was saying that doctors who blamed parents for their children’s autism were wrong, just as those who blamed parents for their children’s mental illnesses were wrong.  Believe it or not, as recently as the 1970s much of the medical establishment believed that autism as well as mental illnesses were the result of the coldness of the mother, which obviously is anything but the case.  But it wasn’t until the late 1970s that this view was debunked, so Rimland, writing in the early 1960s, was ahead of his time.

It makes you wonder what else the medical establishment is wrong about, and it goes to show that you shouldn’t just blindly follow it.   If you’re a parent of a child with autism now, imagine how bad it must have been back then if doctors had told you that your child’s autism was your fault.

Another quote from the book talked about how rare autism was at the time:  “The extreme rarity of the disease is attested to by the fact that Kanner himself who is reported to have seen over 20,000 disturbed children in his more than thirty years of psychiatric practice, had by 1958 seen fewer than 150 cases of early infantile autism.  This includes children brought to him for diagnosis from all parts of the world.”

We know now, 45 years after the publication of this book, that there is an autism epidemic that is attributable to much more than an expansion of the diagnostic criteria.  I myself have met hundreds of children with severe autism in the Washington, DC area, and I’m sure I’ve only met a tiny fraction of all the kids with severe autism in this area.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 150 children has an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Finally, Rimland said, “Most writers regard the children as quite agile and graceful…the children who do use their hands are remarkably dexterous.”  He describes their “fast and graceful movements” and “excellent motor coordination.”  In fact, a majority of children with autism now have very poor motor skills and coordination, so that shows that at least in this respect the disorder has worsened, and some type of trigger has resulted in children with autism having worse motor skills than before.

Greenspan’s DIR Model for Autism: Part 1

September 20, 2009

For therapists and families to be effective in working with kids with autism, they should be able to do any methodology.

There is an alphabet soup of different methods to teach kids with autism – Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA); the Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-Based (DIR) Model; Relationship Development Intervention (RDI); Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication – Handicapped Children (TEACCH), and others.

Regardless of which methodologies are used, programs need to have goals and targets and teach in such a way so that kids can generalize skills to apply what they have learned to a natural environment.  Teaching methods should also integrate academics and cognitive skills; emotional awareness and social skills; exercise, sports, and motor skills; along with spontaneous, imaginative, and creative play.  Skills should be taught in a meaningful way rather than a robotic, rote way.

Children need to develop a relationship with caregivers in order to learn.  The revolving door philosophy of bringing people in and out so that a child has had 100 caregivers by the time he is 10 does not work.  Stanley Greenspan says, “Emotion always come before behavior.  The child needs to enjoy relationships with parents, peers, and teachers in order to learn.”  Emotion is critical to brain development.  It’s more than “cute” when a child is engaged with a caregiver.  The child learns better.

I have been an advocate of Greenspan’s DIR method for the past few years.   The Interdisciplinary Council on Learning Disorders (www.icdl.com) says this about DIR.

DIR is a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach that focuses on the emotional development of the child. It takes into account the child’s feelings, relationships with caregivers, developmental level and individual differences in a child’s ability to process and respond to sensory information.  It focuses on the child’s skills in all developmental areas, including social-emotional functioning, communication, thinking and learning, motor skills, body awareness, and attention.

The goal of treatment is to help the child master the healthy emotional milestones that were missed in his early development and that are critical to learning.  Building these foundations helps children overcome their symptoms more effectively than simply trying to change the symptoms alone.

Then it says this about Floortime:

Floortime, a vital element of the DIR/Floortime model, is a treatment method as well as a philosophy for interacting with children (and adults as well). Floortime involves meeting a child at his current developmental level, and building upon his particular set of strengths.  Floortime harnesses the power of a child’s motivation; following his lead, wooing him with warm but persistent attempts to engage his attention and tuning in to his interests and desires in interactions. Through Floortime, parents, child care providers, teachers and therapists help children climb the developmental ladder.  By entering into a child’s world, we can help him or her learn to relate in meaningful, spontaneous, flexible and warm ways.

