Monday, January 21, 2019

Reading the Research: Adult Autistic Difficulties

Welcome back to Reading the Research, where I trawl the Internet to find noteworthy research on autism and related subjects, then discuss it in brief with bits from my own life, research, and observations.

Today's article notes in detail that autistic adults without intellectual disabilities don't get a free pass to lives without difficulties.  Four non-IQ categories are called out as causing difficulties: theory of mind, knowledge and recognition of emotions, processing speed, and verbal learning and memory.  Autistic adults may have difficulties with any or all of these categories while testing perfectly normal on an IQ test.  

This is where I'm really tempted to soapbox (again) how unimportant IQ is in terms of being an adult.  But since I did that already, and recently, I'll instead point out that some of the language in this article is rather ableist: "having intact IQ" is not an appropriate way to refer to a normal or better IQ.  It suggests that people with IQs below a threshold are "damaged people," and denies the basic validity and humanity of people with intellectual disabilities. 

I was going to hope the institution in question was from another country, and therefore a translating failure might have been involved in this word choice, but The Mount Sinai Hospital and School of Medicine is located in New York City... so it's probably just ableism.  Ugh.

For those anyone not immediately familiar: a meta-analysis, such as the one here, is when the researchers look up all relevant research to a particular question, like, "does IQ predict success in autistic adults?"  They then take all this research and run through it with a fine-toothed comb, checking what kinds experiments and research were done, what their results were, and what statistical analysis was done.  The end result is something like a more scientific version of asking a dozen wise people for a solution to a particular problem.  Any patterns in results are noted, in hopes of getting a more thorough answer to the question.

Meta-analyses are important because, after the 30th-ish study has been published on a question, it becomes really hard for anyone to remember the results of all of them.  This is particularly true if multiple authors and institutions are involved, which is nearly always the case.

Dehumanizing word choice and type of study aside, the article at least makes the useful point I mentioned above: that there are many kinds of difficulties, and having a high IQ does not save you from them.  The researchers isolated four places autistic adults can have difficulties:

Theory of Mind is the skill of recognizing and attributing different beliefs, wants, skills, knowledge, and intents to yourself and as well as others.  It's recognizing and overcoming Human Error #1 ("everyone is just like me").  It's recognizing that your friend knows more about a particular subject, or that your spouse can be upset even though you aren't.  It's important to note that just because a person has theory of mind, doesn't mean they're immune to Human Error #1.  It's #1 for a reason.

Emotional Knowledge and Recognition is more or less what it says on the tin.  Some people, including some autistic people, have trouble putting words to the emotions they're feeling.  I like the charts found on this page.  Such people may also have trouble identifying emotions in others.  The difficulty recognizing emotions can be so great that even simple emotions, like anger or fear, might be missed or misnamed, with the person assuming they or the other person is calm.  This can result in very upset people, because basic emotion-reading and expression is an assumed skill in the current time.  

Processing Speed is how fast you understand and can use new information.  This trait is classically associated with low IQ, but I can personally attest that it affects people with higher IQs as well.  Like a computer processor, the faster you can handle incoming information, the easier you can handle situations both old and new.  Having slower processing speeds can make it hard to hold conversations or respond effectively to new information at your job.


Verbal Learning and Memory is how quickly and how well you process verbal directions or instructions.  Many autistic people like to have such instructions written out to circumvent this issue, but in some workplaces and in more freeform interactions, this isn't always possible.  Your supervisor or friends may simply expect you to remember the set of directions in order, and then do them.  If you have trouble keeping more than two verbal directions in your head at once, having someone give you 3 or more is going to be a waste.  Asking for directions from a local is the obvious example of this.  ("Oh, the mall?  Turn right at the T, drive 'til you see the burger joint, go left at the billboard, then left at the bank, and then you're there!")  

Any and all of these factors can make it difficult to hold a job and interact with other adults successfully.  And all aren't part of the "typical" understanding of autism. 

(Pst! If you like seeing the latest autism-relevant research, visit my Twitter, which has links and brief comments on studies that were interesting, but didn't get a whole Reading the Research article about them.)

Friday, January 18, 2019

Book Review: Knowing Why

Knowing Why: Adult-Diagnosed Autistic People on Life and Autism, edited by Elizabeth Bartmess, is a set of nine essays by adult autistic people.  It's very much a slice of life piece.  Some authors are more philosophical than others, but each incorporates meaningful examples from their lives.  I asked for this book for Christmas, and now that I've read it, I'm not at all sorry I did.

