Playing by Your ‘Elf

Dear Santa Wil Wheaton,

During the holidays, many eager games want new toys. As a gamer myself, I enjoy watching episodes of “Table Top.” We play many similar games, and I wonder what other experiences we share.

At first, I researched what single-player games you might have reviewed. While played with a bunch of friends on Table TopZombie Dice can be a brief yet fun distracting game. Recently, I got Dungeon Roll, which also can be played as a single player or with a small group. Do you review any other single-player games? Next, I began (re)reading your blog. Again, we seem to have similar ideas about civility, government, and, well, hobbies like gaming. I also appreciate your candor in addressing mental health, including anxiety and depression. Do you understand autism, too?

Here’s what I want for the holidays, Santa Wil: May we chat about our shared interest of games? Specifically, I’d like to steer the conversation into solo game play, for individual fans of our shared audience who may not easily find fellow competitive gamers, or who otherwise prefer singular play. How many more people with anxiety, autism, and depression could find a healthy outlet by playing more games- even single-player games? Later, we can debate the merits of decision making, organization skills, etc. that some games may offer a single player. Please message us through this blog post if you’d like to continue this idea.

I’ve been a good boy, this year, Wil. I’ve played new games, and am writing more comic books, too. An opportunity to collaborate on behalf of more gamers with mental health social challenges would be a wonderful way to wrap-up 2016.

If any elves might have been reading over Wil’s shoulder (or Wil himself), what other single-player games might you or readers suggestion for their loved ones with autism, anxiety, or depression? This season, let’s presume greater competence for more people to play more games!

Be well,

Dave Kot, Author at Face Value Comics – The World’s 1st Featured Comic Book Hero with Autism

DISCLAIMER: I am in no way affiliated with any of the games, pictures, or websites linked or referenced; those references, aside from Face Value Comics, are not connected to me and are their rightful owners’ intellectual property, copyright, trademark, etc.

Diarrhea and Low-Functioning Autism

After Thanksgiving dinner, I had diarrhea.

This example may give some readers pause as they flash signs of contempt or disgust. However, most people share a personal understanding of brief diarrhea. Exact causes may be difficult to pinpoint, but usually involve complex chemistry of fluid imbalance. Other factors, like stress, may warrant consideration, too. Still, most people can empathize and sympathize with this gastrointestinal challenge. In polite company, we refrain from sharing our toileting experiences. This is an unwritten social rule. I contend how diarrhea may only momentarily detract from our daily routines or work performances, though. As filthy as diarrhea might be, we understand it well enough from our own experiences, and still dislike addressing it. I wonder how proud actors feel whilst filming commercials for an over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medication.

Unconsciously, we might assign those negative images of watery feces to the person having diarrhea. We give the ill person distance, to avoid contracting diarrhea ourselves. We encourage bed rest, medication, and other things which completely remove them from future conversations until WE think they act or feel …

…wait for it…

“normal.” Despite our intimate knowledge of diarrhea, we automatically shun anyone who currently experiences it. We devalue their contributions because we assume their illness also affects mental alertness or other skills we otherwise expect. We seek to avoid contamination ourselves, and scrub our hands with anti-bacterial soap. Flush our relationship until the illness passes. We may want our friends to rest, or we may want nothing to do with a stranger who ate gas-station sushi.

Why are we so dismissive and lack compassion for an experience we likely have all shared and at least conceptually understand? Couldn’t a person with diarrhea still draw, still code, still do a lot of non-physically challenging things of value? I believe this person can add value. However, society caps their presumed potential until their diarrhea passes and they “act” less of an uncomfortable threat to our societal expectations.

1 in 68 persons has autism, and I believe more than this ratio have had diarrhea. Not as many people understand autism as well as diarrhea. Making understanding more difficult, we ascribe words like “low functioning” as a description. No, we may not come out and say “low functioning.” Instead, we use words like “high functioning autism,” which immediately supposes its counter-point: low-functioning autism. Likewise, we avoid invoking the word, “diarrhea” because we know peer judgement follows. Instead, words like “upset stomach” or “wiped out” seem more polite. What is a nicer way of saying “low functioning autism?” Yeah, there aren’t any, and you’re foolish to think aggressors won’t prey upon this distinction. Even worse, I contend some people with “higher functioning autism” also know how to throw bully-wolves off their scent by making such comparisons.

