Functioning Socially and Living Independently with Aspergers

Autistically Speaking with Terrilee Tatum

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.

Terrilee Tatum

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.

Beginning School: My Sensory Overloads

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.

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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

Employment Resources for College Students with Disabilities

ASTEP - Asperger Syndrome Training & Employment Partnership

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.

AuTalkz: Mainstream

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.

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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.

Adults with Aspergers and Social Techniques: Learning Personal Space

Q&A with Ken Kellam

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?

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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.

How to Have a Successful Interview with Aspergers: Tips for Asking Questions

ASTEP - Asperger Syndrome Training and Employment Partnership

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.

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Asperger Syndrome Training and Employment Partnership provides a very good checklist to review before you go through the interview process.

Ready to Graduate? Tips for Asperger’s Students and Those Supporting Them

Hillary Adams and Jackie Clark presented “Bridging the Gap: Supporting Students with ASD as they Transition from College to the Workforce” at the 2014 Autism Society conference held in Indianapolis, Indiana. Representing the West Virginia Autism Training Center, Adams and Clark provided several tips and considerations for those who are about to graduate and those who support them.

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Tips included:

Suicide Prevention for Those with Aspergers: Understanding Common Triggers

As dramatic as it may sound to some, the challenges aspies face can lead them to have countless reasons to give up on themselves and their lives. This can often lead to thoughts of suicide and attempts, too many of which are successful. Bullying, grave misunderstandings, absent and abusive relationships of any kind, long-term unemployment, and mental illness are all common reasons why suicide occurs among aspies.

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Aspies often tend to keep quiet about their troubles, typically under the belief that no one will truly understand what they experience; not only in a given environment, but also in their mind. Therefore, even though an aspie appears happy and productive in their life, they can still anonymously harbor difficult thoughts and emotions; sometimes until it is too late.

25 Key Lessons about Companionship that Every Aspie Should Learn

Cultivating healthy long relationships can be difficult for everyone, whether they be romantic or platonic. This important life skill becomes a special challenge for those with Asperger’s who can often have trouble making and keeping connections. However, there are ways in which the Aspie can learn to actively create beneficial companionship.

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All of these habits do not come naturally to everyone and should be learned in order to create the best relationships.

Read Reese Eskridge’s 25 key lessons about companionship:

Aspergers and Non-Verbal Cues: Making Relationships

People on the spectrum struggle to understand the meaning of non-verbal social cues. Unfortunately, this can be very hazardous when it comes to inter-personal relationships, especially those of a romantic nature.

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I used to think I had a chance at a relationship with someone as long as they didn’t flat-out reject me. What I failed to understand was the non-verbal cues, i.e. not returning phone calls, not being receptive to conversation. But while these things may not come easy to the Aspie, they can certainly be taught.