Set Theory (#511)
Noises Off (#513)

Interview for the Autismland Fellow-ship (#512)

While Charlie was in the shower crumbling my big blue bar of soap into bits that he shoved down the drain, I was putting together questions for a mock interview for a certain scholarship, for one of my students.
Libraryshelves
Charlie got out of the shower, stood around with his pajamas at his feet, and---when I coughed (after just failing to suppress it)---he scream-cried, a loud, desperate, keening wail that was wordless and yet said more than the picture's proverbial thousand: Did something hurt? Was he just annoyed at the world? Is he coming down with a cold? Was his stomach hurting from all the frozen bread he had grabbed from the freezer (it was meant for his grandparents' meals)? Was he sad and mad that, after a very nice morning, his schoolday became like "one of those days he used to have"? (Another student cried out and Charlie did the same instaneously---his teacher usually has him ask for a break and he gets to leave the room---and, as he was back-flipping, he could not leave the room. He calmed and had lunch, but the other student again cried out and Charlie again went to the floor, and then did Distar, and then cried out and back-arched again, and seemed like he would end the day in peace but his forces failed him at the very end, and the bus driver made a point of assuring me how well Charlie had done on the bus (all smiles, he had been). )

Charlie simply stood and screamed and I tried not to talk much (if at all), suspecting that at these times especially, my words sounds like so many clanging cymbals. He practiced piano with me offering as minimally loud praise as I might; he started a puzzle of a spaceship (still weeping, but more quietly) and carefully put together the lower left hand corner over and over: It was white swirl of a galaxy, edged with a fluttering line.

I don't know what Charlie was thinking in the silence---maybe about those lovely white oval forms on the murky "space" background?---but it had been yet another of those "just got to endure it" experiences that make one qualified for the Autismland Fellow-ship.

If you'd like to see if you are a viable member, here are interview questions for anyone interesting in applying for this award. (They are the interview questions I devised for my student, revised for the Autismland crowd; please don't hesitate to answer any you may wish to in the comments!)


Interview Questions for Autismland Fellow-ship

Starting questions:
What is your most significant achievement?
What has shaped you?
Name the person who has done the most to help you achieve all that you have.
What is the most controversial thing you have every done?
What was your biggest moral dilemma and how did you resolve it?
What was your worst failure and what did you learn from it?
How do you want to make a difference in the world?

"Charlie" is my answer, or is in my answer, to most of these.


School
Why did you choose to go to live in the town where you do?
What "disciplines" or "professions" have you had to acquire amateur ability in as an Autismland parent?

See these synonyms for a partial answer.


Books
What other books about autism do you enjoy? [See right sidebar.]
The metaphor of traveling to Holland has been used to describe what it is like to be autistic. How do you feel about being in a country whose language you do not know?
"Science moves the world": Does this statement apply to Autismland?

Current Events
Do you think autism is genetic?
What is your position on mercury and vaccines in regard to autism?
How do you account for the prevalence of autism today?
Is there an autism epidemic?
Name one famous autistic person who is not Temple Grandin.

Autismland Fellow-ship
Describe the ideal Autismland parent.
Describe a good day (not the best day ever) with your autistic child.
Describe how living in Autismland has changed and transformed you.


Jim always tells me that an interview is just another day in your life----if so, we are all winners of the Autismland Fellow-ship and every moment with Charlie, however loud and long, the finest prize.

Comments

David N. Andrews MEd (12-2006)

Bad thing to do, Kristina.... I get really sucked into these!

Interview Questions for Autismland Fellow-ship

Starting questions:
*What is your most significant achievement?

Personally - being the dad I am to my daughter... this girl is autistic and will run to my and hug me, and - while doing so - will turn to *other people* and tell them: Tää on mun rakkain mies! ("This is the man I love the most!")

Academically - definitely the MEd... and getting to do that without a formal BA: one can get a BA(Hons) but is a BA(Inv) ever possible?! :/ I did, of course, offer 180 study-points' work of achievements in lieu of the BA, and my achievable honours class is something like a reasonable First.

