I Propose Changing Autism Awareness Month To Autism Acceptance Year


Autism awareness, what does this really mean? Logos, colors and symbols that represent autism awareness are prevalent during the month of April. People equate the symbols with the autism spectrum. However, being aware that autism exists and comprehending what the autism spectrum is composed of, the challenges faced by families, children and adults who live with autism 12 months out of the year is a totally different and pressing issue.

For these individuals, autism awareness does not end when April comes to a close and all the symbols and autism awareness programs that are plentiful during April disappear and society at large goes on with their daily lives as autism awareness month becomes a distant memory in their minds. For individuals living with autism and those that love them, autism does not end in April. They are extremely aware that autism exists because the challenges connected with the autism spectrum are enmeshed in their daily lives. It is a lifestyle for them that defines how they live. Individuals who live with or have loved ones on the spectrum have gained awareness through experience. They perceive autism from the perspective of life experience which is quite different then equating a logo with autism and leaving it at that.

Awareness’ is resultant from knowledge. Knowledge can only occur through interaction with individuals and families on the spectrum and educating the public at large. People tend to fear the unknown do to lack of understanding. Through education and interactions fear is diminished and a level acceptance is created. Tolerance should not be an ultimate goal either as tolerance merely means that society tolerates a certain population. ie People tolerate mosquitoes at a cookout yet find them annoying at the same time. People on the spectrum and their families are human beings who should not merely be tolerated but accepted and embraced as meaningful members of society.
Lets create a society where autism colors and logos are equated with action. Support and seek to understand the challenges of those on the spectrum by spending time with them. If you are a neighbor of a family with a child on the spectrum, stop by their house with a coffee for the parents and visit them to chat for a while. These families often feel isolated, they often feel like outliers in society and would welcome visitors who wish to chat with them.

Take their child out to give parents a break. Encourage your own children to include kids on the spectrum in their play. Yes, even if your child must adapt their play to include a special needs child. In doing so you will teach your neurotypical child a life long lesson, respect for others differences. Offer to babysit so parents can spend much needed one on one time with typically developing siblings, spend time with their husband, or merely allow a sleep deprived parent to take a much needed nap.

An increase in educational programs would provide a venue to educate the public. Schools incorporating special needs education as required parts of their curriculum, parents attending required special needs presentations at the beginning of each school year to gain an understanding of the challenges facing kids with special needs and required in-services on a regular basis for educators. Perhaps students could be offered a course where they are paired up in class with a student on the spectrum which they mentor and engage in their activities throughout the year. I realize we have voluntary programs like this across the country. Considering the inclusive environment we live in, I would propose this special needs program as mandatory for graduation. It would prove to be a valuable as all kids will go on to work in companies with differently abled individuals as adults.

Aside from educating society on the challenges of families and individuals on the spectrum we must also shine a light on their capabilities. Everyone learns through experience not merely digesting factual information. Towns could start photography clubs, art classes, writing workshops, dance competitions that display the talents of people with challenges and their successes. Interview them in the local newspapers and display them as productive members of society, not merely individuals and families to be pitied. They do not want your pity, they wish for understanding and acceptance. Through this action, society at large will open a venue for society to understand and appreciate the talents special needs individuals embrace and not merely see them as being destined to be supported by society. You see, with your help they not only support themselves but live work and play side by side with neurotypical individuals who embrace them into society.
Education programs within colleges across the world would prove a prudent move to increase autism classes offered as mandatory within their curriculum. Schools and life in general is so inclusive no that there is an increased need in assisting future educators by squelching myths and misnomers and teaching the educators of tomorrow how to hone the skills that people on the spectrum posses. They are no different than you or I. They wish to live a fulfilling life just like anyone else.
Include individuals on the autism spectrum when offering presentations. After all, who knows what it is like to live on the spectrum than an autistic individuals themselves. Invite parents of special needs kids to speak at presentations. They have lived experience and would prove to be an asset providing knowledge and experience that cannot be found on Google.

Offer to drive an individual on the spectrum who has no license to school, the store, doctors appointments etc. Highlight the skills of an autistic individuals who may excel in math, English, science and more by inviting them to tutor a neurotypical individual who struggles in that subject. Remember, and individual may struggle with specific academics yet excel in others. By turning the tables we focus not only on their deficits but challenges as well.

