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Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
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  • Laura GilmourLaura Gilmour
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    I would say that if he is an individual who is expected to be capable of someday reaching full-independence that rather than using filters, that I would advise working with him. There are some individuals form whom that is not possible (e.g. a young adult who has an addiction to pornography or who engages in sexually inappropriate behavior online such as a young adult man flirting with teen girls or somebody who repeatedly despite warnings elopes to meet strangers they met days ago online). If none of these is the case, I think talking to your son and working to teach him the skills and telling him he can always come to you if there is an issue. In addition, make sure he is educated on accurate sources of information (e.g. official government websites versus finding information on a concern about sexual health on an open and unmoderated form like Quora where anybody can produce a response. In addition, teach him about the importance of consent in sexual and personal relationships possibly by providing some resources for him that explain the difference between pornography and consenting relationships. In addition, in both online friendships and dating, help him learn ques that he may be being mislead or taken advantage of and how to handle them. He may feel more comfortable being a male speaking to a male relative or trusted community member. Social learning, including online has to be done through experience and there is a balance between allowing mistakes and learning from them and keeping a young adult who may be vulnerable safe. Most 18-year-old, especially many autistic ones, will be able to figure out how to override filtering software unless significant developmental disabilities. One of my relatives with Down Syndrome, despite limited literacy, can do more on the computer than her parents in their 60s can can, including set up technology so I think having rapport and learning through experiences in most cases is better than filters. As a student and adult on the spectrum (currently a PhD candidate but at 18 I was very socially delayed) I had a close enough relationship with my family that I could talk to my family about what I discovered online or interactions I had. I did make some mistakes and experienced a few instances of cyber bullying and/or being scammed small amounts of money, but being debriefed from these allowed me to learn from the experiences rather than stay naive. Being allowed this independence helped me develop the skills I needed to become a content creator for Stairway to STEM and present some material for them at a virtual conference in Second Life. If I was restricted in my online activities, I likely wouldn’t have independently learned and developed those skills even if I had to go through a few bumps in the road to get there. However, each family and individual is different so this may or may not be right for your family but if possible it would allow your young adult to learn and grow socially and maintain rapport.

    Laura GilmourLaura Gilmour
    Participant

    The answer to this question was a challenge for me so I’m coming back to it a few months later and re-writing it.

    I am an avocate for gradual autonomy of adults on the spectrum and teaching skills whenever possible (e.g. going on the internet together and teaching communication skills via repeated practice rather than barring access)

    However, I know some specific situations don’t allow for that (e.g. somebody with addictive personality traits who is unable to learn from experiences versus somebody who takes longer to learn but is able to learn).

    Here is a link to controlled access devices if this is applicaple to your son’s case:

    The Best Basic Phones for Kids to Call, Text, and … That’s It

    in reply to: How to succeed as an autistic college student in STEM #15359
    Laura GilmourLaura Gilmour
    Participant

    Based on my own experience (autistic student which a mixed science and social science background/currently PhD candidate in educational psychology)

    1) Before attending university, obtain necessary documentation and testing for accommodations (good to do in last year of high school)

    2) Visit the university disability resource center of the institutions you are considering. I find it is best when universities consider each students’ individual needs on a strength/needs basis and don’t go for one-size fits all accommodation programs. For instance I don’t fit the stereotype of “thinking in pictures” and visual diagrams confuse me/much prefer lists or audio directions.

    3) Email instructors prior to the start of classes and if possible meet with them in your office and discuss specific needs of how they can help you in the class. You don’t have to tell your whole medical history but a simple “I may not understand figures of speech, or I find it difficult to read cursive writing on the board, does this class use slides or overheads containing typed text?” may be helpful and will also allow you as a student to asses if the instructor/course is a good match for you and willing to accommodate. Sometimes another section of the same course is offered with an instructor whose style more so meets your needs and you can even switch sections first week of classes without penalty in many universities.

    4) Consider research or work experience in your topics of study/interest and ask instructors about both.

    5) Know that many young adults (and not just autistic ones) sometimes have to try a few programs to find the right fit and taking longer to finish a degree or switching programs…or taking time off to decide and gain experience outside of the academy is not a failure.

    6) Consider multiple ways you can use your education and versatile diplomas or degrees. For instance with my background in ed psych and autism research, with some cross-pollination work with individuals with a background in neuroscience I have considered the following post graduation options. All of these are very different options in some ways, but all serve the same goal of improving the quality of life of individuals on the spectrum across the lifespan:

    1) A post doc in psychopharmacology/looking at medications with potential to aide in sensory processing issues with predicted lower side effect profiles than atypical anti-psychotics
    2) Teaching distance education within educational psychology
    3) Creating something like STS within Canada and expanding it also to (K to 12 students)
    4) Opening a daycare/after-school care for neurodiverse children run by neurodiverse educators with teaching and psychology backgrounds
    5) Applying for a tenure-track job at a small university or community college or working in disability services (I know I do not want to work at a large university with a huge campus and classes with 100s of students/would not meet my sensory or perceptual needs).
    6) A mixture of an adjunct professorship and community-based research
    7) Developing workshops (like my dissertation work) to create inclusive communities in K-12 classrooms for individuals on the autism spectrum and running and promoting them.
    8) Professional speaking circuit/educating educators.

    Even if I leave academia, I know my career will always involve collaboration with K-12 teachers, university faculty, university administrators, levels of government, educational assistants, autistic individuals, and parents and carers for children and adults on the spectrum.

