Q: Could you go into detail on other types of relationships (friends, co-workers, acquaintances, etc.) that you have had? Do you have a specific example of a misstep? Or situation that you were able to handle because of something you had been taught?
A: Years ago, I was asked to help lead songs for a college-age Bible study (I was 30). Eventually, some of the women in the group went to the leader and told him they were uncomfortable with the way I looked at them. I was asked not to come back. I was in complete shock, and kept trying to figure out where I went wrong.
Believe it or not being different is now in style…it is a mindset!
In the last decade communities have been more and more open to individuals that are on the spectrum or who have multiple differences which is called comorbidity. The words strange, weird, unique and brilliant are often the words co-workers and supervisors use when they have no clue what Autism means and they try to describe communication, social or other challenges.
Lately the students who I have seen interviewed are blowing me away more than ever.
Blunt honesty is not looking as rude it’s looked as refreshing!
Resisting change is looking like loyalty!
Prefers to do the same routine over and over is looked at as finding your strengths and sticking to it!
My list can go on but I am sure if you are a parent, educator or advocate you get my drift! This is not breaking news but it does create a sense of positivity and hope for us all. We are all cheering for all the parents who refuse to hear, “Your kid just does not fit in.” We all are embracing our differences and beginning to comprehend change is very hard for all of us. Blessings to all the heroes seeing and feeling that new days are now filled with boundless opportunities. By stretching ourselves and knowing it’s alright to move forward by building your YOU, you can accomplish anything!
We also have a great deal of recent success stories. One being very close to my heart and the number one reason I do exactly what I do.
Job Adventures met Gamble on May 10-2018 3:00 pm on the 8th floor of our building.
Two years later May 10,2018 Gamble was offered a paid position in the exact position of his gifts and passion. You may be asking …Why did she take two years to place Gamble? What were they doing for him for two years etc… Answer is clear to us but not clear to others. Gamble had many professionals working his case from the state. The turnover was a huge set back but we kept on going. Gamble thrived in work experience which was non-paid and very worth it.
Artist, Writer, Director and college student Dwayne Dixon possess the talents of many diagnosed with Aspergers. Though Dwayne does not have Aspergers, he is a strong example of utilizing what talents/intense interests you do have into a passionate living! He and his production team from New York are always on the scout for voice talent (see contact info at end of blog) and recently enlisted Sam (my son with Asperger Syndrome) for a part in a working program titled: Kuro ni Fedo. We caught up with Dwayne during his hectic schedule to ask some questions about VSW Productions, his aspirations and his advice for those on the spectrum.
Brief Background: VSW (Vendetta Spying Wolf) Productions is a non-profit production crew made up of college students who have an interest in voice acting, animation, etc. The latest project is a series titled Kuro ni Fedo. We caught up with VSW owner Dwayne Dixon to learn more of the behind- the- scenes makings in his fan fiction animation.
Aspergers101: Hello Dwayne and welcome to the Aspergers101 Community! Tell us about your talents and how you pooled them with some of your New York college friends to form VSW Productions.
Dwayne Dixon: Hello to you too and thank you for having me. To begin answering that I must first rewind the clock a little. When I was younger I would always draw characters from certain cartoons that I enjoyed. I’ve been given compliments in response to my art. It made me feel good so I kept practicing. Honing my skills I’ve meet up with my co-writer/best friend from High School and due to having common interest we decided to write the story to Kuro ni Fedo; which stands for Fade to Black in Japanese.
Aspergers101: What kind of projects are VSW Productions currently working on?
Dwayne Dixon: Still early to the whole Production aspect we don’t have a lot of projects out yet but we’re mostly working on Kuro ni Fedo since the illustrations and the voice work takes the longest of our time. But I also have another project in mind that could possibly be a live action short film that will even involve those that aren’t close by. Such as those who voice outside of the state of New York. VSW Productions doesn’t try to leave anyone out.
Aspergers101: Who writes the copy, produces the music, illustrates and edits for Kuro ni Fedo?
Please help us welcome Ethan Hirschberg to the Aspergers101 family of bloggers! Ethan will offer his insights to living on the autism spectrum first-hand and we think you will be inspired, informed and delighted as much as we are! In his first blog with us, his Mom answers questions basic to families facing the diagnosis of autism.
