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Cómo un diagnóstico temprano de autismo "marcó la diferencia" para un niño

tony hernandez, autism speaks, trastorno del espectro autista
via Tony Hernandez

Tony Hernandez de niño en Puerto Rico, y en la actualidad como un defensor de las personas con autismo.

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A principios de los noventa, cuando Tony Hernandez era un niño pequeño que vivía en Puerto Rico, su familia sintió que había algo "diferente" en él. A los tres años, cuando la mayoría de los niños pueden pronunciar frases completas, Tony no hablaba.

La familia de Tony trató de conseguir más información acerca de su hijo, pero recibían opiniones contradictorias sobre su condición. Los maestros afirmaban que no había mucha esperanza para su futuro, incluso uno de ellos le dijo a su madre que "nunca iba a lograr nada en la vida".

"Faltaba educación sobre el autismo, y todavía hace falta hoy en día, especialmente entre la comunidad hispana", dijo Tony a Upworthy. "Los estereotipos y otros conceptos erróneos son obstáculos a los que se enfrentan muchas familias a la hora de buscar respuestas, lo que nos dificulta obtener la ayuda y los recursos que necesitamos".

Al final, la familia de Tony encontró a un médico que le diagnosticó trastorno del espectro autista (TEA). El diagnóstico fue un gran alivio para todos porque significaba que por fin él podría recibir las terapias adecuadas e inscribirse a clases de educación especial.

Según la revista Psychology Research and Behavior Management (en inglés), el diagnóstico temprano y el tratamiento que incluye intervenciones basadas en evidencia "pueden mejorar de manera significativa la calidad de vida de las personas con TEA, así como la de sus cuidadores y familiares". Esto se debe a que sientan una base sólida para obtener mejores resultados y contribuyen a que el niño mejore mental, emocional, física y socialmente.



via Tony Hernandez

Una vez que obtuvo el diagnóstico adecuado, Tony recibió terapia del habla desde los cuatro hasta los ocho años y, a lo largo de su vida, recibió apoyo y asistencia fundamentales de parte de maestros y terapeutas.

"Recibir las terapias adecuadas fue clave para mejorar mis habilidades verbales. A lo largo de los años seguí enfrentando una serie de retos, que incluían dificultades con la comunicación social, con la memoria funcional a corto plazo, con un trastorno de ansiedad y con el desarrollo de relaciones", dijo. "Pero un diagnóstico temprano marcó la diferencia en mi vida".

En 2012, a los 21 años, Tony se mudó a Florida, donde vivía su madre.

A partir de entonces, Tony ha sobresalido en el ámbito académico y profesional. Se graduó con honores Magna Cum Laude del Seminole State College con una licenciatura en Administración de empresas y gestión de la información.

Mi graduación de la universidad: 14 de diciembre de 2016.youtu.be - Se pueden agregar subtítulos en español a este video en configuración.

Tony ha trabajado en servicios al cliente en empresas como Sherwin Williams, Sam's Club y Home Depot, y ha sido un defensor incansable de las personas con TEA durante la última década. También ha aparecido con regularidad en Univision Orlando durante los últimos dos años, donde presenta un segmento llamado "Tu propósito", que en inglés se traduce como "Your Purpose", y profundiza en los obstáculos con los que se encuentran regularmente las personas en el espectro y cómo pueden superarlos.


Además, Tony es un reconocido autor que en 2018 publicó sus memorias "An Autism Unscripted Life", que fueron traducidas al español en 2019 como "Una Vida Autista Sin Libreto". En su tiempo libre, a Tony le gusta ir de excursión, explorar nuevos lugares, ir a la iglesia y hacer ejercicio. Actualmente, está trabajando en armar un rompecabezas de 1000 piezas de "Star Wars".

Hoy en día, Tony trabaja de tiempo completo para Autism Speaks (cuenta con una sección de recursos en español), una organización sin fines de lucro dedicada a apoyar las necesidades de las personas con autismo y sus familias, como miembro de su Equipo de Respuesta al Autismo, donde ayuda a apoyar a las personas con TEA y sus familias.