“I don’t have diarrhea; I’ve a tummy ache.” “I might have autism, but it’s ‘HIGH functioning autism.'”  Both sentences desperately seek acceptance, and use language to seem more approachable. I believe most people know what diarrhea looks like, but doubt many of these same people could identify two clinical needs which warrant a lower functional categorization. Instead, society fumbles with perceptions over what “low” functioning might be, even if their examples seem disconnected to autism. This becomes a dangerous enterprise, adding more doubt, myths, and missed opportunities for our community as a whole.

Instead, leave the adjectives “high functioning” and “low functioning” autism to the clinicians who crafted the words for their own medical processes. Stop manufacturing more reasons for polite society to fear or further distance themselves from an impolite conversation. As a collection of human beings, we cannot have easy discussions about loose stool, so why do we think invoking high/low functionalities will improve understandings of autism without similar contempt, disgust, or fear of known diarrhea?

Please add to this conversation if you have a counter-point. I boldly contend that we should erase the use of autism functionalities outside of our clinicians’ offices. Someone saying they’ve “high functioning” autism is really saying, “Yes, I’m autistic, BUT please don’t confuse me for someone with low-functioning autism, because I know you won’t give me any chances otherwise.” I dare anyone who identifies as having “high-functioning” autism to say it WITH a person who has “low functioning” autism also present, and then point to that person and call ’em “low functioning” to their face. OWN that glorified trap, if you must insist on its non-clinical use. Outside of educational/medical care, can you name any situation where identifying an autism functionality is helpful to the individual, the recipient of that information, or “polite” society (the same group who cannot stomach talks of diarrhea) as we seek greater acceptance?  Nah, we won’t have acceptance from neurotypical folk until we can accept ourselves.

Dear Rosie…An Open Letter about Autism (Probably Part 1 of Many)

AN OPEN LETTER TO ROSIE O’DONNELL, PART ONE

Over the Thanksgiving break, I read about Rosie O’Donnell. Via Twitter, O’Donnell acknowledges how her young daughter has an autism diagnosis. We applaud her bravery to seek a definitive diagnosis to explain whatever challenges Dakota may have. Furthermore, we welcome O’Donnell as a staunch advocate for positive change.

Millions love Rosie O’Donnell as a comedic entertainer. We watched her spar with (now, President-Elect) Donald Trump through social media. Obviously both O’Donnell and Trump have each others’ attention and respond in kind.

Now hypervigilant about autism symptoms, O’Donnell took to Twitter on November 21st and asked a question related to autism. Her tweet is embedded here, but I chose not to activate the video link; the video itself is not today’s topic. Rosie O’Donnell’s influential advocacy role as a loving caregiver to someone with autism is our topic.

rosiebarron

Question: Name someone – anyone – who can elicit a passionate reply from our soon-to-be Commander-in-Chief? Is O’Donnell at the top of your list, after crossing-out (untrustworthy) media sources?

I appeal to O’Donnell’s love for her daughter on behalf of 3.5 million United States citizens living with autism. Use your advocacy skills, love, and Trump’s attention to start a non-confrontational discussion about autism. People will (and already have) listen to you. You’ve more ways to continue said campaign than most readers’ resources pooled together.

Everything lives forever on the internet, so I caution O’Donnell from referring to any child’s possible health concerns without parental or their own consent. This admonition includes referencing Barron Trump, too. I believe O’Donnell is: 1) NOT a certified medical professional trained to diagnose autism, 2) NOT Barron Trump’s physician, and 3) WANTING to start a positive autism discussion at the highest political level in our land. Therefore, I lament her willingness to make an armchair diagnosis about any person’s kid, especially without their consent or desire for such benevolent inquiries. Within the autism community, we fight against neurotypical stereotypes, and these include “symptoms” others may see for less than thirty seconds. Like fast food, social media gives us a flash of reality and expects us to digest it just as easily as a legitimate source of nourishment.

