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December 2012



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Archive for December, 2012


Dear Readers,


Wishing you a very happy, healthy 2013!

Have a fun, safe New Year’s Eve!


Love & Very Best Wishes,




Dear Readers,


Merry Christmas,

From my home to yours.

May your holidays be filled with family, peace and love,





Personal Note:


Connecticut has been so very kind to us this year as we took up residence in the most beautiful lakehouse, as we now divide our time between England, UK and New England, USA, training our new American friends.  Our thoughts and prayers are with a fellow employee, who lost his autistic son through the devastating Sandy Hook tragedy.  Our thoughts and condolences are with Ian, his family and all those affected by this tragedy.



The Dylan Hockley Memorial Fund has been established in honour of Dylan and details are below for those wishing to contribute.  Donations will be used to benefit children with autism and other special needs.



All donations can be made through PayPal using the direct link below or by logging into PayPal and remitting funds to the following recipient: dylanhockleymemorialfund@gmail.com





Alternatively, cheques made payable to the ‘Dylan Hockley Memorial Fund’ can be sent to 34 Charter Ridge Drive, Sandy Hook, CT 06482, USA.


In partnership with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Freddie Mac, an industry leader in home mortgages, is seeking a paid intern for the third round of a program with ASAN to place qualified Autistic candidates in skilled positions within the company.


Architecture & Data Services

Freddie Mac is a dynamic environment enabling Intern Analysts to grow through a variety of experiences and responsibilities.  Interns will start by learning basic core functions to understand how to work within the organization. The goal of working with the Intern program is to provide analysts an environment with learning opportunities through on the job training and courses available to Freddie Mac.   This will allow analysts to build and strengthen skills as well as develop a broader set of competencies. 

Job Description

Assist team in improving documentation of the department processes. Support organization in creating department reports and metrics against data

Job Function

  1. 1. Create new or updated existing process documentation to reflect organization and process changes.
  2. 2. Where feasible recommend automated solutions that allow for efficiencies within department processes
  3. 3. Submit documentation to team members for review and feedback
  4. 4. Participate in the discussions with team members about found issues with processes and offer potential solutions
  5. 5. Maintain tracking log of issues to ensure the items get addressed for completion
  6. 6. Collect feedback regarding new processes once implemented to adjust where needed


Typical Day

  1. 1. Meeting with team to collect existing process information
  2. 2. Update existing documentation using Microsoft standard tools and Visio.
  3. 3. Interacting with team members, through the employee preferred form of communication, to get the new assignments as well as to receive the feedback of the work products
  4. 4. Learning about existing tools that could be potentially used to automate processes where feasible.


Tools or Technologies Needed For This Role

Knowledge of Microsoft Office Products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), Visio, IBM Lotus Notes

Skills the Intern will acquire

Process Management, Analysis, tools such as SharePoint, Dreamweaver


If you are interested in this position and live, or are willing to relocate, to the Washington, DC metro area, please send your resume to ASAN at resumes@autisticadvocacy.org.

Mr McKinnon, pictured in 2009, had his extradition to the U.S. blocked in October (PA)


Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC announced the decision, some three months after McKinnon, 46, was saved from extradition to the U.S.


British computer hacker Gary McKinnon will not face criminal charges in the UK, the Crown Prosecution Service announced today.


Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC announced the decision, some three months after McKinnon, 46, was saved from extradition to the U.S.


In October, Home Secretary Theresa May had decided not to extradite McKinnon to America on the basis of his health.


The CPS said today that consulting with the police and relevant authorities, they recommended to the Met Police that recommended to the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police that they ‘should not commence a new criminal investigation into Mr McKinnon’.


They added that the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police ‘has accepted that advice’.

Mr McKinnon, 46, from Wood Green, north London, would have faced up to 60 years in prison if convicted in the US.

McKinnon’s mother, Janis Sharp, has long campaigned for her son’s rights (PA)


In their statement issued this afternoon, the CPS said that in light of the logistics of prosecuting Mr McKinnon, ‘the propsects of a conviction against him… were not high’.


They added: “The potential difficulties in bringing a case in England and Wales now should not be underestimated, not least the passage of time, the logistics of transferring sensitive evidence prepared for a court in the US to London for trial, the participation of US Government witnesses in the trial and the need to fully comply with the duties of disclosure imposed on the CPS.”


