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Any Interaction with a Service Dog Is Distracting

The director of our counseling and accommodations office sent out a Word document with tips on how to interact with service animals. (Basically, ignore the animal, who is busy working. You can silently push the “door open” button if you see a person and service animal approaching the door, but don’t expect the person to take time to indulge your desire to play with or talk about the animal.) I…

People with autism spectrum disorder avoid eye contact because it causes anxiety

My culture has taught me that eye contact is a sign of respect and empathy. As a teacher, I value eye contact because it’s a way students can assure me they are paying attention. (Lack of eye contact is also useful feedback; when I see too many students smiling vacantly while staring at something they are holding under the table, I know I need to shift my teaching tactics.) Today…

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Actors can’t play Hamlet as simply mad in world of mental health awareness, actor says

How does our 21st century understanding of mental health affect our understanding of Hamlet? As a teacher, I have for decades approached the play like this: If everyone in the audience agrees that Hamlet was sane or Hamlet was mad, then the production was a failure; Shakespeare’s text was ambiguous, and a good production should preserve that ambiguity. The director should guide the actor to make conscious choices about what…

No, the AHCA Doesn’t Make Rape a Preexisting Condition

A Republican Facebook friend posted a link to this article, which acknowledges that there’s plenty to dislike about Trumpcare, but challenges the truth behind some of the statements that are driving online outrage. Remember the Trump administration’s strategy — do something that invokes outrage, pounce and call it “fake news” as soon as someone exaggerates or makes a mistake in reporting on the outrage, and while everyone is distracted, do…

Captain, the Fake News Detectors are Offline!

Slate has a good article about William “Captain Kirk” Shatner’s involvement with a Twitter incident that involved Autism Speaks, the alleged connection between vaccines and autism, and the ready availability of easily Googled but unreliable “information.” Shatner is a celebrity, which means that he has outsized influence. That he would use his platform to lend credibility to such sites, spreading them to 2.5 million followers, could have terrible consequences. Shatner…

First They Got Sick, Then They Moved Into a Virtual Utopia

When my son was about five, I sat him on my lap and let him explore the world of Riven (the sequel to the point-and-click adventure Myst). I remember feeling his back muscles tense up when he approached a cave and the music got creepy. “Can I go in?” he asked. I told him he could do whatever he wanted. He turned to look at me, as if to assess…