My parents have been my rock throughout my journey with Autism. Both of them have helped me so much and I can never thank them enough. All I can do is love them! My mom and dad are the best parents that I could’ve ever had. They love, support, advocate, and care for me and my brother. If I can be half of a person that they are, I’ll be just fine! Before I publish my next blog post about some of my challenges during the winter holidays, I interviewed my mom and asked her a few questions about her personal experiences with caring for me (a teen on the spectrum).
Question: When did you find out that Ethan was diagnosed with Autism and how did you feel?
“I found out when Ethan was two and a half. Ethan had started seeing a speech therapist when he turned two because his speech was very slow to develop and no one besides his very close family who saw him frequently could understand him. During one of his speech sessions, the therapist recommended that he get evaluated to determine if there was a ‘more global explanation’ for his difficulties. A full developmental evaluation was performed and during that appointment, we were told about his diagnosis. I was shocked and yet at the same time knew that this explained the other difficulties that he was having. I immediately went into treatment mode to get him started with all of the therapies that he needed. It wasn’t until six months later when I was able to stop working and focus solely on Ethan that I began to deal with my feelings regarding the diagnosis. I cried, worried, and grieved a lot and spent many very late nights on the computer doing research. I was heartbroken because I wasn’t sure what his future and quality of life would be like. I was very lucky to have lots of close family and friends to help me get through this very difficult time.”
Question: What made you suspect that he could be on the spectrum?
“I noticed lots of little things while Ethan was an infant but didn’t put everything together until Ethan’s speech therapist nudged me into it. When Ethan was three months old, his pediatrician had to be changed because the doctor talked loudly and Ethan would just scream whenever Ethan was in his presence. My mom and I also attempted on several occasions to get handprints and footprints of him in those little clay keepsake kits, but Ethan would always clench up his hands and feet and we could never get good imprints. There were many other instances throughout his first two years which made me realize that he was a very sensitive child, like not liking certain foods, not liking to walk on grass or sand, etc. Between the age of one and two he started walking on tiptoes, was more rigid, would withdraw when new people would approach him, and began to have a lot of extreme tantrums, much more than a typical toddler. While Ethan was delayed in a lot of areas, he also had many skills so I didn’t quite put everything together until an outside source urged me to take a closer look.”
Question: What has been the worst part during Ethan’s life?
“There were two worst parts that I recall most. Between the ages of three and five, it seemed as if every single day was full of many tantrums and meltdowns, a lot of stimming, a lot of frustration and anxiety on Ethan’s part, and constant struggles over much of the day. The other extremely difficult time was when
Having a life means facing our fears and going out
There comes a time in every Aspie’s life, that having a life means facing our fears and going out into the world. I love to sing, do stand up comedy, go to restaurants and sometimes (although very rarely) I even want to go to a party. Does this mean I don’t have Aspergers? Of course not! People with Aspergers want to socialize, but years of getting it wrong may knock the desire to try right out of us. It is never going to be easy.
Performance, on the other hand, may be quite comfortable for many aspies, because people stimulate the amygdala in our brain causing a rush of adrenalin, perfect for belting songs on stage, or short bouts of witty banter. But authentic communication in a crowd—and by a crowd I mean more than one—very difficult. We get overloaded, awkward, bombarded, confused. Rocket science may be simple, but social conversation is an unfathomable mystery for many of us. Here are a few basics to help you in social situations:
Keep in good mental and physical shape, through healthy diet and exercise
Have interests and activities that raise your self-esteem. If you like and value yourself, others may follow suit.
Manners are the oil which make situations run smoothly. Please, thank you, hi, how are you, nice to meet you, goodbye, have a nice day, may all seem trite and meaningless but they are cues, transitions so that things can flow. Consider them signposts or turns in the road.
Always ask how the other person is, and it helps to throw in a “how is your family?” (or pet, or girlfriend, etc.)
Don’t go on and on about yourself or your interests unless asked, and not for more than a minute.