I was gratified, while reading this book, to note the diversity in the authors and their chosen subjects.  The spectrum is a diverse place, so it behooves books like this to bring that diversity to their pages.  This doesn't always happen in many mainstream publishers, but as ASAN published this book, they made a point of including diversity.  And they succeeded.

One of the authors is black, and explains the kinds of complications that identity and appearance can add into a person's life.  Another is clearly on the lower end in terms of verbal communication skills.  Some of the authors are from other countries.  Subjects range from burnout to work, and also include personal identity, depression, fighting for quality healthcare, sensory sensitivities, and assistive technology.  All the subjects struck me as highly relevant to my life, and the lives of others.  And each person had good insight on their chosen subjects.

The book is also diverse in the tone of its essays.  Many are hopeful to some degree, but some are more matter-of-fact and neutral, or even tinged with the very depression they're writing about.  This, too, is true to life.  I think most people experience both hope and despair in life, and the more complications and difficulties you experience, the harder it is to hold onto hope.  If you reach adulthood without a diagnosis, the chances are excellent that you struggled quite a bit to get there, and experienced a fair bit of despair.  So while I wasn't overly happy reading the sadder accounts, they made perfect sense to me.

Actually, that's perhaps the most interesting thing to me about the essays in this book.  While the authors of these essays share my diagnosis, in some cases I have few things in common with them.  Yet each and every one of them was able to explain their actions, even ones like "crawling into the ductwork of their church," in such a way that it made perfect sense given their circumstances.  We make sense.

We make sense.  Maybe we aren't understandable to other people.  Maybe our actions don't fit into the accepted norms.  But they do make sense.

Growing up, I was often told, directly or indirectly, that I didn't make sense, that I was wrong, and being a pain in the rear, or just being rude.  I studied and learned from those experiences, shaping myself and my behavior to be "acceptable," but it was never a perfect camouflage.  And reading all these books from frustrated parents of autistic children, it's easy to fall into seeing a behavior, like stimming, in one particular way.  Specifically, a very negative way.  A way that assumes there's no valid reason to have the behavior, and seeks to stifle it until it dies.  And then people wonder why things get worse instead of better.

So, I guess, if weird autistic behaviors ever confused you, this might be a good book to read.  It makes stuff like that understandable, if you're willing to learn.

I loved this book.  It wasn't the most cheerful read I've ever had, but it was highly meaningful and relevant.  It presented information and insights I haven't seen anywhere else, on subjects that are highly relevant to living with or around autism.  It's going on my bookshelf where I'll be able to see it and read it again.

Read This Book If

To my great amusement, this book has its own "read this book if" section.  It's right in the introduction.  It suggests autistic people, people who are wondering if they're autistic, "autistic cousins," and family members.  

Personally, I'd suggest almost anyone read this.  Researchers, educators, friends and family of autistic people can all likely learn a bit from reading this book.  Even I, an autistic advocate, still learned a thing or two from the accounts and thoughts of these authors.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Legwork and Life, week of 1/16/19

This is Legwork and Life, where I track the legwork and opportunities in my career as an autistic advocate, and also describe parts of my adult autistic life, including my perspectives on everyday problems and situations.

Hello from my computer, where I am frantically rebuilding my buffer.  It's funny to me that I was so happy about keeping my buffer goal for 2018, and then within a week ran out of buffer.  Oops.  I guess it's not like that's catastrophic failure, it's just... not great for my sanity.  And life is about learning!  Often from mistakes.  So many mistakes.  

At this very moment, I have a very small buffer again!  I must be getting better at this.  Well, I'd better be getting better at this, The Realistic Autistic blog has been going for four years.  That's longer than my marriage.  Though not as long as I've been dating Chris.  Anyway, presumably I'm improving my efficiency in consuming blog material, and writing up posts.  

I took my first steps to meeting goal 4 (start an autism-related volunteer or paid job) this week.  I've got a folder with what I'm calling "homework," tongue-in-cheek.  It's a bit of data entry, effectively, for Autism Support of Kent County.  I'm decent at data entry, though too much of it will either put me into a trance or bore me to tears.  But this has nothing on the massive stack of papers I once dealt with for a different organization, so as long as I don't keep looking at it and saying, "Oh, that'll take no time at all, I'll do it later," it should be done soon.  We'll see what else ASK has for me after that. 

