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

To visit the blog for AANE's LifeNet program, click here.

Reflecting on AANE’s Past and Future

Lee el Mensaje de Brenda En Español As the calendar year turns over, many of us take time to reflect on the past year, think about our journey of self-discovery, and set intentions for the year to come. As we approach our 26th year at AANE, I am also reflecting on AANE’s past year and all... more

Una Mirada al Pasado y Una Mirada Hacia el Futuro

A medida que el año se acaba, muchos de nosotros nos tomamos un tiempo para reflexionar sobre el año transcurrido, pensamos en nuestro viaje de autodescubrimiento y establecemos propósitos para el año que entra. A medida que nos acercamos a nuestro 26th aniversario de AANE, también reflexiono... more

Making the “L Shape”

The intersection of queer, trans, and autistic is a complex one, but it’s one that accurately describes my experience. My name is Olivia (She/They) and I’m a trans woman. Growing up queer in a conservative Upstate NY high school was difficult enough, but it was complicated even further by... more

Stepping Through the Looking Glass

My Life Comes to a Halt... I looked down at the e-mail with apprehension. It had finally come. After decoding the file coded to protect my privacy as a patient, I could finally read the diagnosis: “ICD-10-CM Diagnosis: Autism Spectrum Disorder (F-84.0)” I sat there for a moment, dumbfounded.... more

Supporting Autistic Kids in Self-Discovery

“How will I know when it’s time to tell my child about their diagnosis?” “What should I say if my child asks me a question about autism?” “Won’t it just hurt their self-esteem to know a diagnosis? How does having a label help?” “What’s the best way to tell my child... more

Diagnosing Autism in Adults: Why is it so hard?

Virginia sat across from me, eyes twinkling, talking with self-awareness and humor about her childhood. “I had no friends. Everyone thought I was weird because I was obsessed with cats. All I wanted to do during recess was play cat games.” Virginia is a 25-year-old woman who suspects she has... more


I was only asking to get an answer She only exploded to become a star Orbiting the necrotizing flesh monsters that call one another human Why did she call him inhumane when he acted like one? Where am I? Who's writing this? If I were a god, would I be inhumane or superhuman? Why are... more

Evaluating Expectations

Lee el Mensaje de Brenda En Español This month our newsletter focuses on expectations, which seems appropriate given that it underpins so much of what happens this time of year. Whether it’s family gatherings and traditions, gift giving, or creating New Year’s resolutions, fulfilled versus... more

Evaluar Expectativas

Este mes nuestro boletín se centra en las expectativas, lo cual parece muy apropiado puesto que sustenta gran parte de lo que sucede en esta época del año. Sea en reuniones familiares, tradiciones, en la entrega de regalos, o en los propósitos de Año Nuevo, las expectativas cumplidas o... more

Reflections on Expectations

I am 66 years old, but I only found out I was on the spectrum at the age of 49. I realize now that I have spent my lifetime not meeting others’ expectations in my social skills. My lack of non-verbal communication gets me into a lot of misunderstandings, but I have high expectations of myself in... more

Expectations for Holiday Gatherings

‘Tis the season for friends & family get-togethers, and while the COVID pandemic is still a significant factor, many people are finding safe ways to return to some level of gathering. While for some, this may be a welcome return to long-standing family traditions, it can often present... more

Navigating Expectations as Providers

Most professionals serving the autism community chose their work to help meet the needs of autistic individuals. Wanting to make a difference in people’s lives and fill a void in services is what propels us forward and keeps the autistic individual front and center in everything we do. One... more

A Message from AANE’s New Executive Director Brenda Dater

Lee el Mensaje de Brenda En Español  My passion for AANE began in 2005 when I reached out as a mom of three young boys. I was concerned that my autistic son wouldn’t be able to adjust to a move to Massachusetts from New Jersey. He wanted friends, but other kids and their parents often... more