Floortime is a component of DIR but not the same.  In Floortime, you follow the lead of the child.  In DIR, once kids move past the initial stages of the developmental ladder, you create programs that revolve around the child’s interests, in which he is emotionally engaged, with meaningful two-way interaction, customized toward his individual differences.  The kids don’t tell you what to do; you just do things that are meaningful to them.  Again, Floortime is only a subset of DIR.  In the lower developmental levels of DIR (Floortime), you follow the child’s lead (but even then that means you follow and join what the child is interested in – the child doesn’t tell you what to do), and in the higher levels there are more structured, therapist or parent-led programs.

Two and a half years ago, I wrote on my website at http://www.coachmike.net/autism-faq.php (see #4) a little about DIR and Floortime, as well as a summary of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

I combine elements of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as well as the Developmental, Individual-Difference, Relationship (DIR) based method. I believe a combination of ABA and DIR methods is optimal because ABA provides step-by-step instruction while DIR focuses on relationships, emotions and interests. Children need both structure and meaning when they learn.

ABA is used to teach academic, communication, problem solving, behavioral, social, play, and other skills by breaking tasks down into small steps and practicing drills. ABA also uses positive reinforcement and just as much prompting as is necessary. Inappropriate behaviors may be phased out by redirecting to target activities rather than drawing more attention to those behaviors. Antecedents, behaviors, and consequences are tracked to try to determine the reasons behind behaviors and implement appropriate interventions. However, some behaviors may be accommodations children need to manage their body or sensory difficulties. Therefore, I focus on building skills more so than reducing behaviors.

The DIR method focuses on the emotional development of the child. It takes into account the child’s feelings, relationships and individual differences. DIR involves following the child’s lead and enables the child to learn by doing what he or she likes to do in a fun and meaningful way. According to ICDL.org, “DIR focuses on the child’s skills in all developmental areas, including social-emotional functioning, communication, thinking and learning, motor skills, body awareness and attention.” The DIR method can also help a child generalize skills initially learned through drills.

Part of the DIR model includes Floortime, which is based on working with a child at his or her current developmental level, and building upon strengths and interests in a way that is meaningful to the child, rather than just focusing on surface behaviors and drills that don’t always generalize into life skills. Floortime can be especially effective during periods when a child needs more play and less work.

5.     Which is better – ABA or the DIR model?

In my opinion, this question is kind of like asking, “Which is better in football – running the ball or passing the ball?” or “Which is better in basketball – a zone defense or man to man?” They’re both necessary in different situations, and a balance of both may be most effective. For example, you can do repetitive drills broken down into small steps based on the child’s individual differences, interests and relationships, making sure to incorporate social skills and emotions.

In doing so, children can learn valuable skills such as sequencing the steps needed to complete a task. Children with autism benefit from structure, but they will be more engaged if the drill involves something in which they are emotionally invested. The DIR model is harder to quantify than ABA, but DIR is built on relationships, spontaneity and interaction. Children are not robots, and drills can’t be done in a vacuum.

For example, you can teach a child who is obsessed with a particular toy communication and problem solving skills in the following way: Hide the toy in one of your hands and get the child to reach for it and choose which hand it is in. Then you can do the same thing by holding the toy behind your back, or placing it near your face to establish eye contact. Subsequent steps may include getting the child to make sounds or use speech if possible to request the toy. The toy is used as a reward. This example is based on one in Engaging Autism by Dr. Stanley Greenspan.

For the rest of the FAQs on my website, see www.coachmike.net.

Lately, it seems that RDI has taken off as the method of choice.  I can’t really see how RDI is much different than DIR, except maybe that the order of the letters sounds a little bit more catchy.  If anything, RDI seems like an implementation of DIR.  However, this summary from Chicago Floortime Families points out some differences as well as many similarities.

According to about.com (I went there because the RDI website at http://www.rdiconnect.com/ doesn’t do a good job of describing RDI), children can develop the following through RDI:

  • Dramatic improvement in meaningful communication,
  • Desire and skills to share their experiences with others,
  • Genuine curiosity and enthusiasm for other people,
  • Ability to adapt easily and “go with the flow,”
  • Amazing increase in the initiation of joint attention,
  • Powerful improvement in perspective taking and theory of mind,
  • Dramatically increased desire to seek out and interact with peers.

