Saturday, December 30, 2006

strange morning

It has been a strange morning. I got up to read that Saddam Hussein was hanged. I don't know where you stand on this capital punishment issue, but the whole thing seemed kind of rushed to me. I guess holding trails on other cases that would also condemn the man would take time and money...and you can kill a man only once, but it still seems the other accusers should have also had a chance to publicly condemn him! Anyway, I walked to the breakfast table with these heavy thoughts. Jessica just wanted to go for a ride in the car. She brought me her elephant slippers. I should have taken her picture. Juergen said he would not drive her anywhere unless she wrote where she wanted to go. He got her keyboard. She pushed it away. I asked her to write for me. We sat down on the stairs, and she typed out IKEA. She wanted an new IKEA catalog to tear. She is home on Christmas vacation, and so board. She only wants to sit in her bedroom and tear paper. The IKEA catalog makes fine tearing! So Juergen put a coat on our funny looking elephant footed Jessica, and drove to IKEA for more tearing material. I was left to clean up the breakfast table, and think about the serious world affairs. What an odd day!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

It is very dark here in Germany. Jessica is getting more and more aggressive at school! She isn't sleeping well. She has really bad skin. I believe all of this is due to a lack of sunshine. I pulled the full spectrum lamp out of storage. I am going to begin some light therapy. I will let you know if it helps. It was striking how well Jessica looked,felt, and acted in Thailand. I really do wish we lived someplace that was warm all year around,and that had a swimming pool.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Little Girl Who Dared To Wish

As Amy Hagadorn rounded the corner across the hall from her classroom, she collided with a tall boy from the fifth grade running in the opposite direction.

"Watch it , squirt." The boy yelled as he dodged around the little third-grader. Then, with a smirk on his face, the boy took hold of his right leg and mimicked the way Amy limped when she walked.

Amy closed her eyes. Ignore him, she told herself as she headed for her classroom.

But at the end of the day, Amy was still thinking about the tall boy's mean teasing. It wasn't as if her were the only one. It seemed that ever since Amy started the third grade, someone teased her every single day. Kids teased her about her speech or her limping. Amy was tired of it. Sometimes, even in a classroom full of other students, the teasing made her feel all alone.

Back home at the dinner table that evening, Amy was quiet. Her mother knew that things were not going well at school. That's why Patti Hagadorn was happy to have some exciting news to share with her daughter.

"There's a Christmas wish contest on the radio station," Amy's mom announced. "Write a letter to Santa, and you might win a prize. I think someone at this table with blonde curly hair should enter."

Amy giggled. The contest sounded like fun. She started thinking about what she wanted most for Christmas.

A smile took hold of Amy when the idea first came to her. Out came pencil and paper, and Amy went to work on her letter. "Dear Santa Claus," she began.

While Amy worked away at her best printing, the rest of the family tried to guess what she might ask from Santa. Amy's sister, Jamie, and Amy's mom both thought a three-foot Barbie doll would top Amy's wish list. Amy's dad guessed a picture book. But Amy wasn't ready to reveal her secret Christmas wish just then. Here is Amy's letter to Santa, just as she wrote it that night:

Dear Santa Claus,

My name is Amy. I am nine years old. I have a problem at school. Can you help me Santa? Kids laugh at me because of the way I walk and run and talk. I have cerebral palsy. I just want one day where no one laughs at me or makes fun of me.

Love, Amy

At radio station WJLT in Fort Wayne, Indiana, letter poured in for the Christmas wish contest. The workers had fun reading about all the different presents that boys and girls from across the city wanted for Christmas.

When Amy's letter arrived at the radio station, manager Lee Tobin read it carefully. He knew cerebral palsy was a muscle disorder that might confuse the schoolmates of Amy's who didn't understand her disability. He thought it would be good for the people in Fort Wayne to hear about this special third-grader and her unusual wish. Mr. Tobin called up the local newspaper.

The next day, a picture of Amy and her letter to Santa made the front page of the News Sentinel. The story spread quickly. All across the country, newspapers and radio and television stations reported the story of the little girl in Fort Wayne, Indiana, who asked for such a simple yet remarkable Christmas gift -- just one day without teasing.

Suddenly the postman was a regular at the Hagadorn house. Envelopes of all sizes addressed to Amy arrived daily from children and adults all across the nation. They came filled with holiday greetings and words of encouragement.

During that unforgettable Christmas season, over two thousand people from all over the world sent Amy letters of friendship and support. Amy and her family read every single one. Some of the writers had disabilities; some had been teased as children. Each writer had a special message for Amy. Through the cards and letters from strangers, Amy glimpsed a world full of people who truly cared about each other. She realized that no amount or form of teasing could ever make her feel lonely again.

Many people thanked Amy for being brave enough to speak up. Others encouraged her to ignore teasing and to carry her head high. Lynn, a sixth-grader from Texas, sent this message:

"I would like to be your friend," she wrote, "and if you want to visit me, we could have fun. No one would make fun of us, 'cause if they do, we will not even hear them."

Amy did get her wish of a special day without teasing at South Wayne Elementary School. Additionally, everyone at school got another bonus. Teachers and students talked together about how bad teasing can make others feel.

That year the Fort Wayne mayor officially proclaimed December 21 as Amy Jo Hagadorn Day throughout the city. The mayor explained that by daring to make such a simple wish, Amy taught a universal lesson.

"Everyone," said the mayor, "wants and deserves to be treated with respect, dignity and warmth."

By Alan D. Shultz,
from Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul

Friday, November 17, 2006

If I could reach up and hold a star for every time
you've made me smile, the entire evening sky
would be in the palm of my hand.
Author Unknown

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Can World's Strongest Dad

A good friend of mine sent me this story and video link. It isn't about autism, but about the love and special relationship between a father and his disabled son! Both father and son are inspiring. It had me crying! And the video is below....

From Sports Illustrated, By Rick Reilly]

I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to pay For their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots.

But compared with Dick Hoyt, I suck.

Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in Marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a Wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and Pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars--all in the same day.

Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back Mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. On a bike. Makes Taking your son bowling look a little lame, right?

And what has Rick done for his father? Not much--except save his life.
This love story began in Winchester , Mass. , 43 years ago, when Rick Was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him Brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs.

"He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life;'' Dick says doctors told him And his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. ``Put him in an Institution.''

But the Hoyts weren't buying it. They noticed the way Rick's eyes Followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the Engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was Anything to help the boy communicate. ``No way,'' Dick says he was told. ``There's nothing going on in his brain.''

"Tell him a joke,'' Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a Lot was going on in his brain. Rigged up with a computer that allowed Him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his Head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? ``Go Bruins!'' And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the School organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, ``Dad, I want To do that.''

Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described ``porker'' who never ran More than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he Tried. ``Then it was me who was handicapped,'' Dick says. ``I was sore For two weeks.''

That day changed Rick's life. ``Dad,'' he typed, ``when we were running, It felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!''

And that sentence changed Dick's life. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly Shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon.

``No way,'' Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyts weren't quite a Single runner, and they weren't quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few Years Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway, then They found a way to get into the race Officially: In 1983 they ran another marathon so fast they made the Qualifying time for Boston the following year.

Then somebody said, ``Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?''

How's a guy who never learned to swim and hadn't ridden a bike since he Was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a triathlon? Still, Dick Tried.

Now they've done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii . It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud Getting passed by an old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don't you Think?

Hey, Dick, why not see how you'd do on your own? ``No way,'' he says. Dick does it purely for ``the awesome feeling'' he gets seeing Rick with A cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ride together.

This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best Time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992--only 35 minutes off the world Record, which, in case you don't keep track of these things, happens to Be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the Time.