Un Mensaje de la Nueva Directora Ejecutiva de AANE, Brenda Dater

Mi entusiasmo por AANE empezó en 2005 cuando me acerqué como madre de 3 niños pequeños. Yo estaba preocupada de que mi hijo autista no fuera capaz de adaptarse al mudarnos a Massachusetts desde New Jersey. Él quería amigos, pero los otros niños y sus padres a menudo no le comprendían. Yo... more

Finding the Right Dorm

I lay down in my bed on a warm Saturday night, groaning as I heard the cheers from outside begin. I was in a single in a dorm on the far edge of campus. I had purposely chosen this dorm above some others as I had heard it wasn’t a “party dorm,” however, I soon learned this wasn’t the case.... more

Transitioning to Parenthood Effectively

As an adult on the spectrum, I have often struggled with handling transitions or a sudden step up in responsibility at various points in life. My biggest challenge was in handling a transition to parenthood. While things were rosy and going smoothly in married life, everything changed for me when I... more

Transition Triage: What to Do When Things Go Wrong

Transitioning to a new grade, a new school, or back to in-person classes after remote learning can be a significant adjustment. You may have done a lot to get ready: previewed the transition with your autistic child or teen, discussed what to expect, developed a plan with their team, and prepared... more

Preparing for Life’s Transitions

Throughout the lifespan, we are all faced with many different kinds of transitions in all areas of our lives. Whether it is moving through different educational stages, beginning or changing employment, entering into friendships or romantic relationships, or moving into independent or supported... more

A Farewell from Dania Jekel

Lee el mensaje de Dania en Español The first speaker at our very first conference in 1995, before there was even an official AANE, was a parent who told the story of something that had happened just the day before. His nine year-old son had become frustrated and angry at school, and had kicked... more

La Despedida de Dania Jekel

El primer ponente de la primera conferencia en 1995, antes incluso de que AANE fuera oficial, fue un padre que nos contó la historia de algo que le sucedió justo el día anterior. Su hijo de nueve años había comenzado a estar frustrado y enfadado en la escuela, y le dio una patada en la... more

Tributes to Dania Jekel

It is impossible to capture the tremendous impact Dania Jekel has had on the Asperger/autism community over the years. In honor of her retirement, we would like to share a small selection of the many messages sent from staff and community members expressing their gratitude to Dania and to... more

Mutually Assured Distraction

Gus and Leah are a married couple on the autism spectrum and members of the AANE Speaker's Bureau. Read their full bio here. ***** We are an adult couple, both of us on the autism spectrum, married for almost exactly five years. Gus is more of a classic STEM geek, working as a computer... more

Dating & Relationships on the Spectrum: A Parent Perspective

Parents of autistic children often wonder how best to be supportive if their teen or young adult decides to enter the arena of dating and relationships. While every individual on the spectrum has a unique profile and each family situation is different, we wanted to share the reflections of two... more

Understanding Neurodiverse Relationships

For over 20 years, Grace Myhill has worked with neurodiverse couples and has pioneered specialized training for therapists in how to work with neurodiverse couples more effectively. Here Grace discusses some of the key areas she addresses with neurodiverse couples and what she has learned over the... more

Not Perfect, but Good Enough

Lee el mensaje de Dania en Español A few years ago I took a fiber arts workshop. The teacher would show the class a new technique we could use to decorate a piece of cloth and then ask us to experiment with it for ourselves. As we tried each new process, sometimes the result would look good,... more

No es perfecto, pero sí suficientemente bueno

Hace algunos años participé en un taller de Arte de fibra textil. La profesora enseñaba a la clase una nueva técnica con la que poder decorar un trozo de tela para luego pedirnos que lo experimentáramos nosotros mismos.. Mientras probábamos cada nuevo proceso, a veces el resultado parecía... more

A Tribute to Dr. Daniel Rosenn, a Founding Member of AANE

AANE wouldn’t exist without the help of our incredibly hard-working community of volunteers and staff. It's amazing to think that a few of these individuals who joined me 26 years ago when AANE was nothing more than an idea, are still an active part of the community to this day. Although each... more

