Have a Question or Comment? Ask James Williams Here.

If you have any questions or comments to ask James Williams about his work on autism or anything else, and do not like or prefer not to use e-mail, you may ask them here. I will try to answer them whenever I can.

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46 Responses to “Have a Question or Comment? Ask James Williams Here.”

  1. Liezl Camacho Says:

    I have a 3 year old boy; his name is Nelson and has autism. His teacher told me that my boy has been defiant from following routines at school especially during snack time. She said that Nelson refuses to sit properly when eating and that there are times that the entire session is spent just making him sit on his chair. Of course such sessions end with Nelson screaming, battling against his teacher and the aide. My question is, do routines, if they have been structured, have to be strictly followed? I have a feeling that Nelson does not understand why he is asked to sit to eat his snacks. We have observed him though that he sits when he eats whenever he is really motivated to eat – and that is when he is hungry. He was also reported crying and screaming at another session because he was asked to count 1-2-3. The teacher said she was happy that Nelson was able to utter “1-2-3” at the end of the session but was continually crying and sobbing. Does learning speech happen among autistics this way?

  2. James Williams Says:

    Here is my response, based on the situation you have presented to me:

    First, remember than even though I may give advice that may work for your child with autism, that does not mean you will be able to convince the teachers at your school to implement any suggestions. While there are many open-minded educators out there, many teachers still have their minds closed to ideas that are widely accepted by autism researchers as the proper way of helping autistic children. Autism authority Dr. Brenda Smith Myles calls this the “research-practice gap,” and argues that a main problem in the field of autism is that even though she may write a paper about what needs to be done to help children with autism in schools, that doesn’t mean teachers will read it or practice what her and others’ research has concluded.

    Why is Nelson refusing to sit properly when eating and screams when made to sit on his chair? There are many possibilities, but the simplest explanation would be that something on that chair is bothering him due to tactile sensitivities. We may not see it, and the chair might seem empty to us, but it likely bothers him. However, since the discussion involves “sitting properly,” that implies that he is sitting improperly. This could be because of a sensory problem. By “sitting improperly,” he is able to sit in the chair that does not bother him because of his sensory problems. By sitting properly, he feels immediate pain because of a sensation he feels sitting in his chair.

    A second possibility lies in back problems. If he cannot sit properly, that may be because sitting properly is hurting his back, and he is trying to alleviate himself of the pain, either because he cannot sit straight, or because of how his body is constructed. This was a problem that I had when younger–it was downright painful to sit up.

    Very few people will inflict pain on themselves if it truly hurt them. This is not autistic–this is something no person would do, and very few animals would do out of their own volition as well. Masochists who inflict pain on themselves typically do so because even if they feel hurt, they don’t perceive it as pain.

    Imagine sitting on a chair with a series of improperly placed nails that stick out from its back. You would not want to rest your back on the part of the chair that had nails on it. To him, sitting properly in that chair would be similar to someone forcing a neurotypical person to sit in a chair of nails. I believe this is important to understand because many behaviors and/or symptoms of autism often have “neurotypical equivalents,” a term I would use to define a related situation that would cause a neurotypical person to react the same way.

    In my opinion, the solution here would be to not to make a big deal about it. One must pick their battles with autistic children. A problem, after all, is only a problem when someone makes it a problem. It’s the fault of the school here for making a big deal over whether or not.

    The teacher and the aide needs to lighten up. Nelson is only three years old, after all. There are far more important things they should be worrying about, like socializing. The ideal solution is just to stop forcing him to sit properly. If that is beyond the mindset of the staff in his classroom, however, then you might want to consider putting a cushion or pillow on the seat or back of his chair to see if the problem really is sensory-related to something on the chair, or something he can sit on. If other children in his class ask why he has that, just explain that he has special needs or is disabled.

    You asked if routines, if they have been structured, have to be strictly followed. No, they don’t, but schools often stress that they do. This is because of a widely held theory that autistic people must have structure in order to feel secure in their lives. This is part of the official diagnostic criteria used to diagnose autism (in the DSM-IV), and is believed by many autism authorities and even argued by people with autism themselves.

    I, however, take a different view toward the “structure theory.” I will not deny that there are many autistic people who are looking for structure out there. However, I believe that this does not tell the whole story, and does not explain the situation that occurs in all cases of autism. Consider–school, as you have noted, if by far one of the most rigid, structured institutions in the world. Yet school causes some of the most misery in the life of the autistic child. This in itself has led me to argue that structure in itself isn’t what people with autism are looking for. Otherwise, school would be a great place for people with autism.

