Pets and Asperger Syndrome

By: Samuel Allen & Jennifer Allen

Allen Acres August 2014 024If you have a child with Aspergers who interacts well with animals, there’s no need to be surprised. People with Aspergers tend to bond more with animals than they do with people. In fact, many neurotypicals would see Aspies as animal whisperers due to how well they bond with animals.

One time, we visited someone who is a gypsy and she owned some cats and dogs. Seeing as how I like animals, I began petting them and they liked it. When she saw that her animals had immediately taken a liking to me, she was surprised and said it was as if I had a gift where I can bond with animals.

That scenario was a perfect example of how Aspies and animals are like bread and butter. I have a Yorkshire Terrier who I love to be around. I encourage any parent with an Aspie child to get them a pet that they would love to bond with. Whether it’s the classic dog or the trustworthy horse, having pets can prove to be very enjoyable for both the parents and the child.

By: Sam Allen


As a parent to a son with Autism, companionship was what I had desired for Sam especially during those challenging school age years. With no prospect of birthday party invitations or after school gatherings, I worried (turns out far more than I needed to) for Sam’s emotional needs. To this day, Max (pictured above with Sam) offers just the right amount of support.

Not just for those on the Spectrum

Animals will seemingly listen and not judge you based on your social skills or designer apparel labels. You can vent your troubles, remain in total silence for hours or hug them and their tail is still wagging the next day! I can recall, as a little girl, moving to a new town where families had been established as friends for generations. Coming in as a middle school student had its social challenges even for a neurotypical! Compounding the isolation, I developed a near fatal form of pneumonia where I was functioning with only one lung for weeks. It was at this point that I met a stray German Shepherd mutt that changed everything…my newfound confidant, Nellie Jean.

That dog walked me to the bus stop every morning and was there waiting for me upon my return. Our walks in the nearby woods, rides on the tractor and adventures that mirrored much the book Because of Winn-Dixie  afforded a lonely, gangly girl unconditional friendship. Companionship is a fundamental need in all of us. However when diagnosed with Autism, Asperger Syndrome or a social disorder, companionship might be difficult to come by…especially in  the early years.

Consider a pet to fill in those gaps, whether for your school-age child or for yourself as an adult. Adjust your choice of pet to fit your means whether financially (hamster to horse) or geographically (apartment to suburbs) just so there is a pet to care for…and to care right back.

by: Jennifer Allen

Want to be a Friend to Someone with Asperger’s? Be Sure To do These Six Important Things

by Reese Eskridge

Too often, neurotypicals expect a perfect useful relationship from a friend. They like friendships to be easygoing with as much similarity between two people as possible. Therefore, they hold higher expectations for the other side, even though the other side shares that same expectation. Due to the absence of fulfillment, neither person makes connections or sometimes people can become unreasonably selective in the friendship process. The reason for this is that both neurotypicals and aspies often feel like outcasts around certain groups of people.

friendship Aspie

If this happens too frequently, the inclination to make friends declines. However, this shared dilemma can actually help to foster the relationship between an aspie and a neurotypical or an aspie and another aspie, if they are willing to give a chance for that to happen. After all, few things feel more reassuring than being able to take up your worst fears and issues with others, knowing that they will not condemn you for them.

Aspergers Drivers Can Use Their Detail-Oriented Thinking for Challenging Situations

Driving with Autism Series

For the typical driver, it is no problem to carry out the basic modes of driving, such as changing lanes, driving at night, in precipitation, on ice, in fog, off-road, or in heavy traffic. However, the Aspergers driver usually has significant difficulty with any one of these things, if not all of them.

driver

Fortunately, there are strategies to overcome all of these obstacles. An Aspergers driver, like any other driver, must get experience because of the countless possibilities for any given scenario. After all, every situation is unique. Yet, even the inexperienced Aspergers driver can get a mind for it all using simplification in techniques. Among these techniques are:

Handling Social Anxiety for Self-Fulfillment

I’m emailing with Kris Jones, an eloquent writer on Linkedin about his Asperger’s Syndrome. We’re talking about the stressors he experiences that can create extremely self-limiting anxiety. We’re going to use several blogs to talk about different stressors. Kris’s first stressor was his lack of self–fulfillment. One of the causes of this lack of self-fulfillment was Kris’ social anxiety.