I'm not sleeping super well recently, and feeling less rested when I wake.  It could be sugar intake levels- despite my efforts, there is too much sugar around the house, and I tend to eat it when I see it.  It could be insufficient vitamin D: it's winter, and I'm not going outside.  I haven't upped my dosage back to two capsules a day, and I probably should.  But I'm inclined to think it's an option 3, because I always seem to wake up around 9:30.  I don't hear anything particularly abnormal around then, so maybe it's related to the heating system?  Something to look into.  

Socially, I've had some major downs recently, but also some ups.  Some people treated me rather poorly and the discussion of it was extremely tiring and unpleasant.  It actually exhausted my entire store of energy for the whole weekend, which was rather dismaying given my lack of blog buffer.  

But I still managed my Monday appointments, including lunch with my dad, an hour plus chat session with the Executive Director of ASK, and then a viewing party of the latest episode of The Good Place with friends.  All these things were draining, and yet good for me emotionally.  Kind of weird how that works.  I'm grateful, though!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Reading the Research: Making fMRIs Tolerable for Everyone

Welcome back to Reading the Research, where I trawl the Internet to find noteworthy research on autism and related subjects, then discuss it in brief with bits from my own life, research, and observations.

Today's article marks a great step forward in research.  It has, in the past, been basically impossible to get useful MRI data on some people on the autism spectrum.  As the article notes, it's really difficult for anyone to wear a giant helmet in a teensy tiny space, and then try not to move.  When you factor in reduced communication skills, it becomes even harder, to the point of being all but impossible.  

Except now it's not, because these researchers just did it.  This is excellent.  

It doesn't seem like very much, but here's the thing: science is only as good as its data.  If your data doesn't properly represent the population you're trying to test, your results are also not going to represent that population.  Almost all of our fMRI data is from autistic people with higher verbal skills and better blending skills.  This skews our research, potentially making it only being relevant to those populations.  I probably don't need to point out that this is undesirable.  

Maybe some of the results translate to all autistic people... but maybe we're missing a fundamental part of the picture because those low-communication and lower IQ people aren't represented.  And maybe we could learn a lot by just studying that population, now that we've shown we can.  

I'll repeat this, because it's very important: science is only as good as its data.  It does me good to see that now more of the autism spectrum can be represented.  And because of that representation, be served better by science.  The results of research turn into therapies, support services, educational programs, and eventually, bleed into how the general population treats us.  

Which means a better world for all of us. 
(If you like seeing the latest autism-relevant research, visit my Twitter, which has links and brief comments on studies that didn't make the cut for a Reading the Research articles!)

Friday, January 11, 2019

Looking Forward, Looking Back (2019)

At least where I've lived, people make New Year's Resolutions around New Year.  Sometimes they're made in earnest, sometimes they're just a load of hot air.  But mostly what I notice is that people tend to give up on them if they don't work out fairly quickly.  

I think that's kind of pointless.  Real change, I've learned from both my psychology degree and from personal experience, is often slow.  Sometimes it's very difficult.  Habits can hard to change.  But if you want it badly enough, you can manage it despite that slowness and difficulty.  

I'm not as enamored of making goals for the new year as my culture is, but I do think even minor introspection on ways to improve one's life is a good idea.  So while I'll flatly refuse to call them resolutions, I do make a list of goals each year.  Last year's is here.

Ideally, these are SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.  So rather than saying, "I'm going to get in shape this year!" you might say, "This year, I'm going to aim to lose 20 pounds by instituting and holding a 4 day a week exercise schedule at the gym."  You have your measureable, time-bound goal: lose 20 pounds by the end of the year.  You have a specific, relevant, measurable method of achieving this goal as well: creating and adhering to a 4 day a week exercise schedule at the gym.  And hopefully your chosen method is achievable, or you'd best choose a different method, like yoga, cycling, or jogging.  

Looking Back at 2018's Goals

1.  Create and keep a buffer for at least 10 months of the year.  Preferably the entire year after I rebuild the buffer.
I think I actually succeeded at this one.  Sometimes the buffer was only "well I still have one more week of buffer, that counts..!"  And I'm pretty sure I did run out of buffer at least once or twice, but the goal wasn't to not run out of buffer, it was to keep a buffer for the vast majority of the year.  Which I did.  Yay!
2.  Finish the arduous and exhausting job of house-hunting, get moved into a house or condo, and stop having to give a crap about the whole thing.

