Authored by AANE staff, volunteers, adults, teens, parents, siblings, grandparents, couples and professionals.

Superstars and Autism

I recently went to a fantastic performance by world-renowned musician David Byrne, of Talking Heads fame. He also happens to have Asperger's, which he has discussed in a number of interviews and is also reflected in some of the songs he performs. He is an incredible example of someone on the... more

Success: Creating A Life You Don’t Need a Vacation From

Seven years ago, at the ripe old age of thirty-six, I was diagnosed autistic. It was a gorgeous, sunny, spring afternoon in May when my life changed forever. I remember the weather particularly, as it’s been a specialty of mine since childhood. As I sat in the passenger seat of my mother’s Jeep... more

Dating & Relationships

Many years ago, when I first started working at AANE, a man traveled 8 hours to see me. He was in his early 40s, and his first question to me was asking if I could help him find a partner or even just a date. The arena of dating and finding someone special continues to be an issue for many people... more

Finding the Right Therapist

Over the years, I have known so many people -- both neurotypical and those on the autism spectrum -- who have benefited from working with a therapist. There may be times in life when seeing a trained and experienced professional can help in a crisis situation, enhance understanding of yourself and... more

Self-Esteem and Contributing to Others

As a young, socially unaware, and self-unaware Aspie, I did not understand the meaning of self-esteem, much less what I could do to acquire more of it. Little did I know that those activities in which I was engaged, and which entailed being a part of something bigger than myself, were strengthening... more

Summer Plans to Combat Anxiety

Over the years, I have found that anxiety seems to come up over and over for both children and adults on the spectrum as the number one factor keeping people from leading a socially engaged and productive life. As surprising as it might sound, summer is actually a good time to talk about this.... more

Autism and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

From a young age, my Asperger’s daughter has struggled with a variety of health issues that have been very difficult for her and baffling to us as parents.  While there were certainly medically proven and documented issues, were all of her complaints real? Were the sensory issues or known... more

AANE: A Vision for the Future

For many years, AANE’s growth has been slow and steady, making sure we have a strong foundation and quality services. But this past year, thanks to your financial support and encouragement, we took a giant leap forward expanding our programming and extending our community. As the AANE fiscal... more

What’s in a Name?

Within the last month or so, a number of well-known people and celebrities disclosed that they (or their spouse) are on the autism spectrum. Several of these stories received tremendous exposure and represented a positive step in increasing the understanding of autism and its varied manifestations.... more

The Therapeutic Value of Writing

Nobody would have been able to convince me of this while I was growing up. Back then, in the 1980’s, my as of yet undiagnosed Aspie profile was such that writing was burdensome and therefore would only be done when assigned by one of my grade school teachers. I struggled to write properly, was... more

College Questions

One of the first stories I heard as director of AANE was about a student on the autism spectrum who had an unsuccessful experience in college. She struggled to complete the assignments, became overwhelmed, and stopped going to class. She stayed in her dorm room the entire semester. She was too... more

LifeMAP Profiles: Jack

A Renaissance Man It is a cold and clear day with the promise of the inevitable winter settling in. Jack arrived to talk about his personal journey and how it led him to AANE. His remarkable background includes obtaining a degree from Northeastern University where Jack majored in modern... more

Empathy, Action, and Autism

About 15 years ago, I got to know Nancy (an adult member of our community) fairly well. She was an older woman who had struggled in many ways prior to her diagnosis, and despite her nursing degree was unable to work. She was living on social security payments of $460 a month. Despite her low income... more

AANE Uncommon Gala: Autism-Friendly

Imagine loving movies, but avoiding movie theatres at almost all costs. The sound is inevitably too unpredictable both in tone and volume, and, strangers are constantly in your space. Even if they are technically in the seat next to you, and therefore in their space, you still feel like you're... more