Mr McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, was permitted to stay in the UK after medical reports showed he was very likely to try to kill himself if extradited.


Both Prime Minister David Cameron, who held talks on the case with US president Barack Obama, and his deputy, Nick Clegg, had condemned plans to send him to the US.


Read in Full:


The Loud Hands Project | Autistic People, Speaking

It’s here!


A little less than a year since we started, the Loud Hands Project is proud to unveil our first anthology: Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking, now available on Amazon. This is an exciting time for the Loud Hands Project, and we want to share it with you.

Over the last several months, we’ve gathered contributions from a wide variety of sources, more than we could ever afford to print. Some were sent in, unsolicited. Others were pulled from the earliest chapters of the autistic community, with authors kind enough to grant us permission to reprint. Others came from blogs, and still others were solicited from people responding to the following focus paragraph:

The anthology is structured around twin themes of simplicity and voice. Simplicity because autism, for all its diversity, isn’t complicated or scary or hard–it just is. Voice because autistic people have voices, otherwise we wouldn’t be silenced. These two concepts go hand in hand. Autistic brains are different from non-autistic brains–not better or worse, just different. Autistic voices, similarly, can take different forms or styles or express different things through different means than non-autistic voices. These facts are simple and neutral, but regularly obscured and overridden by cultural scripts and fallacies demanding broken, voiceless not-people stranded by huge chasms from the rest of the world in place of everyday autistics. Simplicity and voice are routinely sacrificed for dehumanization and spectacle. That’s not our baggage, but when it’s used to silence our voices and complicated our realities, it becomes our business. The Loud Hands Project is designed as a counter to that, and this anthology is to be our guiding, founding document.

The diversity of voices here is truly incredible. People of all ages, genders, backgrounds, and abilities responded with grace, passion, and clarity, articulating brutally honest accounts of the world as it is and shining visions of what we can make it into. We hope you’ll read it, tell your friends, and spread copies to your libraries, schools, day care centers and service providers and therapists. If you let them, the voices in this book can change the world.

You can view the table of contents here.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for contributing. Thank you for supporting us when we were just starting fundraising, thank you for building the vibrant, resilient community this book comes from, and thank you for spreading it around.

Julia Bascom

Project founder and organizer

The Loud Hands Project

Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Tomorrow, December 3rd, marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. 


In collaboration with the United States Internationational Council on Disabilities (USICD)and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), the Autistic Self Advocacy Network strongly encourages our members and supporters to seize this coming Monday as an opportunity to show your support for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The United States Senate has passed a motion to proceed with voting on the ratification of CRPD. Ratification would ensure that the United States remains a world leader in protecting and advancing the rights of people with disabilities. 


You can show your support for the CRPD this Monday by calling both of your state Senators and letting them know that you encourage the Senate to approve ratification. USICD has provided sample phone messages to use if you choose to call, as well as a link to the contact information for all US Senators. You may also call the US Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 to reach any US Senator. 



You can also voice your support for ratification by tweeting about it. USICD has also provided sample language for tweets, and the Twitter handles for all US Senators can be found here. 

Carol Sonnenblick, Ed.D.

Board of Directors

Freedom Fom Fear

Chubby Santa’s, twinkling lights, parties, the aroma of pies and cookies baking in the kitchen, champagne bubbles, family feasts and gifts piled high greet each year’s holiday season.  Holidays are happy times, right?  Not necessarily.  The advent of the holiday season is not always a time of joy.  It is a time when we mourn those whose presence is missed.  It is a time when frenzied activity adds to the burden of life’s already hectic schedules.  It is a time of excess—spending too much, eating too much and drinking too much. How can we put in the obligatory time with family which may prove toxic as old habits and unresolved issues resurface?   How can we enjoy the holiday season when coping with our usual stressors requires us to use all of our inner resources?  Here are some.


