It would be much easier for all of us if psychiatric diagnoses fell neatly into one category. And psychiatry would be immeasurably less complicated if we had a “scientific instrument” like an MRI, X-ray or blood test which accurately and consistently assigned people into one or another... more
I am no expert on parenting a teen with AS—and every teen is different. Still, I’d like to offer other parents the gist of what I’ve learned from being a parent myself, from my colleagues at AANE, and from the many other parents I have spoken with by phone, via e-mail, or at the support group... more
Learn how AANE can help
Women with Asperger profiles are less likely to be diagnosed and more likely to be misdiagnosed for a number of reasons. Additionally, many professionals have been trained to recognize typical Asperger/autism spectrum expression more easily in males than... more
In this webinar, Steven will teach you about the basics of undue influence, and why individuals on the autism spectrum are uniquely susceptible to it. He will explain the difference between healthy and unhealthy influence. Undue influence is not just an issue for religious cults; it is used by... more
**The following is the fifth in a series of articles that are designed to provide students with a diagnosis of Asperger’s or autism tips regarding the sexual misconduct policies and procedures at colleges and universities nationwide.**
This article is primarily intended for a student who has been found responsible for campus sexual misconduct... more
**The following is the third in a series of articles that are designed to provide students with a diagnosis of Asperger's or autism with tips for navigating the sexual misconduct policies and procedures at colleges and universities nationwide.**
If you are accused of campus sexual misconduct, you will most likely be referred to as "the... more
**This article is the second in a series of articles that are designed to provide students with a diagnosis of Asperger's or autism with tips regarding the sexual misconduct policies and procedures at our nation's colleges.** The first article, Tips for Preventing A Violation of College Sexual Misconduct Policies, discussed best practices that... more
** The following is the first in a series of articles that are designed to provide students with a diagnosis of Asperger’s or autism with tips regarding the sexual misconduct policies and procedures at our nation’s colleges. **
If you are presently a student at a college or university, it is likely that you have heard discussions about... more
This webinar, designed for families of recently diagnosed children or teens, describes in detail and through real-life examples some of the most common challenges and strengths of Asperger's/Autism. It also includes basic information about parenting strategies and disclosure. It offers "first step"... more
The Autism Spectrum, Sexuality and the Law: What every parent and professional needs to know
Jul 21, 2014
by Nick Dubin and Isabelle Henault
A good resource for families and professionals interested in legal and criminal issues in regards to AS and... more
Women with Asperger/Autism Profiles Share their Life Stories
These twenty stories were sent to AANE in preparation for the March conference regarding women on the Autism Spectrum. Six of these stories were presented at the conference itself; the rest are now being shared for the very first... more
Elisse Ghitelman and Jacob
Jacob used to tell people he had been expelled from second grade. He could read by the time he finished kindergarten, but until fourth grade still routinely wrote his “Cs” backwards. “He’d look at the letters and know they were backwards, but it’s a... more
Dear Friends and Family,
You may have noticed that I stopped sending out holiday cards several years back. Truthfully, I just couldn’t take the competition any longer. Even if my kids could sit still long enough for a family photograph, we would never look like the smiling, gleaming, Ken-and-Barbie-perfect families whose Polaroids come in the... more
Susan Shanfield wrote and presented this talk at AANE’s Celebration of Community on March 7, 2004.
Hi Everyone. What an amazing experience that we women and girls are gathered here together to celebrate our strengths and differences—and I think that we’re making history at the same time.... more
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that I realized that my eight-year old daughter had Asperger’s. It doesn’t seem all that long ago, when she was three, that I moved her from a family day care to a larger center, hoping that she would meet children her age and make friends. Though I anxiously... more
Recently, as I watched my son drive off on his way back to college, I couldn’t help but marvel at how far we have all come.
When he was first diagnosed with PDD at age three (nobody was then referring to Asperger’s Syndrome), my son was busy skipping, swinging, and stemming while trying to manage the daily work of kindergarten. Loud noises... more
I cannot count the number of times I have been asked (or heard others asked) whether or not parents should tell their child that he or she has Asperger Syndrome. I will give my opinion in a moment, but first I want to address how this is relative to empowering victims.
Tim and Ted are children with Asperger Syndrome, both 14 years old. They... more
Parenting children with AS can be a joyous, rewarding and eye-opening experience. It can also be challenging, and at times exhausting. We all need breaks in our parenting hours to rest, refuel, and regenerate ourselves. For most families, that means hiring a babysitter—but where do you find one,... more
Karen Lewis delivered this speech on May 15, 2005 at the annual AANE Gala.
