We Need Your Help to Fund Our Statewide Driving with Autism Initiative

conference img 3Want to be a part of something big? Aspergers101 has come so far with our Driving with Autism initiative. Now we need to get the word out about the opportunities available for Texas drivers with Autism, and we need your help.

We’re raising funds for the awareness of the new Texas “Driving with Autism” initiative! This program informs and trains law enforcement on best practices for handling people with a Communication Impediment such as Autism, Aspergers, brain injury, Parkinson, deafness and in some cases, Down Syndrome.

Your contribution will help us place these informative brochures and posters into every high school, library, and Autism organization across the state. 100% of the funds raised will go toward printing and mailing costs. We have come so far but we are on our own in funding these crucial resources.

If you believe in what we do and would like to help Aspergers101 in our groundbreaking Driving with Autism initiative, please consider donating today.

To make a contribution go to our Facebook fundraiser:

https://www.facebook.com/donate/10207220018280772/

or our donation page:

Donate

A note from our founder and president, Jennifer Allen:

My son, Sam, has a form of High Functioning Autism called Aspergers Syndrome. We embarked on a program to help those with Autism and other communication impediments drive without fear from a law enforcement encounter. The Texas DPS responded by stepping up and providing “Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer” directly on your driver license or Texas ID.

In addition, we have teamed up to provide new Texas Trooper Recruits training when encountering those with Autism. It’s working! We are now in production for video reenactments showing what “Autism” may look like in a pull over situation. These will be made available to law enforcement state-wide!

Now we have brochures and posters outlining how to get the new driver license restriction code, as well as informative tips from Autistic expert, Dr. Temple Grandin. These will be distributed to High Schools and education centers (free) statewide.

We need help in raising funds for video production for Texas Trooper training, as well as printing and distribution of the posters and brochures statewide. For these costs we are on our own. For more information on the “Driving with Autism” program, including a full video of our announcement from the Texas State Capitol Press Room please go to: https://aspergers101.com/media/

Thank you!

Initiatives to Help Texas Drivers with Communication Challenges

April Press Release

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FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION PRESS RELEASE
April 25, 2016 Media and Communications Office

Initiatives to Help Texas Drivers with Communication Challenges

AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), along with the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities and Aspergers101, today announced initiatives designed to assist Texans who have communication impairments. In an effort to facilitate effective communication, DPS first reminded Texans of the communication impediment option that drivers may select to be reflected on their driver licenses/ID cards.

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(L to R) Mr. Joe Peters/Asst Director Texas DPS Driver License Division, Major Jason Hester/Texas DPS Education, Training Division, Jennifer Allen/CEO Aspergers101, Samuel Allen/Aspergers101 and speaking, Mr. Ron Lucey/Executive Director Texas Governors Committee on People with Disabilities.

DPS also announced that it has recently coordinated with Aspergers101 to allow them to provide training and education to DPS officers about autism spectrum disorders, other disabilities and potential communications challenges associated with those disorders. In addition, the department announced that it is working with Aspergers101 to develop a Driving With Autism camp that will help increase driver confidence and practical skills.

“At DPS, our mission is to serve and protect the people of Texas,” said DPS Assistant Director for the Driver License Division Joe Peters. “This optional notice on the driver license and ID card puts important information in the hands of our law enforcement officers, which will help them better serve and protect individuals with a communication impediment.”

Suspect Aspergers?

So did we, and this checklist helped

Our son has Aspergers Syndrome. However, getting the diagnosis didn’t come easy and the path to that diagnosis was rocky to say the least. That was over 10 years ago and still the following checklist we received from our school district is the best heads-up to having Aspergers Syndrome that I’ve seen to date. It cuts to the chase.

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The following is only meant as a ‘checklist’. Remember, this is not an official document, and is only meant to act as a flag for a strong suspicion of Aspergers Syndrome, a doctor or trained therapist would need to make the official diagnosis.

