Upcoming Event: Jennifer Allen to Speak at ACU Summit 2019

“The Less Traveled Path to Christ: Families, Autism and the Church Today”

Autism, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and developmental delays often keep kids (and parents) away from church. The Great Commission instructs us to go and preach the gospel to all nations, to all people … and as for those with disabilities, we must put aside our fear of “different” by first understanding the uniquely wired brain and then providing accommodation(s). Jennifer Allen will share her family’s personal journey of having a child diagnosed with autism and how the less traveled path to Jesus, though oftentimes rocky, offers beautiful vistas that neurotypicals seldom witness. This session is for the church to better understand the challenges that face these families along with suggested accommodations and especially for the parent torn about church and their children.


When: Tuesday, September 17th

Time: 9:30a – 10:15a

Where: ACU Summit on the Campus of Abilene Christian University 

               ACU Biblical Studies Building 1201850 Teague Boulevard

               Abilene, TX 79601 – Room 120

Cost: Free

Go to ACU Website for full information on ACU Summit 2019  or view the full ACU Summit 2019 Program here. Note: Jennifer Allen’s presentation: The Less Traveled Path to Christ: Families, Autism and the Church Today is listed on page 23.

Everyone Loves a Parade!

The abilitySTRONG Parade officially kicks off San Antonio’s Disability Pride Celebration with Aspergers101 Samuel Allen as the Grand Marshal!

Get ready to celebrate, participate and cheer on the parade that kicks off San Antonio’s Disability Pride Celebration! It’s the 2nd annual abilitySTRONG Parade and it caravans through the beautiful, historic streets of San Antonio, Texas on Saturday, October 26th, 2019 from 9:00 am  – 10:00 am. This years theme is: Awareness…we’re stronger together along with the motto I Have A Voice.

Of course we are very proud to announce that our own Samuel Allen will be the Grand Marshal of this years parade! Last year, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg served as the Grand Marshal and handing such an honor off to someone so young as Samuel just thrills us! According to disABILITYsa Executive Director Melanie Cawthon , “The announcement of the Samuel Allen Law was a perfect reflection of how giving voice to the needs of those with disabilities can effect significant and beneficial changes in our society. ”

The 2019 abilitySTRONG Parade is San Antonio’s first annual Disability Pride Celebration.   This parade is a public expression of the belief that disability is a natural and beautiful part of human diversity in which people living with disabilities can take pride.


Theme: Awareness..We’re Stronger Together Motto: I Have a Voice

2019 Grand Marshal – Samuel Allen

Samuel Allen, who is employed at H-E-B as an IT Specialist, was asked to offer this thoughts on this years theme of “Awareness…We’re Stronger Together as well as the motto “I have a Voice”.

“Both of these statements resonate strongly with me because early on of learning of my Autism diagnosis, I learned that my voice mattered (above the medical noise of what I will never be able to accomplish) as that voice would mold me into all I could be or stifle me into less than. Stronger together first impacted me by the support of my family. My Dad wasn’t disappointed in me but learned of his son’s wiring and became interested in the things I was interested in instead of what he hoped I would be. My Mom changed her profession to better understand Autism and more importantly, better understand my wiring. This took most of my lifetime to find out what were my worst challenges and once we found that out, how to overcome or at the very least, live with and treat what is treatable.

The other element my Mom gave was focusing on my strengths that may have been overlooked by most neurotypicals. She built a non-profit called, Aspergers101.org and used that outlet to help others similar to our path. My brother Charlie, though 2 years younger, has always looked after my well-being. He stood up for me during the difficult/bullying middle school-age years and never wavered in trying to help me adapt to my neurotypical surroundings. He remains a good friend as well as my brother. (though we have our moments)

My accomplishments have been what most people deem as routine. High School graduate, Summer jobs, College graduate (Dec/2018 Texas A & M San Antonio) and now full time employment in my area of study, H-E-B/ IS Tech II Specialist. Also I have my driver license and have been driving myself to work & school though it took me a while longer than most to feel confident to drive highways, etc…  

I feel blessed to have been alongside Aspergers101  as a trainer and spokesperson. Alongside my Mom, we have offered workshops, spoke at conferences, live streamed from various locations such as SA Public Library and supported people one-on-one for many years. People want hope. They want to know that it is alright to have Autism. You can have a life and even embrace the differences as Dr. TEmple Grandin has said so many times. Groups seems to be thirsty for knowledge of Autism as well. We have spoken to Doctors, Educators, Employers, Churches and now Law Enforcement on better understanding those with a communication challenges such as autism.  

