Research, news & all things autism

DR PENNY TOK

Autism from a different angle

A father photographs the world of his autistic son

This is the title to the article on the photos taken by Timothy Archibald of his son Elijah. The project, Echolilia, documents some of the behaviours that Elijah engages in. Truly amazing photos. You can see a selection of the photos on this webpage

This project was done in 2010 and is available in a big, coloured photo book which are signed by both father and son. Check out this website for more details: http://timothyarchibald.blogspot.sg/2010/05/echolilia-book.html

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Who knew Heathrow had a heart?

_69694554_travelling2(photo copied from the BBC website where this story was reported. See link for the full story)

This is such a great story to wake up to. No Heathrow airport did not have to do any of what they had done to assist Aaran Stewart. Yet they went out of their way, time and again just to assist a passenger. I agree with some of the critics out there that no one can go to such lengths to assist everyone with a disability but it is heartwarming to know that Heathrow for one- is trying.

Read the full story here. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-23989422

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This sounds good!

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Asian Women Welfare Association (AWWA) which runs a school for special needs  is collaborating with Nanyang Technological University (NTU- SIngapore) to set up a 3D environment which aims to simulate real-life situations such as social situations and communication.

Called the Virtual Dophinarium, the 3D room allows the students to be “acting as the dolphins’ trainer while picking up communication and leadership skills, and improve their awareness.”

This idea sounds like a great way to use technology to teach those with special needs.

Read the full article here.

http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/special-needs-school-start-3d-programme

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My new website is up!

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My new website is finally up! Do check it out for more information.  http://www.drpennytok.com

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Employment of those with special needs

Very often we wonder about what our kids can do once they reach adulthood. Although they may not be able to make as much money as their typically developing peers, it does NOT mean that they are unable to contribute meaningfully to society.

Contribution to society has many benefits:

1. Increases self-esteem of those with special needs. These people are hardworking and talented all they need is a chance. They do not seek to live of government and social support they can and more importantly WANT to take care of themselves and their loved ones.

2. Awareness- there is no shame in being disabled. The more included they are in society, the more the general public learns about diversity and tolerance.

3. Change stereotype- the idea that people with disabilities cannot add to society needs to be changed. They often teach us patience, understanding, empathy and they often demonstrate courage that the rest of us can only hope to have.

While there are limited options for those with special needs, it is heartening to know that there are initiatives that are taking shape to increase these services. Here is a link about the initiative by the Ministry of Education.  Also read here for more general information plus funding options for employers. SG Enable.

There seems to be a lack of initiatives to assist those with moderate to mild disabilities  and for those with physical disabilities as the current services seem to target more blue-collar, industrial type jobs . With organisations like Pathlight (see HERE: Employability and Employment Centre) who have already spearheaded a number of work opportunities for those with autism, hopefully there will be more opportunities soon to fill the gap!

Here are some other links to places for work opportunities for those with disabilities.

BIZLINK: http://www.bizlink.org.sg/

GROW @ Cerebral Palsy Alliance http://www.spastic.org.sg/services/shelteredWorkshop.html

Society for Physically Disabled: http://www.spd.org.sg/programmes/shelter.html

bizlink-logoSocial enterprises:

National Council of Social Services: 

This NCSS site has a list of all the social enterprises listed in Singapore including information about who they are and what they do.

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Talk at AWWA on Inner Speech Use and Autism 19 July 2013

Thank you AWWA for the wonderful opportunity for me to present at your Resource Centre. I shared the findings of my three studies on inner speech and autism to a crowd of about 40 people consisting on Allied Educators, special education teachers, psychologists and parents. Thank you all for coming!

AWWA 19 July 2013

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A Very Special Walk (Singapore)

Ths now annual event hosted by Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) is happening on the 13 July (Saturday). Thus year, the nett proceeds will go to Employability & Employment Centre (Click here for link)

This is what the Centre offers: (taken from their website)

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Our Clients with autism go through a 5-Step Process :

  1. Pre-Assessment – determine suitability for the program.
    If suitable, clients will undergo the relevant training and job coaching.
  2. Assessment – assess learning strengths and support needs
  3. Training – skills training in identified areas with prescribed strategies
  4. Job Placement – match and place in suitable worksites
  5. Job Support – work with employers to support the employee at the job site

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Sounds like a good cause! Why not go down to Pathlight School (Ang Mo Kio) to find out more about the wonderful school and their services. Image

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Book review- A friend like Henry

a friend like henryA Friend Like Henry: The Remarkable True Story of an Autistic Boy and the Dog That Unlocked His World by Nuala Gardner (262 pages)

This book was another great find at the local library. I was browsing for books on autism and chanced upon this. Without giving too much away, the story is about the struggles faced by the Gardner family in Scotland. Their only child, Dale, was  diagnosed with autism and being largely non-verbal Dale had a lot of challenging behaviours which his family struggled with. Then Henry, a golden retriever puppy entered their lives and with the support of Henry together with sheer determination, faith and lots of hard work put in by his, Dale began to open up. The book also talks about their sturggles with Dale’s education and public acceptance of his disorder. The last section of the book also has comments by Dale about why he did some of the things he did and how he felt about various things- very insightful.

As a scientist-practitioner, I am always slightly cautious whenever I read such books as I am afraid that families would start running out to get pets hoping that for them to be a miracle cure. This down-to-earth sharing by Nuala Gardner frankly that while being Henry was an angel, a lot of the improvements made by Dale was by the work and support of his family, their friends and his school. She honest and heartfelt sharing of their family’s emotional, psychological, financial and physical struggle will often tug at your heart-strings and help you appreciate how much caregivers of children with special needs go through and yet never complain.

Wath the youtube clip about this true story HERE

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Research on autism- Karen Brown (Central Queensland University)

Hi all!

I just received a request for participants by Karen Brown from Central Queensland University Australia). She is a mother of two children with ASD and is completing her Bachelor of Psychology degree. As part of her degree, she is collecting data on particular areas parents of children with ASD find most difficult.

Her study only requires about 10 minutes of your time and all responses are anonymous. Do take the time out to complete this study which will provide some very useful information. You can complete the survey CLICK HERE. You can also view her request HERE. You can also contact her at karen.brown@cqumail.com if you need more information about the study. THANKS IN ADVANCE EVERYONE!!

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“Forget what you know”

http://tedxteen.com/talks/tedxteen-2012/111-jacob-barnett-forget-what-you-know

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Check out this video! Very cool talk by Jacob Barnett who offers his own insight about how we views some very complex stuff! He also talks about how what people could ‘see’ was very different from what was happening inside him.

Jacob Barnett is an American mathematician and child prodigy. At 8 years old, Jacob began sneaking into the back of college lectures at IUPUI. After being diagnosed with autism since the age of two and placed in his school’s special ed. program, Jacob’s teachers and doctors were astonished to learn he was able to teach calculus to college students…

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