Tag Archives: autism spectrum resources

Our Friends at Autism BC and SFU.

To be on the spectrum or to be the parent of someone on the spectrum is to open a window on a world view that few others experience.

I think we see things differently, perhaps more intimately than others. I don’t know, because being autistic precludes me from seeing the world through any other lens. I know I delight in my surroundings, and in the simple pleasures of my home. However, it has been a long journey that has led me to this place of serenity and peace.

To my parents, I was an unpredictable, alien-type being who landed in the midst of a family of people who thought of themselves as ‘normal’, a label which could not under any circumstance be applied to me.

My parents would have benefited greatly from the resources that are available to parents today. My early life perhaps would have been far less damaging and debilitating.

Fortunately, today, parents of children on the spectrum have a variety of resources. Here is information on just two in my area of BC, Canada.

Autism BC is a charitable foundation formed to assist families and individuals in their journey through Autism.

Founded in 1975, AutismBC serves the entire province of British Columbia, assisting families with programs and webinars dispensing information about many facets of Autism and the how-to’s of getting assistance from both government and private agencies.

Membership includes access to:

  • Referrals for services 
  • Community support groups 
  • Vetted, credible information & resources 
  • Inclusive social clubs 
  • Free ticket giveaways 
  • Autism BC Goes Community Events 
  • Discounts on workshops and training 
  • Regionally-specific Autism BC Newsletters 
  • Connection to the largest autism network in BC 

Best of all, Membership is free!

In a recent posting, Brock, the program manager at Autism BC listed a number of summer programs and resources currently available to members. These include summer arts and math camps for children, and a discussion on hassle-free toilet training for your child. To access these, go to AutismBC.ca

Brock also mentions the SFU yourlearner.com program in which an Artificial Intelligence supported special needs intervention app is being developed.

The program coordinators at SFU are looking for parents to help test the program.

Parents who have had difficulty finding support for their children due to insufficient funding, long wait lists or unavailable service providers may apply. The final date for applications to this program is June 30, with the program starting in July.

The SFU website also has a video guide for parents on how to get the most from ABA or Applied Behavioural Analysis at: https://yourlearner.com/events.

This is only one of their helpful videos on managing life with someone on the spectrum.

The resources are out there. As more people ascribe to these programs, and as an increasing member and support base is developed, the opportunities for additional programs expand.

The more we become familiar with these programs and foundations, giving feedback and support, the more resources and services will become available to us.

Look up your local and international autism spectrum support systems. Then use them. It’s a win-win situation.

Margaret Jean Adam


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:


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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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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What Do Aspies Need From Their Parents? Stephen Shore’s Success Story



In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, I often express the feeling of being disconnected from the rest of my family and my peers.

In the 1960’s, there was no diagnosis for Asperger’s.  My parents couldn’t figure out what was “wrong” with me.  In their eyes, much of my behaviour was inappropriate.  I resoponded differently to social situations and learning environments than my siblings.  This sense of being “wrong” while all too common for people with Asperger’s, does not have to be.

 In the introductory interview, Stephen Shore describes “the most important thing about my parents”, which is that they accepted him for who he was, and yet at the same time realized that he would face a number of challenges in his journey toward a normal life.

Many of us do not have parents who have this understanding.  Some of us have parents who are not educated enough or financially positioned to offer us the kind of interventions and therapies that Stephen Shore enjoyed.  Some parents are just too drained, emotionally and physically to offer us the support we need.

So we must learn to love and accept ourselves.  Understand this–we can make friends, be comfortable with some people, sincerely listen, pleasantly respond.

And parents please understand, whatever else you do, accepting your child for who they are is the first step on the road to your child’s integration into society.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.


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About Autism Syndrome Disorder: Did You Know….

Bev & I blogMy adult daughter, who is diagnosed with Asperger’s, came home one day and told me how surprised she was to find that most people when they enter a room?  Look at the people.

“I always look at the layout of the room,” she explained, “how the seats are laid out, where the doors are, where the teacher is working from, what equipment is in the room, where the windows are.  I never thought to look at the people.”

This is an example of what Dr. Jim Tanaka of UVic says about difference in perception between those with and those without ASD.  It also illustrates Simon Baron-Cohen’s point that kids on the spectrum find systems more fascinating than people.

Other problems of perception happen because of focus.  At SFU, I was an English Lit major.  It took me ten years to get my degree as a mature student.  I can’t believe in all that time, I never realized that SFU has an Autism and Developmental Disorders Lab.  I was totally focused on English classes, which were in different wings than the sciences.

I now know that lab is headed by Dr. Grace Iarocci, and its current focus is the way in which visual perception is affected both negatively and positively by processes of attention.

This year, they’re co-hosting three community events about ASD kids, their families and the quality of life.  The idea is to open a discussion about quality of life issues for ASD  individuals, care givers, professionals and families.  It’s free, open to the public.  Watch their website for scheduling:  http://autismlab.psyc.sfu.ca/events

Dr. Iarocci apparently has influence with the government and bodies determining ASD funding, so please do attend and voice your opinion loud and clear.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Reading List For Parents and Adults Who Live On the Spectrum.

Like Sheldon, I like research.  Thus, books and therapies have been the topic of my latest blogs.  I have not tried any of the therapies myself but feel they are a resource worth looking into.

