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Lately, I haven been observing comments regarding what Aspergers is, how it effects the lives and family of individuals living with this syndrome , their family, and individuals whom they have daily interaction with. My experiences and opinions conveyed in this article are not internet and research related. They are resultant from bringing up a son who lives with Aspergers daily.

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. Aspergerers is a neurological disorder which effects 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. Ican 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 disorder 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 prodigiesin 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 as well 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 hanging 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 on 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. Cognitive behavior therapy may be productive in assisting children with developing emotional 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 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.

Society owes these children AND adults a fighting chance. They cannot always control their behavior and depend on us (society) to equip them with the skills, guidance, and positive support network that they need to thrive as adults. Believe in children and they will believe in themselves.

In closing, I leave you with this food for thought. Not all disabilities are as apparent as a blind individual with a cane, an individual in a wheel chair, etc. Please attempt to look below the surface and understand. Thanks and stay well.

Mari Nosal M.Ed., CECE

I sit here pondering what to do. I struggle to run a functional program.  I have had an epiphany. Education and personal life need to be separate entities. One can not personalize classroom experiences nor allow personal stress to color reactions with in the classroom. However, personal lives do intertwine into ones life as an educator in a positive way. We learn in the classroom via trial and error. If we attempt to connect with the children in a way that does not work, we go back to the drawing board and seek alternate plans. Far from bias, drawing on ones personal experience can assist in assimilating a struggling child into the classroom successfully.

My younger son struggled with undiagnosed learning disabilities for years. He was labeled as lazy, non-compliant, and received many other negative labels along the way. Those labels have carried all the way into his college experience. He struggles with negative self efficacy and anxiety. In retrospect, my personal experience with my son has provided me with a nonjudgmental persona of my young charges in my classroom. I personally have experienced the pain of feeling incompetent as a parent due to people who were quick to label my son and family. A result of this experience is my ability to not label other children. What I child displays on the surface usually hides a precipitant which hides right below the skin.

As an educator, my job is to find out what the precipitant is. I have a kindergarten child in my class who constantly has urine and bowel accidents. The mother is devastated as the child never did this in the past. Other teachers have said the child is “babyfied” by her family and needs to be reprimanded more. In dealing with the family, I find quite the opposite is true. The family wants to eradicate the problem. I assured the family that the child is quite bright and capable. She was enrolled in the private kindergarten at my facility because she missed the cut off date for public school. The little girl is the youngest five years old in the class. I reassure the parents that the little girl is still extremely young.

Rather that chastise the family, I remind them of the reality of the situation. Kindergarten is quite a transition for children. My belief is that transition has been extremely difficult for this child. In preschool, children are reminded to use the bathroom. In kindergarten, they are expected to do so independently. In pre school children are expected to attend to academics in much shorter time chunks. Kindergarten presents new academic challenges such as sitting at a table developing reading and math skills. We need to respect each child for the individual they are. They reach developmental mile stones at different speed. When the child is ready, the milestones occur.

I have observed, processed, and attempted to trouble shoot in the situation. Rather than punish, I reward. Rather than embarrass the child, I developed a system that keeps her peers oblivious to her dilemma. Every hour or so I privately go over to the child and say “You know what you need to do right”? The child nods her head and goes to the bathroom. This takes minimal effort on my side to give reminders. It saves the child embarrassment from peers. Accidents have dissipated. If the child has no accidents I find little tasks to reward her for her compliance. I allow her to be a helper, line leader, or another role that she might covet. I remind her that these are big girl roles that are only doled out for responsible behavior.

Some of the behavior modification techniques were learned in school. Others were learned from going to counseling with my son during his developmental years. Thus the writer hopes a parallel has been made towards what one learns in life having the ability to teach us just as much as we learn in the classroom.

Mari Nosal M.Ed., CECE

1) Set aside a table in the corner of the room. Make sure ample space is provided in proximity to other activities. In doing so, the child on the autism spectrum will not feel crowded or feel as though their personal space is being intruded upon.This should be left out as a long-term project and can be used to encourage non threatening solitary play during times when the child is anxious and needs space. It can also be used to gradually encourage participation in a group project, even if the child is parallel playing.Place a puzzle, snap together model, or construction project on the table. Children on the spectrum are often attracted to items like these. They are great as they can be done in groups or as a solitary activity.Children on the Spectrum will generally allow a trusted adult to assist with the project. On the first day allow the child to work on the task alone and get comfortable with surroundings. On the second day ask if you can participate in the project.Other children will inevitably wander over out of curiosity and ask to join in. When the child is engrossed in the project let him/her know that you need to step away for a moment. Make your absence short, no more than a couple of minutes. Each day lengthen the time that you step back from the group by a couple of minutes.This can be successfully orchestrated in a one on one card game as well. Play cards one on one with the child. As other children become curious and ask to join the game hand your cards to one child and step aside for a few minutes using procedures already mentioned.If this is done slowly over a week or so you should be able to start coaching versus being involved in what will have become a group project at this point. Intervening will be done at this point only during the presence of behaviors or peer difficulties.

