Letter From the Editor: New Blog Schedule!

Is there a favorite blog that you follow? Do you have a favorite topic on Aspergers101?

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Starting this week you can now follow the Aspergers101 blogs on a daily posting schedule! Visit Aspergers101.org on one of the specified days below to catch the newest post from your favorite bloggers.

  • Sunday: Education K-12 with Lisa Rogers
  • Monday: Education College with Marc Ellison
  • Tuesday: Medical with the doctors of the Autism Community Network
  • Wednesday: Top of the Spectrum News and Employment with Maggie Cromeens
  • Thursday: Social Development with John Habershon
  • Friday: Autistically Speaking/Autalkz and Family with Katherine Goodsell and Jennifer Allen

-Brie Lemos, Senior Editor

The Flip Card

A flip card is a quick and easy visual strategy that highlights one behavior, and clarifies through graphics and words when certain behaviors are acceptable, and when they are not. Place a visual that indicates that it is O.K. to engage in the target behavior on one side of the paper. Place a different visual that indicates it is not O.K. to engage in the specific behavior at this time.

Think of it as a version of an “Open” and “Closed” sign in a store window. The sign, or flip card, gets turned around to indicate when it is O.K. to enter and when it is not. Much the same, the flip card will tell the student when it is O.K. to do a particular behavior and when it is no longer appropriate. Of course, not every behavior lends itself to this strategy. It is only for behaviors that are acceptable some of the time.

Stop and Go sign in illustration

I had the pleasure of working with a young man at a Middle School campus as he attended a general education art class. The art teacher began each class with about 10 minutes of whole class lecture where she would explain the project and expectations for the day. It was this first part of the class that posed most problematic for Samuel. Samuel found great pleasure in singing and talking to himself . . . constantly.

Introduction to the Reading Emotions series on Aspergers101

We all appreciate how useful it is to understand how other people are feeling, yet it’s a skill which is very much taken for granted. For those on the autism spectrum it is not always a natural ability. To help in learning and practice I have compiled a number of examples of people showing emotions – both in real time and slow motion. These are not actors and nor are the emotions simple and necessarily easy to detect as sometimes done by actors. This reflects the real world in which we often see a mixture of emotions. After all, we can be puzzled by something and annoyed at the same time, or find something funny, but also embarrassing.

Those Kind of Days

Some days I wake up and feel truly blessed. I mean it. When I look back on the early days, I remember being so very overwhelmed. These days, those kind of days, are few and far between. If I could tell my younger self a few golden words of wisdom, I would tell her: “You Got This!”

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At the time, it felt insurmountable. It felt like a bad joke that these littles were placed into my care. Like there were so many other factors that made my life difficult, why would God want to put them into our lives. Well…I guess it was so I could grow. A seed grows better with a little manure.

I remember times when my kids would have meltdowns in the middle of the market.

National Disability Employment Awareness

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and as an employment specialist who strives for equal employment for everyone I work with, this is a great month to celebrate how far we’ve come. Although the numbers are not where they should be in regards to equal employment…things are changing.

I hope that the blogs leading up to this one have helped, or can help you in the future as you strive toward employment. Let us celebrate our unique and wonderful capabilities. Instead of letting our difference hold us back, let it be something that, in the words of Samuel Allen, “Gives us wings.”

Here is a great website that talks more about this month:

http://www.whatcanyoudocampaign.org/blog/index.php/ndeam/

-Maggie Cromeens

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.

A Beautiful Mind

IMG_6909In 2001 Film Director Ron Howard released “A Beautiful Mind” to the public, and I was one of the first to attend. After all, actor Russell Crowe portrayed the great Nobel Peace Prize winner John Nash, and I knew I was in for a great film.

By the time the second scene rolled out I was painfully frozen as the character (portrayed to perfection) John Nash was so strikingly similar to my son Sam, in both action and peer reaction.

The tears began to flow. 

Including Parents in the Community of Support

Rights afforded by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) transfer from parents to their children when those children enter college or turn eighteen years old. As a result, parents are unable to provide the same levels of support and advocacy they provided when their child was in high school. Parents of college students are, generally, unable to: talk to instructors, request information about grades, explain to instructors how their child experiences ASD, or provide information about accommodations that may be helpful to their child living on the spectrum.

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While many faculty and staff fear the hovering of the stereotypical “helicopter parent,” college support staff who truly understand how best to serve students with ASD recognize the value that parents bring to a student’s community of support. In general, parents of students with ASD have “been there and done that,” in regard to education; many can provide advice about the most subtle of modifications that, when implemented, may help their child be successful in a college classroom. College support staff would be wise to consider how to effectively integrate parents into the support programs of college students with ASD.

Examples of how that can be accomplished without violating the rights of the student include:

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.

More on Keychain Rules

In last week’s blog we discussed how to create keychain rules. This week, let’s look at a few more intricacies of this quick and easy strategy. Keychain rules can be cut up separately and placed on a binder ring or keychain for quick and easy access. A back-up version can be placed in a notebook or binder.

Red Book

Leave at least one of the keychain rules blank for the student to create their own. If they have written one of the rules themselves, then they are more likely to consider these to be important and relevant. One student wrote “Have a great day!” on keychain rule #4.  During times of stress, this rule proved to be very soothing and helpful.