A Special New Years Resolution Challenge For Parents Of Special Needs Kids


As the New Year approaches, it is human nature to review our misgivings. We ponder what bad habits need to be worked on. Perceived flaws in our personalities and negative living habits are scrutinized by many individuals as the year draws to a close.

Assessing what could be restructured within our lives is definitely important. Unfortunately, focusing on the positive aspects such as goals accomplished, strides already made within our lives, emotional and spiritual growth within us is left on the back-burner. It is common to focus on what needs to be fixed then what does not.

In regards to parents of special needs children, this is commonplace. Parent’s work 24 – 7 to support their children’s development, medical needs, social and emotional needs, special dietary requirements and more.

As the children struggle, parents seek ways to assist their children’s growth, development and most of all, happiness. Their children’s challenges are their challenges as well. Special needs parents wish for happiness and success in their children’s lives just like parents of neurotypical children.

For special needs parents, the road is a bit more daunting but the same parental goals for children are universal nonetheless. Parents of special needs kids self-esteem can get bruised through noting children’s physical and emotional delays, behavioral challenges and comparisons to typically developing children.

Constant self scrutinization of parenting skills can be resultant in negative self efficacy. In other words, we can carry a negative self-image into other aspects of our lives. This may affect how we see ourselves as a person within society at large. When our children do not meet developmental markers on time, parents tend to personalize this as poor parenting skills when this is not true.

My goal this year is to establish a new personal resolve. I challenge other parents to join me. Let’s focus not only on what is wrong within our lives. Focus on what is right as well. We all have areas where change and growth is necessitated. However lets remember that “to err is human” and non of us are infallible.

New Years Resolutions:

1) I will celebrate my child’s strides and not merely focus on what he/she cannot do. (YET)
2) I will acknowledge that I am a separate person from the rest of my family with individual needs.
3) I will remember that occasionally embracing my self and remembering my talents and achievement’s is beneficial to the whole family. If I cannot accept myself, I will be too emotionally burnt out to make positive contributions within my family.
4) I will look in the mirror every morning and evening and recite this mantra three times. I will recite this even on my most challenging days when nothing seems to go right. “I have tried my best today. My best is all I can offer for I am merely human.”
5) I will learn to ask for help from others and accept it graciously from those who offer. I will accept the fact that bringing up a special needs child is a task that takes a village. I am not wonder woman or superman. I cannot perform every function and responsibility alone.
6) I will avoid self-deprecating remarks and learn to accept compliments from others without deflecting them. Special needs parents are more than worthy of praise and worthy human beings.
7) I will rejoice in the part I played in helping my child reach milestones, even baby steps. I will not merely focus on what did not work. Most importantly, I will remind myself of what is out of my control despite effort and measures that I applied.
8) I will learn to laugh at what is unresolvable and attempt to be less of a perfectionist. Laughter is the best medicine, even in the direst circumstances.
9) I cannot control the fate of others nor mold the total outcome of their future. I will attempt to remind myself of this daily. Thus, accepting the reality that I cannot fix other people.
10) I will be open to change in my life and changing myself within realistic parameters. I will embrace what is already good and right within my life as well.
I hope you will join me and resolve to embrace yourself this New Years. Accept yourself for the wonderful person you ALREADY are and the contributions you make to your family and society at large. Be open to change but also note your positive attributes that we tend to miss.

Most of all hold your head up high with pride as you venture out and about this year.

Happy New Year: and a wish for positive growth, happiness and success. Do not let life define you. Make sure that you define your life.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel if you just look hard and far enough.

I am a published author and focus on books pertaining to autism and Aspergers Syndrome. I have had special needs articles published in several magazines. I have been interviewed several times in print, on pod casts, and internet T.V. regarding the autism spectrum. I have presented autism workshops to staff, management teams, and parent groups. I offer tips on curriculum development and behavior modification within the classroom and through in-services. I am certified by the Department of Early Childhood Education as a lead preschool teacher, an infant and toddler teacher, and site coordinator qualified to manage school age programs. I have recently ventured into public speaking engagements to educate both parents and educators on autism and Aspergers Syndrome
I want my experiences and challenges to be used productively as a learning tool for other parents and for educators as well. When my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s a decade ago it was a foreign word among many parents and professionals alike. I fought for help never giving up. Through my books I wish to help parents feel like they do not walk in the dark, that they are not alone, empower them and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I also want to educate society at large on the topic of the autism spectrum. I believe all parties involved need to work as a collaborative team in order to insure a special needs child’s success.If you like my articles, aside from being the parent of an adult with Aspergers Syndrome/ A.D.D and an educational professional, I am also a published author of many special needs and autism related books written to inspire and support parents, families, educators and society at large as well. Please stop by and check out my books on Amazon.com at 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

Mari Nosal M.Ed.

Parents Of Autistic Children – Feeling Judged By Others


Parenting children on the autism spectrum can make interactions with the public a stressful event. The child’s behaviors can draw disapproving and judgmental stares or unsolicited remarks from the public. Autism differs from many other disabilities based on the fact that children with autism generally do not appear different from neurotypical children.

When people see a blind child with a cane, they immediately understand that the child is blind. It is obvious that a child cannot walk if they use a wheel chair for mobility. A child with hearing aids is deaf to some degree. Children with autism very often have no discernible differences in appearance. Their disability is hidden from the eye to a large extent.

This fact is resultant in individuals making judgments when observing autistic children. A parent who’s six year old is in a stroller will result in comments or stares concerning why a child that old is riding in a stroller. The unsuspecting person does not comprehend that the child may bolt and needs to be restrained in a stroller for their well being during a shopping expedition so no harm comes to them.