Tabletop long-term projects can also be used to redirect a child to a solitary activity when the signs of over-stimulation appear.

2) When it is group cleanup time in the classroom, children on the spectrum can get anxious, and overstimulated if too many children are in close proximity to them. Using an example of putting wooden blocks away, discreetly place some blocks a few feet away from the other children who are cleaning up. Again, this will assist the autistic child in feeling non – threatened.Ask the child to please put the blocks away in the bin. He/she will generally comply dropping the blocks in the bin quickly and walking away. As time goes on move the blacks slightly closer to the other children during clean up time. As the child is introduced to this concept slowly and over a period of time they will generally feel comfortable after a week or two.These ideas can be adapted to group play at home as well. Invite a maximum of two or three children over as more will overwhelm a child with social, emotional, and sensory issues. Initially, sit with the children and encourage group play with a play dough kit, race track, etc. slowly excuse yourself from the activity for several minutes. Gradually extend your time without intervening in group play. Your goal will be to become a coach observing from afar, only intervening when difficulties regarding the social situation arise. This is an extremely slow process the can literally take a month or more to accomplish.

These socialization tips can be quite successful, but the child must not be pushed before they are ready. The ingredients to success are a safe non threatening environment, patience, and praise.

Mari Nosal, M.Ed., CECE

I was perusing the numerous racks of mother’s day cards recently. As is characteristic of me, my experience jettisoned into a silent analytical observation.  I made mental notes pertaining to the responsibility afforded to a mother. It is a 24-7 job. Mothers must be on call to jump to attention for a whimpering baby with a wet diaper or hunger pangs. Mothers must be on constant alert for toddlers unrolling a roll of toilet paper that he is busily spreading from room to room with the roll unraveling behind him as he gleefully runs.

We are a tough breed who gets attacked with a projectile shot of vomit that lands on our bodies with the force of a speeding bullet. We wipe runny noses with an almost unlimited amount of tissue that seems to be pulled from thin air. We spend years of sleep deprivation from waking at all hours of the night to nurse sick children back to health. We spend the better part of our child’s teen years pacing the floor when our new drivers are past curfew , conjuring all the terrible things that might have happened to them within the confines of our mind.

Through challenges, trials, tribulations, childhood illness, mothers shrug it off and unquestionably support their children day after day. We never notice the first year of life when you smell like spit up, or that poopy diaper that leaked on your lap. If the child is out of baby food etc. we have all made a trip to the store smelling like the latter because our worries about looking presentable are blinded by the needs of our child.

There you have it. All mothers are special, but special needs moms are different. They are humbled, challenged, tough, protective, and cheerleaders for their children beyond the call of duty. They deal with doctors, teachers, therapists, and more who tell them their child will never meet a certain milestone. Milestones that traditional parents take for granted.

A word of caution, never say your child won’t, can’t, never will, or any other phrase which reeks of pessimistic projections for their child. Like a cat, special needs mothers have hidden claws behind their fingernails that will protrude when they are in attack mode resultant from any threat, or negativity aimed towards their child or the child’s mom.

Special needs parents will expect nothing but the best of care for their children. They are not afraid to vocalize and take action until their child gets just that. While other parents seek out babysitters for a weekly date night, many special needs parents silently stay home to care for their child’s demanding needs. It is much more difficult to get sitters for special needs children, and medical, and therapy issues can leave parents financially strapped. While other parents complain that their child did not make captain of the soccer team, these parents merely want their child to make the team and socialize with peers.

While parents worry about their child being popular, special needs parents worry about their child having friends at all. We shuffle our children to numerous therapy appointments, social groups, pediatricians, tutors, and specialists, while managing jobs, homes, and the stares from people in public.

Through it all we realize that we can climb mountains, make it to the summit and down again as we develop determination and strength to fight for our young like nothing else.