Executive Functioning in Real Life

It can take time to find the right strategy to assist with executive functioning challenges. Neurodiverse individuals and LifeMAP coaches share some practical tips and techniques to help prevent executive functioning barriers. Do you have a strategy you'd like to share here? Email us!... more

Challenges in Executive Functioning and How They Impact School-Aged Children

Original article appeared in the White Plains Examiner and Putnam Examiner January 31st, 2012. Updated content: August 2021. Does your child have good ideas but struggle to get them down on paper? Do you frequently return to your child’s school to retrieve forgotten homework assignments? Have... more

Executive Functioning Explained

Recent years have witnessed an intensified interest in the neuropsychological construct of “executive function.” In short, executive functioning is a multidimensional concept referring to higher-order brain functions necessary for individuals to execute, or perform, tasks. Examples of these... more

Parenting Anxiety

Lee el mensaje de Dania en Español Running a non-profit can be stressful at times, so I have learned over the years to take care of myself in several ways. I enjoy hiking and quilting, but my hidden pleasure is binging streamed shows. I actually found two shows in the past couple of weeks I... more

La Ansiedad de los Padres

Dirigir una organización sin ánimo de lucro en algunas ocasiones puede ser estresante, así que he aprendido a lo largo de los años a cuidar de mí misma de diferentes maneras. Disfruto haciendo senderismo o cosiendo “quilting”, pero mi placer oculto es consumir los espectáculos... more

Self-Advocacy Discussion: Nick Gallop & Stephen Shore

AANE's Nick Gallop and Stephen Shore, Ed.D. discuss how their own self-advocacy developed and the role it has played throughout their lives.  ***** Nick Gallop is the Adult Services Coordinator at AANE and a published author specialized in helping young adults. He has experience working with... more

Growing the Seeds of Self-Advocacy

In middle school, I told my mom I didn't think I was very good at standing up for myself and wanted to work on that. I didn't realize, though, that the seeds of self-advocacy were being planted all around me.   Before I knew I was autistic, I knew I was dyslexic. For ten years, I went to a... more

A Journey Toward Self-Advocacy: Perspectives from an Adult Son & His Mom

Joe, who is now 30 years old, started receiving special education services in preschool, was largely mainstreamed in K-12, and graduated high school in 2009. He attended a community college and obtained an Associates Degree in Engineering, and is currently working towards completing a BS in... more

Building Self-Advocacy Skills

For many people, developing communication and advocacy skills is an ongoing process that can continue into adulthood and beyond. For the neurodiverse population, there may be several elements that make cultivating self-advocacy skills a challenge. Individuals on the spectrum may have different... more

The Weight of Words

Lee el mensaje de Dania en Español A few years ago, I transported and accompanied an 85 year-old community member I’ll call Alice to get a CAT scan at a local hospital. While the technician told us about the procedure, he kept speaking directly to me, even asking Alice a question while... more

El Peso De Las Palabras

Hace unos años, llevé y acompañé a un miembro de la comunidad de 85 años de edad, a la que llamaré Alice, para que le hicieran una tomografía en un hospital local. Mientras el técnico nos contaba el procedimiento, él me hablaba directamente a mí, incluso cuando Alice preguntaba algo, él... more

Meet Juanita Webster-freeman

From early challenges in school to competing in the heptathlon at the Olympic Trials, Juanita Webster-freeman shares her powerful story as an autistic... more

Nik & Martial Arts

Nik Lund is 19, and has been involved with martial arts since he was young. He spoke to us about the significant role it has played in his life and gives advice to others who may not have found a connection to a sport yet. Nik also has a deep interest in different kinds of music, especially the... more

Five Tips to Promote Pool Safety

Summer is in full swing, and with COVID vaccination numbers increasing and pandemic restrictions lifted, many families are eagerly getting out to enjoy some time at the pool. But whether it is a public facility in your community or a backyard private pool, water safety should always be central. For... more

