First, here is the link: http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice?language=en

I recently watched this lecture thinking that I’d hear all the wonderful reasons why we as humans need and should have choice. I’m a big proponent of giving kids choice, especially when it allows them to better engage with the world and build their skills and capabilities. However, this lecture poses some of the downsides of TOO MUCH CHOICE. In the end, the lecturer gives a wonderful analogy of a fishbowl. It made me think about the importance of giving our kids structure and containment. Not allowing the idea of choice to overshadow or replace the need to make the world smaller sometimes and more manageable so that they can live in it successfully. I’d be interested to hear what others take from this video lecture.



Dear Reader,

I’m regularly being asked to speak to families, schools, and other groups about autism. It’s a privilege to do so. However, I cannot help but think that what I say is painting a complex and detailed picture with very broad strokes. I give an overview, a list of characteristics, symptoms, behaviors, maybe a few examples. Wouldn’t it be so much more powerful and meaningful to to give stories? THIS IS AN AMAZING EXAMPLE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejpWWP1HNGQ

If you would, I’d love to hear stories from you about “your autism” (written or through video/audio). Specifically how autism effects you/your child’s everyday life, sensory experiences, choices, behaviors, interactions with others, interests in things or activities, ability to sleep, emotions, sense of self, things that make you/them uniquely you/them. I’m looking for the good and the bad. The amazing and the amazingly challenging. And anything in between. I’d like to eventually translate these stories into other languages, specifically for some of the refugee families I work who struggle to find appropriate translation for some of the autism lingo of today. This would contribute in a major way to helping these families and all individuals better understand their child.

I’m calling this intimate collection of profiles “My Autism”. It will stand beside and sometimes in place of the ubiquitous lists of symptoms and characteristics that too often solely define Autism. I’d love to collect as many of these stories as possible and begin presenting them to schools, doctors offices, community centers, and any group or individual willing to listen, to help build a more accurate and nuanced understanding of autism and those impacted by it.

Please email these stories to me directly at: spectrumshareconsulting@gmail.com


Anthony Miriello, Spectrumshare

The following resources are to be used with your child as conversation starters/prompts around the topic of bullying. The link directly below has a very good social story prompt that may be helpful in talking to children about bullying and what to do if you are being bullied (Particularly pages 15-16):


I also like this short cartoon to visually explain what verbal bullying might look like (and how it makes someone feel):


Charlie Brown bullying visual:


These cartoons are insightful and hilarious. They also show the power of cartooning to help kids express worries, share their expectations, make plans to manage feelings, review schedule, etc. Enjoy!






LEGO instruction manuals are the perfect example of step-by-step visual guides. These manuals are attractive to look at, simple, well spaced with only one or two steps on each page, and very light to non-existent on text. Everything builds off of the last step until an entire truck, airplane, spaceship, city scape, or whatever else LEGO has put out is complete.
I suggest that the next time you’re in an IEP meeting and the team brings up creating simple step-by-step visual instructions for your son/daughter (and everyone nods their heads and says “great idea”), you take out a LEGO manual and get started.

A few days ago, our 2 and a half year old nephew Noah spent the night in our home. His parents were attending a wedding near by and hoping to have a little fun with some long-time friends. Noah was wonderful, cooperative, and excited to be with us. We grilled and ate outside, kicked around the soccer ball, and played with trucks. There were times, as the night went on and dark set in, when he said “I want to go home”. But he was easily calmed and redirected to the next fun activity.
Being responsible for his care and being in the business of quelling worries, I noticed the importance of focusing in on his evening routine.
It went as follows: We played (with trucks), ate dinner, then took a bath, brushed our teeth, read 2 books, and lay down in bed with the light off and the door open a crack. This is his routine with his mom and dad. Because he was staying over in a new place, this routine became even more important for him. We got to bed a bit later than we hoped, but we went through our routine just the same. Lights out. He was asleep within 5 minutes. It was nice for me to see the value of a steady routine at work with this little guy.


Anthony: What is it about learning about things like astronomy, mass extinction and the Big Bang theory, things that are so complex and have so much detail, that interests your brain and keeps you digging for more?

Awesome 13 year old with Aspergers (ATWA): Umm. Often it’s because…to my brain that stuff just makes sense and I relate them (pieces of new information) to things…it clicks and when I start clicking i want to keep clicking and it (my brain) keeps relating more and more. Though, in astronomy…mostly in astronomy, but this applies to a lot of areas, this stuff’s fascinating and it’s beautiful. Einstein said, ‘the most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious’ which… astronomy is very mysterious.

Anthony:So when you said “things start clicking” for you, that makes me think you’re saying things just start making sense. And then you want more and more clicks.

ATWA: coming together…

Anthony: You just said “coming together”. What do you mean?

ATWA: I just want to keep building the thing that’s coming together, making it bigger and bigger. It turns into everything and how everything is.

Anthony: that’s the best explanation I’ve heard.