I have performed acts such as sending 75 of my books to a developing country so parents and educators who otherwise could not afford my books were provided with the gift of knowledge. Nuerotypical authors of books on the spectrum could hone the artistic skills of an individual on the spectrum to illustrate one of their books, thus providing an opportunity for experience and employment. Allow someone on the spectrum to write the forward for your book. After all, if you are writing a book about the spectrum, shouldn’t you include someone with lived knowledge that a neurotypical could not possibly possess?

The opportunities to increase understanding regarding the autism spectrum is only limited by your imagination. What will you do to help someone or their family on the spectrum this year?

That said, I will wish you a happy Autism ACCEPTANCE YEAR. Please remember, the autism symbols, colors and declarations of autism awareness will become a distant memory on May first for those who do not have loved ones or live with autism. For those families like mine, autism is something we live 365 days a year. Remember to continue, advocating, assisting, attempting to understand those who live with and interact with those on the spectrum daily. These individuals do not get put in a draw in may to be released next April. They are your co – workers, neighbors, classmates and hopefully become your friend.
That said, I will wish you a happy Autism ACCEPTANCE YEAR. May we all grow, interact, respect and gain a better understanding and appreciation of one another this year.

From the heart of Mari Nosal M.Ed

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

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My thought about autism for today


 

Autism is not a communicable disease. Visit me in my world for a while. Get to know me. You may just find out that I am pretty cool.
This photo and post is part of the personal and private collection of Mari Nosal. It is not to be used without proper credit to the author.

What autistic loved ones,  family members and I would like you to know.

Autism is not a communicable disease. It is merely part of what makes me the one and only me. Come visit me in my world for a while. Get to know my family. If you spend time with me, you may just realize what an awesome person I am.

 

I am a published author and focus on books pertaining to autism and Aspergers Syndrome. I have had special need 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


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Autism Awareness: Focus On The Reason Not The Color Of A Symbol


Autism awareness month is almost upon us. The inevitable posts encouraging people to light it up blue, gold, multi – colored and more have become plentiful. In my opinion, a color does not signify autism acceptance. Without action attached to the colored puzzle piece or ribbon it is merely a color.

The definition of the word awareness is defined as “Awareness is the ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, thoughts, emotions, or sensory patterns. In this level of consciousness, sense data can be confirmed by an observer without necessarily implying understanding. More broadly, it is the state or quality of being aware of something.” (Wikipedia encyclopedia)

Lighting it up blue, gold, multicolored, or green with zigzag imprints for that matter is not indicative of awareness. Awareness is merely the beginning of a process towards understanding. Individuals may witness the empire state building lit up blue and associate it with the word autism. However without understanding this will be the extent of their knowledge. They will gaze up at the blue light bulbs in awe. Individuals will than go out their business forgetting about autism awareness. Meanwhile, autistic parents and children will live with autism 24 -7.

For them autism awareness is everyday of the year. Autistic children will struggle to live with their challenges and attempt to gain new skills that will help them thrive. Parents of autistic children will continue to coach, cheer lead and support their kids day in and day out. For these parents awareness is sleep deprived nights caring for their children who awaken in the middle of the night screaming, stimming, occasionally harming themselves through their behaviors and more.

Awareness is not about a business creating an autism awareness sale for their wares in the same fashion that stores have fourth of July sales with the intent of selling merchandise yet forgetting the meaning of independence day. Sadly, I have witnessed this many times. “In honor of autism awareness check out our sale” If the merchandiser was honoring autism awareness in their sale they would be offering a portion of their sales to an autism fund, family or the like.

Awareness is developed through knowledge. Knowledge is acquired through education. Knowledge leads to understanding of autism. Understanding of the autism leads to acceptance. Only through acceptance can full awareness be developed. Rather than focusing on what color we should support. Focus on the goal. Acceptance, tolerance, understanding, awareness, and most of all ACTION. After all, isn’t the varied colors of a rainbow what gives it the majestic beauty it possesses. If a rainbow was one color, it would not be a rainbow. Isn’t the autism spectrum quite similar. Hence the reason it is called a spectrum. Like the colors of a rainbow, autistic individuals come in all shapes and sizes.

This ideal is present in society at large as well. The world is a melting pot of colors, nationalities, creeds and belief systems. In order to live harmoniously side by side we look beyond the colors and nationalities of our wonderful world in order to live harmoniously. Those who don’t unfortunately exist in a narrow-minded world indeed.

Move beyond the colors. They are merely symbols. Symbols that do not define a person. It is the actions of society at large that define us not colors. Obliterate the them and us mode of thinking and change that to WE. We argue due to our different modes of thinking and belief systems. Surprisingly, when we dig below the surface it becomes self-evident that when we combine those differences as a team and embrace our varied mind – set we make larger contributions to the ultimate goal. That goal is to open up societies eyes regarding the autism spectrum.

Rather than focusing on what color to follow. Harness that energy in a more productive manner. Make it your goal to step out of your box and out of your comfort zone today and everyday, not merely in April. Offer to watch a sleep deprived autism parents child while they take a nap or spend time with their spouse or other children. Cook a meal for the family of a child with autism. For a parent with a child that has autism who has dealt with a bolting child, items thrown all over the house , or dealt with several meltdowns and more. Your effort will be appreciated. I can confirm this statement as I am the parent of an adult on the spectrum. Spend the day volunteering with autistic individuals or families and get to know them. Assist an adult with autism who cannot drive by offering them a lift in your car. Volunteer to tutor young adults in life skills and academics. These are merely a few things that can increase awareness.

Image result for autism rainbow

So wear any color or logo that you wish but remember the reason behind autism awareness month and do not lose sight of that in an effort to become a sheep following a herd. Long live the prism of the rainbow.

Written from the heart of Mari Nosal M.Ed.

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 & Linda Mastroianni of Speaking Autism: -Sharing your child’s information on line, how much is too much?


 

Mari Nosal M.Ed & Linda Mastroianni of Speaking Autism: Sharing  Your Child’s Information Online – How much is too much?

 

Mari Nosal M.Ed : 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 children and adults on the autism spectrum.. In doing so, our hope is to express the need for understanding, respect, and acceptance for children on the spectrum. We hope to speak for those who have no voice for themselves. 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.

As I peruse social media sites, photos of children and private information regarding the children’s lives are plentiful. The internet and social media has provided a public platform for parents to share their parenting experiences and their children’s private lives. This generation of children is the first in history to have their quirks, antics, illnesses and more posted on such a public media platform. Sadly, this is done without the child’s permission.

I have witnessed more than I care to imagine, photos of children on social websites. Photos of 8 or 9-year old children with a photo of their buttocks exposed on website groups by an inquiring parent who seeks advice from others (strangers) as to what they think the child’s injury or rash is. I comprehend that parents are seeking social support but this advice should be sought from a physician not a public website. I have read stories where parents speak about their school age child’s wetting the bed, post photos of actual letters for suspension from school and bad report cards. Parents use their child’s real names as well.

How would adults like it if their child posted private information regarding a job they just got fired from, a spouse who cheated on them, posted photos of an inebriated parent and more without the parent’s knowledge or blessing?

A deleterious result of this over-sharing of information goes beyond the fact that it can be seen and shared by people we do not even know. A comment made on twitter , tumbler, Pinterest, Google+, Facebook and more can be re-shared via sharing flash screen photos and more. All social arenas are ripe for a deviant to find them and identifying facts about the child.

Deviants aside, the child themselves may be devastated by comments and photos regarding them that parents of shared without their knowledge. In regards to special needs parents, the repercussions can be dire. A special needs child who has difficulty fitting in with peers may experience difficulty that are threefold if a peer or peers parents happen to read private information regarding your child. A bed wetting story, a story regarding the table your child broke during a meltdown etc. may become food that fuels a metaphorical fire that provides bullies and society at large with more fuel to use against your child. Your child may lose trust in their parents as well, resultant in refusing to confide in their parents in the future out of fear that the child’s personal information may end up in the public social scene for the world to view.

 

Please remember that the internet era has created an era of archived information that will be available on the internet universe for eternity. Information is encoded and archived for access by anyone who comes across it. A frustrated parent may deem photos of the aftermath of a special needs child on the spectrum smearing feces on themselves and around the house appropriate. How will this child feel years from now when they find these photos of themselves posted publicly on the internet years after they are potty trained and this behavior has been extinguished? This is one mere example. Food for thought: special needs children and all children for that matter are extremely adept about maneuvering their way on electronic devices.

Now that I have elucidated my point, lets focus on the fact that we are disrespecting our children’s rights. Special needs children have rights as well. The fact that they are challenged by developmental or intellectual feelings does not negate the fact that they possess feelings. Your child struggles enough to maintain dignity, self-esteem and feeling like a worthy member of society. Rather than increase their sense of positive self efficacy, they will be emotionally shattered. Every child will become an adult one day.

As blogger and author, I often refer to certain selective experiences that my son has lived through. Before I divulge information regarding him, I ask for the parameters he would like me to abide by. Hence the reason I never use photos of my son nor divulge his real name. He gave me his blessing to talk about specific instances and experiences. My son requested that I do not share his photo publicly nor mention his name. I have done so on his behalf and my respect for his wishes as an individual. If my son wishes to divulge his challenges publicly, that is his choice not mines to make.

Sure, we can request that information be deleted from Google and other sites. However, it is impossible to ever delete all of it. Thus, identifying information will be available long down the line to future employers or anyone seeking information on your child. Your child has a right to create their own social story as they grow. We as parents have a job to protect, nurture, and guide our children; we do not have a right to decide what their narrative will be. That is up to them. We possess the right to screen how much society learns about us as adults. Our children deserve that same right.

Show your children respect for personal boundaries and they will grow up respecting the rights of others as well. Our children become what they see parents do plain and simple. Please search and interact on social media wisely and responsibly. Your children depend on it. Remember, those thirty people who you tweet a personal comment to may hypothetically have 30,000 followers who see your tweet. Their friends may re-tweet as well. Thus the numbers of individuals who read your tweet will continue to grow and you will never know.

Parents, It is a frustrating path bring up children with special needs. Sharing information on social networks is a common activity that we have all partaken in. We have all shared family milestones, successes and the like on social media. This is perfectly acceptable. However, we need to be cognizant of boundaries and know when sharing information has crossed over an acceptable line. Certain information is acceptable to share with public eyes. Other information is not suitable for public sharing and should be kept within the confines of your home.

No matter what their ability level is, children will grow up and move forward. Some will live independently, obtain gainful employment independently or in a supported environment, some will live in group homes or supported living. All children  will inevitably become adults and the majority move on with their own lives separate from parents. They are in our lives for a short time.

Children are not personal extensions of their parents. Our identity should not become enmeshed in the child’s. Parents assist children in honing their own identity. We do not become that identity and live our lives vicariously through the children. As parents, we must always recognize the fact that our children are separate individuals from us and their individual identity, personality, individuality and feelings must be respected at all times.

Parents can become stressed and need to vent. If you feel as though you have reached the end of your rope, there is confidential assistance. Please check out the website links that I have provided that support special needs families.

Parent Sites – Support for Families of Children with Disabilities

https://www.supportforfamilies.org/internetguide/parents.html

Special Education Resources and Links for Parents and …

www.specialeducationguide.com/…/support-and-resources-for-parents-a.

Written from the heart of Mari Nosal M.Ed

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, as 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

Linda Mastroianni of Speaking Autism :

In our second collaborated piece, Mari and I continue to work together to raise awareness and acceptance about autism along with the challenges that many children and adults face on a daily basis. We hope that our collaborated efforts will resonate with others.
Thank you Mari for this wonderful opportunity.

As a blogger and autism consultant, a great deal of what I do is on-line; I blog about my life and that of my teenage son with autism.
The whole purpose to starting my blog and my consulting business was to raise autism awareness, foster acceptance within the community, help families and individuals living with autism and to be a voice for my son until the day he can advocate for himself.
Social media has become a very powerful platform. People share their stories and offer brief glimpses into their lives. They share their anecdotes, their knowledge and their passion.

Some have taken to post many photos of their children while talking about a certain topic or story that is relevant to their blog/website/social media page.
But at what point does “sharing” become “intrusive” perhaps even a violation of the child’s right?
I am no different. I share our story of what life is like for us living with autism. But I heed extreme caution to what I share. I constantly take pictures of my son and every single one that I take makes for a great post, a valid point to the constant struggles we face with autism along with our triumphs and joys. However, as soon as I take the picture my son asks to see it and 90% of the time he’ll say “don’t put that on the computer”, so I don’t. On the occasion that he’s okay with it he’ll say “that one is good”. Whatever I publish on my blog or post on social media, it is always with his consent.
There are many parts of our story that will never be mentioned mainly because our story is really his life and keeping his integrity and respect intact is more important to me than raising autism awareness. I can still raise awareness in a myriad of ways.
While I consider this blog and my social media page mine, they are all about my son. If tomorrow he would ask me to throw it all away, no more pictures and just delete everything, I would do it in a heartbeat.
Children have their own identity and showcasing them in our personal social media pages without their consent or knowledge can have serious consequences in the future. The images and videos that are shared on social media without their consent can come back to haunt you but more importantly can come back to haunt them.
Children grow into adults and regardless of their challenges nobody can predict what the future holds for them. Many children with special needs have grown into independent adults, working and contributing to society. Some never become independent and need continued support and assistance throughout their adult lives. Regardless of where they fall in terms of challenges or special needs, they are worthy of equal respect as anyone else.
It would be unfair for them to have a history of photos about their challenges chronicled online without their consent. Imagine a potential employer doing a Google search and uncovering some of these images that this person had never consented to. It’s a slippery slope to climb.

Now I’m not talking about the family photo at Thanksgiving or the picture of a bunch of friends celebrating. I’m talking about the photos that put the person in a very vulnerable and compromising position without their knowledge. I have seen photos posted of children taking a shower in an effort to demonstrate how well their child is doing with their independence skills. While the event itself is a huge milestone and definitely one worth sharing, one has to question if the photo attached to the post was necessary.
Unless the child can appropriately approve and completely comprehend what is being posted on line about them, I believe posting very sensitive images without their permission is wrong.
While the images provide a more profound visual impact, words can be just as damaging. Unwise comments written in a moment of extreme fatigue and overwhelming emotion can have long lasting effects.
Everything that is posted on social media pages can then be re-shared a million times over. It is impossible to control who can and can’t repost something once it has been done. So the image of the child that one believes is just being shared with a few of their friends can actually be re-shared by total strangers all around the world. One needs to be certain before putting anything on line if what they are about to post is something they would be comfortable seeing on the front page of a newspaper. If the answer is no, then it would probably be wise not to share it at this moment.

The digital foot print left behind lasts long after one has stopped their online sharing. While there are measures that can be taken to start deleting ones digital foot print, it is impossible to completely delete everything because you don’t know who has re-shared or even saved the images originally posted.
I honestly believe that when people share too much information they are doing so with the kindest of intentions without realizing what they’re doing. I believe they want to share their experience with others in an attempt to offer support, to give a chuckle, to connect with others and even to get some advice. While there is nothing wrong with offering support or getting advice we must always remember that the privacy, dignity and respect of the children is what is most important.
Thanks for stopping by…

Linda Mastroianni
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.

 

Parenting A Child With Aspergers What I Have Learned From Him


What have I learned along the path from my sons diagnoses to adulthood? I have learned to not compare my children to neurotypical Johnny who lives down the street, the child who learned to tie their shoes with ease and much younger then my child with motor skill challenges. Learn he did, just later than most. Through these experiences, I let go of my sense of perfectionism and vision of who my children should be. I realized that who they were destined to become was their path in life not mine.

 

A wareness and appreciation of differences for all individuals within society has been heightened by parenting a child with Aspergers Syndrome.
S elf discovery has occurred while parenting you. Experiencing your uniqueness has caused me to realize that your thought construct is as advantageous within society as mine. If I wish for you to understand my world, I must attempt to understand yours as well.
P erceptions of who I thought you would be were replaced by appreciating who you need to be.
E very day experience has taught me to expect the unexpectable. Challenges arise, yet you have climbed mountains and developed skills that I never expected you to achieve.

R eflecting back on your childhood, I realize parenting you and observing first the child and now, young man that you have become has been an honor for me to witness. I am forever changed because of you. You have instilled in me a sense of greater tolerance, acceptance and understanding for others. You have your quirks, yet so do I and everyone else.

G rowth through self discovery. In observing your path to adulthood that was fraught with challenges that you faced with the force of unimaginable strength, I was forced to face my own weaknesses and strengths. We climbed and slipped down the metaphorical mountain together. As your parent, I felt the pain of your struggles. Your achievements taught me that hope and dreams are not an impossible goal.

E xpectations have changed. You have taught me what is important in life. It is not a big house or millions of dollars. The important thing is happiness, health and accepting people for who they are, looking beyond perceived deficits and noting the talent within as well.

R especting those who are different then my idea of fitting into social norms. I have learned that it is a grand thing that not everyone is a square peg fitting into a square hole. The square peg who enmeshes with the round hole is part of a group of people who change our world for the better by thinking outside of the box.

S urprising me every day of your life with the chance to experience new perspectives on life.
P erhaps neurotypicals have far more to learn from you then you learn from them.

A chance as your parent to realize unconditional love.

R iding through the frustrations that we have both experienced and realizing the challenges have provided a deeper connection between us.

E xcitement for what you have accomplished and what the future has in store for you.

N ew experiences await you as you venture out as an adult. I must let you set your own path. You will both fall and succeed. I must let you experience both as it is time to let go. As you forge forward and experience independence, I will always be a call away if you need to be lifted up.

o my son, thanks for being the unique young man who marches to the beat of his own drum. I am honored to be your Mom. You have taught me much and provided me with the gift of wisdom. You have taught your old Mom more than you realize.

If you like my articles, as 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

Special Needs Parents Have The Toughest Job In The World


I am just a parent. This statement is echoed by special needs parents worldwide. Just a parent you say? I wish to form a rebuttal regarding that statement. Parenting special needs children is one of the most difficult jobs in the world, and yes, it is a job. A job that has no set hours. Job requirements to be a special needs parent require a willingness to be available to their child 24 – 7. Responsibilities include availability to work under pressure; sleep deprivation, putting a child’s needs ahead of your own, and ingesting large amounts of coffee…extremely large amounts of coffee. This job has no end date and quitting is nonnegotiable.

No one can fill your role as your child’s most important advocate and cheerleader. You may occasionally wish to run for the hills while mumbling unintelligible sounds and pulling your hair out of your head. However your kids need you and running for the hills remains a figment of your imagination living in the confines of the mind and never truly acted upon. You fall down and get back up every day of the year. Reason being, you are fierce protectors and advocates of your offspring. Backing out on your kids despite bags under your eyes, and an occasional zombie like demeanor from sleep deprivation is not an option.

You are fueled by a fierce non – judgmental love for your kids. You see through your child’s deficits and understand the child with promise who resides beneath. They are children with needs just like other kids, a wish to be loved, included and most of all accepted for their disabilities and talents combined.

True, parenting is a difficult task for any family. For special needs parents, society can take for granted how difficult it is for them to balance all of their responsibilities everyday. A parent who’s autistic child requires constant supervision at an age when other children can be left to their own devices my not have the luxury of taking a shower, putting on makeup, cleaning the house or another related tasks for that manner until their spouse returns home for the day.

If a special needs parent is single or lacks social support they may not be able to tend to their own needs and responsibilities until their children are asleep. Hence, working into the wee hours of the night to accomplish task that parents of typically developing children take for granted and complete during normal daytime hours. Thus ensuring the parent with neurotypical children a full nights sleep. Sleep that is deemed a luxury by many special needs parents.

These parents must put their own needs aside to monitor an autistic child with no sense of safety from bolting out the door when they turn their back, keep their child from self harming, shadow a child with pica all day to ensure they do not eat non edibles, monitor a child with medical issues such as seizure disorders, feces spreaders, kids with compromised breathing issues and more. In these and many cases turning your heads for even a moment could be a life or death situation for the child. Why do I understand your plight? Because I am not only a professional educator but a special needs parent of an adult son.

Googling and studying special needs and claiming to be a specialist does not suffice.. I possess a bachelor’s degree in psychology and Masters degree in education. My degrees providing me with academic knowledge and application of said knowledge. However, my kids have been my best teachers, equipping me with experience that did not come from my books. Kids do not appear out of manuals. Professionals who do not have special needs children, have the ability to leave work behind at the end of the day.

They may stop at a restaurant and possibly have a drink with friends to vent about their day. I and other special needs parents had and have no such luxury. If we work outside the home, special needs parents goes home at the end of the day to start their next job which is caring for kids who cannot care for themselves nor speak for themselves. I will re-emphasize, special needs kids often require care that their neurotypical peers do not due to medical, physical and emotional delays. Special needs parents often have to accept that their children may never posses the skills that the Jones child down the road has.

Special needs parents are your neighbors, co workers, professionals, and everywhere within society at large. Special needs parents and parents with typically developing children coexist side by side.

While focusing on creating behavior plans, the I.E.P. , social groups, development of independent living strategies for special needs children, parents needs and input can get put to the wayside. Parents’ needs and involvement in the child’s development are neglected not only by professionals and society, but by special needs parents themselves.
Parents are the strongest and knowledgeable advocates regarding their children’s welfare and emotional well being. It would behoove professionals to seek them out for input. Parents do not underestimate the impact you have on your child’s life. Speak out to all involved in your child’s life, be it professionals, friends or family members. Your input is valuable. Feeling isolated, guilty, anxious, and even useless at times like a speck of dust on the wall can create feelings of low self-esteem. Please hold your heads up high, be proud of your accomplishments.

Your job is the most important in the world. You are in charge of creating an environment that will ensure your child’s optimum growth and independence that is feasibly possible for them. I will emphasize here that optimal growth is contingent on optimum development that the child is capable of. Not parameters set out by parents and society……. Their time frame, their pace, not ours. Perceive your responsibilities in this fashion. Many employees would quit a job at the first hint of half of the challenges special needs parents are exposed to. Unlike the employee, you do not quit and cannot quit. You go on and forge forward each and every day fueled on your fierce love for the kids, although the pay stinks.

From my perspective, special needs parents are silent heroes. Through your unselfish love and constant guidance for your special needs children, society is provided with a gift. You are role models who display the purest meaning of altruism. You see your children like a diamond in the rough. Diamonds are black and unattractive when harvested. Yet after intense polishing a shiny diamond resides below the dark black coating. Like the diamond you see the beauty and greatness in your children that resides hidden within the disability. Through you, society can learn how to perceive the beauty that lies below. If I possessed the capabilities to do so, I would provide all special needs parents with an award for being societies warriors.

To parents with typically developing children I request one thing from you. If you run in to a special needs parent while going about your day, notice the strength, unconditional unselfish pure love they possess and strong will. If they feel defeated, noting what an inspiration they are to those who have the miracle of witnessing their actions first hand will remind special needs parents to hold their head high and walk looking straight ahead. Because special needs parents have the most important job in the world. They are parenting the next generation of adults. The kids will thrive because YOU special needs parents have the unique ability to see the humanness of your children look beyond what others in society would consider deficits and focus on the positives in your kids. Believe in your children and they will believe in themselves. HMMMM……perhaps special needs parents abilities to see not only deficits but positives is indicative of individuals who embrace the world with a seventh sense that many in society do not possess. Perhaps some in society can be judgmental and they possess a larger disability than special needs children, blind eyes.

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.

Parenting A Child With Aspergers:Childhood To Adulthood Musings From A Parent


 

Bringing up a child with Aspergers to adulthood has proved to be challenging yet spiritually uplifting, frustrating yet laden with positive experiences, self esteem breaker yet self esteem booster, expecting the expected (it is what is is) yet expecting the unexpected (strides, success, inspiration, and developmental growth that was never expected). Parenting a child with Aspergers is learning to perceive individuals from a totally different perspective.

It has taught me to step out of my own perceptual bubble and realize that I must possess a willingness to step into my child’s world and attempt to see things from his perspective. In return, I have set expectations that he attempt to perceive my world as well. It is a reciprocal relationship. If I expect tolerance and understanding, I must reciprocate and embrace my son’s differences as well. Many possess the mindset that when visiting a foreign country they expect the foreigners to speak their language. Yet when foreigners come to America we tend to expect them to speak English. This is a bit selfish in my view.

If we expect a foreigner to speak our language then we must be willing to learn theirs. Society is composed of an array of individuals, whether aspergian or neurotypical. The varied personalities, talents and skill – sets that people possess is the very fuel that propels society to function.

Education and awareness within society is of the utmost importance in living, working and playing with individuals on the spectrum. Individuals on the spectrum perceive the world in a unique, creative and high level style that is theirs and theirs alone. The more we learn from aspergians while teaching them about us with the ultimate goal of living side by side the better off both humans and society will be.

Perhaps we could all start looking at how we are similar versus how we are different. Accept each others differences and harness them to create a more copacetic and positive society. No two Aspergians are alike anymore than two neurotypicals. Like Baskin Robbins ice-cream, humans come in 32 flavors. Embrace that individuality, forget the them and us ideology and replace it with a WE will get more accomplished than a Here is a question and an answer to ponder.
Question: Who is more important, the Physician or Trash Man.
Answer: They are both equally as important. Without a physician we could not TREAT disease and we would perish. Without trash men we would HAVE disease and become ill.
This is just a thought to ponder regarding differently abled individuals and society at large.
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 have heard the statement more times than I care to remember, “but he does not LOOK like he has Aspergers” HMMMM, what DOES a child with Aspergers look like??? Should they be expected to have a third eye, green skin, warts, drool, and jump around like a Mexican jumping bean perhaps? NAHHH not in the least. Society at large, I share a photo of what a child with Aspergers looks like.

They look like other kids because they ARE kids, just like neurotypicals.

I present a picture of my son as a small boy. My intent of posting this photo is the hope that it dispels myths regarding Aspergians. Yes they have a sense of humor. They say a picture states a thousand words. As is self-evident in this photo, my son presents as a typical child in terms of basic needs, putting Aspergers aside His need to be accepted, loved, understood and most of all, to have society look beyond his deficits to see what a positive character he was and still is.

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Individuals with aspergers often struggle to carry on what we perceive to be a meaningful conversation. They tend to have a limited set of interests. When initiating topics of conversation, they tend to focus on factual information pertaining to their interests. This is perceived by many neurotypicals as lacking empathy and being over focused on their own interests.

My observation has been that due to hampered social skills, kids with aspergers tend to initiate conversations with others by accessing topics that pertain to their own interests. This affords them a level of comfort when communicating with others. In reality, they are attempting to initiate communication with others.

Allow the latter statement regarding attempts to communicate with neurotypicals to shatter the validity of the misnomer we have all heard. “Children with Asperger’s are not interested in socializing. While they require solitary time just like any other child, they most certainly do want to socialize and be accepted. They merely struggle in how to do so.

It has been a challenging experience bringing up a child with special needs. I have shed tears out of direct view of my family when we took two steps backwards. However, I have experienced the joy of seeing my son succeed as well.
It has been an honor to watch my son struggle through challenges and experience positive growth. I have been transformed forever. I have and still witness the transformation of a struggling little boy who I perceived would be left behind his peers. I am proud of the man he has become. He forges forward bopping to the peat of his own drummer, yet forward he goes. He may not stride down his path at the pace or direction I wished for him to go. He is walking in the direction of where he needs to go. Where that road ends is yet to be known. I know one thing however. No matter where his road leads, I will watch him stride down it with pride, not walking next to him for it is time for me to stand behind as he forges forward. But if I am needed I will walk by his side in a heart beat.

Many said my son would not graduate high school, he did so. Many thought he would never go to college. He not only did so but obtained a bachelors degree and later attended a one year computer certification program. Many said he would not be capable of socializing with others and carrying on conversations in a social setting. It took 26 years but he is starting to venture out and create a small social circle. I hope this statement gives hope to those with young adults with aspergers syndrome that it may take many years but never give up hope and never say never. Many thought my son would never maintain a decent full time job. Just this year he accomplished that task and is rocking his job.  We still ahve a way to go to full independence. However, on his time frame not mine  we are slowly getting there.

I am a better person for our experiences. Thanks to my son for teaching me what I needed to learn in this life. Thanks for teaching me to expect the unexpected.

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.