Aspergers, Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NLD), and Families: A List of Resources for You

Parents of any child with differences struggle with feeling isolated. One of the challenges for families with Aspergers Syndrome (AS) and nonverbal learning disabilities (NLD or NVLD) children is that these children don’t look different. They’re bright and verbal; their quirkiness, sensitivities and apparent oppositionalism aren’t easy to understand.

Kid having a tantrum

As a result, parents often feel blamed for their children’s special challenges. I know one mother who was told bluntly by her brother, “You must be doing something wrong. Give me two weeks with that kid in my house and I’d straighten him out.”

Parents are well aware that rigidity meeting rigidity doesn’t work and only leads to meltdowns.

Aspergers and NLD children require unique parenting skills based on understanding, acceptance, and appropriate interventions. Blaming and punishment don’t make family life any better and don’t encourage positive growth in children.

Ultimate Guide: Understanding High-Functioning Autism & Aspergers Syndrome

 The following is an excerpt taken from the documentary: Coping to Excelling: Solutions for School-age Children Diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism or Aspergers SyndromeMedical reports reveal a profound discovery in the brain of those with High-Functioning Autism. Studies with MRI imaging document an actual physical difference in some areas of the autistic brain verses that of a neuro-typical brain.

Neurological pathways fire differently in Asperger patients than that of a typical brain function. It has become clear that individuals who are diagnosed as High-Functioning Autistic or Aspergers receive their gifts and struggles from a physical medical basis not behavioral, as you may have been pressured to believe. Once we understand exactly how the challenges occur, we can begin to lead our loved ones with Aspergers on the path from coping to excelling.

We interviewed experts in the field of Autism to offer you a quick read on understanding High-Functioning Autism and Aspergers Syndrome.

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.

THE FACTS:

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.

Upcoming Event! Jennifer Allen to Speak at ACU Summit

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

Jennifer Allen, 9:30-10:15 AM

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.

THE FACTS:

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 download 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.

disABILITYsa

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
abilitystrongparade@disabilitysa.org
(210) 704-7262

During a Meltdown

A meltdown is scary and lonely. A change in routine can be enough to tip the scales in sensory input and cause what is titled a “meltdown” where a person with autism or asperger syndrome temporarily loses control due to emotional responses to environmental factors. They aren’t usually caused by one specific thing.

Triggers build up until the person becomes so overwhelmed that they can’t take in any more information. In previous blogs, we have addressed the complex topic of meltdowns. While the main message is to have a plan to PREVENT a meltdown, we must also be prepared if a meltdown does occur.

Portrait of unhappy screaming teen girl

I will start by outlining what NOT to do. I think this is best said coming from someone that has lived through a meltdown with neurological implications.  The following is an excerpt from a message from Mr. John Scott.

Meltdowns: What Not to Do

My meltdowns can be very frightening and confusing for those around me. I work very hard to appear as capable and composed as possible throughout each day, so when I finally lose it, people are shocked to see me act so “autistic.” I cry, scream, break things, flap my hands, and pound my fists against my head. I haven’t found the perfect remedy for my meltdowns, but I do know what makes them far worse… 

If I am having a meltdown… 
– DO NOT become angry with me or raise your voice. 

Autistic meltdowns may be frightening to observers, but at their most intense, they are nothing less than pure psychological torture for the person experiencing them. I feel as if I am caught in a war zone, terrified for my very life. My senses are on fire and I have very little control over myself. I may feel threatened by intense emotional displays. This is very dangerous. 

– DO NOT attempt to restrain me. 
I understand that my tantrums are scary, as I’m well over six feet tall, but you must remember that I am far more frightened than you are. I would never intentionally hurt anyone, but if you approach me in a hostile manner, or attempt to use any force without my permission, I may lose the last bit of self-control I have. 

– DO NOT ask me what is wrong. 
Trust me, when I’m banging my head into the wall I do not want to discuss my emotional triggers. 

– Most importantly, DO NOT tell me to “snap out of it.” 
Trust me, I would if I could. Don’t patronize or belittle me by acting as if I could control myself if I only tried harder. This is a good way to make the situation ten times worse.
You may know me from my column here on WrongPlanet. I’m also writing a book for AAPC. Visit my Facebook page for links to articles I’ve written for Autism Speaks and other websites.

CLICK HERE  for the entire posting.

I would like to add one more . . . this is not the time to say “Use your words.”  As the brain escalates in a meltdown, the ability to be rational and articulate diminishes.

So now for what TO DO?

