Kathy Lette helps us understand the Autistic ‘Spectrum’ by sharing her son’s journey and her great book The Boy Who Fell To Earth

rainbowIt’s amazing what a little education can do to completely change someone’s perception of something.  After interviewing author Kathy Lette last week, I decided to attend a speaking event she was doing the following night.  She’d promised to share more about her life raising her 22year-old son Julius, who happens to be autistic.  Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD or what I learnt is the more accepted terminology these days, on the spectrum, which makes sense, given the wide breadth of severity leading up to the Aspbergers end.  The latter often being highly functioning people who may struggle to connect on an emotional or social front.  But these people are often gifted at the work they do, in fact, I suspect although not out publicly, or even diagnosed, there are probably many well-known Australians that fall into this category.

Kathy got up and talked about the long list of books she’s written, all of which have had major success, then a bit about her life growing up in the Northern suburbs of Sydney to where she now she resides in London with her husband Geoffrey Robertson, also an author and a human rights lawyer.

But it was clear that the most rewarding, most heartbreaking, most challenging and most proud achievement of hers to date is that raising an autistic child whilst navigating the vast terrain that goes around it.

Her recent book The Boy Who Fell To Earth is fictional is a story about a woman who has an autistic child who, whose father took off not long after their son’s diagnosis.  Something I’m told happens a lot as one parent, more often the father I’m told, struggles to cope with the symptoms and ongoing issues.

There’s not even vaguely enough space in this column to share all that I learnt from not only Kathy but the panel of experts that included Dorothy Scott (OAM) who until her retirement in 2010 worked at the Australian Centre for Child Protection at the University of South Australia.

It’s said that ASD neurological disorder affects the brains normal functioning.  , However from what I can gather, it also open up parts of the brain that non ASD people either don’t get around to using or don’t know how to tap into at all.

The encouraging news is, although there’s a very long way to go, but slowly awareness for ASD is building which is lucky because so are the numbers of people being diagnosed with it and essentially because there’s a lot of funding needed in so many support areas.

What I loved about the experience of getting to know about living on or with someone on the spectrum is that within the space of 24 hours I had completely changed the way I looked at it.  I suddenly looked around the room at those who appeared to be on the spectrum and thought, “Wow, I bet you’re an interesting person!  What a fascinating mind and brain you must have.”

As Kathy’s son said to her one day whilst he watched her cutting up veggies in the kitchen, “Mum, if onions make you cry, are there vegetables that make you happy as well?”  Although easily dismissed as just a cute comment, you can see from a boy like her son, whose intention was not of making a joke, there is a uniquely investigative mind there that would be a shame not to acknowledge and maybe learn something powerful from.

Many of these children and adults by nature of how they are wired, just don’t understand or feel the need to pander to other people like the rest of the human race usually do.  All our constant chatter about nothing, the words we use that don’t even relate to what we mean, you’d have to imagine they must listen to us half the time thinking “And they think there’s something wrong with me?”

 

 

 

 

I hope no one buys Samantha Geimer’s book THE GIRL given how thoughtless and dangerous her comments are about underage rape

samantha geimerOne of the most outrageous interviews I’ve watched for a long time would have to be the one done on Sixty Minutes, followed by the Today Show with Samantha Geimer.

When Samantha Geimer was 13, her mother allowed her to spend time alone with the mega famous director of the time, Roman Polanski, who was on the hunt for young models to shoot for French Vogue.  A friend of a friend of Geimer’s mother, an aspiring actress suggested she put her daughter forward for the job, which she did.

What then resulted was Samantha posing not only topless for Roman but accompanying him to actor Jack Nicholson’s house where they drank champagne, he gave her some sort of a pill and the two ended up having sex.  Polanski was eventually charged with unlawful sex with a minor.

I’ve heard Samantha Geimer talk about this enormously public and no doubt horrendous chapter in her life before, although for some reason now she has a book out, most media outlets are making out it’s the first time she’s telling her story.  It’s not.  However it does seem to be conveniently the first time that she’s throwing a slightly new spin on her opinions on the event.  Now she is effectively saying that what happened to her is not quite as big a deal as we all thought it was, and what society says it certainly was and still is.