Supporting Exercise & Fitness Goals

As we navigate through our daily lives, physical activity is often connected to a wealth of benefits.  From gaining physical strength and endurance to benefiting from the social aspects of fitness activities, staying fit can significantly increase the likelihood of a healthy and happy life.  As a... more

Reflections on Change

As AANE marks its 25th anniversary, I am struck by how my own perception of autism has changed over the years. During this past cold and rainy Memorial Day weekend in Boston, I decided to re-watch some classic films from my youth. For no particular reason, I watched the 1967 film The Graduate. The... more

Reflections from the Adult Community: Adam

Adam Markell discovered AANE 16 years ago, and we are thrilled that he has been a dedicated community member ever since. He is now a proud husband and parent, and enjoys an active lifestyle of hiking, swimming, traveling, and volunteering. As AANE celebrates its 25th year, we asked Adam to share... more

Reflections from the Adult Community: Caitlin

Caitlin Medlar has been a part of the AANE community since childhood when she was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. As AANE celebrates its 25th year, we asked Caitlin, now 31, to discuss her experience growing up on the spectrum and what helped through different stages of her life. In this... more

Reflections from the Parent Community: Stella

Over the past 25 years that AANE has been working with the autism community, we have had the privilege of staying connected to families as their young children grow to adulthood. Executive Director Dania Jekel talked with parent Stella Chin about her journey with her son and what she has learned... more

Reflections from the Professional Community: Dr. Carol Singer

Beyond conducting workshops & professional trainings for AANE and her time on the executive & clinical advisory committees, psychologist Dr. Carol Singer draws on years of extensive experience working with the autism community. As AANE marks its 25th anniversary, Dr. Singer recently had a... more

Facing Frustration

Lee el mensaje de Dania en Español There are many words and phrases connected with autism that we hear a lot -- like anxiety, executive functioning, bullying, passions, social communication, and sensory sensitivities. But I think there is one word that underpins many areas, but is often... more

Enfrentando Frustración

Hay muchas palabras y frases relacionadas con el autismo que escuchamos mucho: ansiedad, funcionamiento ejecutivo, bullying, intereses especiales, comunicación social, sensibilidades sensoriales. Pero creo que hay una palabra que sustenta muchas áreas, pero que a menudo se ignora. Esa palabra es... more

Emotional Regulation: Perspectives from Adults on the Spectrum

Many individuals on the spectrum discover gaining a deep self-awareness has helped them find ways to manage their emotional regulation. As part of AANE’s May 2021 Newsletter, three adults on the spectrum share what they have come to understand about their own emotional regulation and the... more

Emotional Regulation: Advice for Families

Emotion Regulation is a concept you may have been introduced to when you discovered your family member was on the autism spectrum. The term may bring up memories of meltdowns, tantrums, irritability, withdrawn behavior, or stress. Witnessing our loved one experience intense emotions can be... more

Emotional Regulation: Helping Our Students and Ourselves

Our Students Everyone can agree this last year has been difficult in so many ways. If you are an educator, the stress has been especially significant. When speaking with educators, many say that much of their time these days is spent on helping students manage the wide array of emotions they are... more

Neurotypicals and Empathy

Lee el mensaje de Dania en Español Many of us probably think we have a pretty good understanding about what empathy means. However, the more seriously we consider the subject and take in the scientific research, psychological and philosophical debates, and varying points of view, the more... more

Individuos Neurotípicos y Empatía

Muchos de nosotros probablemente pensamos que tenemos un entendimiento bastante bueno sobre lo que significa la empatía. Sin embargo, cuanto más seriamente consideramos el tema y tomamos en cuenta la investigación científica, los debates psicológicos y filosóficos, y los diferentes puntos de... more

Autism and Empathy: Reflections from Adults on the Spectrum

April 2021 Many in the autism community routinely confront misunderstandings and false assumptions about autism and empathy. As part of AANE's April 2021 Newsletter on the topic of autism and empathy, we invited adults with Asperger/autism profiles to respond to this subject, and we are thrilled... more