A child may experience sensory overload due to crowds, loud noises even a rainbow of bright colors that overload their sensory intolerant eyes. Simply passing a fish store could send their nose which possesses heightened sensitivity to smells into an experience resultant in a meltdown the size of an eruption from Mount Helena.

The unsuspecting public perceives a child who is much too old for those behaviors. Parents with autistic children may receive unsolicited advice such as “what your child needs is a slap”. These comments not only affect the positive self efficacy of the kids but their parents as well.

Unfortunately, the end result is embarrassment, feeling like an incapable parent and eventually some parents will avoid taking their autistic children out in public to avoid the judgmental stares and comments. My resolution for this issue is more public education programs. Commercials explaining autism in media venues, educational programs within our schools, libraries and hospitals could prove a productive way to not only educate adults, but children as well.

If autism education and more inclusion programs started at a younger age, our next generation of adults would accept working and living side by side with autistic individuals with more tolerance. Inclusive workplaces are becoming more common place, thus children of today will definitely be the adults of tomorrow in inclusive environments.

Merely having inclusive environments is not enough. Society must be trained and educated as well on the definition of autism and how to interact cohesively. Parents can play a part as well. When you are confronted with judgmental people, do not be embarrassed. You have nothing to be embarrassed about. Your child has autism. You are parenting them the best as you can. Their autism is not your fault and is not indicative of your parenting skills. Meltdowns and behavioral issues can be unpredictable. One unpredictable change in their schedule, a sudden loud crash and sound of breaking glass when a waitress breaks something in a restaurant, even a sudden loud voice on overhead intercom could cause your child to behave in an unexpected manner. All examples mentioned are out of your control.

What is in your control is to educate unknowing onlookers. In explaining your child’s autism to an individual rather then retreating in anger or shame, you have paved the way for one less intolerant person to walk this earth. Offer to speak at your child’s school or church where others interact with him or her. Write a letter to the editor in your local paper regarding the topic of autistic individuals and their families. You are equipped with an incredible amount of power and knowledge that was developed from bringing up your child. You went to the best college in the world, the college of hard knocks. So, walk tall and proud.

Create business cards with a link to several of the autism societies on it and hand it to individuals who appear perplexed by your child’s behavior. Suggest they look through those sights to better understand autism. The majority of people are not being rude; they simply do not understand your child’s behavior. No doubt, there are intentionally rude and inconsiderate individuals. I have experienced their wrath at times with comments like if your child cannot control themselves keep them at home. (After explaining their issues)

For the most part however, the majority of individuals are merely uneducated on the spectrum and do not understand how to react. I have experienced situations myself where people were quite embarrassed themselves for judging you and your child once I explained the situation behind a meltdown.

Do not lock yourselves in your home and become hermits rather then venture out with your kids. Avoiding the public will not help in the long run. Through outings your child can gradually be equipped with skills they will not obtain by staying home. Your emotional and physical health will suffer as well from being isolated.

To desensitize a child to public sensory overload, take baby steps. Take them for a ride in the car to see Christmas lights. This experience allows the child to experience the public world initially with a car window separating them from overwhelming experiences. It also provides the child with a sense of self control as they have the ability to look away from the window when overstimulated.

Watch a parade from a safe distance of crowds. Go into a local supermarket early in the morning or late at night when crowds and noise tend to dissipate. Stay in the store for a very short time. Gradually enter the store when it is more crowded and only when your child is accustomed to the environment. Again, stay for a very short time.

As time goes on, lengthen the amount of time of your excursion. This allows the child to gradually get accustomed to a new environment and not feel threatened by it. This method can be adapted to trips at the park, restaurant excursions and more.

Before going out, show your child pictures of your destination. Post pictures on the wall. On the day of your excursion, allow the child to take down the picture as you remind them of your outing on this day. Perhaps you could provide your child with a favorite stuffed animal or toy that will provide them with comfort during the outing. If the comfort item is a coveted item that normally is left at home it will prove to be a reinforcer as well. Verbal praise is always of the utmost importance; make it clear, concise and short. But do catch them being good so to speak.

If your child inevitably has a meltdown or other challenge on outings, remember, you are doing the best you can. You do not possess a crystal ball to predict your child’s behavior. Persevere and never ever let the public’s perception of you and your child dictate the course of your family’s actions. Hold your head up high and be proud of yourself. On difficult days, look in a mirror at your reflection and say look how far we have come rather then look what we cannot do. You will be surprised at what positive growth you and your family have made.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel if you just look hard and far enough.

I am a published author and focus on books pertaining to autism and Aspergers Syndrome. I have had special needs articles published in several magazines. I have been interviewed several times in print, on pod casts, and internet T.V. regarding the autism spectrum. I have presented autism workshops to staff, management teams, and parent groups. I offer tips on curriculum development and behavior modification within the classroom and through in-services. I am certified by the Department of Early Childhood Education as a lead preschool teacher, an infant and toddler teacher, and site coordinator qualified to manage school age programs. I have recently ventured into public speaking engagements to educate both parents and educators on autism and Aspergers Syndrome
I want my experiences and challenges to be used productively as a learning tool for other parents and for educators as well. When my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s a decade ago it was a foreign word among many parents and professionals alike. I fought for help never giving up. Through my books I wish to help parents feel like they do not walk in the dark, that they are not alone, empower them and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I also want to educate society at large on the topic of the autism spectrum. I believe all parties involved need to work as a collaborative team in order to insure a special needs child’s success.If you like my articles, aside from being the parent of an adult with Aspergers Syndrome/ A.D.D and an educational professional, I am also a published author of many special needs and autism related books written to inspire and support parents, families, educators and society at large as well. Please stop by and check out my books on Amazon.com at 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

Mari Nosal M.Ed.