Tony Attwood, expert on Asperger’s Syndrome, suggests that around 65% of adolescents with Asperger Syndrome have a secondary mood or affective disorder (such as depression or anxiety); most have anxiety.

anxiety/stress

Kris describes his thoughts and feelings which I’m calling social anxiety like so: “No one likes you. No one wants to know you. You are not interesting. Stay where you feel most comfortable – inside your house and away from others. You are not fit to be out there amongst the human race.” He says that this is representative of how he feels and it is what keeps him from going out and mingling with others his age. Even though he knows these thoughts about himself aren’t true, he can’t get past the anxiety.

Let’s break this down into parts. What causes this social anxiety?

12 Misconceptions about People with Autism

Labels: One Size Does Not Fit All!

I remember how years back, I had a cap with a tag on the underside that claimed, “One size fits all!” At the time, even as a child, this was puzzling. Did it have some kind of elastic property to it that wasn’t immediately obvious? Did it have a strap on one side that could shrink or enlarge the fitting? Or was it something else beyond my understanding? It turned out there was nothing particularly special about it and it most certainly will not fit properly on everyone who tries to put it on. OneSizeAutism refers to a very broad spectrum. There are people within the spectrum who are fully capable of registering and understanding the materials I read and write on a regular basis, there are others far beyond my own level of language and comprehension, and then there are others who barely register their immediate surroundings at all.

There’s no one, singular face of Autism. We are many, and there’s not one, nice, neat little way of summing up what an Autistic person that you meet will actually be like. This is a hard truth for researchers and scientists, no matter what their field of expertise: trends and labels are convenient and easy to read, but they aren’t always truly reliable.

Solitary Sons with Aspergers: Guidance from Coach Dema Stout

Reader Responses Part II

Contributing writer with Aspergers, Ken Kellam, answered questions from some of our readers. Doug and Kelly both had concerns about their adult sons with Aspergers. Now, Dema Stout–Coach and creator of an adult Aspergers Meetup in San Antonio–adds her own insight and guidance.

Click here to read the full reader questions and responses from Ken Kellam.

guidance

Behind the Wheel with Autism: A Personal Perspective

Having lived in several different cities, I can attest that it most certainly is not a regional thing: you’ll run into idiot drivers no matter where you live. It isn’t profound at all; many casual conversations begin with a gripe about traffic on the way to someplace or another, or end up there eventually. Driving is a serious source of stress for many, even under the best circumstances. And for people diagnosed with Autism, they are already functioning under decidedly less than the best of circumstances, and the idea of getting behind the wheel can cause anxiety.

I found that I did not have a great deal of difficulty behind the wheel. Having a nice, large, rarely-traveled stretch of land to practice on, and taking as many opportunities to practice, is the first thing I recommend for those who are diagnosed and want to drive. It certainly helped me. After enough practice, it became second-nature.

 

Contrary to the assumption that driving is the natural enemy of the Autistic because it demands multi-tasking, it really isn’t so difficult as all that. It has a nice and structured set of regulations, and your task is simple: start at one location, and control the vehicle in order to safely reach the next. Anyone who has ever played a game, whether analog or digital, can tell you that while rules and setup are intimidating at first, once you see how it’s done and try it for yourself, it isn’t as hard as all that.

To the Autistic person who wants to learn to drive but feels rather intimidated, just think of it as a video game.

20 Things That a Successful Adult with Aspergers Understands and Incorporates Into Daily Life

Starting from an early age, many Aspergers adults consistently feel like they have little chance of success, productivity, or joy in the real world. Negative early-life experiences that typically fall under the categories of isolation, ignorance, exclusion, or sheltering, in addition to present challenges, collectively form this delusional mental/emotional construct.

Fortunately, Aspergers adults who claim to have it hard have the power to turn the tables of their lives right-side-up and to make incredible progress as adults in both their personal and professional lives. Even though Aspergers adults usually have numerous struggles in adulthood for countless reasons, there are crucial practices they can incorporate into their daily lives to work towards success. The happiest and most successful Aspergers adults significantly understand:

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

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.