Enjoy and please add any comments below,
Enjoy and please add any comments below,
With heavy heart I write this.
I had planned to publish an article today about how Stonewall Jackson (the famous Confederate general) had many strong traits of Asperger’s.
This seemed perfect for Memorial Day in the USA. However know it doesn’t . . .
Sadly there’s another violent tragedy (only 18 months ago after Sandy Hook) which sees Asperger’s and violent murder erroneously linked in the media.
At this point I would like to express my severe condolences for the 6 dead and 13 wounded, and their families, from Friday’s massacre in Santa Barbara.
A senseless, terrible tragedy and waste of young lives with such potential. Also thoughts go to the family of Elliot Rodger who must be beyond devastation at his actions.
And what of the Asperger’s connection?
Like I said this is unfortunately not uncharted territory. With the terrible links between Adam Lanza and Asperger’s causing a stain on an entire population of people with ASD, in certain parts of the media.
However as in that case – Asperger’s had NO causal role whatsoever in these senseless murders.
Kids with Asperger’s can be quirky, socially awkward, appear aloof and behave in seemingly odd ways. But murderous . . . NO.
Nowhere near. Not even on the same planet.
Most are sweet kids, with a wicked (if slightly alternative) sense of humor, high intelligence, sensitivity and statistically much more likely to be the victim of crimes (than a perpetrator ).
Lots of reasons and theories abound as to why Elliot, and others, turned murderous. And to be honest this page is not really concerned with them today. That’s a job for the investigating officers, psychologists and sociologists.
My big concern today is the Asperger’s link and the misconception which appears across the media.
I’ve read numerous reports of Asperger’s being a “mental health problem or illness” tonight on various news websites.
Asperger’s is a psychological condition . . . an alternative way of seeing the world . . . a brain wired a little differently to neurotypical. Just a little different.
It is not a mental illness . . . not a psychosis . . . not a disease.
However it is lumped in there with these conditions willy nilly by an ignorant media.
With the result that many people think Asperger’s equates to serious mental illness like schizophrenia, where people can have very delusional beliefs and experience real life horrific hallucinations. And may act in bizarre ways which they have no real control over at the time.
Asperger’s isn’t like that, and the inferences can be scarring.
So to conclude I hope you’ll join me in sending your prayers and good wishes to all those tragically effected by events in Santa Barbara on Friday.
And at the same time stay strong as parents, and more importantly, advocates for your children with Asperger’s, ASD, and autism.
Quick update . . .
The new Asperger’s monthly resource is really taking shape now.
It’s going to be a monthly in-depth Asperger’s newsletter sharing real life experiences, inspirational stories, parenting tips, strategies from successful Aspie’s and much more.
I already share some of this in email and here on the blog. However I want to cover more ground and more in depth. So a monthly newsletter fits the bill.
I personally subscribe to newsletters on various topics like:
ASD (for obvious reasons)
Soccer (I still play 5 a side and support Manchester United)
Writing (one day I plan to write a crime novel with an Aspie detective):
I love getting each of them every month. And I want to give you that little feeling of joy and “something to look forward” each month.
As you can see above the Newsletter needs a name. And I want you, the readers, to choose it.
So please give me your ideas in the comments section in the blog post below.
In true competition style – the person with the winning name will get a prize!
I’ve got 6 expert writers on board ready to share their real life stories and experiences in the newsletter.
You’ve likely “met” Dylan and Mo Bailey from their articles on Mother’s Day.
Dylan is a Graphic Designer, Writer and young adult with Asperger’s Syndrome.
His mom Mo is a non-traditional Advocate & mentor to families who love and or support someone with Asperger’s (AS).
The other 4 are:
Alex Sevigny – A 10 years old with Asperger’s from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. In his spare time he likes to write, read and draw comic books. He also loves to play video games. His favorites are Minecraft and Terraria.
Pam Ruddy - The proud parent of a 17 year old son, Jay, who has ASD, ADHD, dyslexia and no executive functioning skills. She’s also a second grade general education support for the local public school system. She lives in North Virginia.