However if you are looking for a guideline of sorts, it doesn’t get much better or black and white than the form below. It was spot on for us describing our son Sam. We’ve also put it in a downloadable format at the bottom. May it lead you towards illumination!                  -Jennifer Allen/Aspergers101

A Beautiful Mind

IMG_6909In 2001 Film Director Ron Howard released “A Beautiful Mind” to the public, and I was one of the first to attend. After all, actor Russell Crowe portrayed the great Nobel Peace Prize winner John Nash, and I knew I was in for a great film.

By the time the second scene rolled out I was painfully frozen as the character (portrayed to perfection) John Nash was so strikingly similar to my son Sam, in both action and peer reaction.

The tears began to flow. 

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

Volunteer of the Year Award

VOYA Health and Wellness

Award

Our dedicated and passionate founder and CEO, Jennifer Allen, was awarded the Health and Wellness Volunteer of the Year Award at the San Antonio United Way VOYA Awards. Her efforts, drive, and unendingly giving heart have made amazing progresses for our city and the Aspergers community at large, and we are so thankful to be on this journey with her.

Jennifer accepted this incredible honor at the VOYA Awards ceremony on May 17th, 2016.

Congratulations Jennifer!

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Alone Time for Teens with Aspergers is Crucial: Allow Them Their Space

Breathing room or ‘alone time’ is good for anyone, but for someone on the spectrum it is crucial. When Sam was very young I found myself, as his mother, wanting to arrange play dates with other children who were not exactly knocking on our door for playtime. My reasoning was he must be lonely, so I did everything in my power to elicit playmates. Offering the best snacks, coolest toys, or excursions to area attractions, but it didn’t take long before no one came around.

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My son was alone.

What I’ve come to realize is that this is alright with Sam. He really prefers time alone verses a party. Really. It was me who was projecting my ideas of companionship on him, a neuro-typical brain trying to outguess his autistic brain.

Looking back at the struggles and finding peace with the successes

Forward: Many years after childbirth the memory of the pain subsides and the first embrace of your child remains strong. You don’t forget the pain…but the thrill of your child’s arrival occupies the majority of your feelings.

The same has occurred with the maturing of my autistic son Sam. I found this brief blog (below) that I had written when he was still in early grade school. The feelings were still fresh and I thought I would re-post as many will relate to the raw feelings that have seemed to fade and the years roll on.

A doctor once told me, “With aspergers and high functioning autism, it gets easier for them, socially, as they age.” I have found this to be true!

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The story of Sam cannot be told with just a list of positive aspects. It is their lifetime of physical and mental struggle that you work to overcome for your child. Such is the daily journey of my son…one that my husband, youngest son and I take with him daily as he lives with a form of autism titled Aspergers.

College and Aspergers Syndrome

Top of the Spectrum News: College and Aspergers Syndrome

Guest(s): Dr. Marc Ellison/Executive Director of the West Virginia Autism Training Center 

Dr. Marc Ellison and his staff have created a template most colleges dream about…a successful program whereas a person diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism have a support team living in the dorm with them ensuring success. In this first, in a three-part series with Dr. Ellison, Jennifer and her Asperger diagnosed son Sam discuss how you can ensure college success if you are on the spectrum.

 Note: Dr. Marc Ellison blogs weekly for Aspergers101 and you can read his content in our Education-College blog tab at the top of our website. Dr. Ellison is a Professor and recently named Executive Director of the West Virginia Autism Training Center at Marshall University.

Why Feel Blame?

In our home it’s a gift to have Aspergers. That’s what we believe and that’s what our son believes to his core. While researchers and scientists continue their quest to discover the source of Autism, I know I love my son exactly for who and what he is.

Jennifer

His uniqueness and contributions to the world seem advanced, and his intense interests and thought processes are from a different mind, literally. What a gift! This, of course, is not without its challenges but I’ve always felt privileged to raise a son on the spectrum. Because of this, I believe that a mother feeling ‘blame’ should never come into the equation.