Saturday, December 29, 2012

American Libraries editor: ‘Community engagement’ is library theme for 2013

Viking fans Brett Gardner and his mother, Tami Gardner, watch  a video
on the 
TC Rover TV with John Brewer and C.J. Sinner of
From Steve Buttry/The Buttry Diary
“If I were predicting a library theme for 2013, it would be community engagement,” American Libraries editor Laurie D. Borman writes in the January/February 2013 edition that arrived in my mailbox today.

I observe a similar perspective among my journalism mentors: for each library “makerspace,” there’s a community newsroom or mobile newsroom like’s TC Rover.

Community engagement is a shared objective among library professionals and journalists. In both instances, the consumer and/or patron benefits by being empowered to transition from consumer to creator of media.

And as library school and volunteer experience supplements my professional journalism, this shared emphasis is an area of particular importance to me. It resonates in both capacities.

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 in Review: Cat overpopulation in Lake County

Lake County Animal Care and Control, veterinarians and concerned residents worked in 2012 to reduce Lake County's overpopulation of cats.

At the beginning of the year, Lake County earned the distinction of having the highest cat euthanasia rate in California. According to department statistics, 2,600 cats were turned in to the Lake County Animal Care and Control facility in 2011. Only 18 percent, or 480, of those 2,600 cats were adopted or transferred to a rescue facility. The remaining 2,120 cats were destroyed.

Each full-time veterinary clinic in Lake County pledged to perform up to two free spay or neuter surgeries per week for 450 surgeries per year on unowned cats. Vicki Chamberlain in Lakeport, Kathy Langlais in Clearlake and Erica Bergstrom in Middletown volunteered to administer the CatSnip program.

Lake County Animal Care and Control opened a medical clinic in March, allowing veterinarians to perform spay and neuter surgeries in-house. Department director Bill Davidson said the goal was 25 to 27 surgeries weekly. Lake County rescue groups would receive vouchers for two surgeries per week.

PetSmart Charities awarded a two-year, $33,000 grant in October to target stray cats in the Kelseyville area. Officials hoped to reduce the reproductive capabilities of feral cats in the area by 75 to 80 percent.

Davidson said the funds will go toward 400 spay/neuter surgeries the first year and 250 surgeries the second year. The grant will also pay for a part-time department driver and traps for Kelseyville residents.

I compiled this information for the Lake County Record-Bee's Year in Review. The information comes from staff accounts and press releases published this past year.

More year-in-review updates on my professional page on Facebook:
Notable gains in higher education
K-12 education in Lake County, Calif.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Original fiction: Monkey's Christmas Tree

The appearance of humans was not unusual as far as Monkey was concerned. Normally he shared his home with one mature human female, but today brought the arrival of one of his human's grown cubs and her mate.

Despite these humans being constantly doused in the scent-signatures of two other cats, their arrival at his den was frequent enough that it was an acceptable departure from routine. Monkey reflected that at least these humans did not reek of dog.

With a flurry, the younger female scooped Monkey up in her arms; Monkey knew this was part of the visiting-human sub-routine. Whenever this young human arrived, she would invariably pick him up.

Monkey enjoyed the experience of being petted or held, but these otherwise welcome sensations frequently became too much. He'd communicate his distress by twitching his tail, but the humans did not always heed the clear warnings he gave them.

The sharp, stinging lash of a paw sometimes had to convey what the movement of Monkey's tail did not. The human would then invariably respond by making shrill noises. They would utter the sound that he understood applied to him, but most of their noises were meaningless.

The young human did not hold Monkey long and soon replaced him in his bed. As the humans left the room, he drifted off to sleep.


Monkey was roused by a sudden draft of cold air, accompanied by the sounds of activity. He opened his eyes in time to view the male human wrestling a tree into the room where Monkey had been sleeping.The human deposited the tree right next to Monkey's chair.

Of course; it occurred to Monkey that there were fewer hours of light with each revolution between dark and light. Temperatures were much colder and many of the trees that he could see from the window of his den had all lost their leaves.

Under these conditions, Monkey knew, the humans would bring home a tree.

The scent of evergreen pricked Monkey's interest; these days he spent all his time in his den but he had memories of being outside. The evergreen tree's pungent tang was a piece of the outdoors.

Monkey watched with interest as the humans hung ornaments on the tree -- glittering balls that rolled appealingly when a deft paw could knock one to the ground.

