After an extensive career broadcast marketing, Jennifer and her husband searched for answers when their oldest son hit the kinder years with great difficultly. After finally learning that their oldest son had Aspergers Syndrome, she left her career in television and became a full time mother to both of her sons. Jennifer elicited the participation of her sons and together they produced several independent programs including a children’s animated series titled Ameriquest Kids (now distributed by Landmark Media) as well as her documentary and book titled, Coping to Excelling: Solutions for school-age children diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome.
The need for more information encouraged Jennifer to elicit a team of autism experts to provide weekly, original content to a website free to anyone seeking to live their best under the diagnosis of High-Functioning Autism/Aspergers Syndrome… appropriately titled: Aspergers101.com.
Though driving with an Autism diagnosis is not for everyone, many do decide to obtain their driver license and go on to live independent lives. Aspergers101 teamed with Dr. Temple Grandin to provide helpful information when considering if driving is for you, or your teen.
Long before driver education, Temple suggests first mastering your skills by practicing on a bicycle (coordination, motor skills). Then tackle driving in a safe remote area such as the country or large parking lot. You’ll begin mastering such challenging tasks, such as multi-tasking, prior to any driving on congested roadways.
One suggestion she has is that before you take a driver education course, you need to find a safe place and practice, and after that, practice even more! Getting the ‘knack’ of driving includes working on your coordination, motor skills, and multi-tasking which all come into play when learning to drive, even more so for those on the autism spectrum.
Anxiety can often be reduced (for the driver with Autism) by lots of driving practice in a safe remote location.
– Dr. Temple Grandin
Once you’ve mastered working the brake, blinker, gas and other essential tasks while driving, you’ll then be ready to be thrown into a group/driver education training.
Aspergers101 is striving to continue improving communication between Texas law enforcement and those with a communication challenge such as autism or a hearing impairment in the “Driving with Autism and other communication impairments” Texas initiative. Make “Communication Impairment” an option when registering your vehicle with the Texas DMV. This will allow your diagnosis to be placed in The Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (TLETS) alerting the officer of the challenge prior to approaching the vehicle, averting misunderstandings. We need signatures to help make this bill pass! Please sign the petition by clicking on the button here:)
Here is the fearful scenario: A person with Asperger Syndrome is driving and gets pulled over by an officer of the law. The stress and panic intensifies as the officer begins dialogue. This stress esulates and the officer asks the driver why are they ‘flying’ down the highway at such a great speed? Of course, the person with Asperger Syndrome takes this literally and the encounter soon takes a preventable turn toward arrest. You may plug in any of the communication challenges from below and come to the same conclusion as recent news reports dictates.
To better equip law enforcement with the knowledge of the challenge PRIOR TO approaching the vehicle is the solution. By allowing the option, when registering your vehicle with the Department of motor Vehicles as a person with a communication impairment (sub category Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Hearing Impairment, Deafness, Parkinson’s Disease, etc) an officer of the law would be alerted when entering the license plate ina pull over scenario. It’s a win-win-win however, we need to pass a bill in the upcoming 86th Texas Legislative Session to make this a reality!
What constitutes a Communication Impairment? Some diagnosis are:
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Mild Intellectual Disability
Mutism and more.
Please sign the petition and then share with your friends, neighbors or anyone on your social media lists by clicking on the button:
Our intention is to complete and successfully navigate the Driving with Autism initiative in Texas, and then share with the rest of the country! Let’s work together to protect and improve communication between law enforcement and those with Autism or other communication challenges. We will keep you posted!
Thank you for your support in making a difference in the lives of those with Asperger Syndrome!
by: Jennifer Allen/Founder Aspergers101 and the “Driving with Autism” Texas initiative.
*Exclusive content from world-renowned experts in the field of Autism. Making the Aspergers101.org award-winning website the forefront in credible and lifelong information of living your best with Asperger Syndrome.
*State Policy Changes – Aspergers101 will go into the 86th Texas Legislative Session come January 2019 with a proposed new Bill benefiting those drivers with a communication impediment such as Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Deafness, Parkinson’s, Mild Intellectual Disability and more. This Bill, if passed, will allow a driver the option to register their vehicle as a person with a communication impediment so if an officer of the law pulls them over and runs their license plate, it will be known prior to approaching the vehicle that the driver may not understand the officer. Due to recent deaths resulting from such a misunderstood interaction, this passage would make Texas the first state in the union to recognize Autism by both the DPS and DMV. Jennifer Allen has the backing/support of the Texas DMV, the Texas DPS and the Texas Governors Committee on People with Disabilities.
*Aspergers101 “on the road” Conferences, trainings and workshops scheduled throughout 2019.
*Exclusively Train UT Health Science Center’s Doctors-in-Training on humanizing families and those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
*Launch Aspergers101 Video Training Downloadable Section on Aspergers101.org target date: August 2019. Includes law enforcement, parents, educators and churches.
Consider your year-end giving to the continuing service of Aspergers101. Aspergers101 is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to providing continual information on Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism. You can read more at the link below.
DVD: "Coping to Excelling: Solutions for School-Age Children Diagnosed with Autism or Asperger Syndrome"
Excellent basic overview of High Functioning Autism and Aspergers Syndrome!
The Coping to Excelling documentary sheds illuminating light on the topic of High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome in school-aged children. Narrated by a Mother of a son with Asperger’s, this engaging program allows the viewer to ‘see through the eyes’ of those on the high end of the autism spectrum while getting advice from experts such as Dr. Temple Grandin, Dr. Tony Attwood, Jennifer McIlwee Myers, Billy Edwards and many more!