Instead, I offer to walk with O’Donnell along her autism journey. I invite her to chat with me, and I’m sure she will if motivated. I also call upon her to do some positive things about advocacy. Follow me.

Step One:

Acknowledge social problems experienced by persons living with autism. These include abysmal statistics in unemployment, underemployment, long-term housing, medical insurance coverages, and educational material. Until meaningful accommodations are met, persons with autism will be seen as social bottom-feeders beyond the playground. Will you please address this problem, Ms. O’Donnell?

Step Two:

May I call you “Rosie,” please? All of this “Ms. O’Donnell” language seems far too terse when we speak of compassionate service.

Step Three (This is a BIG One!):

Join me in lifting the autism-community boycott of Autism Speaks. Since the passing of co-founder Suzanne Wright, Autism Speaks seems poised to lead by mindful education. Else, they may feel compelled to return to fear-mongering and perpetuating myths about autism. New leaders deserve a chance – isn’t this what President Obama said? Let’s align ourselves with Autism Speaks as the largest U.S. Autism-centered non-profit organization. Obviously, our boycotts did not work, but we do have their attention. Are we willing to be as accepting of others (including new people who lead Autism Speaks) as we claim we want other people to be of us?

Step Four:

Buy a copy of Face Value Comics. Actually, get it for free, here: http://www.drivethrucomics.com/product/124765/Face-Value-Comics

Two years ago, I opted to remove financial constraints from people interested in our comic book. As the world’s first comic book to explicitly feature a hero with autism, we got a lot of attention. We won international awards and enjoy a world-wide audience. Our inclusion of facial feature recognition earned us a positive review in an accredited medical journal as an educational and therapeutic enterprise; we’re the only comic book to be reviewed in a medical journal, too. Pay what you want.

Step Five:

Please, call me Dave. When I hear “David,” I look for my mother, who is likely going to yell at me for something I (probably) did.

Step Six:

Join us in our grass-roots advocacy. We’re just everyday people, but we self-published a unique comic book. We’ve been on the NBC Nightly News, medical journals, and have spoken to the PA and US Congress about autism as subject-matter experts. We would welcome you to share this advocacy spotlight, because I fatigue easily due to my own health challenges (including autism).

In April 2017, in Philadelphia, we debut our latest comic book for fans. As we finish editing and storyboards, we welcome your input into how autism might be portrayed. We seek clear understandings, and to maintain our family-friendly content. You started a serious conversation- will you continue? Do you need or want our help? Have you ever been to a Comic Book Convention as a fan?

Step Seven:

Continue the conversation. I have other strategies we can discuss about positive autism advocacy and acceptance. I also have several Trump-focused Tweets suitable for sharing, that further push this agenda. Otherwise, fans and myself risk seeing you as a fair-weathered advocate for equality and human rights, choosing how and when to stand up or give up based on convenience. Autism is a life-long diagnosis and challenge; will your advocacy, compassion, and interest extend as far?

My requests may take some time to ponder. Contacting me may take time. Let’s decide to chat again in a week, okay? Rosie – please visit and follow us on Facebook, (https://www.facebook.com/FaceValueComics/?ref=bookmarks) or on Twitter (https://twitter.com/FaceValueComics), and send us a message.

Be well,

Dave Kot, an adult with autism and co-parent to a lovely young lady with autism

Autism Awareness? Acceptance? Need Your Help!

Within the autism community, we continually seek more awareness about autism. We hope that with enough awareness, we can forge meaningful relationships based on acceptance. A third prong on the autism advocacy trident is often associated with both or either point: complaining. Understandably, we have no representation within democratic government, we have watered-down educational standards in public education, and our general public remains afraid and ignorant of autism. At a comic book convention, one fan bravely asked if he could contract autism by shaking my hand. Surely, we have lots of work to do to promote autism awareness and acceptance.

What if you could contribute to raising MORE autism awareness? Would you? What if the financial price for the support cost you no additional money (unless you felt philanthropic)? What if the associated time cost you less than an hour?

