News and Of Interest


Zinnia Cooks at the Oasis Recipe Board

Are you looking for gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, low or sugar-free, (something else -free) or just recipes for YUMMY whole food to make and enjoy? For ideas to get you going, you're welcome to peruse my Pinterest board where I've collected recipes from around the web (and sometimes my kitchen) that inspire our family to eat well every day. Good cooks eat well!
If you have a recipe that you enjoy or a source that you follow, I'd love to hear about it.
Eat well, live well!
Zinnia Cooks Recipe Board on Pinterest

Upcoming Presentations in Invermere BC

Untangling the Institutional Politics of Autism
Saturday October 24, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Invermere, BC, College of the Rockies, Room 112

Do you want to know more about autism spectrum disorders and how to access effective intervention supports? This presentation is for family, friends, or professionals who want to understand more about autism and how you can make a difference in the lives of people with autism. 

By donation ($5-$20 suggested). 
clinical consultations are available.
For more information call:
Do Nothing Floatation Centre! 778-526-5155

Many Paths up the Mountain: Tools for Engaging Meaningful Change for Your Life and the World
Sunday October 25, 2 p.m.
Invermere, BC, Do Nothing Floatation Centre! 1036 7th Ave.

Sustainable living 101!
Have you ever wanted to really make a difference in your own life, in your community or change the world? This 2 hour presentation will inspire, empower and show you how to begin. FREE or by donation. 

For more information call:
Do Nothing Floatation Centre! 778-526-5155 


No Accountability without the Ability to Account and No Responsibility without the Ability to Respond

Across autism communities, there are crises of social justice around issues of accountability from individuals, families, agencies and stakeholders. Accountability is a framework of responsibility and relative to principles, roles, actions, decisions, processes and outcomes. Minimally, there are two key aspects to accountability.

First, for accountability to be in place there must be a clear definition of the principles to which individuals and agencies and institutions can be held accountable, or responsible. This is the basis or orientation of accountability. These are ‘WHAT’ and ‘WHO’ questions asking: ‘WHAT’ or ‘WHO’ has the orientation of accountability?’ and ‘WHAT’ or ‘WHO’ is so important that it should be the anchor of our attention, work, and responsibility?’

Examples of Questions about the Orientation of Accountability:

  1. To what master is accountability chained (oriented)?
  2. Is the orientation of accountability clear, appropriate, and supported?
  3. Does the orientation of accountability conflict with another orientation of accountability (e.g. legislation, policy, clinical, medical, parental authority, a person's needs, social justice)? 
  4. If so, can or should this be altered?
  5. Is there a different, more precise, or more general orientation of accountability that is superior?

Second, accountability requires the ability to account. That is, there must be processes, procedures and roles in place, which create the framework of responsibility. In this sense, ‘responsibility’ requires both ‘the ability to respond’, and the obligation to do so. This is a ‘HOW’ question addressing: ‘HOW’ can it be ensured that responsibility was taken?’ and ‘HOW’ is accountability organized?’

Examples of Questions about the Relations of Responsibility

  1. How are the relations of responsibility chained to or organized for accountability?
  2. Do the relations of responsibility ('HOW') adequately put into practice the orientation of accountability ('WHAT' and 'WHO')?
  3. What are the relevant legislative, policy, clinical, and professional frameworks?
  4. Are there sufficient and appropriate procedures in place for their operation?
  5. What are the roles and lines of authority, decision-making, supervision, and implementation, and are they sufficient and appropriate?
  6. Do the individuals responsible have the ability to respond (with sufficient authority, information, expertise, and opportunity)?
  7. Are there alternative relations of responsibility that are superior?

Both the orientation of accountability (WHAT and WHO) and the relations of responsibility (HOW) are required for effective accountability to be successful. Effective accountability occurs when effective relations of responsibility are oriented and chained sufficiently to appropriate masters.

Using approaches like this can be used to resolve accountability crises and conflicts and can offer important tools for generating insights. It is of critical importance to address each of these questions separately and sufficiently because addressing only one (or the wrong one) will only further exacerbate the crisis or conflict and will result in a decrease in accountability.

