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From the Asperger’s Association of New England website…

One of the most challenging times to deal with the deficits associated with AS is during an emergency, or when you feel threatened or unsafe.  It’s not always easy or even possible to disclose that you have AS when interacting with first responders or law enforcement officers.   Fill in and carry this wallet card with you at all times to use in difficult situations.  Be sure to fill in the names of two people who know you and who explicitly agree to serve as emergency contacts for you.

DOWNLOAD CARD BY CLICKING THIS LINK

AspergersCard

summercamp

Here’s a new list of summer resources for those with autism/Asperger’s in the U.S.A., more current for this year.  Feel free to comment if you know of additional camps to add.

Inclusion of programs on this website should in no way be considered an endorsement, as I have no personal experience with any of these organizations.  Please do your due diligence before selecting the appropriate program for your Aspergian or special needs child. 

ALABAMA

ARIZONA

CALIFORNIA

COLORADO

CONNECTICUT

FLORIDA

GEORGIA

ILLINOIS

INDIANA

KANSAS

MICHIGAN

MINNESOTA

NEW HAMPSHIRE

NEW MEXICO

NEW JERSEY

NEW YORK

NORTH CAROLINA

OREGON

PENNSYLVANIA

RHODE ISLAND

SOUTH CAROLINA

TENNESSEE

TEXAS

UTAH

VERMONT

VIRGINIA

WASHINGTON

I recently read a Facebook post by one of my favorite Aspergian authors John Elder Robison, that he was pleased to find out that the College of William and Mary in Virginia has initiated a program to better understand and work with neuro-diverse individuals.   I am inspired to see some movement in the right direction, but still dismayed at how many colleges – and employers – have such a lack of understanding and empathy for those with disorders such as autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.

My daughter was not diagnosed with ASD until her sophomore year of high school.  Although there were many struggles before and after diagnosis, those challenges have gotten even larger and more life-impacting as she’s grown older and more independent.   The communication and social skill deficits create minefields out of what would be no big deal to a neurotypical individual. These minefields are ready to explode with a single misstep.  It’s nervewracking for a parent who’s hours away, and receives a phone call when each minefield explodes.

Some examples:

  • Dealing with roommates or coworkers
  • Handling medical situations/illnesses (navigating treatment and insurance)
  • Communicating with professors or employers about accommodations or special needs
  • Explaining idiosyncracies to others
  • Sensory hypersensitivity, and the emotions that come with it end up affecting performance

Adaptive services departments do what they can, but often do not advocate for the students who need them.  The colleges my daughter has experienced have well-intentioned staff, but are not really equipped to help ASD students succeed.  It’s not a matter of equipment for someone who has an obvious physical disability — it’s  matter of understanding the “invisible” disability and getting the professors to also understand and accommodate.   The most frustrating thing is that the professors are totally unsympathetic to this disability, don’t understand it at all, and expect the ASD student (who appears to be normal on the outside) to perform the same as the neurotypical student under the same circumstances.  It just doesn’t work.

The same goes for employers.   Even though she is a quick learner, hard worker and dependable, my daughter has trouble keeping a job, due to the conditions of her Asperger’s.   In high school, she was fired from a deli cashier position, stating that it was because of her Asperger’s.  She didn’t really do anything wrong, she just wasn’t as fast as they wanted her to be. However, when we parents called the manager to ask him, he said he never said that.  We had no proof, so there was nothing we could do.  At other jobs, she has dealt with sexual harassment, crooked managers, and manipulative coworkers.  At one job, she was told that she didn’t smile enough. She lost a very good job due to a jealous supervisor training her to do an important task the wrong way.  Yes, this is the way of the “real world”, but as someone with this disability, she is not able to cope with these situations and their consequences the same way a neurotypical person might in terms of self-advocating or being cognizant of other people’s motives.

Students with autism related disabilities CAN succeed in college and on the job with a little help and understanding, but there needs to be a culture of neuro-diversity acceptance.   It’s easy to recognize discrimination based on age, religion, physical handicaps, or gender, but those with mental illnesses and disorders are discriminated against every day and there’s not much that can be done to prove it. Everyone has strengths, weaknesses and different personality traits which should be embraced and used to their full potential.  It’s so disappointing when major corporations and universities fail in this area where they should be leading the way.  I feel that fair treatment of those with mental disorders will be a long time in coming, if ever.

It’s a shame since they have many strengths and talents that could be of great benefit.   Kudos to the employers and colleges who are on their way to appreciating these differences.

a novel by Richard Stephenson – released May 2012 in digital format, available in paperback July 2012

America is falling, ready to join the Roman Empire as a distant memory in the annals of history. The year is 2027. Tired and desperate, the American people are deep in the middle of The Second Great Depression. The Florida coastline is in ruins from the most powerful hurricane on record, a second just like it is bearing down on the state of Texas. For the first time in history, the Middle East has united as one and amassed the most formidable army the world has seen since the Third Reich. A hidden army of terrorists are on American soil. This is the story of three men. Howard Beck, the world’s richest man, also diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Richard Dupree, ex-Navy SEAL turned escaped convict. Maxwell Harris, a crippled, burnt out Chief of Police of a small Texas town. At first they must fight for their own survival against impossible odds. Finally, the three men must band together to save their beloved country from collapse.