How I Came to Understand My Son’s Empathy

We are often told that one of the hallmark traits of people on the spectrum is that they appear to lack empathy—the ability to put themselves emotionally in someone else’s shoes. Indeed, if you’d asked me years ago if my son, David, showed any signs of being empathetic, my knee-jerk reaction... more

A Better Definition of Empathy

For a lot of people, it seems that autism is often considered a “disorder of empathy.” However, until we can all agree what a “disorder of empathy” is or means, this is a very problematic statement, and one could even say it is just plain wrong. The main issue with this assertion is the... more

Adult Sibling Relationships

Lee el mensaje de Dania en Español Recently I heard the story of an adult on the spectrum who joined her three siblings to care for an elderly mother in hospice. When the mother died, the siblings had to make decisions and manage her small estate. During this trying time, the interaction was... more

Relaciones entre hermanos adultos

Recientemente escuché la historia de un adulto en el espectro quien acompaño a sus tres hermanos a cuidar de su madre quien estaba en hospicio. Cuando la madre murió, los hermanos tuvieron que tomar varias decisiones y manejar los detalles de la pequeña herencia. Durante este tiempo tan... more

The Impact of the Pandemic Gives Some Adults a New Perspective on Employment

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an overwhelming catastrophe on many fronts. In addition to the heartbreaking loss of life and the devastation to the economy, it has played havoc with the daily routines, social connections, and livelihoods of many adults with Asperger/Autism profiles in our... more

Understanding the Employment Journey

When a parent finds out their child is on the autism spectrum, whether that child is 4 or 34, the parent embarks on a new journey to understand how autism might affect their child’s future. Just as no two individuals on the spectrum are the same, no two parent journeys are the same either.... more

(Neuro)diverse Employment Approaches Serve Everyone

If you’re an employer in 2021, you’re probably thinking a lot about diversity. You likely know why diversity matters in itself. You may also know that there’s a business case for it. Diversity, particularly diversity of thought, helps an organization solve problems in novel ways and... more

Online Support for Parents of Neurodivergent Transgender Adults

In September 2020, the largest study to date to examine the connection between autism and gender identity found that people who do not identify with the gender they are assigned at birth are three to six times as likely to be autistic than cisgender people. (The term "cisgender" is used to describe... more

Variations on a Theme

Lee el mensaje de Dania en Español I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways in which the COVID pandemic has created opposite responses for many on the autism spectrum. For some, loss of routine, changed social rules, and the fear of illness and death has been debilitating and has led to the... more

Variaciones en un Tema

He estado pensando en las maneras en que la pandemia de COVID ha creado respuestas opuestas en muchos individuos en el espectro autista. Para algunos, la falta de rutina, los cambios en reglas sociales, y el miedo de enfermedad o muerte ha sido debilitante y ha escalado los problemas de salud... more

Three Worlds: Long Night’s Journey Into Day

As AANE celebrates its 25th year, we are highlighting key moments and contributions. In 2017, AANE held the conference Aging with Aspergers, which explored the unique issues those on the spectrum face as they age. At this conference, community member Mark Goodman shared this moving story of growing... more

“Neurodiverty Experts Talk” Interview with Grace Myhill

The following is a transcript of the radio interview with Grace Myhill, MSW on the show "Neurodiversity Experts Talk," conducted by Nathalie Tandiwe on WBAI 99.5 FM. To listen to a recording of the interview, click here. (Program begins around the 2:10 time mark.) Learn more about AANE's course... more

A Late Diagnosis, Questions Answered, and Self-Acceptance

As an adult living with a late autism spectrum diagnosis, I have come to view my life up to now as embodying three phases: partially informed, enlightened, and paying it forward. I refer to the first stage of my life as "partially informed" because I was aware of my learning disability but not... more

A Different Kind of Grief

Lee el mensaje de Dania en Español I want to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy New Year. I’m sure we all share a fervent wish this year will be easier than the last, and we can begin to heal from the difficulty, trauma, and loss we have experienced at the hands of this pandemic. As AANE... more