One small bear, hanging from the lowermost branches of the tree, was irresistible to Monkey. Stealthily, Monkey climbed down from his chair and slunk toward his prey. All of his attention was directed toward the objective at hand.

Deftly, Monkey's paw hooked his prize and knocked it onto the ground.

Without warning, the mature human female grabbed Monkey and hoisted him into the air. The shrill sounds she emitted washed over him and with the exception of her using his name, none of the sounds she produced had any meaning for him.

At last the human returned Monkey to the ground where he gave his hind leg a perfunctory lick. He could not tell if she could see through his feigned indifference.

The human, still emitting shrill noises, wandered into another room. Monkey eyed the doorway warily to make sure she was not in sight before grasping the stuffed bear in his mouth and padding with it to a remote corner between the tree and the wall. He was satisfied that here, at least, he'd be safe from human intrusions.

For what would surely not be the last time, Monkey puzzled over human contradictions. Surely the ornament had been intended for him by virtue of the unarguable fact that it had been placed within his reach. Sometimes, however, Monkey had to make allowances for humans being unpredictable.

Copyright (c) 2009 by Cynthia M. Parkhill

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Self-advocates and allies need to combat autism prejudice

Lydia Brown: I'm not afraid to say I'm autistic

Lydia Brown has posted a photo on Facebook of herself displaying a sign that reads: “I’m not afraid to say I’m autistic.” She explains:
“I posted this because of the unfortunately legitimate fears that many members of the Autistic community and parents of autistic children have about being visibly and openly Autistic in the wake of the tragic and baseless conflations of autism with violence. It isn't safe for everyone (particularly those who can pass) to be openly Autistic right now, but I'm doing so anyway because I'd rather not be afraid (even if I have every right to be).”
I think media coverage like that directed toward the shooting in Newtown, Conn. makes it more difficult -- and yet so much more essential -- for self-advocates and their allies to combat misinformation and prejudice.

According to Disability Scoop, an autism backlash is feared.
“Autism advocacy groups are reporting dramatic spikes in calls, emails and website visits a week after 26 people were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The gunman in the case, Adam Lanza, 20, was reportedly diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.
“Citing several studies on the disorder, experts say that autism is in no way linked to the type of planned violence Lanza displayed. But a slew of media outlets in the initial aftermath of the shooting suggested otherwise.”
Ari Ne'eman, president of the the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, told Mother Jones:
“We are a community that faces tremendous stigma and prejudice, and unfortunately when this happens, the mainstream media presents stereotypes and inaccurate information about autism and disability that only make that stigma and prejudice worse.”
 The American Association of People with Disabilities issued a statement condemning media coverage that linked autism to violence:
“Research and statistics show, time and again, that people with disabilities are more often victims of bullying and violence, than the perpetrators of violence. If these facts are made clear, millions of Americans with disabilities may be spared from unwarranted stigma and prejudice.”
And Brown is going to make a video that incorporates pictures like hers:
“If you want to be included, you should write a similar message and photograph yourself with the message (or get someone to do it for you), email them to me at and I’ll make a collective video! Emailing me your picture gives me permission to use it in public. I’ll credit names at the end, too, unless you explicitly tell me not to use your name.”

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

League bowling: Season high score, women's handicap game

Cynthia Parkhill with bowling ball, team shirt and Dragonzilla shoes
With the completion of bowling last night at Lakeside Family Fun and Event Center, the Lake County Chamber of Commerce league will take a two-week break.

Shawn Garrison, Kevin N. Hume, Jonathan Donihue and I bowled for the Lake County Record-Bee. Latest stats, encompassing Dec. 11 bowling, showed me with a season high score, third place for women's handicap game.

My bowling average crept up by one to 79 pins. Last night I bowled 80, 83 and 70. Team scores (with handicaps) were 782, 781 and 749.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Why were unidentified sources permitted to ‘diagnose’ Newtown, Conn. shooter?

Why were unidentified sources permitted to “diagnose” Adam Lanza, identified as the gunman in Friday’s Connecticut school shooting?

I learned Friday as events unfolded that autism and the tragedy were being linked via a statement issued in response to the Newtown, Conn. shooting by the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN). I waited before commenting on my blog until I could cite specific media and usages.