What if you could contribute to raising MORE autism acceptance? Would you? What if you could raise BOTH autism awareness AND acceptance by doing ONE action? “Wait, Dave-” you cry out; “I’m stuck at home after a blizzard!” If you can read this blog post online, you can also contribute to positive autism advocacy from the safety and warmth of your own home. Will you?

Here’s how you can help: “buy” a comic book. Specifically, buy the world’s first featured comic book hero with autism, written by an autistic adult. Profits from the comic book help pay for future printings of the comic book. However, I personally believe that our comic book can bring a lot of value. Therefore, I do not want an MSRP to be a barrier for some families in financial need. So, last year, I set the digital copy of Issue #1 as a “Pay What You Want” price. Most people donate $2.00 USD for 36 pages of content without advertising (comparable to a mass-produced, 24-page comic book, with 25%+ advertisements, at a similar price evaluation), but you can choose whatever amount you like. You can ever donate AFTER your digital download of Issue #1, here:

http://www.drivethrucomics.com/product/124765/Face-Value-Comics?src=slider_view

For over two years, we stand atop the Top Ten “Hottest Comics” without a staff review. Trust me- I’ve asked for a professional review from the world’s oldest digital comic book store. Will YOU review the comic book? Will you have anything positive to say about the comic book?

It’s a far cry to proclaim how being a top-selling comic book promotes autism advocacy.

To that accusation, I’ll ask you if any other comic book and its creator were featured on the nation’s largest news network. Yes, Disney/Marvel Comics debuted an African-American as Captain America, and a female lead-character named Thor. How is their diversity campaign going? Do you think we will see Steve Rogers don his iconic shield for the next Avengers movie, or will it be Sam Wilson? What about Thor- will SHE be on the big screen anytime soon? These stories made headlines, but were driven by one of the largest businesses in the world. By comparison, I am just a guy.

Maybe you missed out on our inclusion in an accredited medical journal? Spiderman and Superman have NEVER been referenced in a medical journal of any academic merit. Ours is the first comic book to be reviewed by professionals for a medical journal. Last year, we were also inducted into the National Museum of Disability History for our comic books. Some people may do well to take seriously something as simple as a comic book.

Maybe you don’t understand the science behind the comic book, with all fantasy situations aside. Instead, I refer to facial feature recognition. “Wait a minute, that idea of emotional self-regulation seems familiar.” It should- Golden Globe Award Winning “Inside Out” showcased emotional recognition based on the E-X-A-C-T same science we use. My role model- Dr. Paul Ekman- developed facial feature recognition as a non-verbal, multicultural taxonomy to learn more about how others may feel. He consulted on “Inside Out.” Disney/Marvel could not easily market a comic book about facial feature recognition so soon after our lauded attention, so they made a movie. Our main character’s last name is “Eckman.” Some of the top comic book business people follow our blog and social media. Also, several prominent self-advocates follow us. While I’m a fan of the X-Files’ conspiracy theories, I suggest how none of these ideas are a mere coincidence. We’ve tapped into a different, non-traditional way to reach children with autism and those who care for them…and important people take notice. Do you?

Question: Do you remember all of the people who changed their Facebook profiles in support of __________ (fill in the blank)? Do they still support __________ (fill in the blank)? Let’s face it- support can be a long and tiring struggle. I’m not asking you to wade through the trenches with me; I’m asking you to be a part of social capitalism. With more sales – even at $0.00 – we send a message to the marketplace that something GOOD about autism is worth our money and time. Medical doctors already understand the educational and therapeutic value our comic books can provide. Educators meet with us this spring to formalize special resources for better emotional (self) regulation, without raising taxes. Kids and their loved ones helped propel us to one of the most successful, independently published comic book in history.

…or will it be easier for you to sip coffee from your mug emblazoned with a puzzle piece? Support autism advocacy by downloading Issue #1, here:

http://www.drivethrucomics.com/product/124765/Face-Value-Comics?src=slider_view

 

Literally FLOORED!

IMG_20160116_172502700

Last week, staff and students at a local autism school sent me almost two dozen ‘Get Well’ homemade cards and letters! When I opened the box, I was floored- literally!