This also happened.  It was deeply unfun.  But I'm writing this not from a rented apartment, but a mortgaged condo.  It took a lot of work on my spouse's part, sifting listings, finding a realtor, and both of us together figuring out what we wanted from a place.  Seeing all the various places despite work and other scheduling issues.  (You can read the first post of the 3 part saga here.)
3.  Become better at managing a social network, and network with several autism researchers in pursuit of increasing my chances at a career in autism, and if nothing else, helping nudge research away from "what causes autism" toward "what helps autistic people?"

Uh.  This... mostly didn't happen.  I didn't take out the "how to network" book at the library like I said I might.  I did meet some people at the government research panels, and I think made some actual human connections, but there has to be follow-through there, and I... didn't.  I need to work on getting peoples' business cards.  And then follow up with them.  And maybe get that book.  

It's not a total loss.  I did talk to researchers and parents this year.  I just don't think I made as much of a difference as I was hoping to.  I won't say I completely failed at this goal, but I'd give it a "ehh..." rather than a "yay!" or "success."  Failure is a mandatory part of life, and a valuable learning experience, so hopefully I can learn from this and do better in the coming year.
4.  Keep steady on the 2 days a week exercise with my parents, and find, buy, and use a recumbent exercise bike this year for the 3rd day per week.
This was kind of a mixed bag.  I definitely succeeded at part 1, except for during holidays and such when it wasn't really an option to do the classes.  Over the late spring, summer, and early fall, I well and easily exceeded this goal, though not in the way I'd planned.  I took my bike and went outdoors with it 3 days a week, using the bike trails that run a sneeze away from my new home.  So I had a 5 day a week exercise schedule while the weather was nice.

But when the weather turned poorer, I stopped biking outside.  Unfortunately, I find biking outside much more tolerable than using the recumbient bike inside.  I'd meant to have something else to fill the third day, like yoga or some other indoor exercise, but between the mess that was October and the holidays afterwards, that third day just really didn't happen.

I think it could happen, if I re-committed to it.  But I really need to do something with myself besides trying to use the computer and the exercise bike at the same time.  I can do it, but it's clumsy and unpleasant and makes me not want to repeat the experience each time.  The downstairs area has more options for distractions from exercise now.  I just need to figure out something that doesn't feel like I'm wasting time, yet doesn't demand I twist my torso sideways.


Moving Forward in 2019

This year's goals are going to be bit less generic, I think.  Some of them won't make any sense without explanation, which is probably fine.  In general I don't think I make all that much sense without explanation, being autistic and such.  

So, this year, I'm going to try to:

1.  Exercise at least 3 days a week, at least a half hour each session, minimum.

Exercise has been on my goals lists for the last two years, too.  I'm still not managing 3 days a week reliably.  Failure is a mandatory part of life, and an important learning opportunity.  While I definitely got more exercise last year than any year prior, I still need a better plan as to how to handle the months of bad weather.  

Exercise tamps down on my anxiety and depression levels, which is extremely important for my wellbeing.  It's a pain in the rear, though, because in almost every context, I really don't enjoy exercise.  The singular exception is outdoor biking in good weather, which I do kind of slightly enjoy?  I still don't like the exertion, but the sunlight, fresh air, and scenery changes mostly make up for it.  

So this will probably keep being on my goals list until it's accomplished to my satisfaction.  I'd love to lose weight due to this, but I'd really just settle for being healthier overall, mentally and physically.  The weight loss will happen, or it won't.

2. Finish my catching up on the MBMBAM podcast and get started on the wider range of podcasts I've already set up for myself.

This won't make sense to most of my readers.  MBMBAM is the shortened version of My Brother, My Brother, and Me.  It's a comedy podcast where three brothers take questions from their listeners and the Internet, and discuss them in funny ways.  Sometimes the questions get answered, sometimes not, but the end result is generally enjoyable if you don't mind the absurdity.  The brothers have good chemistry for siblings.  

If you followed that link, you'll notice there are in excess of 440 of these episodes.  I have this very very bad habit of wanting to start from the beginning with things, and not at the end.  Even if, as in this case, you really don't need to start at the beginning to enjoy the series.  