The opportunity arrived when I viewed a piece last updated Saturday on the Lake County Record-Bee website. As summarized by Adrienne LaFrance, a writer for Digital First Media:
“A family member told investigators that he had ‘a form of autism,’ according to The Washington Post, which cited a law enforcement official. …
“The Associated Press also reported that Lanza is believed to have suffered from a personality disorder, citing a law enforcement official apparently briefed on the investigation.”
The account raised two related concerns: why was this second- or third-hand information attributed to anonymous sources?

Steve Buttry, digital transformation editor for Digital First Media, argues that the bar should be set high for confidentiality; journalists should “always drive a hard bargain before agreeing to withhold a source’s name.”

As Buttry explained in a March 15, 2012 post, “The first point of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics is ‘Seek truth and report it.’ You should only grant confidentiality in a quest to find the truth. Granting confidentiality to cowards too often leads to reporting of lies.”

Among Buttry’s standards for granting confidentiality: “If you are powerful, I am highly reluctant to grant you confidentiality and won’t grant you confidentiality to disparage a less powerful person.”

In that context, the use of unnamed sources by the Washington Post and Associated Press grossly failed Buttry’s test. What value did this information serve except to induce prejudice against people on the autism spectrum or with other types of disabilities? We are minorities in a society that favors the perspective of neurotypicals.

CNN, in a story updated today, at least named a source of information:
“Russ Hanoman, a friend of Lanza’s mother, told CNN that Lanza had Asperger’s syndrome and that he was ‘very withdrawn emotionally.”
The emphasis in CNN writer Miriam Falco’s account is upon national autism organizations cautioning “against speculation about a link between violence” and autism or Asperger’s syndrome.
“While the motive for this crime is still unknown and may never be fully understood, what is clear, according to experts, is that autism cannot be blamed.
“‘There is absolutely no evidence or any reliable research that suggests a linkage between autism and planned violence,’ the Autism Society said in a statement. ‘To imply or suggest that some linkage exists is wrong and is harmful to more than 1.5 million law-abiding, nonviolent and wonderful individuals who live with autism each day.’”
From ASAN on Friday:
“Autistic Americans and individuals with other disabilities are no more likely to commit violent crime than non-disabled people. In fact, people with disabilities of all kinds, including autism, are vastly more likely to be the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators. Should the shooter in today’s shooting prove to in fact be diagnosed on the autism spectrum or with another disability, the millions of Americans with disabilities should be no more implicated in his actions than the non-disabled population is responsible for those of non-disabled shooters.”

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cuesta College LIBT program ‘substantially intact’

A message from Mark Stengel, director of library/learning resources for Cuesta College, indicates that its Library/Information Technology (LIBT) degree and certificate remain “substantially intact.”

Stengal indicated that as part of a college-wide cost-cutting measure, the LIBT program had to “eliminate actual courses” that affect its Web Development Technologies certificate: LIBT 102, Introduction to Web Development Technologies; LIBT 106, Introduction to the Internet; and LIBT 116, Multimedia for the Web.

I am relieved to learn that my study objective remains intact. But these program cuts are another indictment of California underfunding its schools.

During the time I have been in this program, per-unit tuition has nearly doubled in the California Community College system. The cost of pursuing an MLIS is entirely out of my reach.

The imbalance must be addressed, the cutting of classes and programs must cease, or California will reap the consequences of failing to invest in an educated workforce.

Stengal stated, “We are grateful to our friends in regional school, public, and academic libraries who rallied in support of what we do, and to our Advisory Committees who continue to guide our decision making. And, of course, to our students, who also sent many letters of support.”

Friday, December 14, 2012

Advice to help children cope with violence

Children traumatized by earlier violence may be deeply affected by today’s shootings at a Connecticut school. From David Schonfeld with the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, here is advice on helping children and adults cope with events like the Newtown, Conn. school shootings.

An updated link, verified in July 2016, replaces a link to local media that is no longer available

School shootings: APA and PBS Kids suggest ways to help children cope

The situation at work for me today, while producing my regular pages for the Lake County Record-Bee, is to post links to headlines as they become available about a school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

It's an emotional time; beyond the tragedy of the shooting itself I feel anger toward a publication that I ordinarily respect: while details of the shooting still emerged, Mother Jones used the tragedy to promote a September investigation by Mark Follman correlating the availability of guns in society with an increase in mass shootings.