Obviously, my ongoing health concerns have caused delays in publishing our comic books. Rest assured that I am getting quality treatment, and hope to be myself again soon. When I am capable, I will be visiting this school and students. I want kids to celebrate my latest international award (Children’s Literature, Canada) WITH me, and take some ownership in the experience. I never sought to become a writing role-model to anyone, but seems like I cannot avoid this heavy responsibility.

Please be patient with me, and with yourselves.

 

Solving State Budget Crisis with 4th Grade Math (by an adult with autism)

 

[WARNING This post may incite Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder over remembered experiences with mathematical word problems or school experiences the same.]

A train leave Chicago at 4:15pm, travelling 120 mph.

Another train leaves New York at 5:25pm, travelling 90 mph.

At what time will Pennsylvanian legislators resolve their political rhetoric to decidedly vote on a balanced budget, as promised?

We already have an untapped revenue stream that would certainly add immediate funds to our resource pool. Instead of cutting special needs education or laying-off social service agency workers, we can exercise better safety while building a sizable revenue like never in history.

We do this by adding a small usage fee to known, speedy racers on state turnpike roads.

It’s simple math we learned in fourth grade, folks.

The distance between Place A and Place B is 60 miles along the turnpike.

The posted speed limit within this distance is 65 mph. With some advanced mathematics, we can determine how acceleration, deceleration, weather, etc. means a typical average speed of 60 mph.

If, driving an average of 60 mph over 60 miles’ distance means we could arrive at our destination within one hour. Is everyone still with me?

Sure, I may stop and use a public washroom, or eat fast food, or take-in a local attraction. All of these variables only ADD to our overall travel time. This means that my estimated, expected one hour drive will take longer by as much as I want. There is no need to worry about these drivers. In fact, they contribute to the local economies with their patronage.

I want to address the willing speeders. I want a safer road and travel.

I want a small ‘pay-to-play’ fine immediately assessed on turnpike/state-paid toll roads. The system partially exists. When we enter the turnpike, we get a date-and-time stamped ticket. We present this ticket to the toll booth operator upon exit, and pay the cost of travel from known Point A to Point B. Alternatively, we can use an electronic debit system that assesses the toll tied to our bank.

We also know an average, safe rate of speed for that trip. Again, if I pull-off road for an overnight stay at a commercial hotel, so be it. My time spent on road is more difficult to calculate. We won’t bother about these variables, and instead focus on the known speeders.

If a driver speeds in excess of the known variables, and exits Point B a few minutes sooner than expected, we begin to see my strategy unfold. Again, if someone was expected to be driving just 5 mph (or less) faster, so be it. What if they drove the distance in HALF of the anticipated time?

We assess a fine, to be paid immediately via deductions from electronic debit systems like E-Z Pass, or ask toll booth workers to assess the penalty. For drivers who may be short on cash, we extend sympathy and an envelope in which they may place their fines within a certain time frame. Failure to pay these assessed fines could be easily bypassed, but I wish good luck to such skipping drivers the next time they exit a toll road.

Fines do not be to be large sums of money. Maybe assigning a value of a mere dollar for speeds 5-9 mph over expected arrival times will suffice. I doubt most people would notice a dollar ‘fine’ or ‘tax’ for their speedier driving. For larger speed differentials, we assess larger fines or taxes.

Pennsylvania has more paved roads within its borders than all of New York and New England combined. Surely, we have speeders who may willingly pay pocket change for the freedom to travel just a little faster than expected. We exercise the same serious tone with speeders as they who brazenly and willingly think they can justify speeding on public roads with lots and lots and lots of potholes.

How much money could this enterprise bring? This formula can be done with your own state.