Un tipo diferente de Duelo

Quiero tomar un momento para desearles a todos un Feliz Año. Estoy segura que todos compartimos un deseo ferviente de que este año sea más fácil que el pasado, y que todos podamos empezar a sanar del trauma tan difícil, y las pérdidas que hemos experimentado debido a la pandemia. A medida que... more

Two Sibling Perspectives

The following essays were contributed by two individuals sharing their experiences of having a sibling on the autism spectrum. Both authors wished to remain anonymous. ____________________________   Loving Ben It would be difficult to talk about my brother Ben without mentioning... more

Professional Development: Learning from First-Person Perspectives

Making the decision to enter into the healthcare, mental health or education field is often sparked by a personal experience. Whether your own experience, or the experience of a loved one, healthcare professionals, educators, and mental health providers can often cite one or many personal reasons... more

Climbing Out From Under the To-Do List

Lee el mensaje de Dania en Español Many individuals on the spectrum are plagued with a recurring thought: “Why can't I get anything done?”  No matter the age, people with Asperger/autism profiles often feel overwhelmed when they think of the number of things they need to do,... more

Saliendo de la lista de tareas pendientes

Muchas personas en el espectro tienen un pensamiento recurrente: “¿Por qué no puedo terminar nada?” Sin importar la edad, las personas con perfil de Asperger/autismo frecuentemente se sienten sobrecargadas cuando piensan en la cantidad de cosas que tienen que hacer, especialmente... more

The Return Home

For a few years, way before this COVID pandemic struck, my husband and I were empty nesters. Both children had moved out of the house, and for the first time in 30 years, it was ours and ours alone. As much as I missed my daughters’ company, there was a comfort in finally having a fairly clean... more

Autism and the Self

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of a person’s relationship to self. We use a lot of words and phrases combined with “self” like self-understanding, self-awareness, sense of self, which all point to a kind of knowledge a person can have about their intrinsic nature, and of who... more

Considerations for Neurodiverse Couples

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting a tremendous strain on many people in the autism community in different ways. Parents are taking on additional roles with their children, isolated adults are feeling extremely lonely, some with medical issues may feel especially anxious, and those living in smaller... more

An Odyssey for Kai

With a keen intellect, infectious personality, and a drive to succeed, Kai has been working with his AANE LifeMAP coach as he navigates the road to successfully meet his goals one by one. Growing up in Durham, New Hampshire, Kai earned his B.A. in Italian studies along with a minor in special... more

Special Education Advocacy Tips for the 2020-2021 School Year

Here are a few special education advocacy tips from AANE as students head into an uncertain learning environment this fall. Whether they attend school in-person, hybrid, or remotely, we can help you set your child up for success.  While some kids thrived remotely with reduced social pressure... more

A Road to Success

Julia began her journey with AANE’s LifeMAP program as she entered Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. As a recent cum laude graduate finishing with a major in English, Julia’s current interest in the job market is closely tied to her major, with an emphasis in... more

Anticipation Anxiety

I’ve used this platform many times to talk about anxiety because I think it is the most common and most difficult challenge almost everyone in our community faces, no matter the age. I am still surprised the American Psychiatric Association did not consider anxiety a core feature when it defined... more

Back to the Basics

July 2020 At this time when health, safety, and justice are occupying our minds and effecting our lives in drastic ways, it is easy to forget some of the basic, underlying understandings of the Asperger/autism profile. I have addressed many of these aspects in greater detail in previous talks,... more

Accentuate the Positive

In our parent support groups and Community Connections conversations, AANE staff members are hearing a lot about families’ experiences during this COVID-19 stay-at-home period. As most parents are spending a lot more time than usual with their children, many are also getting to observe directly... more

Congratulations to Our Asperger/Autism Graduates of 2020

As you reach the end of one of your most important and memorable journeys in life, you are embarking on the beginning of another. The milestone you’ve reached has been significant. You have been called to achieve this accomplishment in the face of great loss and sacrifice with a graduation... more