A Fitting Honor for a Mentor and Pioneer

February 28, 2019 A couple of weeks ago, I received a newsletter from The Asperger Autism Network (AANE). AANE's newsletter is excellent and I make a point of reading it as often as I can. In this installment, one article in particular caught my eye. AANE is embarking on a... more

What NOT to Say…

It’s easy to say the wrong thing to someone, even when you have the best of intentions. Everyone has done it, and whether you realize it yourself or someone points it out to you, mistakes like these don’t feel good. All of us learn social and communication skills from many sources, including... more

Neurology Matters in Couples Therapy

January 11, 2019 Working with neurodiverse couples is more complicated than neurotypical couples. In order to help the couple work as a unified team, the therapist first has to help the partners understand each other’s neurological differences. The therapist has to understand each partner’s... more

The Power of Self-Advocacy

At the end of December, an elderly gentlemen (let’s call him Chris), who has been a part of our community for many years and is on the autism spectrum, had a heart attack. After being treated in the hospital for a week, he was moved to a rehab center. The move occurred late at night, and he was... more

For the Love of Animals

This is my most precious piece of jewelry--not because of it’s worth, but because it was the first gift I received from my daughter. If you can see it, it’s a small, silver, blue-spotted ray. She gave me this ray to remind me of “The Year of Rays.” This was a year in which we went to every... more

Finding Out at 40: A Retrospective

It was a day I will never forget and which would prove to be transformative in more ways than one. Looking back almost 10 years later, I could not possibly have imagined what would follow, granted how emotionally trying that day was for me and where I am today. This was the day on which I was told that I have Asperger’s Syndrome.... more

Projection or Recognition?

First, I have two important messages. I would like to take a moment to remember Andre Friedman, who died on October 3, 2018 at the age of 90. Andre lived an extraordinary life: he was a Holocaust survivor, a learned scholar, and a world traveler fluent in four languages. For those in the autism... more

25 Miles of Inspiration

Last Saturday, I found myself – as part of Team NESCA for AANE – at the starting line for a bike ride, waiting apprehensively for my turn to start, carefully balancing my bike between my legs, stretching my legs and checking my tires. I was a bit nervous, because I’m not an experienced or... more

Special Interest: The World of Game Shows

For most of life, my primary special interest has been game shows. For five years, I produced, directed, and edited game shows for my local cable access TV channel. Producing these shows took tremendous effort. The cable channel’s staff acted as crew, but I was responsible for finding... more

Special Interest: A Love of Mathematics

I've grown obsessive over many topics over the years: the rope swing on the playground, the "Pure Imagination" scene from the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film, Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy, minesweeper, knitting...  But more than anything else, and throughout it... more

Neurology & Context

It’s almost fall, the academic year has begun so I thought I would address a slightly more academic topic. I’ve been thinking about many of the traits associated with Asperger’s and similar profiles and how they are perceived in our society and by ourselves. When a parent decides to have a... more

Teens: Anger, Depression, and Asperger’s

Question A parent asked: “Is it normal for a teen with Asperger's to become increasingly angry, irritable, and almost violent while also becoming more suicidal? These behaviors don't seem connected to Asperger’s.” Answer A great question! First, however: It’s imperative that children or... more

Aspie Dad, Spectrum Son

What an experience this has been! Fatherhood in this day and age is no easy undertaking regardless and who is or isn’t on the Spectrum. Take it up a notch when both father and son have Spectrum profiles. Without question, I am in the thick of the greatest challenge of my life, though the word... more

Why I Cycle for AANE

I cycle for two main reasons -- biking is, first of all, the best form of cross-training and post-race recovery for runners, and also helps strengthen muscles (such as the quads) that would not be worked out through running alone (thereby preventing injury).  But the more significant reason is the... more

Considerations for Parents: Siblings of Children with ASD

It happened again yesterday. As I was talking to a parent, she said her 11 yr old son who is identified as being on the spectrum was doing very well. He was thriving in a small classroom setting, with individualized instruction, interacted with peers and was happy. It was his younger brother who... more

