April 15, 2011 Late last month, a 22-year-old man with a criminal record pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman with Down syndrome while on a Metro Transit bus in St. Paul. The woman was one of several vulnerable adults traveling with a personal care attendant, who was apparently unaware her charge was performing…

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April 1, 2011 A friend asked whether the book “House Rules” by Jody Picoult reflects my family’s experience with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Picoult not only illuminated some of my life, she also roused a latent fear about what would happen if my adult son encountered the criminal justice system. “House Rules” unfolds through the…

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March 5, 2011 Recently, Temple Grandin, acclaimed animal behavior specialist who has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), spoke at an Autism and Employment forum about how individuals with ASD can be valuable employees if they are properly prepared. So how are students with ASD – or any other condition considered a disability – preparing for employment?…

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February 20, 2011 “Different but not less.” The HBO movie of Dr. Temple Grandin’s life includes a scene in which her mother shares that view of her daughter with the high school science teacher who became her champion. The award-winning film depicts Grandin as a visual thinker who suffered through social encounters but became renowned…

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They can be quirky;  they may not look you in the eye; they may resist a handshake.  They may speak with an affect or not speak much at all.  If you get them going on a topic near to their hearts, they may not stop talking. Someone dear to me has many of these tendencies…

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September 13, 2009 An autism diagnosis turns a family’s life upside down. The complex disorder may not manifest uniformly, but the accompanying heartache is universal, whether families struggle to accept a child or sibling may never speak, write his name, have a friend, sleep through the night, or toilet independently. Yet, receiving a heartfelt hug…

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December 11, 2008 “I would rather be in a gunfight than have to watch my grandson go through what he is going through.” This statement expressed the sentiments of many at a November meeting of the Minnesota Autism Task Force. The state-Senate-appointed panel is investigating the causes and statewide incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)…

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October 15, 2008 The past few weeks I’ve watched politicians point fingers and craft hasty (and unsuccessful) solutions to a global economic fiasco.  I’ve now lost more than money.  I’ve lost confidence in the integrity of our leaders, as well as their willingness to address difficult problems before they devolve into a crisis. For some…

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August 19, 2008 It was a difficult summer. After nine months at boarding school, our 17-year-old son with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) returned for a 12- week break. While he was thrilled to be home, our 14- year-old-daughter was distressed when the brother who absorbed so much of our attention settled back into his old…

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