Newsletter – May, 2001

**Companion Resources Newsletter**

edited by Paul D. Leichty

Volume 3, No. 5 May 2001

Do you see what I see?

Although this line comes from a Christmas song, it has gone through my head very recently. I have been thinking about how we each see things and how we perceive reality around us. A Biblical story that sparked some of these thoughts comes from Mark 8:14-26 where both the disciples of Jesus and a man who is physically blind are helped to see more clearly.

This month’s newsletter is mostly a collection of random thoughts which will hopefully bring clarity to our calling to build community with people with special needs.

Do you see what I see?

Several issues ago, I talked about Temple Grandin, an animal handling specialist who has autism. In her book, Thinking in Pictures , she explains how her mind works differently as an autistic person. She makes a good case for her claim that “thinking” doesn’t have to involve language. She talks about how she thinks in pictures and then secondarily attaches those pictures to language. It makes for fascinating reading. See the CR books link on the autism page (https://companionresources.org/Learning/Autism to get yourself a copy of _Thinking in Pictures_.

Sometimes the statement is made that persons with autism have distortions in their vision. Evidence is cited about how persons look intently at various patterns, how they see light shining on a object, or how certain colors and patterns affect them.

Temple Grandin suggests that autism actually enhances vision. Because the brains of persons with autism don’t have the language filtering capabilities that most of the rest of us have, the images in the outside world have a more direct path to the part of the brain that handles sight. Persons with autism may see with a clarity that others can’t.

Do you see what I see? We may be looking at the same thing, but I don’t know if what you are seeing is the same as what I am seeing. Indeed, we all experience the world in unique ways.

Because of the communication difficulties of persons with autism, in particular, the rest of us don’t know exactly how it is that a person with autism perceives the world. Often, we have to look for clues in other aspects of behavior. However, we can thank Temple Grandin and others who have been able to communicate clearly enough to give us some handles on what to look for and what persons who cannot communicate might be seeing that the rest of us don’t see.

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I invite you to visit the autism page (https://companionresources.org/Learning/Autism) for more information on autism. As I continually learn more, I believe that this information is going to be increasingly relevant to the general population, not just to persons who work live and work directly with persons with classic autism.

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Seeing more clearly about autism has enabled me to come back to our own family topic of Fragile X syndrome with some additional insight. My wife and I had the recent opportunity to share about fragile X syndrome with an organization that works on vocational options for persons with disabilities. They wanted more information to work with a couple of persons with fragile X syndrome.

I was amazed again at the growth in the number of resources on topics like this. There are even some very interesting attempts at interactive multi-media presentations. I’ve updated the fragile X page (https://companionresources.org/Learning/Fragile_X) to list some of the most interesting links I found.

Finally, I want to report on a summer project and ask for your help. I have been asked to make a couple of presentations on vocational and residential options for adults with disabilities at a summer retreat for families. I would very much like to enlarge upon personal experience to learn from other families as well. Please write to me personally at PDLeichty@cresources.org if you would be open to converse by e-mail, phone, or in person regarding any of these topics or questions.

1. What steps have you taken / are you taking to plan for the long-term future of your family member with special needs?

2. How accessible are the systems in your state for getting help?

3. How smoothly have you been able to make the transition from the school system to adult resources?

4. What creative methods have you used in order to secure long-term employment for your family member?

5. For those unable to handle employment, what other options have been available to you?

6. What are particularly good models that you are aware of for residential services? How accessible are those programs? (Long waiting lists, for example?)

7. Are you aware of businesses that are particularly good at employing and retaining persons with special needs?

8. Are there businesses that you are aware of that have developed creative alternatives to traditional “workshop” settings?

9. How are you working at financial planning in order to provide for your family member after you are gone?

10. Are you aware of any good Internet resources in any of these areas?

Well, that list got longer than I expected, and it seems like I’m only getting started. Thanks for any help you can give.

Any thoughts, comments, etc. are appreciated. Write to PDLeichty@cresources.org.

Blessings to all!

Paul D. Leichty

PDLeichty@cresources.org

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