Month: September 2013

I cried on the way home

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red van ramblings

It happened last Friday after picking up my daughter from school.

Every day when I pick her up, I ask the open-ended “How was your day?” when she hops in the front seat. Unlike Jacob, who promptly gives me one word utterances when asked such preposterous questions, Emma knows what I want to know. Well, to be fair, Jacob also knows what I want to know, but chooses not to elaborate.

On Friday, when I picked Emma up, we exchanged the usual niceties. But when she got to sharing about her European History class (another post for another day), she told me there had been a substitute that day and they had been assigned an essay to complete during class time.

She said she was busily trying to complete the essay during the time allotted, but was finding herself distracted by a group of three boys in her class. I…

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A Balm For Autistic Behaviors??

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I saw this this morning and wasn’t sure if it was hype or not.  I have not yet seen any other posts or articles about this product.  Typically, I am skeptical, but there are those affected by Autism that would likely look into this.  -Ed


Philadelphia, PA – Olfactory Biosciences Corp.’s today announced that its Chief Scientist Dr. V. Ruth Pinney has invented a proprietary NOXO Autism Balm™ that reduces coping behaviors.


Dr. Pinney was interviewed recently and she shared that what makes NOXO’s Autism Balm (TM) unique is that it, “Is a simple, but powerful way to ‘tone down’ their overwhelming perceptions. The Autism Balm works well with most children that have Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). It is successful because it targets sensitivities naturally, changing the child’s perception to sensory inputs in a direct, safe way!”

Dr. Pinney explains, “A child whom presents symptoms with ASD perceives the world through his or her senses in a different way than most of us. Many are super-tasters and smellers, super feelers, etc.” NOXO’s approach is treating ASD through the powerful Olfactory Nerves or Sense of Smell. Further she explained, “Since Autism Balm is simple to use, safe and effective and is not a medication, the child can easily carry it around with them and use it when they think that they need it.”

It works very well on its own or with other Autism Spectrum therapies as an adjunct. NOXO Autism Aid™ will also assist in supporting the child in eating a variety of nutritious foods. NOXO Autism Balm™ is similar to a lip balm but is applied just below the nostrils on the upper lip, allowing the natural formula to be inhaled and take effect. NOXO’s solution is safe, easy to apply and non-invasive. It works on your body’s natural processes and responses.

Olfactory Biosciences Corp.’s NOXO division is focused to develop a variety of products targeting Olfactory Receptors for the desired effect. These alternative medicine wellness products may modify behavior or provide relief to common behavior challenges such as anxiety, smoking or weight control, as examples.


Autistic Teen Featured As Comic Book Hero

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In the Face Value comic book series, the hero is a middle-schooler with autism who will explore basic human emotions in four issues. 


Imagine Earth in 2072: Aliens have invaded the planet and deemed humans dangerously emotional, causing a war between the flat-faced villain Dr. Mobius and Michael, a middle-school-age boy.

Michael must battle through social pressures, misunderstanding and bullying on his way to understanding the emotions of other people and himself. Using science and a little help from his robotic therapeutic support staff, T.E.S.S., he will come closer to emotional discovery.

As the main hero in the steampunk-noir comic book series, Face Value Comics, he’s a bit different from most: Michael is autistic. And that is unheard of in the world of comics, said founder Dave Kot of Dover Township.



Michael is a young hero with autism in a comic book by Face Value founder Dave Kot of Dover Township. 


“We’re the first and only comic book to feature an autistic hero,” he said. “Our main hero has autism, and it’s OK.”

The concept: Kot founded Face Value two years ago, and it aims to provide both entertainment and education about emotional understanding in social situations to young readers and their families, he said.

“Everyone can learn more about emotions,” Kot, 38, said. He added that the social lessons weaved into the story are designed for everyone — not just people with autism or comic book enthusiasts.

Using comic books as a teaching tool, the concept implements a newer science, psychologist Paul Ekman’s Facial Action Coding System, to explain the nuances of communication in a simple way, he said. Kot has a close family member with autism and is a therapist certified in FACS who has worked with many autistic clients, he said.

The system categorizes human emotions based on facial muscle pulls and says there are seven basic emotions.

The comic book series, which is still in production, will consist of four 16-to-22-page issues exploring happiness, sadness, anger and fear.

The happiness issue will address how to make genuine friendships, and the sadness issue will cover issues like grief and rejection,

Kot said. The anger issue will tackle bullying and peer pressure, and the fear issue will help kids plan for tests and sudden changes. A fifth basic emotion, surprise, will be peppered throughout those issues.That leaves two emotions: contempt and disgust, which will be combined into a special edition that explores villain Dr. Mobius’ backstory. He is named after a syndrome that prevents one from displaying emotion.

Who it’s for: Although the comic books will specifically address autism and understanding emotion, they’re not confined to one specific audience, said Face Value business manager Jeremy Flickinger, 25, of Warrington Township.