Calculate mileage of toll roads. Determine distances between entry and exits. Predict various speeds, like entry acceleration or exit deceleration. Include factors like weather, if needed. Assign thresholds of speed accountability (i.e.: Is 5mph over limit too generous? Is 10mph over limit too generous?), and fees for those speed rates (i.e. Is $1 too much or too little? What dollar amount would you assess a speeder who drove 120% of the speed limit?). Direct accountability in billing or fee assessment. Build computation infrastructure to do repetitive fourth-grade math. Promote. Market. Advertise. Implement. Sit back and get paid by speedy drivers at a proportional rate to non-paid speeding tickets, but whose fees could be deducted automatically via electronic debit systems already in use. Enjoy safer, less speedy drivers on toll roads. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Of course, the cost of educating people, building collection systems, and other factors may exists that I do not yet realize. This isn’t a perfect system. However, it uses something largely in place, with a system that many of us expect already (read: You mean there ISN’T an obligatory fine waiting for me when I get clocked for speeding?). It also reduces the number of police force dedicated to solely speeding on toll roads. Police can be better utilized, since the basic math already implicates speedy drivers’ deeds.

What about speedy drivers who realize their lead foot, and just duck into the local rest stop before their exit and cheat the system? Well, we now have an individual frequenting a place of business along a toll road. What are the chances they buy something that may cost as much or more than the anticipated fine? I suspect someone will drive like lightning, hoping to stop and buy a candy bar at Zero-Hour near the exit ramp. However, if you are speeding, I doubt that you will want to ruin your great track record by making a pit stop. You drove fast for a reason, and unless you are driving without a speedometer, you also know just how much faster you are driving over the posted speed limit. You gambled, and until now, you won. You beat the system. You dodged other drivers, including police officers. You broke old land-speed records in your attempt to visit your Great Aunt. Congratulations, speedy drivers, but your time in the Victor’s Circle comes to an end.

How much money could we net as a state or nation if we- shockingly- held people accountable for breaking laws on toll roads? How many people do you think use the PA Turnpike daily? How many of them speed, do you think? Multiple this last number by as little as $1 USD and see how we can prevent political bias in promised budget reformation.

This is my second idea to end the PA budget stalemate in the same day. What have our elected officials offered today? Remember, most people will dismiss this idea just because I am an adult with autism, and therefore automatically presume I have less public value. What do you think? If you like this idea, please share it. Honestly, I don’t even care if I get credit for this work; ‘business as usual’ shouldn’t mean massive layoffs…

…while the politicians still get paid to merely debate with no real offers on the table. I’d like to ask all PA Congress to work without pay from TODAY until they pass a balanced budget; we’d have amendments flying off desks before tomorrow, I expect. Also, no congressional representative can vote for increased salaries for two years, making their lives more typical to our own, with just a modest, meh, 2% cost-of-living increase (maybe).

Maybe you dislike my revenue streams or ideas. I am okay with other opinions voiced respectfully, but I do ask for you to come up with some way(s) to make money for our Commonwealth before you throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Get off Your A$k, Government: Autism Education Reform

Dear Pennsylvanian Congressmen Mike Doyle, Scott Perry, and Seth Grove:

My name is Dave Kot, an autistic constituent living in York, PA. Perhaps you remember me? We met to discuss small business practices, and educational/therapeutic implications behind our internationally-award winning comic book. Now, I offer to help our government during a time of budgetary needs, when special education funding stands at risk.

Maybe I lost your interest with words like “autistic” or “comic book.” Typically, these two things wouldn’t seem complimentary. Certainly, most people would not opt for either adjective as a default prerequisite. Maybe you don’t want my help, and prefer to banter between Governor Tom Wolfe while our state budget – and intended beneficiaries of ear-marked funds – hang in the balance. I ask you to presume greater competence from an adult with autism, and continue reading for a probable solution.

Digital Camera
My apologies for the format of the photograph- I will upload a new picture of the award in the near future, showing its spiffy wood carvings!

This picture shows me holding an international award from Canada, which I received on last week. It recognizes my application of science to assist young readers with autism identify others’ emotions, to improve some social situations. Don’t you find it easier to negotiate with people who smile instead of scorn? Think back- who taught you what anger, or fear, or disgust looked like? Our comic helps readers identify these emotional states by themselves or with help. NBC Nightly News featured this work last year.

However, our non-profit mission goes far beyond comic books. Last year, my scientific application of facial feature recognition was recognized by the academic community. Unsolicited by me, an accredited medical journal (Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities) warmly reviewed the comic for my claims and validated my doctorial studies. To my knowledge, ours is the world’s first comic book to be critically reviewed by unbiased third parties for inclusion in a medical journal.