  • *Develop a shopping list and spending plan.  Resist impulse buying and extravagance.
  • *Remember that there is no reason to expect that difficult relationships will have improved since last year—so why get aggravated.
  • *Pace your activities.  Accept invitations to those events that will not overburden your life and cause next day exhaustion.  Feeling tired and frantic is not good for your physical and mental health.
  • *If food and drink are an issue—try moderation (more easily said than done—think  January when you will want to undo the results of binge indulging)
  • *Choose parties and events you really care about, avoid day after day of obligatory activities. 
  • *Set aside some time just for yourself—do something that you enjoy, makes you smile and reduces your sense of being on a treadmill.
  • *Chose someone you really care about and spend some quality time, even if it’s only a quick lunch somewhere. 
  • *Make plans for January and February to do something special—give yourself something to look forward to during the coldest, darkest winter months.
  • *Buy yourself a gift, something that you really want that no one else is going to get for you. 

Put the holiday into perspective—the excitement, the scenery, the parties, friends and family.  Recognize that changes in routine can be stressful but that’s just part of the season—enjoy and happy holidays.   

“Remember that our expectations will create our reactions, and expectations are often too idealistic if guided by the hallmark holiday image.”   -Mark Sisti, Ph.D

“Have the freedom to change traditions, based on what works and what no longer works.”-Constance Salhany, Ph.D.

Source:  http://www.freedomfromfear.org/viewtopic.asp?topic_id=246

Christmas and ASD

Christmas  can  be  an  exciting  and  fun  time,  but  it  can  also  be  stressful.
People  with  an  autistic  spectrum  disorder  (ASD)  may  be  confused  or
distressed  by  all  the  new  activity  within  the  household  at  Christmas  and
this can be upsetting for the rest of the family. Hopefully this information

sheet will provide some tips which might help. The word ‘child’ will be used throughout however some of the tips will be useful for adults too.



As Christmas approaches, you may want to highlight this holiday period on the household’s or child’s calendar. We would suggest that you check when the school starts work about Christmas, and perhaps you could introduce the idea at a similar time. This will help to ensure consistency. However, if this time frame does not leave enough preparation time for your child, then you should adjust it as appropriate.


You may only want to emphasise Christmas Day on the calendar. Or you might want to indicate when the school term ends and starts again, to show that the child will be at home during this holiday. You could name this period on the calendar: ‘Christmas Time’ might be appropriate. Highlighting this on the calendar will help your child to prepare for the time spent away from school, and therefore the change in routine. You can start talking to your child about ‘Christmas Time’ and what this means. This will differ for each family. You could produce a booklet on Christmas with pictures of relevant items, for example Christmas trees, the sorts of decorations you use and the food you might eat. However, remember that if your child is very literal you will need to be careful as they may become anxious if your Christmas does not appear exactly as the pictures.


On your calendar you can mark the days that you will buy and put up the Christmas tree and decorations, as well as any other changes which will occur. Do not forget to include the day when relatives or friends will arrive to stay. Although a lot can change during this time, it is important to continue your child’s routine to some extent. If you use visual timetables with your child (see our ‘Visual supports’ information sheet, available free from the Autism Helpline), continue to use them to show what they will be doing during this period.


You should include your child with an ASD in the Christmas process. You may want to take them shopping for the tree and decorations, or show them where they are kept in the house before you bring them out for the holiday. This will help your child to become familiar with these items, even if they saw them the year before. Your child should also be involved in putting up the decorations, even if they are just in the room when it occurs. This will hopefully prevent any negative reactions to these new items being placed in a familiar environment.


If your child does want to be included then you may like to give them a particular job to do which they can focus on. This may help them to feel included and less anxious about the changes around them. You may even want to decorate the house over a few days if your child finds change particularly difficult. For example, you could place the tree in position, leave it for a few days and then start to decorate it, adding any house decorations later on.


The Autism Helpline is often asked about suitable toys or gifts for a child with an ASD. These will vary from one person to another. However we would suggest that for some children with an ASD having a huge number of presents from friends and family might be too overwhelming. Perhaps a set amount could be given, maybe one from mum and dad and one from grandparents. Any other family members who would like to buy a gift could perhaps put the money in a trust fund to be used for the child at other times. Alternatively, perhaps giving the child one gift a day might help to reduce any anxiety.

Suitable gifts

The Autism Helpline is often asked what toys might be suitable for children with an ASD. Therefore we have compiled a list (in no particular order):

1) Trampolines
These come in lots of different sizes, but make sure it’s strong. They are good for using up energy.


