Category Archives: Autism Awareness

Asperger’s/Autism Diagnosis: How Does It Feel?

 My daughter phoned.  Her oldest son had been diagnosed ADD, ADHD, had been on Ritalin, and barely eight years old, had been the subject of repeated bullying and school yard ostracism.  “It’s Asperger’s Syndrome, Mom, and you and I have all the symptoms!”

That was seventeen years ago, but I vividly recall the conversation.

As we discussed the list of traits of people with Asperger’s, relief flooded through me.  At last I knew what it was that was “wrong” with me!

Anger came later, as I processed the information and with it, an understanding of my nature and how the very people who were close to me had taken advantage over the years.

And then grief.  Oh yes, I grieved the loss of the possibility of ever being ‘normal’.  I grieved for the child I had been, for the loneliness and isolation of all those years of trying to join our societal mainstream and just not getting it.

And I felt rage, too.  A deep anger at being shoved aside, at being made an onlooker, a non-participant, when I so poignantly wanted to belong.

And pride.  Pride in my ability to accept, even as a teenager, that the best I could be was ME, with all my faults and failings, my oddities, my strengths and weaknesses.  Yes, Asperger’s made me an easier target for my abuser, but the different way of thinking helped me to end that abuse as well.

And so I felt joy.  The joy and satisfaction of finally belonging somewhere.  Of finally finding that there were others, many others, like me.  Of understanding the close bond between my daughter and I.  Of finally feeling that I was, in my own newly recognized niche, a part of a larger entity.  I was not alone in my weirdness. in my unusual way of perceiving situations, patterns and people.

As an Aspie, I was fine, just as I was.

I still struggle some days.  As one of my friends says, “Margaret will always default to the Aspie truth.”  It’s his way of recognizing our straight forward approach to life.

He also says, “I know your intentions are always good.  That’s a no-brainer.”  So no matter how wrong something turns out, he understands that it was not my intention to create havoc.  This is the most reassuring response to my Asperger’s that I have ever had, and I bask in the glow of it.

Acceptance.  That’s what we all need.  To not only be accepted, but to be celebrated for who we are.

As I note in my book,  Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen,  it is easy to forget the most important thing:  You are perfect, just as you are.

The celebration starts in you.

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Asperger’s Quiz: Autism and Asperger’s.

As you know from my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, nothing was known about Asperger’s when I was born into my parent’s life.  I thought it would be interesting to see what you readers know about Asperger’s and Autism, now that there is a wealth of information out there on the net.  So here’s your quiz:

  1. Asperger’s Syndrome was first described in:  a) 1984     b) 1957    c) 1940.
  2. Asperger’s Disorder first appeared in the APA’s Diagnostic and Statisical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) in what year?  a) 1984    b) 2003  c) 1994.
  3. The doctor who first described the symptoms was  a) Dr. Jonas Salk     b) Dr. Hans Asperger     c) Dr. Sigmund Freud.
  4. What differentiates Asperger’s from autism is currently thought to be:  a) Asperger’s is always accompanied by ADHD but autism isn’t    b) Autism exhibits delayed speech and more severe symptoms     c) Asperger’s kids never have OCD symptoms.
  5. Asperger syndrome kids may excel at memorizing but struggle with:  a) social skills     b) abstract concepts     c) understanding body language  d) all of the above.
  6. Children with Asperger’s often have a fairly large vocabulary and talk a lot on one topic that interest them.  True or False?
  7. Children with Asperger’s may have difficulty showing emotion or empathy.  This lack of facial response to events, conversations and people is often called a) facial paralysis    b) frozen mask     c) flat aspect.
  8. Children not on the Autism spectrum are referred to as: a) unlucky   b) outside the disorder   c) neurotypical.
  9. Facial recognition for children on the autism spectrum a) is difficult due to differences in neural development  b) hinders their ability to make and keep social contacts  c) all of the above.
  10. Can you name three Autism Societies currently operating in your area?

Except for number ten–which will vary depending on where you are, the answers will be posted next week.

Thanks for stopping by!

Margaret Jean.

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Help For Aspies–Can Be Found Where?

Growing up in the 1960’s when nobody knew about Asperger’s syndrome, when it hadn’t even been officially accepted or even described by the AMA, was confusing and frustrating.

In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, I talk about that frustration.

 And if it was bad for me, I hesitate to think how tough it was for my parents to have an Asperger’s Syndrome child in an era when manners and social conformity meant everything.

Thank goodness now there are several organizations whose sole purpose is to guide parents and adult Aspies through the maze of diagnosis, treatment and general support.

Positive affirmation is the guiding principle.

I am impressed to read in the Autism Speaks website (www.autismspeaks.org) that many adult-diagnosed Aspies “make great strides by coupling their new awareness with counseling”.

The Autism Speaks website is a great resource, with it’s many articles and references.  Especially popular is their Asperger Syndrome Tool Kit.

Included in that tool kit is Ellen Notbohm’s Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew.  I wish my parents could have read it.  Maybe your child feels that way, too.

And if you’re an adult with Asperger’s?  Read it anyway.  It can help you let your friends know how to help you.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Seahawks Support Autism Awareness Month By Seahawks Communications

Copied from: Seahawks Communications

RENTON, Wash. – The Seattle Seahawks announced today the arch lights on the roof of CenturyLink Field will be among many iconic monuments around the world being illuminated blue to support the United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.

In addition, the team will donate 10% of sales to “Ben’s Fund” for every regular priced hat and knit cap sold during the month of April at the team’s four retail stores. The retail stores, known as THE PRO SHOP, are located at CenturyLink Field, 401 Pike Street, The Landing in Renton and Alderwood Mall.

Ben’s Fund, launched in 2012 by Seahawks Executive Vice President/General Manager John Schneider and his wife Traci in partnership with Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT), provides grants to families across Washington State to help cover costs associated with medical bills, therapies and numerous other aspects of supporting a child, or children, on the autism spectrum.

“On average, autism costs a family approximately $60,000 a year,” said Seahawks GM John Schneider.  “We created Ben’s Fund to help ease the financial stress that impacts families with a child on the spectrum.”

 Ben’s Fund was established at FEAT in order to provide grants to families for their children on the spectrum and to drive families to FEAT so they will be connected to a larger community to receive ongoing guidance and assistance as they continue their journey with autism.

One in 68 children and one in 42 boys are affected with autism.

“Through Ben’s Fund, we have raised more than $850,000 and distributed more than $400,000 dollars in grants to over 500 families in the state,” said Traci Schneider.  “These grants help pay for a variety of therapies, services and even tablets to help with communication.”

The primary fundraiser for Ben’s Fund is an annual celebrity waiter’s event with participation from Seahawks players and coaches.  Prime Time will be held on April 23 at El Gaucho and is sold-out for the fourth consecutive year.

For more information and how to apply for a grant visitSeahawks.com/BensFund.

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