Unlocking the Potential: A Day with Dr. Temple Grandin

Part 1: Driving with Autism: Luncheon with SAPD

Last week Aspergers101 was proud to host a day of Autism awareness and enlightenment in San Antonio Texas. First we co-hosted a luncheon alongside San Antonio Chief of Police, William McManus regarding the
Driving with Autism statewide initiative. Over 25 law enforcement agencies were represented as well as city officials.  All came together to hear about the new Texas driver license restriction code, Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer and how that may look in a pull-over scenario. Though Dr. Grandin’s plane was delayed, she made her entrance to speak to the officers just as the luncheon drew to a close..a great way to end on a high note!


SA Police Chief William McManus (R) discusses Driving with Autism with Aspergers101 Senior Editor Gabriela Lemos (L)

Jennifer and Samuel Allen present understanding Autism and those with a communication challenge.

Dr. Temple Grandin stands alongside SAPD law enforcement


Jennifer Allen and Samuel Allen presented the impact of the Autistic Brain when encountering drivers displaying the new code. Below lists some of the topics covered to the full house of law enforcement officers:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Temple Grandin spoke on the importance of allowing the person with Autism the time to respond. “A person with a communication impediment is like a computer that slowly scrolls to catch up. You’ve got to allow them time respond when confronted with an officer of the law.”

 

Asperger Syndrome: A Broad Overview

Psychology Today

The DSM identifies Asperger’s syndrome as an autism spectrum disorder marked by impaired social interactions, also known as high-functioning autism.

Definition

Asperger’s syndrome (AS) is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) marked by impaired social interactions and limited repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities. Individuals with ASD have symptoms that fall on a continuum—and since Asperger’s syndrome is a part of ASD it is commonly believed that individuals with Asperger’s syndrome are on the low end of the continuum (or high functioning ASD). This syndrome has no significant delays of language acquisition but motor skills may be delayed. Clumsiness and awkwardness may be present but are relatively mild.

It’s conservatively estimated that two out of every 10,000 children have the disorder. Boys are three to four times more likely than girls to have AS, however, the ratio may be closer to two boys for every one girl—believed to be due to girls not seeking or needing diagnosis as often as boys.

Symptoms

  • Abnormal nonverbal communication
  • Failure to develop peer relationships
  • Being singled out by other children as “weird” or “strange”
  • Lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with others
  • Markedly impaired expression of pleasure in other people’s happiness
  • Inability to return social or emotional feelings
  • Inflexibility about specific routines or rituals
  • Repetitive finger tapping, twisting, or whole body movements
  • Unusually intense preoccupation with narrow areas of interest
  • Preoccupation with parts of whole objects
  • Repetitive behaviors, including repetitive self-injurious behavior

Causes

Current research points to brain abnormalities as the cause of AS. Using advanced brain imaging techniques, scientists have revealed structural and functional differences in specific regions of the brains of normal versus AS children. These defects are most likely caused by the abnormal migration of embryonic cells during fetal development that affects brain structure and “wiring” and then goes on to affect the neural circuits that control thought and behavior.

The Positive Side of Asperger’s

When I was young, teachers (and peers) realized I could do math in my head. In third grade, I got my multiplication tables down before anyone else. When I started a new school in eighth grade, my classmates discovered I could multiply two digit numbers times other two digit numbers in my head. My senior year of high school, I entered a “number sense” competition and placed 2nd out of 15. Right before I started college, I tested out of math and hence, never had to take it after high school.

Years later, I tracked down via email an old co-worker who had a successful career in advertising. He wrote back and told me he had recently been sitting in a business meeting with facts and figures flying around and thought about how nice it would be to have my math ability. To this day, if my parents or brother have a mathematical dilemma, I’m the “go-to” guy.

Interview with the Writer of TV Series “Asperger’s High”

If you haven’t seen it, here is “Asperger’s High”, a mock drama situated around a fictitious sitcom as seen on youtube.

Sam and Jennifer interview its very talented co-writer and actress, Leslie Tsina, below. Tsina talks about the making of the mock drama “Aspergers High” with some behind-the-scene tidbits, reactions from the autism community and her future projects.

Contact Information:

Lesley Tsina
www.lesleytsina.com
www.devastatorpress.com
www.youtube.com/user/golesley

Jason Axinn, our director:
http://www.funnyordie.com/jaxinn

Ben Siemon www.bensiemon.com/twitter: @benjaminjs

Using Topic Cards to Develop Social Skills in ASD Youth

Topic cards are similar to scripts in that they can help students engage in a variety of topics, beyond their own interests. They are different in that they include just a few words that describe a topic that launch a student or group students in a particular direction. 

Using Choice to Increase Academic Success

A teacher had created a special lunch group to help a student at the middle school level engage in appropriate teen conversations. She had one main interest and it would dominate every conversation. Her interest was in princesses and everything having to do with them. For most young teen girls, princesses were not much of an interesting topic for them.

24 Surprising Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

A woman with her hand on her head, grimacing. Text reads: 24 surprising physical symptoms of anxiety

24 Surprising Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

We may think we know what anxiety looks like (shaking hands, shallow breaths) and what it sounds like (“I can’t do this. What if I can’t do it. What if?…What if?…), but what does anxiety feel like? Often, we focus so much on the racing thoughts and emotions that come with anxiety, we forget to recognize how physical anxiety can be. In fact, you can feel physical effects of anxiety without even realizing it’s anxiety that’s causing it.