Jacqui Kess-Gardner – A registered nurse, former teacher, make-up artist, hairstylist, and Zumba instructor from Baltimore, Maryland. She is the mother of Jermaine, an Aspie Piano extraordinaire who has performed with Stevie Wonder at The White House!
And that’s all for now folks. I’ll update more in a few days.Including more insights into the new team.
Until then . . .
PS – If you’ve not yet signed up for further details on the new monthly newsletter plus some great FREE resources like:
* A fun game which improves social skills, and really appeals to teens.
* The iconic American figure strongly believed to have Asperger’s
* A little known approach to reduce your child’s stress and anxiety
You can still do so at:
by Mo Bailey
Motherhood prior to it, had all sorts of fantasies attached that I doubt any mother of a child with Asperger’s dreamed of. That said; just because it wasn’t what you hoped for, it doesn’t mean it lacks joy.
For newly diagnosed families, it may take awhile to believe that this can be a joyful type of relationship. Yet first you must mourn the fantasy that isn’t your reality and accept that it is okay to feel as you do and not try to mask it; especially to yourself.
All Mom’s deserve a Happy Mother’s Day! Stay with this article as while it begins with some uneasy reflections, it also gives you reasons for gratitude and reveals that your child does love you.
Sometimes parents of children who are “different” feel a sense of loss on holidays like Mother’s Day. This certainly wasn’t the mother-child life you dreamed of, is it?
* Perhaps your child doesn’t say “I love you” or isn’t comfortable giving hugs.
* Maybe he/she doesn’t recognize your feelings and this is the day that as a mom, your child was to exhibit more love and affection toward you.
* Wouldn’t it be great if he/she made eye contact with you?
* Maybe your child does say “I love you” and hug you, yet you feel it comes from learned behavior (same as for everyone he/she greets) over an natural expression just for you.
IMPORTANT MESSAGE to you Mom!
While LOVE might not come off the way a neuro-typical child would express it, please know that evidence is out there that your child recognizes and feels your love, expressed ‘your way’ or not and loves you nonetheless.
If your child melts down around you, yet not around another significant adult, it might be enlightening to learn that he/she feels secure to express this sensory output more in your presence than that of another.
Moms tend to be at the top of the unconditional love chain! I realize this may sound more like a burden than a gift, yet if you consider the deeper meaning, it is that your child feels secure with you.
Security is a human need that goes very deep. In a world of feeling socially disconnected, it is typically a Mother’s love that feels strongest and safest.
Neuro-typical and Aspie LOVE is like Apples and Oranges Temple Grandin makes a point at the end of her TED talk. One of the questions the host asks her “Is it unrealistic for a parent of an autistic child to think or hope that their child loves them?”
Dr. Grandin responds, “That child is going to be loyal and if your house is burning, they’re going to get you out.”
The host became briefly perplexed envisioning as a child running into a burning building to save a parent doesn’t align with his concept of love. The host asked about symbolic and verbal expression of love. Dr. Grandin answered in terms of the practical expression of love.
Mo Bailey, MCC is a non-traditional Advocate and mentor to families who love and or support someone with Asperger’s (AS). She is a proud mother of Dylan who has been her greatest teacher on the subject of AS.
Mo is also part of the new team of writers here at Parenting Asperger’s.
By Dylan Bailey
It’s Mothers Day and to celebrate I wanted to share a very special editorial about my mother with you, the readers.
For children with AS it’s always hard for the parents, however when the parent is a single mother, it’s much harder. My parents separated when I was two. It’s now been about 9 years since I’ve seen my dad, but we speak on the phone now.
My mother sacrificed so much; she worked overtime in the dot com industry, went back to school, had her own successful business.
That’s the kind of love most parents give to their offspring, yet she also fought a really terrible school district tooth and nail for me to get the appropriate support.