I am honored to have been asked to be the Grand Marshal at the abilitySTRONG Parade this year. ” – Samuel Allen

The abilitySTRONG Parade is an official Tricentennial Event approved and promoted by #SA300!

“T-shirts with this year’s motto “I Have A Voice” will be available for sale $15 each at the event and $10 each pre-event purchase.  The Planning Team for this event is always in need of extra hands, hearts, and helpers. ”

Melanie Cawthon, MS, CNP
Co-Founder/Executive Director disABILITYsa…educate, advance, and engage

Below lists the Frequently Asked Question regarding the Parade and the details for participation. If you find your question(s) were not found, look at the end of this blog for direct contact information with the Parade.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the Parade?
Saturday, October 26th, 2019 from 9:00 am  – 10:00 am

Where is the Parade Route?
Route will start at Avenue and East Houston in front of First Presbyterian Church and Express News Bldg.  South on Avenue E, West on Houston St.North on Flores St., West on Travis St., South on San Saba, East on Commerce St., and South on Pecos St. to UTSA . Total Distance: ​1.30 miles

What are the ways to get involved?
You can join the planning team, take part by being in the parade, become a sponsor, volunteer or enjoy as a spectator!

Is the abilitySTRONG Parade associated with the #SA300 Tricentennial Celebration?
Yes!  We’re so glad you asked.  The abilitySTRONG Parade is an official Tricentennial Event approved and promoted by #SA300.  Click here to see the official listing on the #SA300 Calendar of Events!

What is the deadline to register, participate, sponsor, and/or underwrite?
The deadline for sponsorship and parade applications is Friday, August 31st at 11:30 pm.
The deadline for underwriter support is Friday, September 14th at 11:30 pm.
The deadline to register and participate in the ability MARCH is Friday, September 28th at 5:00 pm.  

What is the date and time of the 2018 abilitySTRONG Parade and abilityMARCH?
The abilitySTRONG Parade and abilityMARCH will be held on Saturday, October 20th, 2018 beginning at 9:00am.  Staging will begin a 7:30am in the Cattleman Square Parking Lot of UTSA.  The parade course will leave out from the Cattleman Square Parking Lot, at the corner of Buena Vista and N. Leona St., turn South on La Trinidad St., West on W. Nueva St., North on S. Flores St., East on W. Houston St., South on N. Leona St., and then and back into Cattleman’s Square Parking Lot.  All individuals on foot will disband from the parade at the corner of Houston and San Saba Street.  The Judges Stand and VIP Seating will be located on Houston St. at Milam Park, between Santa Rosa and San Saba.

Do I have to be a person living with a disability to participate in the abilityMarch or abilitySTRONG Parade?
Absolutely not.  The abilityMARCH and abilitySTRONG Parade are opportunities for us to celebrate and strengthen the San Antonio community which includes individuals with disabilities, our families, and allies.  Everyone who believes that disability is a natural part of human diversity and supports the disability community is invited to be a part of the parade and march.

Is there any kind of event following the parade?
The 12th Annual AccessAbility fest will take place in Market Square from 10:00am – 2:00pm and features over 140 exhibitors with information, products, programs and services that promote independence and inclusion where individuals with disabilities live, work and play.  This FREE celebration also features live entertainment, activities, demonstrations, and food purchase options. 

What are the costs to participate in the abilityMARCH?
There is no cost to participate in the abilityMARCH following the abilitySTRONG Parade.  However, if people are able, we do suggest a registration donation of $10 for individuals.  Individuals making a donation of at least $10 will receive a complimentary event t-shirt.

What are the costs to participate in the parade?
Entry fees include an application fee (nonprofit, business, and commercial options), Equestrian and Balloon Fee (as applicable), Float Inspection Fee (as applicable), and Insurance Premium (or COI).  In addition, parade entries must be decorated to the theme of the parade.

Can we have walkers participate with our Equestrian, Float, or Vehicle Entry?
Groups with vehicles, carriages, and floats that want walkers with them must select an additional entry (and premium) for a Marching Unit.

