Dr. Temple Grandin: Practice Prior to Drivers Ed

AS101 Driving with Autism

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.

Reading Facial Expressions is Important for Social Success

by: Raeme Bosquez-Greer

Learning to translate and digest the meanings of different facial expressions can help determine other people’s needs and foster true communication.

This works both ways. Individuals with Autism has trouble interpreting facials expressions and social cues and they often don’t express their own facial expressions and appropriate social cues.

Most professionals in an Autism related field understand that many individuals on the spectrum have a flat affect. My biggest challenge is educating the public, employers and employees that a person’s expressions does not mean the individual does not have feelings. I have taken many students to interviews where I had a sensitivity meeting with the employer prior and the employer still interviewed the individual and stated, “Next time show me a genuine SMILE.”. Educating employers is an ongoing challenge for an Employment Specialist. I have parents say to me. “Lacy likes ice cream …get her a job in an ice cream shop.” I then have to try to get Lacy a job in an ice cream shop where she has to demonstrate good customer service by greeting and smiling to the customer. This has nothing to do with her liking ice cream.

Do we put Lacy in the back room organizing the gallons of ice cream and have her do custodial work or after 23 years attempt to teach her and parents how important it is to learn to smile naturally? I can always tell when parents catch their child’s Autism early and have provided training to their child at a very young age. Smiles are more natural and social cues are taught early. It is a huge bonus for me and them if a child starts learning early. I have been removed from many cases due to my honesty and tact. I am always professional but very realistic. I will never say the Lacy’s in this world cannot ever provide customer service but it does take a great deal of training both at home and with an employment specialist.

Ridgefield Resident Shares Journey with Asperger’s Syndrome in New Book

Written by Kerry Anne Ducey

Ridgefield resident Alex Fischetti, at 2009 graduate of Ridgefield High School and member of SPHERE, just released his first book, The Lonesome Boy and the Blonde Haired Angel, available in print and Kindle via Amazon. In the beautifully illustrated picture book, Fischetti shares his personal journey from a world of social isolation as a result of Asperger syndrome, to a life of joy. We sat down to ask him a few questions about his newly released book.

Why did you write The Lonesome Boy and The Blonde Haired Angel?

Answer: I wrote this book because I wanted to pay the BEST tribute I could to a person whom, if The Lord hadn’t led me to her,  I would probably not be here talking to you right now. I was a very isolated person and my heart wasn’t really open to the positive surroundings around me. I wasn’t totally alone, but I didn’t really know how to connect like I do today. I never even went to any dances or proms! Now I’m blessed to know so many beautiful people. The book and my experience is a true testament how one person can make a gigantic impact on another through simple acts of kindness and love.

I know that the process of getting it published wasn’t easy. How did it happen?

Answer: It was a very long process. I’m still learning as I go about promoting this thing!  I could not ask for a better partner to have with me on my journey to publishing this book than my illustrator, Cleo Miller. She and I went through the Amazon outlets Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace and we just constructed everything from there. It’s incredible how amazing the book looks and how Cleo’s masterpiece of watercolor drawings make it into an attractive book. I know it will be sold in massive volumes!

Tell me about the real-life blonde haired angel.

Answer: Her name is Reeny Sempsrott and she lives in Vero Beach, FL. Reeny is one of the one in a billion people who, if you spend just a minute with her, will fill your day with sunshine! She has influenced me in so many ways from offering encouraging words and bringing me a positive spirit. She is always praying for anybody in need and inspired me to ask The Lord for the courage to open my heart to others. I can’t say enough about Reeny. I love her so much and will be eternally thankful to the Lord for her being my angel.

Your use of biblical quotes throughout the book compliments the story beautifully. Did you choose them?

Answer: Thank you so much! Yes! I chose every single one! I flipped through both the Old and New Testament to try to find the best verses that go with each page. There are some well-known ones featured like Jeremiah 29:11 and there are those you may not immediately remember, but they are powerful. I’m praying those who aren’t as deeply rooted in their faith as I am will read the verses that go with the story and be influenced by them as well!

In the story, you are the lonesome boy. Has writing the book changed that feeling?

Answer: It has! Reading this and looking at the life I have now makes me so grateful to the Lord for blessing me with what I have. I always tell my friends that for the longest time I hardly knew anybody and now I know everybody! Through the Lord’s grace in bringing Reeny into my life, I was able to come out of my lonesome cocoon to become the social butterfly you all know today. Praise the Lord’s name for helping me come so far!

What do you hope readers gain by flipping through the pages of your book?

Answer: I pray that anybody who reads this book will come to realize that in this oftentimes dark world of ours there are rays of light that can ignite your soul and not only positively impact you, but all those around you. It can be a family member, a friend, a co-worker, anybody! As long as you keep your eyes and your heart open to finding that special somebody. it’ll happen like it happened to me.

More books in your future?

Answer: You better believe it! I have another book in the works that I won’t go into too much detail about it right now – I want it to be a surprise! All I can say is that it’s about another angel in my life and there is a lot of dancing is involved! I’m so excited to share it with the world just as soon as the first book hits one million in sales!

Purchase The Lonesome Boy and The Blonde Haired Angel here.