Setting Limits With Autistic Children


When children are born, they are dependent on us for their needs. They are incapable of performing any self-care skills. They are void of the ability to verbalize, feed their self, dress their self and do not possess control of their motor functions. They are helpless and must be the center of our universe and theirs for survival.

As the child’s development progresses, they begin to comprehend the fact that others do not possess the same mindset as them. They have expectations regarding their intent and other people possess different expectations. However, children on the spectrum do not understand why others think differently than them. This is due to difficulties predicting and comprehending other individuals intent due to your child’s hampered ability to interpret that other individual’s expectations and they interpret the world differently then the child.

With children on the spectrum, boundaries are of the utmost importance to assist them in learning appropriate self-control and social skill reinforcement. For a brief tome, our children are dependent on us. Quickly they start to separate from parents in gradual ways. At first they are totally dependent on us. Then they will crawl a few feet than crawling back to make sure we are still there. Next, the child learns to walk, moving a greater distance from their parents. You will hear, “do it myself” and that inevitable dreaded word from your child “NO”, all hallmarks of burgeoning independence.

Before we know it they are teenagers on the cusp of transition to adulthood. Keeping this gradual developmental process to independence in mind, teaching rules and boundaries is of the utmost importance for their inevitable transition to independence. When looking at our cute toddlers, it is difficult to visualize them grown up. However, all children do grow up to be adults one day and we owe them the assistance to help them become as independent as possible. This process must be enforced while they are young.

When implementing rules and structure, your child may not comprehend why you are doing so: Your child will most likely rebel these rule and test your ability to stick with your expectations. Remember why you have set up expectations: To help your child in functioning in society.

The world is a confusing place chock full of confusing and sensory overloading experiences for our kids. Their inability to prioritize and process the information received makes structure and learned behavioral expectations of the utmost importance. Our kids thrive on structure as it assists them to understand daily expectations.

When daily expectations are the same, they became ingrained in the child’s daily interactions. Structure becomes your child’s sense of normality in his life, assisting them in learning the social intricacies of the world. Lack of structure can increase your child’s stress levels to the force of a tornado that tears through a town. The child may fight complying with your expectations if they are new and test you to your limit but they do function better with structure then lack of it.

They do not have the internal controls so they depend on us to set them for the child externally. If consistency is practiced when setting expectations externally, the child will eventually internalize them as part of their daily routine. With a set of rules in place, the child will know what the daily expectations are. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of consistency.

Please remember, establishing boundaries is like learning to ride a bike. When you learned to ride a bike, you most likely fell off many times. Through trial and error you mastered riding a two-wheeler. Imagine if you had quit after falling down once, you never would have mastered that skill.

Learning new behaviors regarding children on the spectrum can be equated to this analogy. When establishing new expectations and following through with them, your child will test your limits to see if you will follow through. It is a process; the child will struggle to learn new skills and social expectations. They and you will make mistakes. By not backing off if the child struggles or rebels, new skills will eventually be internalized. Do not quit learning to ride the bike because they or you fell off once so to speak.

To reinforce expectations use pictures. Too much information can overload children so make it simple. Take photos of a made bed, full outfit, socks, shoes, soap, toothbrush, meal, etc. Number these on a board with a simple 1, 2, 3, etc. In the beginning: and later if your child’s capabilities are limited use hand over hand, verbal, and facial cues.

As time goes on and the child gets into a routine, attempt to phase out  assisting. To increase cooperative behavior, I have always subscribed to the earn a reward rule. Start with no rewards and allow the child to earn them. In doing so they start with nothing and earn it rather than having items they already possess taken away.

I purchased a roll of movie tickets. If goals were met, a movie ticket was earned. The ticket could be turned in to me for 30 minutes of video game time, TV. time and more. The list and rewards is endless. Each child is different. For children on the spectrum rewards should be given in short-term frequent increments verses long-term increments throughout the day as these children do not perceive time in the same way neurotypicals do. An hour for an autistic child is compared to what may be 5 hours for a neurotypical child.

Due to autistic children’s skewed perception of time, delayed gratification is difficult for them. Hence, the frequent short-term rewards. If the child’s schedule will be changed due to a vacation, the holidays, illness or any other factors that can impede daily schedules always attempt to prepare the child in advance. Without preparation, you will be setting up a ripe environment for meltdowns.

Talk to the child about impending changes. Watch a movie or get a picture book that reinforces the impending change. Do not prepare the child to far in advance as this concept may be beyond them. Several days ahead should suffice. Put up a picture board with strips of paper. Take one down each day while stating two more days until we go on our trip, school starts and more. This visual format assists children with their compromised sense of time and space. They can see the strips of paper taken down which gives them visual reference. On the last strip of paper, perhaps a picture of your goal could be applied to it. This will give the child visual reference regarding when the last strip of paper comes down what will happen on that day.

If at all possible, remind them that expectations will hold whether at home, on a trip or otherwise. Attempt to use the same reward system when away. ie my reference to movie ticket rewards. Visual clues help clarify rules and boundaries externally as children on the spectrum have difficulty making connections internally.

A major component of the process to adulthood is respecting other people and their personal space and needs. I emphasize the word process. As this transition occurs over many years. For children on the spectrum this process is a long an arduous road. They have difficulty perceiving things from another person’s perspective. (Mind blindness)

Ensuing behaviors are not intentional and planned defiance. Behaviors are resultant from a lack of ability to comprehend how the world works. Hence, the reason parents must provide external support through rewards, modeling and repercussions.