“I would strongly recommend the Coping to Excelling DVD not only for parents, especially those of a newly diagnosed child, but also for teachers and professionals!”
– Dr. Tony Attwood
The DVD, Coping to Excelling, is divided into 5 chapters each lasting just over 10 minutes. The chapters may be viewed independently or the entire Documentary (lasting 68 minutes) may be viewed in it’s entirety.
Understanding High-Functioning Autism or Asperger Syndrome – a broad overview
The Family Unit – The importance thereof
Choices in Education – Pro’s and con’s of all methods
Bullying – re-enactments and solutions
Social Development – suggestions and tools from the experts
As you are in the midst of family & social gatherings, we offer you our best on preparing for the potential nightmares of sensory overloads and societal expectations. The change in routine is the biggest difficulty during the holidays. Below are suggestions for you or for those you think might need the awareness most! -The Staff at Aspergers101
1. If your child is easily overstimulated, limit holiday decorations in your home. 2. At parties, always offer an ‘escape’ that you will honor if needed 3. Avoid taking your child shopping on the busiest shopping days of the year or to return gifts after Christmas 4. Remember ear plugs may eliminate sensory overload at malls or anywhere loud voices or sounds may be amplified 5. Avoid overscheduling and be sure to provide for downtime
We asked the founder of Starfish Social Club, Stephanie Pepi, What is your advice to parents fearing holiday social scenarios for their children diagnosed with High Functioning Autism or Asperger Syndrome?
Her response: My 10 strongest pieces of advice are to prepare as much as possible and to use unexpected moments as teachable moments. Here are some specific recommendations:
1. Prepare as much as possible ahead of time.
2. Tell your child where you are going, why, how long you expect to be there, and what to expect.
3. When you get there, engage in a strategy called ‘read the room’. What do you notice? What are the expectations? What are most people doing?
4. Don’t schedule social events with no plan. Center it around an activity or event. All our social outings involve going to a place to do a thing. Structure reduces stress. If you want to schedule a play date, where are you going to go? Maybe a park or themed event. Try to do it on neutral ground, not at someone’s house. The same is true for a ‘hang out’ for older kids. Base it around a structured activity like a trampoline park or movie.
5. Give your child an out. What is the signal if they need a break? Where can they go? What can they do?
6. Let your child come up with the goal so it’s meaningful to them. Sometimes I only focus on one thing with certain students. The goal for the day may be for him to keep his body in the group. Or for her to be flexible when her partner suggests a game. Or for him to follow the group plan instead of his own plan.
7. After the activity, praise your child for all the things they did well, no matter how small. Did they greet other people? Did they share something? Did they ask someone a question?
8. If it wasn’t super successful, don’t talk about the challenges. Save that for the next time you prep for something.
9. Let your child have ‘me time’ after the activity. Social events can be stressful and ‘me time’ is both rewarding and stress relieving.
10. Reward yourself as well. Supporting a kiddo with social learning challenges is tough work, and you are rocking it!
My strongest pieces of advice are to prepare as much as possible and to use unexpected moments as teachable moments
Consider your year-end giving to the continuing service of Aspergers101. Aspergers101 is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to providing continual information on Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism. You can read more about Aspergers101 and donate HERE.
We are entering the holiday season! For most people, that’s the best time of the year! We get to see friends and family we don’t often see. We get to enjoy foods we don’t normally eat. We get to go to parties and events and activities. There are lots of noises and lights and smells. We have time off school and work.
And your child with social learning challenges has been dreading this time of year for months.
For most people with social challenges, it’s the worst time of the year. They have to see friends and family they don’t often see, and they are expected to be‘socially appropriate’, or at least ‘social’. They are expected to ‘try’ a bunch of foods they don’t like and don’t want. (What? No chicken nuggets??) They have to go to parties and events and activities they don’t want to go to. There are overwhelming noises and lights and smells. The schedule is unpredictable because of time off school and work.
Here are some tips to help you and your child prepare for holiday events and activities. While the wording in this article is geared toward parents of children with social learning challenges, all the tips are equally applicable for adults with social learning challenges as well.
In a previous blog we established the core strategy of a class schedule or agenda as an essential starting point, let’s extend our focus to a companion strategy. A schedule within a schedule has many names. For our purposes, we will call this sub strategy “mini-maps.”
A mini-map takes a piece of the schedule and breaks it down even further.
The schedule guides you from one major activity to another, while the mini-map clarifies the smaller steps within that activity. This can be especially helpful to decrease frustration associated with academic tasks, but can be useful for any chunk of time that presents a challenge.
Some people with Asperger’s have difficulty with experiences that are too sensory in one way or another. Going to P.E. or taking a bath/shower can be broken down into smaller steps so that an individual can walk through these difficult experiences with a guide and a clear understanding that there is an end in sight.
For now, let’s focus on mini-maps as they relate to academic endeavors.
Often, teachers note that a common antecedent or trigger to behavioral difficulties is the presentation of academic tasks. The behaviors can range from a verbal protest to a meltdown when students feel overwhelmed by school work.
The first question to ask, of course, is what is there about the work that makes the student feel so overwhelmed? Does the page look too busy? Is too much handwriting involved? Are there too many problems? Is it too difficult or too easy? In other blogs on our “Education: K-12” section, we discuss ways to adjust the format and/or content of academic tasks to increase student success.