``No question about it,'' Rick types. ``My dad is the Father of the Century.''

And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two years ago he had a Mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries Was 95% clogged. ``If you hadn't been in such great shape,'' One doctor told him, ``you probably would've died 15 years ago.'' So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other's life.

Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass. , always find ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father's Day.

That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy.

``The thing I'd most like,'' Rick types, ``is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once.''

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A gift of love!

Jessica, made this cute bear in school. She wrote that she wants to give it to her new little sister Sarah (we are adopting a 3 year old girl from china). She is hoping that Sarah can come soon, and that the gift will help Sarah like her.She wants Sarah to like her. She also wrote that she hopes that Sarah feels good in her new family!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Poem from Jessica for Mother's Day 2005

All that I like about you: comfort giver, patience, joy-maker, good words, understanding,
contentment with self and us, gifted for friend-love, crazy about flowers, garden fanatic,
colorfull women's meetings, sleeping too long, understanding of sad hearts, deep friendship
for special people, too good for thankless brothers, valueable knowledge of autism, faith in God
and thoughts of peace.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Invitation to the Play "The Very Strong Willibald"

May 2001

Dear perents,

today the class 3K is performing the unnerving good play "The very strong Willibald". Briskly the students diligently practiced the play. Tragic play digs up calamitous thoughts. First the garden door opens. Lillimaus is brutally accused by the terrible Josef. Resistent against troubles she finds useful friends. She then is banished into the library. Stupid chief is agitating everyone. All follow him except Georg and Frederike. Based on the Third Reich patterns follows propaganda. Lillimaus saves the pack while Willibald traumatically loses his tail. Questionable is (thank God) the value of useful respect by a descructive society.

Einladung zur Vorführung von "Der überaus starke Willibald"

May 2001

Liebe perents,

heute führt die Klasse 3k das nervige gute Stück vor: Der überaus starke Willibald.

Hurtig gaben sich die Schüler Mühe braf zu üben. Tragisches Stück gräbt unheilvolles Gedankengut aus. Zuerst geht die Gartentür auf. Brutal wird Lillimaus beschuldigt von graesslichem Josef. Resistent gegen Anfechtungen findet sie brauchbare Freunde. Sie wird in die Bücherei verbannt. Daemlicher Anführer hetzt alle auf. Alle folgen ihm ausser Georg und Frederike. Basierend zum Dritten Reich erfolgt Propaganda. Lillimaus rettet das Rudel während Willibald traumatisch seinen Schwanz verliert. Fragwürdig ist Gott sei Dank der Zustand der brauchbaren Achtungserweisung einer destruktiven Gesellschaft.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Poor King

An invented fairy tale: The Poor King
By Jessica Heymann

Jan 2002

In a far away empire there was once a reputable king. Telling stories was his passion. He also felt joy when he had women with beards around him. But he was full of hate towards the rich weavers. They were stealing the kings garments out of the king's storage. This was hard for the king to bear. He called all his subjects to come before him and started to speak. The people were truly afraid. He waited if the thieves would come forward but nothing happened. Then a magic hand suddendly appeared on the bridge. All were watching the display with awe and waited what would happen. Suddendly the hand disappeared again again and all the weavers stood there— surprised and without clothes. This was the absolute pick-pocket proof. Quickly the king's guards arrested the thieves and the king was again warm-hearted towards his subjects. Tenderly he thought again about his bearded women and faithful subjects.

Ein ausgedachtes Märchen: Der arme König

Jan 2002
Es lebte einmal in einem fernen Reich ein achtbarer König. Fabulieren war seine Leidenschaft. Freude empfand er auch, wenn er bärtige Frauen um sich hatte. Hasserfüllt aber war er zu den reichen Webern. Diese stahlen aus den Königswarenlagern viele Gewänder. Das ertrug der König schwer. Er rief alle Untertanen zu sich und erhob seine Stimme. Das Volk erschrak wahrhaftig. Er wartete als ob sich die Diebe stellen würden. Aber es geschah nichts. Eine Zauberhand erschien plötzlich auf der tragenden Brücke. Alle bestaunten die Erscheinung und warteten was passieren würde. Plötzlich verschwand die Hand und alle Weber stand erschrocken entblösst in Schande. Das war der absolute Taschendiebbeweis. Schnell fassten die Bewacher das Diebesgesindel und der König war wieder warmherzig zu seinen Untertanen. Zärtlich dachte er an seine bärtigen Frauen und das treue Volk.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Scary Story

Gruselgeschichte(first in German-then in English)

Als die Welt noch berühmt war für fantastische Begebenheiten trug sich diese Geschichte zu. Eines Tages gingen zwei Brüder frisch und fröhlich durch den bunten Forst. Eine kühle Brise streifte ihre Gesichter. Erstaunt blickten sie um sich. Lautlos zog ein schwarter Nebel vorbei. Dunkle Gestalten lösten sich zaubervoll heraus. Die beiden zitterten wie Espenlaub und fragten die Gestalten was werden soll. "Heute ist Frauenmülltag – alle bösen Frauen treffen sich und werden lebendig für eine Nacht." Leise flüsterten die Brüder und wollten fliehen. Eine unerklärbare Kraft hielt sie fest. Ahnungsvoll erkannten sie dass Särge im Wald lagen. Nun erkannten sie dass es Spukgestalten sind. Der einzige Ausweg bestand darin unbeweglich stehen zu bleiben bis die berüchtigte Feier zu Ende ging. Grossartiger Tanz begann. Laternenschein begleitete das Debakel. Ängstlich wollten die Brüder mittanzen aber sie waren zu müde. Blass stiegen sie in einen Sarg und schliefen ein. Als es dem Ende zuging legten sich die Frauen nieder. Zwei fanden ihren Sarg besetzt und ergriffen die Flucht. Seitdem irren sie durch die Welt und zaubern faulen brachliegenden Menschen Ideen in die Köpfe.

A Scary Story

When the world was still know for amazing events this story took place. One day two brothers went through the colorfull forest fresh and cheerfully. A cool breeze touched their faces. Surprised they looked around. Silently a black fog moved by them. Dark shapes magically appeared out of the fog. The two brothers were shaking aspen leaves und asked the figures what this would mean. "Today is women's garbage day. All evil women meet here and become alive for one night." Quietly the brothers whispered and wanted to flee. But an invisible power held them back. Forebodingly they realized that there were coffins laying in the forest. Now they realized that these were ghosts. The only solution was to stand still and wait until this dreaded party came to an end. A great dance began. Shining lanterns accompanied the debacle. Full of fear the brothers wanted to dance too but they were too tired. Pale they stepped into a coffin and fell asleep. When it all was over the women layed down again. Two found their coffins occupied and fled. Since then they wander aimlessly through the world and put strange ideas into lazy and idle minds.

Winter Poem

Wintergedicht(first in German then in English)

Nov 2001

Winterfreude erwacht

Schneeberge verdecken Wald und Flur

Lachende Kinder toben auf dem zugefrorenen See

Schlittenfahrt baut Zukunftsfreude auf.

Gottes Hand schützt weisses Land.

Verloren ist was ruhig treibt

Frau Grimm erscheint im Winterkleid.

Die Kinder holen Mützen raus – Frau Holle schüttelt Betten aus.

Der verbrauchte Hustensaft wird neu gekauft – und Ärzte haben grossen Zulauf.

Der Wintergarten leuchtet hell und alle Herzen schlagen freudig schnell.

Winter Poem

Nov 2001

The joy of Winter awakens

mountains of snow blanket forest and fields

laughing children play on the frozen lake

Riding a sleigh builds joy about the future

Gods hand protects the white land

Lost is what is quietly floating

Frau Grimm(*) comes in winter clothing.