Now, back to my story about visiting the card shop. None of those cards appeared to be directed at special needs parents so I am providing my version that I would design for all of you out there.

To A Special Needs Mom   (A Hallmark moment)

Mommies, you always look beyond my disability and see my talents

To you I am a diamond in the rough black on the exterior but shiny underneath

As my daily cheerleader you slowly buff me off to reach the shiny diamond that I am inside

Without you in my corner I would never have made it as far as I have

We have proved doctors and therapists prognosis wrong repeatedly

With you in my corner we will keep proving them wrong

Thanks for believing in me and helping me when others give up

Thanks for showing your love for me every day

Most of all, thanks for being my mommy

Happy Mothers Day Mommy from your special needs child to my very SPECIAL mommy

And from me – I wish all fellow Moms a happy Mothers Day

Mari Nosal, M.Ed., CECE

Recognition and identification of Aspergers syndrome has skyrocketed in the last decade. Unfortunately, the way it is portrayed through the media venue has provided individuals who do not interact with families or children directly involved with a stigmatized lenses of the syndrome. ie Sheldon Cooper on the Big Bang Theory void of the ability to display emotion, Gregory House of the House series who expresses a diagnosis to a patient with apparent disregard to their feelings, Jerry the Lawyer of Boston Legal who allegedly had Aspergers and was portrayed with comorbid maladies such as grabbing his thighs standing on tippy toes and running away making odd noises.

In my opinion these television characters provide a disgraceful impression to society in regards to Aspergers. Successful Aspergians who work beside you and your peers. Aspergians who are parents, doctors, lawyers, scientists, teachers, students and more.

I wish to present a portrayal of some misnomers regarding Aspergers . I will draw from personal experience that I have acquired both as an educator and interactions with family members on the spectrum from both a serious and humorous perspective. These are merely my personal observations.

1)      Individuals with Aspergers are incapable of lying:

This is a mistaken perception due to their penchant for bluntness. i.e. If a teacher wants to know who misbehaved in class the child with Aspergers would be ones best source of information. Bluntness is not the same as lying however. Like any other child, children with Aspergers may stretch the truth to avoid trouble.

If Aspergians can’t lie, than our family was not informed of this fact. I recall picking up my son at preschool. He was four years of age. He had been displaying behavioral issues such as sticking his fingers in his ears and closing his eyes when the teacher gave him directions. He would respond by saying, “I can’t hear you or see you, LALA,LA.”

I used a candy bar as positive reinforcement. This was a treat because candy was not freely available at home. When I picked him up from preschool, I would immediately ask how he behaved for the teacher. If the report was good, he received a candy bar.

I recall picking him up from preschool and asking how his day had gone. His eyes darted from me to his teacher. He replied with a quick, “Mom come on out in the parking lot and I will let you know how I behaved. “I foiled his intent to give me a good report when we were out of his teacher’s earshot.

I responded by telling him that I would ask his teacher directly about his behavior before leaving the classroom. My son disappeared. I heard the bathroom door slam shut in his classroom. He had evidently run in there to hide.

I would consider this an example of the capability an Aspergian has to strategize and to lie with the intent  of reaping the reward of a coveted candy bar. My sons plan was foiled by my intervention. However I will add that my son’s actions were within the norm for any child seeking to avoid losing a reward. Heck what adult for that matter has never done something similar such as calling into work feigning an illness to take a day off from work:-0) (cough,cough)

2)      Individuals with Aspergers cannot display empathy

I would argue this assumption. Many have difficulty verbalizing emotions hence societies perception of lack of emotion. On the contraire, Aspergians get emotional overload resultant from struggles with compartmentalization of sensory intake.  I merely have to look back on the gift my son made at age six for me to confirm his capability to empathize. I had the flu and was bed bound. I woke to queries of “mom are you sleeping”? Well son I am awake now son:-0

There at my bedside stood my son. In his hand, he proudly displayed a paper plate dripping with a rainbow of food color. I will refrain from describing the state that my kitchen was in resultant from my son’s work of art. You can use your imagination to conjure up what a rainbow of food coloring spattering’s did to my house:-0)

Was this a verbal expression of emotions? No it was not. As an Aspergian, he has difficulty with naming his emotions. My son had displayed his concern and yes, empathy for me through his actions instead of words. Expressions of concern were done in his unique way via actions versus words.. It was empathy none the less.

