From the St. Paul Pioneer Press Opinion page, May 3, 2020 It took many years and many hands to assemble the scaffolding that provides the structure for Lucas Houk’s life. When coronavirus infiltrated our communities, the structure toppled. Like my son Jack, Lucas was diagnosed in the 1990s, when little was known about autism. His…

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July 8, 2011 Helping our children to feel both grounded and independent is a fundamental tenet of parenting. So we give them roots and wings by imparting skills and values. We harp on them to buckle their seatbelts, eat their veggies, and treat others with respect. After we’ve counseled them on how to do their…

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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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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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April 2, 2009 Today is World Autism Awareness Day, designated by the United Nations as a day to increase knowledge about autism as well as to inspire compassion, inclusion and hope. I salute the millions of parents with children on the Autism Spectrum who share my struggles, yet embrace strategies and beliefs as disparate as…

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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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November 2, 2008 Recently, I was honored to receive the 2008 Community Media Excellence Award from .  Arc of Minnesota. During the awards program, a group of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities performed a skit that railed against the ‘r word.’ Their provocative, take-away message: We’re pushing back against a demeaning and demoralizing label…

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