I think I've been trying to catch up on this podcast for something like a year at this point.  I am on episode 356, so I'm... getting there.  But in the meantime, I've collected other recommendations, such as NPR's Invisibilia, which talks about interesting social phenomena and forces that aren't normally discussed in the news, with the idea of making you think more about yourself, your beliefs, and your life.  

There's also Pivot, which looks like it's probably more news-related.  Which would somewhat address my abysmal lack of connectivity with world events. And the one most relevant to this blog: Ouch: Disability Talk.  The interviews and discussions from people hooked into the disability world will be helpful for making this blog relevant to the wider autism spectrum.  

3. Quantify the environmental downers around the house I can be susceptible to, and eliminate or treat the issues if at all possible.

I've complained a lot about the algae in the pond out back, and mold inside the house.  But they're not the whole story, and I'm still trying to figure out what else is messing with me.  I think it's an air quality thing, because when I shut the flue in the fireplace, it gets worse.  So, while it's still cold outside and the algae is dead, I'm occasionally airing out the house.  I also have a respirator mask for when the algae starts growing again, but it's uncomfortable to wear.  

Anyway, this year I'd like to pin down what things tend to cause what symptoms, and what this third factor is.  It doesn't seem to be carbon monoxide (whew), and we've searched the house pretty thoroughly for more mold, with no luck.  Narrowing things down is important, if nothing else.  

We also might look into buying a better air purifier.  The one we have makes an irritating whine that sets off my tinnitus.  It's better to treat the source of the problem than to simply slap a bandaid (air purifier) on it, but if bandaid is all I have, it's what I'll take.

4. Pick up an autism-related volunteer or paid job.

This is a form of career progress.  I feel like I do best when I have more chances to meet people, regularly.  Conferences are very very expensive, so if I ever have copious amounts of money, I could do those.  But I don't right now, so a part time job of some variety would be a potential way forward.  

Part time would be basically mandatory if I want to keep this blog going.  I've done pretty well here in the last year, and I'd hate to lose it in the mess of transitioning to having less free time.

Fortunately, I have an easy "in" for a volunteer position with Autism Support of Kent County.  I just need to follow up on it and commit to it.  

An ancillary goal is to print out these goals and have them at my computer where I can see them, so I don't forget about them, by, say, June.  Making goals is good, but kind of pointless if you don't try to follow through.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Legwork and Life, week of 1/9/19

This is Legwork and Life, where I track the legwork and opportunities in my career as an autistic advocate, and also describe parts of my adult autistic life, including my perspectives on everyday problems and situations.

Hello from 2019, where I am still not quite back to my usual schedule.  At this point in the week, I think the only thing I can fairly blame is Games Done Quick, which is a charity event that's been going since Sunday.  Essentially, a bunch of highly skilled people speedrun games (play games as quickly and efficiently as possible) to entertain people and raise money for a charity.  


This winter event always supports Prevent Cancer, which aims to do what its name says.  Being suspicious and terrible, I looked into the organization, and they're very good as charities go.  So that's pretty cool, particularly since, as of now, the event has raised nearly half a million dollars.  I imagine it'll probably double by the end of the week, but as I've never actually watched one of these until this year, I've no idea.  

As a a child, I was wholesale banned from playing console video games, and severely limited in my usage of the computer.  This kept me from being socialized in the growing culture of video games, and also limited the development of my hand-eye coordination.  As a result, I'm not very good at most video games, and have played far fewer of them than most people my age.  

Whether this was a good choice on my parents' part or not is debatable, and I won't go into it here.  Instead, I'll note that watching this charity event, with video games being played and completed in anywhere from 7 minutes to an hour, means I get to see a whole lot of different kinds of games in a very short time.  Certainly, I don't get to see the stories- one of the most basic strategies of speedrunning is "skip the dialogue as fast as you possibly can"- but I do get to see the gameplay.  It's interesting to see all the visual tricks and virtual camerawork that goes into things as simple as platformers (where the main aim in the game is to move your avatar from floating platform to floating platform, without falling and dying).  

So essentially, it's kind of like getting a very brief education on every game I watch.  It lets me earmark games I'd like to see in more detail, which includes most of the story-based ones.  Because I'm still not very good at video games, I'll probably watch most of them in Let's Play, rather than buying and attempting to play the game myself.  