Children take out their hats — Frau Holle is shaking the beds

Used up cough syrip is bought anew — doctors have a lot of patients

The winter garden is shining bright and all hearts are beating happy and fast.

(*) "Frau Grimm" is Jessica's personal teacher that also helps her to write.

Spring Awakening

Frühlingserwachen(first in German then in English)

Frühling rüstet sich zur Wiedergeburt

findet seine Gefährten

Himmel lacht vor Wonne

Weinen ist genommen.

Grüne Wiesen, Bäche fliessen

reichlich Leben füllt die Luft.

Mag am Tag Musik erklingen

und die Nacht die Ruhe bringen.

Grüne Wiesen, Triebe spriessen,

laues Lüftchen weht

Winterzeit vergeht.

Herzen freuen sich zu leben

gutes kann jeder geben.

Spring Awakening

Spring prepares for resurrection

finds it's companions

Heavens laugh with delight

Crying has been removed.

Meadows are green, brooksare flowing,

life aplenty fills the air.

May music be heard at day

and let the night bring calm.

Meadows are green, sprouts come out

a gentle breeze

makes Winter time wear away.

Hearts are happy to be alive

and good things everyone can give.

some of Jessicas writing

Hi, we are getting rid of our old family homepage.I'm posting some of Jessica's writing here. Juergen (Jessica's dad) promises to start translating more soon (Jessica writes in German). Anyway, here is some of her stuff...

Some of Jessica's writings in the 'original German':

Herbstgedicht(first in German then in English)

Der Herbst gräbt Sommerzeit ab

die Blätter werden matt.

Viele Drachen steigen aufr>
Kinder ärgern sich über Regenlauf.
Riesiger gefährlicher Geisterspuk an Halloween

schreckt die Kinder ohnehin.

Verzagt erfasst der Sturm das Haus

keiner will nun mehr hinaus.

Verwegen trotzt der Wald dem Wind

Frau Holle macht das Bett geschwind.

A Fall Poem

The Fall is eating away at Summer time

Leaves' colors are fading

Kites are rising all around

Children resent the rain

Great scary ghostly spook at Halloween

frightens children anyway

Halfhearted a storm is touching the house

no one wants to go outside

boldly the forest resists the wind

Frau Holle makes the bed(*) in a hurry

(*) Grim fairy tale where 'Frau Holle' making the bed causes snow on the earth.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

compelling evidence that people with autism have dysfunctional mirror neuron systems.

Scientific America has an interesting Theory about at least some of the causes of Autism. They say people with autism have a dysfunctional mirror neuron system.The article is 6 pages long, but interesting reading. There are some really great brain scientist doing good research on autism. I hope they will begin to make some very good progress, for Jessica's sake, and for all the others who need help!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Grandpa's drawing of Jessica!

Hi, my dad drew this picture of Jessica riding on a TukTuk taxi in Thailand. I think He did a great job!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Nobel Prize

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) -- American Roger D. Kornberg, whose father won a Nobel Prize a half-century ago, was awarded the prize in chemistry Wednesday for his studies of how cells take information from genes to produce proteins.

Disturbances in that process, known as transcription, are involved in many human illnesses, including cancer, heart disease and various kinds of inflammation. Understanding transcription also is vital to the development of treatments using stem cells. The whole story is Here

I've been learning that people with autism also have this issue of inflammation. Perhaps this research will have an impact on autism, and its treatment? I'll be looking into this...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Video on the face of autism

Is the bucket half empty or half full?

Tonight around 11pm we hear a crash of water coming from Jessica’s bedroom. I'm downstairs getting Jessica her Melatonin, and Juergen is upstairs in our bedroom. We both rush to see what happen. Jessica has fled the scene of the crime. She is in her sister’s room hiding under the covers. In her bedroom we find a bucket of soapy water I had left in the bathroom. It was spilled all over the floor. Thank God it missed the computer power cord. There was also a big jar of olive oil cream spilled on the floor and the couch. We think Jessica tried to put cream on herself. She spilled the cream, and then had the idea to clean up her mess! She left a bigger mess...but the fact she actually tried to clean up really makes us happy! She is slowly getting better.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Jessica is feeling better

Jessica was very sick all last week with the flu. She gave me a mountain of laundry (from throwing up all over the house), and of course the flu! She is feeling very chipper, and I'm feeling just awful. But moms don't get the privilege of just sleeping! I hope all my kids feel well enough to go to school tomorrow, and then maybe I can recover.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

I ran out of gas today

I ran out of gas today. I was alone with my autistic daughter Jessica. She likes to shop at Wal-Mart, so about once a week I drive to Wal-Mart (about 20miles from my house). About half way there I realized the car was on empty. I was driving my husband’s company car. I thought, "There is a gas station next to Wal-Mart, I'll get gas there". Well, the tank was emptier then I thought. We stopped at a busy light only 500 yards away from Wal-Mart, but the car would not start. I had to put my emergency lights on. I felt like kicking myself! I'm driving a company car, I get free gas, but I'm out of gas! There has to be a spiritual lesson there for someone! Anyway, God provided me with an angle. A man named George and his wife (I didn't get her name) pull up next to me and ask to help. He helped me push the car to the side of the road, and even went to get me my gas while I waited with Jessica in the car. A good on line friend of mine has had trouble being hurt by someone she thought was her friend. She wrote me saying "can you trust anyone anymore"? It seems descent people are getting fewer and far between. I am so grateful God provided me with the help Jessica and I needed today. They went out of their way to help me (an unorganized stranger who made the mistake of not looking at her gas light). With their help I was back on the road...some times a little help is all some of us need

Friday, September 29, 2006


Hi, I posted on a yahoo web site that you could watch the Dan Conferences on web cast for free. I got an interesting and unexpected reply from a mom who is treating her daughters Lyme disease. She says there is research (out of Germany of all places) linking the bacteria of Lyme disease with autism. Treat the Lyme disease and you treat the autism! Anyway, it's worth looking into. It would not be hard to get Jessica tested for Lyme least I think it would not be hard. Here is a link to just one article on the subject.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

DAN web conference

Subscribers may access the videos at any time. The 20+ hours of videos can be viewed in your own home, at your own convenience, and at your own pace.

You may subscribe to the web conference
at not cost.
HERE is that link.

I found the talk on low dose nalterexone very interesting. I live in Germany, so I'm a little behind. You may already use LDN on your autistic child? I'm going to try to get my doctor to try Jessica on this mediation to help her immune system. Here is an article on this subject.

Your Child Has Autism……What Next?

Here is a good resource or list of resources’ that might help.
Billionaire spends millions mapping mouse brains

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- So you're a billionaire and you've bought a couple of sports teams, launched an amateur space project and spent $800 million on good causes -- what do you do with the change?

Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen decided to make a genetic atlas of the mouse brain.

The atlas, begun in 2002 with $100 million from Allen's fortune, was declared finished on Tuesday, with fine-tuned information on 3,000 active genes -- although scientists have been using it regularly for more than a year.

Allen said working with computers all his life made him appreciate the complexities of the brain. "You realize that computers take a very simplistic approach to computing things," Allen told Reuters in an interview.

"Ever since I grew up in Seattle as a kid, I was fascinated by science," he added. So he found a group of scientists and asked them what he should do with some of his money.

The result -- the first project of the Allen Institute for Brain Science -- a 3-D reference atlas of the genes that are active in the mouse brain.