    My opinion is that structure is not what autistic people are looking for, it’s the security that the structure brings. But the structure of school often brings misery and pain that, because of the “structure,” the autistic child cannot get out of. Thus, structure in school should not be strictly followed, and it doesn’t have to be–that’s just what the school administrators believe has to happen. If a given structure isn’t working, it should be changed–with an alternative structure. Autistic people do indeed need structure, but because of the security it provides, not because it is structure. Should all of structure cause misery to an autistic person, they might want or actually thrive in a non-structured environment. That is the experience I have had as I have in many situations when the alternative–structure–inflicted suffering or discomfort for me, or offered something I did not want at the time.

    Food as a motivator to enable sitting is not autistic–that’s an instinct in most humans. All of us need to eat, after all. If the chose was starvation versus pain while sitting, most of us would sit through the pain if we were starving tod eath. It is, however, something that should raise eyebrows as this is not always the case with autistic children. The fact that he is willing to eat versus be hungry is impressive–some autistic children will starve if they can’t eat in the way they want to. When I was five years old, I was such a picky eater that I routinely starved myself if I was not served the few foods I liked, and didn’t drink a drop of water until I was seven. How I survived without dying due to malnutrition, dehydration, or starvation is a miracle in itself.

    On learning speech among autistics…

    Learning speech does happen among autistic individuals with sobbing and crying. Typically, it’s because they’re not ready yet they have to learn in order to meet the expectations of their school classroom. Because of school’s rigid expectations and the power society gives it to force learning against a child’s will, problems that are not apparent in children before they attend school often appear once they enter school, even in kindergarten (which is now considered by many teachers and many schools to be an academic grade, and is often taught like one). In my biography, it is said that I volunteered at a child care center. Later I became an intern in a kindergarten classroom. Almost half of the students I worked with in that classroom were students I already knew from the child care center. What I saw as the year progressed was how some of the students, having seemed normal at the child care center, became “problem children” in the classroom, and had extreme difficulty meeting the social and academic needs of the kindergarten classroom. Some of them even qualified for special services after their problems became so apparent in the classroom.

    Another possibility is because of auditory sensitivity–Nelson may just be bothered and feels pain when he hears even his own voice, and does not like hearing himself speak. This is likely because, as you noted, he is able to count despite sobbing through it. For this, I recommend therapies like Auditory Integration Training or other listening therapies to help him with his auditory problems. A cheaper approach would be to teach him how to wear earplugs or to get the teachers, if possible, to allow him to wear headphones that are designed to reduce the sound inputs in half during the school day. If you are sound sensitive and hear things much louder than others, that reduction in half may actually enable you to have the hearing of a regular person, so you should not be concerned unless he actually exhibits an inability to hear others that he may not hear things that are important for him to hear.

    Finally, remember that what I have said may not necessarily apply to your child, entirely or in the way I have said it. Autism is so variable that nothing–no explanation, no solution, etc.–can be taken as an absolute that will help all children with autism. Remember this quote that is often repeated by many autism authorities–“He who has seen one autistic person has seen just that–one autistic person.”

  3. Lawrenceeu Says:

    well done, man

  4. sean hart Says:

    james, i have a question for you.
    My son was diagnosed with a mild form of autism, and as many autistic children do, the throw tantrums when you tell them no, however my son likes to hit or scratch me or my wife when we tell him no followed by a tantrum, our son is 3 but very strong, but we are afraid as he gets bigger he may hurt someone, what is your suggestion in trying to redirect this behavior? Another question, i liked your speeches, when is the next time you will be speaking in michigan, or how do we go about requesting you?
    -sean hart

  5. James Williams Says:

    Sean,

    There’s no denying tantrums are difficult. I myself at that age threw many tantrums myself, and would refuse to socialize with most people.

    One thing, however, that needs to be reminded is that unlike typical children, most tantrums that occur with an autistic person are not based on being a “spoiled” brat or merely trying to get attention. Also, many times, when they say “no” to you or have a tantrum, they’re refusing to do something that typically hurts them or causes them phyiscal distress, or they just don’t understand why they have to do it (and not understanding why you have to do something is sometimes very stressful for autistic people).

    The solution toward resolving tantrums is to try your best, when the next tantrum comes, to try to figure out what happened beforehand to cause the tantrum. Typically tantrums don’t come out of the blue with autistic children–they only seem to be that way if you don’t know what caused them in the first place. Hitting and scratching occurs often because the child, desperate to get what he needs or to get out of something miserable, hopes that by engaging in such violent activities he’ll get out of what’s bothering him, or he’ll be able to communicate to you something he needs to communicate.