It's also really cool to see the communities that have formed up around all these video games.  As the players play their video games for charity, people from the audience cheer their successes and groan at their accidental failures.  Donations come in for the event with messages attached.  Some of the messages talk about family or friends fighting cancer, or lost to cancer, but some are simply to cheer on the particular player while they're on camera.  In some cases, a whole group in the same community as the player will chip in together for a sizable donation, which tends to bring a smile to the player's face, even as they continue to focus on the game.  

Finally, Games Done Quick seems to have put serious effort into being as accepting as possible.  While the event is held in English, there are players and attendees from all over the world.  Darker skin is no bar to this event.  Neither are disabilities, it seems- one of the official staff, an interviewer, was a Little Person (dwarf, midget, choose the least offensive term here).  There have been runners and commentators that are clearly trans.  Their chosen pronouns have been respected.  You can also routinely hear warnings for people with epilepsy, as certain parts of some video games can trigger seizures.  

Unsaid prior to now, but meriting comment, is that many of the players and attendees are likely on the autism spectrum.  Nobody would walk around saying, "Hey, are you autistic?  What about you?  And you?" at an event like this, but at one point as a game was starting, there was some microphone feedback, and you could see some people were more pained by the resulting high-pitched shrieking than others.  Sensory sensitivity is not a direct indicator of autism, but people with autism often also have sensory sensitivities... and video games tend to attract autistic people as well.

Beyond my virtual attendance of Games Done Quick, everything's settling back to normal, save some scattered doctor's appointments.  I'm hoping those won't be too expensive, but we'll see.  Going to try to get allergy tests, have my only wisdom tooth removed, and get a pair of weird skin lumps killed off at a dermatologist.  The lattermost probably won't be anything interesting (like, y'know, cancer), but they are annoying, so best to kill them just in case.  

Monday, January 7, 2019

Reading the Research: Why Screen Time is Bad for Sleep

Welcome back to Reading the Research, where I trawl the Internet to find noteworthy research on autism and related subjects, then discuss it in brief with bits from my own life, research, and observations.

Today's article explains the bio-mechanical aspects of what's called "circadian rhythm."  Basically your body's sense of how late in the day it is, and whether you should be awake or asleep.  When this sense is off, you can have serious sleep issues, migraines or other kinds of nasty headaches, and more effects directly linked to its dysfunction. 

One major factor in current times that can cause circadian rhythm dysfunction is screen time.  Most computer, TV, and smart device screens project a good amount of blue-white light.  (So do some headlights, Christmas lights, and those obnoxious blue-white LED light strips people use around store fronts to draw the attention...)  At present time, most people spend at least some time near bedtime looking at these sources of blue light.  Autistic people often suffer sleep disorders, including insomnia, and we also tend to be more technologically-inclined, spending time in online communities formed around our interests.  

So what's to be done?  Frustratingly (in my opinion), your very best option is to set aside all such sources of light at least an hour before bedtime.  Preferably two hours before bedtime.  I say "frustratingly" because my work and most of my leisure activities involve blue light sources.  There's my support tablet with scientific articles, webcomics, and e-books.  There's also my computer screen to write these entries, play video games with my spouse, and rarely, to check social media.  Even when I'm out of the house, there's the headlights and those dratted LED light strips, which I can only hope will be made illegal soon.  

There are alternatives, of course... but they're not as effective as simply keeping away from blue light around bedtime.  I use a program called f.lux to modulate the light my computer screens shed.  Essentially, around bedtime, it changes the kind of light your screens give off, making it more orange and red rather than blue.  It can take a bit to adjust to, but I have started sleeping better since installing it. 

The phone/smart device is a bit harder.  F.lux has a smartphone app, but at least for my device, it requires you to have rooted the device, which means a lot of tinkering and invalidating warranties.  I suppose I shouldn't worry about it, this particular device has a broken screen now, and it's far too expensive (hundreds of dollars) to bother repairing it.

 For the time being amd instead of that, I use a less effective app called Twilight.  Rather than removing the blue light entirely from the screen, it puts the screen output through a red layer.  So it decreases how much blue light you're exposed to.  Better than nothing, especially since I like my e-books.  

(If you like seeing the latest autism-relevant research, visit my Twitter, which has links and brief comments on studies that didn't make the cut for Reading the Research articles!)