2) Sensory toys
There are many types of these, some examples are:

  • *bubble tubes/columns, all different sizes and colours
  • *fibre optic plumes that change colour and can be safely brushed with the hand
  • *bubble-making machines.

3) Board games

  • *’The Socially Speaking Game’ is a social skills board game for seven-year-olds+ from LDAlearning (www.ldalearning.com)
  • *Battleships/Guess Who? are both turn-taking games.

4) Music

  • *on tape or CD
  • *instruments.

5) Bikes/tricycles

6) Water toys

7) Books
Read-along ones, perhaps accompanied by a tape of the story; for example The Hungry Caterpillar.

These are just a few examples, there are many more. Please remember that every child is different so not every child will like the same toys.

The following website also has some advice about choosing toys for children with autism: www.insidethebubble.co.uk/toys.php

If your child is becoming obsessive about Christmas, you will need to try and set boundaries around this obsession. Please see the Obsessions, repetitive behaviours and routines information sheet for further information.
If you would like any of the information sheets mentioned in this article (Visual supports; Obsessions, repetitive behaviours and routines) please contact the Autism Helpline 0845 070 4004.

Useful contacts

Garden Adventure
Trampolines of all sizes and shapes
Tel: 01342 300146
Email: info@gardenadventure.co.uk
Website: www.gardenadventure.co.uk/Trampoline/index.php

A charity which helps parents and carers of a child with special needs of any kind to find simple, affordable solutions to practical problems.
Sells toys, trikes and other products for children with disabilities
Tel: 0845 458 1124
Email: enquiries@fledglings.org.uk
Website: www.fledglings.org.uk

National charity providing fun to children with special needs, including play equipment and grants
Tel: 01525 385 232
Email: kidsout@kidsout.org.uk
Website: www.kidsout.org.uk

Special Needs Kids
Some ideas for special needs toys
Email: enquiries@special-needs-kids.co.uk
Website: www.special-needs-kids.co.uk/toys-index.htm

Resource catalogue
Tel: 0845 120 4776
Website: www.ldalearning.com

National Association of Toy and Leisure Libraries
Tel London office: 020 7255 4600
Tel Scotland office: 0131 664 2746
Tel Wales office: 02920 566 333
Website: www.natll.org.uk

Rompathe 6th sense
Resource catalogue
Tel: 01246 211777
Email: sales@rompa.com
Website: www.rompa.com  

SenseToys Ltd
Tel: 0845 257 0849
Email: info@sensetoys.com
Website: www.sensetoys.com

SpaceKraft Limited
Resource catalogue
Tel: 01274 581 007
Website: www.spacekraft.co.uk

Resource catalogue
Tel: 01299 827 820
Email: enquiry form on the website
Website: http://www.specialneedstoys.com/UK/  

Winslow Resources
Resource catalogue
Tel: 0845 230 2777
Email: sales@winslow-cat.com
Website: www.winslow-cat.com

Please note the above organisations are not connected with The National Autistic Society in any way; we cannot recommend any of the above organisations.

References/recommended reading

Newson, J. and E. (1982). Top twenty toys for handicapped children in Living and working with autism. Section 5. The National Autistic Society.
This article is a little old-fashioned in its use of language. However many of their recommendations will still be applicable today. Copies are available from the Autism Helpline on 0845 070 4004.

If you require further information about autism and related issues, please contact the NAS Autism Helpline, open Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm:

Tel: 0845 070 4004
Email: autismhelpline@nas.org.uk

Source:    http://www.autismjersey.org/   

Further Articles

NAS:  Ten Ideas For A Happy Christmas


Grieving: 7 Tips To Get You Through The Holidays


Holiday Pieces: Getting Through The Holidays, Family Ties, Doing Right For Others & Holiday Blues:


Holiday Shopping Tips, Christmas Stress Management, Why Holidays Don’t Have To Be ‘Happy’:


NAS: ‘Tis the Season to be Jolly:


Introverts: Party Survival Tactics, The Party Predicament, Introverts & Health:


LEGO NAS Charity Calendar 2010 & New LEGO Games:


Sensory Toy Warehouse(Please Note Comment For Name/Site Change):


Introvert’s Guide to Holiday Merriment:


Managing Holiday Stress, Alone For The Holidays, Families In Recovery: