Thursday, May 27, 2010

Go Big Red!


I've now been a Cornell University graduate for 20 years!

I met my first date and first real friend (same person) there. (In fact, in my first weeks there I received offers from both sexes!) I enjoyed perhaps the best university dining hall food in America there - not just my opinion, we had a bulletin board full of praise from students at other colleges.

I learned how to fine-tune my ideas, and to defend them; I still hold a few of them today. I learned the joy of reading (well, not necessarily the night before papers were due...). I also learned how to deal with weather you don't like - at least in central upstate New York - namely, wait a few minutes. (That and always carry an umbrella.)

Now, I mentor Cornellian Aspies free of charge, and also meet with Cornell applicants on behalf of the Admissions Office.

When I started seriously thinking about college options, in the summer before my senior year of high school, Cornell was where I really saw myself. I applied for freshman admission, but got turned down flat. A couple of weeks after getting my denial letter, I wrote them back asking for transfer admission materials. The next year, I applied for transfer admission, and got in.

Last but not least, thank you Mom!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Up, Up and Away!

This past weekend, Emily and I flew to Austin to see her brother receive two Master's degrees. (Yes, I can now close my eyes and still see the Longhorn symbol!)

When we touched down in Austin, I got off the plane first (we had to sit separately since the plane was perfectly packed). While waiting for Emily, I was approached by an older woman - likely an immigrant, and definitely Spanish-speaking only - for help. Since I knew nothing about the airport, I flagged down two nearby pilots, and then translated for them (I speak some Spanish). Turned out she was looking for the baggage claim area, and they were able to point her in the right direction.

Then, after Emily and I had just gotten our own baggage and started walking away, another lady flagged me down. She had just paid for a luggage cart, but still couldn't get it out of the machine. Having neither the detailed knowledge nor the time, I pointed her to a nearby customer service office and also a nearby worker who might be able to help her.

As my loyal readers know, this kind of thing happens once in a while. (And it's already happened again this week, back here in the Washington, DC area...but that's another story.)

Meanwhile, The County Line in Austin serves the best barbecue this native New Yorker has ever had. (If you enjoy big meals like I do, try their "All You Can Stand" special - ribs [pork and beef], brisket, sausage, chicken, sliced turkey, baked beans, potato salad and more!) And try the Star Seeds Cafe - open 24 hours, come as you are (and if you're not the barbecue type, check out their many vegetarian and vegan specials)!

Austin - an omnivorous city!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Free Money from Maryland Community Connection!


If you have, or know someone who has, a developmental disability (which includes but is not limited to the autism spectrum), you/they live in Southern Maryland (Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George's or St. Mary's County), and could use extra funding to pay for Low Intensity Support Services (LISS), please get in touch with Maryland Community Connection (MCC) right away.

LISS refers to a wide range of services, which certainly includes life and career coaching but also things like medical and dental services, eviction prevention, adaptive equipment and many other things. (If you even think it might be covered, put it down on the application and they'll consider it!)

MCC actually has extra money they need to give out by the end of the fiscal year - June 30. This is not an income- or means-based program. Barring any complications, they'll give you a decision within 10 business days of your completed application (one page form plus documentation). Their requirements have liberalized substantially since December 2009, when the program started.

If you contact MCC, please tell 'em I sent you. If you'd like to ask any questions before getting in touch with them, just drop me a line. Do hurry, 'cause money is long but time is short!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Virtues of Medication

Clarissa has made an interesting point: Why should people wanted to be medicated for who we are, including if we have difficulty picking up on social cues and others' feelings?

Her point seems to be: Why should we accommodate people who won't accept us for who we are - and presumably for how we behave while in ignorance of said cues and feelings?

Well, some things that Aspies do, while not understanding cues and feelings, hurt others. We insult people. We put people between a rock and a hard place by forcing them to express negative things, such as a lack of desire for a date, bluntly. That makes it hard for us to make and keep friends, good jobs, accommodating roommates, and particularly romantic relationships.

We even make it more difficult for people to distinguish actual criminals, in that we sometimes act the same ways that criminals act, such as by peering into people's windows, staring at and even following people (especially women) and pushing people's (implicit) boundaries. That means, among other things, that people may call the cops on us. Or even play vigilante and give us a beating...or worse.

Now, some of those real criminals are mighty grateful for the service some of us are providing them. So, they're happy to accept us for what we are. They'd love us to remain oblivious of people's thoughts and intentions - especially theirs as they gear up to beat, rob, kidnap, rape and even murder us. The last thing a thug wants is for people to jam his easy-victim sensors or detect and pre-empt his game.

If AS and autism spectrum conditions in general are disabilities, for which we can ask for accommodations - and I think they are - don't we owe it to both ourselves and society to pursue reasonable efforts to alleviate them?

What do you think?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Possible Oxytocin Treatment?


A team of German and British researchers has found that nasal sprays of oxytocin, the nurturance hormone, can help men better respond to social cues and others' feelings.

Scientists are speculating that it may help people with certain neurological disorders, including autism.

Do you think general use of oxytocin therapy can be a positive or negative step for Aspies and autists?

H/T: KipEsquire.