Autism is real and like many others with the diagnosis, my son, Alex Hale, is succeeding in life on the Spectrum. His two songs “Into the Light” and “Walk a Mile” share his thoughts and emotions on the journey of an Autistic Individual, and assert that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It has been a long journey since his official diagnosis at the age of 6 years old.
There were signs of awkward behaviors, however his pediatrician initially suggested that we didn’t look for “trouble”. Once diagnosed we were in a state of awe rather than shock. We had assumed he would be diagnosed with ADHD or something of that nature. Immediately Alex’s dad and I started asking questions, reading up on Autism/Aspergers and looking for answers and methods to keep Alex mainstream.
Alex is high – functioning and as he says in his advocacy speaking engagements, you may not guess by looking at him, or meeting him initially, but spend a little bit of time with him and you will see that his social skills are a little different.
Researchers investigated possible predictors of first year success for college students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.
Eleven freshmen students enrolled at two universities. Each student received specialized supports for ASD at their respective colleges and participated in periodic assessments of social, emotional, and academic functioning. Investigators examined factors related to academic achievement, levels of anxiety and depression, life satisfaction, college adjustment, and social functioning.
He was born in Austria in 1906. As a child, making friends didn’t come easily and he was considered lonely and remote, but he was talented in language. In particular he had an interest in poetry.
He was known to quote his favorite Austrian poet to classmates—not that they were interested. He also quoted himself, and sometimes referred to himself in the third-person. He displayed characteristics of the condition that would one day bear his name.
I had a lot of problems growing up because I felt socially awkward and did not fit in with my peers. My challenges mainly were with social issues. Getting along with people, reading facial expressions, and body language all seemed completely foreign to me.
I was finally diagnosed with High Functioning Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome when I was 17 years old. Most people in Texas didn’t know what Asperger’s Syndrome was at that time. I’ll be 32 in December so over ½ my life I didn’t even know I had Asperger’s. Since then I have learned how to function in a world with people.
When I started school, I noticed that I did not like certain things around me. For example, the fire alarm for the monthly fire drills unnerved me to no end. The feeling that it could happen at anytime almost drove me insane.
Some other problems I would have would be certain smells in the cafeteria would make me ill or the loud noises in the hallways would make me cover my ears because it was too loud. This is called a sensory overload, where certain everyday aspects of life can be uncomfortable for a child with Aspergers. Now, the main question is “What can I do for my child?”.
Well, my mother got involved with the school. She talked to the school staff about my Aspergers and how some sounds or smells can cause a sensory overload. By doing this, they were able to accommodate me i.e. taking me out before the fire alarm went off.
The first thing you can do is do what my mother did:
Talk to the school staff that knows your child and tell them about Aspergers and sensory. Don’t be afraid to tell them the details! Then, see if they can accommodate your child like they did with me.
by Samuel Allen
ASTEP offers an important list of resources for college students with Aspergers, who are looking for employment or internship opportunities. Read through the summaries of what each organization offers, and click on the names listed to go to their websites. You can find the original post on ASTEP here.
Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities is a professional association comprised of more than 600 colleges and universities, and over 500 major national employers. COSD’s mission is to improve the employment rate of college students and recent graduates with disabilities on a national basis, by forming collaborative relationships between campus’ Disabilities Services and Career Services offices, and assisting employers in providing internships, recruiting, and hiring college graduates with disabilities.
Though it can be inspirational to hear that a celebrity has Asperger’s, it tends to be more annoying than anything else. Especially in the cases where someone admits it and was diagnosed long ago, but hasn’t come out and said it until now.
There are a lot of breakthroughs being made in autism research, and psychologists are starting to understand it more and more. I feel it’s become “mainstream”, even. The diagnosis rate is going up, and people are either getting diagnosed as adults or coming out and saying they’ve had it all their lives.
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.
Dr. Temple Grandin once told my son Sam: “when you’re looking for employment, you must show your work“. Indeed! For someone diagnosed with High Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome, you must rely on the merit of your work, because oftentimes challenging social cues can override a large portion of the interviewing process.
Asperger Syndrome Training and Employment Partnership provides a very good checklist to review before you go through the interview process.