Aunque en aquel momento es probable que pareciera imposible, aquel niño en Puerto Rico al que le costaba hablar se convertiría en un prestigioso orador público, tanto en inglés como en español. Tony realiza regularmente presentaciones para escuelas, empresas y otras organizaciones comunitarias sobre autismo, derechos de los discapacitados y neurodiversidad.

Él considera que haber sido diagnosticado de manera temprana contribuyó enormemente en su éxito.

"Tuve la suerte de recibir un diagnóstico temprano. Eso me condujo a obtener el apoyo que necesitaba para superar los desafíos en los primeros años de desarrollo de mi vida", dijo Tony a Upworthy.

La noticia de que su hijo tiene TEA puede ser desalentadora al principio. Sin embargo, no hay nada más satisfactorio para los padres que tener la experiencia de apoyar a su hijo para que alcance todo su potencial.

"Un diagnóstico de autismo puede desencadenar sentimientos de pánico e incertidumbre para muchas familias", dijo Tony a Upworthy. "Pero es importante que los padres respiren profundamente y se enfoquen en los próximos pasos a seguir para ayudar a su hijo a lograr una vida mejor".

Tony se guía por un lema sencillo pero poderoso: "Cada persona tiene un propósito en este mundo. Nunca renuncies a alcanzar tus sueños".

Si tiene preguntas sobre el desarrollo de su hijo, Autism Speaks le permite acceder de manera gratuita en su sitio web a la prueba conocida como M-CHAT-R por sus siglas en inglés, que en español es Lista de control modificada para el autismo en niños pequeños (se puede acceder a la prueba en distintos idiomas incluido el español). La prueba puede ayudar a evaluar si su hijo necesita una evaluación adicional, lo que los acerca un paso más a la posibilidad de liberar todo su potencial y realizar sus sueños.

Más artículos en Upworthy (en inglés).

Image from Pixabay.

Under the sea...

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The Wilderness Society


You're probably familiar with the literary classic "Moby-Dick."

But in case you're not, here's the gist: Moby Dick is the name of a huge albino sperm whale.

(Get your mind outta the gutter.)


There's this dude named Captain Ahab who really really hates the whale, and he goes absolutely bonkers in his quest to hunt and kill it, and then everything is awful and we all die unsatisfied with our shared sad existence and — oops, spoilers!


OK, technically, the narrator Ishmael survives. So it's actually a happy ending (kind of)!

whales, Moby Dick, poaching endangered species

Illustration from an early edition of Moby-Dick

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Basically, it's a famous book about revenge and obsession that was published back in 1851, and it's really, really long.

It's chock-full of beautiful passages and dense symbolism and deep thematic resonance and all those good things that earned it a top spot in the musty canon of important literature.

There's also a lot of mundane descriptions about the whaling trade as well (like, a lot). That's because it came out back when commercial whaling was still a thing we did.

conservation, ocean water conservation

A non-albino mother and baby sperm whale.

Photo by Gabriel Barathieu/Wikipedia.

In fact, humans used to hunt more than 50,000 whales each year to use for oil, meat, baleen, and oil. (Yes, I wrote oil twice.) Then, in 1946, the International Whaling Commission stepped in and said "Hey, wait a minute, guys. There's only a few handful of these majestic creatures left in the entire world, so maybe we should try to not kill them anymore?"

And even then, commercial whaling was still legal in some parts of the world until as recently as 1986.

International Whaling Commission, harpoons

Tail in the water.

Whale's tail pale ale GIF via GoPro/YouTube

And yet by some miracle, there are whales who were born before "Moby-Dick" was published that are still alive today.

What are the odds of that? Honestly it's hard to calculate since we can't exactly swim up to a bowhead and say, "Hey, how old are you?" and expect a response. (Also that's a rude question — jeez.)

Thanks to some thoughtful collaboration between researchers and traditional Inupiat whalers (who are still allowed to hunt for survival), scientists have used amino acids in the eyes of whales and harpoon fragments lodged in their carcasses to determine the age of these enormous animals — and they found at least three bowhead whales who were living prior to 1850.

Granted those are bowheads, not sperm whales like the fictional Moby Dick, (and none of them are albino, I think), but still. Pretty amazing, huh?

whale blubber, blue whales, extinction

This bowhead is presumably in adolescence, given its apparent underwater moping.

GIF via National Geographic.

This is a particularly remarkable feat considering that the entire species was dwindling near extinction.