Frustration can occur due to sensory issues with sound, crowds, even close proximity of other people to their personal space. Being told no, being ill, lack of social controls, or having to many expectations expressed to them at once can discombobulate them.

Attempt to find out what your child is actually expressing through their behavior and address it. Remember, you know your child better than anyone. Attempt to resolve the issue through being responsive. For instance, if the child throws a pile of folded laundry down the stairs when asked to put them away. This is inappropriate.

The cause was making a request to complete a chore. The response was throwing the basket. I have personally experienced this. If the child is too overwhelmed, give them a cool down period in their room or with a cherished toy. Choose a calm and quiet time object. When children are in meltdown mode you will not be able to reason with them.

When the child has calmed down, You may say, “Wow, this laundry must be a lot for you to put away”. (Verbalizing a possible precipitant and helping the child use their words next time) Throwing the laundry makes a mess and now it will have to be folded again. (Repercussion) Next, offer to assist them in an alternative. (Problem solving) Perhaps laying folded clothes on the bedroom floor: Pants in one row, shirts in another and so on. (Visual organization)

Have taped pictures on each draw of socks, underwear, shirts and more. Remember it is difficult for children on the spectrum to visualize what they cannot see in the drawers.

Always require that the child help you re-fold  the clothes so responsibility for throwing the laundry basket is learned.  This can be adapted for different infractions. Do not reward this behavior with privileges during a meltdown. This will merely teach them that a meltdown will get them what they covet and that you will back down and give in to appease them. Remember the root of the problem. Challenging behaviors can occur due to the child’s frustration at lacking a skill.

Stick to your expectations as difficult as that can be. This will reinforce the concept of self-control and alternate solutions. After the child has cooperated and they have complied, move on. Make sure to note how the child turned themselves around behavior wise. When kids on the spectrum regain self-control it must be noted. Remember, if we only are attentive to them when they misbehave negative behaviors will escalate.

If the squeaky wheel gets the oil it will always crave more. Catch the child being good. Pick your battles to hinder defiance. Is the behavior unfit for future assimilation into society? Will the behavior harm the child, others, or property? Does the behavior hinder the child’s quality of life? Does it affect their ability to learn? If so, these must be addressed. Too many no’s and directives will be resultant in defiance and a deaf ear.

If other choices and wants are not detrimental to their welfare like watching a coveted video repetitively, or eating the same but healthy food choice daily let them do so. In closing, do not perceive your child as intentionally acting out. Attempt to separate the behavior from the child’s actions.

Attempt to perceive your child’s behavior and actions through their eyes. This in no way means to condone nor make excuses for their behavior and infantilize them by brushing all behavior off as “They do not no any better and cannot control it” Merely, separate the behavior from your child, be a sleuth and attempt to find out what triggered it. In doing so, expectations can be set and learned slowly but surely.

Remember, your child needs to adapt to the adult world they will all one day inhabit. It is your job to assist them in getting there. Remember, you have what it takes parents.

I am a published author and focus on books pertaining to autism and Aspergers Syndrome. I have had special needs articles published in several magazines. I have been interviewed several times in print, on pod casts, and internet T.V. regarding the autism spectrum. I have presented autism workshops to staff, management teams, and parent groups. I offer tips on curriculum development and behavior modification within the classroom and through in-services. I am certified by the Department of Early Childhood Education as a lead preschool teacher, an infant and toddler teacher, and site coordinator qualified to manage school age programs. I have recently ventured into public speaking engagements to educate both parents and educators on autism and Aspergers Syndrome
I want my experiences and challenges to be used productively as a learning tool for other parents and for educators as well. When my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s a decade ago it was a foreign word among many parents and professionals alike. I fought for help never giving up. Through my books I wish to help parents feel like they do not walk in the dark, that they are not alone, empower them and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I also want to educate society at large on the topic of the autism spectrum. I believe all parties involved need to work as a collaborative team in order to insure a special needs child’s success.If you like my articles, aside from being the parent of an adult with Aspergers Syndrome/ A.D.D and an educational professional, I am also a published author of many special needs and autism related books written to inspire and support parents, families, educators and society at large as well. Please stop by and check out my books on Amazon.com at 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

Mari Nosal M.Ed.

Autistic Children Grow Up To Be Autistic Adults:Transitioning To Adulthood


 

I have had the honor of interacting with Linda Mastroianni of Canada for quite a long time. I perceive her as not only my cheerleader and inspiration, but a great friend as well. Through conversing and sharing successes and challenges regarding our sons it became evident that despite me being a U.S.A. resident and her being Canadian, our challenges are similar and span over the border.

I decided that it would be a wonderful idea to share our experiences and different talents to write an article that exemplifies the issues facing young people on the spectrum as they transition into adulthood. In doing so, our hope is to express the need for understanding, services, acceptance and more as children on the spectrum transition into the world of adulthood. I also hope a sense of awareness and unity is resultant from our collaboration effort and people understand that our issues are worldwide.
Thanks Linda for collaborating with me on this article. I am honored.

