Wednesday, February 20, 2008

verbal communications difficulties and assistive technology

Lately I have been thinking about verbal communications difficulties with Asperger's. More specifically I have been thinking about my verbal communications difficulties. A while back I found a blog post. by Elmindreda about speech and Asperger's. As I was reading that I noticed similarities with speech difficulties I have. So lately I have been thinking of assistive technology that I could use when I having difficulties communicating verbally.

Although there are several commercially available devices, the ones I have seen don't seem to fit the bill. For one thing, given that I can usually communicate verbally, I would be hard pressed to get my insurance to pay for one. Also the devices I have seen seem to bulky and cumbersome for me to want to drag around with me every day. So I had to figure out some other option. I have a PDA I carry with me and use all the time. so that seemed like a good option.

I was poking around the net looking for text to speech software for my PDA. I found a few things and played around with a couple of them. Out of the ones I tried I like HipTalk the best. That website is in Spanish. To download a demo of the software click "descargar" then on the next screen go to where it says "Descargar HipTalk gratis" and click "descargar". The website says it's version 1.0 but the download will be the newest version. So far I am pretty pleased with the software. It can read off stuff in your memo pad or you can write stuff on the fly. Right now I have a few bits of text in my memo pad categorized under "speech". This way if I am having difficulties with speech I can just pull up the string of text that explains that. On top of that I have it setup so I can access the text I need just by using the buttons on the bottom of my PDA. Another really nice feature of HipTalk is the ability to adjust the speed at which the text is spoken, as well as the tone.

The only real issue I have encountered with the software is that the website for it is no longer around, so I can't register the software. Registering would be nice because it would get rid of the intro screen and allow me to speak more than 500 characters.

The only other issue is that my palm zire 21 has a crappy speaker on it. So the speech isn't as loud as I would like. I am going to be upgrading my PDA soon, so hopefully the next one will have a better speaker. Otherwise I will have to come up with some sort of external speaker setup. Hopefully I will work something out. For now at least I have something.

Another use of of this software is for my reading difficulties. I can just pop in my headphones and have my PDA read something to me.

As I make more progress on this project I will make more updates.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Why people latch on to external causes for autism.

The other day I was looking at the google ads on my blog and saw one that caught my eye. It was for some lawyer who is suing some drug company because their medication used by pregnant women, causes autism. So I started thinking about why people are quick to latch on to things like this or mercury as the causes of autism.

Fundamentally our society is based around ism's, Racism, classism, sexism ETC. Eugenics ties into this as well. There seems to be an undercurrent of Eugenics in our society. Most people would probably flat out deny that they support Eugenics, but I feel that on some level many people do support Eugenics or eugenical ideas. This I feel may be part of the reason people latch on to things like mercury as a cause of autism

If there is a genetic link with autism then it implies a few things. It implies that not only is your kid defective, but you are too. Not only that, you are responsible for making your kid defective. It's much safer to blame the nasty drug complanies for poisoning your kids than to accept the fact that you might not be as geneticaly pure as you once thought. On top of that, then you have to worry about the possibility of other kids you may want to have, being born autistic. And what about your "normal" children? Might they pass on the autism genes and spawn more genetic abominations? This may be to much for some people to want to wrap their heads around.

As far as the autistic children go. People don't want to have to think about autistic kids becoming autistic adults. People don't want to have to think about their kid using diapers well into their 20's and beyond. They don't want to think about the prospects of missing out on senior prom, college graduation, the wedding, the grand kids. No, it's far simpler to think "I'll just take my kid to a chelation doctor and he will be normal."

Well, the reality is that your child will probably be autistic for life. I don't see any possibility of "overcoming" my autism, nor do I want to. So get your your head out of the sand and accept the possibility that your child's autism may in fact be genetic. Accept the fact that your child may never "overcome" autism and may be autistic for life.