The Girl in the Panda Hat


Wearing a Back Brace For Deep Pressure?

 In a previous post, I mentioned that deep pressure (something like a hug) can help reduce generalized anxiety associated with autistic conditions. There are even special inflatable vests and weighted blankets designed to deliver deep pressure for autistic users. In my own case, I recently experienced some backache and decided to buy a lower-back brace to ease the strain. I ended up with the 3M Futuro Stabilizing Back Support, which can be worn under clothing. It seems to deliver some deep pressure as well, an added bonus. I feel calmer when I’m wearing it, though some of that might be due to my back not acting up. Anyway, if you’re looking for an unobtrusive way to get some deep pressure, you might consider a good back brace.

Google SketchUp and Autism

Many autistic individuals are visual learners, who think and express themselves better in pictures than words (with the notable exception of people with NLD, for whom the opposite is usually true). Google has developed Project Spectrum as a way to give people with autism the opportunity to express their creativity and develop useful (potentially marketable) skills using Google SketchUp 3D modeling software. Drawing can be difficult for some autistics, who may find SketchUp a viable alternative to realise their potential as artists and designers. Learn more at

Getting a Diagnosis of Asperger’s: A First-Hand Account

This is a video by a young person of her rather long and winding road to getting diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (unfortunately, this kind of hit-and-miss, two-steps-forward-one-step-back experience is all too common). She was 14 when the process started, and 17 when she got the diagnosis. The key take-home points are don’t get discouraged, be persistent, do your homework and see the right experts.

Good News: Only 5% of Global Electricity Production From Oil. Now the Bad News…

A little off-topic, but I have a side-interest in Peak Oil. For the Peak Oil worriers out there, there is a glimmer of good news. Only about 5% of world electricity production comes from oil. Since there’s still a fair bit of coal and gas in the ground (which accounts for 60% of electricity), hopefully the lights won’t go out any time soon. Now the bad news. A lot more power stations will have to be built, because we’re likely to be using electricity in cars and trains when peak oil hits the pump. For economic reasons, most of those power stations are going to be coal-fired. Which contributes to global warming.

“This is definitely not in line with a safe climate scenario – it would put us on a really dangerous trajectory,” said the WRI’s Ailun Yang, who compiled the report, considered to be the most comprehensive in the public domain. But she said new emissions limits proposed in the US and a voluntary cap on coal use in China could begin to turn the tide. “These policies would give really strong signals about the risks to the future financial performance of coal of climate policies.” [from The Guardian]

Obviously, global warming isn’t a generally good thing. But there is another glimmer of hope. If temperatures don’t rise too much, climate change is likely to have a relatively small quantitative impact on global food production (but will have a massive regional impact, as food production declines in the South and rises in the North).

The latest IPCC report predicted improving conditions for food production in the mid to high latitudes over the next few decades, including in the northern USA, Canada, northern Europe and Russia. Conversely, parts of the subtropics, such as the Mediterranean region and parts of Australia, and the low latitudes, could experience declining conditions. For example, across Africa, yields from rain-fed agriculture could decline by as much as 50% by 2020. Beyond this, if global temperatures rise by more than about 1–3°C, declining conditions could be experienced over a much larger area. [From The Guardian, my italics]

It’s that’s last line of the quote that’s bothersome, “if global temperatures rise by more than 1-3%…”. Firing up more coal-powered stations is not going to help with avoiding that outcome.

Mr/Ms Asperger: What’s Your Profession?

If you have Asperger’s and are wondering what to do for a living, why not check out this forum thread from From delivery drivers, to graphic designers, to lab technicians. Lots of useful insights on the pros and cons of different lines of work, from an Aspie perspective.

The part of my job when I need to try to think in the way as other people think – potential customers and clients – is the part I really dislike very much on my job, it makes me anxious and it is responsible for impairments of my symptoms. I like only technical and esthetical part of my job. If I could choose I would definitely change my job. I would like to do something more healthy, somewhere on the fresh air and under the daylight, I hate so much artificial lights or completely dark rooms. [quote from forum member]

LEGO® Therapy for Children with Autism

International LEGO® Therapy Advocacy for Autistic Kids (ASD Aid) is an organisation founded in Australia by adult LEGO® enthusiasts, to support and promote the therapeutic use of LEGO® play for autistic children. Currently, the group organises LEGO® play groups in Victoria, Australia. Some clinical studies have found LEGO® play effective in improving social communication in children with high-functioning autism and Asperger Syndrome. Further research would be welcome to solidify the findings, and identify the play strategies that are most helpful. In any case, who needs an excuse to play with LEGO®?

Mobile Autism Clinic Designed by Students

The A.J. Drexel Autism Institute at Drexel University now has a mobile autism clinic, designed inside-out by students from the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. The vehicle will support diagnosis and intervention efforts in under-served communities in the Philadelphia (USA) region. Read more about it here at the Drexel University site.

With the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute’s particular focus on public health, we wanted to be able to bring the best ideas from research to diverse communities – rolling out these vehicles will help promote engagement with diverse communities. [Dr. Craig Newschaffer, director of the Institute and a professor in Drexel’sSchool of Public Health]

Chair Designed for Autistic Users

Rocking is one of the therapeutic calming activities recommended for those with autism. This bowl-shaped chair, designed at the Victoria University of Wellington, also provides some insulation from sensory overload which autistics are prone to. The chair is designed to be flat-packed for self-assembly, and is currently at the concept stage. Find out more on the designers’ website.