Do I have your attention, yet? Does it matter that I am also clinically diagnosed with autism (technically, “Asperger’s Syndrome”)? Do years of graduate and post-graduate work matter? Do several international awards and prominent global grass-roots leaders within my circles matter? Does inclusion in a medical journal matter? If none of these things matter to you, I lay my ‘trump’ card (no relation):

Join us. I’ve developed fantastic relationships. This spring, the Dover Area School District Supervisor (Kenneth Cherry) and Supervisor of Special Education (Dave Depew) and our team will meet. We will begin formulating special needs curriculum using the exact same scientific theory about which I wrote. Does this invitation interest you? How about now, Congressmen:

Last spring, the Dover Areas School District School Board unanimously voted to adopt facial feature recognition (read: the science behind our comics) as part of its special needs classroom initiative. Some people may think, “…what does that vote have to do with me?”

Expert analysis by people I consider smarter than myself predict how implementation of facial feature recognition could be used to GAIN about $1,000 to $1,500 PER classroom PER district PER year. Would you like to know how? This answer will require an in-depth presentation of materials, like my wife and I offered the Dover Area School District. Suffice to say, this net increase to special education can occur without adding ONE cent to the typical taxpayer, and insulates itself against future federal or state budget changes or cuts. Over time, analysis suggests how Dover Area School District will be the first school district able to offer graduating students with special needs a tax-free grant for further education or other personal costs. Imagine- just by implementing my well-vetted research, we could offer a high school senior money for college textbooks, or a new suit for job interviews, etc. We also push school choice by offering competitive education.

Would you prefer to affect positive change for students and families with special education needs, or do you prefer the political stalemate and barbs between yourselves and Governor Tom Wolfe? Please make no mistake- I am largely non-political and don’t care who gets credit for this work. We can and should share in good news, regardless of political affiliation. However, things could be done faster with Pennsylvania’s Congress (and the U.S. Congressional Autism Congress?) in tune with this proposed goal, to replicate it wherever it may be useful.

Congressmen, I invite you to witness scientific, economical, and educational change poised to happen under your watch in your respective areas of governance. I thank you for your assistance in my business matters, your praise for my work as an adult with autism, and now offer to pay it forward to help our community and state. Will you accept my invitation and lay down rhetoric for real change? Will you trust a person with autism who offers valid options for change? In closing, I’ll simply invoke the name of Temple Grandin- a fellow academic professional with autism whose autism allowed her to see things differently and whose courage changed an entire way of business. I am not Temple Grandin, but I am Dave Kot. I can help you help Pennsylvanian and United States’ special education programs.

Please continue the discussion via this social media source, or email us at: Angie@FaceValue.US

Thank you for your time and interest, and Happy New Year!

Be well,

Dave Kot

Autism, Tragedy Takes No Holidays

 

By now, you may have learned about the tragic outcome of a nationally-broadcast search. On New Year’s Eve, a five year-old boy with autism went wandering from a family home. At your own comfort, at your own time, read more about the story, here: http://ow.ly/WydPq

I am very sad, and rather inconsolable at the moment. I do not have words to express my sympathy. Instead, I will try to do what I do best: teach.

If I were wealthy, I could throw money at the problem. If I were a politician, I could probably make some radical promises to ensure future safety. Since I am neither of these things, I may have limited options. Fear may guide my decisions. Instead, I will teach.

Tomorrow, I will host a family fire drill in our home. I suppose I could research a lot of different resources and find a spiffy worksheet, but I opt for raw emotion in real time.