Regardless of where a person stands on the issue, the timing was offensive to me. It seemed a grotesque exploitation of children's deaths. I expect better of Mother Jones.

Of far greater benefit, the American Psychological Association shared tips for helping children make sense of shootings. Similarly, PBS Parents offered strategies for talking with (and listening to) children.

There is a strong compulsion right now, to post and connect on social media regarding the unfolding tragedy. But give some thought while sharing links, if and how what you share is of benefit.

Evening update: I wanted to share some highlights among coping tips offered by the APA but instead decided first to a) print out copies for my co-workers and b) act on one of the suggestions offered and take a break from exposure to news coverage of the tragedy.

I spent the remainder of my lunch break outside -- as far from headlines and social media as I could possibly get.

The APA emphasizes that in order to help your child, you have to take care of yourself: 
"Be a model for your children on how to manage traumatic events. Keep regular schedules for activities such as family meals and exercise to help restore a sense of security and normalcy."
Perhaps most significantly, the APA emphasizes that you should let your child talk:

"Find times when they are most likely to talk: such as when riding in the car, before dinner, or at bedtime.
"Start the conversation; let them know you are interested in them and how they are coping with the information they are getting.
"Listen to their thoughts and point of view; don't interrupt--allow them to express their ideas and understanding before you respond.
"Express your own opinions and ideas without putting down theirs; acknowledge that it is okay to disagree.
"Remind them you are there for them to provide safety, comfort and support. Give them a hug."

This advice is just as valid for adults. Find ways to talk about tragedy, whether through writing, private or otherwise, calling a radio show or sharing conversation with a friend.

Read the APA's suggestions at Read PBS Kids' suggestions at

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

League bowling: Killer Bees vs. Ashley Steam

The Lake County Record-Bee "Killer Bees" bowled against "Ashley Steam" (Ashley Carpet Cleaning) last night at Lakeside Family Fun and Event Center.

Jeremy Walsh, Nathan DeHart, Shawn Garrison and I bowled for the Record-Bee. With our respective matching shirts, our opponents and we formed the two best-dressed teams in the Lake County Chamber of Commerce league.

I bowled 95, 69 and 80 last night with my average at 78.

Last week's standings showed "Killer Bees" taking third in handicap game and second in handicap series. I placed third in women's handicap game.

Women with autism: members on two fronts of ‘non-dominant group’

Graphic: "I am one of 252 girls with autism"
Infographic by Landon Bryce: 1 of 252 girls in U.S. has autism
I enrolled last night for HEED 203, “Women’s Health Issues,” for Spring 2013. This course will satisfy general ed requirements to earn me an associate’s degree in Library and Information Technology.

 I am interested in the welcome letter’s description of the course: identifying obstacles of access to women’s health care to members of non-dominant groups. This emphasis intrigues me because as a woman (and adult) on the autism spectrum, I am a member of a non-dominant group on two fronts.

Dr. Tony Attwood stated in Asperger’s and Girls (Future Horizons, 2006) that the overwhelming majority of referrals for diagnostic assessment are boys:
“The ratio of males to females is around 10:1, yet the epidemiological research for Autism Spectrum Disorders suggests that the ratio should be 4:1.”
I more recently encountered references of 4:1 for diagnostic assessments.

Autism prevalence rates released this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that one in 88 children in the United States has autism. The autism rate for boys was estimated at one in 54 and the rate for girls was estimated at one in 252.

Secondly, autism is spoken of almost exclusively as a condition impacting children -- even though a study in 2009 by England’s National Health Service indicates that roughly one in 100 adults are on the autism spectrum.

Next-to-no attention is paid to adults -- here and now -- who are on the autism spectrum. Since being diagnosed, I have worked to raise the profile of adults and women on the spectrum.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bully Report: Intervention best way to stop bullying

Students in huddle leaning in toward ground-view camera
Community Matters: 11 Ways You Can Help to Stop Bullying
The best thing that other students can do to stop bullying is to intervene, according to 75 percent of teens, as cited in The Bully Report. The Do Something Organization compiled trends in bullying from students’ Facebook interactions.

Community Matters, creators of Safe School Ambassadors program, drew attention to the statistic on Friday in a Facebook status update. “However,” it added, “only 16 percent report that they see others intervene.”

Community Matters added, “There is a big gap between what teens believe and want and what they do. It is our responsibility as adults to address the gap and to close it.”

