Wednesday, September 30, 2015


“There is a popular misconception that autistic people are either anti-social tech geniuses or Rain Man-like savants. But research is increasingly showing that even “low-functioning” autistic people might be smarter than neurotypical people in certain ways”
By: Olga Kazan
Level of difficulty: ***
You need to understand what autism is before you tackle the text so access the videos below, watch and listen:
·         “What is autism?”
·         “Ask an autistic – what is autism?”   
1.       The story of John and Michael and similar instances should not lead to the conclusion that……….
2.       The case of Daniel Temmet is proof that some autistic people may……………………………………………..
3.       The autistic tech genius’ success with the venture capitalist is due to his lack of planning / stage fright / emotion / language skills
4.       Why are autistic people able to understand numbers and patterns better?
5.       The reason why autistic people are better than normal people at processing complex patterns is the fact that...........................................................................................................................
6.       Why does Mottron work with Michelle Dawson?
7.       Access the video of the autistic reporter and watch it: . What feature of autistic people does the video highlight?
8.       Read Mattron’s experiment on creativity to the end. The major difference between the neurotypical subjects and the autistic subjects was the fact that the former suggested……………first while the latter went straight for ……………….
9.       Read the statements below. Then, access the podcast titled “NeuroTribes examines the history and myths of the autistic spectrum”   ( you can also access the podcast by via the text which has a link; )
 Are statements true or false according to the podcast?
·         Both autistic people and neurotypical people have their strengths and weaknesses
·         Not all autistic people are the same
·         Doctor Asberger made no effort to save his patients from the Nazis
·         The terms “high functioning” and low functioning” are derived from a presentation
·         Dr. Asberger said that the children could be very useful
·         Not everything that steps out of line is superior
·         Asberger framed autism more broadly than Connor
·         Connor believed nurture was to blame for autism
·         Connor saw autism as a psychiatric disorder
·         There was a sharp rise in the number of cases of autism in the 1970’s
·         The Rain Man character developed cultural awareness of autism
·         Wakefield misled the public concerning the cause of autism
·         The autism parents movement aimed to improve the quality of life of autistic people
·         Autism may be caused by high levels of testosterone in the womb
·         Autism is caused by people marrying later and having kids later
·         There should be more focus on making the lives of autistic people better and happier
10.   Write down the first sentence of the conclusion of the text.
What is autism?
Use all the information you have gleaned to write an essay describing autism to someone who knows nothing about it.
This reading and listening into writing activity introduces a problem which many may have preconceptions about. The listening tasks have been integrated into the questions this time round to emulate the way an individual would read a text on line. The podcast is excellent both interms of quality of English and enunciation and content.
1.       When autistic people are unusually skilled, those skills are impractical and not connected to real intellect.
2.       Possess extraordinary abilities yet function at a high level
3.       Emotion
4.       Because the autistic brain seeks out the kind of information it “prefers” to process while ignoring materials –like verbal and social cues for example – that it doesn’t like
5.       People with autism concentrate more of their brain’s resources on visual processing and less on tasks like planning and impulse control
6.       Because autistic people have excellent memories (She has an excellent memory won’t do on its own; you have to state that she is autistic)
7.       The fact that they are precocious at technical and visual tasks
8.       The easy answers / ingenious responses ( innovative uses although meaning wise alright doesn’t fit the logic of the sentence as well.)
9.       1. T, 2. T, 3. F, 4. T, 5. T, 6. F, 7. F, 8. F, 9. T, 10. F, 11.  T, 12 T, 13. T, 14. T, 15. F, 16. T

10.    This isn’t to suggest that the parents of severely autistic children – some of whom are prone to tantrums and violence – don’t face real challenges.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Ancient Greece is considered the birth place of democracy. Most countries in the modern world are also ruled by democracy. What are the similarities and differences between ancient Greek democracy and modern democracy? Do your research before you write.
 Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:  
Watch, listen and take notes:
Read and take notes
·         “Ancient Greek democracy”
·         “Athenian democracy”  
·         “Comparing ancient Athenian democracy to modern American democracy”
“How was democracy in ancient Greece different from in the US?”

Thursday, September 10, 2015


There is nothing worse for your state of mind than brooding or ruminating as it has some devastating effects. Do your research and find out what they are; then write an essay discussing them.

Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:  

What is rumination: two podcasts
·         “Mini episode 6: rumination” (tape script available)
·         “Rumination”
Reading material to make notes on or annotate:
·         “Rumination: the danger of dwelling”
·         “Why ruminating is unhealthy and how to stop”
·         “The seven hidden dangers of brooding and ruminating”
·         “Rumination and how it effects your life”
Videos to watch and make notes on:
·         “11 Steps to stop ruminating”
“How to stop ruminating”

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Developments in genetic engineering and technology are making the creation of a  superior human being much less of a fantasy and much more of a distinct possibility yet should we go down this path? What are the moral implications? What are the social implications? Do your research and determine where you stand then write an essay defending your standpoint.
Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:  
Reading material to make notes on or annotate
·         “As a species, we have a moral obligation to enhance ourselves”
·         Tough but brilliant academic text:“Ethical issues in human enhancement”
Videos to watch and make notes on:
·         “Ethics of human enhancement”

·         “The ethics of human enhancement”

Saturday, September 5, 2015


A research related writing task for science buffs
Quantum theory and string theory suggest that there is not one but many universes. The theory of multiverses has some staunch supporters and some critics. Do your research to try and understand the theory and then write an essay explaining what it is and where you stand in relation to it. Have fun. Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:  
Thanks are due to Essie, for this interesting activity
Documentaries to watch and think about:
·         BBC documentary: parallel universes, alternative timelines & multiverse”
·         “Multiverse: one universe or many?”
Reading material to make notes on or annotate:
·         “The theory of multiple universes – for dummies”
·         “What is the multiverse and why do we think it exists?”
·         “Five reasons why we live in a multiverse”
·         “How would humans know if they lived in a multiverse?”
Videos to watch and make notes on:

·         “Fascinating short film about multiverses”