Tag Archives: Asperger’s

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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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 Poetics

In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, I include a couple of poems.  Here is one that arose from a Business Networking Meeting I attended every Friday.  It’s just how I felt, being an Aspie on the outside of all the conversation:

Asperger Me.

I do not wish to tip toe around the polite perimeter of social exchange,

To avoid intimacy and understanding.

I do not wish to abstain from participation in the

socially connected sea of humanity;

to be silent when I am eager to speak,

To smile with others without knowing why,

Or listen to the negative impreachments of my peers.

I wish to connect

To find and open the portal to your innermost reality.

To hear you speak in words

as true and distinct as your heartbeat,

To know you for who you truly deeply be.

That’s what I wish, Asperger Me!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Aspies Being Social–At Work and at Home

Social connections seem very complex and can be confusing for us Aspies.  I show this a lot in my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen.  

What we see as the truth in the moment is exactly what we tend to say.  This can lead to regrets later when we have additional information or have had a chance to rethink our position.

And one bad experience can cause us to generalize in a negative way about similar situations in the future.  We tend to withdraw.  We are after all, far more comfortable in our own little world.  Why would we even bother to venture out?

Because, Aspies, our mental, emotional and physical health is greatly improved when we’re positively connected to other human beings.  When we have people, even just one person, that we can call a friend.  When we have a co-worker who is happy to see us arrive at work.

How do we manage that?  How do we cross that vast and terrifying chasm of not knowing how and get to the land of Oh, I get it!?

Fortunately for us, there are many books and videos on the subject.  Here are two that I have recently discovered:

The first is titled The Unwritten Rules of Friendship  and is written by two professionals, Natalie Madorsky Elman and Eileen Kennedy-Moore.  The book contains very straight forward information and how-to’s.  It’s extremely practical and easy to read.

To give you an example of the contents?  There is a section on distinguishing between sincere and insincere compliments.  Very handy for Aspies.

The second book deals with workplace situations, offering all kinds of cut and dried advice.

In her book I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This, Kate White, a former Cosmo editor-in-chief, not only gives examples of difficult office situations but tells explicitly how best to phrase responses.

While this book is written for women in the magazine industry, the advice applies to most workplace situations, to men as well as women.

White covers every aspect of the workplace including how to ace an interview.

Obviously neither of these books was written specifically for Aspies, but they are great aids for us nonetheless.  I found Unwritten Rules of Friendship in a thrift shop but it was published in 2008, so it should still be available at your local library, and I checked and it is on Google books. Or you can download the ebook at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWZvvhRMlmI

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Teen Aspie Activities That (Mostly) Don’t Involve Computers.

Is your child a science buff?  If so you likely don’t have a problem prying them away from computer games. Eighteen year old UBC student Ann Stasia Makosnski (not an Aspie to my knowledge) invented a flashlight that works off body heat and a coffee cup that uses the heat of the drink to charge our cell phone. If your child has ‘invention ideas’ encourage them.

Even if the first 500 ideas are flops, they are bound to succeed sooner or later.  Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times (I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways the light bulb will not work) and still became one of the most famous inventors of the 20th century.

Aspies like different ideas.  Here’s one: carry socks wherever you go.  Winter is very hard on homeless people. They often find themselves in below zero temperatures without socks, sometimes even without shoes.  Recently a spokesman for the Union Gospel Mission reccomended giving a nice warm pair of socks to a homeless person.  This suggests that you see them as a person, and empathize with their predicament.

Carrying new warm sox to give to homeless people could be a great way to change a trip to the grocery store or mall into a giving experience for your child.

Does your child frequently post on You Tube?  Alex Plank, an Aspie, developed a website, “Wrong Planet”  for teens with Asperger’s when he was just a teen.

This led Plank to pursue a career in film. He graduated from George Mason University with a degree in Film and Video Studies.  One of his current projects is Autism Talk TV which can be found at:http://wrongplanet.net/autism-talk-tv/.  Plank is currently a consultant for the TV series, The Bridge.

Does your child enjoy talking with older people?

Looking through our local community newspaper, I see that BC Care Providers Association is encouraging anyone who knows someone in a care facility to visit them.  This seems a reasonable activity for Asperger Teens, as they often communicate and get along better with adults than their peers.

Does your child have a special interest?

Let’s say his special interest lies in trains; it might be a good idea to introduce them to an association of people with similar interests, such as a railway model association.