This looks a lot like DIR to me.  In any case, whether it’s DIR, RDI, or you want to create a new acronym such as IRD or IDR, the goals of each system are the same.

Greenspan’s DIR Model for Autism: Part 2

September 20, 2009

I decided to take some of the most important passages from “Engaging Autism” by Stanley Greenspan and Serena Wieder, with other quotes paraphrased.  These are the lines from the book that I underlined when I read the book three years ago.  I did the same for the John Gottman relationship books on a blog a while back.  Of course, like Rodney Dangerfield said in “Back to School,” the guy underlining the pages “could have been an idiot.”  So with that said, here goes:

Quotes from Stanley Greenspan’s “Engaging Autism” (I bold parts that I think are most important, and I divided the quotes into categories where I thought they fit best).

Developmental vs. Behavioral Approaches

  • Many programs that focus…on symptoms or behaviors rely on the troubling assumption that many children with ASD cannot ever acquire skills for truly intimate relating, empathy, and creative problem solving.  The DIR model focuses on the underlying deficits that lead to symptoms.

  • Schools tend to be very structured and to put a high priority on compliance and limit setting, rather than on engaging, interacting, problem-solving, and thinking creatively and logically.
  • The behavioral model led to modest educational gains and little or no social or emotional benefits.
  • The old way:  children could learn social behaviors in a scripted, memorized way, but not engage in spontaneous and creative social interactions and thinking.
  • With the new developmental approaches, we see it as a continuum on which all children can become warm and related and purposeful.
  • We now understand that the lines of early development are interrelated.  Rather than assessing language skills, motor skills, and social-emotional skills separately, we should look at how well these abilities are integrated, how they work together as a whole.
  • An example of a non-DIR approach:  isolated skills, such as matching shapes, rather than essential developmental building blocks.
  • The DIR model shows how to use a range of interventions in a truly integrated manner.

  • Parents and clinicians need not make a Solomon’s choice between relationships on one hand and cognitive and language skills on the other.  Cognition, language, and social-emotional development all stem from the same foundation.

  • DIR is organized by asking:  What are the problem behaviors?  How is the child doing on the fundamentals of relating, thinking, and communicating?  How is the child doing on her processing capacities, and what are the contributing factors (including biomedical challenges) affecting these capacities?  What experiences work and don’t work to help the child, and how capable is the family of doing the things that work?

Don’t have a Ceiling

  • Progress comes from getting the child to take the initiative.  The biggest mistake is telling the child what to do to provoke a set response, rather than challenging her to take the initiative or to solve a problem with you.

  • It’s just as important to work with children when they’re at peak performance as when they’re struggling, because then we help them advance developmentally and master higher levels all the time.
  • Never assume a ceiling on a child’s abilities.  Always assume you can get to one more level, and after that, one more level.
  • The child may have a disorder or a set of problems, but he is not the disorder.  He is a human being with real feelings, real desires, and real wishes.
  • The brain develops into the fifties and sixties, so it’s never too late.

Learning and Language through Emotions, Engagement, and Relationships

  • Mastery of the early stages of emotional interaction is associated with language and thinking skills.
  • Language, cognition, and mathematical and quantity concepts are all learned through emotionally significant interactive experiences and relationships.  Emotions enable us to learn.
  • Emotion is critical for many elements of language.
  • When engaged, children have a desire to communicate.
  • At the second level are the ongoing and consistent relationships that every child requires for emotional and cognitive competency.  Children with ASD need even more warm, consistent caregiving than do typically developing children.  Almost all human learning occurs in relationships, which must foster warmth, intimacy, and pleasure.
  • Use words meaningfully through emotions and pretend play rather than by rote.
  • The goal is to have all of the emotional experiences of life expressed through circles of emotional interaction.
  • Turn the activity into shared interaction.
  • The ability to love deeply is present in children with ASD, whether or not it can be easily expressed.
  • Children should be encouraged to express negative feelings.  Don’t take the child’s expressions of negative feelings personally, but respond sympathetically so he doesn’t get the idea that expressing his feelings is dangerous.
  • Emotion always come before behavior.  The child needs to enjoy relationships with parents, peers, and teachers in order to learn.