While we bicker once in a while, I appreciate everything she has done. She is still one of the best mothers in the whole universe. She gave me the greatest gift anyone can ever give to another person, life.
My mother sensed I had AS growing up, but I never did. She first had a hard time accepting it wondering what my life would be like. She took me to several doctors who misdiagnosed me with ADHD , and other things.
She still loved me, through all the good and bad, and I love her through all the mistakes she made (she’s only human, like the rest of us) because she was still always there for me.
You really can’t ask for a better mother who stands up for everything she believes in and who will take anyone on. She also works tirelessly to put food on the table, and make sure we still have a home.
After my college graduation, my mother landed in the hospital. While I had a feeling she was going to be alright, I was still worried about her. My mom could survive all that and a ton of bricks; however I was still worried about her, and took care of her when she came back.
My Grandmother also had a bit of a hand raising me, she would pick me up after school when my mom worked overtime and really late into the night. I also had a close bond with my grandmother who unfortunately passed away in 2010.
To all the mothers out there thank you for giving life into this world, happy Mother’s Day to you and everyone out there regardless if you’re a new mother or an old timer, this is your day, so cherish it.
Those of us with AS do have feelings and love you Moms!
** Dylan is an AAS Graphic Designer, Writer and young adult with Asperger’s Syndrome. Also a speaker and workshop leader for young kids on bullying.
He’s also one of the new writers for the brand new Parenting Asperger’s product which starts next month **
Here in my car
I feel safest of all
I can lock all my doors
It’s the only way to live
“Cars” by Gary Numan (1980)
This first verse contains great lyrics relating to Asperger’s.
No wonder; as its writer Gary Numan (the 1980′s pop star) was actually diagnosed with Asperger’s.
He portrays a sense of comfort inside; away from preying eyes. One place special and calming to him.
Also there’s a hint too of real fascination in mechanical objects (more on this at the end of this post).
Here’s the video to this 80′s electro pop classic:
Gary Numan had a long and distinguished career as a pop star.
Diverse musicians such as Davie Bowie, Marilyn Manson, Beck and David Grohl (Foo Fighters and Nirvana) all revere him.
It was not until he was an adult he realised that he had Asperger’s. It was recognised by his wife.
In an interview in 2001 with The Sunday Times he said:
“Polite conversation has never been one of my strong points.
Just recently I actually found out that I’d got a mild form of Asperger’s Syndrome which basically means I have trouble interacting with people.
For years, I couldn’t understand why people thought I was arrogant, but now it all makes a bit more sense.”
It shows the limitless potential of people Asperger’s. When a man with significant social issues can achieve No.1 hit records, No.1 albums, and hold sell out tours.
So be careful not to pigeon hole what any child with Asperger’s “can” or Can’t” do.
As with any of us – the more we believe we can do something, the more likely we are to do it.
And to finish off a quick point on special interests. Whether it’s cars, planes, dinosaurs, science fiction or whatever.
One of these topics are often fascinating for children with Asperger’s. And it’s great when they can hook up with kids who have similar interests.
Several weeks ago a mum emailed to tell ask if I knew of any children whose special interest is fans. As in the fans which blow and cool you down; not celebrity fans!
In fact if this idea of matching up kids (maybe through Facebook) by interests appeals let me know . . .
Leave a comment below with your child’s interest and I’ll look at how we can move this forward.
Until next time,
by Sherri Warsaw (Cincinnati, Ohio)
At the age of 10, I felt that she needed to know how to explain her diagnosis to others. We were on an airplane and Robin was talking to the gentleman sitting next to us endlessly about dog breeds. You see, at this stage she had memorized every dog, cat, and horse breed in the Eyewitness book series. I could see that our seat mate was picking up on the idea that Robin was not your usual 10 year old.
Eventually, he excused himself and said he was very tired and had to close his eyes. Robin was crushed because he suddenly lost interest in her very compelling description of a Puli, with its long twisted mane.
As the man drifted off and was clearly asleep I began to explain to Robin how not everyone had her keen interest in dog breeds. She looked rather confused and it was my opportunity to share how special she was.
