Color & Control:

Round Up

Superhero stories have a disability problem

By Keah Brown

In both our real and superhero-filled worlds, the fear of anything imperfect and different is seen as something to fix or destroy.

Disabled people don’t get to be superheroes. We often only get to be villains. In the larger cultural landscape, we view disability as punishment and cannot see or make sense of the full spectrum of disability. We fear disability instead of trying to understand it. People with disabilities are never the guy that gets the girl, the person who saves the day, or the hero in the victory parade.

We are the villains. We are the ones you root against, the ones on the “wrong” side of justice, the people you look at with disgust and fear. In our visual and written narratives, disability is viewed as a punishment, something to loathe and fear because we often fear what we do not understand. I understand this  because I am disabled—I have Cerebral Palsy.

Genetic roots behind sleep and autism

By James Prudden 

The genetic factors that influence autism may overlap with those that underlie insomnia. By contrast, the two conditions show minimal overlap based on environmental influences.

The results may help explain the frequent co-occurrence of autism and sleep issues, says lead investigator Mark Taylor, a Swedish researcher in psychiatric epidemiology. With as many as 90 per cent of people with autism having disrupted sleep, and about  30 per cent of these actually diagnosed with a sleep disorder.

“This paper shows that [autistic individuals] are quite commonly diagnosed with insomnia and prescribed melatonin to help them sleep,” Taylor says. “But we were also looking at siblings and relatives in this study, and relatives of autistic people are also shown to be at a higher risk of developing insomnia.”

“The strong overlap between the conditions underscores the importance of diagnosing and treating sleep problems in autistic individuals,” says Philippe Mourrain, from Stanford University. “Sleep problems are overlooked. They are thought of as a by-product—additional symptoms not worthy of investigating when it comes to autism,” he says. But in fact, this shows that poor sleep can impact brain development and influence the severity of autism traits.

Your kid’s bad behaviour may be a good thing

Parents who use psychological control usually mean well, they think that controlling their kids will make them more successful, but “it kind of backfires,” Dr. Loeb said. “They end up struggling to think for themselves once they’re outside of the control of the home.” Ultimately, what latest research suggests is that harsh, strict parenting does not sow the seeds for healthy development. In fact, it does the exact opposite. In the short term, sure, kids might be better behaved but in the long term, it’s been shown that children suffer.

“We really want our kids to know themselves, trust themselves and believe in themselves—and that all gets sacrificed if parents are the be-all, end-all rulers of everything,” says psychologist Dr. Hershberg. Kids should be treated with respect and made to feel that their opinions and beliefs have worth.

So-called “permissive” parenting has been linked to child self-centeredness and poor impulse control. Yes, children need boundaries and rules for healthy development but parents should strive for a middle ground, “goldilocks” approach known as authoritative parenting (as opposed to “authoritarian” parenting). With high expectations and strict limits for their kids, they’ll also be warm and respectful and sometimes willing to negotiate. Not surprisingly their kids do better in school than their peers, are more honest with parents and are also kind and compassionate.


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