My goal this evening is to recognize and honor the parents of children with Asperger’s Syndrome and to express thanks to AANE for being there to assist us all as we meet those special challenges of Asperger’s... more
As soon as we get into the car, he grabs my iPod and eagerly searches for his favorite song. “I Like to Move It” from the Madagascar soundtrack begins to thump through the speakers and Adam turns to me saying “I can’t resist the urge to dance to this song, the beat is just so good, you know... more
Life for every person in the human world begins the same. Every mother and father have a child the same way; yet the outcome is always different. Siblings can be alike, and strangers could look faintly similar, but everyone in this world is different. Sometimes, kids are born with skills, like math or singing. And sometimes people are born with... more
If you have just found out – or if you suspect – that you or someone in your care has Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), you may feel as bewildered as Alice in Wonderland, just after she fell down the rabbit hole! It’s a whole new reality now, and you are probably going to need a guide or two to... more
Dorms, parties, cute girls, hot guys, roommates, new friends—let’s face it, college life is, in large part, about the social scene.
Finally, you’ll be able to come and go as you please. Your parents won’t be there reminding you to study, brush your teeth, eat your vegetables, etc. And you won’t have a curfew. Moreover, college is... more
By Ashleigh Hillier, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Graduating from high school and transitioning to the world of work is an extremely important and exciting milestone. However, for many young adults with Asperger Syndrome (AS), employment can... more
Adolescence is an important time of growth in any young person’s life. It’s a vulnerable time, during which self-esteem can be exceedingly fragile. For teens with AS, HFA or PDD, the quality of support and education they receive during this formative period can make or break future success as an adult, be it on the job, in relationships, or in... more
Frequently, despite highly developed cognitive skills, underdeveloped independent living and social/communication skills prevent AS teens and adults from getting the life they desire and deserve—but there are things you can do to improve the situation, and it all starts with getting to know yourself.
In 1994 a young woman came to me for help.... more
When your child gets special education services in elementary school, there are so many details to remember that it can be overwhelming. You wonder: What should I do—and what will people at school do? Where do I start? There is no list of hints that fits everyone, but here are a few ideas to think about each school... more
The role of the classroom teacher is of utmost importance in ensuring the success of the child with an Asperger Syndrome. The classroom teacher sets the tone of the class and is responsible for making sure all the needs of the children are being met. Like an orchestra conductor, the teacher is the one person that keeps things together and “in... more
Many parents know that disclosure—telling others about their child’s Asperger Syndrome—can help the child better understand and accept him or herself, and become a better self-advocate. It can also help others better accept and support the child (or teen or adult). However, many of us wonder: Where should I begin? What should I say—and... more
Children who experience social success are those who are able to accurately assess a situation, recognize what is expected and appropriate, and act in a way that “goes with the flow” of what is going on. Some children seem to be able to do this almost magically. As social dynamics shift subtly from one situation to the next, these children... more
Homework is an issue that needs careful consideration for the student with AS. Hopefully this article will help both parents and teachers focus your thinking about homework and make good decisions for your student. Decisions about homework should be addressed by the whole educational team, including parents and, if possible, the student... more
Based on what we hear from families, the majority of children with Asperger Syndrome can succeed in school provided they receive sufficient, appropriate support. However, it is important that not only the teachers, aides, and specialists working directly with the child, but also everyone in the school and special education hierarchies is willing... more
Most children with Asperger’s Syndrome are in public schools following an Individualized Education Plan. The IEP may specify that the child have an aide in the classroom. AANE asked aides, a parent and a child to explain, in their own words, what an aide does.
Adjusting the AS Student to a Neurotypical Environment
The writer is an aide at a... more
By October, the quiet honeymoon time of getting acquainted and slower academic demands is ending, and everything gets ratcheted up. By now, new and “quirky” behaviors may be seen as annoying, teachers start to feel that it’s time to get going making their academic deadlines, and our children show more signs of stress. Reviewing a new book,... more
Over the past eight years, I’ve had the occasion to participate in many school based team meetings for my two sons. Both of them have learning issues, both have been on IEPs and on 504 plans at different points in their education.
I barely remember our first meeting, back when my now 8th grader was in preschool. I do remember walking into it... more
Sam is a 12-year old boy with Asperger Syndrome. He had recently been rejected from a private school specializing in Asperger Syndrome for being “too low functioning.” His mother, a professional musician, knew Sam had much musical talent but had yet to find anyone who could teach him how to read music. At our first meeting, she also expressed... more
Hello. I appreciate the opportunity to talk today and share some of my experience about the college transition process as well as some lessons learned along the way. I guess I should say here at the outset that I am not just an AANE employee but I am also a satisfied customer with a 20 year old son with AS.
