Tag Archives: Therapy

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 52 Ponseti Method of Clubfoot Treatment

Ponseti Method of Clubfoot Treatment

Clubfoot, or talipes equinovarus, is a treatable birth defect that affects approximately 150,000-200,000 children each year. When clubfoot occurs the foot is twisted inward and down. For decades the standard treatment for clubfoot consisted of performing radical surgery on the tendons and bones of an infant’s feet.

In the mid 1940s, Dr. Ignacio Ponseti, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Iowa, began reviewing the results of the surgical treatments of clubfoot that were commonly used at the time. His findings were not encouraging. He discovered that, in adulthood, former surgical patients often experienced foot stiffness, pain, arthritis, and limited mobility, and in many cases required additional surgery.

The Ponseti Method.

By studying the anatomy and functions of a baby’s foot, Dr. Ponseti developed a non-surgical method to correct clubfoot in infants through gentle manipulation of the feet followed by the application of plaster casts. In 1948, Dr. Ponseti began using what has now become known as the Ponseti Method of clubfoot treatment. 

Our guest for this episode has a great deal of experience with the Ponseti Method of clubfoot treatment. Dr. Jose Morcuende is a professor of orthopedic surgeries at the Ponseti Clubfoot Clinic at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospitals. 

Dr. Morcuende trained directly with Dr. Ponseti and has helped to promote the Ponseti Method around the world through the Ponseti International Association, of which he is the President at CEO. He talks about working with Dr. Ponseti, how clubfoot affects children born with it, and the success rate of the Ponseti Method. Dr. Morcuende also talks about the mission of the Ponseti International Association, and the importance of finding a doctor who has been fully trained in the Ponseti Method.

Links Mentioned In This Podcast.

Clubfoot – University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital 

Ponseti International Association 

To Parents of Children Born With Clubfeet – Article written for parents by the late Dr. Ponseti explaining his method of treatment.

Glossary of Terms From Ponseti International Association – Glossary of some of the common medical terms used by doctors when treating clubfoot.

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 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.

Special Parents Confidential 45 Soledad O’Brien

Soledad O’Brien Interview.

A few months ago, while in a doctor’s office for a checkup, reading the usual magazines, my wife happened to see an article about Soledad O’Brien. She talked about her son Jackson, who was having issues in school with behavior and not understanding instructions from the teacher. Finally, Jackson was diagnosed with 80% hearing loss and is now receiving special support help in school. The interview detailed much of the work that Soledad does, not only for her own children’s education, but also her charity, The Starfish Foundation, which helps support education for middle to low income girls in school.

The article inspired us to get in contact with Soledad’s production company to ask if she would be willing to talk about some of the work she does and the issues that matter to her most about education and special education in America, and around the world. We’re pleased to say that she graciously agreed and this is episode is the resulting interview.

A Great Advocate For Education

As you listen to hear speak, it’s clear that Soledad O’Brien is not only a great advocate for education, but she stresses the importance of all parents being involved in their children’s education, whether the child is in special education or general ed. She is also passionate about the need for proper funding for public education and special education. As she says in the interview, “…the amount of money that it takes to keep people in prison could pay for them to go to Harvard.”

Links Mentioned In The Podcast

The Interview With Soledad O’Brien In Health Magazine (online at WebMD).

Starfish Media Group – Soledad O’Brien’s Production Company

The Starfish Foundation – The education charity founded by Soledad O’Brien and her husband, Brad Raymond.

Matter of FactNew in-depth interview program produced and hosted by Soledad O’Brien.

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Special Parents Confidential 44 Alix Generous

Alix Generous.

In 2015, a young woman named Alix Generous gave a Ted Talk speech that has subsequently had over 14 million views. The speech was entitled, “How I learned to communicate my inner life with Aspberger’s”, and in it Alix talks about her amazing life and how she has achieved so much.

Living With Aspberger’s Syndrome

As a child, Alix Generous was misdiagnosed with the wrong disorder and had a  great deal of difficulties. It wasn’t until the age of 11 that she was finally correctly diagnosed with Aspberger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of Autism. Since then she has made amazing progress.

At 17, she attended the College of Charleston, where she studied Psychology, Molecular Biology, and Neuroscience. When she was 19, she wrote a paper on Coral Reefs and Microbiology that won the 2012 Citizen Science Biodiversity Competition, and she subsequently was invited to speak at the United Nations on her research. Currently, Alix is working as a Neuroscientist, author, and tech consultant, and she gives speeches around the world on issues concerning science, mental health, STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) and women.

Alix Generous joins us on Skype for this episode of Special Parents Confidential to talk about her life and her work, as well as sharing insights into how people with Autism can be helped and supported.

She also discusses how parents, families, and society can benefit through understanding and acceptance of people with Autism and Aspberger’s Syndrome, as well as all people with any physical or developmental disabilities. As she says on the main page of her website:

“This world is in desperate need of creative and intellectual minds to solve complex problems. But before we can do that, we need to build a culture that accepts mental diversity.”

Links For Alix Generous

How I Learned to Communicate My Inner Life With Aspberger’s – Alix Generous’ Ted Talk Speech on the Ted Talk website.

Alix Generous Website 

Facebook Alix Generous Page

Twitter Account for Alix Generous