Can we have a banner with our entry?
Banners may be carried in front of each entry by no more than 2 banner carriers and are limited in size to be no larger than 3′ H x 5′ W.

What are my transportation/parking options for getting to and from the event?
Visit us online at https://www.abilitystrongparade.org/event-parking.html

What’s the refund policy?
All application fees do not apply for reimbursement. Additional fees and insurance premiums are eligible for reimbursement if your entry is declined or withdraws from the parade prior to September 7th, 2018.

Get online and register to participate with a parade entry or join the abilityMARCH that follows the parade.  abilitystrongparade.org

For further information please contact:

abilitySTRONG Parade
(210) 704-7262


by: Roseanna Garza/Rivard Report August 20th 2019

“A patrol officer driving on a local freeway came across a young man wielding a two-by-four in the middle of the inside lane as cars zoomed quickly past. Upon approaching him, the officer, whom SAPD declined to identify, quickly recognized the youth had a cognitive impairment and was not suffering from mental health or substance abuse issues. Using communication skills learned from the Allens, the officer talked the young man into putting the piece of lumber down, and then helped him get off the freeway and return safely home.”

-San Antonio Police Chief William McManus

(for the rest of this story, click on the link above)


Effects of Bullying: Dr. Tony Attwood

School is much like a war zone for many of those with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Bullying occurs primarily (but not limited to) the Middle School years. Dr. Tony Attwood chimes in on the torment and potential solutions in this video clip from the documentary: Coping to Excelling.


Dr. Tony Attwood

Temple Grandin on Her Search Engine

Originally posted July 1, 2019 by PBS Digital Studios/ Blank on Blank

You’ve probably heard the story that Einstein – whose name is synonymous with genius – didn’t seem destined for much when he was a small child. He was years behind other children when it came to learning to talk, he did horribly in school. It seems that Einstein’s brain just worked differently than most other people’s. And many people these days are saying that Einstein was probably autistic – one of them is Temple Grandin.

“Everything in my mind works like a search engine set for the image function.” – Temple Grandin in 2008, from an oral history at Colorado State University.

Temple Grandin is a professor of animal sciences who’s worked in the meat industry to invent kinder ways to lead cattle to slaughter. She’s also autistic – the high-functioning version known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Autism, in case you don’t know, is a brain disorder that tends to affect people’s social skills, like the ability to read facial expressions and body language, but it can also mean extraordinary talent in math, music and the visual arts.

Temple Grandin has become something of a celebrity of autism. She’s written books, given TED talks, and she’s been around the world to speak on the subject. Claire Danes has even played her in a movie about her life.

As part of our special series, The Experimenters–where we uncover interviews with the icons of science, technology, and innovation…– we found this interview in the holdings of Colorado State University, where Temple teaches. In this conversation, Temple’s at her best, explaining for the rest of us what it’s really like to have an autistic brain and how Einstein’s not the only genius who could have been dismissed for being different.

More Blank on Blank episodes: http://blankonblank.org/pbs

A Quote Worth Contemplating…

This blog was last posted in 2014. As the new school year begins, this young mans viewpoint of peer exclusion helped him (and his parents) to go in another direction altogether. We hope it inspires you too. – Aspergers101

When asked about living with Autism, without prompt nor expectation of any kind, this quote came from our son Sam (then 15 years of age) during an interview for the documentary “Coping to Excelling”. 

“Don’t worry about the impairments that God included in this package….think about the good stuff in the package God gave you.”                                                                             -Sam Allen July 2011

These are Sam’s words of advice to anyone living with an impairment, disability or challenge of any kind. His words, though brief, are quite powerful for someone in their mid-teens. I share this because as a person of faith, this is a good way of thinking…maybe for us all.

Chances are anyone with High Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome are not just challenged with the autism but with the comorbidities that typically go along with the diagnosis of ASD. Comorbidities such as ADD, ADHD, OCD, bi-polar or anxiety (to name a few) all challenge and can hinder daily life. We fight daily to overcome these obstacles while oftentimes losing sight of the strengths that do come with the Asperger or HFA diagnosis.