Barring these few centenarian leviathans, most of the whales still kickin' it today are between 20 and 70 years old. That's because most whale populations were reduced to 10% or less of their numbers between the 18th and 20th centuries, thanks to a few over-eager hunters (and by a few, I mean all of them).

Today, sperm whales are considered one of the most populous species of massive marine mammals; bowheads, on the other hand, are still in trouble, despite a 20% increase in population since the mid-1980s. Makes those few elderly bowheads that much more impressive, huh?

population, Arctic, Great Australian Blight

Southern Right Whales hangin' with a paddleboarder in the Great Australian Bight.

GIF via Jaimen Hudson.

Unfortunately, just as things are looking up, these wonderful whales are in trouble once again.

We might not need to worry our real-life Captain Ahabs anymore, but our big aquatic buddies are still being threatened by industrialization — namely, from oil drilling in the Arctic and the Great Australian Bight.

In the off-chance that companies like Shell and BP manage not to spill millions of gallons of harmful crude oil into the water, the act of drilling alone is likely to maim or kill millions of animals, and the supposedly-safer sonic blasting will blow out their eardrums or worse.

This influx of industrialization also affects their migratory patterns — threatening not only the humans who depend on them, but also the entire marine ecosystem.

And I mean, c'mon — who would want to hurt this adorable face?

social responsibility, nature, extinction

BOOP.

Image from Pixabay.

Whales might be large and long-living. But they still need our help to survive.

If you want another whale to make it to his two-hundred-and-eleventy-first birthday (which you should because I hear they throw great parties), then sign this petition to protect the waters from Big Oil and other industrial threats.

I guarantee Moby Dick will appreciate it.


This article originally appeared on 11.04.15

National Autistic Society/Youtube

"Diverted" educational video shared through the Too Much Information Campaign.

Everyone who lives with autism experiences it somewhat differently. You'll often hear physicians and advocates refer to the spectrum that exists for those who are autistic, pointing to a wide range of symptoms and skills.

But one thing many autistic people experience is sensory processing issues.


For autistic people, processing the world around them when it comes to sight, smell, or touch can be challenging, as their senses are often over- or under-sensitive. Certain situations — like meandering through a congested mall or enduring the nonstop blasting of police sirens — can quickly become unbearable.

This reality is brought to life in a new video by the U.K.'s National Autistic Society (NAS).

The eye-opening PSA takes viewers into the mind of a autistic woman as she thinks about struggling to stay composed in a crowded, noisy train.

It's worth a watch:

The PSA hit especially close to home for 22-year-old actress and star of the video Saskia Lupin, who is autistic herself. "Overall I feel confused," she said, of abrupt changes to her routine. "Like I can't do anything and all sense of rationality is lost."

She's not alone.

According to a study cited in NAS' press release, 75% of autistic people say unexpected changes make them feel socially isolated. What's more, 67% reported seeing or hearing negative reactions from the public when they try to calm themselves down in such situations — from eyerolls and stares to unwelcome, hurtful comments.

The new PSA aims to improve that last figure in particular.

It's part of the organization's Too Much Information campaign — an initiative to build empathy and understanding in allistic (i.e., not autistic) people for those on the spectrum.

Autism Awareness Day, campaign, World Autism Awareness Week

Campaign by National Autistic Society created to share the autistic experience to the world.

Photo from Pixabay

"It isn't that the public sets out to be judgmental towards autistic people," Mark Lever, chief executive of the NAS, said in a statement in 2016. It's just that, often, the public doesn't "see" the autism.

"They see a 'strange' man pacing back and forth in a shopping center," Lever explained, "or a 'naughty' girl having a tantrum on a bus, and don't know how to respond."

Well, now we do.

Instead of staring, rolling your eyes, or thinking judgmental thoughts about the young person's parents, remember: You have no idea what that stranger on the train is going through.

“We can't make the trains run on time," said Lever. But even the simplest, smallest things — like remembering not to stare and giving a person some space and compassion if they need it — can make a big difference.


This article originally appeared on 03.28.18

Joy

Pet cockatiel is obsessed with singing 'September' by Earth, Wind and Fire

Kiki remembers the 21st night of September ALL. THE. TIME. and it's actually quite impressive.