Autistic Children Grow Up To Be Autistic Adults By Mari Nosal M.Ed. CECE

As I observe my son who has Aspergers transition into adulthood and the challenges connected to this process, I am made keenly aware of a population who is in dire need of support. The adult’s on the autism spectrum. I am cognizant of the fact that the DSMV now groups Aspergers syndrome into a larger label that groups various levels of the spectrum together as autism spectrum disorder.
My personal conviction is that using the diagnostic label of Autism Spectrum disorder does a disservice to all children and adults on the spectrum as their individual issues and needs can get blurred. The issues and needs of an individual with classic autism are far removed from those of an individual with Aspergers. Hence, it is called a spectrum because there are so many variations of the syndrome.
I will refer to the spectrum as a syndrome not a disorder. A disorder connotes a car engine that is in need of repairs. My son does not need to be fixed. He merely needs support, compensatory strategies and acceptance within society to hone his skills and venture forth being him.
I also will not refer to my son as “my Aspie anymore than a parent who has a child with down syndrome as their “Downy”, Cerebral Palsy as their “C.P.” child and so on.. I believe this phrase connotes ownership and defines my son by his diagnosis, not his individuality. As he mentioned long ago, “Mom, my name is John (Name changed for anonymity) not Asperger’s”. Profound statement to live by I would say.
That said, children on the spectrum will all grow up and become adults on the spectrum. Services dwindle greatly as these kids grow up, age out of parents health insurance, social groups, occupational therapy and speech therapy. I am aware social groups etc. are available at the adult level but sadly they are next to nil.
Particularly higher functioning young adults graduate high school and are expected to fend for themselves. “You are smart they are told. You will do fine” True they are smart but hidden below the surface are challenges that hamper their transition to adulthood. These issues need to be dealt with and awareness needs to occur at the action level.
Intelligence is not all that is needed to venture into the world. Our children need to be equipped with supports not only in school but as they venture out and attempt to assimilate within the larger depths of society.
You see, Aspergers is not outgrown, nor curable. Individuals with Aspergers merely learn compensatory strategies as they grow and silently struggle daily with their difficulty communicating, working with, and living with the neurotypical population. Aspergers is a neurological disorder which affects many aspects of their daily lives. Because they tend to have normal to above normal I.Q.s, society perceives them as merely quirky loners.
The old phrase, “One cannot tell a book by it’s cover” is an appropriate analogy here. I can equate their issues with a cast. When one sees an individual with a cast, they know that individual has a broken bone. In regards to Aspergers, these individuals look like functioning neurotypicals on the exterior. I will now explain that is not the case.
Aspergians have issues, impairments with communication, appropriate behavior, and socialization, or assimilation in the neurotypical society if you will. Children with Asperger’s have excellent and advanced expressive language skills. (speaking to people) Aspergians have large vocabularies and are excellent at conveying data, information, what happened on a T.V. show, etc. i.e. factual information. They often have difficulty in reciprocal conversations.
Their difficulty conversing in social situations goes beyond a lack of interest. On the contraire, they silently wish that they could socialize better. I recall my son calling from college. He attempted to join groups because he wanted to fit in with other students. He attempted to join the Frisbee club, but impaired motor skills hampered that effort. He attempted to join in at parties but difficulties with reciprocal conversation squelched that effort.
My son called me at home making me aware of his efforts to fit in, have a girlfriend and more. He informed me of his efforts to make friends and socialize. My heart broke silently when he said, “Mom I try and try to fit in but it is not working, can you teach me?” I suggested he join the computer club and he responded by saying, I only like computers because I have nothing else. My computer is my only entertainment.
Aspergers creates havoc in terms of the individual’s ability to process information, strategize, and receive information. Hence: their difficulty with receptive language. (Processing and absorbing information) Reading body language and knowing how to respond when someone is sad, despondent, or distressed is difficult for Aspergians. I recall a gentleman telling me that he wished he new what to say or do when his wife was upset.
The man told me that it hurt him greatly because he wanted to say and do the right thing in such situations but did not know how.
Individuals with Aspergers are prone to sensory overload when presented with loud noises, strong odors, office environments where several conversations are going on simultaneously and parties where background music is playing while people attempt to converse with them. It is not uncommon for Aspergians to have tertiary anxiety disorders which rear their ugly face in situations mentioned in the latter paragraph. Aspergers is a neurological condition.
On the surface they tend to be academic prodigies in certain areas of academia. Hence: their nickname as children of the little professor. In reference to language skills, many aspergians speak in a concrete format and upon further review in a reciprocal conversation their sentences may be out of context. Due to receptive processing language deficits, many individuals have difficulty with being given more than several steps through the auditory modality at one time.
It is a misnomer that Aspergians do not warrant speech therapy. On the contrary, speech therapy can assist children in honing expressive language skills i.e. using descriptors, expressing emotions verbally, describing an experience like a trip to the zoo in more than rote terminology. Speech therapy can also assist children with deficits in sequencing. An example of sequencing would be verbally summarizing a story in sequential order.
Aspergians tend to struggle with fine and gross motor skill impairment due to neurological impairment. Pincer grip issues can cause issues with difficulty in cutting with scissors, tying shoes, and other fine motor skill tasks. Tasks such as bowling with one hand, midline issues, riding a bike, and climbing trees can prove difficult as well. Hand grip is generally weak and hampers ability in hang on to jungle gym rungs, etc. Hence they tend to be ostracized by their peers not only for their social deficits, but lack of athletic prowess as well. Thus, they may benefit from physical therapy.
Aspergians may commonly present with A.D.H.D., Non Verbal processing disorder, and other maladies. They may not appear to stim. Upon further observation however one will notice that many aspergians run their hands up and down a drinking cup, have feet or legs that are in constant motion, stretch arms bent at elbows while turning wrists, tap tables and feet, and whistle, to name a few. These may be used forms of mild stimming to release anxiety.
Aspergians tend to prefer simple foods void of mixed flavors when young. This is due to sensory overload from heightened taste buds. Simplified, a spaghetti sauce can put their taste buds into sensory overload. It is extremely common for Aspergians to have tactile sensitivities. As children, a scratchy tag or rough texture shirt can drive them to the point of sensory overload, which is resultant in an emotional meltdown. A rough shirt may feel like someone is scratching their back with fingernails.
Due to mind blindness and neurological delays in development that normally place them approximately four years behind their peers, children with Aspergers are prone to being bullied and ostracized. Cognitive behavior therapy may be productive in assisting children with developing emotional and social skills.
Please attempt to understand these children . Do not minimize nor assume that they go on to lead independent fulfilling lives. Many of these children grow up to be underemployed due to inept social skills. A college degree does not guarantee a decent job  due to neurologically based social, and processing difficulties. Due to popular belief not every aspergian becomes an engineer or scientist. They are as diverse as you and I. In my sons case, he is advanced in English but struggles with math and he is an Aspergian.
The divorce rate is extremely high for Aspergians in relation to neurotypical couples. Some go through life having no romantic relationship or friends due to struggling with navigating the social maze. Without society’s assistance and a nationwide education program these children will not hone their wonderful talents.
We are all aware that identification of individuals on the autism spectrum has skyrocketed. The children being diagnosed become the future adults that will be members of our society. It is our duty to assist them in becoming the  productive members that they and their parents wish them to be.
I am making a plea for better and more abundant high school level and adult services to ensure that our children become successful members of society. They do not disappear into thin air at age eighteen.
Lets assist them and ensure our children do not end up underemployed or unemployed due to misunderstanding and lack of assistance. Note the skills of individuals on the autism spectrum and not their deficits. Educate yourselves on this syndrome so you understand how they learn.
It is common for individuals to visit a foreign country and expect those individuals to speak English. When foreigners come to our country we expect them to speak English as well. This is a selfish perception to say the least.
In terms of individuals on the spectrum, the same societal mindset tends to apply. We expect them to be a round peg that fits into our metaphorical neurotypical round hole which is defined by our notions of normalcy and social mores.
As with foreign language, we must learn to work love and play side by side with a square peg and round hole. If neurotypicals expect aspergians to understand their perception of normalcy, we must learn to appreciate and accept theirs. It is a two way street.
My son is now 26. I have watched him struggle to pave his way to fit into a society that gives him no leeway. He has experienced  underemployment despite a college degree. Through the years, my son has experienced bullying, being labeled as lazy, oppositional and more in school. Despite adversity, he continues to strive forward. Falling on his face, getting up and repeatedly moving forward.
He continues to develop on his time table and in his own way. His development may not be indicative of societal expectations but grow he does. We embrace him for who he is.
In closing, not all disabilities are visible to the naked eye. Not all individuals with disabilities have a wheel chair, a cane, braces on their legs and so on. Disabilities can be hidden from the naked eye.
That said, if you are an employer and notice an individual struggling, attempt to find out why. Do not merely make assumptions and fire them. If an individual does not make eye contact, small talk or fidgets during an interview, they may have Aspergers or a similar condition.
Look below the surface and I guarantee that you will find the most valuable and loyal employee, friend, or mate that exists.
I quote J D Salinger: “I wouldn’t even tell them grass is green. Colors are only names. I mean if you tell them grass is green, it makes them start expecting the grass to look a certain way — our way — instead of some other way that may be just as good, and maybe much better”
Mari Nosal M.Ed. CECE
I am a published author and focus on books pertaining to autism and Aspergers Syndrome. I have had special needs articles published in several magazines.

