The Chill Pass

In a previous blog, we discussed the benefit of a “Chill Zone” for students that experience anxiety or frustration in school and/or home settings, and how to set that area up for success. Some students might benefit from a companion strategy of a Chill Pass.

The Chill Pass can help the student to have a visual reminder that it is O.K. to go to the chill zone when they are escalating in their anxiety or frustration.

Autism Coming-Of-Age Documentary

Disablity Scoop
October 8, 2015

“How to Dance in Ohio” follows three young women with autism leading up to a spring formal. (Laela Kilbourn)

A film following a group of young women on the spectrum as they prepare for the social challenges of attending a dance is set to air on HBO later this month.

The documentary “How to Dance in Ohio” focuses on three Columbus, Ohio women with autism who work with a psychologist for 12 weeks leading up to a spring formal.

Marideth, 16, Caroline, 19, and Jessica, 22, open up in therapy sessions, work on their social skills and learn to dance ahead of the big day. Detailed preparations include reviewing the layout of the venue, understanding how to accept an invitation to dance and learning to touch another person.

Asperger’s, “The Twilight Zone,” and The Perception of Beauty

Remember Ellie Mae on “The Beverly Hillbillies?” She was portrayed by Donna Douglas, in her day considered one of the most beautiful women on television. But she also once played a character who wasn’t so beautiful.

In an episode of “The Twilight Zone” titled, “Eye of the Beholder,” Douglas portrayed a woman who was so ugly, she underwent an operation to make her less so. The suspense was built up by the fact that we never saw her face until the bandages around them were removed. When they were removed, they revealed her to be the strikingly beautiful woman she was, but the doctor recoiled in horror and said, “No change, no change at all.”

At that point, we saw the faces of the doctors and nurses around her, which were all distorted and misshapen in grotesque fashion. In the end, she’s sent to live in a colony with similarly “ugly” people, and accompanied by a handsome male escort. She asks him, “Why are some of us born so ugly?”

Obviously, her character was not inherently ugly, but she was simply born in the wrong world. That’s a dilemma similar to that which the Aspie faces.

Components of a Behavior Intervention Plan

The complexities of High-Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome may present themselves in behaviors that may be either excessive for specific situations or lacking.

Strategies developed to target such behaviors are often included in packages known as behavior intervention plans (BIP), behavior support plans (BSP), behavior management plans (BMP), positive behavior support plans (PBSP), and several others.

The primary purpose of a behavior plan is to outline and describe strategies that prevent problem behaviors, teach new behaviors that replace problematic behaviors and

Be Human Together: by Jennifer McIlwee Myers

The statement below is from someone I admire and have had the privilege to meet and interview for Aspergers101. Jennifer McIlwee Myers, Aspie at Large,  is a writer and a speaker in the Autism world.  Her insight into the world of Autism not only entertains but offers enlightenment (especially for us neuro-typicals) so when she posted her thoughts in reference to the news of the recent horrific college shootings by someone diagnosed with Aspergers, we asked her permission to re-post for our readers. 

11133324_805174439553478_222885484485648666_n (1)

“The only way I know to cope is to be human together.” -Jennifer McIlwee Myers

There are many discussions online about the person who shot and killed 9 people at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. The one I want to address is the shooter’s Asperger’s diagnosis. Unfortunately, having Asperger’s (or autism) doesn’t protect you from mental illness, and it doesn’t make you an angel.

Aspies and auties can have the same kinds of mental problems as other folks. Frankly, I worry that people on the spectrum are less likely to get appropriate mental and medical help because any problems or “weird” behaviors we have are blamed on autism.

But don’t let anybody tell you we are in any way more dangerous than humans in general. The only people we are more likely to hurt are our own individual selves, and then only for the reasons that humans in general do. Like everyone else, those of us who experience little acceptance and lots of bullying may self harm or use alcohol and other drugs when the coping methods we have just aren’t enough. We can be troubled, because we are human.

And yes, if you have someone living in your house with recurrent severe depression, it is better not to have easily accessible, already loaded firearms around. That’s because when people who decide to commit suicide are delayed from doing so, they usually wind up staying alive.

I can understand anger. I can understand rage. I can even understand really feeling like you want to hurt someone. I don’t understand actually doing so. I don’t understand why people actually commit mass murder. I don’t understand killing sprees.

Those of us on the spectrum are just as saddened and bewildered by this as the people who aren’t. The only way I know to cope is to be human together.

-Jennifer McIlwee Myers/Aspie at Large



Using Scripts to Develop Social Skills

Actors use scripts to help them memorize dialogue as part of their performance. Once they have memorized the script, then they can recite the words from memory adding meaning through inflection, tone and pauses. One of the common strengths of students with an autism spectrum disorder is that of rote memorization.

Therefore, a script may be an excellent tool to build conversational skills. Scripts are written sentences or paragraphs that individuals can memorize and use as supports in social situations. From greetings to asking for help to engaging in a conversation, a script can be a simple and discrete visual support.

College and Aspergers Syndrome

Top of the Spectrum News: College and Aspergers Syndrome

Guest(s): Dr. Marc Ellison/Executive Director of the West Virginia Autism Training Center 

Dr. Marc Ellison and his staff have created a template most colleges dream about…a successful program whereas a person diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism have a support team living in the dorm with them ensuring success. In this first, in a three-part series with Dr. Ellison, Jennifer and her Asperger diagnosed son Sam discuss how you can ensure college success if you are on the spectrum.

 Note: Dr. Marc Ellison blogs weekly for Aspergers101 and you can read his content in our Education-College blog tab at the top of our website. Dr. Ellison is a Professor and recently named Executive Director of the West Virginia Autism Training Center at Marshall University.

An Asperger’s Bill of Rights

If you are a High Functioning Autistic (HFA), the odds are troublingly high that you also suffer from some form of depression.

As someone who suffers from depression myself, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about how to find happiness when you struggle with the burdens of having an autistic brain. One possibility for the prevalence of depression in autistic brains is that HFAs, for reasons distinct to their neurological condition, are innately more likely to feel depressed.

My sense, though, is that we tend to be depressed because life is difficult for us in ways that are somewhat different from the experiences of the Neurologically Typical (a satirical term for non-HFAs). As such, any discussion of why HFAs tend to be depressed must be approached as a social justice issue, with a clear statement of ethical axioms that, if followed, would help HFAs and non-HFAs alike.

Reading Emotions: Acceptance

We don’t go through life strongly agreeing or disagreeing with what our friends or colleagues tell us. More often we simply accept what is said. In fact among friends, in particular, simple acceptance is the normal response.

 (Note: there is purposely no audio with the above video)

So this first expression of emotion is a good place to begin. It’s an example of something subtle and commonplace, but nevertheless important to read. For example, if you want to run through a plan for when to do a chore today, or what to buy for dinner. How can you tell when someone accepts what you are saying? We will see later in this series when someone looks actively interested, but this example is more subtle.

It’s when someone is saying, “Yes, sure I’ll buy that” or “Yes, I’ve thought about it and it’s okay”.

Emotional Regulation for Aspergers and HFA

We are all vulnerable to black and white thinking during times of emotional distress: “He NEVER appreciates the sacrifices I make!” or “She ALWAYS chooses work over time with me!”

Children and young adults with Aspergers are no different—except they may be more vulnerable to polarized thinking. These emotional regulation difficulties stem from differences deep within their brains, along with other