Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Biography Of Temple Grandin To Air On HBO Canada

TORONTO — When actress Catherine O'Hara came face-to-face with the remarkable woman whose life story is told in the made-for-TV movie, "Temple Grandin," she says she was overcome with a desire to hug the brilliant scientist.

Trouble is, she knew that Grandin's autism meant she had an intense aversion to being touched.

"When you hear her story, you really do, you just want to hug this woman," the gregarious O'Hara exclaims during a recent stop in Toronto to promote the film.

"Just because she's amazing and you want to be as near to her as you can be."

Her recent meeting with the renowned scientist is top-of-mind as she discusses her latest film, "Temple Grandin," airing Saturday on HBO Canada.

She says the encounter ended with Grandin and the cast arm-in-arm for a group photo, and says that as Grandin's fame has risen, so too has her tolerance for fans who want to be near her.

O'Hara plays Grandin's Aunt Ann in the film, which traces an incredible story of perseverance and passion.

The movie begins with Grandin as a frustrated teen labelled unteachable, and follows her blossoming interest in science and a unique empathy for animals that eventually makes her an expert on animal behaviour and autism.

Claire Danes plays Grandin, a task that involved adopting a slew of quirky mannerisms that include a heavy-footed gait, childlike enthusiasm and an odd, declarative speaking tone.

"She's just so totally this woman," O'Hara marvels.

Danes' research for the role included weeks of reading on autism, as well as observing autistic girls and studying Grandin's unique cadence and speech patterns.

She's so convincing as the autistic genius that viewers may at first have a hard time getting beyond the bizarre mannerisms to surrender to the story, O'Hara allows.

"If you're in comedy, people run with you with that but I think it'll probably take a moment," says O'Hara.

"If people don't know the real Temple Grandin ... and you first see Claire Danes you'd go 'What? What?"'

O'Hara's Aunt Ann owns a cattle farm where Grandin spends the summer as a teen. It's there that the curious animal lover develops a fascination for cows and their mannerisms, and takes note of such peculiarities as the movement of a horse's ears and the different types of moos that cows make.

From there, Grandin goes on to study animal behaviour at university and develops a new way of cattle handling that revolutionizes the way livestock is raised for slaughter. She's now professor of animal science at Colorado State University, the author of an array of books and a frequent speaker on autism.

"It's a really great, interesting strong, funny story where I personally learned so much about cows and what they need and how they think," says O'Hara, noting that Grandin has designed over half the slaughter houses in North America and tours the world speaking on ways to handle cows humanely.

"I know we're talking about cows being raised for slaughter but ... we don't have to be cruel. If we're going to raise them to eat them anyway the least we can do is treat them humanely and that's what she's all about."

"Temple Grandin" airs Saturday on HBO Canada.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Amazing Race To Have A Person With Asperger Syndrome This Season

CBS will have someone with Asperger Syndrome on the Amazing Race 12 this season.

On Wednesday, CBS announced the 12 teams that will be competing for a $1 million prize on its 15th installment of the award-winning reality show.

Among the teams are a couple Harlem Globetrotters, professional poker players, married yoga teachers, a person with Asperger's syndrome.

This should be great for many people to see what the definition of Asperger Syndrome is by
watching someone with Asperger's compete.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Asperger Syndrome and Definition

Aspergers Syndrome (AS) is a neurological condition on the autistic spectrum, people with AS often process information and view the world in a different way to people without AS. They may also find certain situations that none AS peopel enjoy difficult to engage in, for example social situations or crowded places. However, it is not and entirley negative condition, and peopel with AS usualy live full and happy lives and often have abilities in certain areas that outstrip the abilities of the none AS population. It is also important to note that AS is not a disability or an illlness, and has no connection with any kind of anti-social behaviour.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Amazing boy with Asperger Syndrome gives the Definition of Hero

A 9-year-old autistic boy from the U.K. is being hailed a hero after he grabbed the steering wheel of his mother's car when she blacked while driving 70 mph, it is reported.
According to The Daily Mail, Jonathan Anderson took over the controls of the car in rush-hour traffic, saving them both from a potentially deadly situation.
Anderson, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, struggled to get the car under control and twice weaved across lanes of traffic, it was reported.
But fortunately, he stayed calm and eventually brought the car to a stop using the emergency brake, The Mail reported.
"I must have passed out, because the next thing I saw was a paramedic fitting a brace around my neck," said the boy's mother Marion Anderson.
"I just couldn't believe it when I was told what had happened and what Jonathan had done."
The schoolboy is to be presented with a bravery certificate, according to the report.
"He's my little superhero," said Anderson.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Model with Asperger Syndrome may have been eliminated because of her mild Autism

She scaled a rock-climbing wall in high heels in a single bound. And she was the chatty "girl" who provided "America's Next Top Model" with its best TV this season. But Heather Kuzmich was eliminated Wednesday, perhaps partly because she has a mild form of autism.