FIRE DRILL PREPARATION

  1. Coordinate. With my partner, we will schedule a time for our family fire drill. Together, we will inform our neighbors, as to raise awareness and reduce panic. I’ll also place small traffic cones in our neighborhood, in hopes of reducing speedy passers-by.
  2. Preview the Activity. About an hour before the scheduled event, we will review casual terms of fire safety with the family. These things would include what a smoke detector sounds like, how to escape a hot/smoky room, and where to collectively meet. We will prompt correct answers, and build confidence.
  3. Hold the Family Fire Drill. At the planned time, we set-off the smoke detector, and time our exit.
  4. Review. After the fire drill, we will sit down with hot chocolate (hey, it’s going to be cold tomorrow) and discuss why we did things the way we did. Ask for input from the family. Learn their comfort levels and try to reduce anxiety. Reinforce how proud we are of the kids to manage their own safety. Since these safety drills can inspire fear, we will reduce this anxiety by playing a family game or similar bonding activities. My partner and I must instill faith and trust in our ability to lead during a family crisis, like a real-life fire/smoke emergency.
  5. Read visitor comments to this blog post. I will continually edit this document with accredited sources. Thank you for reading this update.

I’m quite certain this list looks more like a rough draft, and I probably missed some key points. Feel free to suggest other things we could do as a family, but I simply ask you first…

PLEASE COMPLETE YOUR OWN HOME FIRE/SMOKE DRILL BEFORE COMMENTING ON MINE. Then, please advise.

I refuse to allow fear-mongering about autism, despite this tragic story. We must be motivated by hope, and find some measure of control within ourselves. These are the best way to insulate against fear: learning and empowerment.

 

New Year Autism Opportunities

Happy New Year! One of my personal/professional goals was to read more new theories about coping with autism. At Christmas, I got a special gift from my friend, Dr. Rob Melillo. He asked me to review his latest book!

I’m humbled and honored by his invitation. Dr. Melillo’s the world’s most-quoted author on neurodevelopmental disorders. Soon, I’ll share my thoughts about “The Disconnected Kids Nutrition Plan” on this blog.

drrob

Instead of bragging, I want to remind our fans how this is a shared journey. Whenever anyone tells you or a loved one – with or without autism – you “can’t” do something you want to do, you’ve an opportunity to positively change their perceptions. I have autism. Because I have some poor social experiences, I lost (too) much in my personal and professional life. We could commiserate for days about autism, but I offer a more productive experiment:

Be the change you want to see in the world,” said Mahatma Gandhi. How do we do this work, to change social opinions about autism? “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,” retorts Lao-Tzu. January is rife with planned promises for the future. What will you be doing to help yourself or loved ones feel safer, feel more welcomed and valued, and feel more successful? I’m listening more, reading more, and writing more good stuff.

Join me.

Open Letter to U.S. Congress

Dear Congressmen Doyle and Smith, and Respected Members of the U.S. Congressional Autism Caucus:

I write to you as an autism self-advocate. While my local representative, Congressman Mike Doyle (Co-Chair), and I met this summer, I bring new concerns to you all.

Recently, price spikes of certain prescription medicines caused alarm from the economic and health care sectors. Now, without prediction, some health care providers must cut generic medication from their formularies because of inflated cost. Some doctors prescribe medications to treat acute symptoms or other diagnoses for people with autism. I would like to know how the Affordable Care Act is insulated against future cost cuts of very commonly prescribed medications.

Congressmen Doyle, I’d like to revisit your invitation to meet and address more of your colleagues. Since we last met, I’m happy to share how my research into facial feature recognition for persons with autism has been vetted in a scientific medical journal! With so many budget decisions before our legislature, perhaps now might be a time for me to discuss the (special) education cost savings/surplus model with you; it’s the same model that received unanimous votes from our local school district this year.

Finally, I ask for an opportunity to grow beyond my comfort level. I am just a man. Nobody expected how a comic book would thrust me into international spotlight for autism awareness and acceptance. I’ve a social responsibility to use my fame and (self) advocacy mission for good use. For example, I’ll share this letter through all of our social media outlets, as an example of how to address civil leadership. If/when I meet with you, may I bring some friends who would quell my anxiety and lend their voice to mine if I tire? (After this letter hits Facebook,) May I bring one-thousand like-minded friends discuss the future of autism advocacy? I encourage everyone reading this letter to seek healthy relationships between civil leadership and autism advocates at any level.

Be well,

Dave Kot

Autism Awareness – Meet the World's 1st Comic Book Hero with Autism!