She says that we have to remember that having sex with a minor wasn’t ‘uncommon’ in the 70’s; as if it was somehow a bit more in fashion back then.  Maybe in Hollywood where powerful men could get away with it but it still wasn’t legal or moral and at age 50 which she now is, surely she realizes that what’s she saying is totally stupid and unbelievably reckless?

There’s something so divisive about how she’s decided to sell her book. She’s doing an appalling disservice to every single person in the world that’s ever been sexually abused.  Perhaps she’s forgetting that there are not one set of rules for Hollywood and another for the normal people in the world?  If a grown man, 3 times the age of a minor coerces a young person into sex, he’s a sick and there is only ever one answer to this issue in society and that is it’s not on ever.

Of course we can all accept the bad decisions made by a child, as she was when she says she made mistakes, which may or may not have prevented sex occurring with Polanski but we will always wonder, “Where was your mother?”

But what is this woman thinking by saying such things, as the police investigation, hospital exams and press reports were more traumatic than the attack itself?  She says: “I did something wrong, I was stupid… To pose topless, and to drink and to take the [sleeping] pill.”

How could this woman that seems to be caught up in the notoriety of this awful story be so blaise about what she is putting out there to the world so she can sell a few books?  You are making a statement to the world, what part of that don’t you get?

Surely she’d have to have thought for a moment “Maybe I shouldn’t say this as it effectively tells every pedophile and sleazebag that sexual acts with a minor don’t always damage the child that badly.”

But of course, this is being reflected against the backdrop of the HOLLYWOOD sign and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out how screwed up the morals and desires are of many of the types that moth around it.

She’s spruiking forgiveness, which is one thing she has given Polanski but she’s doing it at the price of innocent children all over the world.  And slapping every adult battling their childhood abuse nightmares straight in the face with this book.  It makes me think that sadly, she may not have learnt anything from her tragic past at all.

 

It’s a sad state of affairs when you’re too scared to turn your TV on because KEVIN might be on it

KDUDDThanks to Kevin Rudd I can’t even turn on the news anymore out of fear he’ll be there taunting me with some sort of awful disrespect that will take me and my otherwise peaceful day into an ugly tailspin.

Another reminder shoved in my face that as bad as the performance on most levels that Labour has displayed during their time in power, it’s the Kevin Rudd Show that for me is the hardest of all to watch.

How could someone in his position even dare to use the word trust in his address regarding the election?  If there was one word surely that he should have never, ever approved to be in his speech it is the word trust.

Kevin Rudd’s concept of politics is a bit like watching the movie The Hunger Games, all for show, pretty disturbing and only room for one winner. Kevin.

Like the contestants in The Hunger Games who as part of winning the game needed to create this extravagant make over, designed to convince the public of their power and mystery, so too has Kevin, at heavens knows what cost, apparently bought himself a PR spin team to fool us into thinking he’s something that he’s not.

All part of what wreaks to me of this never ending revenge on not just Julia but also the people of Australia.  Especially those that didn’t nor ever will vote for him.  He’s delighting in holding us all to ransom and forcing all of us to have to be part of his game.

Even worse, his spin team is American.  Now there are many things I love about America and its people, but what on earth do they know really about real Australians or what we desire as a proud nation of citizens?

If you need to bring in a pack of Americans, known for their meticulous, painstaking brain swashing PR expertise to win you friends and ultimately an election, then either you have delusions of Obama status, or you must very little to brag about in reality.

Barack Obama has made plenty of celebrity mates, which in American clearly doesn’t hurt.  His image has been on t-shirts and he’s even graced the couch of a very non-campaign traditional show such as The View.  He knows how to work it like a pro, make himself look accessible whilst nurturing the unique ingredient of X Factor cool.

Yet here we have, a deluded man who was lucky enough for someone to come up with the brief nickname Kevin ’07, someone else then writing a mildly amusing rap tune to it, and even though the rest of us have moved on, good old Kevin as with all things, cannot let it go.

So I don’t cop Kevin trying to plant such sound bites in the hope they’ll make it on to a t-shirt like “just chill”, or “I’m going to have to zip,” or “whatevs…”  How dare he even try to be funny in a position such as his?  After his party have damaged our nation’s self esteem in the way that it has?