    What is your child’s verbal ability? Can he talk normally, or is he nonverbal? If he is nonverbal, then he may be engaging in tantrums because that’s one of the sole ways he’s able to communicate his needs. When you cannot talk, after all, or have impaired speech, you have to rely on other ways of communicating to get what you need. Sometimes that communication also involves engaging in violent acts.

    What is your child’s ability on understanding language? Sometimes a person can be nonverbal yet still understand other people’s language. If he can understand what you are saying, and/or can talk, try to talk to him. Explain to him that even though he may be sad and can cry and pout all he wants, it is not right for him to hit and scratch you, because it hurts.

    However, if he cannot understand what you are saying, then you need to go about it differently. Since he’s likely not going to be able to stop hitting you, your best bet is to try to see what is compelling him to hit you and scratch you, and to find out what is upsetting him. That way you can try your best to eliminate as many possible situations that upset him as possible. This is not an easy task at times, I must admit, and there are times when he’s going to have to do things that upset him. In that case, you might just want to put on protective gear. I have seen autistic kids who have gloves on or sportswear typically worn by athletes to protect them and others from their violent acts. Sometimes kids wear helmets. If he truly cannot be controlled, and he’s hurting you, by forcing him to put on gloves, mitts, or hand protectors, you can ease the discomfort you might be feeling when he hits and scratches.

    Those are my suggestions. They may not work, but this is what I have to say. You can write back with more information if you want to.

    As for speaking in Michigan–no, I currently do not have any more michigan engagements planned. I basically go where agencies ask me to go. However, if you want me to come back to michigan, here’s how you’d do that:

    1. Find a local agency or place where you can hold the lecture, such as a school, church, or library. You could also hold it in a person’s house if necessary.

    2. E-mail me the location, time, and date you want me to lecture. Then, pay my speaking fee and travel expenses. I charge $100 for speaking, plus I ask that my travel expenses are reimbursed (travel, hotel). However, I do not ask, or take food reimbursements.

    3. I will need to get to whatever location via a nearby train or bus stop, and to be picked up and taken to and from the speaking location from the bus stop, and then to the hotel. If, however, public transportation is available in the area, I will take that on my own.

    4. I may need to stay overnight if I travel to Michigan. Therefore, I will either need to stay in a resident’s home, or at a hotel. If I am staying in a hotel, I ask to be reimbursed for it.

    That is how I can be requested or return to Michigan to lecture.

  6. Preform Says:

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Preform.

  7. Maddy Says:

    Hi I just read your ten commandments. No questions, just a thank you.
    Cheers

  8. Hettie Says:

    Hi,
    I am advocating for a college student who has submitted a request of 504 accommodations at the university. How do I describe a “meltdown” is not just an act of violence and destruction. My client has meltdowns that are soley a withdrawal, crying, depression event not a violent event.
    Thanks

  9. jimmy5011 Says:

    Hattie,

    I wrote a reply for your response, yet for some reason my blog didn’t post it. I apologize for the delay.

    I have an essay I have written discussing the nature of meltdowns, in my opinion, at this URL: http://www.jamesmw.com/meltdown.htm

    Titled “A Neurotypical Meltdown,” this essay covers the nature of meltdowns by example–of a girl who is not autistic, yet melted down went put in a stressful situation.

    James

  10. jimmy5011 Says:

    Just so you know, jimmy5011 is the username of “James Williams.”

  11. Briana Says:

    Hi James,

    I am so grateful to have come across your website! For the past 6 months I have been in a relationship with a boy who has autism and since we’ve been dating it has been wonderful, but extremely difficult. We are both in college (he’s 19 and I’m one year older) and to better understand him, I have gone online and found a plethora of information about autism. It has helped me understand him tremendously.
    It also helps that we’ve known each other since we were in grade school, so I’ve always known about his autism.
    However, I’ve come up empty handed when trying to find information specificly on relationships between non-autistic and autistic people.

    So I have a few questions for you which I hope you may have an answer to:
    For the first few months of the relationship, I saw him only at night, and probably at most 3 times a week. He was always full of energy and completely loving – hugging, kissing, and he has no problem with physical affection.
    Now it has lessened. Since it is winter vacation and we are home from college, we have seen each other almost every day (and night) and suddenly, I feel like he’s always tired and wanting to take naps. The physical affection has lessened. Sometimes he will just talk in monotone for an hour and not touch me at all, making it seem as if he weren’t interested in me… and then the next moment he’ll surprise me by wanting to hug or hold hands. Is this a sign of becoming “comfortable” with our relationship, or does this mean it’s falling apart?
    I also heard that people with autism have less energy than other people, and therefore simple social interactions, like being around your girlfriend all day and all night, can take a toll on their emotions. Is that why he is becomes stone-like and cold after I’ve spent all day with him?

