Tag Archives: Socializing

Amazing Things Happen – Excellent Autism Animation

Amazing Things Happen.

A few days ago I came across the above video on Facebook called Amazing Things Happen, It does an incredible job of explaining Autism in a way that kids could understand.

Amazing Things Happen, since it was posted online, has had over 5 million views. It’s been translated into 28 subtitled languages, and 10 fully dubbed versions. I wanted to know more about the person who created the video, Alex Amelines, and how he was able to create such a well-done piece.

From Alex’ business website:

“Colombian by birth. British by naturalisation.

“I worked in Editorial design for 5 years. Back in Colombia. Then I moved to the United Kingdom to do an animation course after which I ended up settling up in. Both in the animation field and in the UK. 

“I now work as an independent animator and director, my animations have gone in all directions: television, exhibitions, installations, games, films, planes, etc. In 2012 I established Studio Tinto in an attempt to become rich and famous.

“I’ve achieved neither.”

This wasn’t quite all the information I was looking for, so I sent Alex a message. He replied that his preference was to not do a podcast interview because he was worried that his accent was a little to hard to understand. But he would be happy to explain the process of how he came up with the animation.

By the way – Alex mentions the term SENCO, which in the U.K. stands for Special Education Needs Coordinator.

The Amazing Things Happen Background Story.

“I must warn you that my story is not an exciting one and that I’d prefer the focus were on the animation rather than me or my family but I’ll try to tell you what drove me anyway:

“A few years ago, my son’s school organised an assembly to help explain autism to the children, which struck me as a wonderful idea. The talk was very interesting and the local expert who led it obviously knew her stuff but it was limited by a lack of clear, visual materials. The children got most excited at a slide of Lego toys and enjoyed a scene from the animated series Arthur, where Arthur meets a boy who doesn’t make eye contact and only wants to talk about trains.

“My immediate thought was, this could all be an animation – and might even retain the children’s interest better that way. I’ve always loved working on creative side projects to distract me from client work and thought this would be both fun and potentially useful for the school. Perhaps even a few more schools, locally. I had no big plans beyond that.

“I met with the school’s SENCO and told her my idea, which she as was excited as I was. I had to do a lot of research, a lot of books, a lot of TED talks, blogs, articles, etc. I met with the SENCO several times to discuss my progress. The hardest part was to condense the script into 5 minutes, as English is my second language, I’m not a trained writer and most importantly, because there is so much to say about autism! The spectrum is so unforgivingly vast it seemed impossible keep it all in, everything seemed so relevant. But I knew from experience that this could only work if it was short enough to be feasible to finish on my own and also to retain the attention of small children.

“My prerogatives were: keep it short, only positive words, keep the language simple.

“It took me the best part of a year to get to a point that I thought I can start animating. But before doing so I ran it past the SENCO and reached out to Prof. Tony Attwood, a leading expert on autism who was really generous with his time and knowledge. He checked the script and storyboards and made some adjustments to the language. So I felt I had a proper seal of approval, which cheered me on. 

“As I moved on from writing to animation things got easier. I was in my element. I developed the characters, created the artwork, did some research for the look of the animation. The backgrounds and colours were inspired by old 1940s UPA animations, which I’ve always loved.

“For the music I asked London based musician Chris Harrington, he has always supported my animated projects with beautiful original compositions. The narrator is a Scottish actor called David Gant (Braveheart, Sherlock, Final Fantasy VII), who I’d met while working on the visual effects of feature film, The Fitzroy. He has a beautiful booming voice that is both authoritative and warm. The kind of voice that inspires trust. So I reached out and David kindly agreed to do it pro bono. Mike Avgeros also generously offered to let us use his recording studio for an hour on a weekend. 

“We released Amazing Things Happen in time for autism awareness month, then something amazing really did happen. By the second day the film had been seen thousands of times. I was over the moon with that, but after two weeks it was 5 million. It was all very surreal and very moving, as I got many beautiful messages of thanks from parents, teachers and – most importantly to me – from people who themselves have autism. So it has been very rewarding, more than I had ever imagined.