Introduce the child to the association’s activities at a show or exhibition.  Research and explain how meetings are held, and attend with the child at first to help ease him into introductions and conversations.  If it’s a good fit, the child will then have social interaction with people who enjoy his special interest topic.

There are lots of ideas on creative ways to engage your child.  Not all of them involve the computer.

If you have ideas, I’d like to hear them.  Just email me at margaretjean64@gmail.com.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Autism/Asperger’s Quiz Answers! Yay!!

  1. c) Autism was described by Dr. Hans Asperger in 1944.  Some sources say that a Russian doctor reported similar symptomology in 1926, but Asperger’s work is often recognized as the first definitive work on the subject.  Because he was Austrian and published only in the German language around the time of WWII his work was not immediately recognized.  In 1984 a Brit, Dr. Lorna Wing introduced the term “Asperger’s Syndrome” in a research paper.
  2. d) The syndrome was added to the DSM-IV in 1994.
  3. b) Dr. Hans Asperger.  His birthday, February 18th, has been designated Asperger’s Day in some areas.
  4. b) Today, experts tend to see Asperger’s children as outside the autism spectrum, since the DSM-V states that children with autism exhibit delayed speech and more severe symptoms.  Speech delay is sometimes seen is crucial for achieving access to funding for treatment under the autism spectrum umbrella.
  5. d) All of the above.
  6. True: Children with Asperger’s often have a fairly large vocabulary and talk a lot on one topic that interest them.  In fact, according to Wikipedia’s account of Dr. Asperger’s childhood, it seems he was one of us.  Apparently he loved the work of a particular poet and would often quote reams of poetry to uninterested companions.
  7. c) Flat aspect.  Frozen masks come from Disney Studios.
  8. c) Neurotypical:  This term is said to denote ‘normal’.  I’m okay with that.
  9. d) All of the above.
  10. For me, here in the lower mainland, these are the societies:  BC Autism Society; SOS BC Parent Driven Autism Services;  BC Families with Autism.  The links to these organizations are as follows:
    1. http://www.bcfamilieswithautism.ca/links_resources.html
    2. http://www.sosbc.org/our-programs/autism-services?gclid=CL36gNyS_8gCFchgfgod0BYJ8A
    3. https://www.autismbc.ca/

Hope you enjoyed the Quiz!

Yours truly

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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Autism Spectrum:  The Benefits of a Rich Internal Life

People who are different somehow are often subjected to unpleasant treatment.  Sometimes very harsh treatment.  Social isolation.  Bullying.  Discrimination.  Unfortunately,  people on the autism spectrum can often find themselves in these unpleasant situations.

Many now-famous people have found themselves in very dire situations, suffering treatment or circumstances which might easily have left them forever emotionally scarred if not dead.

One such man, Viktor Frankl, imprisoned in Auschwitz for several years during WWII, was fascinated by his own and others’ ability to survive conditions which should have killed them.

“Sensitive people who were used to a rich intellectual life…” Frankl concluded, would often survive, even if they seemed more fragile emotionally and physically than other men.

In his book, Man’s Search For Meaning, Frankl credits their survival to an interior sphere of intellectual stimulus to which they could retreat.

This brings to mind the biography and now, movie Unbroken.  Cast adrift on a raft for weeks with no food or water, Louis Zamperini and his pilot survived.  Both credited their survival with intellectual discussions and debates which took their minds off their plight.  They were also able to devise ways to catch fish (rarely) and capture drinking water from the occasional rainfall.

Also, the story of Nelson Mandela, (movies, Invictus and Long Walk To Freedom) a man who endured unthinkable punishment in prison under the Apartheid system of South Africa.  He had a dream to live for; to see his people live freely in their own country.

While most Aspies or high-functioning autism spectrum individuals will never live under conditions as dire as these, it is encouraging to know that interior intellectual lives have meaning and value.

It is important to learn to cope socially, to hone our social skills to the point where we can move freely in our societies with confidence.  However, nurturing that rich interior life can help move us through periods of suffering.

Frankl says also that people who had an unfinished work that only they could complete, people who had a dream to fulfil, and people who had someone else (a loved one) to live for, also found reason to endure.

Frankl notes that unavoidable suffering gives a person a unique opportunity to express his finer self in how he/she manages or bears his suffering.

Please note that Frankl is speaking of unavoidable suffering.  To suffer when it is avoidable, Frankl maintains, is mere masochism.

Hope this helps!

Yours truly,

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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