  • Many adults who had ASD and other special needs as children achieve a high level of empathy or enter the helping professions, because often they had to struggle more with challenges or feelings of disappointment than their peers did.  (My comment – this proves that kids with autism can learn empathy.)
  • We believe the primary problem in individuals with ASD is a biological difficulty in connecting emotion to motor actions and later to symbols.  Emotions link different types of mental functioning.

Other Language Skills

  • It’s better for children to use single words interactively with meaning than to recite whole sentences or paragraphs they have memorized.
  • Children with auditory processing challenges especially need to hear the rhythm of a voice.  Repeat what you say, and emphasize it.
  • Since John’s main form of communication related to getting fed, mother played a little dumb to extend those moments with John was negotiating for some of his favorite foods.
  • Help the child connect ideas by pretending you don’t understand.

  • Say something like, “I went to the zoo and I saw a _______.”  Have the child fill in the blank.  Or, “He has four legs and barks.  He is a ______.”
  • Ask a child what he enjoyed most at school, and why?  (Keep in mind many of these suggestions will have to be adapted for the level of the child.  This one wouldn’t work for a child unable to communicate that level yet.)
  • Listen to audiotapes of stories in the car.

Family Involvement

  • Not enough time is spent watching the child interact with a parent or other trusted caregiver.  In many evaluations, children are separated from parents and challenged to perform various types of developmental tests in a way that fails to take into account the child’s individual differences.  The child becomes stressed and confused.  To make a proper diagnosis, a practitioner also has to see children at their very best.
  • The clinician may see the child for a couple of hours, but parents see the child for hours and hours every single day for years.
  • However gifted a particular therapist is, what really counts is what is done every single day, for hours a day, with a child.
  • The key is to have fun together.
  • A child’s progress with a DIR/Floortime program requires parents who are emotionally very available.
  • If you don’t pull the sibling into the family challenge, the sibling feels excluded.
  • Siblings and peers can help a great deal.
  • In general, it’s most effective for the child’s therapeutic team – including parents, educators, coordinator, and specific therapists – to meet regularly to design goals for the program.

Floortime:  Following the Child’s Lead

  • Observe what kinds of interactions bring the child pleasure.
  • Follow the child’s lead, regardless of where his interests lie.  That give us a clue about what he finds important.
  • Often we look for a way to reach a child – the magic key that will unlock the hidden door – when all the while the child is showing what he needs by his actions and the way he’s processing what comes his way.  We need to observe what children are doing to help themselves in the moment and then figure out how to meet them there.
  • We build on the child’s interest to help him move up the ladder of shared attention, engagement, two-way communication, shared problem solving, and creative and logical use of ideas.  That requires not just following the child’s lead but also challenging him.  So we don’t mean simply copying or imitating the child.  We mean taking the child’s cue in order to build new interactions and experiences.
  • The idea is to go with the flow but without giving into the child’s agenda.
  • In Floortime, why do you follow the child’s lead?  A child’s interests are the window to her emotional and intellectual life.
  • Always challenge the child to initiate.

Oral-Motor Skills

  • Some children have oral-motor problems that make it hard for them to move their tongue and the muscles in their mouth in order to speak.  Some children with both oral-motor problems may appear to have cognitive disabilities and to lack social skills when in fact they are limited in expressing their abilities by their motor impairments.

  • The teacher can play little imitative games, starting with sounds the child can make, with the child and teacher looking in a mirror together so the child can imitate the way the teacher’s mouth moves.

Sensory-Motor Skills

  • Orienting kids in space can help them with postural control, which helps them organize their nervous system, which makes it easier to get interaction.  One example is walking on a balance beam.

