Aspergers Syndrome – Cure Or Acceptance


I have been pondering exactly what autism awareness means. As a neurotypical living within a family sprinkled with aspergians, I have learned most likely more from my family than them from me. Mostly, to step out of my own little box and attempt to perceive the world from the eyes of an individual other than myself.

Awareness means knowledge, acceptance, and tolerance. Making an attempt to fix an individual is not acceptance and tolerance. It is merely attempting to make an individual fit into a perceived social mold, created from social mores and societal expectations. Allow me to make an analogy. It is commonplace for English speaking individuals to expect others to speak English when visiting foreign countries. When foreigners visit English speaking countries we expect them to speak our language as well. If we expect others to speak our native tongue is it not socially appropriate that we attempt to understand theirs as well?

In the case of an Aspergian living in a society where neurotypicals are the majority, the same principle should be used. Aspergians struggle everyday of their lives to conform to a neurotypical world. Wouldn’t it merely be appropriate that neurotypicals extend them the same reciprocal understanding? Embrace differences and the qualities that Aspergians bring to the world.

Aspergers cannot be cured, nor should it be. Individuals with Aspergers are not faulty computers that we repair with a few adjustments to their hard drives. They are individuals, just like the rest of society, who have done great good and brought great advances to our world throughout history.

They are the analytical thinkers of our world, inventors, engineers, scientists, actors, mathematician’s, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children. We can thank aspergians for many great contributions in the world.

Some of the individuals thought to have or have been confirmed with Aspergers or high functioning autism are:

The world renowned Temple Grandin: An author of many books that have expand and awakend the worlds knowledge and acceptance of autism. She is also a food handling systems designer, and much much more. Miss Grandin has given the autism community a great deal of respect and reduced the stigma associated to the autism spectrum through her candor regarding her life and public presence as a professional

James Durbin: American idol contestant- He brings us the gift of music through his wonderful voice

Bill Gates: Founder of Microsoft whose gift for technology brought us Microsoft. FYI without Mr. Gates wonderful development of Microsoft we would not be interacting with the world through in a literal millisecond via electronic communication.

Thomas Edison: He was the forefather of inventing the light-bulb, phonograph, and motion pictures.

Albert Einstein:  His theory of relativity unlocked the mysteries of the world and set fort a path of exploration for future scientists.

John Elder Robison: Author of many books such as “Look Me In The Eye” Through his brave willingness to publicly tell his story from childhood to adulthood, he became a role model for other individuals on the spectrum. He exemplifies the ideology that yes; aspergians strive for and do experience success within society.

Dan Akeroyd: He is brought a gift of humor and entertainment into many lives at times when they did not think they could laugh.

Holly Peete, and Toni Braxton: Just to name a few stars who have become awesome advocates for the autism community as a result of having children on the spectrum. They are perhaps the most humble and grounded public personalities in the entertainment business. Hence my comment earlier that we can learn as much if not more from our children on the spectrum than they learn from us.

Last but not least, an individual with Aspergers that is my hero and famous in my eyes. My young adult, determined, creative, electronics whiz son. He will always be a celebrity in my eyes:-0)

I could ramble on in regards to all the wonderful people who have Aspergers or are assumed to have it but would end up with a novel here. I believe I have made my point and you the reader get the idea.

I leave you with a thought to ponder. If Thomas Edison had been “cured” or shall I say “fixed” according to societal expectations we would be living in darkness, we would not have music cd’s which he paved the way for with the invention of the phonograph. We would not have movies on demand which were born from his interest in developing motion pictures. Without Bill Gates our ability to communicate thoughts via electronic technology would be minimal or nil.

Without the Holly Peetes and Toni Braxton’s of the world who use their fame within a positive venue to better the world for the autism community due to their wonderful children, awareness Autism awareness would be minimal. John Elder Robison breeds acceptance and takes away stigma through his wonderful books and public speaking. Without Dan Akroyds gift of humor, the world would be a sadder place.

James Durbin’s voice can light up a room. Without crooners like him we would miss the gift of music. Without the Temple Grandins of the world we would miss out on an exemplary human being and role model who not only spreads awareness and knowledge of the autism community but spreads knowledge for the neurotypicals who work and play side by side with these fine individuals.

In closing, and as a parent of a young adult son, a young man who incites my passion for children on the autism spectrum And is my hero with Aspergers (And no, he is not my ASPIE son. He is simply my son with Aspergers) I wish to remind parents that it does get better and yes many children on the Aspergers spectrum will grow up to be successful. You will find that some of the behaviors which are irritating in children with Aspergers will prove to be their golden road to opportunity as adults.

The child who over focuses as a child will turn that into perseverance towards inventing or fine tuning better ways of existence as an adult. The child who demolishes and corrupts your computer as a child resultant from their incessant drive to tinker, dismantle things, and put them together again will turn into our great thinkers. I.e. mathematicians, scientists, architects’, and research scientists.

The stubborn child will turn into the adult who perseveres and problem solves until they come up with answers and never take know for one when trouble shooting. The child who obsessively collects one item i.e. fans, dinosaurs, radios, baseball cards, will turn into the adult that uses their wonderful analytical mind to make sense of things like equations, cell mutations in cancer through a microscope, and more.

Upon my presenting my case here, would the world be better if we could “cure” Aspergers. Nah, I think not. Perhaps our other option is to step out of our own personal soapbox, fraught with personal perceptions of how people should act and accept each other for the contributions that our differences bring into society. Aspergians must attempt to understand neurotypicals, but we neurotypicals must learn to embrace and accept the wonderful contributions of Aspergians as well.