Strengths and ‘gifts’ may include that intense interest in one subject. That hyper-focus may drive family members batty but that is the very ‘good stuff’ Sam is talking about. Issac Newton, Einstein, Steve Jobs and John Nash are all said to have had Aspergers Syndrome. Their ability to focus intensely on one subject allowed them to do great things! Though Sam was never invited to his peer’s birthday parties or gatherings, his absorption in the topic of that time brought him to build a low-powered FM radio station from his bedroom as well as a high-powered gaming computer from scratch. This is a gift so go with it. If their interest happens to be the constellation, seek the stars with your Aspie by laying a blanket on the ground in the backyard at 2am. If it’s trains, go to train museums and allow them to ask the volunteers questions till their hearts content. You get the idea.

This quote now hangs by our front door so as we leave our house everyday…we are all reminded of our worth, no matter our flaws or challenges. Point being…the quote above came from a beautiful mind that is literally wired differently and who knows God doesn’t make mistakes no matter what bullying peers have said. Sam truly believes to his core not to “sweat the small stuff” but to focus on the good. I think that’s a good lesson for neuro-typicals as well!    

by: Jennifer Allen

What to Know When Coworking With Someone With Autism

by: Dave Gentry

Never forget to pump a handshake three times- not one, and definitely not five.Seen from an autistic perspective, the social, shared, and flexible attributes of the modern shared office can be intimidating. As work and life spill into each other, they clash with coping mechanisms for autism spectrum disorder, in which high-level functioning depends on adherence to routine, scripts, and schedules. Despite this challenge, autistic professionals can have precious attributes, and demand better understanding of the relationship between the workplace and this complicated disorder.

“If you’ve met one person with Asperger’s syndrome, then you’ve met one person with Asperger’s syndrome.” In the same circles where this quote is famous, its author is a bit of a celebrity. Dr. Stephen Shore is a professor of Special Education at Adelphi University who has devoted his life to teaching and researching autism. He also has Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning subtype of autism spectrum disorder characterized by obsessive interest and poor social skills. “I wouldn’t use the phrase ‘Asperger’s sufferer,’ because some of us enjoy the way our mind works.”


The symptom affects how people behave, socialize, and communicate, and its acceptance in the workplace is “uneven.” Some employers avoid the issue, others embrace it, and others are seeking out people with ASD because some of their traits make good business sense. While genius is somewhat rare, a common affinity for routines can translate well to the work force. “They can be efficient, and have very low absentee rates.” TV and movies have introduced more savants whose quirky idiosyncrasies suggest autism, but Dr. Shore knows the reality is often different. “It’s all well and good that organizations are seeking IT people, but it’s a low percentage. We’re not all geeks with superpowers in IT.”

Choices in Education

Considerations for the Student Diagnosed with Autism/Asperger Syndrome

Most children with Autism or Asperger Syndrome attend their local public school. There they get additional services like special instruction, either in the classroom or in a separate room. Or they might get special accommodations, such as extra time on tests.

But for some parents, the discovery of their children’s learning issue triggers a much broader journey. In addition to advocating for the best possible services from the school their child attends, they may carry out an exhaustive school search, switch between schools within a district, commute to another district, or even move to a different state. In some cases, parents hire education consultants or advocates to help them find the best solutions for their child. In the most extreme cases, they hire lawyers to sue districts or states to help them pay tuition for specialized private schools.

Knowing how much energy, time, and resources you can or want to invest in this process is a very personal decision, but it’s helpful at the outset to understand the range of educational options that many regions have. Special education funding varies by state and children living in isolated rural areas usually have fewer options than those living near large populations.

What the Law Requires of Your School District

If you live in the United States, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that your district provide the “Least Restrictive Environment” for your child’s education. That means that they must consider such options as mainstreaming before deciding (with your involvement) on a more specialized setting.

You may, of course, decide that your child is better off in a specialized setting but if you decide to work with public schools, you may have to prove that the mainstream setting is not working before seeking funding for a private or specialized setting.

Below is a broad overview at the following educational options:

  • Public School    
  • Private School
  • Homeschool      
  • Charter School

Public School

Autistic support classrooms have several great advantages: they are usually very small, with a high adult to child ratio. They offer supports, such as visual teaching tools, which are specifically selected for autistic students. And they may also include intensive speech and social skills training in their curriculum. Autistic support classrooms, however, tend to be quite segregated from the rest of the school. It’s not unusual for teachers of children with autism have lowered expectations of their students’ intellectual abilities.


  • Challenges to excel
  • Social skills learned by observation
  • Real-world environment that teaches life skills
  • Prepares them for diversity critical for future neighbors & co-workers


  • Teacher lacks specialized training
  • Budgetary restrictions – less attention

Empowerment: Building Success with Employees with Autism

Hosted by the Texas Governor’s Committee for People with Disabilities, presenters offer expert advice for solutions to common workplace challenges such as sensory, social, and thinking and processing in this previously recorded webinar. Jennifer Allen with Aspergers101 offers insight into the most common workplace challenges experienced by people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and provides specific suggestions for accommodations. Take this opportunity to hear more about how Vocational Rehabilitation and local workforce boards, public universities, and private employers have discovered how to successfully balance the needs of the business’ bottom line with the employment goals of people with Autism via Texas Workforce Commission’s Jennifer Hines. Packed with a powerful punch, Jenn Byron-Ross/Director of Recruiting at grocery giant H-E-B, shares the company’s best practices and how they are attracting talented people on the Autism spectrum for jobs across the organization—from bagger to software developer. There is so much valuable information for both the employer and the employee packed into this webinar. Be sure to look below the video for some downloadables and/or materials provided to you as a reference from the webinar!


Jennifer Hines with Texas Workforce Commission/Vocational Rehabilitation revels how local workforce boards, public universities, and private employers have discovered how to successfully balance the needs of the business’ bottom line with the employment goals of people with Autism.

Jennifer Allen with Aspergers101 offers insight into an employer’s basic understanding of Autism and Asperger Syndrome while discussing the most common workplace challenges experienced by people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and offer specific suggestions for accommodations.

Finally, the Director of Recruiting at H-E-B, Jenn Byron Ross, shares best employer practices and how they are attracting talented people on the Autism spectrum for jobs across the organization—from bagger to software developer.


College with Asperger’s: 7 Benchmarks for Effective Support on Campus

The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has risen significantly since first described in the 1940s. The Center for Disease Control estimates currently 1 in 68 children in the United States lives with an ASD diagnosis, and that 46% of those diagnosed have average to above average intelligence. A large body of literature describes the significant, life-long difficulties faced by many individuals diagnosed with ASD. The support needed for college students diagnosed with more traditional disabilities are well documented. However, information is lacking in regard to effectively supporting the college instruction of students with Asperger’s Disorder and how to support their navigation of a campus society.

College Students with Asperger’s: Academic and Campus Accommodations Necessary

Researchers explored the topic of providing effective supports to college students diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder. Investigators convened a panel of experts to provide input on the topic, and then used a Delphi surveying method to categorize common themes identified by panel members.

The survey resulted in the creation of the Benchmarks of Effective Supports for College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. This tool is available as a PDF file for use in your own college assessment:

Attachment: Benchmarks of Effective Supports for College Students with ASD

Research conclusions included:

1. Social Challenges, Independent Living Skills, and Cognitive Organizational Skills were mentioned as a need more often by expert panelist than was Academic Challenges. This suggests panelists agree that students diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder are, generally, intellectually capable of performing in the classroom but struggle with the social and organizational aspects of the college lifestyle;

2. Resources dedicated to meeting the Social Challenges of students diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder are considered integral to effective college support;

3. Traditional disability services are ineffective for supporting this student population due to: (a) its historical focus on meeting academic rather than social needs, (b) its lack of resources, and (3) its general lack of expertise regarding the disorder;

4. The panel of experts connected self-advocacy and disclosure more to academic success than to other aspects of campus life;

5. Mental health services are identified as a necessary support for college students diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder.

These services, however, were mentioned fewer times by the panelist than the need for:

  • dedicated staff with specialized knowledge to provide supports;
  • having a well-informed campus community, and
  • utilizing a well-staffed support program with expertise in the disorder. An equal number of panelists mentioned the need for having staff to teach students to identify on-campus resources and supports, which would generally include student mental health services;

6. The panel of experts revealed faculty and staff attitudes may play a role in college success for college students with Asperger’s Disorder. More panelists expressed a need, however, for increased on-campus knowledge and information about the disorder.

7. Finances and Resources were identified by the majority of panelists as barriers to academic and non-academic success alike due to the high cost of hiring personnel with expertise.

Their research was published in the peer-reviewed Southern Regional Council on Educational Administration Yearbook 2013; Ellison, Clark, Cunningham, and Hansen (2013).

by Dr. Marc Ellison