    He’s completely honest with me, which I love, but sometimes it’s still hard for me to believe him when he says “Of course I’m still happy in this relationship”, because I don’t see the happiness in his face! So I always feel as if something is wrong and he constantly has to remind me that he’s fine.
    Frankly, it has been very difficult because I don’t know how to act around him sometimes. Should i just give him space? I still believe that he cares about me, but he rarely shows it anymore, and when he wants to hang out, he asks me in a formal manner as if I were a mere aquaintance.
    We have quite a lot in common, but at the same time, we are very different emotionally. And sometimes it’s downright frustrating.

    Do you have any advice? I really do love him, but I don’t know how to show it. And I don’t know how people with autism express love, or how to reciprocate.

    I apologize for the long comment. I just haven’t found any other websites that would help me better understand him… and I don’t want to change him. I just want to know what is going on in his mind, which would then ease my frustration.
    Thanks so much!

  12. jimmy5011 Says:

    Briana,

    I apologize for not writing back for so long. I have been extremely busy this past month, and I also have had some social dilemmas occur as well. Then there has been non-stop nights workign in a theater, as well as semester finals. I apologize for not writing back until now, when I am free.

    Dating is sometimes a very difficult thing for autistic people to do. Many autistic people never even understand what it means to date. Some believe that you’re dating just when you hang out with a person of the opposite sex–even though many times, you’re actually just friends. Autistic individual Temple Grandin, in her book “Thinking in Pictures” has written that dating is so complex for some autistic individuals, including herself, that it is impossible for some to do. She also has written that she is so scared of messing up when dating that she has chosen to never date.

    Then there are autistic people who understand what dating is, but don’t have the emotional feelings to date. Autism sometimes blocks the ability to love or have interest in dating. They sometimes, as a result, are “asexual”–meaning they have no interest in dating or sex. Or they may be interest in dating, but no interest in having sex.

    You have mentioned that this problem started when you saw him every day. Starting to see someone daily can have that impact on someone. Sometimes people with autism have less energy to socialize, as you mentioned. Other times, however, they need their space, and it is difficult for them to hang out with someone daily. Maybe he could give physical affection when it was 3 times a week, but he’s not able to daily. He could need his space. I know that sometimes I hang out with my friends a lot, and they sometimes need their space.

    The fact that he says he’s still happy in this relationship and that he’s fine means you probably shouldn’t worry. Even though there’s an old saying “A girl who says she’s fine is not,” most autistic people are truthful. When an autistic male says he’s fine, he probably is. Try giving him space, and be open about it. Ask him if he needs his space, and see what he says. See what happens. If you two want to keep this relationship, then try your best to communicate with each other. I can tell from your comment that the relationship is mutual.

    As for being formal, acting formal is a way autistic people sometimes act instinctively. Because socializing is often difficult for autistic people, acting formal is often a way autistic people act when they don’t know what to behave. They think that by being formal, they know they will not socially mess up. He’ll probably become less formal when he is more relaxed.

    Well, those are my ideas. I hope your relationship works out well.

  13. Kristin Mercer Says:

    James,
    I recently attended the CARD conference and enjoyed your “Are You There World, It is Me Autism” keynote – how fast will this be posted to your website? I am eager to share everything you mentioned about societal unwritten norms, culture, perspective, theory of mind, etc. You were wonderful!
    Thanks,
    Kristin

  14. jimmy5011 Says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed my presentation. I’m looking to get it posted on my website on February 19. However, as this presentation was an “off-the-cuff” presentation, its written format will differ from what was presented, but the general ideas will still remain the same.

  15. Helen Says:

    Hi James, My 8 year old daughter, who is not autistic, has been best friends with an autistic girl, who is 13, for a year 1/2. They played together every day all day for over a year. She was always at our house and she wanted to play ALL THE TIME. My daughter would always have to go get her though because she never would come to our door or initiate contact. It just got to be accepted and my daughter would go get her every day. I mean they were inseperable! Then she turned 13 and almost since that day she has shown very little interest in my daughter. Obviously this hurts to the extent that my daughter now hesitates to ask her to play because she is tired of being turned down. Now they never play and I don’t really know how to handle it. Should we just leave her alone? Not ask anymore? And can you please help us to understand why she all of the sudden has rejected my daughter. It just happened out of the blue really. Just a bit of info- my daughter’s friend really has no other friends and we all valued this friendship and tried to nurture it. All parents were very happy with their friendship and it just seems like she is dissing us….????? Please help me understand.

