Self-Determination in College Success

The Autism Society (formerly the Autism Society of America) held its annual conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. As is more common in recent years, several break-out sessions of the conference were focused on the support of students with ASD in higher education.

Beautiful female graduate

Dena Gassner (Adelphi University), Dr. Lorna Timmerman (Ball State University), and Jackie Clark and Rebecca Hansen (Marshall University) carried out a panel discussion on the topic, titled “Is College for Me.” Panel members discussed challenges related to success for students with ASD in higher education, and best-practice support strategies that can help overcome challenges.

Sensory Processing Disorder

Our bodies tDepositphotos_37852017_sake in information from the world around us through our sensory systems. As this information comes in, our brain (central nervous system) filters and processes it for use. This process called sensory processing all happens automatically and simultaneously without us realizing that it is happening.

When all of these systems work correctly, we are able to preform our daily activities and routines smoothly and without a problem. When there is a breakdown in this process (ie. when these systems don’t work as well as they should), a person may be disorganized, appear clumsy, have difficulties with attention, become over responsive or may not respond enough, or

Aspergers and Middle School: One 20-year old goes back to enlighten others!

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Having Aspergers was definitely a challenge during the Middle School years for Samuel Allen, but being asked to return to that same school and speak to a support group, Parent to Parent, allowed him the opportunity to benefit others with his experience and insight.

Click here for full story : NEISD News | Lopez hosts successful Parent to Parent Support Group

Feeling With Heightened Senses

An Aspergers Perspective on Living With Sensory Integration Issues.

Some of the greatest struggles I had before I went to treatment at 11 are sensory integration problems. My sensitivities to food, certain fabrics in clothes, and the feel of water on my skin created a huge struggle to be a fully functional human being. Growing up, I would through tantrums whenever I would shower (gross right?), and I think at one point I went 3 months without a shower because whenever I did,Generous.1 it heightened my sensitivity to stimuli, and all inferno would break loose. I would scream for hours.

I would barely eat anything and what I did eat, I would eat over and over and over again. I loved mashed potatoes and yogurt for a time, and I think my mom let me eat it for breakfast when I was little. She was just grateful I would eat something so I didn’t starve to death. Having sensory integration issues can set an autistic kid up for social failure. In my case, my hair was greasy and my outfits didn’t match, which can set them up for bullying. I would seem rude whenever I go to my friend’s house for dinner and don’t eat anything they give me.

A word to parents

For anyone who doesn’t understand a child with Autism, they may assume behavior associated with Sensory integration issues are due to bad parenting. That’s a bunch of Bologna sandwiches. I believe any parent who is actively trying to help their child overcome the adverse symptoms of autism is doing the best that they are capable of.

How to Expand A Picky Eater’s Diet

Since feeding involves all sensory systems (sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste), eating is the most difficult sensory task that children face. Feeding issues are especially common in children with autism, including those with Aspergers, because of difficulties with sensory processing. In many cases, this leads to eating challenges at mealtimes.

Little girl eating

“Food chaining,” from the book by the same name, is based on the child’s natural preferences and successful eating experiences—specifically the idea that we eat what we like. Food chaining introduces new foods that have the same flavors or sensory features as foods that are already preferred by the child, increasing the likelihood that the child will like the food.

Ready to Graduate?

“Bridging the Gap: Supporting Students with ASD as they Transition from College to the Workforce,” was presented by Hillary Adams and Jackie Clark at the 2014 Autism Society conference held in Indianapolis, Indiana. Representing the West Virginia Autism Training Center, Adams and Clark provided several tips and considerations for soon-to-be graduates and those who support them.

Graduation

Tips included:

* Utilize campus resources related to employment, especially those services provided traditionally on college campuses through a Career Service office. Begin a relationship with that office early; don’t wait until the final year;

* Participate in mock interviews, especially if those interviews can be video-taped for critique and coaching;

* Search for employment opportunities that fit interest as well as skill;

Narratives to Address Sensory Differences

Although sensory differences are very real and must be recognized as such, narratives can help to deal with these differences. For instance, there was a high school student that was having significant difficulty with the hallway transition from class to class. Not only was there the loud bell that signals the transition, but then it was followed by a crowded hallway and noisy teenagers talking in groups.

One way to address this might be to allow an early release from class to avoid much of this hallway chaos. Another option is to provide a narrative that helps deal with this difficult transition.

The following is an example of such a narrative:

Isolation: A Journey Through Autism

We started off this summer with very high hopes and a fresh outlook on life. My friend of over 12 years was moving out to Colorado from California to help us with starting our self-sustaining farm. For the past 8 years or so, we have been dreaming of getting this started, but we have been either too busy supporting the family financially or with taking care of the kid’s needs. To do both of these we needed to be living (at the least) 100 miles away from our property. So when my friend said she would come out, live on the property and get the work started, I thought this was an ideal opportunity, and funny enough, a chance for a less isolated life.

Sad red-haired girl at grass.

Things often don’t go as smoothly as you would expect, however.

It proved too much for her and her family to live on a piece of land (in the middle of nowhere) that had been all but forgotten for the last 5 years and she decided to stay in my home with her two grown kids and five large dogs. I was foolishly ok with this. I mean, how much chaos could this cause in my home? The home in which I live with my two Autistic children and my husband. Oh did I mention we live in a two bedroom home?

Let’s just say, this was doomed from the beginning. 

Shaina Cilimberg: Authorship and Asperger’s

10489981_847224678641058_4902424628110343039_nMy name is Shaina Cilimberg and I am almost 27 years old. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s in the Dark Age, the 2000s. Back then, there was limited knowledge on Asperger’s Disorder. It was a time when mental illness was seen as demon possession or an excuse for sin. While Satan does attack everyone’s (neurotypical or not) minds, mental illness is not demon possession. Demon possession has more to do with the individual, not with mental disorders. Mental disorders are not made up excuses for sin, but real chemical imbalances in the brain. Add that to the fact our frontal lobes are not completely developed until our mid to late twenties.

It took me a while to actually accept that I have Asperger’s. Then, I found out more and how the traits related to me. See, some people (including professionals) will say you do not have it, while other say you do. I think people need to educate themselves on what Asperger’s/Autism is and realize we are not the same.

The Learning Environment in the Home

When it comes to setting the stage for learning, individuals on the autism spectrum need to continue their learning experiences even after-school.

Child playing at home

This requires therapists, caregivers and parents to be responsible for creating a learning environment in the home that continues to provide opportunity to expand the vital skills a child is working on. This includes setting up a home environment, understanding your child’s classroom setup, or making suggestions at their afterschool program.

Here are five goals to focus on when evaluating a school-related learning environment in the home for children with Aspergers or HFA.