I told her that much like Dr. Spock in Star Trek she saw the world differently because her brain was very special. She smiled and said, “Yes, I get it. I know that I kind of get stuck on topics but it really makes me happy to know these facts.”
I shared that facts are a wonderful thing but that watching to see if the other person is interested was the challenge. We talked about how people with this special way of thinking are said to have something called, Aspergers Syndrome.
She thought for a minute or two and said “OK, so it is like Spock Syndrome, because he thinks everyone should think like him.”
I had struggled for a long time about how to tell her about the diagnosis. My message to parents is there will be a time that presents itself and that will be when to discuss it.
Having Aspergers Syndrome is not a sentence of underachieving, rather it is a very unique way of looking at, experiencing, and communicating with the world.
We all have challenges in life and accepting yourself is a major step in going beyond your challenges and soaring in life.
To all the Spocks, little Einsteins, mini professors out there I say share your knowledge, but take a breath and see if the other person is still interested. If not, you will have many opportunities to share with someone in the near future.
(Please share this on Facebook or leave a comment, below, if you like it).
“That’s MY life” shouted a lot of you after reading last week’s brief story of a mom.
Well that’s what many of you told me in your emails. You also said you were happy knowing you are not alone. Others have trodden your path already. And many more will do so too.
And as promised I’m going to reveal some of the success strategies of this mom. In actual fact there is 1 major attribute running through those successes . . .
Drum roll please . . .
His mom’s attitude.
She never settled. She never had low expectations. She expected him to achieve, just like you would any child. The Asperger’s label didn’t matter.
He was a really smart kid. So for her to assume he wouldn’t achieve because of Asperger’s would have been wrong. She didn’t. But sadly many parents do.
Their motives are generally good. They’re trying to “protect” their child or themselves, from failure and upset. So it’s entirely understandable, but just plain wrong. It sends out an incorrect message, which can program your child’s behaviour . . .
Clever sounding psychologists would call it a self fulfilling prophecy. In fact one famous study in the 1960’s by Harvard professor Dr. Robert Rosenthal found just that.
He randomly assigned children in a class as “high achievers”. Kids whose IQ would grow rapidly over the year.
This was not based on any ACTUAL facts about these kids, it was purely random. Yet by year end these kids did increase their IQ much more than the others.
This was put down the teacher’s expectations of them being so much higher. Leading to a self fulfilling prophecy.
Now I’m not suggesting it’s as simple as attitude. It takes a lot of work too. Often gruelling and exhausting work. But the results will pay off. Your child has so many great skills locked inside them. Your job is to unlock them.
So back to last week’s story again and the hard wortk of this particular mom:
When the boy had problems with words, his mom helped him find a strategy around it.
He used to eat little except white bread and rice. But through mom’s perseverance he’ll now eat pizza, green veggies, chicken, guacamole and more.
Mom held an expectation he would be social. Yet she also didn’t over whelm and push him too much (a balancing act). He now has a couple of good friends.
The self fulfilling prophecy runs through every section of your child’s life. It’s not just about you as their parent. Although that’s significant.
It’s the expectations of grandparents . .. teachers . .. siblings . . . school colleagues . . . sports coaches and more.
Wherever and whenever you need to – educate these people. Let them know your child needs normal expectations to thrive.
As Sam Walton (founder of Walmart) once said:
So keep on expecting,
It was 12:15 and the school yard was buzzing with activity. Girls were skipping, playing hopscotch and chatting about the latest Disney movie. The boys were more basic. Pushing, shoving and playing ball. Everywhere there was noise . . . and lots of it.
This was definitely not Eric’s favorite place. In fact he hated it. Every day he’d sneak off to his safe little corner and eat lunch. 2 slices of bread, 2 slices of baloney, no butter. Cheetos and a bottle of water. But today was different . . .
In Math Eric had received a note. Kevin Philips had written it and passed it to Sean Edwards. And with a tap on the shoulder Eric had his note.