I have presented autism workshops to staff, management teams, and parent groups. I offer tips on curriculum development and behavior modification within the classroom and through in-services. I am certified by the Department of Early Childhood Education as a lead preschool teacher, an infant and toddler teacher, and site coordinator qualified to manage school age programs. I have recently ventured into public speaking engagements to educate both parents and educators on autism and Aspergers Syndrome
I want my experiences and challenges to be used productively as a learning tool for other parents and for educators as well. When my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s a decade ago it was a foreign word among many parents and professionals alike. I fought for help never giving up. Through my books I wish to help parents feel like they do not walk in the dark, that they are not alone, empower them and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I also want to educate society at large on the topic of the autism spectrum. I believe all parties involved need to work as a collaborative team in order to insure a special needs child’s success.

I am a published author and focus on books pertaining to autism and Aspergers Syndrome. I have had special needs articles published in several magazines. I have been interviewed several times in print, on pod casts, and internet T.V. regarding the autism spectrum. I have presented autism workshops to staff, management teams, and parent groups. I offer tips on curriculum development and behavior modification within the classroom and through in-services. I am certified by the Department of Early Childhood Education as a lead preschool teacher, an infant and toddler teacher, and site coordinator qualified to manage school age programs. I have recently ventured into public speaking engagements to educate both parents and educators on autism and Aspergers Syndrome
I want my experiences and challenges to be used productively as a learning tool for other parents and for educators as well. When my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s a decade ago it was a foreign word among many parents and professionals alike. I fought for help never giving up. Through my books I wish to help parents feel like they do not walk in the dark, that they are not alone, empower them and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I also want to educate society at large on the topic of the autism spectrum. I believe all parties involved need to work as a collaborative team in order to insure a special needs child’s success.If you like my articles, aside from being the parent of an adult with Aspergers Syndrome/ A.D.D and an educational professional, I am also a published author of many special needs and autism related books written to inspire and support parents, families, educators and society at large as well. Please stop by and check out my books on Amazon.com at 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

 

 

 

Aging into adulthood with autism  By Linda Mastroanni Certified Autism Life Coach

I’ve seen my son transition through many difficult situations in his young life. Many of them heightened to an incredible level of difficulty due to his autism. What many neurotypicals would describe as normal teenage experiences, for an autistic person like my son, these situations are far more complex for him to decipher and process.
He is now going through another very difficult transition, probably the most difficult one yet – the transition into adulthood. Aging out of the school system where he felt somewhat protected, and entering into the work force, into society’s den, is very disconcerting to him. He realizes that he needs support but is uncertain how or where to receive it.
His biggest obstacle at this moment is finding employment. He wants so desperately to work but so far every organization he submitted his resume to has either turned him down or not even replied back to his inquiry.
One placement agency refused to take his resume stating they cannot find work for him if he has never been previously employed. Really?! Isn’t that what placement agencies are for? How is one to start then?
Nobody is willing to give this young man a try. He is judged based on his first meeting – the interview with the prospective employer – one that he most surely cannot pass because of his autism.
The interview process, for many autistic people, is not only extremely difficult but almost always results in failure. Imagine how difficult this can be when every single challenge you have is presented right in front of you and you must overcome every single one while answering the question and maintaining positive engagement!
Having eye contact is extremely difficult for many autistic people and going through the interview process is all about eye contact and positive engagement. They are struggling with the eye contact, with the closeness of the person giving the interview, with the surroundings, with the sounds and with the unfamiliarity of this experience. They are desperately trying to get a handle on these challenging issues that are manifesting all at once that it makes it almost impossible to understand or even properly respond to the questions that are being asked.
My son does not always make eye contact and on the few occasions that he does he never maintains it. He will always look away even when he is answering a question. I have explained to him many times how important this is but he will always say that this is too difficult for him. “Why must I look at you for you to believe me that I understand? I hear you even when I don’t look at you. I can understand you even when I don’t look at you.”

This reality is not exclusive to my son. Many autistic people are living this exact same thing. They must conform to what society dictates as normal and they must do everything within their power to act and be “normal”.
While autistic adults may not have the same challenges as they did when they were children, they still face an enormous amount of obstacles on a daily basis. For my son, his biggest obstacle is the misconception that others have of him.
The reality is autistic children do become autistic adults. They age out of the school system where they had support and structure and are now ushered into society. They are expected to do this without support or resources because another reality check is that there isn’t any support or resources after 21.
Parents are left with the difficult task of knocking at government doors looking for any available programs for their adult son/daughter; asking friends if there is any job openings where they work; visiting their local retail stores and speaking with the manager hoping to convince him/her to hire their autistic son/daughter. Many times one parent has to quit their job to stay home in order to care for their child.
This dynamic is incredibly stressful for everyone involved and this is where change must occur. It is time we put our effort in providing proper resources and support for the autistic adults living in society that are fully capable of contributing back to the community. We must shift our focus towards implementation and integration into society and the work force instead of putting all of our energy in research and finding a cure.
One cannot outgrow autism, it doesn’t mysteriously disappear and they most certainly cannot be cured of it. Autism is very much a part of a person as the color of their eyes and the shape of their nose. It cannot be separated from them. However, autism does not define the person as a whole. There are so many different and special parts to every autistic person and when woven together, these exquisite pieces paint a most impressive human being; unique in their own right.
Autistic adults have every right to contribute to society. This means equal rights and equal access to employment. No discrimination based on their disability. I so dislike that word because autistic people are capable of so many things.
They are unfortunately judged unfairly and this leaves them without a job, without any programs to attend and literally with nothing to do. They are pushed aside because society doesn’t want to deal with “different”.

My son, as with many autistic adults, is judged for something he cannot change. He is judged for being who he is. He is not ashamed to be autistic but the treatment he receives from others clearly demonstrates to him just how much society is not accepting of those who are differently abled.
Indeed, this transition has and will continue to be a difficult one. All we can do is maintain a positive attitude, not give up, we keep pushing forward, he continues to submit his resumes and we pray for guidance. We hope for something positive to transpire and I so desperately hope he will find a job soon.

Biography
I am founder of http://www.SpeakingAutism.ca and contributing blogger for Huffington Post Canada.
I provide support, resources and information to families and individuals living with ASD. I am also a certified life coach specializing in autism, blended families, divorce and remarriage.
I have two sons with autism spectrum disorder and I have over 19 years’ experience with autism.
My unique background and personal experiences puts me in a very good position of understanding the challenges my clients face on a daily basis, as I have gone through many of the very same issues. When my son was diagnosed with autism almost 15 years ago, my world was turned upside down. There wasn’t nearly as much information back then as there is today. I felt alone and isolated.
Today I’m helping families so that they don’t feel isolated or overwhelmed. I want them to know that they are not alone.
I have been an active advocate for the education of special needs children that includes a well-developed IEP program. I have been part of the school governing board for many years and have attended and assisted in numerous IEP meetings.
I share with you my techniques to strive for a positive attitude, to live and not just survive and most importantly, show you how you can live and thrive with autism.

Empowered Parents:A Child’s Autism Prognosis Is Not Set In Stone


Your child has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Fears, concerns and confusion abound. Professionals provide differing opinions regarding your child’s prognosis. Friends, acquaintances, well meaning relatives and even strangers at the grocery store who do not have children on the spectrum yet claim to be specialists regarding autism appear to provide you with unsolicited advice. No one, not even your doctor or therapist has a crystal ball to assess what your child will and will not learn.

You may have been provided with a dire prognosis for your child. You may be told that autism is incurable and your child’s life will never live a fulfilling life. While I do believe autism is neither curable nor outgrown, this does not mean compensatory strategies, positive developmental and intellectual strides can occur.

Outgrown would infer that autism merely disappears as kids get older. Autism does not disappear. Due to neurological maturity as the child gets older and interventions the child can gain verbal, physical, emotional and basic living skills. Hence some individuals assume autism is outgrown when behavior diminishes, coping skills develop and skills are learned.

Your child can thrive beyond the dire predictions set forth by professionals. As a parent, you know more regarding your child’s needs and issues then anyone else. Never feel disempowered by the overwhelming task of bringing up children on the spectrum. You live with your child seven days a week. You get up with them when they are ill or anxious in the middle of the night. Parents see their children at their best and worst. Professionals may spend an hour or two at the most with your child. Believe in your child and they will believe in themselves.

Remember, you are your child’s best advocate, cheerleader, nurse, chauffer and more. It is normal to be overwhelmed and feel as though others know more about your special needs children then you do. Empower yourself and remember that you are stronger and more capable then you think. Never underestimate your abilities.

How do I empower myself one may ask? Get educated on autism. Go to workshops; take a course on the topic of autism, read books. Be involved in your child’s therapy. Do not be afraid to provide input to your child’s treatment team and caretakers. When a concern arises, do not be afraid to speak up. Inquire about treatment options and alternate options when treatment seems to be stagnant.

I have seen many parents refer to themselves as “just a mom” or not a “professional. Parents have much to contribute to their child’s treatment team. Voice concerns regarding behaviors the team and caretakers may not see in the office. Mention a breakthrough made at home through an intervention that you devised for your child. Understand, you ARE part of the treatment team. You are the one who implements programs taught in the therapy room when the child is at home.

Remember that you are an expert regarding your child. You most likely know their triggers that are resultant in meltdowns and defiant behavior. Parents know what will produce positive results as well. Share this information with your child’s team. You will be a beneficial addition. There is no question. Trouble shooting between professionals and parents can be resultant in prevention of behaviors etc. that could set the child back. In my opinion, prevention is always the goal before remediation.

A lesson that took me many years to learn is accepting your child for who they are. Children on the spectrum are individuals just like typically developing children. Defining normal in regards to what normal is for your child versus what society dictates as normal is of the utmost importance.

Comparing our children to the neighbor little Johnny wo lives down the street or classmates will not encourage a child to succeed and reach the highest level of potential they were meant to reach. The only outcome will be a child who feels judged and unloved and a parent who feels incompetent.

Focus on your child’s successes not merely on what there deficits. If we are busy focusing on autistic child’s deficits, it will be impossible to notice their positive strides. What is normal for the neurotypical child will not be the same definition of normal that you or your child possesses. What is normal anyway? It is merely a set societal conviction. Example in point: what is normal in the U.S. would be considered abnormal behavior in other parts of the world.

Never give up hope. No one can predict what level of development your child will be at ten years from now. Children tend to surprise us regarding the strides they make. I personally worked with an 11 year old autistic boy. His parents were told he would never speak, be potty trained, or show emotions.

At age nine, this young man had no vocabulary whatsoever and wore diapers. At age ten, he suddenly attempted to use single words to ask for milk, T.V. and more. At age 11 he started using the toilet.

I was present the day he asked a question for the first time. “When brother be home”? His brother was away at college. Not only did this 11 year old ask when his brother would be home, but responded to his Mothers response by saying “I miss brother”. This is a boy that had a zero vocabulary until age nine! If this does not give one hope I do not know what will.

In my own case, I spent years visualizing my high functioning adult son on the spectrum would be friendless, not hold down a job, ever have a girl friend nor complete high school. At 26 I am proud to say he is finally making friends, has a college degree and is holding down a job. It took 26 years for this to occur. He did and is developing on his time frame not mine. Imagine the years I wasted worrying about what he would be like as an adult when I had no way to predict that at the time.

In order to provide your child with an optimum environment for growth remember that your involvement in the child’s treatment plan will prove to be the most important factor regarding their success. Never perceive yourself as useless. Assure that your child’s interests are built in to treatment. Make sure an area is available in your home for the child to express their individual needs and interests.

Join autism support groups and special needs parents groups. On those days when you feel like a failure, these groups will provide support that will remind you why you are actually a great parent. Perhaps parents could form a mother’s day out program as well so parents can get much needed respite to recharge.

In closing, remember that you have more skills, knowledge and strength then you realize. After all, look how far you and your child have come already.

Dare to hope!

I am a published author and focus on books pertaining to autism and Aspergers Syndrome. I have had special needs articles published in several magazines. I have been interviewed several times in print, on pod casts, and internet T.V. regarding the autism spectrum. I have presented autism workshops to staff, management teams, and parent groups. I offer tips on curriculum development and behavior modification within the classroom and through in-services. I am certified by the Department of Early Childhood Education as a lead preschool teacher, an infant and toddler teacher, and site coordinator qualified to manage school age programs. I have recently ventured into public speaking engagements to educate both parents and educators on autism and Aspergers Syndrome
I want my experiences and challenges to be used productively as a learning tool for other parents and for educators as well. When my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s a decade ago it was a foreign word among many parents and professionals alike. I fought for help never giving up. Through my books I wish to help parents feel like they do not walk in the dark, that they are not alone, empower them and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I also want to educate society at large on the topic of the autism spectrum. I believe all parties involved need to work as a collaborative team in order to insure a special needs child’s success.If you like my articles, aside from being the parent of an adult with Aspergers Syndrome/ A.D.D and an educational professional, I am also a published author of many special needs and autism related books written to inspire and support parents, families, educators and society at large as well. Please stop by and check out my books on Amazon.com at 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

Mari Nosal M.Ed. CECE