One of the most challenging aspects of supporting college students diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder is the need for follow-up with professors, college staff, and others. Follow-up is important to ensure deadlines are met and that assignments are turned in according to each syllabus. The fast pace of college, combined with the severe anxiety and executive dysfunction common to the spectrum, create the perfect conditions for students with ASD to forget deadlines or avoid high pressure academic or social situations on campus.
I’ve known dozens of students with ASD who promised: “I will work on my speech for Communications class this evening after dinner.” And they mean it sincerely when they say it. Stress and commitments mount as the day moves forward, however, and by dinner time students who made the promise may feel overwhelmed and overstimulated and avoid the assignment. Some may become focused so intensely on another subject or topic that they forget about working on their speech.
One year ago, Aspergers101 launched a Summer Series on Autism in conjunction with the San Antonio Public Library System. WOAI-TV live-steamed all four conferences and area experts on Autism participated in a panel discussion at the conclusion of every power-packed workshop.
Kicked off by Ron Lucey with the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities and announced by Ramiro Salazar, Director of SA Public Library System at the Press Conference, it was a huge endeavor that allowed free access to information on Autism.
This is community and teamwork at it’s finest!
We want to share all four sessions with you.
The topics are as follows:
Diagnosis 2. Social Development 3. Choices in Education and 4. Independent Living
Press Conference Announcing Aspergers101 Summer Series with the San Antonio Public Library Asperger Syndrome: From Diagnosis to Independence.
May 3rd 2017 10:30a San Antonio Public Library Downtown
SUMMER SERIES VIDEO LIBRARY
Do you suspect someone you love has autism or Asperger Syndrome? This program explores the signs, the medical explanation, and the hardwired facts. Topics discussed: signs of autism, the importance of diagnosis, grief, and moving forward with awareness. Hosted by Jennifer Allen, Founder of Aspergers101 and her son Samuel Allen. Special guest: Dr. Berenice de la Cruz, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Chief Operating Officer, Autism Community Network. MORE: the San Antonio Public Library and Aspergers101 announced a partnership and upcoming four-part educational series that will focus on understanding and excelling with high-functioning autism or Asperger Syndrome. A well-known team of autism experts (many of whom live successfully on the spectrum) will participate in discussions about important related topics. A question and answer session with the panel experts will follow each night. The series will be presented by Jennifer Allen, Founder and CEO of Aspergers101. Aspergers101 is a local nonprofit dedicated to empowering and educating individuals with high-functioning autism and Asperger Syndrome, their advocates, and the community.
#1 Diagnosis (May 9th 2017)
Download the pdf Powerpoint Presentation on “Diagnosis” here: Diagnosis
Many families feel their child should be able to get out of school and jump right into a paid job. This is often unrealistic. You may ask, “Why is this unrealistic?”
1) For the most part, youths are not ready to deal with blending into the real world of work no matter how hard their teachers and families have tried to prepare them. They usually just don’t have the experience. Of course this depends on the individual’s level of maturity and cognitive ability.
2) Youths and adults do not want a resume showing lost jobs and many jobs spanning a short period of time. This is called job hopping. I write resumes daily and I can’t tell you enough how bad it looks on paper to the employer if the individual cannot hold a job.
3) The new philosophy now is find the person a job that is mentioned in their last IEP. More times then not a student does not really know what they want to do. They are just trying to get through school and make good grades. I often see the title “Stocker”. These students are not being exposed to all of the opportunities that are offered out in this big world.
4) I am a firm believer in ” Show me” do not tell me. This means I do not like to market an individual without seeing what their skill level is first. We often utilize a service called Environmental Work Assessment or EWA for short. What is an EWA? This is a diagnostic tool like no other. We take the student out for three days, to three different work sites in 4 hour increments. The student is able to try out different types of work in different environments and the placement specialist is able to see the student in action and help determine where their strengths and interests may lie.
This summer lets be proactive and get our kids prepared to the best of their ability.
Occasionally, if not rarely, you come upon greatness. You are in the presence of a person, an idea or a creation that inspires you to the core and will make such a difference in your thinking that it changes the trajectory of your life’s path. This type of greatness occured for a roomful of people last week at an event Aspergers101 hosted in San Antonio Texas. Unlocking the Potential: An Evening with Dr. Temple Grandin proved successful by the powerhouse line-up of speakers. Over the course of the next several weeks, Aspergers101 will share much of the knowledge and encouragement delivered from the podium by these speakers but we wanted to offer a glimpse into the evening with this introductory blog.