Allen, who left Microsoft in 1983 and has an estimated fortune of $16 billion, makes the map freely available online at

"Since mice and humans share more than 90 percent of genes, the Allen Brain Atlas has enormous potential for understanding human neurological diseases and disorders affecting more than 50 million Americans each year," the institute said in a statement.

These include Alzheimer's disease, which affects 4.5 million Americans, autism, which may occur in one in every 175 births, epilepsy, which affects 2.7 million Americans, schizophrenia and Parkinson's disease.

In four years, scientists working for the Atlas project have mapped more than 21,000 genes. They then checked each gene to see which ones are turned on -- expressed -- in brain tissue.

Each cell in an organism's body carries all the genes, but not all of them are expressed, or active. Gene expression is what determines each cell's type and function.

To their surprise, Allen's team found that more than 80 percent of the genes in the brain are active. They had believed that perhaps 60 or 70 percent were expressed.

The atlas was produced using in situ hybridization, a technique that uses a chemical marker such as a jellyfish fluorescence gene to show whether a gene is active.

Tissue containing cells expressing each active gene was stained, photographed and the pictures uploaded to the Web site.

That makes it easy to browse.

"It's a bit like peeling the onion," said Allan Jones, the institute's chief scientific officer.

The institute said an average of 250 scientists looked at the site a day, with more than 4 million hits monthly.

While examining the mouse brain is critical for basic scientific research, Allen also wants to look at the unique parts of the human brain.

"The next set of research we are going to do is focus on the neocortex -- the area where most higher function occurs," Allen said.

Allen, who owns the Seattle Seahawks football team and the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team and funds a charitable foundation and the SpaceShipOne space project, is asking for other foundations and the U.S. government to help support the institute project.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Jessica is sick today

Poor Jessica hasn't been able to keep any food down all day. Her sister, Nicole is also sick. It seems Nicole never gets as sick as Jess does. I remember when they both got the chicken pox’s. Nicole felt ill for a half a day. She got maybe two pox’s. Jess was sick for weeks, and was covered from head to toe with pox’s. The worst part was that she had many pox’s in her diaper area. Every time she would pee her diaper it would sting! She would fall asleep, and then wake up screaming because her poor bottom hurt so badly! Finally we had to take her to the hospital emergency room. On the way to the hospital I remember Juergen and I's conversation. We were basically mad at God. Why did Jessica, who already got everything else badly, also have to get this normal childhood disease badly? Why couldn't Nicole get the chickenpox’s badly, and let poor Jessica alone for once? We just didn't didn't understand why one child could be so blessed and her sister seem so cursed. Not that we wish curses on Nicole...but you know what I mean? Anyway, after Jessica recovered from chicken poxs we saw a pretty good developmental surge in her. I read later that sometimes a strong case of chicken pox’s can cause an increase in brain development. So I am trying to believe that maybe I just don't know everything! I realized that God does things much better then I would!

Monday, September 25, 2006

My beautiful daughter!

Jessica just turned 15 years old. We were in Thailand on her birthday. She played on my computer, we went swimming (maybe 4 times), went shopping, and went out to dinner at the Sizzler. It was a full and good day! I took some great pictures of her on that day. She has the most amazing eyes. If the eyes are the window to the soul, then this soul is deep! I love my Jessica! She is a sweet and funny person. I'm grateful for all that I know of her, but autism has hidden most of what is there.

I have another blog I have been spending most of my time writing. I thought I should start posting on this blog. We just took a family vacation in Thailand. Jessica loved it. I'll write about that tomorrow. For now, here are some photos of Jessica in Thailand. She turned 15 years old there!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Here is a good overview on Autism.

The article also mentions a video called Autism Speaks. That link is here!
Autism Speaks will show you what it is really like to have a child with Autism. I saw myself in this video. Somehow God has given my hope and peace. I don't feel so overwhelmed anymore. Believe me, I did feel like the Moms in the video.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Do you know what Autism is?

Autism is a neurological disorder that impairs Communication, behavior, and social skills. It is the nation’s fastest growing serious developmental disorder with new cases diagnosed almost every 20 minutes.

Do you know the early signs of Autism?

. No big smiles or joyful expressions by age 6 months.

. No babbling by 12 months.

. No back and forth gestures such as pointing or waving by 12 months.

. No words by 16 months.

. Any loss of speech or babbling at any age.

These are just a few of the possible early signs. If you have any concerns speak to your doctor about screening your child. Please do not wait!!!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Today she said Woody!!!

Hi, today Jess was at her weekly acupuncture appointment. As you know, She has been receiving acupuncture since May. It is an amazing thing that she will sit in a chair for one hour, and let the Dr. Stick her with 20+ needles. She watches Disney movies on a portable DVD player. I have been training her to wear earphones when she uses her DVD player. She hates stuff on her head, but will wear the earphones now. Anyway, she was watching Toy Story. She first was saying “pig, pig!!” This is not a new word for her. Then she started to say “Woody”! Now this is new!!! She is 14 years old, and may never be “normal”, (call me crazy but I am still hoping for a miracle). I am thanking God for every step forward! Today she said “Woody”!!!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

egg salad

Jessica has always liked to have lotion rubbed on her skin. Maybe it's the smell she likes? I think it's the texture! When she was younger she would take her diaper off and smear her poop all over herself (and the walls and the sheets). She graduated to toothpaste. We had to lock up the toothpaste or we would find her covered from head to toe with the stuff. All I could say is, tooth paste is much nicer to clean then poop! This morning Jessica found something new to add to her spa treatment. I had bought some very good egg salad with turkey for my husband Juergen. He coveted the egg salad. He would only let our son Philip eat a very small amount at breakfast this morning! Jessica found the egg salad, and I found Jessica covered with it! Poor Juergen! What a loss!!! It is interesting to note, there wasn't much egg salad on the floor. It must have been too good to waste!

Friday, July 21, 2006

The weather is hot in Germany. I can not stand to cook. We took the kids to McDonald s for dinner.
Jessica is no longer on a GFCF diet. We sat outside. She sat well at the table, amazingly well! When she was finished eating, she wanted to leave. Her brothers wanted to stay and play. I decided to take her for a short walk. I told Juergen to pick us up on the way home. McDonalds is about 3 miles from our house. Well, Jess wasn't happy to walk at first. I sort of had to drag her. But eventually she seemed happy and proud to be walking home. When Juergen showed up with the car, she didn't want to get in it. She seemed to like the idea of walking home. I tried to get her on the Street car. I thought she wanted to take the streetcar...but no. She actually wanted to walk. So Jessica and I walked home from McDonalds (nearly 3 miles). We stopped at the gas station for a soda. It was pretty hot out. She gulped that down. I am so happy I got her to walk! I wonder if I can get her to do it more often. She doesn't get enough exercise. She is getting a little fat. A 3 mile walk 3 times per week would do us both good!
Autistic brains 'never daydream'
People with autism do not daydream, a study has found.

The resting period usually gives time for areas of the brain to process emotional and reflective thoughts.

The University of California research, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, compared brain scans of people with autism and those without.

The scientists said the typical social awkwardness seen in autism may be due to this failure of this "daydreaming" brain network.

This study sheds further light on the neurological factors involved in autism
Richard Mills, National Autistic Society

Several regions of the brain are highly active during these periods - including the medial prefrontal cortex, the rostral anterior cingulate and the precuneus.

This activity is suppressed when the brain is doing something which demands understanding, or another intellectual process.

'Abnormal processes'

The researchers used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scans to monitor brain activity in 15 people with autistic spectrum disorders and 15 without.

While in the scanner, each person carried out a counting task on the computer.

There were 12 30-second test periods interspersed with three 21-second rest periods, where participants were simply asked to look at a fixed image of a cross.