I know from experience how rarely students are willing to intervene.

I intervened during a rare situation when someone other than me was the target of classmates’ bullying. I spoke against my classmates’ ridicule of a fellow outcast. My effort was not reciprocated and the subject of this bullying sided against me with the classmates who ostracized us both.

In spite of the betrayal, I believe I was right to intervene.

Perhaps I would not have been so alone had a program like Safe School Ambassadors been in place at Calistoga Elementary School and Calistoga Junior/Senior High School. The program trains student leaders among fourth- through 12th-graders to prevent harassment and intolerance.

Safe School Ambassadors is aligned with my belief that prevention of bullying must involve the entire community, especially those students who are neither bullies nor targets of bullying.

Among adults, I believe library workers and journalists occupy a unique position as information gatherers. We are especially well placed to share the message that bullying is not OK and that bystanders have a powerful role to play.

Community Matters has compiled 11 ways to help stop bullying, including building alliances in the community and advocating for safer schools. This survivor of peer abuse, this journalist and volunteer librarian stands with Community Matters to combat bullying.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Cover: The Language of Flowers (trade paperback edition)
I was accompanied on my bus commute in late November/early December by The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Ballantine Books, 2012).

The book grabbed my attention with a dramatic opening in which the story’s narrator is on the verge of emancipating from the foster care system. The story alternates between present-day and the narrator’s experience growing up through foster care.

While growing up, Victoria Jones, the narrator, is introduced to the hidden meanings that are assigned to flowers. Her flower selections leave coded messages that are often known only to her.

Upon reaching adulthood, her ability with flowers provides her with the means to earn a livelihood. It also serves as the primary way in which she connects with people.

I could relate to Victoria’s use of flowers to subtly communicate. So much human communication, what many people take for granted, is a mystery to me. Facial expressions, body language and unspoken rules can be as subtle as Victoria’s bouquets.

The “language of flowers” could be a personal metaphor for this subtle communication.

I could likewise relate to Victoria's difficulty in getting close to people, in her case growing up in a system that offered little support and no permanence.

One personal interjection: I disagree with the meaning assigned by tradition to sunflowers, “false riches.” In the following poem, the sunflower is a metaphor for my husband’s spiritual pursuits.
Apollo’s chariot crosses the sky;
The sunflower follows his progress above.
His bright golden petals are lifted on high;
Thus for the truth is the quest of My Love.
This is what the sunflower is and shall ever be for me.

Cuesta College, through which I take long-distance courses, chose The Language of Flowers for its 2013 Book of the Year. I appreciate the shared experience of reading a book in common and am grateful to Diffenbaugh for offering me a copy of her book.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

‘What would Steve Buttry attribute?’

I encountered a unique dilemma during my assignment to write the argument about privacy for my Internet ethics class: the possibility of plagiarizing myself.

Christmas in Middletown

Christmas in Middletown has been a tradition for nearly every year that we have lived in Lake County. Given our intention to move to Ashland, Ore., this year's observance will probably be our last.

The event was low-key. Anat, Jonathan and I walked from the apartment to Calistoga Street and visited the downtown merchants. During a later trip to the store, we met keyboard artist Patrick Fitzgerald so we stopped to sing Christmas carols.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Online test for autism: ‘You are very likely an Aspie’

Graphed result: Rdos Aspie Quiz, taken Dec. 7

At, Leigh Forbes has compiled several online tests for determining the likelihood that a person has Asperger’s syndrome.
“One of the first ways an undiagnosed aspie might try to determine his or her likeliness of having Asperger’s syndrome, is by taking one of the online tests.”
This statement was true for me five years ago when I was new to the possibility that I might have Asperger’s syndrome and was eager to learn more.

After a nurse-midwife suggested that I had Asperger’s, an Internet search led me to the Rdos Aspie Quiz or one that was very similar. Results concluded, “You are very likely an Aspie.”

I took the Rdos quiz today and earned results that were consistent with those from five years ago. My Rdos Aspie score was 139 of 200 while my neurotypical (non-autistic) score was 56 of 200. The Rdos quiz taken today also generated a chart.

Other tests curated by Forbes include facial expression, tone of voice and empathy tests as well as checklists for dyslexia and dyspraxia.