  • During a meltdown a child most needs the opportunity to relax. Therefore, you should respond patiently and compassionately as you support this process. Offer choices of relaxing activities, perhaps through the use of a choice board. If the person is not able to make a choice, then simply present a pre-determined calming activity. Often, this might be an activity that incorporates a strong interest [e.g. video of SpongeBob or favorite song/music].
  • In some cases, it might be best to offer a way out of the situation through escaping the current stimulation of the environment. Again, a pre-determined location might be another room or other safe place [e.g. chill zone, motor lab, etc.].  However, it might be difficult for the individual to transition to another location if the meltdown is at its peak.
  • If there are others in close proximity, then it should be part of the plan to move them to a safe place.
  • Most importantly, do everything possible to keep the individual safe from him or herself. If they engage in head banging, protect their head by placing a pillow or bean bag between them and the floor or wall.

As you can see, there is little to really do during a meltdown. Again, all efforts should be made to PREVENT a meltdown.

by Lisa Rogers

24 Surprising Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

A woman with her hand on her head, grimacing. Text reads: 24 surprising physical symptoms of anxiety

24 Surprising Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

To learn some of the ways anxiety not only affects your mind — but your body — we asked people in our mental health community to describe what physical symptoms of anxiety they deal with, and what they feel like.

Here’s what they shared with us:

1. “When I get into high anxiety, sometimes out of nowhere, I get GI [gastrointestinal] symptoms. Constantly going to the bathroom. I have cramps and abdominal pain. It’s tough because there is nothing I can do but just try to wait it out.” — Michele P.

2. “Does anyone else find themselves antsy after a big panic attack where you can barely sit still and then for the next couple days, you’re completely mentally/physically exhausted? I feel like everything is just too much and I can’t move.” — Kristen G.

4. “In the aftermath of a panic attack, I often feel bone-chillingly cold. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, and no jacket or blanket helps. I just have to ride it out until it goes away.” — Monica M.

Trash Those Tricky Triggers

Triggers.  Buttons.  Those people.  Those situations.

You know — those things you react to in the blink of an eye. You’ve witnessed the crazy. Come on, you’ve done the crazy. Why all the crazy? Can’t everyone just stop, please?!

You know better, yet find yourself doing the opposite of what you KNOW.

What if the whole idea of buttons to be pushed and triggers to be set off is only a reality because there is something inside you to be pushed and set off?

Trashing those Tricky Triggers by: Sharon Neill

What if you were able to get to the root of what’s really bothering you? Just now several annoying people and situations popped into your mind. There’s no way to NOT be triggered by them. It’s maddening and I believe you. The problem is, it’s only a half truth — it’s not the full complete picture.

What if those people –  those situations – are actually opportunities for you? Dare it even be a gift? Ok, stop rolling your eyes and yelling…just hang in there for a minute.

What if the problem is a “seeing issue?” Meaning, you just haven’t been able to see another way to engage with them. And right there, signals another issue — you already super know the social realm is a legit challenge for you, right?

I mean, you’ve been involved in many a program, curriculum, group, and on going conversation all aimed at helping you bridge this gap. While these interventions certainly meant well and were full of good stuff, they most likely also missed something.

All people have social difficulty. On some level – with some people – with some situations. It’s part of our humanity. So it makes sense that the people charged with teaching you how to navigate your difficulty had difficulties, too. Guiding someone through a difficult course requires a specific skill. It’s actually so simple that it typically gets missed. What is this skill, you ask?

Curiosity

Curiosity is absolutely pivotal because it opens up a whole new way of looking at something. In this case, your social challenges. As in, cultivating curiosity on all the levels, in all the ways, in all the things.

What if you could learn a new way of engaging? What if there was a helpful strategy to eradicate the trigger.

I’m here to tell you, curiosity is that strategy. Yes – even if you have Aspergers.

Here’s what some curiosity can look like in action…

Pause. Take a step back. Ask yourself what are you actually feeling? Where else have you felt this feeling? What’s really going on?

And if your answers are all about them – she’s just ridiculous and he disrespected me – then it’s time to dig deeper about yourself.

  • What about her ridiculousness bothers you the most? Why?
  • What about his disrespect got under your skin the most? Why?
  • Where else in life have you felt bothered like this?

These are clues to what triggers you and why. You may be able to rattle off all the clues: the what, when, where, why and how this came about for you. You may have some clues but it gets fuzzy fast. Or you may have no clue. Regardless of where you are with your clues, it looks like you’re not getting beyond them.

The triggers still have a hold.

When someone steps on them, the ugly happens. And later you have feelings about it.  You rattle off quick contradictions – you didn’t have a choice, you’re over it, they deserved it, you should apologize and make it right, you’re done, you think about making a pact you’ll never let it get to you like this again and yet, somehow it keeps replaying itself again and again in your mind, just swirling around.

MEDIA LINK:

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)

BONNIE ARBITTIER / RIVARD REPORT

San Antonio Family’s Autism Education Efforts Lead to New State Law

by: Roseanna Garza/Rivard Report
August 29th 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)

BONNIE ARBITTIER / RIVARD REPORT