“Right now Amazing Things Happen has subtitles in 28 languages, it has been dubbed into 10 languages, apart from the French and German narrations, everything has been from contributions from people who’ve liked the project. And there are more foreign narrations coming, the former director for the Icelandic Autism Society has offered to do an Icelandic version, the Executive Director of OC Autism wants to do Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog and Hindu, there are offers to do Finnish, Norwegian, Portuguese, Arabic, Hebrew, Estonian, Japanese and Malay. And an animation studio in Bangladesh, who are connected with the Prime Minister’s daughter are recreating the animation with Asian themes.

“From the reaction it’s clear that there is an urgent need for this kind of material. I would also love to do more, so I am considering a crowd-funding campaign to develop a series in which children could tell their own story, describing their autism to us. Raising funds this way would mean I could work on this full time, rather than finding a spare hour here and there around my usual client work. There’s so much more to be said on the subject. And I figure that the only way to paint a portrait of something that has a million faces, is to paint as many pictures as possible!”

Additionally, Alex wrote the following to me in a separate email:

“In relation to how I visualised it, I think the fact that so many autistic people have felt it is an accurate depiction is sort of a fluke, I mean I did lots of research but I knew it wasn’t going to be accurate for everyone as the spectrum is so vast, so it felt like taking a gamble, I tried to be generic (too much detail in some parts, too little detail in others, too bright, too loud), while showing things that Neuro-Typical children can relate to, so they can put themselves in their shoes. Professor Tony Attwood came up with the idea of removing people’s faces to convey the fact that they can’t read people’s expressions, which I think is a great touch, even if it’s not obvious to people who see it, it is there. 

“It helped me a lot that I am a visual person, for instance I can’t remember a phone number but I can remember the pattern my finger draws as it types. Even my mental associations are visual, when I was reading “The Reason I Jump” as part of my research at some point it evoked a scene from The Man of Steel, were Superman as a child starts discovered his powers (well I say discovered but it looked more like they ran him over, the scene is terrifying), suddenly he can hear everyone at the same time, see everything too clear, too bright, too much, that’s how I imagine sensory overload. Unfortunately autistic people don’t have superman’s ability to control this, there’s no filter or off button.”

My thanks to Alex Amelines for offering this explanation of his work.  

Amazing Things Happen is something everyone should watch. I highly recommend you share this video with everyone you know!

Links: 

Alex Amelines Professional Site 

Amazing Things Happen Official Website.

Special Parents Confidential 53 be nice campaign.

be nice. 

A new program called the ‘be nice’ campaign has been started in West Michigan to help end bullying. One of the hardest issues to deal with for parents of special needs kids – as well as parents of any child – is bullying in schools and online. What do you do if your child is the victim of bullying? For that matter, what do you do if you discover your child is bullying other children?How far does bullying affect a child? What kinds of impact does this have on a child’s mental health? 

Learn About Mental Health.

Did you know that problems with bullying are the leading cause of suicide in children and teenagers? Bullying can also cause issues of depression, drug abuse, and other mental health problems that can affect people for their entire lives.

In this episode we’re going to talk to an expert in the subject of bullying. Christy Buck is the executive director of the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan, and they have a new program that offers a solution. It’s called the ‘be nice’ campaign and it’s designed to to help kids, families, schools, and communities work to understand and end bullying. We’ll also learn about mental illnesses, how to recognize when problems escalate to thoughts of suicide and what to do in these situations.

We also talk about the common myths and stigmas associated with bullying, depression, and mental health issues that can cause problems for kids as well as adults. For example, a person doesn’t need to ‘bottom out’ before they should get help. We discuss ways to overcome these myths and stigmas.  You’ll also learn how the ‘be nice’ campaign can be used by your school or other organizations.

Links Mentioned in the Podcast.

be nice. campaign official website

The Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (website)

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.

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Special Parents Confidential 50 ADHD Nation Alan Schwarz

ADHD Nation Author Alan Schwarz.

ADHD Nation, Children, Doctors, Big Pharma, and the making of an American Epidemicis a new book by New York Times correspondent Alan Schwarz, that is putting a lot of focus on ADHD and the way it’s diagnosed and treated in the United States. Alan Schwarz is the Pulitzer Prize nominated investigative reporter who wrote more than 100 articles that helped expose the serious problems of concussions in football players of all ages. His work lead to movies and documentaries about the seriousness of concussions and to the NFL finally admitting the problem and making changes in how they deal with the problems.

Since then Mr. Schwarz has begun investigating ADHD diagnosis and medications, writing a new series of articles on the subject that lead to the publication of ADHD Nation.