Representative hoto by Saqib Iqbal Digital on Unsplash

Apparently, "September" is all the rage with cockatiels.

“Do you remember…the 21st night of September?” has been one of the most iconic song openings of the past 45 years, as the R&B hit by Earth, Wind and Fire perpetually serves as a catchy favorite for dance clubs, movie scenes and TikTok clips alike.

However, "September" has also gained wild popularity among an unlikely group—pet cockatiels.


One cockatiel in particular has taken a shining to the song to the point of obsession, to the combined delight and chagrin of his owner. You see, Kiki doesn’t just like listening to the song, he sings and dances to it. Loudly. Over and over. At uncomfortable hours of the morning.

Kiki’s owner has shared multiple examples of her pet bird reveling in his favorite song, and it’s hilarious every time.

Watch:

@kiki.tiel

Send help plz wheres the off button on parrot #fyp #foryou #bird #cockatiel #parrotsoftiktok #birdsoftiktok

"Kiki…it's 7 o'clock in the morning…" Yeah, Kiki does not care. Kiki is feelin' the groove.

This isn't just a one-off and it's also not just a random song. Here we can see that Kiki recognizes it and sings it when his owner plays it. (Just after pooing on her leg—the reality of having a bird, in case these videos make you want one).

@kiki.tiel

Babywipes handy at all hours 🫡 #bird #cockatiel #fyp #foryou #september #parrot

But Kiki doesn't even need anyone else around in order to sing his favorite song. Here he is singing and dancing all by himself when his owner left the room and left her camera running to see what he would do.

@kiki.tiel

Partying without me :( #cockatielsoftiktok #birds #fyp #for you

As cute and hilarious as this is, it surely gets old after a while, right? It's one thing to watch in a video—it's got to be entirely another to hear it all the time at home.

It's also not just a Kiki quirk. Apparently, "September" is a "thing" among cockatiels. Other cockatiels have been known to love it and sing it, though not quite as well as Kiki does.

Someone on Reddit asked why so many cockatiels love the song—one person even said it was basically the cockatiel national anthem at this point. No one knows exactly why, but this explanation by Reddit user nattiecakes is as good an explanation as any:

"Yeah, cockatiels genuinely like the song in a way they don’t universally take to many other songs. My cockatiel is 17 and early in life basically seemed to max out his harddrive space learning a little bit of La Cucaracha, The Flintstones theme, the phrase 'pretty bird,' and this horrible alarm clock sound that is similar to the hungry baby cockatiel sound. We thought we could not get him to learn anything else because they do have some limits.

Then 'September' came. Every cockatiel loved it. We decided to see if our cockatiel loved it.

I sh*t y’all not, within a DAY he whistled the first three notes, which is really all that matters. He hasn’t been able to learn more, but he loves it.

Now our African grey whistles it to him constantly. He used to reliably whistle La Cucaracha to our cockatiel when our cockatiel would get angry and upset, and our cockatiel would start singing instead and forget he’d been upset. But almost immediately our grey switched to using 'September' 90% of the time. Like, it’s so plain even to our grey that 'September' is the song to unlock a cockatiel’s better nature. I think the grey likes it a lot too, but he has many other songs he likes better.

As for why cockatiels like this song so much… all I can guess is it really resonates with their cheery vibe. I think the inside of a cockatiel’s mind is usually like a disco."

Rock on, Kiki. Just maybe not so early in the morning.

How to clear a stuffy nose instantly.

With cold season upon us, there's no better time to learn a couple of awesome and easy tricks that will clear up the dreaded and annoying stuffy nose.

Prevention magazine created a short video showing two easy ways to get you breathing free again no matter how stuffed up you might be.


Both tricks take less than two minutes and are certainly worth trying out when it feels like that runny nose might never go away.


Watch the YouTube video below:

This article first appeared on 9.8.17.

Pop Culture

A brave fan asks Patrick Stewart a question he doesn't usually get and is given a beautiful answer

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through.

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through. However, how he answered this vulnerable and brave fan's question is one of the most eloquent, passionate responses about domestic violence I've ever seen.



WARNING: At 2:40, he's going to break your heart a little.

You can read more about Heather Skye's hug with Captain Picard at her blog.


This article originally appeared on 06.26.13.