Musically - a couple of things here, I suppose, but the thing that got it all really going was the inclusion of my song (recorded by me and a couple of pals) on the world's first Autism Awareness CD back in 1997.

*What has shaped you?

My life.

*Name the person who has done the most to help you achieve all that you have.

Hard one, this... I'm going to go back to the start, since without that start I would have been in a poorer intellectual situation than I am now: my dad, who showed me how to learn in a way that suited me, and how to enjoy the process of learning. He's terminally ill and in the last stages, I'm informed, and I dedicated my MEd thesis not just to his memory but to him whilst he is still alive.

*What is the most controversial thing you have ever done?

Reinvented autism theory in light of Lewin's Life Space model of topological psychology and in terms of George Kelly's Personal Construct Psychology, Vygotsky's Socio-Cultural Theory and Järvilehto's Systemic Psychology (I was fortunate enough to have studied under Järvilehto for six months as an exchange student).

*What was your biggest moral dilemma and how did you resolve it?

Not sure on this one... been a couple whilst I've been in my practice as a psychologist.

*What was your worst failure and what did you learn from it?

Trying to reason with John Best Jr. What I learned was that you can't reason a man out of a position that he was stupid enough to reason himself into.

*How do you want to make a difference in the world?

A bit at a time.

*"Charlie" is my answer, or is in my answer, to most of these.

My daughter's involved in a lot of what I do too... one way or another, she's behind my work and my free time... thngs I can find for us to do together that will help her development in the same way that my dad helped me in mine.

School
*Why did you choose to go to live in the town where you do?

Heh... basically, my daughter. She was born here.

*What "disciplines" or "professions" have you had to acquire amateur ability in as an Autismland parent?

Educational psychologist and special educator and - yeh - clown!

Books
*What other books about autism do you enjoy?

I like Glenys Jones' text from 2002, from a professional perpective, and also Dinah Murray's text from 2006.

*The metaphor of traveling to Holland has been used to describe what it is like to be autistic. How do you feel about being in a country whose language you do not know?

Ah... well... I'm not sure that being autistic is quite like that (having experienced both, I can assure you that there are many differences!). If, however, you were to ask about being in a country whose customs were hard to fathom out... now, *that* would be pretty accurate, I think.

*"Science moves the world": Does this statement apply to Autismland?

Yes. Kelly's PCP has a fruitful metaphor: the person as a scientist, hypothesising about the world about him/her and testing these hypotheses behaviourally.

Current Events
*Do you think autism is genetic?

It is highly heritable, which has a different meaning from being 'genetic' (in terms of being something that you will definitely get purely as a result of having a given gene). Genes don't map one-to-one for behaviours, although there are many aspects of experiencing the world as an autistic person that do indeed have biological influences (e.g., sensory and perceptual issues). This was the reason why I developed my topological psychological model using Lewin's equation - B=f(P,E) - as the basis.

*What is your position on mercury and vaccines in regard to autism?

Nope... not implicated.

*How do you account for the prevalence of autism today?

Better diagnostics, better recognition before diagnosis, broader diagnostic criteria, and better support possibilities (which would drive an increase in people coming forward for the diagnosis).

*Is there an autism epidemic?

There's an epidemic of bollocks about one... :/

*Name one famous autistic person who is not Temple Grandin.

Craig Nicholls (guitar, vocal; The Vines).

Autismland Fellow-ship
*Describe the ideal Autismland parent.

At least tries to be understanding of his/her autie child, making plenty of effort to communicate exactly what the child needs to hear in order to enable the child to engage with him/her enough to learn things and enjoy life.

*Describe a good day (not the best day ever) with your autistic child.

Ah, so many variables - so little time :/ Enough to say that a good day is a reasonably good one in which me and my daughter have been able to achieve things we try to set out to do.

*Describe how living in Autismland has changed and transformed you.

It never changed me... I was born there. ;)

mumkeepingsane

I've been sucked in too but this will have to wait till after Patrick gets on the bus today. Thank you though. Just reading this has made me think and remember and enjoy.

The last point especially touched me. How have I been changed by living in Autismland. Wow, it has done so much for me. I am a much different (and better) person and parent since Patrick exploded onto the scene.