It was found that the activity during rest periods seen in people who did not have autism was absent in those with the condition.

Writing in PNAS, the researchers led by Dr Duncan Kennedy, said: "We speculate that the lack of deactivation in the autism group is indicative of abnormal internally directed processes at rest, which may be an important contribution to the social and emotional deficits of autism."

Richard Mills, director of research for the National Autistic Society and Research Autism, said: "The causes of autism are varied, complex and not yet fully understood.

"This study sheds further light on the neurological factors involved in autism and some of the possible implications for differences in the cognitive profile and social behaviour.

"Such findings will add to our understanding of this spectrum of conditions and it is hoped may also be utilised in the development of effective treatments and other approaches."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/05/12 23:10:32 GMT


Thursday, July 13, 2006

by Erma Bombeck

Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures, and a couple by habit. This year, nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of handicapped children are chosen?

Somehow I visualize God hovering over Earth selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As he observes, he instructs his angels to make notes in a giant ledger. 'Armstrong, Beth, son, patron saint Matthew. Forrest, Marjorie, daughter, patron saint Cecelia. Rudledge, Carrie, twins, patron saint...give her Gerard. He's used to profanity.' Finally he passes a name to an angel and smiles, 'Give her a handicapped child.'

The angel is curious, 'Why this one, God? She's so happy.'

'Exactly,' says God. 'Could I give a handicapped child a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel.'

'But has she patience?' asks the angel.

'I don't want her to have too much patience, or she will drown in a sea of self pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wear off, she'll handle it. She has that feeling of self and independence that is so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has his own world. She has to make him live in her world, and that's not going to be easy.'

'But, Lord, I don't think that she even believes in you.'

God smiles, 'No matter. I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness.'

The angel gasps, 'Selfishness? Is that a virtue?'

God nods, 'If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a spoken word. She will never consider a step ordinary. When her child says Momma for the first time, she will be present at a miracle and know it! When she describes a tree or a sunset to her blind child, she will see it as few people ever see my creations.'

'I will permit her to see clearly the things I see...ignorance, cruelty, prejudice...and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life, because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side.'

'And what about her patron saint?' asks the angel, pen poised in midair.

God smiles, 'A mirror will suffice.'


When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a
fabulous vacation to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make
your wonderful plans.
The Coliseum.
The Michelangelo David.
The gondolas in Venice.
You may learn some handy phrases in Italian.
It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives.
You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later,
the plane lands. The stewardess comes on and says,
"Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland??
I am supposed to go to Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy!
All my life I have dreamed of going to Italy!"

But there's been a change in the flight plan.
They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a
horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine and
It's just a different place.

So, you must go out and buy new guidebooks.
And you must learn a whole new language.
And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have

It's just a different place.
It's slower-paced than Italy.
Less flashy than Italy.
But after you've been there a while
and you catch your breath,
you look around....

And you begin to notice that Holland has windmills...
and Holland has tulips.
Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy...
and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there.
And for the rest of your life, you will say,
"Yes, that is where I was supposed to go.
That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...
because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss.

If you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy,
you may never be free to enjoy the very special,
the very lovely things...
about Holland.

Heaven's very special child


A meeting was held quite far from Earth
It was time again for another birth.
Said the Angels to the Lord above --
"This special child will need much love.
"Her progress may be very slow
"Accomplishment she may not show.
"And she'll require extra care
"From the folks she meets down there.
"She may not run or laugh or play
"Her thoughts may seem quite far away
"So many times she will be labeled
"'different,' 'helpless' and disabled.
"So, let's be careful where she's sent.
"We want her life to be content.
"Please, Lord, find the parents who
"Will do a special job for you.
"They will not realize right away
"The leading role they are asked to play.
"But with this child sent from above
"Comes stronger faith, and richer love.
"And soon they'll know the privilege given
"In caring for their gift from heaven.
"Their precious charge, so meek and mild
"Is heaven's very special child."

Friday, May 26, 2006

The lights are on, and someone is home!

Amazing stuff is starting to happen with Jessica.Yesterday she looked me straight in the eyes and said as clear as day "Mama, Mama". Jessica lost her speech when she was 18 months old. She does say a word now and then, but not often. She has not said Mama for at least 5 years. I sat down on the ground and cried! It was such a great gift! Then today she went into the bathroom, took her diaper off (yes she is almost 15 years old and still not toilet trained). She sat on the ground, not the toilet, and peed. Then she waited for me to give her a new diaper. She at least had the right idea for the correct room. Now we just need to get the correct spot in the bathroom right! Amazing! I was super proud of her! The lights are beginning to be switched back on! All I can say is WOW!!!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Inside the Autistic Mind
A wealth of new brain research--and poignant testimony from people who have autism--is lifting the veil on this mysterious condition

May 15, 2006

The road to Hannah's mind opened a few days before her 13th birthday.

Her parents, therapists, nutritionists and teachers had spent years preparing the way. They had moved mountains to improve her sense of balance, her sensory perception and her overall health. They sent in truckloads of occupational and physical therapy and emotional support. But it wasn't until the fall of 2005 that traffic finally began to flow in the other direction. Hannah, whose speech was limited to snatches of songs, echoed dialogue and unintelligible utterances, is profoundly autistic, and doctors thought she was most likely retarded. But on that October day, after she was introduced to the use of a specialized computer keyboard, Hannah proved them wrong. "Is there anything you'd like to say, Hannah?" asked Marilyn Chadwick, director of training at the Facilitated Communication Institute at Syracuse University.

With Chadwick helping to stabilize her right wrist and her mother watching, a girl thought to be incapable of learning to read or write slowly typed, "I love Mom."

A year and a half later, Hannah sits with her tutor at a small computer desk in her suburban home outside New York City. Facilitated communication is controversial (critics complain that it's often the facilitator who is really communicating), but it has clearly turned Hannah's life around. Since her breakthrough, she no longer spends much of her day watching Sesame Street and Blue's Clues. Instead, she is working her way through high school biology, algebra and ancient history. "It became obvious fairly quickly that she already knew a lot besides how to read," says her tutor, Tonette Jacob.

During the silent years, it seems, Hannah was soaking up vast storehouses of information. The girl without language had an extensive vocabulary, a sense of humor and some unusual gifts. One day, when Jacob presented her with a page of 30 or so math problems, Hannah took one look, then typed all 30 answers. Stunned, Jacob asked, "Do you have a photographic memory?" Hannah typed "Yes."

Like many people with autism, Hannah is so acutely sensitive to sound that she'll catch every word of a conversation occurring elsewhere in the house, which may account for much of her knowledge. She is also hypersensitive to visual input. Gazing directly at things is difficult, so she often relies on her almost preternatural peripheral vision. Hannah's newfound ability to communicate has enabled her intellect to flower, but it also has a dark side: she has become painfully aware of her own autism. Of this, she writes, "Reality hurts."

MORE THAN 60 YEARS AFTER AUTISM WAS first described by American psychiatrist Leo Kanner, there are still more questions than answers about this complex disorder. Its causes are still uncertain, as are the reasons for the rapidly rising incidence of autism in the U.S., Japan, England, Denmark and France. But slowly, steadily, many myths about autism are falling away, as scientists get a better picture of what's going on in the bodies and brains of people with autism and as more of those who are profoundly affected, like Hannah, are able to give voice to their experience. Among the surprises:

• Autism is almost certainly, like cancer, many diseases with many distinct causes. It's well known that there's a wide range in the severity of symptoms--from profound disability to milder forms like Asperger syndrome, in which intellectual ability is generally high but social awareness is low. Indeed, doctors now prefer the term Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD). But scientists suspect there are also distinct subtypes, including an early-onset type and a regressive type that can strike as late as age 2.