My son, Scott, is a junior at... more
Which colleges work well for kids with AS? How do I help my child transition successfully to college? These are the questions most parents ask as a child with AS nears high school graduation. As the mom of a recent high school graduate, I wanted to share my recently developed perspective on college with other parents as they consider what the... more
Please feel free to adapt the following sample letter to your son or daughter's individual situation and needs.
Month ##, 2011
Office of Residential Life and Housing
950 Main Street
Collegetown MA 01610-1477
Re: Housing request for College Student
College Student is a current patient with a diagnosis of Asperger... more
Why go to college? A high school student once told me that the reason he wanted to go to college was “You know, to learn stuff.” Like many students, this young man assumed that attending college is what one does after high school. Then (as the story typically continues), one either goes to medical, law, or business school, or one gets a job... more
When a student with AS goes off to college, it can be a huge challenge for the parent as well. Below, one student and her mother share with us their differing experiences of her freshman year.
Notes by Brianna Minks, College Student
When I first went into college, I signed up for my school's disabled student services. My mother and I both... more
We are entering a new era! As the generation of children diagnosed in the late 1990’s comes of age, following the 1994 entry of Asperger’s Syndrome into the DSM-IV, more Aspies than ever are off to college. (“Aspie” is a name coined by adults with AS who are active in the Asperger Pride movement.) Of course we all know there has always... more
Selecting a camp for a child is often a difficult task, but it becomes even more arduous when your child has Asperger Syndrome. There are so many items to explore, so many questions to ask— with no clear path through the wilderness! However, you may find this task easier if you consider the... more
North Star Foundation is a nonprofit whose mission is to place assistance dogs with children who face challenges. To date we have helped over forty families meet the social, emotional and educational goals of their children on the autism spectrum, through the use of well-bred, well-trained dogs.
Our dogs play a different role than traditional... more
This webinar takes parents of girls through the common difficulties faced by girls with AS/ASD as they begin and move through puberty. These girls may be confused or upset by the changes taking places in their bodies. New hygiene routines can be made more difficult by sensory sensitivities. In... more
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
Why is Parent/Educator Communication so Important?
Most students with Asperger profiles have weak social communication skills.
One result is that the student’s life is like a bicycle wheel with a weak hub.
The adults need to hold hands around the rim to keep the wheel intact and functional.
Stephanie’s Wedding Cake Model of... more
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
Studies find that approximately 73% of children with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) experience sleep problems, and these problems tend to last longer in this group than they do for children without AS. For example, children with AS are more likely to be sluggish and disoriented after waking. Laboratory... more
Adults with Autism and Asperger Syndrome share their stories about disclosing their condition to prospective employers and other concerned parties. For the Asperger/Autism Network Disclosure conference on Saturday, March 14,... more
For siblings of those with Asperger Syndrome or who are on the Autism spectrum, things can seem very unfair. This video looks at the sibling dynamic, the perspective of the neurotypical sibling and the ways parents can address the situation... more
Experienced, powerhouse educational advocates Marilyn Weber and Jennie DunKley show you how to create individualized transition plans that will really help get your high school student ready for an independent adult life of education, work, self-care, and healthful... more
In this webinar, Erika Drezner helps parents distinguish between behaviors that are related to an Asperger profile, and typical teen behaviors. She gives information on how Asperger’s impacts the adolescent mind, and how to handle the demands of parenting this kind of... more
This video discusses the strengths and weaknesses of people who have Asperger Syndrome or related profiles as it relates to the work environment. It focuses on the challenges that those individuals face and the supports that can help them... more
This book, written by experienced college disability directors, is the authoritative guide to the subject. Dr. Lorraine Wolf and Dr. Jane Thierfeld Brown lead AANE’s “Preparing for College” workshops, and Dr. Thierfeld Brown offers college consultations to individual teens and their... more
Author, Educator, Musician, Internationally acclaimed speaker and autistic adult offers so much more than the traditional autobiography. Drawing on personal and professional experience, Stephen Shore combines three voices to create a touching and, at the same time, highly informative book for... more
Many people on the spectrum never get "the talk" from their parents, and suffer from "information deficit." This book goes a long way toward filling in the gaps in their knowledge. It takes a candid look at aspects of sex and relationships as they apply to people on the autism spectrum:
A few years ago, I was speaking with a friend who is on the spectrum when he noted that life would be much easier if someone would just show me the rules. With the publication of The Hidden Curriculum, Myles, Trautman, and Schelvan have done just that. Utilizing concrete examples of hidden... more
The future of our society depends on our understanding autism. WIRED reporter Steve Silberman unearths the secret history of autism, long suppressed by the same clinicians who became famous for discovering it, and finds surprising answers to the crucial question of why the number of diagnoses has... more
In order to raise a teen with an Asperger profile, it helps to know what to expect from supposedly neurotypical teens. Dr. Anthony Wolf delivers the mixed news with clarity and humor, and offers hope that parents and teens can make it through these tumultuous years.
