Please welcome my fellow Astraea Press author R R Smythe!
Tell us a little about yourself.
Hmm. Well, by day I am a pediatric therapist. I specialize in the autism spectrum, sensory processing and feeding disorders. So I spend my days with food, puke and tears. And no that is not a rock band lol.
By night, I write. I’ve been published since 2006. I was research assistant to NY Times Best Seller Jodi Picoult for her autism book, House Rules.
What is autism?
Well, depends who you ask. With the advent of the DSM 5, there will only be one autism. I, for one, believe in the spectrum. From full blown autism the whole way up to asperger’s syndrome.
Here’s the wikipedia defintion:
Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction andcommunication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. The diagnostic criteria require that symptoms become apparent before a child is three years old. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; how this occurs is not well understood. It is one of three recognized disorders in the autism spectrum (ASDs), the other two being Asperger syndrome, which lacks delays in cognitive development and language, and pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (commonly abbreviated as PDD-NOS), which is diagnosed when the full set of criteria for autism or Asperger syndrome are not met.
How does are people on the autism spectrum affected?
I would say the most prominent feature is impaired sensory processing. Their senses are either over-reacting or under-reacting.
An example of a feeding child, with over sensitive skin may gag at the sight of food on her tray. Touching it feels noxious and the inside of her mouth is so sensitive, she prefers NOT to eat rather than tolerate the texture. Fun, right. Fun, no.
Please tell us about a personal experience with autism.
Autism is no longer a death sentence—ie you will be institutionalized. With the gamut of interventions out there, both biological and behavioral and therapy options out there, many many people make significant progress.
We hear so much about the challenges faced by people on the autism spectrum and their families. Can you tell us something about the other side, the good things about autism?
Well, half of NASA probably is on the spectrum lol. It’s often paired with genius level intelligence. If you are able to control the sensory issues and tweak the social anxiety, there is often a massively complex and intelligent person underneath.
Thank you for being here today!
About R R Smythe:
R R Smythe writes Young Adult Historical Thrillers and Fantasy, with romantic elements. She can be found digging in her garden, tapping out secrets on her laptop or hiding behind her enormous to be read pile. She believes in six impossible things before breakfast, and is in visual nirvana with any Tim Burton film.
Mia Templeton is dying. Or was dying. After receiving a heart transplant, her world is forever altered. Before her eyes open, she overhears her donor was a murdered girl of the same age. Whispers invade Mia’s head before she’s even left the recovery room. She develops tastes for foods she once hated, and dreams so vivid, she feels they’re someone else’s memories. Her personality is altered—once a quiet doormat, she’s now inexplicably flippant, and confident. And her unexplained longing for the new boy at school is borderline obsessive.
Morgan Kelley is new. Adopted by his aunt, a descendant of Louisa May Alcott (Little Women), he’s thrown into life at a new high school, and as a historical guide for his aunt’s store—a homage to all things Alcott. Conspiracy theories abound about his mangled lower leg—but no-one has been brave enough to ask. Till Mia.
Something is awry with the Underground Railroad tunnels beneath his aunt’s home. Mia and Morgan enter the world of a secret Literary Society–and are drafted to help bring a rogue Literary giant to justice, solve the mystery of her heart donor, the the real fate of Beth from Little Women.