Call me old fashioned but I also think he should have better things to do than to be tweeting things such as, ‘I’ve just sat down to watch the test. That was one of the worst cricket umpiring decisions I have ever seen. KRudd.’ Not surprising I guess given we are dealing with a person that enjoys being a celebrity as well as a leader and that’s what they do.

As for describing himself and his party as the ‘underdogs’ of the race…Kevin might believe his party aren’t popular, but he does not and never has considered himself as a weak link. Once again, another little strategy to convince you that Kevin doesn’t think Kevin is our messiah.

In 5 weeks time I hope there is a change in our nation that starts to slowly restore the way we used to feel about ourselves.  After all, we’ve been humiliated and patronized for long enough.

Just because I strut around carrying a computer all the time, does NOT mean I have a tech-ing clue what I’m doing with it

I spent 3 bloody hours trying to Skype a friend yesterday.  Boringly my internet usage ran out so I then had to café hop up and down a busy street searching for free WIFI which wasn’t as easy as I’d thought. Eventually at the near three hour panic mark, I thought I’d hit the jackpot.  

However now I’m sitting at the shittiest café on the strip, perched on a dirty brown seat that might get me pregnant , so low down in comparison to the table that if I’d actually been able to Skype connect, I’d have appeared as suspicious pair of eyes at the bottom of my friend’s screen.

The following day after no less than 30 emails to my friend keeping her updated on my progress as if I’m running the Amazing Race, she replied “Wow Petts you’re having a serious tech nightmare!”  This was a nice way of saying ” Wow Amber, it’s really not that bloody difficult, what is your problem girlfriend?”

What I was, am, and quite often having, and what I feel should be added to the dictionary, is a serious tech-mare!!  Close in every way to a nightmare except you’re awake but you still can’t quite get there. Helpless and hopeless…

So it was a rather surreal moment last week when I had two women accusing me of being a techno genius.  I mean I’ve been called a couple of things in my time but techno genius?  Nope.

The serious misunderstanding as I saw it, occurred whilst on a night out at the movies with my mother and her two friends, when I glanced over at one of them who was squinting away trying to read a text from her son. She pulled the phone in close to her face, then away and so on.  All the while mumbling about her age and being totally blind without her glasses.

When I too squinted at her screen, I remarked “I don’t think it’s your eyes, a four year old would struggle with that, it’s so dark.”

Apparently she’d been having ongoing problems with her new Iphone, not being able to read texts or even hear when it was ringing.

I grabbed the gadget out of her hand as I warned given my track record with phones and anything that has an ‘on’ button I was unlikely to be of any help.  I went into her settings, turned the brightness up, then the volume which were both at their lowest setting.  .

Shreaking like she’d just won Powerball or stumbled on a plunge pool in the desert, she starts accusing me of being a ‘technical genius’, as my mum and the other mate start backing her up.

Mum even starts bragging “oh she’s always been amazing at things like that!” Um, no I haven’t Mum, you’re making that up.  Anyone that’s ever known me,  knows as a running joke that I lose the plot all the time over technology.  I just DO NOT get it.  But now, apparently I’m the incarnation of Steve Jobs.

My point in all this nonsense is, you may think that the whole world knows something that you don’t because you didn’t grow up with technology. I’ve finally taught my 71 year old mother how to send emails and she thinks it’s heaven but she was never going to get there with her $80 an hour IT guy coming to her home because she was too self-conscious so she learnt nothing.

I’d call her after he’d left every time and say “so when am I getting an email?” , to which she’d reply that she still didn’t really know what to do.  I couldn’t quite understand what was going wrong until I realised she was just having a brain block through fear, not because she didn’t grow up with technology.

Think about who you might be able to keep in contact with more by knowing the basics, that would really make your day?  Grandkids overseas, old friends interstate? Then try to destroy the illusion that  just because people like me who carry their computers everywhere, does not mean we have a clue what we’re doing with them, a lot of the time.

With tragedy comes hero’s…what else comes is the Crime Scene Clowns who get in the way.

With the horrific scenes that have been coming out of Boston over the past week, it makes you realise what an enormous job government officials in any country  have to undertake by way of trying to protect innocent people, having to tend to the needs of those injured in the bombings as in this case, supporting the grieving families of those who have been killed or awaiting news on an injured loved one.