Published on Wednesday, 07 February 2018 16:37

Written by Kerry Anne Ducey

Decreasing Neurological Stress

beliefs, aspie~~So how do we decrease neurological stress?  The following is an excerpt from my recent book titled Visual Supports for Visual Thinkers: Practical Ideas for Students with ASDs and Other Special Educational Needs.
A research team funded by the National Institutes of Health (2006) found that, in people with autism, brain areas normally associated with visual tasks also appear to be active during language-related tasks, providing evidence to

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

Autism Does Not Define Him

Our son Sam is now 22 years old. Together we have discovered Autism first from a stage of confusion, then diagnosis and ultimately the journey toward understanding and adjustment.  This journey hasn’t been taken by just Sam or me. The education and life-changing decisions included our family of four and those whose chose to remain linked to us either by love or simple curiosity. Autism became us. As we learned to navigate the education system, employment and higher education, we’ve taken you along.

Through our website Aspergers101, together we have reached for stories of enlightenment and searched to navigate our next stage in life. Now at age 22, driving and nearing college graduation, Sam has reached a personal plateau that bares sharing. With an absolute delivery he declared, “Autism does not define me”.  He further went on to explain that up til now, he would introduce himself to educators, peers or the seldom few who initiate conversation as “Hi I am Sam…and I have autism.” He felt he owed them an ‘explanation’ for his social awkwardness, his lack of eye contact or his seemingly bland behavior.

Handy guide for everyone involved: neurotypicals and Aspie partners/kids

by: Marcia Eckerd, Ph.D.

This is an excellent guide for communication. As a parent of a son with Autism, I had to ‘learn’ to communicate with my son. This lesson of communication was learned both from the both of us….a neurotypical and an Autistic mind. The article below, by Dr. Marcia Eckerd, touches on a topic we could all better apply…that of communication.  -Jennifer Allen/Aspergers101

Why don’t people and their interacting style come with manuals? Parents and partners often misunderstand or don’t know how best to talk with someone with Asperger’s, and people with Aspergers can have trouble understanding and communicating with those who think differently than them. If you are the neurotypical partner or parent, you need to understand what different processing is like, with different needs and expectations. And the same  is true for those with Aspergers who are finding it difficult being with the people in their lives. Everyone must take the importance of understanding seriously.

Here are some rules for neurotypical partners or parents of Aspies:

  1. Understand that your Aspie often won’t necessarily understand your need to feel gratified by connecting. He or she might go to an office/room and ignore you, for example. This doesn’t mean a lack of caring – it means that this meets his or her needs, and he doesn’t get it that you need something more. He may see your need as a difficult demand if he needs some space.

What is ABA Therapy?

Applied Behavioral Analysis

So, what exactly is ABA, or Applied Behavioral Analysis?

Close-up view of pencils and African girl writing

ABA is an intervention therapy that specifically addresses behavior. ABA is one of the proven best practice therapies for children on the autism spectrum, including Aspergers. Thousands of research articles have documented the effectiveness of ABA in individuals with autism across behaviors, settings, and specialists. The behaviors that ABA seeks to address could relate to academics, communication, challenging behaviors, and other daily living skills.

A Man Worth Meeting

We want you to meet Maverick. A man who inspires anyone, diagnosed with Autism or not, to live to their potential no matter the circumstances. It will make you rethink what you believe are obstacles and hold compassion for others whose journey came from a road less traveled. We think he is a man worth meeting! – Jennifer Allen/Aspergers101

My name is Maverick L. Crawford III, and I was born in April (same month is Autism Awareness Month).  I remembered how odd and wired I appeared to be compared to my other siblings. My behavior starting at six months was repetitive and restricted, every day I would hide from everyone and not play with my siblings.

I want to help, support and inspire others on the autism spectrum to not give up or lose hope no matter what you are going through, keep pushing, keep striving, keep persevering to the end there will be a greater reward.

Maverick L. Crawford III

The movement of doors as they open and close was fascinating to me. Any of my toys that were rectangles, I would stack in a specific order as high as possible. If I were not playing with toys, I would entertain myself by hand flapping and be flushing the toilet and watching the water flow down the commode. As a child, I would stay to myself and not respond to my name.

When my mother or siblings touch or find me somewhere in the house, I would have a temper tantrum.  I would suck my ring finger through the day and night as it provided a sense of comfort. Early in my life, I could not understand social interaction (and try to avoid it), nonverbal communication and never maintain eye contact. My mother did not fully understand what was going with me and relied on doctors and professionals to deal with my issues.

I was born an abnormally thick line that connected my tongue to the bottom of my mouth, which is called a tongue-tie. The pain from this tongue-tie was unbearable so much, so I had trouble eating and keeping food down without getting sick. After years of the pain caused by this deformity, I had tongue clip surgery in 1999 at the age of three. Later that year I was diagnosed speech impediment, mental retardation, dysphasia (serve language and speech disorder), autism, attention deficit disorder and having multiple seizures. Being a child with various disabilities like autism brought stress upon my mother because she did not know what approach to take in dealing with the issues I had. Me being the only one with multiple disabilities out of my sibling, I felt like a stranger in my family and unfortunately treated differently.

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. 

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“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