• Once thought to be mainly a disease of the cerebellum--a region in the back of the brain that integrates sensory and motor activity, autism is increasingly seen as a pervasive problem with the way the brain is wired. The distribution of white matter, the nerve fibers that link diverse parts of the brain, is abnormal, but it's not clear how much is the cause and how much the result of autism.

• The immune system may play a critical role in the development of at least some types of autism. This suggests some new avenues of prevention and treatment.

• Many classic symptoms of autism--spinning, head banging, endlessly repeating phrases--appear to be coping mechanisms rather than hard-wired behaviors. Other classic symptoms--a lack of emotion, an inability to love--can now be largely dismissed as artifacts of impaired communication. The same may be true of the supposedly high incidence of mental retardation.

• The world of autism therapy continues to be bombarded by cure-of-the-day fads. But therapists are beginning to sort out the best ways to intervene. And while autism is generally a lifelong struggle, there are some reported cases in which kids who were identified as autistic and treated at an early age no longer exhibit symptoms.


DR. THOMAS INSEL, DIRECTOR OF THE National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), which funds much of the nation's autism research, remembers a time when the disorder was rarely diagnosed. "When my brother trained at Children's Hospital at Harvard in the 1970s, they admitted a child with autism, and the head of the hospital brought all of the residents through to see," says Insel. "He said, 'You've got to see this case; you'll never see it again.'"

Alas, he was mistaken. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 166 American children born today will fall somewhere on the autistic spectrum. That's double the rate of 10 years ago and 10 times the estimated incidence a generation ago. While some have doubted the new figures, two surveys released last week by the CDC were in keeping with this shocking incidence.

No one can say why the numbers have soared. Greater awareness and public health campaigns to encourage earlier diagnosis have surely played a part, since in the past, many such children were probably labeled retarded or insane and hidden in institutions. But environmental factors may also be contributing to the spike. To get to the bottom of that mystery and others, federal funding for autism research has more than tripled in the past decade, to $100 million, although it pales in comparison with the estimated $500 million spent on childhood cancers, which affect fewer youngsters.

At the Center for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention at the University of California at Davis, toxicologist Isaac Pessah is studying hair, blood, urine and tissue samples from 700 families with autism. He's testing for 17 metals, traces of pesticides, opioids and other toxicants. In March Pessah caused a stir by releasing a study that showed that even the low level of mercury used in vaccines preserved with thimerosal, long a suspect in autism, can trigger irregularities in the immune-system cells--at least in the test tube. But he does not regard thimerosal (which has been removed from routine childhood vaccines) as anything like a smoking gun. "There's probably no one trigger that's causing autism from the environmental side," says Pessah, "and there's no one gene that's causing it."

Indeed, most researchers believe autism arises from a combination of genetic vulnerabilities and environmental triggers. An identical twin of a child with autism has a 60% to 90% chance of also being affected. And there's little doubt that a vulnerability to ASD runs in some families: the sibling of a child with autism has about a 10% chance of having ASD. Gene scientists working on autism have found suspicious spots on chromosomes 2, 5, 7, 11 and 17, but there are probably dozens of genes at work. "We think there are a number of different autisms, each of which could have a different cause and different genes involved," says David Amaral, research director of the MIND (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) Institute, also at U.C. Davis.

Amaral is heading MIND's efforts to assemble a database of clinical, behavioral and genetic information on 1,800 autistic kids. One goal is to clearly define autism subtypes. "It's hard to do the genetics if you're talking about four or five different syndromes," says NIMH chief Insel. "Does the presence of seizures define a separate illness? What about the kids who seem to develop normally for the first year and a half and then regress--is that a separate thing?" And what about the large number of autistic kids who have serious gastrointestinal problems and the many with immune dysfunctions--are they distinct subtypes?

Amaral and colleague Judy Van de Water believe they are onto a major discovery about the origins of at least one type of autism--a strongly familial variety. They have detected aberrant antibodies in the blood of kids from families with a pattern of ASD and, significantly, in mothers with more than one autistic child. "These antibodies are actually raised against proteins in the fetal brain," says Amaral, who recently submitted a paper on the discovery. The working hypothesis is that these antibodies may alter brain development in ways that lead to autism. If correct, the finding could lead to a maternal blood test and the use of a therapy called plasmapheresis to clear antibodies from the mother's blood. "You get a sense of the excitement," says Amaral, "if you could prevent, say, 20% of kids from getting autism. But we don't want to raise false hopes."


WHETHER THE CAUSE IS MATERNAL antibodies, heavy metals or something else, there is no question that the brains of young children with autism have unusual features. To begin with, they tend to be too big. In studies based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and basic tape-measure readings, neuroscientist Eric Courchesne at Children's Hospital of San Diego showed that while children with autism are born with ordinary-size brains, they experience a rapid expansion by age 2--particularly in the frontal lobes. By age 4, says Courchesne, autistic children tend to have brains the size of a normal 13-year-old. This aberrant growth is even more pronounced in girls, he says, although for reasons that remain mysterious, only 1 out of 5 children with autism is female. More recent studies by Amaral and others have found that the amygdala, an area associated with social behavior, is also oversize, a finding Amaral believes is related to the high levels of anxiety seen in as many as 80% of people with autism.

Harvard pediatric neurologist Dr. Martha Herbert reported last year that the excess white matter in autistic brains has a specific distribution: local areas tend to be overconnected, while links between more distant regions of the brain are weak. The brain's right and left hemispheres are also poorly connected. It's as if there are too many competing local services but no long distance.

This observation jibes neatly with imaging studies that look at live brain activity in autistic people. Studies using functional MRI show a lack of coordination among brain regions, says Marcel Just, director of Carnegie Mellon's Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging in Pittsburgh, Pa. Just has scanned dozens of 15- to 35-year-old autistic people with IQs in the normal range, giving them thinking tasks as he monitors their brain activity. "One thing you see," says Just, "is that [activity in] different areas is not going up and down at the same time. There's a lack of synchronization, sort of like a difference between a jam session and a string quartet. In autism, each area does its own thing."

What remains unclear is whether the interconnectivity problem is the result of autism or its cause. Perhaps all that excess wiring is like the extra blood vessels around the heart of a person who has suffered a heart attack--the body's attempt to route around a problem. Or perhaps the abnormal growth of the brain has to do with the immune system; researchers at Johns Hopkins have found signs that autistic brains have chronic inflammation. "It's impossible to tell the chicken from the egg at this point," Just says.

Autistic people have been shown to use their brains in unusual ways: they memorize alphabet characters in a part of the brain that ordinarily processes shapes. They tend to use the visual centers in the back of the brain for tasks usually handled by the prefrontal cortex. They often look at the mouth instead of the eyes of someone who is speaking. Their focus, says psychologist Ami Klin of Yale's Child Study Center, is "not on the social allegiances--for example, the longing gaze of a mother--but physical allegiances--a mouth that moves."

Do these differences reflect fundamental pathology, or are they downstream effects of some more basic problem? No one knows. But the fact that early intervention brings better results for children with ASD could be a clue that some of the odd brain anatomy and activity are secondary--and perhaps even preventable. Studies that look at whether early therapy might help normalize the brain are beginning at York University in Toronto, but results are probably years away.


IN THE MEANTIME, 300,000 SCHOOL-AGE American children and many adults are attempting to get through daily life with autism. The world has tended to hear from those who are highest functioning, like Temple Grandin, the author and Colorado State University professor of livestock behavior known for designing humane slaughterhouses. But the voices of those more severely affected are beginning to be heard as well. Such was the case with Sue Rubin, 27, a college student from Whittier, Calif., who has no functional speech and matches most people's stereotyped image of a retarded person; yet she was able to write the narration for the Oscar-nominated documentary about her life, Autism Is a World.