An overview of the evening “take-aways” all followed the theme of the evening, Unlocking the Potential which was consistent with each speaker that approached the podium. Addressing the challenges that come with the Autism diagnosis is a must however, rethinking the potential and putting that potential into it’s unique purpose was the resounding message through the various perspectives of the speakers.
The evening was hosted by Jennifer Allen and son Samuel Allen offering personal stories, an update on the statewide “Driving with Autism” program and keeping the podium synchronized speaker to speaker.
Message From the Texas State Capitol
Kicking of the evening was Ron Lucey, the (powerhouse) Executive Director of the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities. His message of support for all disabilities was only surpassed by his focus on our citizens diagnosed with Autism and improving conditions for employment in the state of Texas. This is a man of action. Ron Lucey works, no fights, on behalf of citizens with disabilities.
He made it clear that it’s the Mom’s who make
Ron Lucey/Executive Director Texas Governors Committee on People with Disabilities (l) Jennifer Allen/Founder Aspergers101 (r)
things happen and he and his committee are there to support them in their mission for equality. He did read a proclamation made recently by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, declaring April Austim Awareness Month in the State of Texas. This was presented to Jennifer Allen with Aspergers101 at the end of his talk.
Following Ron was a brief video from speaker & author Dr. Gail Saltz. Dr. Saltz recently wrote ‘The Power of Different’ and included much of that book in her presentation. From a medical statepoint, the brain is wired differently for those on the autism spectrum and the ‘gifts’ that are unique to that brain are the gifts humankind is lucky to have. It’s these specialized talents that we must utilize for the their future and ours. Here you can view the message from Dr. Saltz in it’s entirety.
Revolutionary Employment Program Introduced
The next speaker super charged the evening with the topic of employing those with Autism. Tina James is the Chief People Officer of one of the top-rated businesses in America today. H-E-B Grocery is a giant grocery chain in the state of Texas and is swifty becoming the template for all business structures as they clearly place people first. When Tina spoke of a new program H-E-B is premiering called, Bridges, she spoke from her heart. Tina has a son on the spectrum and her passion for equality in employment literally set the audience on the edge of their seats!
Tina James/Chief People Officer H-E-B
Bridges launched last summer with an internship offered strictly for those with an autism/asperger diagnosis, in the coveted I.T. Department. The rate of pay was not the standard national average of $8/hr but double that rate…autism or not! This is only the beginning of what proves to be a smarter way of employment: hiring people for their abilities while removing the obstacles then advancing them up the ladder into the company that continuously grows off the charts. The ovation with this proactive approach to employment was only paralleled by the next speaker.
The Keynote Address: Dr. Temple Grandin
The keynote address from Temple Grandin was supercharged.
Last week Aspergers101 was proud to host a day of Autism awareness and enlightenment in San Antonio Texas. First we co-hosted a luncheon alongside San Antonio Chief of Police, William McManus regarding the
Driving with Autism statewide initiative. Over 25 law enforcement agencies were represented as well as city officials. All came together to hear about the new Texas driver license restriction code, Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer and how that may look in a pull-over scenario. Though Dr. Grandin’s plane was delayed, she made her entrance to speak to the officers just as the luncheon drew to a close..a great way to end on a high note!
SA Police Chief William McManus (R) discusses Driving with Autism with Aspergers101 Senior Editor Gabriela Lemos (L)
Jennifer and Samuel Allen present understanding Autism and those with a communication challenge.
Dr. Temple Grandin stands alongside SAPD law enforcement
Jennifer Allen and Samuel Allen presented the impact of the Autistic Brain when encountering drivers displaying the new code. Below lists some of the topics covered to the full house of law enforcement officers:
Dr. Temple Grandin spoke on the importance of allowing the person with Autism the time to respond. “A person with a communication impediment is like a computer that slowly scrolls to catch up. You’ve got to allow them time respond when confronted with an officer of the law.”