Hiring Advice from a Software Test Engineer on the Autism Spectrum

One thing I know for sure is that I would not be where I am today if I wasn’t on the autism spectrum. I have long reflected on the idea that our weaknesses are our strengths - and vice versa. When I was diagnosed, I realized that it was my condition that enabled me to thrive as a... more

Marital Challenges and Triumphs

Challenges and triumphs: they go hand in hand in any marriage. I accept this reality, and I cling to the triumphs as a means of coping with the challenges. After all, mine is a neurodiverse marriage, and I’m the spouse with the Spectrum profile. There is never a dull moment in my household, I... more

The Good Enough Doctor

Dr. Shaun Murphy may be fictional, but I am not. No, I’m not a surgeon - or a savant - like the TV character so brilliantly portrayed in The Good Doctor by British actor Freddie Highmore. But I am autistic, and I do treat patients every day. Two years ago, at the Asperger/Autism Network... more

How an Aspie Found Happiness in a Neurotypical World

Well, it was not easy to find, it required a phenomenal amount of hard work, and it was not achieved overnight, but I did manage to find it. I know that I’m not the only one with an Asperger’s profile who is happy, so if you are an Aspie and have not yet found happiness, why not join us? I have... more

Inside Christopher’s World: An Autistic Perspective

Originally published by SpeakEasy Stage Company in the 2017 production program for "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time." Reproduced with permission. Every time that I pass through the Boston Public Garden, I think of Christopher Boone. For most of the year, the Garden is dotted... more

Rising Above Bullying

All that I can remember from recess that day in 5th Grade was pitch black, followed by me opening my eyes and finding myself with my back on the ground, surrounded by a bunch of kids looking down at me, and the perpetrator standing directly over me. That’s it. There was no trip to the infirmary... more

An Aspie’s Perspective on Neurodiverse Marriage

Marriage, for me, is many things. As somebody with an Asperger’s profile, challenging, though a challenge that has been well worth the effort. Alongside fatherhood, one of my greatest accomplishments. An experience that has both strengthened and humbled me. A job that demands nothing less than... more

How Dancing Saved My Life

Throughout my entire life as an Aspie, troubles and tribulations have hit me from all ends.  This has resulted in extreme depression and, many times, hopelessness.  Not just once, but a number of times in my teens and early twenties, my loneliness and depression reached a height I would not wish... more

How Music Has Helped Me Along

Throughout my life, my Asperger’s profile has accounted for a number of personal challenges which I have worked hard to address, with varying levels of success. Several of these challenges have either been greatly diminished, if not conquered, thanks in large part to my life-long immersion in the... more

Neurodiversity in the Library: One Librarian’s Experience

Diversity is a word frequently used in the library profession. The literature that currently exists typically focuses on gender, ethnic, cultural, and sexual diversities. One group rarely mentioned is the neurodivergent. According to the National Symposium on Neurodiversity at Syracuse University,... more

Asperger’s and Anxiety: Befriending the Tiger

Imagine this scene . . . You are thirteen years old and you walk into your school cafeteria. The lights are overwhelming, you feel swallowed by a sea of people, and your body is overcome by fear so intense, it feels as if you are being chased by a tiger.  The “Fight or Flight” response,... more

My Grandma

This was originally presented at a luncheon for members of the AANE Grandparents Group on April 4, 2017.   My name is Charlie, I have Asperger’s, and I’m here to talk about my grandma. Ruth Kendall Houlton O’Dell Lewis (or Grandma Ruthie to me) was born in 1920, the 2nd of 6... more

Southern Blog

Greetings from Music City, Nashville, Tennessee! I am a graduate from AANE’s AsperCoach Program. Being a certified AsperCoach is a rewarding experience for me, because I work with clients to attain personal goals in their lives and improve their self-sufficiency, independence, and self-esteem.... more

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Website is Replaced: Press Release

Senators are seeking a “detailed explanation” from now-Secretary DeVos for the disappearance of the resource website for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) today called on new Secretary of... more

Learning to Love Yourself

As somebody who has lived with Asperger’s Syndrome for almost 48 years, I have experienced more than my share of trials and tribulations. I have been bullied, both physically and verbally, more times than I can recall. I have heard people say unsavory things about me and ridicule me to my face... more

So, You Think Special Education is Expensive?

