My son, now 30yrs old has had difficulties since childhood, and we know he has Aspergers. During his teens he was extremely angry and sad but he came through this period. Today he lives independently, has his own home and car but for the past year he has not spoken at all to anyone. His life is restricted to his job, which is in jeopardy because of his refusal to speak to his co-workers. He was visiting me on Sunday but now that has ended. He literally speaks less than a “Yes” or “No” to anyone. We have been to social service, doctors, clinicians, speech therapists, psychologists, and he refuses to see any of them. Everything I read online is about children. Any advice?
We welcome our Aspergers101 readers to a series dedicated to you, the care-giver. Pause and re-fresh as Dr. Ghia Edwards takes us into the second of a series of four blogs aimed specifically toward you.
Caregivers, we are a special breed, we push through the pain to attend to the needs of those we care for but did you know that grief is a strong part of the lives of the caregiver. The medical definition of grief:
Grief: The normal process of reacting to a loss. The loss may be physical ( Such as death), social (Such as divorce), or occupational ( Such as a job). Emotional reactors of grief can include anger, guilt, anxiety, sadness and despair. Physical reactions of grief can include sleeping problems, changes in appetite, physical problems, or illness. https://www.medicinenet.com
When we are in the caregiver role, we can lose ourselves in the role we play and in that loss comes the grief. We no longer get to necessarily go to lunch and dinners with friends like we use to, or grab a cup of coffee with a family member. We don’t get our usual alone time or get to finish that clay pot we started to create in that art class, sometimes we just are at a loss for the things we have given up, albeit willingly.
There is such joy in caring for the people that we love but there is a tug of war that can happen and take over on the negative side, IF we are not actively pursuing our own healthy mindfulness state. Below are 10 helpful suggestions of how to heal your soul and below that, I am giving you a tool of self assessment on stress and depression of a person in our roles. After you score it please reach out and share the results with a safe person, clergy, friend, therapist. if you don’t have that person in place yet, pick up the phone and call my office, we understand and we care. There are many of us who understand the Spirit,Soul,Mind and Body process that the caregiver goes through but I say we need to bring more joy to the journey and that is only done in us realizing that we have to face what we are going through, be real with the circumstances and proactive in our own healing process.
How to Help HEAL YOUR SOUL When You are Grieving:
I want to address the difference between “in spite of” and “because of”. One of the greatest equalizers that spans across all barriers of humanity is that we individually cannot choose when we are born and when we die. I was born a sensitive and socially honest soul into a superficial and insincere social environment.
If I was born in a world where people constantly strive for self-improvement, valued relationships rather than objects, and looked for acceptance over status, I think I would have been just fine. The kind who prefers the former bullied me to think I’m crazy but I don’t think I am. So if I take this perspective, I did succeed in spite of these kinds of environments.
I knew from a young age that I wanted to help people.
In a previous blog I wrote about the topic of readiness within higher education to support college students with Asperger’s Disorder. The series touched on the ability of colleges to provide effective academic, social, and independent living supports. The “Benchmarks of Effective Supports for College Students with Asperger’s Disorder,” a tool to assess readiness of a specific institution, was provided.
But how can individual ASD students know that they are ready for college?
In my 20 plus years of experience I have found that every student is different and every employer is different. This question cannot be answered in one broad answer, we are all very different. In this blog entry, I will give an example of what has worked in my position as an Autism Specialist, Job Developer and Advocate.
Billy is 16 years old and has been in a secluded classroom for 12 years. In this self-contained classroom, he is very quiet and does not feel he is like anyone else. In the cafeteria or during breaks he is made fun of and bullied due to his awkward gait, thick glasses and because he tends to keep his head down. He has very little self-esteem or self – confidence. He does not share this with anyone because he does not want to bring any undue attention to himself. Both of his parents work 40 hours a week and allow their son to come home and play video games in his room every evening. He is also allowed to eat his meals in his room each night.
Now Billy is 18. His parents would like for him to move out, get his own apartment and get a JOB.
Parents must understand that no matter how intelligent your son or daughter is if he or she does not get exposure and experience at an early age the barriers to the real world of work will take longer to overcome.
