Look How Far We’ve Come Together!

Aspergers101 is dedicated to you. I created this resource through a reflection of my own need to gain daily information on raising my son diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. After yearning to know why our son Sam divided so quickly from his kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and then 3rd grade classmates, we learned of a form of Autism called Asperger Syndrome. Once diagnosed, I quickly immersed myself in learning all I could about how my son functioned. What set him off, why the distance and most importantly, how we as a family could help Sam survive without us as we age.

Aspergers101 saved us really. In providing you with the daily information I craved so many years ago, it’s work kept the attention on you, your need all while working on Sam’s success. He became a strong advocate out of his own desire to shine light on a path less traveled. Sam has now taken the lead in workshops, conferences

and training to describe what it ‘feels’ like to have Autism. He is honest about the challenges but positive about the attributes. He has grown into a young man!

I’ve always said, don’t think of Autism as a weight, but a pair of wings in which to soar! – Sam Allen

It’s a success story yet you know as we fight for our children diagnosed with autism and ascend that steep hill at an exhausting pace, there comes a time, a moment, that we should pause our climb to look how far our child has come! This is one of those times.

L to R Charlie Allen, Samuel Allen and Jennifer Allen

 

Our younger son Charlie and I attended the Corporate Philanthropy & Non Profit Awards luncheon from the San Antonio Business Journal recently to support Sam as he was a finalist in the category of Volunteer of the Year for a Non-Profit. After the finalists were acknowledged and the winner, from a nearby table, was announced we relaxed and enjoyed the dessert before us. It was a total shock when, at the end of the luncheon, the “Spirit of Giving” Award was presented. As they began to describe the person of honor…it became apparent it was Sam! As he made his way to the stage a rousing standing ovation took place for a young man who was once told “you can’t….” by a doctor oh so long ago. They say it takes a village to raise a child with Autism…our village consists of God, a dedicated & selfless father like Herb, a supportive and protective brother with the heaping heart and soul that is Charlie, some very special educators and and handful of family and friends who are not afraid to embrace ‘different’ for all it’s glorious beauty.

Last question (to Sam) in the article: What advice do you have for someone who would like to get involved in a nonprofit? 

Just remember you are doing this for the good of the people. Seeing the smiles on their faces will pay off more than the money ever will. Be prepared to be a better person.” – Sam

There is such an instant bond with any family raising a child with special needs. A look of  “I get it, the challenges, loss and the euphoric highs at achievements deemed ordinary by neurotypicals”. In an instant this bond is acknowledged and suddenly you don’t feel so isolated. I want to reach out across the internet divide to thank you for allowing me to connect with you. You have been a huge part of my family’s journey and Sam’s moment of success!

by: Jennifer Allen

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The article was published on November 16th 2017 and written by Tricia Schwennesen, the Associate Editor of the San Antonio Business Journal.  Here is a link to the full story: https://www.bizjournals.com/sanantonio/news/2017/11/16/spirit-of-giving-samuel-allen.html

Concerns About Solitary Sons with Aspergers

Reader Responses by Ken Kellam

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?

-Doug

Perspective

Letting Go of the Grief

Taking Care of the Care-Giver : An Aspergers101 Exclusive Series

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:

Born into Aspergers

Alix Generous

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.

Alix Generous Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 11.10.58 PM
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.

An Assessment of Personal Readiness for College with ASD

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?

Temple Grandin Explains: Choosing the Right Job for People with ASD

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.

employment, jobs

 

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.

Star opens up about son’s Aspergers Syndrome

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.

Disability Scoop: Personally speaking, your son was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome not too long ago. What was that like?

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?

 (Photo: Courtesy of Robert Ascroft/USA Network)

(Photo: Courtesy of Robert Ascroft/USA Network)

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?

9 Types of Adversities and How Aspies Can Grow with Them

Too frequently, Aspies face highly adverse circumstances. On top of the necessary challenges that they must embrace, Aspies face many unnecessary challenges that threaten to offset the balance in their lives. Many of these challenges result from in-home or in-school adversities during childhood.

These harsh experiences sow toxic seeds that later become poisonous. However, every aspie has at least some control of their lifestyle and significant control over how they interpret and develop from such circumstances. Of course, even adults require aid along the way as they walk on the path to prosperity. Here are some examples of difficult early life situations for people with Aspergers, and how to resolve them:

Beware of the Martyr Complex

Taking Care of the Care-Giver : An Aspergers101 Exclusive Series

Taking care of yourself is a must when you are a care-giver or more specifically a guardian of a child with special needs. 

