Choosing Your Child Over the Judgement of Others

Like many times in life, you come upon a fork in the road. One choice leads you down a certain path and the other choice leads you down a very different road. Finding out your child has autism is complex enough, but eventually we all come to the same fork in the road. Do I choose my child or do I choose to please the surrounding neurotypicals, those judgmental people around me?

This sounds simplistic, but parents realize almost immediately after the diagnosis that you are judged, alienated, and sometimes even rejected by your peers and perhaps even family. It hurts because you know your child cannot help the ‘tantrums’ when the baby in the grocery store won’t stop screaming. Or that your child’s complete lack of athletic skills will never match the soccer mom’s expectation of a friendly neighborhood soccer game. So eventually you and your child are excluded.

When these and many, many other similar situations would arise I realized my son would elicit these judgmental looks from people as a certainty because the autism was not going to be going away. So, we chose our child over others’ perceptions of what we should be.

As soon as our family as a unit took that path everything became easier! I no longer worried about others’ lack of knowledge when it comes to sensory issues or brain function. We as a family would have our own fun. Quirky doesn’t bother me anymore, in fact it’s almost cool and definitely a relief.

Together our family is a strong unit accepting and excelling in my son’s unique interests. Our family weekends are no longer with people that make for awkward or unforgiving situations, but we welcome anyone who would like to be with us just as we are! Now, many years later, the same families who alienated us for the differences, have surprisingly praised our strong family unit, ’hiccups’ and all!

By Jennifer Allen

Aspergers and Sensitivity to Color: Interior Designer Focuses on Interiors for Those with Autism

The interior designer who caters to sensory issues

When our youngest son was no more than 6 years old, we would enter a restaurant or someone’s home and he would throw up. He told us it was a picture or something on the wall that made him so ill.

I thought it had to be due to the content of the picture but after years of testing we found out it was the color! Yes, oftentimes those with sensory issues are not just sensitive to sound and noise, but also have a severe sensitivity to loud splashes of color.

The following article discusses an interior designer who takes that sensitivity in mind when decorating. If she can do it, we can too!

-Jennifer Allen

Designer Focuses On Interiors For Those With Autism

With her son Devin’s needs in mind, A.J. Paton-Wildes chose neutral colors for the walls and new flooring in the living room of their Oak Park Heights, Minn., home. As an interior designer, Paton-Wildes incorporates her personal experience with Devin, who has autism, to help create calming spaces for those on the spectrum. (Jeff Wheeler/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)

MINNEAPOLIS — A.J. Paron-Wildes’ home, a walk-out rambler in suburban Oak Park Heights, Minn., is a study in calm — all clean, uncluttered spaces and earthy, neutral hues that echo the autumn leaves framing the view of the St. Croix River. On an autumn afternoon, daughter Eva, 6, is having an after-school snack, while son Devin, 19, sketches intently, seated at the studio desk in his orderly bedroom.

Stimming and Visible Self-Calming Behaviors with Autism

AuTalkz with Nikki J.

Stimming is one of the “stereotypical” autistic behaviors. Many people think of people with autism as folks who constantly flap their hand or rock back and forth. Those behaviors are called “stimming”, which is a motion that interacts with the senses to help calm an autistic person down (self calming) if they feel overwhelmed by the environment.

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Stimming is harmless, and isn’t just hand flapping or rocking. It can manifest in many different ways, but again, is all harmless.

Moving Beyond Black and White Thinking and Learning to Live in the Gray Area: Using Floortime as ABA Tactic

Once a child is becomes more competent in his or her ability to think multi-causally, the next focus of higher level social-emotional thinking is the capacity to understand the gray areas of life. Adolescents and young adults with Aspergers or HFA are especially prone to hitting an emotional rut when speaking in terms of “never” and “always”—hallmark terms associated with “black and white” thinking.

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“He never calls on me during class” or “She always gets to play the game first” are common phrases that parents or peers hear when the speaker’s ability to think and feel in more varied degrees is constricted. Not only is this harder to negotiate socially for the partner, but it’s not a very fun state for the black and white thinker either. Such polarized patterns of thinking can lead to social isolation brought on by the extremity of the speaker’s emotional response.

The Ups and Downs of Parenting ASD Children: Those Kind of Days

Some days I wake up and feel truly blessed. I mean it. When I look back on the early days, I remember being so very overwhelmed. These days, those kind of days, are few and far between. If I could tell my younger self a few golden words of wisdom, I would tell her: “You Got This!”

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At the time, it felt insurmountable. It felt like a bad joke that these littles were placed into my care. Like there were so many other factors that made my life difficult, why would God want to put them into our lives. Well, I guess it was so I could grow. A seed grows better with a little manure.

I remember times when my kids would have meltdowns in the middle of the market.

Reinforcement for Individuals with Aspergers or HFA

Reinforcement in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) focuses on the outcome of the behavior and increasing the likelihood of certain behaviors occurring in the future. There are two types of reinforcement: positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement.

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Positive reinforcement is when a response is followed immediately by the presentation of a stimulus and, as a result, similar responses occur more frequently in the future. In other words, positive reinforcement means when a behavior has an increased likelihood of occurring again if something is given after it occurs.

Autism Intervention: Parent Mediated Approaches

There is a new trend in Autism intervention called: Parent Mediated Approaches.

Carrie Alvarado, Occupational Therapist with the Autism Community Network, explains how this practice may benefit siblings, parent-child connections, and possibly decrease levels of parental stress or depression.

We divided this up into 3 Vlogs:

1) What are Parent Mediated Approaches?

2) Reasoning Behind the Surge of Parent Mediated Approaches 

3) The Research Supporting Parent Mediated Approaches and its benefits

The Autism Community Network is located in San Antonio, Texas with an emphasis on collaboration with autism service providers, early diagnosis, and providing services to underserved young children and their families.

This Medical Vlog series is graciously underwritten by: 

Summer Series: Choices in Education

Asperger Syndrome: From Diagnosis to Independence 

“Choices in Education”

Discover helpful tools that assist with working toward a life of independent living. Discuss your child’s life plan after high school including driving and transportation, choices for higher education, employment and living options. No cost and you can view live-streaming at: http://www.news4sa.com/live/event

Special Guest(s): Julie Coy Manier and Grant Manier authors of “Different is More”

How to Implement Antiseptic Bouncing to Prevent Escalation

We have been exploring the development and implementation of a feelings chart to help students apply coping skills when problems arise. A related strategy that accomplishes the same goal is called “Antiseptic Bouncing”.

Kindergarten teacher helping student with reading skills

The difference is that the adult recognizes that the individual with Asperger’s is beginning to have a problem, and rather than draw any attention to those brewing feelings, the adult decides to intervene more discretely.

A Short Film about Living with Asperger’s from a Filmmaker on the Spectrum

Interview with Stuart Quinn

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?

Stuart Quinn/Filmmaker

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

Interview by Jennifer Allen