The scope of what goes on behind the scenes by all sorts of officials trying to do their respective jobs to unravel the mayhem brought on by a couple of insanely twisted people, is just overwhelming in it’s gravity.

And then you get these mind blowing morons in the mix, all clambering around trying to get their moment in the drama.  People that do not need to be anywhere near a crime scene but flock to it like maggots to be a piece of old meat.  Crime scene clowns thinking they’re in a scene from CSI.

I was watching Fox News as the shoot out at MIT university was unfolding, as one of the Boston bombers and subsequent bomb suspects had been shot dead.

One young Fox reporter standing by the road introduced a man who appeared to be in his 60’s, a man who apparently lived somewhere in the town but not actually in the heart of the chaos, yet there he was, acting like a educated citizen being treated like a  credible witness to what was being watched on TV networks all over the world.

The serious issue here is, that this stupid twit of a bloke, explained that he’d been at home, heard one explosion and then heard another.  He described the town as not normally being a place where such violence would normally go on, so much so that he said it was not even a place where you’d even see much police presence. Thankfully for officials as this was all kicking off, it was the early hours of the morning so there weren’t a lot of people actively in the area.

Except this half-wit known as Mr Grimes, who went on to share after the second explosion, to which he then heard the sounds of several sirens screaming into town, he had the bright idea of leaving his house with his wife still in bed and hopped in his car headed in the direction of the drama.

What sort of person thinks it’s a good idea from even a personal safety point of view to hurtle towards an unknown, obviously highly dangerous situation so they can find out what’s going down?  This is the absolute epitomy of the anti-hero, knowing that if there’s sirens being heard that would tell a person with a brain that maybe the police may have it covered?  Although, as is tragically the case in this Boston story late last week, even the police, heavily armed and highly trained don’t always make it back to their families.

It’s an utter disgrace for this man and others who siren chase in these types of situations, who by their idiotic judgement calls based on the adrenalin of drama, who go and clog up a street where police might be needing to keep clear so they car get through.  Adding another element of police distraction by having an unnecessary person close to a critical scene who now they have to worry about protecting him as well.

The worrying trend these days with all of us having our cameras on the ready inside our phones, is that everyone’s so obsessed with being the one that gets the footage of something hideous going down.

If a crime scene is unfolding no matter what country it’s happening in, it’s our duty to those who are already risking their own lives to protect, to get out of the flipping way and let the officials do their job. These people shouldn’t interviewed, they should be told to nick off. For want of a much stronger set of words that I’d really rather use.

With the horrific scenes that have been coming out of Boston over the past week, it makes you realise what an enormous job government officials in any country  have to undertake by way of trying to protect innocent people, having to tend to the needs of those injured in the bombings as in this case, supporting the grieving families of those who have been killed or awaiting news on an injured loved one.

The scope of what goes on behind the scenes by all sorts of officials trying to do their respective jobs to unravel the mayhem brought on by a couple of insanely twisted people, is just overwhelming in it’s gravity.

And then you get these mind blowing morons in the mix, all clambering around trying to get their moment in the drama.  People that do not need to be anywhere near a crime scene but flock to it like maggots to be a piece of old meat.  Crime scene clowns thinking they’re in a scene from CSI.

I was watching Fox News as the shoot out at MIT university was unfolding, as one of the Boston bombers and subsequent bomb suspects had been shot dead.

One young Fox reporter standing by the road introduced a man who appeared to be in his 60’s, a man who apparently lived somewhere in the town but not actually in the heart of the chaos, yet there he was, acting like a educated citizen being treated like a  credible witness to what was being watched on TV networks all over the world.

The serious issue here is, that this stupid twit of a bloke, explained that he’d been at home, heard one explosion and then heard another.  He described the town as not normally being a place where such violence would normally go on, so much so that he said it was not even a place where you’d even see much police presence. Thankfully for officials as this was all kicking off, it was the early hours of the morning so there weren’t a lot of people actively in the area.

Except this halfwit known as Mr Grimes, who went on to share after the second explosion, to which he then heard the sounds of several sirens screaming into town, he had the bright idea of leaving his house with his wife still in bed and hopped in his car headed in the direction of the drama.