Kuzmich -- a student at the Illinois Institute of Art at the West Mart Center -- has Asperger syndrome. It makes Kuzmich slightly socially clumsy.

Some rivals made fun of her, like when she jumped in a shower with two freaked-out naked girls, because she'd called dibs.

But Kuzmich, a 21-year-old native of Valparaiso, Ind., isn't bitter in the slightest when she watches the show.

"It's pretty accurate, other than the fact that they weren't that mean to me. Bianca and I got along pretty damn well" despite a few televised squabbles, Kuzmich says.

"They aren't really showing parts where we bonded" because "they only have a certain amount of time" to produce an episode.

"I do believe I got a fair shake," Kuzmich says. "If I hadn't mentioned that I have autism, the girls would have not [claimed] I got treated specially. I never felt like I got treated specially."

In fact, Tyra Banks and other judges dumped her after saying they wouldn't show favoritism because of her syndrome-related troubles: Flubbing a TV ad big time; and failing to navigate cab rides while trying to book gigs.

I ask Kuzmich if contestants get secretly happy when a rival fails a challenge. That's only "kind of true," she says.

"Girls do get worried about each other, because you do realize we're human beings," she says. "So in the back of the mind, we do think that. But truth be told, we are worried about each other," too.

Often, reality show stars are villains, but Kuzmich was likable and earned a lot of face time -- and body time. She stripped nude on TV with ease when she showered.

"I knew they weren't going to show [nudity on the air]," Kuzmich says. "But at the time I was like, 'Ha.' I really didn't care at that moment. I was stressed out."

Then there was the small fit Kuzmich threw over sleeping arrangements. Bianca laughed at her.

"Wish I could get the joke," Heather responded.

"You!" Bianca clarified. "YOU'RE the joke."

Kuzmich does wish other girls had been given more airtime.

"There's people out there that think I said certain things so I could get more [TV] time. And honestly that's not what I was trying to do."

Kuzmich plans to pursue modeling. She won CoverGirl model of the week eight times. But she's also headed back to class to study videogame art and design, to have "something to fall back on."

"When I was on the show, I sneaked in a [Nintendo] Game Boy," she says, though producers took it away, along with other girls' iPods.

She rolled with it all.

"The experience was like modeling camp. It was very much fun," she says. "All of them were really great."

Friday, August 24, 2007

Children with Asperger Syndrome using theater workshop for social skills

Theater workshops are a popular summertime activity for kids. Most often the goal is to teach youngsters a few basic acting skills. But in Willmar, one theater workshop is teaching social skills to teenagers with a mild form of autism.
Willmar, Minn. — A girl and two boys sit on a bench in a second-floor classroom above Willmar's Barn Theatre. The teens look shy and bit reluctant when they're asked to sit in a circle and join hands. And a stranger hovering nearby with a microphone doesn't help put anyone at ease.
Most adolescents would be at least uncomfortable holding hands with peers they've only known for a few days. But for these kids sometimes it can be downright terrifying. They've all been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of autism.Kids with Asperger's don't have problems with language like those with more serious forms of autism. For them the challenges are more social in nature. They have a hard time understanding body language and facial expressions. They tend to avoid physical contact. And they prefer not to make eye contact.
Nikki Bettcher Erickson, the theater director who helped develop this program, puts the kids through acting exercises; some are familiar. During one, a girl and a boy sit face to face, touching finger tips and moving in unison as if facing a mirror image.
The exercise is intended to make them more comfortable with touching and eye contact.
Another challenge for kids with Asperger's is understanding emotion. So Betcher Erickson developed an exercise to help the kids express how they feel and understand how other people are feeling.
"I'll start out at the beginning of a circle and we'll go around in a circle and see how many different levels of sad we can use," she says. "For instance I would start out saying 'I'm sad,' and then the next person has to make it more sad. And then it keeps going up, until the last person in the circle is the most sad."
"And we do the same thing with happy, or angry, or stressed out, or calm. We try to use all these different levels of emotion,"

Bettcher Erickson uses these same techniques in local schools when she works with kids with behavioral problems.
Bill Sheehan, a psychiatrist based in the western Minnesota town of Benson, thought the same approach would work for kids with Asperger's. So Sheehan worked with Bettcher Erickson to develop the workshop. He says it's a new approach to therapy.
Theater therapy, as it's called, is already used to help treat depression and addiction. But the two say their program appears to be the only one in the country aimed at kids with autism.
Sheehan says their activities give the teens a chance to practice interacting with peers in a safe atmosphere.
"Gradually as they get their confidence up or they practice these kinds of things, it greatly improves their ability to be able to function in a social world, so that's the goal of this whole approach," Sheehan says.

