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

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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