Kristina Chew

I'll have to answer the questions myself too....... I am extremely curious about the Finnish, David. "Exploded on the scene"----that's quite an entrance (Charlie's was no less exciting).

Mommyguilt

I'm working on it! TOTALLY sucked in. I printed out your questions at work and, if I find some free time tonight, I'll finish answering and maybe even manage to post them here!

And thanks for the nudge. I know, always darkest before dawn. Been there, done that, but it's always nice to hear it again, especially from someone who gets it!

Shawn

You would be a tough interviewer Kristina!

What is your most significant achievement?
Learning to be flexible.

What has shaped you?
Experience. Nothing changes you like experience.

What was your worst failure and what did you learn from it?
Do you mean my worst failure today, or do yesterday's count also?

How do you want to make a difference in the world?
I may not change the world but I'll gently stir up my little corner of it. (Credit to a 30 year old episode of M*A*S*H).

How do you feel about being in a country whose language you do not know?
It would seem very quiet as all speech would dissolve into 'white noise.'

Why did you choose to go to live in the town where you do?
I came for a job, and found a family.

What "disciplines" or "professions" have you had to acquire amateur ability in as an Autismland parent?
All the same ones I had to practice as the parent of a NT child. At their core, the skills aren't really all that different.

Do you think autism is genetic?
In a big way!

What is your position on mercury and vaccines in regard to autism?
Mercury and vaccines are the 'religion and politics' topics of Autismland. You won't change anyone's mind but you're bound to get into a fight. That's my position and I'm sticking to it!

How do you account for the prevalence of autism today?
We are formally diagnosing more people today as autistic, based on our current definition(s) of autism, than we did in the past when we used different definitions. To say much more would stray from facts.

Name one famous autistic person who is not Temple Grandin.
Charlie, and don't tell me he's not famous!

Describe a good day (not the best day ever) with your autstic child.
A good day is a day in which we both teach each other something. Nothing is better!

Kristina Chew

I revised the whole list for my student and added some that were in a "mercury and vaccines" ("religion and politics") vein----got almost as good of answers as yours!

I have never been a big fan of the "Visit to Holland" metaphor. Why is a post in itself....

Charlie, famous? Nah.......

David, thinking of your father and hoping to read your theory of autism someday, and attempting to get Mr. Best to reason out of his position is hardly a failture!

mothersvox

Rockingly great questions, Kristina!

I feel as though you've done for me what I was trying to do for Mom-NOS.

I won't answer here and now . . . too late, too tired, but will think about posting on these in the coming days.

I'm sorry Charlies been having a time of it . . . responding to the other child in his class. That is really hard because he's showing his empathy, but in a way that people don't think is good or right. He's responding to the distress of the other child, but his response looks like more distress (and maybe is, maybe isn't).

One thing we know in Autismland: as soon as something happens, it changes into something else. This will too. It all keeps moving.

David N. Andrews MEd (12-2006)

Here's a link to my first MEd/PgCertSpEd paper (PgCert got subsumed into MEd):

http://64.233.183.104/search?q=cache:eCJygyhgLEAJ:www.autismtalk.net/attachment.php%3Fattachmentid%3D55%26d%3D1100407422+lewin+boeree+andrews&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=4&client=firefox-a

The title of the paper is essentially from a list of titles given for the first specialist course module on autistic difficulties in adult life.

The paper was uploaded to that site after my mark had been given (Distinction - go me!), and so my former supervisor can vouch for its existence prior to the upload (this safeguards my copyright :D ).

Hope you like it.


Kristina: "David, thinking of your father and hoping to read your theory of autism someday, and attempting to get Mr. Best to reason out of his position is hardly a failture!"

Well, I dunno... some would say I ought to know better than to try; however, ultimately, he is an adult and he is responsible for his learning in discussions. I notice that he tends to repeat unsubstantiable claims, can reference nothing, and cannot see the implications of much that he says regarding what is put to him. Which is why he goes ad-hom at every opportunity.

Thanks, though... maybe it isn't me failing with him... maybe it's him failing to learn appropriately.

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