Sheehan says this theater therapy has been embraced by not only parents, but the kids themselves. He considers that an accomplishment, especially because children with Asperger's are often reluctant to take part in therapy sessions.
Proof he says is the enthusiasm of participants like Caitlyn Wheeler, 17, from Atwater. Wheeler hams it up in an acting exercise, while her classmates try to guess what emotion she's acting out.
After the workshop, Wheeler grabs her dad's hand and heads straight to the door, not eager to stick around and talk with a reporter. But her dad encourages her, and in the end she's willing to stay and offer a strikingly mature assessment of the dreams she has for her future.
"More acting, and maybe get my acting degree in theater, see if I could get into a Broadway musical or famous play or whatever," she says.
Whether or not the therapy helps Wheeler's social interaction with other people is yet to be seen. But for now it's given her the confidence to consider spending more time in front of people on stage.
Organizers of the workshop say their next step is to find funding to study and develop hard data on the therapeutic benefits of theater for kids dealing with Asperger's Syndrome. The next workshop is scheduled for September in Willmar.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Nick News takes a look at Autism and Asperger Syndrome and Definition and the stuggles kids face

Today, an estimated one in 150 kids is diagnosed with autism. Imagine being disconnected from the world around you; not being able to make sense of some things you see, hear, smell and touch; needing something and not being able to express yourself. The award-winning Nick News with Linda Ellerbee takes a look at the lives of kids struggling with different levels of autism in Private Worlds: Kids and Autism premiering Sunday, April 22 at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on Nickelodeon.
"Autism is not a
mental illness. It's not contagious, and it's not a choice; and while kids with autism have been described as living in their own private worlds," Ellerbee said, "they are also living in our world. Therein lies the challenge for all of us: How do we live differently together?"
Private Worlds: Kids and Autism begins with the story of Andrew, a severely autistic fifth grader. It's difficult to understand what life is like for Andrew because he can't communicate his feelings. His family can't go places or do things with out considering his needs, or without worrying he might do something inappropriate in public. Though Andrew will never get entirely better, the family is doing what it can to make his life as full as possible.
The special also introduces viewers to Bond, a 15-year-old with Aspergers Syndrome, generally considered a more high functioning form of autism. He's smart and articulate, but still has problems socializing. Temple Grandin tells her amazing story through her groundbreaking books about being autistic, and implores kids not to tease their autistic classmates. Matt is fourteen and has "Savant Syndrome," which means he possesses an extraordinary gift, in his case, the ability to play the piano. "Savant syndrome" is rare, but it happens.
A final segment highlights how other kids can be a part of the lives and worlds of kids with autism. We meet kids who are part of a special hockey program where kids with autism play with typical kids. Their story shows us that kids with autism have a lot to offer as friends. Private Worlds also features commentary from kids who are not autistic, but speak about what it's like to be around kids who are.
Nick News with Linda Ellerbee, which recently celebrated its 15th year on the air, is the longest-running kids' news show in television history, and has built its reputation on the respectful and direct way it speaks to kids about important issues of the day. In 2005, it won the Emmy for Outstanding Children's Programming for From the Holocaust to the Sudan. In 2002, "Faces of Hope: The Kids of Afghanistan," won the Emmy for Outstanding Children's Programming. In 1994, the entire series, Nick News with Linda Ellerbee, won the Emmy for Outstanding Children's Programming. In 1998, "What Are You Staring At?" a program about kids with physical disabilities, won the Emmy for Outstanding Children's Programming. Nick News with Linda Ellerbee has received more than 20 Emmy nominations. Nick News, produced by Lucky Duck Productions, is also the recipient of three Peabody Awards, including a personal one given to Ellerbee for her coverage, for kids, of the President Clinton impeachment; two Columbia duPont Awards; and more than a dozen Parents' Choice Awards.
Nickelodeon, in its 28th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books, magazines and feature films. Nickelodeon's U.S. television network is seen in almost 92 million households and has been the number-one-rated basic cable network for almost 12 consecutive years. Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc. .
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