As for books, here is my personal rating of three recent reads.

1. Quirky Kids by Perri Klass MD and Eileen Costello MD.

Published in November 2003, this is the earliest of the books covered here, so some information may be outdated.  It is divided into three sections as follows:

1.  Noticing and dealing with difference in your child.  2.  Adjusting the home and school environment.  3. Science of Autism, including meds and other drugs.

What sets this book apart for me, is the inclusion of parental anecdotes which illustrate concerns, anxieties and solutions .

My take?  It’s a comforting book for parents of ASD children.

2.  Understanding Autism for Dummies by Stephen Shore and Linda Rastelli.

Truly a professorial approach, this book could be called “Everything you wanted to know about autism but didn’t know who to ask”.  

Because the author himself is a person with autism spectrum disorder, he writes about the syndrome in a very positive way.  Quite refreshing.  

Information wise?  Autism for Dummies is a 10/10.

3.  FAST MINDS: How to Thrive if you have ADHD or think you might.  By Dr Craig Surman and Tim Bilkey.  February 2013 first edition.

Latest in this list of books, I found this a most practical guide.  Take the logic behind my weird schedule for instance.  The authors explain how my habits more than my brain, keep me up late at night until the wee hours of the morning.

Thus I’m often exhausted which can lead to poor motivation to do anything.  Doing nothing when I have lots to do makes me feel out of control.  That can be depressing.

But the doctors also explain how forming new habits can change this pattern, and what new habits need to be developed.  (they also explain the brain science behind developing new habits).

So I figured out I like to write between midnight and 5 a.m. because there are far fewer distractions at that time.

However, this is only productive if I am getting enough sleep at other times of the day.

And thanks to FAST MINDS, I now know to slot sleep with other scheduled tasks.  In other words, I can be organized about being weird!  How great is that?

I really like this book.  It has opened a lot of mental windows for me, helping me to see where a lot of my issues stem from organically.

Therefore?  In terms of being helpful?   I’d give this book a 13 out of 10.

Yours so very truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Connecting Fathers To Their Autism Spectrum Child Through Understanding Sports Play.

Many parents feel disconnected from their Asperger’s/Autism spectrum child.  What do Dad’s often see as the ultimate shared male pasttime?  Why, sports of course.

And that’s where Sluis Academy founder and teacher Bill Sluis enters the scene.  Sluis has developed and refined a proven method of teaching socialization through physical activity.  A method that should help fathers bond with their sons and daughters as they teach them both social and physical skills related to games and team sports.

Sluis has had success using everything from a simple ball toss, to teaching autistic and special needs children baseball, golf and even shotput.

This high school teacher’s approach has been refined over a period of 35 years, and he has seen some amazing results.  My daughter and I attended a presentation by Sluis tonight. As you may know, both my daughter and I, and her son have Asperger’s, and my daughter is also an Special Education Assistant in a high school.  We were astounded at his knowledge of the issues.

In every case, Sluis understood the anxiety associated with sports.  “Developing the skill level wasn’t sufficient,” he explained tonight.  “Initiating into the game was another problem.  Getting into the game and maintaining that.”

Speaking as an Aspie, it is wonderful to hear someone speak not only to the need to develop a child’s physical skills but also to assist him in negotiating the social anxiety associated with trying to integrate oneself into a team sport.

Initiating into the game is a process few Phys Ed teachers even consider putting on their curriculum.  And yet, for children on the Autism spectrum, figuring out how to get invited into the game, and stay welcome throughout, is a huge source of anxiety.  

Even if we have the physical skill set, how do we get what Bill Sluis calls “initiated” into the game, and how do we get people to want us to stay?  We may have a great physical skills level but we need to show that in interaction with others.  And that requires another skill set–also completely foreign to us.

This is where the Sluis method is perfect.  It addresses both these anxiety sets, something few other methods do.

You will hear more about Bill Sluis and the Sluis Academy in future blogs.

The Sluis Academy is new, and it’s website is still under construction.  But you can go to http://www.sluisacademy.com/ and see what help will soon be available.

Bill Sluis is available for presentations to teachers, parents and other groups who may be interested in his work.

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Need Help In BC? ACT: A Resource for Aspies, Parents & Friends.

Where do parents turn when they realize their child needs a diagnosis?  How do they know who offers this type of service?

What programs and supports does the BC school system offer children on the Autism spectrum?  How are these programs accessed?

How do you make sure your child is getting all the support the government says he/she is entitled to?

Is there a registry of autism service providers?  Is there an information database listing online resources?

In British Columbia, Canada, the answer to all of the above can be found in ACT: the Autism Community Training website at http://www.actcommunity.net/.

I only discovered the website this week, but find that it a huge resource for people struggling to find resources for children in the Autism spectrum.

News, blogs, videos and educational material relating to the autism spectrum are all included. While the website is geared to assisting parents with children in the spectrum, there are informative segments relating to adults as well.

A wide range of service providers are listed; really, the list is staggering in its comprehension.

If you live in BC and you are looking for an autism related resource, I strongly suggest you try this website.  Let me know what you think of the resources listed there, and if the phone and email responses live up to your expectations.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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