Now that Billy is 18 they are searching for resources, making phone calls and calling everyone in the Special Education department for assistance in meeting these goals.
“Grant the Jigsaw Giraffe ~ Different is More!”, written by Julie Coy Manier and illustrated by her son with Asperger’s, Grant Manier, is about a young giraffe who is born with jigsaw pieces instead of spots, but follows his passion to paint despite his challenges. “Grant the Jigsaw Giraffe” is a heartfelt story that resonates with anyone who feels different, but not less.
A new baby giraffe is born at the city zoo. Grant, the baby giraffe looks like a giraffe, but he’s different. His spots are not spots at all, instead he has jigsaw puzzle pieces. He looks different, he acts differently, and he has some physical challenges. But, Grant doesn’t let his differences stand in the way; he has big dreams!
Grant the Jigsaw Giraffe wants to be a talented paintbrush artist, but how will he hold a paintbrush with hooves? Grant is initially discouraged by the idea that he may never become an artist and paint colorful masterpieces. Then, he sets off on a journey through the zoo with his trusted friend, Ms. Judy, to explore the world around him in hope of finding his talent.
Follow Grant’s journey and get ready to be amazed by what different minds can do.
Jobs need to be chosen that make use of the strengths of people with autism or Asperger’s syndrome. Both high and low functioning people have very poor short-term working memory, but they often have a better long-term memory than most neurotypicals. I have great difficulty with tasks that put high demands on short-term working memory. I cannot handle multiple tasks at the same time.
Table 1 is a list of BAD jobs that I would have great difficulty doing.
Table 2 is a list of easy jobs for a visual thinker like me.
I have difficulty doing abstract math such as algebra and most of the jobs on Table 2 do not require complex math. Many of the visual thinking jobs would also be good for people with dyslexia.
Some individuals with Aspergers or HFA may engage in crisis behavior that interferes with their learning, puts themselves or others at risk, prevents them from participating in various activities, or impedes the development of relationships. Crisis behavior can range in severity from low productivity to meltdowns that involve aggression, self-injury, or property destruction.
Many individuals unfamiliar with Aspergers may believe these types of behaviors are intentional and malicious. However, it has become well known that problem behaviors often serve a function for the individual engaging in the behaviors. Additionally, deficits in the areas characterized by Aspergers may impact behavior.
We are re-posting a portion of a Disability Scoop interview with ‘Covert Affairs’ Star Christopher Gorham whose son has Aspergers Syndrome. This Hollywood actor has been in such TV programs as Ugly Betty, Popular, Odyssey 5, Jake 2.0, Medical Investigation, Out of Practice, Harper’s Island and Covert Affairs. Gorham is currently working on his next project “Justice League: Throne of Atlantis,” where he provides the voice of the Flash.
Christopher Gorham: We got a diagnosis fairly late. He was 9-years-old, which is kind of the blessing and the curse of that diagnosis. Because he’s very high functioning we didn’t really know that something was off until later. It’s upsetting to hear that something is wrong with your child. At the same time, it’s a relief to know what’s wrong with your child because if you know what’s wrong then you can start to take steps to help them.
Disability Scoop: When did you first notice that something might not be right?
Christopher Gorham: Second grade was when we really knew we needed to start investigating and finding help. What we were doing didn’t seem to be working and things were getting worse and he was just getting further and further away from his peers. (He was) not understanding the subtleties of socializing, not getting sarcasm, not understanding the difference between someone who’s really being nice to you and someone who’s actually making fun of you, not understanding that all attention isn’t positive. It’s really hard for a parent when your son comes home and tells you that his best friends are the two or three kids who are actually the meanest to him.
Disability Scoop: How has this new diagnosis changed your family’s day-to-day life?
Christopher Gorham: You get the diagnosis and then instead of just taking the kids to Taekwondo after school, now suddenly you’ve got occupational therapy and you’ve got speech therapy and you’ve got the psychologist and you’ve got the behavioral specialist. Your week is filled with therapies to help support him and it becomes so hard to find the balance.
Disability Scoop: How do you manage it all while shooting the show?