Excessive Diagnosis?

Mr. Schwarz has done an intense amount of research in the hard statistical evidence that shows an often higher number of children and adults are being diagnosed with ADHD than what the established rate of diagnosis is supposed to be. In fact, it’s nearly three times the established number, which means millions of people more than expected are being diagnosed, or often misdiagnosed. He also profiles a number of the major names involved in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD all the way back nearly 200 years when the symptoms we now associate with ADHD were first recorded. Along the way we meet Dr. Keith Conners, who has been called “the father of ADHD”, and we learn his concerns about how his work has been misused.

A Fair Balance.

ADHD Nation is a very well balanced book, in that it doesn’t attempt to deny that ADHD is a valid medical condition. In fact the book opens with the statement, “AHDH is real.” Mr. Schwarz proves that in the correct circumstances ADHD medications work and are highly effective. But, as you’ll hear in this interview, far too many people, especially children, are being put on the medications when they clearly do not have ADHD and don’t need medications. This is an important book and you’ll learn how Mr. Schwarz researched the numbers and compiled the evidence that he presents in the book.

Links Mentioned In The Podcast.

ADHD Nation Official Website 

Alan Schwarz at the New York Times 

Alan Schwarz’ Profile on Wikipedia

 

Special Parents Confidential 49 Parenting Concerns

Parenting Concerns.

Having a special needs child always causes tremendous parenting concerns and a lot of work. Many moments can be incredible, exhilarating, and full of amazing wonder. But it can also be extremely stressful. Dealing with schools, social situations, family situations… it can seem like everywhere you turn is another opportunity for more parenting concerns and stress. The other problem is that not everyone understands or even cares about these situations, so many parents can feel isolated in their worries and concerns.

Family Stress

So what can you do to help you deal with all these stresses and keep yourself from coming apart at the seams?  Our guest on this episode has some great advice. Jean Holthaus is a licensed independent social worker with Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services in Pella Iowa. She specializes in dealing with anxiety issues, parenting concerns and family issues, and working with special needs children. You’ll also find out about setting boundaries for special needs children, dealing with emotions including anger in children and adults, and how to deal with school anxiety issues. Jean also talks about great resources for parents to access that can help with numerous situations for schools, home, and social situations.

Links Mentioned in the Podcast

Jean Holthaus’ Page at Pine Rest 

Office of Special Education Programs, US Department of Education

US Department of Education ED Publications

The American Academy of Children and Adolescent Psychiatry

Support Special Parents Confidential.

You can help us continue to produce this podcast. Please consider contributing to help continue this podcast. Use the Pay Pal link on our home page to contribute any amount you can. Also be sure to share this episode, and any episode you’ve found helpful with all your favorite social media sites. Use the buttons below to quickly access your favorite sites with our podcast. Thanks for your support!

Special Parents Confidential 47 Nurtured Heart Approach

Nurtured Heart Approach.

What is the Nurtured Heart Approach and how can it help? For many kids with special needs the ability to concentrate, even to sit still in class, is challenging. We’ve given lots of names to these issues: Attention Deficit Disorder. Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Difficult Kid, Problem Child. The list goes on… and if you think about it, it’s a very negative outlook on these children.

A Paradigm Shift.

Now there is a relatively new process of working with kids who have these issues that tries to do away with all that negativity. It’s called the Nurtured Heart Approach. It consists of a set of strategies that assists children in developing their self-regulation, and transforming the way children perceive themselves and the world around them. And it has created a huge amount of success by concentrating on positive behaviors instead of all the negative behavior.

For this episode we’re joined by Dr. William Rowell, a retired licensed Psychologist with Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services of Grand Rapids Michigan who has spent the last  years training parents, educators, foster parents, social workers, and law enforcement personnel in the Nurtured Heart Approach. He explains how the Nurtured Heart Approach works, why it’s more successful than other strategies, and how making a paradigm shift in your thinking will make all the difference for your special needs child.

Links Mentioned In This Episode.

The Children’s Success Foundation The website dedicated to the Nurtured Heart Approach and Howard Glasser, creator of NHA.

Children’s Success Foundation Practitioner’s List – Information on NHA certified trainers in America and around the world.

 Dr. William Rowell’s Page at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services. 

Dr. Rowell’s Email:  william . rowell @ pine rest . org.  – be sure to remove the spaces.

