Minds are Opening and the Sun Shines Brighter in 2018

by: Raeme Bosquez-Greer

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.

Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism: Taste and the Picky Eater

Many parents experience the “picky eater” from time to time. As with most differences on the autism spectrum, the difference in describing the picky eater with autism can be found in the intensity or degree.  Because of this relative understanding, one might be critical of the parent with a child with autism and tell them they just need to make their child eat food that is more nutritionally sound. But the “picky eater” is really just someone with sensory processing issues in regards to taste.

taste, picky eater, Sensory Processing Disorder, Aspergers

I was in a meeting where the educators and the parents were discussing the narrow food choices of the daughter as being a nutritional and even behavioral concern. At one point, one of the educators told the parents that she, herself, had a picky eater, and that she just had to lay down the rules and “force” the issue. The teacher proceeded to tell the parents that they should do the same thing. The mother became upset very quickly and in a raised voice told the educator, “Don’t you think I’ve tried everything to make her eat healthy?! I’ve had food spit out at me more times than I can count, and I’ve had the kitchen torn apart after a food-related meltdown . . . I’ve done it ALL!!!” 

I am trying to make the point that we are talking about a matter that goes beyond “picky eating”.

How to Use Visual Supports for Social Skills Training

Many school students carrying the diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome exhibit challenges in the area of social interactions and social skills. These social difficulties are worrisome for parents and family members who look for supports to address these challenges. Struggles in the school setting often center on their child’s inability to “fit in” with other students or an inability to grasp social expectations from their teachers and peers. Additionally, their child’s feelings of high anxiety and stress can make the learning environment challenging for them and the people around.

Depositphotos_44865227_s-2015

Over time, I’ve listened to concerns from parents and teachers regarding a student’s lack of understanding when it comes to social situations in the classroom environment. This often leads to isolation and the need for behavior support.

There is information in the literature that suggests both adult and peer mediated techniques to teach and build social skills in children with autism.

My Mom Answers Your Questions

by: Ethan Hirschberg

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

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Sensory processing disorder is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses.

Some people with sensory processing disorder are over sensitive to things in their environment. Common sounds may be painful or overwhelming. For young children entering school, they may find the fluorescent lighting, ticking of the clock, polyester in their clothing or smells from the cafeteria may prove overwhelming to the point of outbursts. Trying to identify the challenge and then accommodate will allow the ASD child to focus on classroom work rather than the irritant.

Others with sensory processing disorder may:

  • Be uncoordinated
  • Bump into things
  • Be unable to tell where their limbs are in space
  • Be hard to engage in conversation or play

Adrienne Gaither, OTR, C-SIPT with the Autism Community Network in San Antonio Texas, addresses questions on Sensory Processing and how the disorder may apply to your child diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

What is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)?

Watch the rest of this medical vlog series:

Social Tips for People with Aspergers

by Rudy Simone , Psychology Today

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 smoothlyPlease, 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.

8 Pieces of Advice on Parenting Asperger’s From Dr. Tony Attwood

Children and teenagers with Asperger’s Syndrome often struggle with the social skills necessary for success in school and social settings. We interviewed psychologist and acclaimed expert on Asperger’s syndrome, Dr. Tony Attwood, for our documentary on Asperger’s.

Dr. Attwood offers proven tips and advice to help bolster the social skills as we approach back-to-school.

Steps that parents may take to help their kids with Asperger’s include the following:

For College Students with Aspergers: The Importance of Follow-Up With Your Professors

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.

Follow Up Professors in College

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.

View Entire Summer Series: From Diagnosis to Independence

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:

  1. 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

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#2 Social Development (June 13th 2017)

Download the pdf Powerpoint Presentation on “Social Development” here: Social Development

Resources: App’s, ibooks and videos on non-verbal communications Momentum Research , Social Quest, Model Me Going Places, The Social Navigator are all at a cost but seem to rate well.

Volunteering during the Summer – Why this is important!

by: Raeme Bosquez-Greer

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.

Lessons learned from kids with diverse abilities

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.

 

By: Raeme Bosquez-Greer

Program Coordinator/Job Adventures