What such individuals have to say about their experience is offering new clues to their condition. It also conforms remarkably to what scientists see inside their brains. By and large, people with ASD have difficulty bringing different cognitive functions together in an integrated way. There is a tendency to hyperfocus on detail and miss the big picture. Coordinating volition with movement and sensation can be difficult for some. Chandima Rajapatirana, an autistic writer from Potomac, Md., offers this account: "Helplessly I sit while Mom calls me to come. I know what I must do, but often I can't get up until she says, 'Stand up,'" he writes. "[The] knack of knowing where my body is does not come easy for me. Interestingly I do not know if I am sitting or standing. I am not aware of my body unless it is touching something ... Your hand on mine lets me know where my hand is. Jarring my legs by walking tells me I am alive."

Such descriptions shed light on seemingly self-destructive behavior like biting, scratching, spinning and head banging. For people like Rajapatirana, banging against a wall can be a useful way to tell, quite literally, where their head is at. "Before we extinguish [such behaviors], we need to understand what they are telling us," writes Judith Bluestone, a Seattle-based therapist who is autistic, in The Fabric of Autism.

In his new book Send in the Idiots, British journalist Kamran Nazeer, who is also autistic, describes the need for repetitive motions or words as a search for "local coherence" in a world full of jarring randomness. He also conveys the social difficulties: "Striking up conversations with strangers," he writes, "is an autistic person's version of extreme sports." Indeed, at a recent retreat for people with ASD, attendees wore colored tags indicating their comfort level with spontaneous conversation: red meant don't approach, yellow meant talk if we've already met, green indicated, "I'd love to talk, but I'm not good at initiating."

Perhaps the worst fate for a person with ASD is to have a lively intelligence trapped in a body that makes it difficult for others to see that the lights are on. Neuroscientist Michael Merzenich at the University of California, San Francisco, studied an autistic boy who is unable to speak or even sustain his attention to a task for more than a few moments, and yet is aware of his condition and writes remarkable poetry. How many other autistic kids, Merzenich wonders, "are living in a well where no one can hear them"?

Luckily for Hannah, her voice and thoughts are being heard. Since learning to type, she has begun to speak a few words reliably--"yes," "no" and the key word "I"--to express her desires. All this seems miraculous to her parents. "I was told to give up and get on with my life," says her mother. Now she and her husband are thinking about saving for college.

—With reporting by With reporting by Dan Cray/Los Angeles

I think it is working

Jessica had her 2 acupuncture treatment today. She ran into the doctors office. She seemed to want the treatment badly! She was pretty calm waiting for the doctor, who came 30 mins late. She has a portable dvd player, and was watching sesame Street. The doctor finally came, and Jess gave him a hug. He began the treatment just as the batteries on the dvd player ran out. Jessica panicked. I had to hold her down and try to calm her. The doctor was able to do some acupressure first. Then he put these short needles in her feet and hands that can stay in for a few hours. The amazing thing is Jessica kept the needles in. She was so calm all after noon. She even went to bed at a dissent hour. I really feel the acupuncture is helping her feel better.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

first acupuncture treatment

I took Jessica and her adopted brother Philip to the first acupuncture treatment this afternoon. I actually took them last week, but only talked to the doctor then. The doctor was able to give Philip 5 needles in his head, and two in his right foot, and one in his right arm. His right hand is very weak, and he has trouble writing his ABC's (he is a first grader). Jessica got a needle in both her feet, in both her wrists, and one in her head. She was actually pretty calm, and kept holding her arm out to the doctor. It was clear she wanted this treatment. She really wants to get better! We will return next week. It will take a month before we start seeing any clear results, at least this is what the doctor said. I am 100 % amazed at how well it went. I am super proud of Jessica and Philip. They were both so good, and brave.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Acupuncture And Autism

Tongue acupuncture can improve the lives of children with autism, according to scientists from Hong Kong.

Speaking recently at the World Congress of Neurology in London, the researchers claim that it can make children calmer and more stable, making it easier for them to learn and look after themselves. BBC Science reports.

Toothpick and Tongue

Acupuncture dates from several millennia back in Chinese history; tongue acupuncture by contrast is just a couple of decades old but is becoming increasingly popular in Hong Kong.

Based on traditional methods of acupuncture, where needles are used to stimulate pressure points on the body, therefore releasing blocked energy or Qi, recipients of tongue acupuncture have described the sensation as similar to being ‘pricked with a toothpick’.

Researchers now see the tongue as an attractive thing to stick their needles in because it's full of nerves, and in recent years scientists have produced hints that it might help people recover after a stroke.

However this is the first time that the potential of tongue acupuncture and autism has been explored.

What Is Autism?

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects the way a person communicates and interacts with other people.

This means that in many cases, autistic children have problems with social interaction, and problems with verbal and non-verbal communication. This can also lead to low IQ scores.

Nobody really knows what causes autism. However, it is thought that genetic factors are likely to play a crucial role.

Research has also linked the condition with a variety of conditions affecting brain development which occur before, during, or very soon after birth.

Acupuncture And Autism

According to the scientists at The University Of Hong Kong, the new research aims to ‘improve the overall functional dependence in ASD children by tongue acupuncture.’

Dr Virginia Wong, who led the investigators, recently told the World Congress of Neurology that the treatment helps autistic children lead a more normal life.

She says children who are hyperactive or aggressive have become calmer and emotionally stable after acupuncture treatment.

The holistic acupuncture treatment was carried out on a control group of 30 children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. According to the researchers, after a period of treatment, teachers who were blind to the study, found:

‘Improvement in children in terms of behaviour, communication skills and also higher intelligent quotient, have more imagination – draw better, more coherence in their composition and writing up of stories and become more initiative.’

Dr Wong believes that tongue acupuncture treats the symptoms of autism, rather than autism itself, but doctors at the Congress said that if her results can be replicated, tongue acupuncture could potentially become a standard treatment in years to come.
- From BBC World
Tomorrow morning I have an appointment with Jessica at the acupuncturist. A while back, our daughter Nicole got sick during her swimming class. Her teacher took her back to the school office where she could wait for me to come pick her up. Her swimming teacher and her talked. Somehow they got on the subject of Jessica and autism. It seems Nicoles teacher has a nephew who is 19 years old and also autistic. She said he was receiving acupuncture treatment, and that it had helped him allot. Before the treatment he was non verbal, and very restless. After the treatment (on going for a year), he can speak in single words, and can focus much better. He is much calmer, and can sit with people. Anyway, she gave us the doctors information. They do the acupuncture on the tongue. It sounds impossible. I am not sure how we an actually do this? Jessica wrote her teacher about it. She says she is hopeful that this will "unbind" her tongue. She really wants to talk. I also had a dream about it. Our whole family was in Thailand on vacation. We were on a stopover on the way over to adopt our Chinese daughter. We asked Jessica if she wanted to go get pizza for dinner, and she said very clearly "and coke too"! In my dream we all laughed! We thought her speech was so cute! Tomorrow might be really scary and it may not work. Jessica really wants to try this. I want so much for her to talk, but more important is her own desire to talk. We will try...