In compiling links to these online tests, Forbes has created a valuable directory. I encourage their use among people who are new to the possibility of being on the spectrum.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Filters on library computers

My studies this week for LIBT 117 concern filters that limit access to the Internet. Our class discussion board asked what policy libraries should follow about minors accessing materials and websites.

To begin, the decision by libraries to accept federal funding means that they must install filters under the terms of the Children's Internet Protection Act.

I believe the American Library Association is correct, in its Library Bill of Rights, to oppose restricting access to materials on the basis of age. Library employees have neither the right nor obligation to act in the place of a child’s parents.

If a parent requested that a child’s account be flagged so that the child could only check out materials from the juvenile or young-adult collection, I think automated circulation systems could be programmed to impose this restriction.  But this parent has no right to impose restricted access on anyone’s child but his or her own. He or she does not have the right to  “challenge” or attempt to censor the material’s place in the library collection.

Translate this to web access and, should libraries deem it appropriate, computers could be set up in the juvenile area that had filters installed, while computers in the adult area could be unimpeded.

Parents could specify their children be allowed only to use filter-blocked computers. This limitation as with the materials restriction could be set to “flag” when the child’s ID barcode was scanned.

(I personally do not believe in filters as an effective strategy, given their blocking of legitimate information -- called “overblocking” in our text -- and the failure by manufacturers to disclose which sites their filters will block. A company could impose its political ideology through the application of its filters.)

In libraries in which filters were installed on all the computers, I like a suggested policy that adult users  could have filters disabled, no explanation and no questions asked.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Gift bags for sale at Lakeport Library

From Jo Bennett: Friends of Lake County Library will have gift bags for sale at the Lakeport Library, 1425 High St. Selections include mysteries, fiction, historical novels, romance, health and animal nature books.

Gift bags can also be designed to a recipient's specific taste. Friends of Lake County Library will need one week to complete the order.

Each purchase will be gift wrapped in a book bag with clear cellophane and decorated. Each gift bag costs $25. Proceeds support the Lake County Library. For more information, contact the Lakeport Library at 263-8817.

League bowling: No opponent but ourselves

Shawn Garrison, Nathan DeHart, Jonathan Donihue and I bowled Tuesday for the Lake County Record-Bee "Killer Bees." We bowled unopposed but had to come within 40 pins of our average. We met the goal and had an enjoyable time. I beat my average of 78 pins during the first and third games.

T-shirt repurposing: ‘I am a librarian’

“I guard your right to privacy. I protect your freedom to read. I support intellectual freedom. I am a librarian.” To create this garment, I took the logo from a T-shirt, and highlighted it with a “frame” of floral fabric. The layered logo-within-frame was then applied to another shirt. Hand-painted leaves were done by the vendor who sold me the shirt.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

DSM-5 absorbs autism mileposts into ‘autism spectrum disorder’

“Autism Awareness” puzzle-piece ribbon magnet on a car
“Autism Awareness” puzzle-piece ribbon magnet on a car

The American Psychiatry Association Board of Trustees voted Dec. 1 to approve the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fifth edition (DSM-5).

Most significant to me is the absorption of Asperger’s syndrome and other autism spectrum mileposts into one diagnosis of “autism spectrum disorder.”

Since the proposed changes were opened to public comment, writers argued the relative benefits to keeping “Asperger’s syndrome” as its own diagnosis versus using the umbrella term. Many of these arguments were well-thought out and offered valid points, including self-identity with a particular term.

Other labels to be absorbed under the umbrella term are “childhood disintegrative disorder” and “pervasive developmental disorder (not otherwise specified).”

As a woman who learned at age 39 that I was on the autism continuum, the label matters less to me than assuring that our abilities and challenges continue to be recognized on a “spectrum” of intensities.

I grew up without any explanation of why I was “different” from other people. Receiving an Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis was a revelation for me.

The removal of Asperger’s syndrome as a distinct diagnosis is the subject of Forum with Michael Krasney, broadcast today on KQED 88.5 FM. As stated in web publicity, “The APA says the change will lead to more accurate diagnoses for people with autism -- but critics say removing the diagnosis may result in fewer people getting the services and care they need.”

I don’t think anyone can predict with absolute certainty how diagnosis will be affected. One study, published Oct. 1 in the American Journal of Psychology, suggested, that among 4,453 children diagnosed with autism under DSM-4 criteria, 91 percent would still qualify for diagnosis.