For more information, visit smashwords.com

Important Note:  I have not read the book and inclusion on the site is not an endorsement.  I am simply providing information about books related to Autism Spectrum Disorders to anyone who might be interested.

CARD is a program in Florida which serves individuals of any age with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and related disabilities, as well as their family members, friends and professionals who work with them.  Once referred and records are reviewed, individuals can obtain information about their disability, get referrals to federal, state and local agencies, receive planning support, and benefit from training sessions and consultations. CARD sites are located throughout Florida, on university campuses.  For specific locations and more information, call 1-800-928-8476 or visit www.autismfl.com/card.html

If you live in Florida, are seeking a job, and are significantly affected by autism or another disability, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) can help go to work.  Currently, the APD helps over 5,000 people with disabilities maintain employment.  In addition to helping match employers with employees, ongoing support, assistance with training, and vocational rehabilitation are offered through two state programs.  Services are provided to those on the Medicaid waiver and those waiting to enroll.

Employment is an important way for adults to become contributing members of their community, and provides a sense of self-esteem.  For more information about this service in Florida, visit www.apdcares.org or call 1-866-273-2273.

a book by Stephen Plowright

If you are a manager of technical people, you will already have an intuitive understanding that many of your personnel have natural traits and abilities in common that help to make them good at what they do. In many technical teams, around half of the workers will score significantly higher than average on an Asperger test. This book explains the benefits of understanding Asperger traits. Distilled to the relevant and concise facts, this manual is easily read and absorbed by busy managers. It is also useful for technical people who want to better understand their own traits and abilities, and also their rights in the workplace. For those interested in further reading, books are suggested at the end of each chapter.

For ordering information visit Lulu.com

Important Note:  I have not read the book and inclusion on the site is not an endorsement.  I am simply providing information about books related to Autism Spectrum Disorders to anyone who might be interested.

Sisters Amy Lewis Faircloth of Hampden, Maine and Joanne Lewis of Florida have published their first co-written novel about a single mother who is battling addiction struggling to raise her adopted son who is a teen on quest to find his birth parents, understand his Asperger’s Syndrome, and be a better son.

Faircloth and her teenage son both have AS, and much of the fictional story is written based on their personal traits.  The project began as a way for the sisters to do something fun together.  It took three years to complete, and after having a difficult time finding a publisher, they decided to post some of the chapters online via a blog.

The book has won the online 2011 Reader Favorite Award and is among the finalists for the Royal Palm Literary Awards, which will be announced October 22 at a writer’s conference in Orlando, Florida.

You can read the first two chapters of the book online at www.amyandjoanne.com.

PEPSA – Partnership for Effective Programs for Students with Autism – will present its 10th annual Autism Summer Institute at Wharton High School in Tampa, Florida July 26-27, 2011.

The Autism Summer Institute is an annual workshop aimed at providing high quality professional development to a wide spectrum of professionals and parents who impact the lives of students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) – including Asperger’s Syndrome.

The event features Dr. Scott Bellini, Director of Research and Clinical Services at the Indiana Resource Center for Autism, whose presentation will explain the relationships between social skills deficits and social anxiety, assess problems related to social functioning, and identify and describe social skills strategies. Day two of the program will provide an opportunity for participants to attend multiple sessions and hear outstanding speakers discuss topics relating to instructional strategies, addressing literacy outcomes, working with challenging behaviors, using sensory strategies, technology in the classroom, and strategic use of visuals to promote social and emotional skills, and reciprocal communication skills.

For more information, visit PEPSA’s event page.

New York Times Best Selling Author John Elder Robison presents another look at life with Asperger’s Syndrome with his latest release Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian. The book provides practical advice for those diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), their families and teachers — or anyone who feels like a misfit.  The underlying message of the book is that every person, Aspergian or not, has something unique to offer the world, and every person has the capacity to create strong, loving bonds with their family and friends.

A quote on his web site reads, ” I believe those of us with Asperger’s are here for a reason, and we have much to offer.”  And Robison is living proof of that.  In his memoir Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Aspergers (2007), Robison relates a variety eccentric experiences from his younger years – some humorous and some sad – which led him to a successful career even though he had a hard time fitting in.  He was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age 40.

Throughout their lives, and especially during childhood, many people with Asperger’s Syndrome face social deficits and alienation from others who are considered neurotypical or normal.   Read about the many facets of Aspergers here. But many Aspergians are also extraordinarily gifted in particular skills such as concentration, abstract reasoning or mechanical skills.   In Be Different, Robison argues that Asperger’s is about difference, not disability.  He also offers practical advice on how Aspergians can improve communication and social skills that keep them from taking full advantage of, or even recognizing their often remarkable gifts.

Robison has 31  appearances scheduled throughout the U.S. during 2011 to promote Be Different and is planning trips to Canada and overseas.  For more information about John Elder Robison, his appearances and his books, be sure to visit his web site www.johnrobison.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @johnrobison or read his blog at www.jerobison.blogspot.com.

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