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I'm in the final stage of prepping for the oral exams as part of my Ph.D. studies, and I find myself wanting to with all my heart to be "ABD." Tonight, though, I found myself exploring a related acronym: ASD, or Autism Spectrum Disorders. As Rhapsody's moving post reminded me, today is autism awareness day. A worthy cause if ever there was one, and Rhapsody's son is as much proof as I'd ever need to be convinced that getting involved matters.

If you haven't already, do check out Rhapsody's posts. I'll wait. :-)

Rhapsody is actually the second person today who's mentioned ASD to me. My shrink took the occasion to ask me if I'd ever been tested, because over the last few months we've talked about things that she was reminded of by the day. She's not a clinician so wouldn't formally diagnose me (and at this point there's not much advantage to being formally diagnosed), but she thought I had many of the signs and that I might benefit from some of the coping strategies. If anything, certain parts of my life have gotten more unmanageable than tee past. The sound of people rubbing coat-arms together can be acutely painful to the point that I'll either walk away or ask them politely to stop; department Christmas parties have become real ordeals to work up to - though less once I'm actually there - and I've gotten truly obsessive with number patterns I see when walking around. I'm more or less fine online, but offline I've turned into a first-class introvert.

I also got curious and poked around online a bit, and found a self-diagnosis quiz. Normally I wouldn't put much stock in those but the therapist's comment had me curious as how I'd score. I got 41 out of 50. For reference, that's higher than 95% of the test-takers, and 80% of autistics score 32 or higher.

It's hard to know what to make of this. I don't know that it will change anything, and it is a bit nice to think my being this way is not just "me." But at the same time it does make the social and communication problems I struggle with (and they've been significant lately) seem more real somehow. Plus, I don't want to take attention away from the "real" cases by only getting interested when I see it in myself. In any event I wanted to raise a bit of awareness for ASD. Whether I have it or not, reading over the symptoms made me appreciate how challenging ti must be. But rewarding, I'm sure. So three cheers for anyone who volunteers with autistics, and the parents and all the rest who help them thrive.

(Posted at LJ; please comment there.)
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Yesterday [personal profile] altariel reminded me of a great site, www.goodgifts.org. They let you donate generally or to a specific project, and they have some really neat ones, everything from new socks to school uniforms to an opera performance for an underprivileged kid to expose him or her to culture. They also give you a card, ecard, or cracker. While they are a British company (so donation figures are in pounds), I know for a fact that they accept U.S. donations and ship the giftee cards here. I'm sure they'd be happy to do likewise with the E.U., and probably other areas of the globe. They're a good charity, and do a good job of balancing donor relations with putting your money to work.

FYI, it's $1.57 to the pound and €1.20 to the pound as of 21-December. So for example, a five-pound donation costs an American $7.85.

Another charity I've donated through in the past is DonorsChoose.org. They're cool because your recipient gets to pick a project with a school to use the donation for. It can be kind of nice to give someone the gift of an hour browsing through the projects and finding one that they feel a strong connection to, but without having to shell out the donation dollars themselves.

So if you're still looking for something to give someone, do check out these sites. They do good work, and if you don't mind printing out the thank-you notice rather than receiving something by mail you can certainly sill use them in time for Christmas.

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Originally posted at LJ; please comment there.

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August 2012

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