What sort of person thinks it’s a good idea from even a personal safety point of view to hurtle towards an unknown, obviously highly dangerous situation so they can find out what’s going down?  This is the absolute epitomy of the anti-hero, knowing that if there’s sirens being heard that would tell a person with a brain that maybe the police may have it covered?  Although, as is tragically the case in this Boston story late last week, even the police, heavily armed and highly trained don’t always make it back to their families.

It’s an utter disgrace for this man and others who siren chase in these types of situations, who by their idiotic judgement calls based on the adrenalin of drama, who go and clog up a street where police might be needing to keep clear so they car get through.  Adding another element of police distraction by having an unnecessary person close to a critical scene who now they have to worry about protecting him as well.

The worrying trend these days with all of us having our cameras on the ready inside our phones, is that everyone’s so obsessed with being the one that gets the footage of something hideous going down.

If a crime scene is unfolding no matter what country it’s happening in, it’s our duty to those who are already risking their own lives to protect, to get out of the flipping way and let the officials do their job. These people shouldn’t interviewed, they should be told to nick off. For want of a much stronger set of words that I’d really rather use.

 

WHY IS IT SO HARD TO MARKET SOUTH AUSTRALIA? IT SHOULDN'T BE AND IT'S TIME TO GET IT RIGHT

Something that has constantly grated on me since I discovered the wonders of South Australia, I’ve mentioned this before, is how many people outside of South Australia don’t seem to have a broad enough clue on what this beautiful state has to offer.

If I could have a dollar for every conversation I’ve had with outsiders, about what I believe are the most incredible parts of this section of the world, I’d be able to buy up most of Rundle Street. Which would be rather nice!

Only last week was I having such a conversation with a friend from Melbourne who is retired and always on the look out for a new adventure to a stunning location, and thankfully this time, I had another Adelaidian with me, that helped ramp up the argument that South Australia is so much more than it’s wonderful wineries.

And then there are the ignoramus Adelaide bashers that write the state off as some sort of pointless sport. Let’s not forget that bagging something is always about making the bagger feel superior about themselves, so why pick on Adelaide?

Well because too many people don’t know what it’s about.

It was great to see the last run of tourism ads running around the other states, and by all accounts it was a really lovely ad that certainly highlighted the nostalgia of an untouched Australian state, not yet ruined by flashy buildings and man made highlights.

But what it also did, in my opinion was just make South Australians feel warm and fuzzy about their home. It didn’t show anything realistically that any other part of Australia has to offer. I’m sorry, but it just didn’t.

If the aim of marketing to the rest of the world in order to create interest in others spending their time holidaying here, then you’ve got to intrigue them and find a positioning that sets the place apart from the other options. Why is it so hard to do this when you have a product, as it is seen to a marketing person, that is teaming with extraordinary gems just waiting to get some air time?

Perhaps it does mean asking marketing experts outsider of the state to come and view the various treasures of South Australia to get a real perspective on what’s here that isn’t elsewhere? Like the Flinders Ranges, this is unique and spectacular to South Australia.

I’ve never seen more stars in any other part of the world as I did staying in the middle of nowhere in the Gawler Ranges. Never seen such colours in a sunset as I have even just down at Henley Beach.

Beaches that take your breath away which let’s face it, to an Aussie, is pretty hard to do because that’s one of the things we do best. And we do draw a tourist crowd because of. South Australia as far as I’m concerned beats the other states hands down. Ask most non South Aussies and they don’t seem to know that. They know about the wineries, but that’s often it.

As someone that was not born in this state will tell you, there is a mystery about South Australia that could be marketed really well. There are legends and myths about some truly strange things that certainly I wouldn’t always put on a brochure but mystery is alluring, and someone needs to tap into it.

It’s time to put some new images out to the world about South Australia. I recently came across a lot of them thanks to the work of Adelaide photographer Alex Frayne, whose series called ‘Adelaide Noir’ truly captures the dream like quality that my memories of South Australia contain.

Like those things that thousands of Australian women are about to plonk on their heads during the races, the fascinator, which is designed to show a little bit of the face but leaving just a little bit of allure in order to intrigue those that come across it. South Australia should be very easy to market.

DO YOU THINK SOUTH AUSTRALIA IS MARKETED WELL? WHAT IS YOUR IMPRESSION OF SA? *Photos by Alex Frayne – check him out at Alex Frayne – film and images www.fusionjazzer.com