To learn some of the ways anxiety not only affects your mind — but your body — we asked people in our mental health community to describe what physical symptoms of anxiety they deal with, and what they feel like.

Here’s what they shared with us:

1. “When I get into high anxiety, sometimes out of nowhere, I get GI [gastrointestinal] symptoms. Constantly going to the bathroom. I have cramps and abdominal pain. It’s tough because there is nothing I can do but just try to wait it out.” — Michele P.

2. “Does anyone else find themselves antsy after a big panic attack where you can barely sit still and then for the next couple days, you’re completely mentally/physically exhausted? I feel like everything is just too much and I can’t move.” — Kristen G.

4. “In the aftermath of a panic attack, I often feel bone-chillingly cold. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, and no jacket or blanket helps. I just have to ride it out until it goes away.” — Monica M.

Facebook and Social Skills

Growing up there was nothing I wanted more in this world than for people to see me for exactly who I am, and like me for it. I drive myself mad looking for this, because identity is unstable. People change as they get older through a combination of experience, genetic predispositions, and neuroplasticity. Aspergers is one fickle diagnoses, mainly because it is susceptible to all kinds of misinterpretation.
And then this miraculous invention called Facebook came out.

Alix Generous

I joined Facebook in 2006 when it was still a relatively small community. One thing I loved about Facebook is that the social norms were different from in-person interaction, and often times made things easier on me. I can connect with people and not be criticized for my lack of eye contact or vocal tone.

Full Disclosure and Accommodations in the Workplace with Aspergers

Q: Should I tell my potential employer that I have Aspergers?

Oftentimes individuals that I am working with choose not to disclose their disability/ies because they feel that it will affect how others perceive them at work. While this is a legitimate concern, it is one that can be minimized with practice and self-confidence.

employment, workplace, aspergers, disclosure

I tell individuals who are thinking about disclosing their disability to really focus on their capabilities or strengths, that which they can offer an employer that stands out above what they feel they lack. It is usually in the best interest to have some solutions in your mind for the accommodations that you will need while working.

Being Sensitive Towards the Siblings of ASD Children

When a family member is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, life changes. Life for the child who is diagnosed, for the parents, for the family friends and acquaintances, and life changes greatly for the siblings.

When our son, Sam, was finally diagnosed at age 9, his younger brother (by 2 years), Charlie, suddenly became the “older” brother. Whether circumstance made this 7 year old become the defender or whether his character was already programmed that way, Charlie took on Sam’s challenges with brute strength! Parenting both boys became a balancing act of  sorts, as Sam needed much attention to both discover his issues and then look to get help for them, and Charlie needed the nurturing that any young guy should have at that age.

Pets and Asperger Syndrome

By: Samuel Allen & Jennifer Allen

Allen Acres August 2014 024If you have a child with Aspergers who interacts well with animals, there’s no need to be surprised. People with Aspergers tend to bond more with animals than they do with people. In fact, many neurotypicals would see Aspies as animal whisperers due to how well they bond with animals.

One time, we visited someone who is a gypsy and she owned some cats and dogs. Seeing as how I like animals, I began petting them and they liked it. When she saw that her animals had immediately taken a liking to me, she was surprised and said it was as if I had a gift where I can bond with animals.

That scenario was a perfect example of how Aspies and animals are like bread and butter. I have a Yorkshire Terrier who I love to be around. I encourage any parent with an Aspie child to get them a pet that they would love to bond with. Whether it’s the classic dog or the trustworthy horse, having pets can prove to be very enjoyable for both the parents and the child.

By: Sam Allen


As a parent to a son with Autism, companionship was what I had desired for Sam especially during those challenging school age years. With no prospect of birthday party invitations or after school gatherings, I worried (turns out far more than I needed to) for Sam’s emotional needs. To this day, Max (pictured above with Sam) offers just the right amount of support.

Not just for those on the Spectrum

Animals will seemingly listen and not judge you based on your social skills or designer apparel labels. You can vent your troubles, remain in total silence for hours or hug them and their tail is still wagging the next day! I can recall, as a little girl, moving to a new town where families had been established as friends for generations. Coming in as a middle school student had its social challenges even for a neurotypical! Compounding the isolation, I developed a near fatal form of pneumonia where I was functioning with only one lung for weeks. It was at this point that I met a stray German Shepherd mutt that changed everything…my newfound confidant, Nellie Jean.

That dog walked me to the bus stop every morning and was there waiting for me upon my return. Our walks in the nearby woods, rides on the tractor and adventures that mirrored much the book Because of Winn-Dixie  afforded a lonely, gangly girl unconditional friendship. Companionship is a fundamental need in all of us. However when diagnosed with Autism, Asperger Syndrome or a social disorder, companionship might be difficult to come by…especially in  the early years.

Consider a pet to fill in those gaps, whether for your school-age child or for yourself as an adult. Adjust your choice of pet to fit your means whether financially (hamster to horse) or geographically (apartment to suburbs) just so there is a pet to care for…and to care right back.

by: Jennifer Allen