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.
My family, from back since when I was a kid, often didn’t have money for presents. Sometimes we would hand-make presents, bake goods or make coupons for favors like “I will make your bed for a week” or “Do your chores.” One Christmas we didn’t even know if we would have electricity…much less a tree. A nearby tree lot donated a tree to us, they even dropped it off at our house, after my little brother went over and gave them a sad-faced orphan look. Many Christmases were just like this.
One Christmas Eve, we sat in the dark and just told old stories about our family origins and more recent memories. Each of us also wrapped up that ‘something special’ that we wanted our loved one to have. To this day, it is still the best Christmas I can remember as a child. Today with my own children, I find it is better to just keep it simple.
Too frequently, Aspies face highly adverse circumstances. On top of the necessary challenges that they must embrace, Aspies face many unnecessary challenges that threaten to offset the balance in their lives. Many of these challenges result from in-home or in-school adversities during childhood.
These harsh experiences sow toxic seeds that later become poisonous. However, every aspie has at least some control of their lifestyle and significant control over how they interpret and develop from such circumstances. Of course, even adults require aid along the way as they walk on the path to prosperity. Here are some examples of difficult early life situations for people with Aspergers, and how to resolve them:
Yesterday was the kind of day that had brought so much emotion. Maybe it had more to do with the series of events leading up to it, but either way, that is where I had arrived. It was time for our night time routine and my son had earned a sleepover with me since he had enough stickers. Now, don’t judge: I am desperately trying out new things to encourage positive behaviors. This is our new method. Negative reinforcement just gets lost, there have been way too many treats given out, and this is what I have left. Anyway, after spending over an hour trying to convince him to clean up all the money from Monopoly that covered my kitchen floor, it was most definitely time for bed.
Every night I do our usual prayer and sayings, but last night was so different. I try to mix them up for a reason, but trust me, this does not ever go unnoticed when I do so. After we went through the whole routine I decided to just lay with him until he fell asleep.
It’s not that I don’t or haven’t had concern that my son has been diagnosed with ASD, it’s that some days it just hits all over again.
Now that you have created a very personalized feelings chart for a person with Asperger’s, it is time to implement the strategy so that it is effective in both preventing the escalation of problem behaviors, and deescalating a situation once it has occurred.
A key feature to this, and almost any other strategy, is to teach and review it when the individual is calm and there is no problem at the moment. These conditions help to ensure that the brain is at its best, most rational thinking, and that the strategy is not associated with a negative or difficult situation.
Eszter Kiss, a Provisionally Licensed Counselor employed by the West Virginia Autism Training Center at Marshall University, recently presented “Adding Color to Cognitive Behavior Therapy,” at the WV Counseling Association. The presentation centered on the use of art as a tool to facilitate communication of thoughts and behavior for individuals with ASD. Specifically, Ms. Kiss uses this technique to support college students diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder.
The autism community has long recognized that many living with ASD can better communicate their inner experience through writing or art. For several reasons, an oral expression of their cognitions or emotions can be extremely difficult for those on the spectrum.
College students diagnosed with ASD often need a process through which to express and receive abstract information. Ms. Kiss’ presentation highlighted one such process.
Interview with Stuart Quinn, a filmmaker with Asperger’s Syndrome. Stuart made a short film about what it is like to have Asperger’s Syndrome from a personal perspective.
AS101: Hello Stuart, thank you for sharing your film short with our Aspergers101 audience. First, tell us a bit about yourself.
Hey I’m Stuart, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when I was 15 years and I am a filmmaker based in the UK.
AS101: How did you come to make your film titled “A. Syndrome” about living with Aspergers?
The film came about during my 2nd year of Drama School which in the first term we had to make a short film. The short had to be something about ourselves. It didn’t have to be directly about ourselves but maybe a theme or something that personally about us. I chose to explore what the world is like from my subjective point of view with Asperger’s.
AS101: Who is the actor and is he also on the Autism Spectrum?
Although lead character is based on me I wanted to keep an open mind when it came to casting and just find the right person. During the casting I needed to find someone who could bring the emotional qualities to the character but also do it without speaking and his eyes tell the story. Mario Pace who is the lead actor brought what I needed to the film and I was thrilled when came in to audition and gave a brilliant performance. Mario isn’t on the spectrum but he brought the emotional core to the character more than anyone else.
AS101: How is your film being distributed and what are you hopes for people who view it?
The film is available to view on YouTube with my YouTube channel for free as I want everyone to have access to view it. I would like the audience to make their own mind up when viewing the film because I have always felt the best stories I have loved always leave it up to the audience how they feel about the story and subject matter. I do hope that maybe it will inspire anyone who wants to make a movie to make one and don’t listen to negative people who say otherwise.
AS101: What would you like to say to those reading who are trying to better understand Asperger Syndrome?
Because the spectrum is so huge it’s very hard to totally understand it. Although information can be found by talking to doctors or information online etc, I think it comes down to understanding the person and who they are. Everyone who is on the spectrum will not act or respond in the same and others have different needs than others etc.
AS101: Lastly, how could someone get in touch with you if they would like more information about you or your film?
You can find me on my twitter account at @SQUINN85 and Youtube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC06CcKLNR2YLvgP8yXVQfkw
Make sure to catch Lisa Rogers’ discussion about Education and Aspergers tomorrow, Tuesday, July 11th at 6:30pm, where a panel of experts will take your questions after her presentation. Come watch Lisa Rogers in person at the San Antonio Central Library location, or if you can’t make it, watch the livestream online at news4sa.com/live/event. For more information visit our Summer Series page.
Work avoidance seems to be an ongoing issue across different settings and grade levels. In a previous blog, we discussed the use of a checklist with a strategic “sandwiching” of a less preferred activity in between two highly preferred activities. This strategy is often very effective in building success on academic activities that the student would prefer to avoid. However, not one thing works for every student, as you have probably discovered for yourself.
So this week, we will explore a similar strategy that is in a different format: a BINGO card!
Rights afforded by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) transfer from parents to their children when those children enter college or turn eighteen years old. As a result, parents are unable to provide the same levels of support and advocacy they provided when their child was in high school. Parents of college students are, generally, unable to: talk to instructors, request information about grades, explain to instructors how their child experiences ASD, or provide information about accommodations that may be helpful to their child living on the spectrum.
While many faculty and staff fear the hovering of the stereotypical “helicopter parent,” college support staff who truly understand how best to serve students with ASD recognize the value that parents bring to a student’s community of support. In general, parents of students with ASD have “been there and done that,” in regard to education; many can provide advice about the most subtle of modifications that, when implemented, may help their child be successful in a college classroom. College support staff would be wise to consider how to effectively integrate parents into the support programs of college students with ASD.