We won’t broach my emotional state when my flu ridden body saw my rainbow colored kitchen:-0)

3)      Individuals with Aspergers are not capable of manipulating their environment

I will elaborate and confirm their skill – set with an experience had during homework time in my school age class. I was tutoring a nine year old with Aspergers. Everything was going well during math homework which was compiled of rote facts. He was always compliant when homework required the use of his wonderful rote memory.

We moved on to reading passages. I was attempting to assist the child in answering questions regarding the passage he had read. He was expected to summarize the passage which required processing skills. Rote work being his forte, his demeanor quickly changed. He attempted to stonewall. I persisted. The child looked up at the clock and said, “You know Miss Mari, my mother will be picking me up very soon”. I was silently amused at his comment. What he was stating in a diplomatic manner and silently thinking was, Miss Mari, get off my back will you please? I would surmise that this showcased his capability, and attempt to manipulate his environment.

Recently my son was attempting to draw me in to one of his discussions that resemble a verbal dissertation. These verbal tugs of war always occur when we are discussing a topic that he finds distasteful such as chore requests, manners, behavior, etc. I have realized that his verbal tug of wars is the direct result of his intent to draw me off the topic at hand. My response of choice is to tell him that the discussion is over and walk away. We must pick our battles carefully to reduce what I call the deaf ear syndrome. If the discussion is going in loops walk away. No audience takes the fun out of it.

During the conversation I told my son that I would not be roped into his verbal dissertation. His response was, “you just did Mom.  You answered me back”. One can see the manipulative power struggle that is evident here. I ignored my sons comment. His goal was to veer me away from the topic at hand. I continued on my way and held my ground. To continue our debate with have proved futile as we would have gone around in circles repeatedly. I attempt not to get drawn in to a rousing game of lets have a debate until mom forgets what she wanted me to do in the first place. I merely walk away and hold my ground.

4)      Individuals with Aspergers have no sense of humor

This belief stems from the fact that Aspergians tend to perceive statements from a literal perspective. Dual meanings or ideas in jokes are difficult to comprehend. I worked with a I was a one on one teacher with a ninth grade girl with Aspergers. I recall excitedly telling the teenage girl that she was on fire because she had comprehended an important concept we had worked on for an extended period of time. The young lady responded with stiffened limbs. She repeatedly demanded to know why I had said she was on fire. She kept saying “I am not on fire, I am not on fire, why do you say I am?”

Aspergians most certainly do have a sense of humor. One would merely have to observe the night I came home from a nine hour shift in a group home. I was extremely tired and fumbled for my keys in the dark night. Suddenly, a figure jumped out of the bush saying Boo I am Mari. I must have jumped 20 feet. My son had apparently downloaded a photo of me, cut a mask out of cardboard, and glued my picture on the front complete with eye holes. Hence, the reason he called it a Mari mask. Upon entering the house my other son was wearing one as well. This was definitely an example of my son’s ability to create a humorous experience.

In closing I would like to convey the fact that individuals with Aspergers present with the same range of emotions as neurotypicals, they merely convey those characteristics that every human being possesses in a way that works for them.

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 copasetic 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 ME. I will leave you with this question and provide 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.

Regards,

Mari Nosal, M.Ed., CECE


Oh teachers listen closely

For this you need to know

My future rests right in your palm

I need you as I grow

My destiny is yours to shape

By words you choose to use

Encourage me, tell me I’m great

Your power do not abuse

Believe in me and I will shine

I will not let you down

Give up on me and let me fail

My choice will be to drown

Please teach me all you know my friend

Do not give up and leave

And I will thrive because I knew

In me you did believe

I have the talent to succeed

But sometimes feel lost

Please help me so I find my way

No matter what the cost

Don’t leave me on the tough days

I need to know you’ll stay

For you help me to grow and learn

And assure me i’m o.k.

Support me, guide me, and teach me

My fate is up to you

For with your words I’ll fail or win

It is up to you you’ll see

Please don’t leave nor write me off

I am worthy of your time

I promise I’ll not fail you

To give up would be a crime

My future is up to you you’ll see

In you I do believe

I will succeed and fulfill my dreams

If you walk with me

In order for me to succeed

I can not walk alone

Don’t give up on me and walk away

My emotions will turn to stone

Teachers listen closely

I need your help today

Help now and I promise

I will make you proud one day

MARI NOSAL, M.Ed., CECE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thomas Edison: He was the forefather of inventing the lightbulb, phonograh, and motion pictures.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mari Nosal M.Ed., CECE