States Offered $15 Million To Spur Disability Employment

“People with disabilities have enormous contributions to make to our economy and our society, but they remain disproportionately represented among our nation’s unemployed.”  -U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez

Federal officials want existing job training programs to better serve people with disabilities and they’re putting up millions of dollars to make it happen.


U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said that new funding his agency is making available to states will help improve training opportunities for people with disabilities seeking employment. (U.S. Department of Labor/Flickr)


The U.S. Department of Labor said this week that $15 million is on the table for the effort. The new funding is intended to be used by state workforce agencies to create “flexible and innovative strategies” to grow participation of people with disabilities in federally-funded job training programs.

“People with disabilities have enormous contributions to make to our economy and our society, but they remain disproportionately represented among our nation’s unemployed,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said. “We are working to change that by providing more training options that prepare these workers for good jobs. These grants will help build strong ladders of opportunity to the middle-class for these workers.”

Sensory Differences: Hearing

Differences in auditory processing are one of the more commonly reported sensory processing impairments with the full range of atypical responding noted. In one retrospective chart review of developmental patterns in 200 cases with autism, Greenspan and Weider (1997) reported that 100% of the participants demonstrated difficulties with auditory responding.

Women said, woman listening to gossip

Several authors have reported auditory hypersensitivity (Bettison, 1994; Dahlgren & Gillberg, 1989; Gillberg & Coleman, 1996; Rimland & Edelson, 1995; Vicker, 1993). Further, Dahlgren and Gillberg (1989) found that sensitivity to auditory stimuli in infancy was a powerful discriminator between children with and without autism.

Incidence of sensory processing disorders reported in autism literature range from 42% to 88% (Baranek, 2002; Kientz & Dunn, 1997; LeCouteur et al., 1989; Volkmar, Cohen, & Paul, 1986; Watling et al., 2001). In other studies, the range has been noted to be higher at 78% to 90%.

  1. S. R. Leekam, C. Nieto, S. J. Libby, L. Wing, and J. Gould, “Describing the sensory abnormalities of children and adults with autism,” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, vol. 37, no. 5, pp. 894–910, 2007.
  1. L. J. Miller and D. A. Fuller, Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder, Penguin Group Inc., New York, NY, USA, 2006.

Excerpt from Sensory Processing in Children With and Without Autism: A Comparative Study Using the Short Sensory Profile by Scott D. Tomchek, PhD, OTR/L and Winnie Dunn, PhD, OTR, FAOTA.

Although, the hum of the air conditioner seems like mild background noise that is easy to filter for a neuro-typical person, it might sound like a small jet flying overhead with no end for a person with an autism spectrum disorder. So this is real and overwhelming and difficult to explain in ways that others can fully understand. However, it is a primary concern related to instructional and behavioral success. The following are a few ways that teachers and families can support individuals with an ASD:

  • Headphones and/or earplugs can offer comfort and relief for many students. Noise-canceling headphones are the most effective as they replace irritating environmental noise by producing calming white noise.
  • Fans to create background or “white noise”.
  • Gradual introduction to noise which might happen in a few ways. Perhaps a student that has difficulty with the roar or lunch time might be allowed to enter the cafeteria before others so as to prepare for the gradual increase of noise as students enter. There might also be a place designated where they can go if it reaches an uncomfortable level. Another way might be to go to a loud grocery store for one minute and then wait outside for the remainder of the shopping trip [if safe]. The time is then gradually increased as the student is able to handle the level of noise without feeling overwhelmed and/or stressed.
  • Provide an alternate, yet comparable setting. At school, sitting outside at lunch time might be preferable to sitting inside the cafeteria. At home, families may be selective in their choice of restaurants so as to create a relaxing dining environment.

Watch this video to have sensory differences explained by Amythest Schaber, a person living with an autism spectrum disorder.

See you next week as we explore another sense as it relates to autism spectrum disorders . . . touch.

By Lisa Rogers

He is My Teacher

Yesterday was the kind of day that had brought so much emotion. Maybe it had more to do with the series of events leading up to it, but either way, that is where I had arrived. It was time for our night time routine and my son had earned a sleepover with me since he had enough stickers. Now, don’t judge: I am desperately trying out new things to encourage positive behaviors. This is our new method. Negative reinforcement just gets lost, there have been way too many treats given out, and this is what I have left. Anyway, after spending over an hour trying to convince him to clean up all the money from Monopoly that covered my kitchen floor, it was  most definitely time for bed.   

Silhouette of child on the beach, holding his hands up, towards the sun 
Every night I do our usual prayer and sayings, but last night was so different. I try to mix them up for a reason, but trust me, this does not ever go unnoticed when I do so. After we went through the whole routine I decided to just lay with him until he fell asleep. 

It’s not that I don’t or haven’t had concern that my son has been diagnosed with ASD, it’s that some days it just hits all over again.

Ultimate Guide: Understanding High-Functioning Autism & Aspergers Syndrome

 The challenges of Autism may be great, but so can be the results. Pooled information from experts in the field of Autism is provided below so we, as parents, can successfully guide our child through a social and judgmental world.  – by: Jennifer Allen/Aspergers101

Medical reports reveal a profound discovery in the brain of those with High-Functioning Autism. Studies with MRI imaging document an actual physical difference in some areas of the autistic brain verses that of a neuro-typical brain. Also the neurological pathways fire differently in Asperger patients than that of a typical brain function. Bottom line, High-Functioning Autistic and Aspergers diagnosed individuals receive their gifts and struggles from a physical and medical basis not behavioral, as you may have been pressured to believe. So once we understand from whence the challenges occur then we can begin to lead them on the path from Coping to Excelling.