Dr. Ghia Edwards, Psy.D.

“We have to give out of the overflow versus an empty tank. When we give out of our overflow, we are built up enough to give healthy help and joy. When we let our tank go down, it is like a car that begins to knock because the sediment on the bottom of the tank, is ruining the smooth running of the car. In these situations the car doesn’t run well, much like us when we do not have positive healthy, nourishing self care. We can only give out that which we have, we must center on the Spirit, Soul, Mind and Body”. – Dr. Ghia Edwards, Psy.D. 

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 first of a series of four blogs aimed specifically to you. Note: You might especially enjoy the added audio portion inserted into the text below!

“We cannot help anyone if we are not helping ourselves first”, we have all heard this before but what does this actually mean and how do we put it into practice. The Inner Workings of a Healthy Helper. Spirit, Soul, Mind and Body health keep the caregiver from running into the weeds. It’s like they say when you are flying, “In the event of an emergency apply your own mask first, then help others around you”. It’s quite a simple practice, so WHY oh why do we not implement it in our lives, we’ll I have theory.
When we are caregiving we are getting a payoff of some sort. If it’s just knowing that we are doing the correct thing for those we are caring for but with that comes being needed. Being needed is seductive, it is alluring, it feels great to know you are valuable but it can be just a step away from being a martyr. Beware of the martyr complex!  It’s subtle but in my line of work I have seen this over and over again and perhaps even participated in the behavior myself. Yes I am a recovering over doer aka martyr.
Here are some solutions to help us NOT become a martyr.

Aspergers Individuals Can Become Great Leaders, Despite Their Challenges. Part 2: Overcoming Challenges

How to overcome personal challenges

This is Part 2 of a two-part article by Reese Eskridge on the topic of building leadership skills. You can read Part 1 here. Reese compiled the following list of personal challenges that often plague those with Autism or Aspergers. Each piece of common self-doubt listed below is accompanied with Reese’s own personal encouragement and guidance for how to overcome!

Team leader

  • I am not competent enough about role(s)/inexperienced in creating and running events or activities: Be yourself and start with what you know you can do, create something to promote it and to enable others to use it; identify an issue or interesting concept and think about a purpose that will serve the greater good; Take opportunities and think about how you can excel in each role you play.
  • I do not understand what message(s) to convey… Ask yourself many questions and try to answer as many potential questions as possible (i.e. what would they like to know about…? How would they react if…?).
  • I have a problem with perfectionism and fear of failure… If you have challenges, thoroughly examine the challenge and work around it to achieve your purpose as the leader; what are the lessons to learn from each challenge (use keywords).
  • I am too fixated on minor or irrelevant details or do not know most important details; Digresses into restricted interests, rather than piques follower’s interest and serves followers’ best interests… Establish structure in a manner that ensures that you do not miss any important details; then, you can take control of a given situation by speaking with all forms of credibility.
  • I am too shy to speak up when needed; there is too much pressure… Recruit help where and when you need it the most, even if it means developing just yourself, and plan out and organize those resources to maximize their effectiveness; in other words, get those resources to do exactly what you want them to do. Develop passion in what you do or plan to do and the rest will come naturally.
  • I do not feel like I can do this independently… Don’t sweat it! Try to develop abilities to do assortments of tasks that you must accomplish and get guidance as necessary; do not get guidance if you can easily figure out tasks at hand; get help when you absolutely cannot do something yourself; learn team building strategies for this.
  • I am not confident in having a positive influence… Just remember that during an organized event, people are there to listen to you and do what you say, although it is better to give recommendations and to delegate responsibilities fairly, rather than simply take over. Keep it positive every step of the way and devise strategies when the going gets tough for anything. Ask yourself the potential solution to a problem when it arises and keep calm; be a role model by acting like the person you want them to act like.
  • I have poor organizational skills… Do not hesitate to consult with other people and resources that specifically address this. Also ask yourself, how can I best keep track of materials in general. Obtain folders, files, etc. for documents and a calendar or calendar book in which you can write down the dates and times of upcoming events, meetings, etc. Planning is the single best strategy when you or your followers are disorganized or disoriented. Make sure that everybody involved has at least one role and delegate by each person’s strengths and willingness to participate in that role. Ask who wants what and go from there.

by Reese Eskridge