Eric had NEVER had a note.
The cool kids like Kevin, Brian and Larry were always passing them. The girls too. But never Eric. He could barely control himself. His palms were sweating and he was desperate to read it.
Want to play catch ball with us at lunch?
Those 10 words brought joy to Eric’s heart.
He eagerly turned to Kevin and smiled with a big thumbs up. Wow, Kevin Philips asking ME to play ball. This is so cool.
Unknown to Eric, Kevin winked across at Larry Gates. He whispered to Randy Coulson “we’re on”. And sat back with a sly grin.
After what seemed like hours, the lunch bell rang. Eric stuffed his books away in a flash. He took a quick glance at Kevin who smiled back. This really was going to happen . . .
Eric excitedly took off to his normal lunch time spot. He sat under the shade of the tree and unpacked his lunch.
Kevin, Brian and Larry began throwing a ball in the school yard. Laughing and joking in the sun. A few of the girls sat close by – no doubt admiring Brian’s blue eyes and long blonde hair. How Eric wanted to be a part of it.
When will it start? When will they ask me over? It’s been 5 minutes now thought Eric. Maybe I’ve made a mistake. Perhaps the note was for tomorrow? Perhaps it was a joke? But wait . . .
Kevin glanced across and shouted “Hey Eric!”. He was waving him over. This was it . . .
Kevin stuffed the remains of lunch back in the bag. He raced across the playground.
“We’re gonna play catch now “ said Kevin
“Sure” Kevin replied and stood glued to the spot.
What do I do next?
Where should I stand?
He wanted to run but knew it’d blow the whole thing. He stood and waited, hoping for direction. Fortunately it came . . .
“Hey dork . .. sorry I mean . . . hey Eric why don’t you move over there”.
Brian pointed about 10 yards away. Eric walked over there. Strangely a crowd seemed to be gathering. It seemed odd everyone wanting to see this game of catch. But hey . . .
“OK here we go” said Kevin throwing the ball gently at Eric.
The blood pumped faster through Eric’s veins. I have to catch this, I have to catch this, he said to himself. With outstretched hands he grabbed it.
Who do I throw it to?
Do I throw it back to Kevin or should it go to Brian?
What about Larry?
If I get this wrong everyone will laugh, worried Eric. There’s no rules for me to follow. Help . . .
“Here throw it over” shouted Larry.
Phew . . . saved again. Eric pulled back his arm and let go. The ball sailed through the air. Larry had to run a few yards, but caught it.
“Nice throw” said Larry and again a few people clapped, and a few began laughing too . . .
The crowd was getting bigger now. Too many people. Too much noise.
“This is my chance, I can’t blow it.”
Larry threw to Brian, who threw it on to Kevin. Then Kevin smiled at Eric
“Are you ready for this?”
Eric smiled back. Kevin extended his arm. But this time much further. And with more force. This doesn’t seem right thought Eric, but carried on smiling anyway.
The ball whizzed through the air in a blur. It smashed straight into Eric’s nose. Stinging him and making his eyes water. Cruel laughter engulfed him.
I’m hurt, so why are they laughing? wondered Eric sadly.
He wished he was back in his quiet corner with his baloney sandwich. Kevin sauntered over . . .
Maybe it’ll still be OK. Maybe he’s going to say sorry. We’re friends now; it must have been an accident.
But as he got closer Eric knew something had changed. Kevin’s smile looked mean. He got closer, leaned over and yelled “sucker” in Eric’s ear. Then he pushed Eric in the back.
The crowd yelled too . . . “Go Kevin, Go Kevin”.
Eric’s insides were knotted up and ready to explode in pain. He put his head in his hands and sobbed uncontrollably.
It was a softer touch, slowly patting him. He looked up and saw Jessica. Jessica was a quiet girl in Eric’s class. Her blue eyes felt warm and comforting, and she smiled a kind smile. “Come on Eric” she said and helped him up. The crowd were still yelling and taunting. But it didn’t matter now . . .