    Laura GilmourLaura Gilmour
    Participant

    Interesting topic. In educational psychology (the graduate department I’m a student in), the department tends to be reasonable about this rather than making it a formal process for minor accommodations. For instance, in many classes all students have the option to choose to write exams on computer, a lot of essay exams are take-home as it is less on memorization of material than the ability to apply it so less risk of “cheating” as it is expected you go to databases and add reference articles. Also, for statistics courses, my instructor was very open about me using a Microsoft word add-in math-type to write equations on assignments and exams. The only thing I had to make a formal request to the disability office for in graduate school was extra time on in-class exams involving a math component. However, in large classes of hundreds of students, this would be more difficult to implement and would likely have only to provide these to students with documented need.

    in reply to: Getting Work Done #5989
    Laura GilmourLaura Gilmour
    Participant

    I think sometimes switching tasks helps to keep the focus if you start to zone out on one task. I’ve sometimes done that. In addition, I have an Alexa device that I use as a timer and sometimes set it to take a scheduled break (e.g. 20 minutes) when I lose focus and during that time I can play a computer game, play with my pets, or simply surf the web and when the timer goes off I return to work and refocus. Different things work well for different students and there is no one right way. Good luck with your studies.

    in reply to: Anyone have tips for getting homework done? #4949
    Laura GilmourLaura Gilmour
    Participant

    Hello Spirit

    I am on the spectrum and in graduate school and also procrastinate although more so with household tasks than studies as my studies are of high interest right now like my games. I would say a list such as a whiteboard on your wall and possibly use timers on your iPad.For instance tell yourself you can play a game for an hour and set an alarm and then set the alarm (or a predetermined goal such as writing the paper introduction or reference page) before you get more game time. I find I need frequent short breaks to keep on task and lower stress but timers and lists keep my breaks from being permanent vacation.

    Hope this helps
    Laura

    in reply to: Intense Interests and Career Choices #4650
    Laura GilmourLaura Gilmour
    Participant

    This is a good question and I’d say a lot of it has to do with links to subjects of interest and in a bit of “first preferred activity and the preferred activity.” As an autistic I often find links in most topics to my special interests. For instance I developed an interest in high school social studies which I used to find “boring” after the 9/11 attacks and an understanding of how everything that happens in the world has links to the past. The same can be said for overlapping science and social science subjects. For instance sociology and social psychology also have links with the brain and biology. I found it incredibly useful for instance one term to take both human sexuality (which had a neurological focus) and sociology of gender (which had a social/society focus).

    Some subjects are frustrating and can’t be related back to interests or are an environment that is highly stressful. Sometimes I’m able to tell myself things such as “I need to complete this course to meet the requirements to get to do things I want.” I will be honest I am less keen about statistics and find it a struggle sometimes but I know an understanding is necessary to be a good researcher even if it’s a component I have to work harder on or ask for help whereas coming up with creative research questions or models, report writing, and internet data collection from unique populations are my research strengths.

    I would say if you are somebody who likes to learn a lot about a topic or even shift topics a lot a career in research, consulting, or development (e.g. software) would all be good matches. Also when considering research, being a professor on the tenure track is not the only option and there is everything from industry to even opening your own consulting firm and building up clients. Everything doesn’t work out as planned and a lot of young adults do a lot of trial and error (and not just autistic ones) but I think being able to try and take risks (and fail and use it as a learning experience) is important.

    in reply to: Finding the right balance for independence #3880
    Laura GilmourLaura Gilmour
    Participant

    Interesting post. I attended university in my own city close to home and in the early years, I required family support in many instances such as attending meetings with me to set up services and speaking to professors on my behalf. Where somebody is at 18 or even 20 is likely not their maximum capacity and individuals will continue to learn and grow throughout their lives. A student may need much more support in their first few years than they will need later on in life. Just because somebody isn’t ready for independence at 18 or 20 does not mean they won’t reach that stage at a later date. Give your student the support they need but work on gradually increasing independence.

    in reply to: How to best socialize on campus #3879
    Laura GilmourLaura Gilmour
    Participant

    What worked best for me was taking classes on topics of interest and seek out friends who have a geeky interest in that subject matter. I tend to find I mix well with the science psychology people/seems to attract similar personality types to me. Summer research internships can also involve working in a lab with peers who share common research interests and gives both work experience and potential for friendships. I am not a small talk kind of person so I tend to form friendships based on common interests and the closeness/personal friendships develop very gradually. I don’t have many friends but I care deeply and will do anything for those who become my friends. I am satisfied with the life I have and am not lonely or wanting more.

    I also think student clubs or parties are becoming more diverse/inclusive too. For instance the educational psychology department I attend also has board game nights and low-key holiday parties on campus that don’t involve bars or clubs. I also much prefer lunch with a friend or classmate over nighttime parties. I don’t enjoy parties so I avoid them. I think it is counterproductive to fake interest in activities you hate to try and obtain friends. They won’t be real friendships.

    in reply to: Person-First Language? #3691
    Laura GilmourLaura Gilmour
    Participant

    I am autistic/on the spectrum and a researcher in the field and I don’t have a strong preference for either term as long as the content is spoken or written respectfully. I feel over the last few years in all aspects of politics that a focus on politically correct wording distracts from issues and barriers that directly affect people and determining solutions.

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