  16. jimmy5011 Says:

    First off, I would like to congratulate your willingness and the willingness of the other parent to maintain and approve that friendship. Friendships between people with autism and without autism where a significant age difference occurs are the best friendships for an autistic person, as mentally, autistic people are often not mentally their age. That 13 year old girl with autism probably was mentally around 8, and that’s what made the friendship work.

    It is probably not the fault of your daughter that the girl with autism does not want to be friends anymore. Rather, it is because when autistic individuals become teenagers, their entire personalities and symptoms often change, and they often withdraw. This could be for the following reasons, and to explain these reasons, I must discuss issues that culturally, we view to be taboo and inappropriate to discuss. Please bear with me, as I have had to work with autistic girls suffering from these issues during my career in autism, and I therefore will bring them up for educational purposes.

    It may be because the girl with autism is now entering puberty, and that puberty is a rough time for autistic people. It is a massive trauma in their lives, and autistic people often find that their autistic symptoms often worsen, or re-emerge at puberty. This often affects girls much more than boys with autism since female puberty is often harder to deal with than male puberty, not only because of the physical differences but also because of our culture’s belief that female subjects are taboo, a belief that many autistic individuals belief to be socially unjust. For example, I have worked with, and been friends with, many autistic girls in my career who have told me that when they get their period every month, they feel a sickness so debilitating that they are unable to function or get out of bed, and cannot go to school or do anything until their period is over. One summer, when I worked at an autism camp, there was a girl who transformed from being quite calm and mellow, who then became extremely angry, aggressive, and violent the next day after getting her period that night. Interestingly, her suffering was during her period, not before, such as would be with PMS. Menstruation affects girls with autism in many other ways as well–autistic girls of all ages have shared with me their struggles of managing menstrual hygiene due to organizational issues and remembering when to use menstrual supplies, and even coping with unpredictable, irregular cycles that sometimes occur for adolescent girls. (When higher functioning individuals with autism get together, there is no set menstrual taboo and menstruation is often spoken freely among higher functioning teens and young adults with autism of both genders if they feel comfortable doing so. Many females with autism expect me to listen to them about their issues, and those who are not do not have to share, but are still expected to allow those who are comfortable to share and not shut them up. It works because most males with autism do not share the same discomforts about those issues and support the girls when they wish to speak. Although not all autistic people are comfortable sharing these issues, rules exist not based on culture, but based on individual discomfort.)

    Another trauma that occurs for girls during puberty is our social mandate that girls have to shave their legs and underarms. Although we hear a good deal in autism research about the trauma that boys go through when shaving their faces, this shaving is optional, culturally, whereas shaving legs and underarms for girls is not. Many girls have told me that leg shaving is a major sensory overload for them and/or they lack the motor skills to properly shave their legs. One of my good female autistic friends once pulled up the legs of her pants to reveal to me deep, open, gaping wounds on her legs. It looked as if she had tried to cut herself for a suicide attempt, but she told me, “This is the price I pay to fit in.” What she meant was that as a girl, she had to shave her legs, but she did not have the proper skills to do so, and that those massive cuts were shaving cuts due to her inability to properly shave without cutting herself. To this day, although she has learned how not to cut herself as much, there are permanent scars where those massive cuts were.

    Then there is just the possibility that the mere changes of puberty are occurring, yet the girl is not mentally ready to face those changes. The fact that she was friends with your 8-year-old daughter shows that she probably is mentally much younger than she is, yet her body is still developing. Many autistic people, not able to face those changes, and still coping with the same mental and hormonal changes that other adolescents are going through, often withdraw socially, not being able to deal with social issues while physical changes are going on. Research has discovered, in fact, that autism messes up hormonal levels, thus the changes that occur during puberty often are exaggerated by autism-induced hormonal imbalances, making the entire body go haywire. I withdrew from other kids when puberty hit and had no friends at that age either due to the trauma that puberty entailed, and it’s not uncommon for autistic people of both genders to withdraw during that time of life. Adolescence not only causes physical changes, but it also causes an increase in social complexity that many autistic individuals cannot handle that have been popularized in movies like Mean Girls and She’s All That. Girls’ social circles become extremely complex and autistic girls find themselves the odd one out of a clique–often making them feel like they get along with boys who they view as more accepting and less socially complex. One girl I know who is 13 has no female friends her own age–her friends are all younger girls ages 8-10. Another girl I know who is now 16 has no female friends, and all of her friends are her own age, but boys. Her BFF is a same-aged autistic boy.

    At the same time, it could not be puberty related–many autistic individuals go through different shifts of wanting friends, and then not wanting friends. I have been through phases when I did not want friends. We have to stop thinking that autistic people want friends, and realize that many autistic people want to be alone, and we should allow them to do so. We don’t make neurotypical people befriend people they don’t want to be with, and no neurotypical person would hang out with other people they wouldn’t want to be with, so why do we make autistic people do the same?

    Obviously, you do not have to ask her parents about these issues if you’re not comfortable asking, but here are some possibilities for why this has occurred. Regardless of how taboo these subjects are, they form a major part of a 13-year-old autistic person’s life.

  17. Bernadine Milota Says:

    James,
    I saw you speak and give a very informations presentation last week, (April 26, 2011) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
    You are very inspiring and I am so very proud to have been there.

    Thank you.

  18. Ian Campbell Says:

    Hi James I am currently going out with a girl who claims she has autism. To be honest I am experiencing problems and would like your advice if at all possible as I am doing my utmost to be as patient as possible but I feel there is something wrong; things were great at first but have declined poorly I would like to talk at length if you reply, thanks Ian.

  19. jimmy5011 Says:

    Ian,

    I will respond to you via the e-mail that you have given to me, as you have asked me to talk at length. Also, I see you have subscribed to my blog–just to let you know that is okay, but no posts are ever placed here, just answers to questions.

    James

  20. Ben Masters Says:

    Hello, Mr. Williams:
    My name is Ben Masters, and I am an autistic just like you. As such, I have a question for you: When it comes to sports on television, like the NFL for instance, my father thinks that the way it’s broadcast now (with FOX Sports being one of the carriers) is the best way, and oftentimes I do not. One reason why is because of the overabundance of graphics on the screen, as one point to be considered; I grew up when sportscasting was not like that, and as such, I always look at and enjoy DVDs or video clips of those times, like for instance, the Chicago Bears 1985 Super Bowl season. Back in 1985, the NFC’s games (the Bears are an NFC team) were broadcast on CBS, whereas now they are broadcast on FOX.
    Another reason why I prefer how it was then to how it is now is because I’m not a big fan of the commentators as they are now as compared to how they were then. Back then, there were people like Brent Musburger, Irv Cross, Jimmy “The Greek,” Pat Summerall, John Madden, etc. Nowadays, there are commentators like Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson, etc., of which I am not fans, have not been, and never will be. My father, however, thinks that I don’t like football because I’m not a fan of how it is now broadcasted (HD, FOX Sports, etc.); it’s not that I don’t like football, just that I don’t like that style of broadcasting.
    One more problem is that he thinks that I should enjoy looking at games that have not been decided; the problem with that is that I believe the players now don’t play with as much integrity as they did then. To explain: when the greats like Larry Csonka and John Riggins scored touchdowns, they just handed the ball to the ref, celebrated in an orderly fashion, and got on with the game. Nowadays, it seems like it’s expected that when you score or make any big play, you have to showboat and make a spectacle of that fact; you can’t just accept it and celebrate normally.

    So, all things considered, in your view, how do you assess this difference between us?

    Thanks for your time,
    Ben Masters

  21. emily Says:

    hi, i would like to know what is high functional autism,my oldest son has autism,barely talks and can be agressive sometimes.my twelve year old daughter has behavioral problems and acts strange sometimes,could she have autism as well?i myself feel im a little autistic from time to time .thanks for any reply

  22. James Williams Says:

    For those wondering, Ben’s response was also given by e-mail as well.

  23. James Williams Says:

    Emily,

    You have asked a question that is hotly debated by most researchers today. The truth is that there is no set definition for what constitutes high or low functioning autism. In fact, most autism specialists refer to autism as being on a spectrum, rather than being higher or lower functioning.

    However, most autism specialists use verbal ability to determine functioning. You mentioned that your son barely talks. Therefore most autism specialists would consider your son to be low functioning, or on the lower end of a spectrum.

    Your daughter could very well have autism. Autistic individual Dena Gassner has done research suggesting that siblings of people with autism may often have symptoms but are not always diagnosed. Likewise, new research originally pioneered by Dr. Tony Atwood suggests that there might be far more girls than boys with autism, but that gender bias in the diagnostic criteria is the reason for the 4:1 gender ratio. What supports this research is the new school of thought that girls show autistic symptoms differently, and that this gender difference is not always acknowledged among diagnosticians.

    Good luck with your children.

    James

  24. Chris Says:

    Hey James! My youngest brother is autistic and growing up with him for 14 years has granted me a lot of knowledge with regards to autism, purely form experience – after reading through a lot of your site I find that a lot isn’t applicable to Bobby (my brother) as you said: it doesn’t apply to everyone, however he is going through a stage now where he finds girls attractive and considers them his girlfriend instantly, he also gets down about it and the physical appearances seem to be driving him more than the opportunity to talk about common interests. In any case I found a lot of what you’ve writted to be extremely interesting and I suspect very useful information for people with little knowledge on autism. My question, however, lies in the social aspect of autism – you in particular are of high functioning autism which is interesting, as you are able to explain in great depth the difference between the social conventions of autistic and neurotypical. What I find hard is that autistic people struggle with these conventions and yet you are aware of them and are able to teach, to summarise my question is: If you are aware of how both social conventions work, are you still autistic (in the social manner) I feel silly asking it but it feels like you’ve overcome a huge obstacle for autistic people. If you have any advice, tips or information that could help Bobby that would be fantastic too but as I was reading my main question was “I wonder if it still affects him even when he’s aware of it?”
    In any case you should be proud of yourself for what you’ve achieved and I would recommend this site to anyone needing general information on autism! Keep up the good work!
    Chris

  25. James Williams Says:

    Chris,

    I am still very autistic in the social manner and encounter many of the social struggles that other people have with autism. What enables me to do what I do, however, is self awareness. Self awareness is a blessing and a curse at the same time. On the one hand, it helps me learn for the better when I screw up. On the other hand, it causes great pain when I do screw up, as I have many time and still do.

    What Bobby is going through is not uncommon for autistic males his age. Actually, it’s an issue many non-autistic males go through, but autism makes the issue worse because autistic people often fail to understand the social dynamics of relationships.

    One more question I need to ask, though–does he have a tendency to prefer opposite gender friends? Some autistic people often find they relate better to the opposite gender versus the same gender. This can often confuse an autistic male who often might not know the difference between friendships and relationships, or also might struggle between wanting a friend over wanting a physical relationship.

    You may also respond to this post at jmw820@comcast.net.

    James

  26. Gareth Says:

    Six Principles Of Autistic Interaction

    I have ADHD and Autism

    This was such a good read that I further understand myself
    and why I had such trouble growing up as a kid (and as an adult)

    and I sent a link to this page to my entire family to read

    I just wanted to say thanks

  27. jimmy5011 Says:

    Gareth,

    Thanks for your kind words. I am glad that my writings have inspired you in that way.

  28. Hena Says:

    Hello,

    I was reading through some posts on your website and I wanted to see if you could come speak at my school. I spoke to my AP Psychology teacher and she said that it would be great but we aren’t able to afford paying a speaker. You probably get paid a lot. I was wondering though that if you ever came down to Florida, if you could pass by our school. I saw that you go to Orlando, FL but my school is in Ft. Lauderdale.

    • James Williams Says:

      Hi Hena!

      Yes, I would definitely be willing to come and present at your school. As always, we would need to arrange a date that works with my schedule, and agree on travel logistics. However, I travel to Florida very frequently (usually at least once every other month), and it would be very possible to come down to Florida.

      As for payment–you will notice on the website that there is no mention whatsoever regarding speaking fees for my presentations. That’s because I don’t make a set fee for speaking and a LOT of the speaking on my schedule is actually not paid speaking at all. As a self-published author, I make more money through the sales of my books rather than presenting fees.

      Let me know a little bit more about your school and we can talk about making possible arrangements. A general rule of thumb about school presentations is that they often have to be approved by specific administrators in a school. Hopefully this school will be welcoming of a presenter.

      I have sent this message to you via e-mail as well as on this blog.

      James

      • henahasan Says:

        Hello,

        That’s great! Just to let you know though, winter break starts the 24th of December and ends January 4th. I’ll speak to my administrator tomorrow. I will message you their response.

        My school’s name is Stranahan High and its located at 1800 SW 5th PLACE FT. LAUDERDALE, FL 33312. The school’s number is 754-323-2100. Students from the Medical Magnet program and those taking an AP Psychology class will most likely be the ones in the auditorium.

        Hena

      • henahasan Says:

        I spoke to the Medical Coordinator and sent her an email with more information. She wants to look more into this so I will speak to her again on Monday.

      • henahasan Says:

        Hey there!

        Well I got the thumbs up from my Medical Coordinator that we can have you speak but she wanted me to make it clear that we cannot afford to pay anything. You just have to give us a date.

        I have some questions.
        1) Are you sensitive to noise or sound? Not all autistic people have the same characteristics.

        2) What are the things you are good at? I read that its hard for you to do somethings but you excel at other subjects.

        3) Are you bothered by people hugging you or having physical contact with others?

        Hena

      • jimmy5011 Says:

        Hena!

        Thank you for sending the letter to the Medical Coordinator. I am okay with presenting for free, but under two conditions:

        First, I must be given the opportunity to sell my books at the event to any teachers and staff, however, I do not sell books to students without meeting their parents first.

        Second, the presentation has to be arranged alongside another time I am traveling to the state of Florida. Since I am traveling to St. Pete from January 10 to January 14, I am open to present on Tuesday, January 15 if necessary.

        Fortunately, I have friends who live in Miami who have agreed to give me a place to stay while I am in South Florida. I will then use the public transportation to travel to Fort Lauderdale.

      • jimmy5011 Says:

        To answer your questions…

        1. You are right that people with autism have different sensitivities…however, I myself DO have sensitivities to noise and sound. In my case, I am bothered not by ambient or sustained loud noises (such as loud background music), but am bothered by sudden and surprise loud noises. The two noises that bother me the most are school fire drills and barking dogs.

        2. I am very good at writing, presenting, and have good technical skills. I also am skilled at using public transportation. However, I do not always have perfect social skills, and I struggle at organizing my things at times due to absentmindedness.

        3. Although many indviduals with autism are bothered by hugs, I am the opposite and enjoy them. There are, in fact, individuals with autism who are not bothered by hugs but actually enjoy being hugged and are calmed down by hugs. Many of my good friends with autism and I hug each other, in fact, since it calms them down.

        Finally, I noticed that you have subscribed to follow my blog. That’s okay, but I want to remind you that this blog is just a place for people to contact me. I do not post any of my writings or thoughts on this blog. Those who want to read my writings on autism can view my website, http://www.jamesmw.com, and comment on a specific essay or paper on this blog or via e-mail.

        Those who want to follow my work can friend me, if they want to, on my Facebook account. I always post on my status updates what cities I am traveling to and sometimes, the work I am doing related to autism in the cities I am traveling to. I also sometimes post some of my thoughts on my Facebook status as well. My Facebook name is James Williams, and it is listed under the hometown of Northbrook, Illinois.

        Hope these answers help. James Williams

      • henahasan Says:

        Alright I’ll pass by the Medical Coordnatior again to tell her the date you are able to come. We agreed on having only the Ap Psych and Medical classes come to the auditorium for the presentation. She was wondering what you were going to discuss.

        Yay! I’m happy. Thanks for informing me about your blog.

  29. James Williams Says:

    Thank you, Hena. I look forward to presenting at your school.

    • henahasan Says:

      Hello,

      I spoke to my Medical Coordinator about that date and she said that it’s right on exams. Do you mind giving me a schedule of when you will come down here and can you come on a later date? Sorry

      Hena

  30. James Williams Says:

    I will look at my calendar and let you know.

    James

  31. James Williams Says:

    Hena,

    I am making two trips to Florida–one in January and another in February. The January trip is to a conference in St. Petersburg, and January 15 is the date after the St. Petersburg conference.

    However, I am also making another trip to Florida to attend an event in Orlando on February 16. Therefore, another possible date to present at your school would be Tuesday, February 19, the day after President’s Day, or possibly Wednesday, February 20.

    James

  32. henahasan Says:

    I think it would be best in February. I e-mailed my Medical Coordinator, I just have to wait for a response. I’m not exactly sure when she will answer because today was the last day of school for winter break.

    Hena

  33. wiederblog Says:

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  34. ana paula cardoso Says:

    Hello James Williams,

    I live in Brazil specifically in Acre, I have many questions regarding teaching my nonverbal autistic son of 08 years – moderate – would like to know how do I understand that he can not run into the street because cars can trample. How to teach it.

    My city and much of carrente profissonais you’re familiar with autism then I have to roll over me to teach him things.

    Signs: Ana Paula Cardoso mother of Rafael Yuri Autistic 08 years

    Meu email: anapaulahsj@globo.com

  35. lambros Says:

    Hey there, merely turned into cognizant of your blog post via Yahoo and google, found it’s truly informative. I’m going to be very careful intended for the town. I’m going to be thankful whenever you commence this specific in future. Many individuals is going to be gained through your writing. All the best!

  36. James Williams Says:

    Hi wiederblog and lambros!

    This is a defunct blog that actually was created as an extension of my official website, http://www.jamesmw.com. If you are interested in seeing my writings, head to that website. This blog was created merely for people to ask me questions who had met me through my website, then became defunct due to spam attacks. You can find the official blog thru my offical website mentioned above.

  37. James Williams Says:

    And although two years have passed, just to let everyone know, I responded to the Brazilian woman’s post via her E-mail.

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