Jessica walked Eric back to his favorite spot. Away from the noise. Away from the mean kids. She sat him down and opened his bag. She took out his sandwich and handed it to him.
He ate some sandwich, and Jessica rubbed his back a little more. “Just ignore those stupid boys” she said. “From now on I’ll be your friend”. Eric smiled.
Despite the pain in his nose. Despite his nerves being torn to shreds inside. He smiled. He’d found a true friend and things would be OK.
PS – Please share or like on Facebook to support Autism Awareness Day.
The 504 plan refers to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Legislation which guarantees certain rights to people with disabilities. It means children should not be preventing from benefiting from public school because of their disability.
Schools must comply with Section 504 by:
Identifying students with disabilities
Evaluating these students
Creating a written accommodation (504) plan for eligible students.
Parents, teachers, and school staff are part of the process. Parents have due process rights. When they disagree with the decision of the school, they have rights to an impartial hearing.
I interviewed Mary Romaniec; a parent and education activist from Massascheussets. Here’s what she said about 504 for children with Asperger’s below:
“Here’s what happens in the Asperger’s kids, in particular. They are your gray area kids, meaning they do well academically, but not so well socially or emotionally.
School districts say, “Hey, we’re only responsible for helping your kid academically. Who cares about the rest of this?” And a lot of school districts just say, “Your kid doesn’t qualify for an IEP because his test scores or his grades are good.”
But the parents are, on the other hand, going, “You don’t know what it took to get those. My kid comes home and melts every day. My kid has social anxiety issues that are over the top. My child has no friends. I need to do something to put in place to take the stress levels off my kid.”
And that’s the part that’s really hard for parents of Asperger’s children, in particular, to go in and negotiate because their kids are doing well academically, but they’re missing this key point, and they’re not doing well holistically.
And that’s for the parents to go and advocate, “Look! We’ve got some major holes in this. Academically, yes, but everywhere else, he’s falling apart,” or “she’s falling apart, and we need to find a way to plug in these holes.” And parents really need to stick to their guns, so if they’re told no, say, “Guess what? I’m going to go find a way to get a yes.
Even if it means that my child needs to be pulled from the district. And I’ll be figuring out a way that you pay for the out-of-placement district because you’re choosing not to accommodate my child within a typical classroom.
Or sometimes a typical classroom is the problem, and we need to find an accommodation outside of the typical classroom. I think, to be honest with you, I think Asperger’s kids are more difficult to, I don’t want to say to advocate for, but to ensure that they are protected because school districts look at things with one set of eyes, “How are they doing academically?” And they’re not seeing the whole picture. The Asperger’s kids are the ones that concern me more than any of them.
If you are in the habit of writing a myriad of letters, you’re already one step ahead. The next thing that you do beyond writing the letters as to your position is to seek an outside opinion of an expert that’s going to ensure that your child’s educational needs are met. An outside educational consultant is helpful. Sometimes a neuropsychologist is helpful. Any of these experts that go to back up the proper program that your child needs.
I also recommend that parents look for outside placement, if necessary. But they’ve got to go in with the thought process of figuring out what is wrong with the school district that your child cannot learn there. And making sure that you position it so that if you need an outside placement, that that is the only placement that is appropriate for your child.So that if your child has anxiety issues and the anxiety issues are exacerbated in a typical classroom setting, you have to stipulate as to why the out of district placement is the only one that’s good.
If you don’t go down that path of stipulating as to why your child needs that, then you’re going to be lost. What happens more often than not is parents say, “Well, I prefer it,” or “I think this is what my child needs,” but they don’t back it up and you need to back it up with all the experts.
And I always suggest to parents be fair. Make for sure that it isn’t just a preference of yours, but really rather, it’s something that your child absolutely has got to have. And be firm when you get to that perspective. “
(This interview was extracted from my “Asperger’s Education” program. Email me if you want more details).
Please add your thoughts and experiences of the 504 program in the comments section below.