Blending in

As the diagnoses of Autism increase, an interesting trend has been noticed. More boys are being diagnosed than girls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disorder is 4.5 times more common among boys than girls. Boys appear to be more vulnerable to the disorder, but the gender gap may not be as wide as it appears. Girls can be better at blending in, according to Dr. Louis Kraus, a psychiatrist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who specializes in autism.

While girls try to fit in, boys tend to be more isolative. This makes it easier to spot autism at an earlier age in boys, whereas girls may not be diagnosed until later on because their symptoms don’t stand out. This can be hindering since girls then may not get the early intervention that they need.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disorder, characterized by repetitive, compulsive behaviors, a lack of interest in social interaction and little or no eye contact. There is no medical test to diagnose autism. Doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis.

Girls appear to have mastered what some call “social camouflaging” according to Amanda Gulsrud who’s a clinical director of the Child and Adult Neurodevelopmental Clinic and University of California, LA. She develops school interventions for children with autism. During this study done by UCLA looking at children with and without ASD, the autistic boys stand out as being different. They were very isolated from the other boys, who were in a large group playing sports. The boys with autism were the ones “circling the perimeter of the yard, or off by the tree in the back.”

Girls with autism, on the other hand, don’t stand out as much. They stuck close enough to the other girls to look as if they were socially connected, but in reality they really weren’t. They were flitting in and out of that social connection. Girls with autism tend to be quiet and “behave more appropriately” according to Marisela Huerta, a psychologist with the Weill Cornell Medical College.

Currently, there is a NIH-funded study on girls with autism focusing on genes, brain function and behavior through childhood and adolescence. Preliminary findings suggest there are differences in the brains of girls and boys with the disorder. Brain imaging shows that autistic girls seem to have less of a disruption in the area of the brain that processes social information. Girls may be more likely to understand social expectations, even if they can’t fully meet them.

A late diagnosis of autism is a setback for any child according to Kraus. Research shows the earlier the diagnosis and intervention, the better the outcome. There are many academic and community programs geared to help autistic teens and young adults catch up on their social development. For example, PEERS at UCLA.

What do you think about this research? Do you have an autistic child, teen or young adult in your life? Do you notice differences between autistic boys and girls? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

A lot of this information was found via this article HERE.

Girl power: bending the gender rules

There’s a new rule at the Shaolin Epo Wushu College: girls are allowed to attend as well. But this isn’t just any school: not only do they have to pass their exams with flying colors, they also have to follow a very strict Kung Fu training schedule.

The school gives children a chance to learn as well. There are about 8,000 students, some as young as 3. At first the school only allowed boys, but now it allows girls as well. Shaolin Epo schoolgirls have no time to sip tea and play with dolls though. Instead, they train with fists, swords, daggers, and other weapons everyday. The girls are treated the same as the boys, everyone lives in the same Spartan conditions. Many students live in the same room, meals are very modest, and there’s only one parental visit a week. Girls and boys alike have to toughen up and focus on their goal of becoming a skilled warrior.

Life in the school can be hard, but these girls fight just as well as the boys. The bar is set very high and there are no exceptions for those who fall behind. Nevertheless, despite the hurdles along the way and the unrelenting schedule, every girl soldiers on determined to make her parents, teachers, and country proud.

I love that girls are being given the same chances as boys. Gender equality makes me happy. Anything you can do I can do better. Did you know that I trained in Praying Mantis Kung Fu for 6 years? I recently left my school but plan on finding a new school after I run the Chicago Marathon. I feel like Kung Fu teaches so much more than just how to defend yourself.

Watch the documentary below and let me know what you think about it. Have you practiced martial arts? If so, which type? Would you send your kid to this school? Or if you’re like me, would you attend this school?


This past week was the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2017 which was held in sunny San Antonio, TX. Among the trending topics at the conference was coding in the classroom. There’s a movement called Girls Who Code led by Reshma Saujani, who was one of the keynote speakers this past week. Tech jobs are among the fastest growing ion the country, yet girls are being left behind. Girls Who Code’s mission is to help close the gender gap in technology.

Another cool note to mention is that Chicagoland’s very own Jennie Magiera was one of the other keynote speakers. She is the chief innovation officer at Des Plaines Public Schools in Chicago and the author of Courageous EdventuresShe believes that despite the many challenges facing schools today, every classroom can be a place for what she calls “edventures:” student-centered, passion-based experiential learning. With this in mind, Magiera’s work centers on acknowledging problems and finding innovative ways to navigate them, freeing up teachers and students to dive into classroom edventures.

Overall, a successful conference. The future of education and technology is exciting as always. What was your favorite part of this past week? Were you following the talks on twitter like I was? #ISTE17 in case you didn’t catch it. Do you work in the field of education? If so, do you feel like things are changing for the better or worse?

Exercise and creativity

Physically active people can improve their self-expression, self-confidence and social interaction compared with more sedentary people. Exercise leads to better brain health, less obesity and less stress. This applies to people of all ages, including children and young adults. Regular exercise for children and young adults is important as that is when people start habits, good or bad. While I am a tutor, I do recommend my students exercise as it can help them study for their exams and perform better on test day.


While exercise is physical, it affects overall health and well being more than just the physical gains. Artists facing roadblocks in their creative process can be benefited by exercise. Exercise can help them open their minds and see their art from a different perspective or mindset. And what’s even better than just exercising? Exercising outside. Science supports the idea of human’s innate desire to connect with nature. Several studies have shown a correlation between being outside and feeling emotionally, mentally and physically better.

Being outside almost provides a distraction from everything else going on. Exercising outside can definitely lead to great things. Do you exercise outside? If so, what’s your favorite type of exercise to do outside?