Saturday, April 22, 2006

We all have holes to get out of

I have been thinking about my last post about Jessica all day. I realize we all have holes we need to work to get out of. For me it is the need to lose weight. I joined weight watchers 4 weeks ago. So far I've lost 12 lbs. I should be really proud of myself, but some how I am discouraged. I don't see the weight I have lost, only how much more weight I want to lose. I have to keep talking to myself, telling myself to keep fighting the good fight. If this was easy, I would have done it years ago. I gained all this weight when I was pregnant with Jessica, and she is 14 1/2 years old!!!
My other daughter, Nicole and I watched a movie last week about the life of William Carey. He traveled to India in 1793 to start a mission. His son died, his wife went crazy and he didn't lead anyone to Christ in the first 6 years. Still he is called the father of modern missions, because he kept trying. Some people joined him after 6 years, and they began to see fruit! Last year, when our family took a trip to Israel, our two daughters, Jessica and Nicole were baptized in the Jordan river by a pastor from India. Even today, there are not many Christians in India,(there are over 24 million Christians, or 2.3% of the population)! They owe their faith to William Carey, a man who never stopped trying to do what He was called to do! I don't know what hole you might need to work yourself out of, for me it is weight, for Jessica it is fear. I think the only answer is to keep up the fight!

out of her hole!!!

This week was Easter vacation. The weather has been pretty good, so my kids have spent a lot of time in the garden. Jessica spent most of the week in her bedroom watching videos, and playing simple games on the computer. Juergen and I wanted to get her out of the house for a whole day. We decided to take a family trip to Europa Park. This is a amusement park on the border of Germany, Switzerland, and France. It is only two hours away from our house. Jessica was not trilled by the crowds of people, and all the noise. Instead of riding roller coasters with my sons, I walked with Jessica looking at all the stores (she loves to shop). She also spent a great deal of time napping in the car. I can not say it was a great time for me! I forgot to bring a book, or writing paper. I'm not sorry we tried! I am afraid Jessica is too inclined to crawl into her dark hole, and never come out. It is our job to force her into the world. I do believe she is much better off with people and not alone. As for me, I've had many days riding roller coasters. I am amazed at all the stuff I have been able to do, and all the stuff I've been able to see even with Jessica. We are considering taking our family to Thailand and China at the end of the summer. We are in the process of adopting a 3 year old girl from China. Juergen and I both need to go there to pick her up. Thailand in on the way, so we may stop there for a family vacation. The greatest issue for us is taking Jessica on the long flight. She hates airplanes. She has been to Thailand two times. She is treated really well there! This would be another way to force her out of her hole!

The picture is of Jessica looking pretty stressed in Israel last May! Part of the trip was really stressful, but mostly it was great!

Monday, April 03, 2006

folding boxes

Last week Jessica did a short internship at a workshop for disabled people. At first she seemed really anxious to go. I often think she is board, and wants to get out and try new things. As the week progressed, she slept worse and worse. I guess it was hard for her to process all these new experiences. Her teacher was with her everyday. She really needs a full time helper. I think all she did was to fold boxes. Not exactly what I had dreamed my first born child would be doing, folding boxes with full time help! I guess I should give more thought to her future. Personally, the thought of planning her future is depressing. I just can not do it. I have found I can only handle things as they come. I am sure when I must have direction, God will give it to me. Today I can handle, and today she is a bit board. For me this is a good sign that she wants to grow. Every little bit of growth is a cause for celebration. Today is good!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Autistic teen scores major points in basketball game

February 22, 2006
- By Web Staff

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - An autistic teenager proved hoop dreams can come true.

Jason McElwain is the basketball manager for Athena-Greece High School. For three years, he suited up and sat on the sidelines during every game.

On Feb. 15, the coach let him play in the school's final varsity basketball game of the season. What happened on the court surprised everyone.

Jason scored from behind the three-point line. Then he did it again. And again. In all, Jason netted 20 points during the last four minutes of the game.

The crowd went crazy, surging onto the court. Players and audience members lifted Jason onto their shoulders, with a big grin across his face.

Jason's secret: stay focused on the game.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Pot holes and Pits

Yesterday I had the privilege of being the inspirational speaker for 50 University students from Pepperdine University , and about 10 of their teachers. They are in Heidelberg on a student study abroad program. I shared with them a few lessons I have learned from Josephs life (Gen 37-50). 1. The first thing I said was that know one was safe from falling into a pit (having a very big problem).Joseph was the favorite son, he was very well provided for, and still he ended up as a slave,and then as a prisoner. I never expected to see my first born child suffer so much. Autism has been a pit for Jessica, and for me. But know one is safe from a pit! 2. Even though it looks like Joseph never knew he would ever be free from his prison, he was still very faithful with both his natural gifts, and his spiritual gifts. So often I've wanted to use my daughter's sickness as an excuse for doing nothing.I finally know God does not require me to keep up with the Jones, or Smiths, or anyone! He does require me to take a good look at my own personal gifting, both natural and supernatural, and be faithful with what He has given me. Jessica is no excuse for laziness! 3. Finally I have learned not to lose my faith in a pit. Joseph had every reason to be angry at God. When he was called to interpit the dream of Pharaoh, He was still trusting God, and was very clear to say that his power came from God. I can tell you I could not make it without Gods help. God is my help, my hope, my wisdom, and my joy. Too many people curse God even when they hit a pot hole, and lose their faith in a pit. You need God in a pit.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Jessica's writing

Jessica began talking when she was 6 months old. Her first word was "Mama"! She stopped speaking when she was about 18 months old, after a MMR vaccination. There is a saying, "just because you can not talk, doesn't mean you have nothing to say". I am grateful Jessica sometimes expresses herself in writing. Here is one of her poems...

Spring Awakening

Spring prepares for resurrection

finds it's companions

Heavens laugh with delight

Crying has been removed.

Meadows are green, brooksare flowing,

life aplenty fills the air.

May music be heard at day

and let the night bring calm.

Meadows are green, sprouts come out

a gentle breeze

makes Winter time wear away.

Hearts are happy to be alive

and good things everyone can give.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The value of life

When I was in College I took an ethics class. We debated about abortion, and what makes a life valuable.I would say a good 70 % of the class said they would easily decide to get an abortion if they knew the child they carried(or their girl friend carried) had a birth defect. I argued all life has value. I don't believe abortion is ok! Jessicas autism has had a profound impact upon my life. I would never have chosen her autism. If I could see her healed, I would be very happy. Still, I never would have chosen abortion. As hard as it has been parenting Jessica, she is worth the world! There is no person to equal her as a teacher. I am a totally different person because she is my daughter. I think a perfect world does not produce perfect people. We become compassionate with practice.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Spring vacation

I use to dread vacations. The kids ( I only had two at the time) would be home, I would be overwhelmed. I felt trapped. I also felt jealous. It seemed all my friends would be gone on wonderful family vacations with their husbands and normal healthy children. I found it hard to go anywhere with Jessica and her sister Nicole. I hated vacations. Now I realize vacations have their advantages.. Even if we aren't going anywhere (we often go great places) I can at least sleep in. Today it was snowing. The kids played hide and seek all day. I watched Pride and Prejudice on DVD. Juergen brought home pizza for dinner. A vacation is really what I make of it. It isn't always exciting, but it is also not overwhelming. I guess I've learned to manage my life. Its hard to believe I was ever so helpless.

Monday, February 27, 2006

One step closer to my book, or not?

Hi, Today I've decided to start a blog! What i really want is to write a book about what I've learned spiritually from parenting Jessica, my now 14 year old autistic daughter. The book seems like such a big step. Something I'm sure I will never be able to really finish. A blog just seems less intimidating. A blog is after all just my ideas put " out there on the web" for you to read or not read. A book needs to be payed for. When I buy a book ( and I buy many books) I expect my moneys worth. A blog is free. It only cost you the time it takes you to read it. It's a pretty low risk kind of thing. I'm not sure I will really be able to do this... but I'm going to give it a try!