Across BC, Alberta, Canada, North America and the globe, stakeholders are rightly calling the crisis of intervention and accountability for individuals with ASD. These calls for accountability are widespread and diverse. Individuals across the breadth of the Spectrum with a diversity of circumstances, needs and values are all suffering crises of accountability to their needs. These individuals, families and professionals deserve more from our institutions than they have received. This is indeed a crisis of accountability of critical importance. 

The way forward is clear. The orientation of accountability must address the diverse, complex and changing needs of ALL individuals with ASD, and clear and corresponding relations of responsibility must be implemented in ways that reflect this diversity, complexity and flexibility. There can be no accountability to individuals with ASD otherwise. It is clear that it is high time that we come together as parents, professionals, clinicians, stakeholders, and institutions and call for the accountability in doing what is right and best, not just for some, but for ALL individuals with ASD. 

Cheers, Kierstin



Recovery from Autism?

Recovery from autism may be best understood like recovery from alcoholism, in the sense that you probably will need some sort of management or self-awareness tools in the long run.

That said, if autism is understood as comprised of disordered communication, behaviour, adaptive functioning, cognitive processing, and social skills (for example), then there are interventions that can improve those to a degree that a formal diagnosis of autism no longer is possible, and that our conceptions of autism no longer describe the individual.

It is common to think of autism as only a behavioural disorder, and therefore the logical path that is open for intervention is through behavioural interventions. But the behavioural path can only take one so far.

Autism is a spectrum disorder, therefore no single approach appropriate for every individual because of the spectrum of presentations across individuals. As a friend of mine with two young adults on the Spectrum says: “Well, when you’ve seen one person with autism, you’ve seen one person with autism”.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors that interact with each other. Epigenetics is the term to describe how environmental factors can ‘turn on or off’ our genes that affect our genetic expressions. Our gut biome (the bacteria and enzymes) is directly connected to our brains, in what is referred to as the Gut-Brain Axis. Each individual’s genetic, environments and gut profiles are unique, and yet together they directly affect our brains, and the expression of autism. In addition, because of neuroplasticity, our brains are constantly changing (if you want to see more about this, check out my post: Good news for anybody with a brain: We can change our brains and our lives!  Neuroplasticity tells us that you really can change your brain through a range of ways. Because of the interactions between epigenetics, the Gut-Brain Axis and neuroplasticity, what we do, what we think and what we eat can radically change our lives, and dramatically affect the patterns of autism.

These paths are ones that can take an individual (and a family) to new places that were previously unseen from one's previous vantage point. The published literature is clear that having a strong clinical alliance, and matching interventions to families' needs, values and lifestyles drastically improve clinical outcomes. Clinicians and professionals are often unaware of the evidence beyond their particular specialization because they are from other disciplines and because articles are parsed from database searches. These are issues that were discussed widely endorsed by CASDA (the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Association)  at their annual Summit in Ottawa this year, and at other academic conferences I’ve attended recently.

With autism, there is never any guarantee. But if you’re struggling on your current path with autism, then perhaps you might be open to trying a new path, or to combine it with what is currently working well for you. Many people don't know that other paths exist. Some have taken other paths and been satisfied with where it has taken them. Often new paths towards recovery are not visible from one's current vantage point, but can emerge once you make it part way up the mountain.

This is the approach that we have taken as a family, and clinically that I have supported with others. This is not a path for everyone (but no single intervention is), and the literature is clear that a range of interventions are needed to address the needs associated with autism. You have the authority to choose the intervention modalities that best fit your needs, values and lifestyle. It’s up to you. What paths are you going to choose? What do you have to lose? What do you have to gain?






You too can change your mind to change your brain to change your life!

Every thought patterns and activity we do changes our brains. This is the beautiful opportunity that neuroplasticity offers every body with a brain! Neuroplasticity is the ability of our brains to change. We can mindfully change our thinking, our choices, our words and our activities on a daily basis. Over time, we can alter the structure of our brains so that by default they have an increased tendency towards seeing beauty, doing good, and feeling well. What's not to like about that?! Change your mind to change your brain to change your life. This is the potential of every person with a brain. Want some tools to help you get started on your journey? Let me know. I'm here to help. Take care, Kierstin