The short snippet of a longer conversation occurred recently as I was walking with a brilliant young man with Aspergers. He shared this insight into his brain and why he pursues to such great detail on specific topics of interest. I particularly like the concept of “clicks” and just wanting more “clicking”. When you think about ASD, it’s the lack of clicking that is so often described. The misinterpretation of cues, the sensory over/under-stimulation, the misunderstanding of expectations and what’s coming next. In this context, it makes all the more sense that this boy would want to keep moving towards the clicking. It feels good/correct, like things “coming together”.

I was so intrigued by this answer that I later shared it with another boy, 11 years old, with Aspergers. He immediately smiled and said, “Yeah… The same for me…I think about it (his love for radioactive material) like a puzzle and I’m putting the pieces together as I find them”. He also shared the idea that amassing this specific knowledge helps him relate it to other things in the world.

I’m going to keep asking.

power struggle

It is important to allow your child to be curious, even if it means you have to slow down and let them look in the windows every other block. Be patient (you’re grimmacing as you read this i’m sure. Easier said than done. Youre right, but keep reading). Join them in their curiosity (“that girl on the rock wall is climbing really high…I bet you’d love to do that”). Then gently make a transition statement like,” I’m getting tired…I can’t wait to get back to the office/home and get some cold water”. This suggestion is not a demand. It’s not a statement that will make a child feel forced to switch more quickly than they’re comfortable with (“Come on. Let’s go”) or disregard your directive. It’s sometimes just enough to get them to listen, perspective take, and hopefully move on. It’s likely they would do this anyway after getting bored of whatever initially drew them in.”Sometimes” is the operative word here. I’m not claiming this as an absolute solution. As you all know, nothing is. Even things that work today may not work tomorrow or mayber even that evening. I’m simply saying that language matters and it’s worth reflecting on the way you use it with your child.

What I see often happens is that a demanding statement like, “Come on. Let’s go”, turns into a power struggle. As a parent, you have now made a statement, which if not listened to, requires you to at very least restate and at most enforce. At this point, your child, especially those children who feel the need to take control at all costs, has the opportunity to disobey (ignore, say “no”). Why put yourself in this position? Why open the opportunity for a power struggle? Choose your language wisely and you will find that you frequently avoid power struggling and invariably help your child develop more of an ability to empathize, take perspective, and cooperate.

Here is an interesting article about the power of word choice with kids: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/04/30/308045913/to-get-help-from-a-little-kid-ask-the-right-way


We are all born with infinite potential for greatness. – The ability to be superman. We know this when we’re young, but as we get older; many of us develop fears and doubts about our strength. Often times our fears and doubts appear really BIG. This makes the worry part of our brain more active and forms barriers that get in the way of us reaching our greatness. These fears and doubts become our kryptonite – the things that can defeat us from doing what we want/need and strip us of our strength.


Don’t be scared, you can defeat these fears and doubts with a very simple, slow-acting antidote called GEX (Gradual exposure).
The best way to explain how GEX works is through the story of Superman*. Superman exposes himself to tiny tiny amounts of kryptonite every week. At first he fills sick and scared and weak when he does it. He wants to run away, close his eyes, and hide, but he doesnt. Each week, as he inches closer and closer to the kryptonite, he notices that he feel less sick, less weak, less scared (its effect on him is weakening). That tells him that his experiment is working. It’s at this point that he ups the dose of GEX just slightly (inching again closer to the kryptonite) until again he no longer feels sick, scared, and weak. Months and months pass of doing this experiment every week. Finally the day comes when Superman no longer feels sick, scared, and weak when around kryptonite. What happened? Through the GEX antidote – moving inch by inch each week), his body has built up an immunity to the the thing he feared most. Kryptonite is no longer his greatest fear (this doesnt mean that he loves the stuff). By defeating that which was standing in the way of his greatness, he can live without fear ruling his life. He’s free to fly, defeat evil, spend time with family and friends, live. You can do the same, in small doses, with your fears. Expose yourself, inch by inch to your kryptonite until whatever causes you fear no longer makes you have such BIG worry. Then up the GEX dose.

*For all you Superman enthusiasts, this is not a factual account of the comic. Its simply a nice way to engage kids in discussion around gradual exposure to their fears.

The Atlantic Monthly recently published a wonderful article titled “The Overprotected Kid”. In it, author Hanna Rosin makes a compelling case that children benefit from taking risk, especially with peers – gaining valuable social, emotional, and logical life insights from successes and failures (getting hurt, discovering, challenging fears, arguing, etc). Rosin speaks to the phenomenon in which many of today’s parents attempt to shield their children from all possible risk, pain (physical and emotional), and danger. Rosin shares statistics which indicate that these cautionary measures have not made our kids safer over the last few decades but instead less autonomous, confident, socially and emotionally aware of others, empathic, and self-reliant. A Piagetian nightmare.
I’m posting the article here because I believe it supports the idea of maximizing exposure to peer interaction and gently reminds parents to fight the urge to save and fix instead of allow room for rich, sometimes painful, learning and development.

I’d love to start a dialogue on this topic, so please leave comments if you have an opinion.

The Article: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/03/hey-parents-leave-those-kids-alone/358631/