“In my opinion, anyone with any level of autism can learn and utilize this,” he said.

The series will be aimed toward those of middle-school age and be as close to G- or PG-rated as possible, with a minimal level of violence, Kot said. The team is also considering the possibilities of adult-themed material in the future, he said.

The two are passionate about their mission and have pushed the thought of money aside, he said.

“The people on our team are willing to go without financial compensation to see our dream come alive,” Kot said.

So far, word is spreading: The company’s fanbase on Facebook hit 250 likes in just under a month, he said.

“It’s growing, and it’s exciting,” he said.

Flickinger agreed.  “Why not teach the world this?” he said.

Local support: As the Face Value team prepares to publish its first issue, it has connected with local comic book stores about its cause, Kot said.

Comix Connection in West Manchester Township plans to put the comics on its shelves once production is finished, said manager Jared Wolf.

“I think it’s a really nice, original idea,” he said.

The unprecedented concept could stretch across readership demographics, Wolf said.

“Since there hasn’t been a superhero with autism before, it will open people’s minds about autism and let them know about it in a fun way,” he said. “I think families (affected by) autism might also have interest in the book.”

Comic Store West in Springettsbury Township also supports the endeavor, both because the series is about autism and because the creators are local, said manager Scott Koehler.

“We are going to have it here for sale once it’s finished,” he said. “It’s very interesting.”

Kot, Flickinger and their small team of artists have worked long hours on the series and hope to raise the money to produce the issues as soon as possible, they said.

“I am deeply moved and cry almost daily at the responses others freely give me about this project,” Kot said. “So I feel exceptionally responsible for providing a quality product in the shortest amount of time.”

— Reach Mollie Durkin at

How to help

Face Value Comics is seeking support as it begins production of its four-part comic book series.

To donate to the cause, visit For volunteer opportunities, contact Dave Kot at or Jeremy Flickinger at

A Teen’s Guide To Understanding & Communicating With People With Autism

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Westfield teenager Alexandra Jackman recently created a video aimed to encourage teens to understand and accept those with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

During Jackman’s time in the Teddy Roosevelt Scholars independent study program at Roosevelt Intermediate School last year (eight grade) she wrote and directed the video as her class project.

“The purpose of my specific project was to help teenagers be more aware and understanding of people with autism spectrum disorder,” Jackman explained. “The video is so important to me because I feel it could help anyone, especially typically-developing teens, to feel that they can interact and get to know people with autism and not be scared of the differences. People tend to be more accepting when they are more knowledgeable.”

In the video, Jackman asks middle school students and teachers “What is Autism?” many of them who are unsure. She also speaks to the founder of Autism Family Times, parents of children with Autism, an Autism educator and a doctor. She also highlights children of all ages with Autism and even adults who have Autism. Take a look at the full video

Her video is geared towards teens, but is relatable to all ages on the basics of how to accept and understand those who have Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Since age 10, Jackman has been working with the organization Autism Family Times as a peer mentor for children with Autism. She says the experience is both rewarding and eye-opening.

During the creation of the video, Jackman told Patch, “Maybe if they (middle schoolers) see someone with special needs, they won’t be so afraid to talk with them. For a lot of people, if they don’t understand something, they can be afraid.”

Jackman is now a freshman at Westfield High School, but has said being a part of Autism Family Times has made her consider working in occupation therapy.

“Because of this (experience) I know that I definitely want to do something with special needs when I get older,” she said.

The Return

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Okay, this took a while, but I’m back at the blog.  I had originally planned on getting back to this right after Labor Day, but I had a slight setback: a thoroughly messed up knee that is pending surgical reconstruction next week.  At the very least while I’m recovering I will have plenty of time to write a blurb here and there, and highlight some things that I think are important to those affected by Autism.

First and foremost, Mike had a great summer and the folks who run the Town Of Oyster Bay‘s GAP program should be really proud of the positive effects that this camp has on Special Needs kids.  Even more encouraging was Mike’s return to school.  So far, so good; no tantrums and no drama as he starts his first full week, and I continue knocking wood and rubbing rabbits’ feet.

This Summer to Fall transition also marked a transition for us as a family; our oldest son started college.  While not too far away, it’s still an adjustment that we all have to make; I still have to do a double-take when I come home and don’t see him playing on his Playstation 3.  Nick is the prototypical big brother, and I know both Tom and Mike miss him too.  Tom may not say so but it’s gotta be hard to suddenly be the big brother of the house now.  Mike has already told us that he misses Nick.  I was glad that he and Nick had a ‘sleepover’ in Nick’s room before he left for college, and again when he came home for Labor Day weekend.

Shameless Self Promotion Alert: Before I forget, if you haven’t already done so, please follow me on Twitter @1andOnlyJustEd and “like” my Facebook where besides seeing everyone of these WordPress posts, I highlight, tweet and share what others in the Autism community have to offer.

Thanks,  It’s good to be back.