Social Distancing, Through my Autistic Lens

Adapted from a post originally published on TheHill.com. Too many Friday and Saturday nights spent in solitude. Maybe the living room TV is on, or perhaps I keep boredom at bay by getting work done. Maybe I’m practicing piano or refining a newly written song in my recording studio with the... more

The Impact of Uncertainty

June 2020 Before I begin, I want to acknowledge the painful and heartbreaking week we have had in our nation surrounding the murder of George Floyd. It is a profoundly distressing reminder to all of us of the deep racism that pervades our country. At AANE, we know many in our community feel... more

Workers With Autism on the Front Lines

Medical professionals, first response workers, those directly serving the public, and other essential workers during this COVID-19 pandemic face daily, exhausting challenges. This situation can be even more difficult for workers with Asperger/autism or other neurodiverse profiles. Communication... more

Context is Key

During this time of physical distancing, many of us have had to move our typical, in-person interactions to online video conferencing. Like all AANE groups, I was recently facilitating a support group that has moved online. During the meeting, with everyone’s live video up on the screen, one... more

The Kind of “Homeschooling” Plan My Son Really Needs

April 2020 Like many moms of Aspie teens, I found that after the first couple of weeks of quarantine, my primary concern was coaxing my 15-year-old out of his bedroom, where he was all too happy to be holed up on his laptop. Without interacting at school and studying in the public library,... more

Staying Social Connected While Physically Apart

Here are some ideas to help kids & teens with Asperger/autism profiles stay connected to friends and family during the COVID-19... more

IEP Meetings During School Closure

April 2020 These are challenging times for everyone, especially for our children with Asperger/autism profiles, and now, more than ever, AANE is here for you. Schools are closed, but the school staff is working. According to Massachusetts DESE regulations, even though the schools are closed,... more

Here for You

April 2020 In this difficult and unprecedented time, I have been trying to figure out what I could say that would be helpful to our Asperger/autism community. What would be meaningful to those of you who joined the AANE family last year from New York City, which has been hit so hard by this... more

Message From AANE Addressing Services During COVID-19 Pandemic

We recognize the COVID-19 pandemic has created a rapidly changing environment and uncertain future over the last several days, which has been difficult and stressful for everyone, especially adults on the spectrum, parents with children with Asperger/autism profiles, and the professionals who serve... more

“What does my child’s future hold?”

In years past, when a child received an autism diagnosis, it was often with a grim prognosis. Parents were told a long list of things their child would probably never do, like live independently or go to college. Today, we realize the diagnosis of autism alone doesn’t foretell the future.... more

“I think my parent is neurodiverse.”

Many adults, both neurotypical and on the spectrum, often come to us to discuss an important issue in their life. After learning about neurodiversity, they come to the realization that one or both of their parents fit the Asperger/autism profile. They may have been seeking greater insight into... more

LifeMAP Profiles: David

After graduating with a degree in bio-engineering and completing his final project, David decided to move to New York City to pursue a career in the health industry. While the city offers an abundance of opportunities for many, it can seem overwhelming for others, particularly individuals with... more

Sensitivity to Criticism: Advice for Parents

There is a lot of discussion about the different sensory reactions people on the spectrum have to the physical environment, such as the distress they may experience from loud/unexpected noises, fluorescent lighting, and clothing labels.  But there is another form of sensitivity I often see in... more

It’s Never Too Late

I recently discussed the impact of receiving a diagnosis later in life with a small group of adults on the spectrum. Most felt it was a huge relief to discover there was a reason for the many struggles they had faced during their life. One remarked that, getting a diagnosis was like “waking up to... more

Rejecting the Diagnosis

Over the years, I have received many calls from parents with a common concern. Somewhere in the mid-teen to young adulthood years, children often reject their diagnosis. They want nothing to do with the autism or Asperger's identity and nothing to do with any social skills groups, therapists, or... more

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