We interviewed experts in the field of autism to offer you a quick read on understanding High-Functioning Autism and Aspergers Syndrome.

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Dr. Tony Attwood Psychology, Professor, Author, Aspergers Advocate


Dr. Temple Grandin Autistic, Scientist, Inventor, Autism Advocate

An amazing discovery still being uncovered and understood involves a revolutionary find in the human mind. Over 50 years ago, Austrian pediatrician, Hans Asperger, revealed to the medical and scientific community a form of High-Functioning Autism later named Aspergers Syndrome. These people have always been viewed as eccentric or odd displaying repetitive behaviors and totally lacking in their social skills. The disgusted and disapproving looks you and your child may be receiving when in public or with extended family only adds to the frustration and pain.

According to Dr. Temple Grandin: “I want to emphasize that Asperger’s and Autism are not separate conditions. Asperger’s is just the milder end of the continuum. There’s no black and white dividing line between a mild case of autism and geek and nerd. They are the same thing. It is a continuum of traits. The mind can either develop to be more thinking and cognitive or it can be developed to be more social. There’s a point where it just merges into part of your personality.”

Peter Thiel: Asperger’s can be a big advantage in Silicon Valley

Peter Thiel — the PayPal founder, Facebook investor, and bestselling author — hates groupthink.

He avoids hiring MBAs, since he says they tend to be “high extrovert/low conviction people,” a combination of traits that “leads towards extremely herd-like thinking and behavior.”  Similarly, he says that “people end up behaving more lemming-like” in places like San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, where tons of tech companies are crammed into a .635 square mile area. All that socialization leads to conformity, he argues, preventing people from coming up with original, innovative ideas.

To Thiel, originality is the name of the entrepreneurial game, since it’s the quickest route to gaining a monopoly, as he says Google did with search. From that logic, he argues that a psychological condition usually thought of as a disorder — Asperger’s syndrome — provides a startup advantage.

Celebrating the Uniqueness of Autism…meet Nikki Jeanette!


Each person diagnosed with Autism/Aspergers Syndrome is uniquely different and typically gifted with a special area of interest or talent. would like to celebrate those with Autism by spotlighting a picture (you provide) depicting them in their element.

Today we spotlight Nikki Jeanette who enjoys combining the love of drawing with her desire to show a day in the life of living with autism. Nikki created a comic strip series she titled:  “AuTalkz”.

Nikki drawing

Nikki Jeanette



You can find more of Nikki’s work AuTalkz here .


Want to get featured on Celebrating the Uniqueness of Autism?  Send us a picture, with a brief description, depicting your talent or taking part in your specific area of interest. We will post on your picture on and possibility feature independently across our social media sites! Go to Celebrating the Uniqueness of Autism for more information!

Sensory Processing Difficulties in School

Many children with sensory processing disorder or related issues can have difficulties in the school setting.

Detail of elementary school art class

Problems can arise anywhere: in the classroom, cafeteria, gymnasium, hallway, playground, and even the bus. Some of these issues can be as subtle as not eating lunch, or as difficult as destroying a classroom.

Knowing what causes these problems and how to prevent them is important for both the school and the child. This is where parents can be the best advocate for their child with Aspergers or HFA and sensory issues.

Preparing a child for school is important, but it is equally important to prepare the school for the child. Sharing their sensory concerns with the teachers, para-professionals, principals, and others is imperative to limiting sensory difficulties in the classroom.

Microsoft Recruiting Employees With Autism

The launch of a new pilot program positions Microsoft as the latest corporate giant looking to tap the employment potential of those on the spectrum.

The company says plans are underway to hire individuals with autism for full-time positions at its Redmond, Wash. headquarters.

Microsoft says it will hire people with autism for full-time positions in Redmond, Wash. through a new pilot program. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Microsoft says it will hire people with autism for full-time positions in Redmond, Wash. through a new pilot program. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Microsoft said it will work with Specialisterne, a nonprofit that focuses on helping people with the developmental disorder apply their talents to work in the technology field, to facilitate the hiring effort.

Initially, the program is expected to include about 10 people with autism, a Microsoft spokeswoman told Disability Scoop.

“Microsoft is stronger when we expand opportunity and we have a diverse workforce that represents our customers,” wrote Mary Ellen Smith, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of worldwide operations, in a blog post announcing the pilot program. “People with autism bring strengths that we need at Microsoft, each individual is different, some have amazing ability to retain information, think at a level of detail and depth or excel in math or code.”

Resources to Aid in High School to College Transition

Recently a reader of this blog asked that I provide advice about resources that exist to aid students with ASD as they transition from high school to college. When considering the transition, it is important to recognize several critical elements:


  • It’s never too early for any student to begin planning for the transition, but early planning is critically important for students diagnosed with ASD
  • Practical, on-campus experience is helpful to the process
  • Teaching self-advocacy is vital

Helpful resources I’ve encountered include: