Category Archives: Autism Spectrum

Autism and Asperger’s Resources For Us To Share.

If you’ve read my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen,  and even if you haven’t, you may be aware that information about autism and Asperger’s was non-existent as far as the public was concerned, until the late 1980’s.  Even then it was sporadic.

So how amazing, how practical and helpful to have an internet full of candid, authoritative and informational resources.  I am talking about blogs, web zines, and You Tube videos, like the one above.  Here are just a few:

The Greatest Adventure: This blog is primarily aimed at allistic (non-autistic) parents of autistic children who will most likely have little to no prior experience of autism and who are looking for encouragement, information and support through shared experiences. https://thegreatestadventuresite.wordpress.com

Autism Parenting Magazine:  As a parent of a teen or young adult on the autism spectrum, you have probably had to focus most of your attention on getting all the pieces in place to ensure your student has a successful transition. Whether your son or daughter is going to college, entering the workplace, or learning to live independently, being a special needs parent entails more than many people realize.

  • Expert advice from our team of respected professionals.

  • Solutions for dealing with sensory issues.

  • Advice for handling transitions.

  • Therapies to help develop your child’s potential.

  • The latest news and research that can help your family.

  • Real life stories from parents of children on the spectrum as well as from adults with autism to inspire and bring hope.

My Unexpected Journey: Join me as I navigate Autism, Homeschooling, Depression & Anxiety; all with God’s help.                       http://www.myunexpectedjourney.net/?p=29

Autism in Our Nest  We are an autism family. We are one loving unit, and autism is a part of who we are.

These are just a few of the available resources, but enough to keep you focused for now.  Any feedback?  Please feel free to contact me at:

margaretjean64@gmail.com

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

 

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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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Autism Society BC Workshop in Burnaby–How to Help Your Child Be Successful in School.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TSlti5bioQ%5B/embed

My Book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, talks about a time when kids and parents alike had no idea about Asperger’s and there were no support groups.  Fortunately, that is no longer true today.

]The following is a notice from the Autism Society of BC about an October 16th lower mainland Workshop that will give you ways to help your child get organized at school:

ASBC Burnaby Support Group Meeting – Fri Oct 16th 10-12‏

Do you know what  Executive Function is and how it affects our planning, organizing, attending to the right information at the right time, making decision accordingly, flexibility…?

We are pleased to have Michele Shilvock, Behavior Consultant, to present the following workshop in our October meeting.  All are welcome.

 Our upcoming ASBC Burnaby Support Group meeting details:

Date: October 16, 2015 (Friday)

Time: 10:00 am to 12:00 noon

Place: Studio, Suite #301 – 3701 East Hastings, Burnaby BC (North East corner on Hastings and Boundary)

Directions:  Walk from north side on Hastings from Boundary towards east, past a mail box and a bus stop, look towards the building (Enterprise Centre), walk up a few steps to see a long flight of stairs at your left, walk up the stairs from G/F directly to 3/F (if you see 2/F it’s the wrong staircase).  Suite #301 is at your left.

Topic: Executive Function Skills and how these play out in the school (elementary and high school)

Executive function plays a key role in all students learning and specifically looks to target skills that help one decide on what information to attend to, how to interpret the information and ultimately make decisions based on it.  They allow a learner to organize, plan out, sustain attention and assist with task completion both in their social and academic worlds.  The focus of this presentation is to offer attendees a greater understanding for the different components of executive function and how children on the autism spectrum may be impacted by deficits in one or more areas, both in the elementary and high school settings.  Further more, strategies for how to improve in these areas will be discussed in a general format both for implementation in the home and school settings.

Speaker: Michele Shilvock, Behaviour Consultant, BCBA

Michele is a board certified behaviour analyst who has been working in the field of autism for over 15 years and brings with her a wealth of knowledge and a passion for wanting to work with others. She is very dedicated to the training of individuals in the community through workshops and speaking engagements.  She has and continues to work closely with families and school teams to assist in the facilitation of team oriented working relationships. Michele works closely with children in the home and school settings and has a keen interest in the social, emotional and executive function of individuals on the autism spectrum.  Her focus ranges from working with infants and toddlers, to supporting skill development through the preschool years and into adolescents and teen years.

 Coffee/tea and refreshments will be provided.

Hope you all can make it!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Parent’s Guide

I’ve come across a terrific book for parents of children on the autism spectrum, or kids with Aspergers.  I wish my parents had it when I was growing up!  But as you’ve undoubtedly read in my book Unforgiving, Memoir of An Asperger Teen, in those days no such guide existed.

Today’s parents have a huge advantage in raising children on the spectrum.  There are many resources available now, and one of them is this book whcih combines the expertise of three PhD’s, Ozonoff, Dawson and McPartland, A Parent’s Guide to High Functioning Autism Disorder–How to Meet the Challenge & Help Your Child Thrive is informative to say the very least.

Published in 2013, the book discusses research and developments including significant changes from the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM-4)  and the current diagnostic manual–DSM 5. The authors specifically address how these differences may relate to your child’s diagnosis.

The book is divided into two sections:  Understanding High Functioning Autism Syndrome Disorder (A.S.D.)which includes history and diagnostic and research approaches, and Living With High Functioning A.S.D.

Both sections contain significant information on the syndrome itself as well as its various implications on the life of a child and their family.

While the book is obviously directed at the lay person, I would not say it is light reading.  Wisely, the authors use anecdotes from recent case histories to illustrate the application of much of the information.  These anecdotes along with some more personal notes make the book very readable.

The reference section alone, 15 pages of book titles, CDs and Websites is worth the price of the book.

All in all, its a great resource and I heartily recommend it for reference purposes.  Look for it in the bookstore, or in your local library.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

 

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An Aspie Life: Questions Raised by Temple Grandin’s Example.

When I look at Temple Grandin’s life, I feel ashamed of how little I have accomplished.

Mostly all I’ve done is love someone and raise three children with a whole lot of cooking, washing, ironing and housecleaning in between.  I went to university late, earned a degree.  Wrote some books.  Started a Quilter’s guild.  It seems a minimal contribution at best.  But then I look at my three children and suddenly my life seems to have some significance.

Not that I take any credit for how wonderfully they turned out.  I know I was an inadequate parent.  I didn’t know about Asperger’s least of all that I had it, and so did my daughter and possibly my son.  Maybe we all did.  One daughter and two grandchildren diagnosed.  I am so proud of who they are today.  Fine people.  They have become my friends as well as my children.  We mentored each other along the way.  I was very young when I had them, you see, just eighteen when I had my first and when she was three, the youngest was born.  I was fertile if nothing else.

And because of my autism, my Asperger’s, I was socially very immature.  So we grew up together.  I helped them where I could.  And when they saw me stuck they’d step in and give me a nudge in the right direction.  I wasn’t mature for most of my first two marriages.  But in the third one I think I finally mastered at least some of the art of maturity.  Not that I’m anywhere near finished yet.

My children are independent, organized, kind, and intelligent.  I don’t know what more I could ask of them.

But of myself I have to ask this: what have I done to better the world I live in?

Offhand?  I don’t know the answer.  And that seems a sad thing.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Aspies: Two Generations Can Have an Explosive Impact.

In a Psychology Today April 2013 article titled Father and Son, Aspies Alike author John Elder Robison describes the pitfalls of two generations under one roof having Aspergers.

His son, Jack, was fascinated by ‘energetic reactions’ in chemistry.  This meant that he liked building experimental things that depended on explosive reactions. Things like rockets. Other chemical formulations that he set to explode in the field behind their house.

John Robison knew that his son Jack was uploading instructional videos of his experiments to You Tube.  But it never occurred to him, as it might to some non-Aspie parents, that this might attract some undue attention.

In Jack’s case, it was the FBI FTA branch.

Jack was not charged with any offence and his brush with the law proved innocent enough.

But maybe it’s better when you’re seeking an outside opinion?  To ask someone who isn’t an Aspie.

John Robison’s books include Raising Cubby,  Be Different and Look Me In the Eye.  His son, Jack, along with Jack’s friends Alex Plank, founder of You Tube’s Wrong Planet, have created a series of videos about Autism issues.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Grandin: Understanding Individual Brain Differences Can Help Control Behaviours

You really get Temple Grandin’s enthusiasm when she talks about brain differences.  Just knowing how your brain is unusual can help people with autism better understand and control their behaviours and emotions, Grandin says in her latest book, The Autistic Brain.

She gives the example of her own brain.  For instance, the amygdala is the part of the brain that processes emotions like fear.  Just so happens, Grandin’s amygdala is enlarged.  Since this is the part of the brain that signals the fear emotion, Grandin credits this brain anomaly with her hyper anxiety.

Because she now knows that her brain construction is probably responsible for her high levels of anxiety, she finds that anxiety easier to deal with.

Grandin gives the example of students talking  under her bedroom window at night.  This creates anxiety for her regardless of whether they are talking softly or loudly.

Knowing that this state of anxiety is not caused by any real threat, she can reassure herself that the problem is not outside;  the problem lies within her brain.

She can then deal with the fact that threat is not real.  What is real?  How she feels about it.  And that she can deal with.

 

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Which is more limiting? The Autism Label? Or Our Parenting?

Temple Grandin, whom I greatly admire,  refers to parenting as a “major source of therapeutic momentum”.  But she adds, when children are diagnosed on the autism spectrum, parents may not have enough expectations for their children.

 

They bring the child through school to graduation, but in the meantime, they have not given the child the kind of experience that teaches them life skills, leaving the graduate either unemployed or under-employed.

Autistic children need to learn how to work, Grandin asserts.  They need to learn basic coping skills, like how to shop, how to order food in a restaurant.  Showing up on time, being responsible for a task outcome, these are skills that are needed in order to learn how to be on the job.

 

That’s why I personally feel that involving kids on the autism spectrum in some kind of volunteer activity, where they must show up regularly, and perform expected tasks, is invaluable to today’s kids, autistic or not.

 

As a volunteer, they must learn to be courteous (a missing factor in today’s world, Grandin laments) and to be reliable, to learn certain work routines and to cope with organizational structures.

As a volunteer, they will also meet retired people who have similar interests and who can mentor them.

The best part?  The child can choose the type of organization he/she wishes to volunteer with and select from a schedule of available days and times those which would be most suitable for them.

These kinds of situations force spectrum kids to interact with others, and Grandin says to insist on social interaction for your child is not only desirable, but necessary if you want him to succeed.

 

“The skills that people with autism bring to the table should be nurtured, for their benefit and for society’s.”  That’s why Grandin believes parents must help their children get out into the work world, learn coping skills and the basics of social etiquette.

As parents, we either help, or hinder.  While we cannot help how children are viewed by others, our most important work is in how we encourage our children to see themselves.

 

Quotes from: http://www.templegrandin.com/

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Autism Spectrum Children Over-Protected: Temple Grandin

The main thrust of personalities on the autism spectrum is social awkwardness, Temple Grandin, an autistic scientist, best-selling author and public speaker maintains.  Her most recent book, “The Autistic Brain” is the topic of her speech available at  www.chicagohumanities.org.

“It’s like our brains have been programmed with all the social circuitry left out.” Grandin says.  “Who do you think invented the spear?”  She asks.  Certainly not those social types sitting chatting around the fire!

 

But Grandin is concerned that children today are allowed to become recluses in their bedrooms or the basement.  They are over-protected, she asserts, and as a result, they become adults on welfare sitting home playing video games.

 

Because kids on the autism spectrum are socially awkward, Parents may tend to protect them from social situations, allowing the children to avoid all participation. The problem as Grandin sees it is that as parents, we are not pushing our autistic children hard enough.  Listening, I can hear that Grandin is looking back at tasks she was made to do as a child which she dreaded at the time.  Now, however, she sees the value in her mother’s determination.

 

For instance Grandin’s mother forced Temple to play hostess at her cocktail parties, to take on family tasks and to visit relatives independently each year.  Nowadays, these daily routines are missing.  Grandin mourns the loss of paper routes which taught children how to work, and chores which taught children basic skills like cooking and sewing.  Grandin also regrets the loss in some schools woodwork and metalwork classes.  These lessons taught not only basic skills, but also practical problem solving and resourcefulness.

 

The solution?  Autistic children need their boundaries pushed.  Her message is that children need mentors and to have that, they must socialize.  Common interests are the threads that bind autistic people with others socially.  Her suggestion?  Retired people who work with the skill-sets that interest your autistic child are the kind of people who could be good mentors for your child.

 

Her talk is interesting and thought-provoking. For anyone with autism spectrum issues in the family, it is well worth the hour spent listening.  Her video is available at: http://chicagohumanities.org/events/2013/animal/temple-grandin?gclid=CjwKEAjw68ufBRDt0Zmrn4W_8AwSJADcjp1c8n1Utyy3mnJeYdd940H2AEKV1F2Imhly0MZsHZr5SxoChdfw_wcB

A shorter version can be found on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWePrOuSeSY.

 

 

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Ten Benefits of Volunteer Service From An Aspie’s Point of View.

Volunteer Services are a great way to prepare for work in the real world.  Volunteering can be a sort of head start program for Aspies.  Here’s why:

1. It gets you out of the house and interacting with people in a positive way that benefits you and your community.

2. It’s a non-threatening way of finding out what kind of work you like, what kind of hours you can handle, and how long you can stand to be part of a work place interaction.

3. If you don’t like it, you can quit.  You will still give notice so that someone can cover your shifts, but if you find the co-workers snarky, or the clientele is too much for you to handle, well, no harm done.

4. You will learn to schedule your responsibilities.  You have to make a commitment.  You have to show up when you say you will.  You have to be good at what you say you are good at.  You have to know that you can get there  (public transit, walking or bicycling) on your own.

5. You will learn to be reliable and punctual.  You will get good references if you do,.

6. You will learn to work with other people of varying ages, professions and education levels.  You will become part of a team.  You will learn how to interact with them in a non-abrasive way.

7. You will learn to understand heirarchy–how people rank in an organization, and how they fit together.

8. You will learn to follow orders–to listen carefully, to ask questions if you don’t understand or are not sure of what is being asked of you, and to find out what special tools or equipment is to be used in the carrying out of these orders.

9.  You will develop different skills, to varying degrees of competence.  These skills do count on a resume.

10.  You will experience limited rejection–most organizations are more than happy to greet new volunteers.

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