  • To help children be comfortable, caregivers must learn which sensations help children become calm and regulated, which ones overwhelm them, and which don’t pull them in enough.
  • The level of a child’s motor planning skills must also be gauged.  The best way to do this is by watching the child play.

Social Skills and Play Dates

  • We always recommend that kids have at least four playdates a week, so that their main source of companionship begins shifting from parents to peers…Mommy is still important for security, warmth, and problem solving, but not for going out and riding bikes together.

  • If we try to teach logical thinking to a child who is not yet able to engage in reciprocal social interactions, we are trying to build the upper story of a house on a very weak foundation.

  • A child who learns how to be social in fun and emotionally engaging learning environments at home will want to be social and will be able to do it at school or at home, because he has generalized what he has learned.
  • Teach with images, action, and drama.
  • Children with ASD often take everything literally.  One of the most effective activities is pretend or imaginative play.  Encourage role play and play with puppets.
  • They need opportunities for playing and communicating with peers.  It’s important for children to learn to use words and gestures and develop relationships with peers at the same time they are learning to do these with adults.  If they wait, this learning will be more difficult later on.
  • We have never worked with a child or adult who didn’t have a desire to relate to others.

Memorable Quotes from Patrick Swayze’s character Bodhi in “Point Break”

September 16, 2009

With the sad death of Patrick Swayze from pancreatic cancer, here are some memorable quotes from “Point Break,” a surfing movie with a bunch of flaws but still a cult classic and a great movie.  I have it as my 10th greatest movie of all time if you click on the “Movies” section of my blog to the right.

“This was never about money for us.  It was about us against the system.  That system that kills the human spirit.  We stand for something.  To those dead souls inching along the freeways in their metal coffins, we show them that the human spirit is still alive.”

“Yo, Johnny!  I’ll see you in the next life!”

“Life sure has a sick sense of humor, doesn’t it?”

The Media’s Coverage of Serena’s Reaction: Sexism?

September 13, 2009

Last night, during the semifinals of the U.S. Open, Serena Williams was given a point penalty after arguing a foot fault call. The penalty gave the match to Kim Clijsters, who probably would have won anyway.

The call was the correct call, but it was unfortunate that the lineswoman called it at that stage of the match, since Serena surely foot faulted before.  Serena’s reaction was obviously unwarranted, as she was verbally abusive to the linesperson.

But the articles I’ve read about the match described Serena’s reaction as “bizarre” and “ugly.”  That may be true, but why the double standard for men and women?  Jimmy Connors did something almost as bad in 1991 but the media overlooked it and the crowd loved it.

Every year, CBS replays a match from 1991 when Connors beat Aaron Krickstein in the 4th round.  They replayed it again yesterday.  The match was a great match, and the fact that Connors was 39 and hadn’t played for a while and the crowd was really into it made it a famous match.  (By the way, the match is way overrated.  Connors won a match in the 4th round.  Big deal.  It’s sad that they always have to replay this match instead of an old Sampras championship match, for example).

Anyway, Connors hit a shot out that was initially called in and overruled.  Connors went nuts and verbally abused the umpire.  Then, for the rest of the match, Connors kept pointing at the umpire when he made a good shot.  So he taunted the umpire about 20 times, not just once, yet the media didn’t criticize him and the crowd egged him on.

Serena said she wanted to shove the ball down the lineswoman’s point, while Connors just unleashed an f-bomb and told the umpire to get out of the chair, so admittedly what Serena said was a little worse.

So I’m just saying that when Connors complained he was considered a hero, while the coverage of Serena was more harsh.  Part of this, but not all of it, can be explained by the fact that Serena’s point penalty ended the match, and what she said may have been a little worse than what Connors said.  Still, we have a double standard.  We accept it and even love it when men argue but when women do it we criticize them.

(Now, if it comes out that Serena really threatened the lineswoman by saying, “I will kill you,” which Serena denies, then she deserves the criticism.  But if not, it’s a case of glorifying men arguing while criticizing women for it).

The Most Interesting Man in the World

September 7, 2009

This is the world debut of my new video:  The Most Interesting Man in the World, a takeoff on the Dos Equis commercial.

Here are my other videos:


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