Thursday, April 13, 2006

Welcome to Finland?

The Autism Perspective is a magazine which intends to present treatments, perspectives, sevice options and personal stories without taking any sides. My favorite aspect to the magazine are the articles written by individuals with autism, and there are many. Two of the regular contributors are Donna Williams and Temple Grandin, who in the most recent addition talked about her life summarized what “helped make her successful” which were:

1. Mother’s great early education program
2. Talents were nurtured and developed
3. Mentors I had in high school
4. The right medications in my early 30’s. Not all people need medication.

In addition to this article by Dr. Grandin I enjoyed several others, but the one I found the most intriguing was written my a man with ASD named Stephen Shore, who travels worldwide, to consult and present at conferences about autism, all while observing and writing about the way different cultures seem to view and treat individuals with Autism. His latest article featured China, Finland and England. I must admit I know very little about Finland and it’s culture, but after reading about Stephen’s experiences there, I have taken more of an interest in the country…Here’s how he describes his experiences:

What I found most striking about the community was that people with autism were accepted and integrated into the fabric of life just like everyone else. For example, here in the United states, it is seen as a rare exception that someone like me, who was diagnosed on the autism spectrum at two-and-a-half, could be finishing a doctoral dissertation and having a successful career and marriage. In many other cultures, even these accomplishements are just not possible. However, in Finland, I met one person with Aspberger Syndrome who has started a doctoral degree, another who is a psychologist, as well as many others who lead fulfilling and productive lives. For the people of Finland, and for what I gather in Scandanavia in general, the idea of autism and Aspberger Syndrome preventing people from gainful employment and true inclusion in society is as ludicrous as the need for glasses eliminationg the choice of becoming a teacher in the United Sates.

And I wear glasses.

Finland huh? I never would have thought to look there.
But then, it seems the best things and places I find are the ones I’m not looking for.


Blogger Kristina Chew said...

"the best things and places I find are the ones I’m not looking for": That is near to a truism for what I've experienced in journeying with Charlie in Autismland.

9:58 PM  
Blogger Bronwyn G said...

Me too Squaregirl.

That must be the Pukki-Andrews family.

They make a lot of impact in that small world.

And Finns are great readers too. That means they read about autism, if they have not met an autist first hand.

I guess all of Scandiavia is accepting. Eve Mandre of Sweden is a legendary professional whose work I really enjoy especially when she talks about integrating autistic people. Search for Free Freya to see what I mean.

2:37 AM  
Blogger SquareGirl said...

Kristina, I think it is amazing! The thing is that I know this, yet continue to be suprised when it'd think I'd have learned by now :) But the discovery is always so delightful!

Brownwyn, Thank you for aupplying that information. I will look up Free Freya. That is an interesting correlation between being good readers and understanding autism

9:32 AM  
Anonymous shawn said...

Stephen Shore spoke at a conference I attended a few years ago. There's two things from his presentation that I'll always remember. The first was when he gave a list of his 'areas of perseveration' (my words, I don't remember his). His list included typical topics, but somewhere in the list he included "autism". How's that for irony, perseverating on autism?

The second was describing his experience with music. He found out that percussion instruments were perfect for people with sensitivity to sound. When you play percussion, you stand in the back and no one is playing an instrument in your ear. Well sure, but I never would have thought of it! When my son with AS asked to take percussion, I signed him right up.

8:33 PM  
Blogger SquareGirl said...

Shawn, That is an interesting observation and one I don't think I would have thought of...percussion. I'll have to keep that in mind. And while it does seem ironic, I guess we shouldn't be suprised that "autism" might be a perseveration of's a fascinating topic.

Thank you for sharing. I would be interested in hearing Stphen speak. I really enjoyed his article.

10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very pretty site! Keep working. thnx!

4:47 AM  

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