To all individuals past and present with Aspergers and their wonderful parents who did or still do encourage and strive to understand their children, I salute you and tip my hat to you for the awesome individuals that you all are.

May we all grow to live in a utopian world of commonality born from respect and acceptance for each persons individuality and an understanding of what would happen if society deleted the them and us ideology and replaced it with WE.

Mari Nosal M.Ed., CECE

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

 

Moms With Disabled Children Struggle To Climb The Career Ladder When Children Are Older An FYI For Employers And Society At Large


I have just come back from my umpteenth interview. I have a dream of working in the non profit arena in a community based program helping to empower  parents and children to live the most fulfilling life possible. As many of my readers know I have a young adult son with Aspergers and ADD and spent many years fighting for his proper diagnosis ,intervention, and support. Many people with older children on the spectrum recall that Aspergers was not a household word a decade ago. Many supports and better identification techniques abound in the present that were not available when my son was young.

My older son developed a seizure disorder at age 11 which stabilized at age 18 all though is still medication controlled at age 26. The neurologist calls the medication a “band aid effect”. Grand mals were infrequent but focal seizures were frequent during age 11 to 18. For those of you that are not acquainted with focals, children can speak to you but can not answer questions that require recall such as phone numbers, where their mom or dad works etc. On other occasions these children will freeze like statues and must be gently guided to their bed, etc.

I make my statement with a point. Assisting two children let alone one born 22 months apart into some semblance of normalcy takes a toll on family dynamics, husband wife relationship, sibling relationships, and the family dynamics as a whole. Parents in this situation work hard to keep some family normalcy. It is hard work. We are just like any parent, merely wanting the best for our children. Like any parent we will go to the ends of the earth sacrificing our own needs to insure our children’s, and families needs are met.

My  research shows that Moms with disabled kids experience less career growth, and tend to earn less money than parents without children with challenges because their children’s demands require extra effort, i.e. therapy appointments, i.e.p.s, and most important intensive ca-retaking demands. In a nutshell Mom cannot be in two places at once and selflessly chooses her children’s welfare over a fat paycheck and a BMW in the driveway. I love my family and would not have had it any other way!!!!!

To contribute financially when my children were young, I worked double shifts on weekends, overnight shifts, evenings during the week, resultant in small amounts of sleep in the evening so I could tend to my kids while my husband was working during the day. I know many woman have done the same thing to make sure their children were properly cared for. Thus, validating my research that woman with special needs kids earn less money.

As a Massachusetts resident this is confirmation to Mitt Romney that I was not a slacker.

Now that I have elucidated on the distinct issues that parents with special needs kids face daily, I will elaborate on my initial statement regarding Moms with older kids attempting to enter the career ladder and fulfill their long forgotten goals. As my children grew and stabilized, I decided to go back to college. This culminated in a bachelors degree in Psychology with a minor in sociology in 2005 cum laude. I continued towards my goal of an advanced degree. I completed that in late August 2009 with a 3.78 average. My thesis on education reform and school age programs cancan be found in book form on Amazon.com.

Entering the non profit arena has proved to be difficult. I specifically wish to work with special needs families. I always make it to the second interview to be number two or number three choice. The rationale is always that I did not have enough experience with special needs population. My rebuttal to the world is bold but I must make it.

Parents who bring up children with special needs possess a unique level of experience that would be an asset to any company.  We have a unique reflective empathetic capacity born from walking down the path of others in our shoes. We do not get a paycheck for this work but it is work nonetheless. It is a job with no time clock – 24 hours a day. It is a job that does not receive much recognition, merely the ultimate goal of insuring that our children grow into the most independent functioning adults that they can.

Parents walk with your head up high knowing that you are selflessly performing the most difficult job in the world, assuring your child’s well being, and happiness.

To employers here are some of the qualifications I would put on a resume for parents of special needs kids. Although not monetarily compensated it is experience non the less. Never underestimate the power of a special needs  parents background.

Experience:

Advocate – nurse -chauffeur – therapist – organizer – special needs advocate – cook who specializes in the palate of special needs children – mind reader  and more

Special qualities :

Empathetic – reflective – doesn’t waver emotionally during a crisis – stays positive when life throws curve balls – responsible, altruistic and more

I have gone out on a limb writing an article so personal but I hope I speak for all parents who are not recognized for their unpaid experiences. My goal is to have this article reach as many people as possible on behalf of special needs parents. Education is power.

Special needs parents,you possess many skills, and some are learned through life experience, not merely within a paid job. I speak on all your behalf so you walk with your head up high and remember your fulfillment comes from within you, be proud, and never give up.

Update to this article. Since publishing this article, I have gone on to be a published autism and special needs author. I am a public speaker on special needs parenting and adviser for schools and non profit agencies. In Massachusetts and surrounding states. I provide fee for service educational and parental intervention and advocate. I work with schools, parents and the public at large in creating a positive environment with the ultimate goal of enhancing awareness, understanding, acceptance, tolerance and create/develop a positive climate for special needs populations. I have had my articles published in several special needs magazines,been interviewed on blog and radio talk shows and am a professional blogger. My update is to reinforce to others that dreams can turn into reality if you do not give up. Never stop believing. You can make a difference.

Mari N. , M.Ed., CECE

Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9