"If you think meaningful special education is expensive today, rest assured, it’s nowhere near as expensive as tomorrow will be without it." On January 11, the U.S. Supreme Court will review a Colorado case to define the level of “benefit” required for more than 6 million students with... more

An Aspie’s Perspective on Work and Career

I feel extraordinarily fortunate, granted my Asperger’s diagnosis, that I can honestly say that I have a rewarding career that I enjoy, that I excel at, that pays all of the bills, and which has become an integral part of who I am. Hard work, intelligence, optimism, patience, understanding the... more

Sibling Rivalry: Keeping Things in Perspective

My name is Chase, I’m 25, and I have Non-Verbal Learning Disorder. My brother is two years younger than I am, and does not have any diagnoses. Not only is he younger than I, he also developed faster than most people. He became a black belt, hung out with his numerous friends or created things... more

The Self-Discovery of One Aspie Woman

I had always thought of myself as a sensitive and independent introvert who had found her way after an anxious and lonely childhood. When I hit 40 years old, something shifted – so many of my peers had reached the traditional milestones of marriage, children, home buying, etc., none of which I... more

A Spectrum Son’s Tribute to His Mom

On September 1, 2016, my Mom lost her long, hard-fought battle with dementia and passed away to what I hope is a better place than where she was during the final years of her life. If she is where I hope she is, it is very well-deserved by virtue of the kind of person she was, how she touched so... more

How Video Games Benefit Students With Special Needs

A lot has been said about video games over the years. They have been called addictive and harmful to children and adults, but this is not necessarily true for everyone. In fact, many people on the autism spectrum can benefit greatly from picking up a video game controller and playing to their... more

Riding the Wave of Autism

My son was born in the midst of a blistering hot week in late July of 1988. Born 3 months early, at five pounds, and dropping to four within a day, I could just about fit him in the palm of my hand. It would be Thanksgiving before he came home from the hospital. Complications followed surgeries and... more

Let’s Talk About Language and Autism

AANE launched its new website this week. As we edited our new content, one question repeatedly brought us to a dead stop: “What word do we use to describe people in our community?” I went to graduate school 25 years ago. From the first day of class, social work professors drilled... more

Steve Silberman Offers Signal Boost for Autistic Voices

AANE’s Zach Michaels sits down with NeuroTribes author Steve Silberman. His favorite moments are excerpted below. Supports and services are not causes and cures Silberman’s interest in autism and the research surrounding it was sparked by the surprisingly enduring impact of his 2001 article,... more

Remembering Oliver Sacks

On August 30, 2015, the AANE community lost a beloved and inspiring leader and advocate when author and neurologist Oliver Sacks passed away from cancer. Dr. Sacks had an incomparable knowledge of the brain and its fascinating mysteries and puzzles. He was able to share that knowledge with both... more

Can Fiction Accurately Portray Asperger’s and Autism?

Rain Reign is a much lauded recent book by noted children's author Ann M. Martin. It tells the story of Rose, a young girl with what is described as "high functioning autism." The book has been praised by critics and earned piles of awards. But here at AANE we wanted to know if Rain Reign rang... more

We Are Becoming a Family of Artists

The first time I ever came to the AANE office, it was to participate in a painting workshop. It was there that I saw a copy of “Seeing with a Different Eye,” the catalog of the art exhibit from fall 2007 Asperger Connections Conference. I vowed to get some of my art into the next event, and my... more