The true test, as stated in an Oct. 2 Disability Scoop summary, “will come when clinicians of varying pedigrees will be left to interpret the changes.”

Members of the autism community can be proud of our advocacy among members of the public who responded to proposed changes to the DSM.

According to the APA, there was much more public interest and media scrutiny of the DSM-5 than any previous revisions: “More than 13,000 website comments and 12,000 additional comments from emails, letters and other forms of communication were received.”

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Study guide available for The New Jim Crow

Cover: The New Jim Crow
The Unitarian Universalist Association has released a study guide for its 2012 2013 UUA Common Read selection, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (The New Press, 2012):
“In this remarkable book, civil rights advocate and litigator Michelle Alexander asserts that crime-fighting policies and systems in the U.S., such as the ‘war on drugs’ and the incarceration system disproportionately and intentionally affect Americans of color. She describes multifaceted, lifelong discrimination and disenfranchisement that affect people who are branded ‘felon.’”
The UUA Common Read invites participants to read and discuss the same book in a given period of time. Its previous selections, Acts of Faith by Eboo Patel and The Death of Josseline by Margaret Regan, are both available in our UUCLC Lending Library. As stated by the UUA:
“A Common Read can build community in our congregations and our movement by giving diverse people a shared experience, shared language, and a basis for deep, meaningful conversations.”
The UUA Bookstore offers group discounts on The New Jim Crow. Study guides for UUA Common Read selections can be accessed from

Cross-posted from the UUCLC Lending Library Wordpress blog

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hands-on exploration with ‘makerspace’

Needlework books, yarn and knitting needles on display at Lakeport Library
Image source: Lake County Library on Facebook
As reported on American Libraries magazine’s AL Focus, a Brighton, Colo. library is gearing up for its “makerspace” grand opening on Dec. 5:
“Makerspaces are creative community workspaces where patrons have the option to build and experiment with art, craft, and technology projects while sharing tools and ideas with other community members. The makerspace at Anythink Brighton will be geared toward teens, offering a space where they can get free access to state-of-the-art tools and materials for crafts, robotics, textile design, digital photography, and 3D printing. Also included is a ‘computer guts’ area where teens can take apart a computer to learn how its various parts work together.”
With my background of crafting and do-it-yourself, the “makerspace” strongly appeals to me in the field of library service.

Here’s a close-to-home example of what a “makerspace” might involve. Lakeport Library featured a needlework display in November. Scheduled presentations included beginning crochet taught by Joanne Morgan and intermediate to advanced sock knitting taught by Barbara Swanson.

At Redbud Library in Clearlake, an origami club meets at 4 p.m. on Wednesdays. The Knitting-A-Round Club meets from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturdays to share the pleasures of knitting and mysteries.

With a “makerspace,” the opportunity to participate in these hands-on activities would not be limited to scheduled presentations or group meetings (although these would certainly enhance the community-building and learning experience). The tools for exploration and the space to do it in would be available at the library for community members to use.

As reported by AL Focus:
“Anythink Brighton staff members will be able to mentor teens in an environment that supports entrepreneurship, resourcefulness, and creativity. They will also use the space to enhance and expand the library’s existing programs for all ages.”
Many of the books that informed my self-exploration in crafting and artistry were obtained from my local library. It makes sense that the tools of exploration could be provided through my library as well.

A makerspace could work in partnership with LEGO Robotics activities and other avenues that promote the STEM disciplinary pursuits of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

As a “media lab,” the makerspace could promote community engagement through blogging and social media, perhaps in partnership with an area news publisher. Take for example the Oakland Tribune’s community newsroom and’s TC Rover.

Hands-on engagement is a place where journalism and librarianship naturally intersect. Both have an interest in promoting engaged and responsible citizenship.

Update, Jan. 26, 2013: The January/February edition of American Libraries devotes extensive coverage to makerspaces, including this perspective by Travis Good and magazine editors:
“Fundamentally, makerspaces are a technological leap past library knitting and quilting circles, where patrons and experts have often come together to learn new techniques and train others in a skill. The new tools are a lot flashier, and certainly more expensive than a needle and thread. The cost factor is what makes a makerspace so appealing to library visitors -- what one person cannot afford to purchase for occasional use, the library can buy and share with the community.”
The magazine features a list of “ cool stuff” to outfit a makerspace and a brief summary of Maker Monday programming at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting.