All Children On The Autism Spectrum Become Adults With Autism; Is Society Equipped ?


 

Fall has transitioned into winter, The outdoor temperature becomes cooler and we wistfully recall flip flops, shorts and trips to the beach where we basked in the summer heat traded for falling leaves that promise to leave our trees bare, winter coats, snow shovels and boots Transition is a word that can send a chill that cuts like a sharpened knife through the soul of a parent who has a special needs child aging out of the system and preparing to enter the world of the unknown, like the chill of winter that sends shivers through our bones .

The world of adulthood. It is a milestone that resonates with any parent whose child has or is preparing to leave the cocoon of supports and services offered to them in childhood. As with changing seasons, we must be equipped with proper support in order to survive. In order to physically survive the transition of seasons, we must possess supportive items such as heat and winter coats to function at a healthy level. In order to survive the transition through life, we must have the support of a village. A societal village of sorts’ that is necessary for successful transitioning. As one would not venture out into a chilly day without proper gear to keep them warm, a supportive metaphorical village is required as our children venture on into an unknown world called adulthood to assist them in achieving successful assimilation, mastery and  independence.

 

Suddenly, I.E.P. ‘s , the I.D.E.A. laws that ensure a child educational rights and support services do not pertain to them anymore. Children who do not qualify for disability age out of parents insurance. Transition is moving from one stage of life, childhood, to another, adulthood. The child who received supports in school ,is sent out into the stage of transition to fend for themselves upon graduation. It is akin with providing no safety harness and asking a child and their family to scaleMount Everest.Children who possess average or above average intelligence leave school with no support groups, transitional services and more with a mere “good luck, you will do fine”.

Unfortunately, this is the norm for transitioning teens and young adults. . True, many strides have been made in the past decade. The recognition that Aspergians have receptive and pragmatic speech deficits although their expressive vocabulary appears large has fueled the development of speech therapy programs for children.I am thrilled that children are identified with Aspergers syndrome and high functioning forms of autism now at much earlier ages. Through earlier intervention, these children will be equipped with better developed compensatory strategies in preparation for when they are older. At such a young age their synapses are much more malleable as well.

One thing has not changed however since my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. The support for transitioning teens and young adults aging out of the system is miniscule to say the least. After years spent fighting and advocating for services and receiving supports, the cocoon of support is gone. The game plan changes, the cocoon opens up and your child emerges as a metaphorical butterfly who must spread their wings.As transition to adulthood occurs, you must attempt to leave the childhood supports and start researching and advocating for new services. It is enough to cause a parent to pull out their hair until they are bald and babble incomprehensibly while displaying a whole body encompassing motor tick.

During this time period, remember how being proactive propelled you to advocate for services when your child was young. This may assist you in mustering up the energy to experience it again at the adult level. You did it before, you can do it again. The difference is that you will not or should not be the only advocate. You must teach your adult or soon to be adult child to self advocate by your side while modeling. AVANTI……moving forward from childhood to adult goals.

Diagnosis and programs for higher functioning individuals on the spectrum that promote earlier identification, social, remediated and compensatory skills programs have blossomed over the last decade for sure. Unfortunately, the majority are for children. This is a great boon as higher functioning individuals on the spectrum used to remain unidentified throughout life culminating in not living their lives to their full potential.I surmise that because diagnosis generally occurs in childhood, autism is associated with children. Unfortunately, autistic children become autistic adults. With the increase in identification we are about to have an influx of adults including special needs adults that have already reached the age of consent who will and are in need of services. When individuals on the spectrum become adults, a large hole does not merely open up in the ground, engulfing them so they disappear from the face of the earth. They are our children, spouses, co – workers and friends who exist side by side within society by nuerotypicals.

The majority of individuals on the autism spectrum take longer to develop socially, emotionally, neurologically and biologically then typically developing peers. Theymay turn the magic age of eighteen and age out of programs and services but their mind and body may be a 1/2 decade or more behind that chronological age. It is my assessment, that it is economically feasible to offer programs for people on the spectrum and their families throughout the lifespan versus the societal and emotion costs incurred resultant from no intervention. Kids transitioning into adulthood with no transitional supports whatsoever may doom them to a life of homelessness, dependence on families, self medicationi.e. alcohol and drugs, leading a life where they do not even come close to achieving goals in life that they possess the capabilities for. My statement may sound dire but working in the substance abuse field in the past, many individuals were found to be self medicating due to undiagnosed mental health issues and learning disabilities. When identification occurred and supports were in place, ie counseling, support groups etc. the success rate of staying drug or alcohol free skyrocketed. In my opinion, this is a win win situation for all. 1

The positive outcome of offering training and supports, is a societal system not strained by criminal recidivism, underemployed people on the autism spectrum and individuals who require public assistance due to being poorly equipped to function in the adult world. With the right interventions, individuals will become independent adults who instead contribute to society as proudstax payers We have a wide and vast group of widely diagnosed individuals who are about to enter adulthood. Sadly, the present state of affairs has caused some parents with transitional kids and older on the spectrum to stop working and teach the skills to the best of their abilities to their kids that society does not offer.Autism Speaks funded research in 2014. It found that adults on the spectrum who have jobs that encourage independence showed a greater sense of self esteem anbd increase in positive behaviors, skills and activities of daily living. 

Unfortunately, without skills training and support finding sustainable employment for people on the spectrum is not an easy task. A 2012 study in the journal of pediatrics found that, seven years after graduating from high school, one in three young adults on the spectrum had no college or vocational education or paid job experience.Society, autistic children do become autistic adults. They do not merely disappear from the face of the earth when aging out of the system. From transitional programs in high school for kids who fall between the cracks and do not qualify for birth to 21 programs ,to supplying family transitional support, mentors, job coaches, social groups and everything in between, we must be ready for the influx of young people who need societies help We have two options, we can open our eyes to the struggles of adults on the spectrum, create and fund programs that ensure their success present and future. Or we can continue to keep blind eyes and backs turned on a vulnerable population who requires assistance and deal with the consequences.

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My perspective is that PREVENTION is always paramount versus REMEDIATION.

Quoting Plato: “To live with indifference is to live with evil men” or in modern gender neutral speak (evil people). Will society be part of the success or the failure of families and people on the spectrum. The answer……is up to you: every human being has a right to have their challenges recognized and gain assistance so they can transition into independent, socially successful individuals. In the end, they need you, society at large to show them that you care enough to assist them. Society has changed. Diagnostic techniques are readily available as never before. behavioral interventions and larger knowledge bases for implementing and individualizing compensatory strategies are prevalent as never before. Perhaps it is time to redefine the descriptors for developmental disabilities as well. 

The knowledge and services are available in theory. In terms of individuals with Aspergers and high functioning autism, recognition is lagging far behind however. Without acknowledgment and identification for this population who greatly needs support and understanding, if the services are not available for them that is akin to possessing a can of beans when we have no can opener. Without the can opener, the can of beans can not be opened. Society, YOU must be the metaphorical can opener.

Mari Nosal M.Ed. CECE

Are you looking for a book that explains how to interact/understand the needs of kids on spectrum? I believe that my book written by me, a special needs parent/educator who has actually walked down the special needs path both as a parent and an educator? It was written from the passion developed from my experiences as a parent wading through the challenges of bringing up kids who are wired differently and my experience in classrooms I am the parent of an adult son with a late DX of Aspergers and earlier diagnosis of ADD/Anxiety. My family has experienced learning disabilities, medical challenges and more. I have certainly walked the walk of a special needs parent and still do. My goal is to light the path for parents who feel as though they are alone and walking down a dark path. There is a LIGHT at the end of the tunnel and my goal is to supply you with some inspiration while educating society in a collaborative manner as well. Check out my book 10 Commandments Of Interacting With Kids On The #Autism Spectrum. Written from the heart with a passion to make a small dent in society with the ultimate goal of increasing tolerance and acceptance of those with different needs. May we all one day, ALL live, love, laugh, play and work together in a society void of judgment and filled with acceptance and understanding for our fellow human beings.

  You are most welcome to stop by my Amazon book website to check out my five star reviews and have a free preview of my books at http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

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​​Mari Nosal’s Ten Commandments Of Interacting and Communicating With Kids on the Autism Spectrum and Related Commandments Paperback Book


Ten commandments new book cover BookCoverPreview.doThis book shows you real life examples of a collaborative system from someone who spent a career designing grade-school curriculums for children, parenting a son with Aspergers Syndrome, and wor…

Source: ​​Mari Nosal’s Ten Commandments Of Interacting and Communicating With Kids on the Autism Spectrum and Related Commandments Paperback Book

​​Mari Nosal’s Ten Commandments Of Interacting and Communicating With Kids on the Autism Spectrum and Related Commandments Paperback Book


Ten commandments new book cover BookCoverPreview.doThis book shows you real life examples of a collaborative system from someone who spent a career designing grade-school curriculums for children, parenting a son with Aspergers Syndrome, and wor…

Source: ​​Mari Nosal’s Ten Commandments Of Interacting and Communicating With Kids on the Autism Spectrum and Related Commandments Paperback Book

Excerpt From Ten Commandments for Interacting With Kids On The Autism Spectrum



Thou shall not compare me to others.
Please remind me, and note the talents that I possess. This increases my confidence and positive self worth. Learning disabled or not, we ALL have talents to contribute within society. I need you to help me realize what mine is. Believe in me and I will believe in myself.
 Thou shall not exclude me from activities.
Please do not mimic me, ignore me, or bully me. Please invite me to play with you. It hurts my feelings when I am excluded. I like to run and jump in the playground, and be invited to birthday parties too. Grownups can help me make friends by encouraging other children to play with me. I can be a loyal friend if you get to know me.

 

Mari Nosal M.Ed

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

Excerpt From Book Ten Commandments For Educators Who Teach Kids on the Autism Spectrum


Thou shall practice reflective observation and remediation. If I become distracted, hyperactive, speak out of turn, or agitated, please attempt to find out why I am doing so. It is easier to prevent a behavioral issue than to try and re-mediate it afterwards. If you notice the early warning signs, you may be able to make adaptations to prevent escalation. Once my behavior has gotten out of hand it will be difficult to assist me with getting back on task. Simple techniques may work. If I am having difficulty focusing, seem agitated, or become socially inappropriate, the bright fluorescent lights may be hurting my eyes. Please remember that my five senses are hypersensitive and I can become over-stimulated by everyday sights, smells, and sounds. Perhaps, dimming the lights in the room may calm me down. If I appear hyperactive, perhaps you could find a job for me to do in the classroom. The job could be as simple as making me a helper and asking me to hand out paper, or art supplies to the other children, pass out homework etc. so I can stretch my legs without being singled out in front of my classmates. If I am distracted by the other children while expected to take a test, perhaps you will allow me to wear earplugs to squelch my hypersensitivity to noise. I know I can be a lot of work at times, especially in a inclusive classroom. It is worth your effort, I assure you. It is a win-win situation for me and my classmates. They will learn to accept and respect differences in people through their interactions with me. They will carry this empathy into adulthood and the workplace. In turn, I will learn appropriate social skills through observation of my neurotypical classmates. With your assistance, the other children will learn to note and appreciate my talents and contributions within the classroom. I will learn how to be a member of a group who appreciates me. This in turn will boost my positive self-efficacy.

Mari Nosal M.Ed

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

Excerpt From ‘Ten Commandments of Interacting with Kids on the Autism Spectrum For Parents


Thou shall tell parents of autistic kids what they do well: We struggle with our child’s special needs, attempt to carve out time with our other children so they do not feel left out, carve out time for our spouse, attempt to create a copacetic environment for our families, love and accept unconditionally, and more. We parents are occasionally insecure regarding our parenting skills. We are not immune to the glaring disapproving eyes, and mumbles of disapproval regarding our parenting style of our special needs kids. We need support and understanding from you as we feel helpless when we cannot help our child during a meltdown, etc. Please tell us what we do right occasionally and offer to lend a hand. It means the world to a parent of a special needs child to receive a compliment regarding them or their child when the parent feels like giving up hope.
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.

When special needs children appear to have unlearned skills they possessed


Being the parent of a child with special needs can produce a myriad of emotions that are connected to our children’s growth and development. Some of those emotions will be guilt (did I cause this somehow), anger (why my family), feelings of loss (for what could have been) even a twang of envy when observing typically developing kids skill – set which your child struggles to develop or even possess. These are merely a few examples as each family is different.

When the children are born, you go through a grieving process of sorts. While pregnant, visions of whether the child will be a boy or a girl, what they will look like, whether they will grow up to be the next president, famous ballerina or football player and future parental and social interactions with friends prance through your head.

When the child is born and receives a diagnosis all of the dreams that you had are traded in for therapy appointments, restructuring your own time to help your child experience success to the best of their abilities. After all, just like parents of typically developing kids, you wish to have a well balanced happy healthy child and family life.

What inevitably happens in the majority of families is that you gradually develop a new type of normal. We grieve the child who initially resided in the confines of our mind and gradually accept the child we have. We learn to note the positive in them and not merely what capabilities they do not possess. As special needs parents, you take nothing for granted. Every milestone reached that you never expected your child to accomplish is savored in a way that parents of typically developing parents could not begin to comprehend. For them, playdates, group sports, outings are an unsaid and everyday part of their life. While parents of typically developing kids possess hopes that their child will become captain of their baseball team, special needs parents just want their child to enjoy being part of a team. While other parents worry about how popular their child is, special needs parents silently hope for their child to have a friend.

For the special needs parent, a simple shopping trip or outing with a child can take days to plan for. They may struggle with getting through a simple shopping trip without some extraneous trigger sending their child into an emotional tailspin. Thus, you cut your outing short. A special needs family who attempts to watch a movie in a theater or enjoy a simple family meal in a restaurant may be forced to leave due to circumstances beyond their control. A child may have an unexpected meltdown, make loud noises that are beyond their parents control until inevitably you hear the “Can’t you control your child” from other patrons.

That said, I would like to remind you that bringing up a child with special needs is a humbling, ego busting, negative self efficacy promoter and occasionally even a lonely job where it feels akin to walking down a dark path alone. You are far from alone and doing the best job possible. Remember, you ARE a good parent. If you did not love and care about your children immensely, those negative feelings of insecurity and failure would not rear their ugly head within. Those feeling arise out of frustration and uncertainty that you are not providing the best assistance to those you love the most.

The most powerful self esteem snatcher for a parent of special needs children is to revel in a skill the child has acquired which was not expected. Upon observing your child’s newly acquired skill, strong feelings of hope are felt by the parent. Just when the child achieves a new skill and we allow ourselves permission to dream about their future in a positive light, the child may regress in another area where skills had been acquired long ago. Many parents have thrown up their hands at this point and felt like giving up, cannot take parenting a challenging child any longer or simply feel like a failure while focusing on the child’s regression in skills.

Regressive behavior during development of milestones can actually be a temporary yet necessary development while the child acquires new skills. Can regression be positive? I provide to you a resounding yes. Regressive behavior can result from stress, fear of the unknown, frustration due to challenging circumstances or delving into a new experience or in this case learning a new skill.

Many equate regression in children as returning to a more comfortable time in their life that is not age appropriate. Ie the potty trained child who starts wetting the bed, or the older child who wants a pacifier or bottle which assists them into retreating to a safer more comfortable time in their life. Regression can also pertain to unlearning old behaviors or skills while learning new ones.

Learning the new skill may produce uncertainty in a child. They are entering a new territory that is challenging. In doing so, other skills may be unlearned requiring more attention from the parent for the child as he/her ventures forth with a new challenge. Hence, the child’s progression becomes two steps forward and one step back. Even adults experience this.

Haven’t the majority of we adults experienced temporary loss of skills when dealing with an all encompassing challenge such as death, illness, family challenges? Heck, I recall being so entrenched in a family crisis in the past that I misplaced my car keys only to find that they had been mindlessly deposited in the freezer by me. I recall being preoccupied with other challenges that warranted my attention to the extent that I temporarily lost the ability to write articles. Although I possessed the capability I could find no words to transfer from my mind to paper. I am sure all readers can recall variations of my examples within their own adult lives.

Occasionally even as adults, we seem to unlearn skills ourselves and they take a back burner while we process challenging events Learning is not a linear experience. Children learn in what I define a form of disequilibrium, especially children with special challenges. At times, everything is smooth sailing and you think your special needs child is on track. Then BOOM, the child appears to regress rather than progress. In fact, progression is generally evident during times like this. Kids do not develop in all areas simultaneously. Be a sleuth think of regressive periods in your child’s life as touch points.
When your child appears to unlearn skills or display much younger coping skills, attempt to identify a recently acquired skill or one they are attempting to master. You may just spot emotional or physical growth hidden in the child’s so called one step backward. These periods may go on for days or even a month.

During these periods you will have thoughts of should of, would of, could ofs running rampant through your mind. Remember that you are doing the best that you can with the tools you have at your fingertips. Your children do not come with a handbook. Each child is different and will react to different interventions in different ways. But I assure you that progression will take place with time, patience not only for your child but for yourself as well. You are your child’s best and strongest advocate. Do not let would ofs, should of, and could of demons that are generally developed from parental guilt versus reality strip you of your hopes and dreams for your child. After all, isn’t hope the biggest strength for you and a gift to reinforce in your child the most important force you possess to keep on with trudging forward.

Hang in there and never stop dreaming, hoping and believing no matter how dark you feel the road is. You and your child will keep progressing. After all, you made it through yesterday and the day before that. You will make it through today and all days thereof as well. Your kids believe in you. Remember to believe in yourself as well.

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