Support Special Parents Confidential.

If you find this episode helpful, and if you have found other episodes on this site to be helpful as well, please consider investing in supporting Special Parents Confidential. We have our very own Pay Pal account linked on our home page on the right side below our logo. Or you can click on the “Support SPC” link on our page directory at the top of the site. Any amount you can contribute to help us continue these podcasts is greatly appreciated!

Thanks for listening.

Special Parents Confidential 46 Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder.

Virtually everyone has heard of sensory overload, and sensory issues. People who have problems with loud noises, large crowded areas, tastes, textures, strong smells, bright lights, the list goes on.

Not A Symptom of Something Else.

For decades sensory issues were simply considered a side-effect of whatever the more prevalent disorder was inhibiting the child, whether Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Dyslexia, Multiple Sclerosis, and other disorders. However medical research has proven that this is a separate disorder, called Sensory Processing Disorder.  And there is now a push to have it recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – known as DSM – which is the official medical reference for physicians.

SPD Parent Zone.

My guest for this episode has first hand knowledge of Sensory Processing Disorder. Kelly Jurecko is the President and Co-Founder of SPD Parent Zone, a non-profit organization that offers a website that is full of reliable and credible information on Sensory Processing Disorder. She also hosts a blog and a podcast on the site where she posts articles and interviews experts on SPD and keeps people updated on the latest information.

If your child is having any kind of sensory issues, SPD Parent Zone is a website you need to bookmark and search.

Links Mentioned In The Episode.

SPD Parent Zone

SPD Parent Zone Podcast on iTunes

SPD Foundation – The Star Institute For Sensory Processing Disorder

The Sensory Processing Disorder Resource Center

Support Special Parents Confidential.

If you find this episode helpful, and if you have found other episodes on this site to be helpful as well, please consider investing in supporting Special Parents Confidential. We have a Pay Pal account linked on our home page on the right side below our logo. Or you can click on the “Support SPC” link on our page directory at the top of the site. Any amount you can contribute to help us continue these podcasts is greatly appreciated!

Thanks for listening.

Support Special Parents Confidential

Help Support Special Parents Confidential.

Four years ago this month, I began posting episodes of Special Parents Confidential. The idea of the podcast was fairly straightforward: I wanted to create a resource for parents of special needs kids. 

Support groups are a great resource. But not everyone is able to attend support group meetings. These podcast episodes are your support group meetings that you can attend at your own convenience, wherever you are, whenever you want.

Where We Are Now.

My goal is to be able to continue doing these podcasts for many years to come. All this time I have covered the expenses of producing these episodes. The equipment maintenance, the costs of the website hosting, and the costs of promoting the podcast. 

However, I am finding my resources are becoming limited. The fact is, the costs of everything involved with this podcast are increasing. Advertising could help offset many of those expenses, but we don’t have a large enough audience yet to attract the attention of advertisers.

How You Can Help.

I’m looking for financial contributions to help me promote the podcast and pay for some of the expenses. If you would consider investing whatever amount you can – ten, twenty, fifty, one hundred dollars – any contribution will help me to promote this podcast across social media, and keep Special Parents Confidential online.

To make this possible, I’ve set up a PayPayMe account. All you have to do is click on the link on the right side of our logo that says, Help Support Special Parents Confidential. All you have to do is sign in with your PayPal account and you can contribute whatever amount you want. It’s all through PayPal so it’s safe and secure.

Why PayPal Me and not a fundraising site like Go Fund Me or Kick-Starter or Patreon? Those sites require a premium such as tee shirts, books, or artwork, for levels of payment opportunity. That’s great if you’re an artist, or a musician, a writer, or a retailer. Unfortunately, I don’t have any premiums that can be used. However, as a gift to you for your investment, I will email you an Mp3 copy of “Three Blind Mice – The Special Parents Confidential Theme” by Ritsu Katsumata. It’s a beautiful piece of music and I hope you’ll like it.

Please understand, this is NOT a charity or a non-profit. You won’t be able to claim your contribution as a tax write-off. I fully intend to gain advertisers to fund everything at some point so that I won’t have to ask for contributions. But to get to that place, I need your investment.

If you have found any of these interview episodes to be of value, if you believe the information we put together to be useful, please consider investing.

As always, thanks for listening!

John Pellegrini