Don’t rule out Autism Spectrum Disorders
schools. You mention several behaviors which make me wonder about a possible diagnosis of Asperger’s Disorder, which is an By Curie Park Autism Spectrum Disorder. More specifically, you mention Curie Park writes a column on that Frank has a strong interest advice. To ask her a question, e- in cars almost to the exclusion of mail — Ed. other things. This is called a “restricted interest” and likely Dear Dr. Park causes difficulties when other children want to play with toys I am the mother of 6-year-old other than cars or want to talk Frank and 8-year-old Sarah. I about topics that are not car ream writing you because I’m not lated. sure what to make of my son’s He does not show much interbehavior. Frank has a hard time est in other children, and seems sitting still and tends to wander more interested in cars. He around during circle time unless doesn’t answer when other chilhis teacher is talking about cars, dren try to speak to him and has which is his favorite topic. He is doesn’t really “chat” with anyalways on the fringe when kids one including you, his own are playing and seems more in- mother. These are difficulties in terested in the cars that other the area of communication and kids are holding than in the kids reciprocal social interaction themselves. which are also characteristics of Frank seems brilliant be- Asperger’s Disorder. cause he can talk like an adult Many people think of Dustin about car parts and types of cars Hoffman in the movie “Rain and memorizes whole sections Man” when they think of of books about cars, but at other Autism Spectrum Disorder or times seems delayed because he they think of Sean Penn’s charcan’t hold his pencil well and acter in the movie “I am Sam.” doesn’t answer when other kids In other words, they think of intry to speak to him. He is an ex- dividuals who have no interest tremely quiet and serious child in other people and exhibit exand he can antreme impairswer questions if ment in their I insist but never social interacIsrongl t y comes and talks tions or individr ecommend that to me on his own uals with menunless he needs tal retardation. Fr ank re e a c ive something from H o w e v e r, developmental me. A u t i s m He is so differSpectrum assessment, i n ent from his sister Disorders are part c l r,an iua Laura, who was a on a “spectrum” chatterbox. He atranging from inA utism tends a Korean dividuals who evaluat o t s e in o e kindergarten and are severely imshould be starting paired in their i he meets the f first grade in ability to funcc i e i for an rtra March but his tion to individukindergarten A utism Spectru m als who have teacher is worried professional Disorder. about him and jobs. The core says that maybe I i i p rt n fo t s m o a t r difficulty that we should hold all of the indihim to be him back a year viduals diagand send him to nosed with d agnosed earl i y school next year. A u t i s m so that h c n e a What should I do? Spectrum Disorders have r c ive ee Dear reader, in common is i t rvention ne their difficulty The first thing with social ins rv c s t ata e i e h re to do would be to teractions. s e i i a ly ge red However, perpcfcl a get a developmental assesssons with f r ch l ren with o id ment to clarify Asperger ’s A utism Spectru m Disorder tend to his diagnosis. It is sometimes be high funcDisorders . hard to tell the tioning and are difference bemore difficult to tween a quirky and precocious identify for that reason. child and a child with a serious I strongly recommend that developmental disorder. It Frank receive a developmental seems like mental health pro- assessment, in particular, an fessionals these days quick to Autism evaluation to see if he put a diagnostic label on all of meets the criteria for an Autism the children who seem even a Spectrum Disorder. It is imporlittle bit “different.” tant for him to be diagnosed earHowever, the process of a for- ly so that he can receive intermal diagnostic assessment is vention services that are specifiquite laborious and thoughtful, cally geared for children with and anything but “quick.” The Autism Spectrum Disorders. mental professional has to take The whole process will take into consideration the child’s about a month from the initial current behavior, the child’s de- evaluation to getting feedback velopmental and medical histo- on the results of the testing. ry, and needs to gather informa- That will give you enough time tion about the parents and their to make a well informed deciparenting styles, and the child’s sion about whether to hold him relationships with other family back for one year or to go ahead members, and needs to identify and to let him begin first grade. any current or past stressors in the child’s life. For children who have lived Curie Park, Ph.D., is a liin many different countries, it is censed psychologist and is direcalso important to include a de- tor of the Yonsei Center for tailed history of the languages Psychological Health. Park can that they were exposed to both be reached at curipark@ within their home and in their — Ed.
Expat Living is a section dedicated to the daily living of expatriates. It is printed on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. To share stories about your life abroad, send stories or story ideas to Matthew Lamers at
Submissions may be edited for length or clarity.

Members of the Seoul Flyers running club make their way along the Han River.

Photo courtesy Seoul Flyers

Expats on the run
By Paddy Wood

Bright and early on weekend mornings, Seoul Flyers members meet, ready to run along the Han River snow or shine. “This is where we leave our daily worries behind and do the thing we love,” Mark Son explained. “It keeps us healthy and takes us to some interesting places around Seoul.” Many expats experience Korea in two ways: From within the confines of a bar or by looking out a bus window. But members of this club experience Korea in a different way. They run. The club was founded by a small group of running enthusiasts five years ago. “It started as a gathering place to run together and exchange information about running,” explained Son, who is a cofounder. Seoul Flyers has since expanded, and now includes runners from across the world, including Australia, France, South Africa, and, of course, Korea. “Now we have many members with ideas and energy to self-perpetuate the club activities,” Son explained. Indeed the Flyers take part in a variety of activities, but always foremost are the organized training runs. Secretary Shira McDonald joined the Flyers just under a year ago. To her, Seoul is a runner’s dream. “The river alone is worth it,” she said. “Catching a sunrise on the Han is a wonderful way to start a weekend, and catching a sunset is a great way to forget about your day.” The Han is a great place to

run all year round, and indeed the Flyers do — braving the biting cold and snow-covered paths. The view is always striking and the lanes are well lit and maintained. Long distance running is extremely popular in Korea, meaning there exists a wide array of excellent running routes other than the Han. Another big drawcard is safety.

“Compared to running in the States,” McDonald said, “Korea is heavenly. “I did quite a few training runs at 9pm during the summer and had zero issues — no hassles, no fuss, no harassment.” The Flyers also take part in Korea’s extremely vibrant racing culture. There are numerous cheap, well-organized events. “The running calendar is

very, very full here,” McDonald explained. “At least twice a month you can run a full marathon, a half-marathon, or a 10k.” The Flyers have several competitive runners who regularly place in races. Others compete against themselves, always striving to better themselves and beat their own personal bests. The personal challenge is

one of the most attractive aspects of running. Some run to keep healthy, and for others, like McDonald, running is an escape and a time to think. Running is humbling, she explained. “When I run I can think through issues that are bothering me, and I realize that my problems don’t amount to a hill of beans.” But for the Flyers, running in a group makes the experience all the more rewarding. McDonald explained that it has made her more versatile. “I used to detest running quickly,” she explained. “But with so many great runners in the club there is always someone challenging you to move out of your comfort zone. Not in a highpressure way, but in a supportive way.” Son agreed. “The best thing about running in a club is the motivation and camaraderie,” he said. “It’s cheaper than gym membership, and you can make friends from all over the world.” But outside the kinship of the club, running also provides kinship with Koreans. “When you’re pushing the last 5 km of a marathon,” McDonald explained, “nationality doesn’t seem to matter. We’re all from the same tribe at that moment and the feeling is very special.” For more information on the Seoul Flyers, go to their website To comment, e-mail; to contact the author, e-mail — Ed.

In focus — Sometimes it pays to be neutral
The Photo Challenge is sponsored by Hyosung Camera (English: 010-7203-9599) and Babo Shirts (www.baboshirts. com). Winners of the weekly competition receive a 50,000 won store credit at Hyosung Camera and a Babo Shirt. To take part in the competition, simply upload your photo at otoclub — Ed.
By Aaron Raisey

PHOTO CHALLENGE — weekly winner — A sunset at Sagyel, Mario Taradan Jeju-do in early February.

Did you ever take a picture with a few cool clouds around, only to have them appear as featureless white blobs in the final image? Or have you ever been frustrated at not being able to utilize a large aperture because the scene is just too bright? It all

has to do with amounts of light, and one way of controlling the light that enters your camera is by way of Neutral Density filters. This week we’ll look at a couple of different kinds of Neutral Density filters and how they can be of benefit and creative use in your photography. ND filters come in two different flavors — regular Neutral Density and Neutral Density Grad — and like most photographic filters, screw into, or are otherwise mounted on the front of your lens. The job of ND filters (in either case) is to simply

reduce the amount of light entering the camera. ND2 and ND4 are the two most popular — an ND2 reduced the light by half, and the ND4 by half again. This has the effect of allowing you to shoot at a larger aperture for a given shutter speed. How is this useful? When shooting portraits for example, we often want a very narrow depth of field (in focus area) to isolate the subject. This requires large apertures, which on a very bright day can raise the speed of the shutter beyond the camera’s capabilities, leading to over-exposure. Using an ND filter in this circumstance reduces the light entering the camera and forces the shutter to slow down in compensation bringing it back into the camera’s working

range. Likewise, if you want to introduce motion blur on a sunny day, the ND will again slow the shutter to allow this option. You could make that waterfall silky smooth, though you will need a tripod or be well braced. Extremely dark ND filters are available — ND10,000 for example — to enable super-long shutter speeds in daylight. Static objects will be captured but anything passing by such as pedestrians or traffic won’t transmit enough light through the filter to leave an image. Imagine a picture of seemingly deserted city streets at noon. ND Grad — Neutral Density Graduated — filters are full ND (commonly 2 or 4) toward the top, but gradually fade to transparent towards the lower half of the filter. These are extremely

useful for landscape photography or for any application where there is too much contrast between one half of the potential image and the other. Use of an ND Grad in a landscape photo for example, will reduce the light from the sky and allow attractive cloud detail to be captured while not impacting optimum exposure in the foreground or lower portion of the image. Neutral Density filters can be very handy on the right occasions and are one of the few filters whose effects cannot be duplicated during post-processing in Photoshop or similar image manipulation programs. I recommend getting out there with an ND filter sometime and experimenting a little. (

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