Learn More and... more
Navigating the "neurotypical" world with an Asperger/Autism profile can be extremely stressful. But by understanding the specific ways your brain works differently--and how to tap into your personal strengths--you can greatly enhance your well-being. In this wise and practical book, experienced... more
An invaluable resource for therapists, this lucidly written book provides research-based strategies for addressing the core challenges of Asperger/Autism and helping clients manage frequently encountered co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety and depression. Detailed case examples illustrate the... more
Ever since he was young, John Robison longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits—an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother, Augusten Burroughs, in them)—had... more
In Elijah's Cup, Paradiz tells the powerful story of her family's struggle with her son's condition, one characterized by social awkwardness, literal-mindedness, and a fixation with particular subjects and interests.
Elijah's Cup offers a refreshing take on autism from the perspective of civil... more
Attorney and parent Barbara Jackins' new book is a must have resource for parents of children with special needs and the professionals and advocates who assist them. In an easy-to-read, conversational style, Jackins, the lead author of Special Needs Trust Administration Manual: A Guide for... more
For people with Autism profiles, the stresses of coping with a world that seems alien to them can often lead to depression.. Written specifically for adults, this ground-breaking book offers accessible and sensitive advice on how to manage depression and make positive steps towards recovery. Nick... more
Far too often, students with Asperger profiles graduate from high school graduates unprepared for the transition to an independent adult life. Early, ongoing training in the social skills crucial to establishing successful adult relationships—in college, vocational school, residential living, or... more
Kari Dunn Buron and Mitzi Curtis have created a tool that helps students with Asperger profiles become aware of their feelings and emotional reactions, and communicate about them with others. This must-have resource shows how the use of a simple 5-point visual scale can help students understand and... more
The transition to middle school is daunting to most, but for students with autism spectrum disorders, it can be a veritable mine field of hidden curriculum rules, social misunderstanding, cliques, etc. And that's even before cracking open a book! Based on her own experiences, Haley Moss, a teenager... more
This is the real-life story of Owen Suskind, the son of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind and his wife, Cornelia. An autistic boy who couldn't speak for years, Owen memorized dozens of Disney movies, turned them into a language to express love and loss, kinship, brotherhood.The... more
AANE parent Cornelia Pelzer Elwood has partnered with psychologist and long-time AANE board member Dr. Scott McLeod of MGH Aspire to write this comprehensive guide for parents. The book includes access to templates that parents can use to create a detailed picture of a child and the strategies that... more
Nancy Mucklow wrote a classic--possibly the very first article on this topic, and later developed it into to this book. Grandparents can be very positive, essential figures in the life of their grandchild with an Asperger profiles. Nancy’s book helps grandparents understand their grandchildren,... more
Marcelo Sandoval is a high-functioning, extremely self-aware teenager with Asperger's syndrome. He has an empathetic mother and a father, Arturo, who appears to be less empathetic as he pushes Marcelo to live in the "real world." The form the real world takes is a summer job in the mailroom at... more
Sarah Attwood has written a clear, practical guide to help teach teens with Asperger profiles about an essential subject that many parents and educators find it difficult to address.
Learn More and... more
Experienced educator Ellen Korin created this workbook at the request of one of her middle school students, who wanted a tool for remembering the content of their important discussions. The result is a very flexible and effective tool that educators or therapists can use with teens with Asperger... more
Not every person with an Asperger profile is an Einstein--but it can be comforting and inspiring to know that Einstein, Mozart, Gregor Mendel, Mme. Curie, and others had some of the same struggles--and managed to make huge contributions to humankind.
Learn More and... more
Paraprofessional classroom aides are critical to the comfort and success of many students with Asperger profiles.This book is an invaluable guide for such paraprofessionals, full of practical, concrete suggestions.
Learn More and... more
Brothers and sisters of children with special needs can often feel neglected and lonely. Sam and his mother wrote this book so other kids would know what it feels like to live with a brother or sister who has an Asperger's profile. Brotherly Feelings explores the mixed emotions that siblings... more
LOVE THAT BOY is a uniquely personal story about the causes and costs of outsized parental expectations. What we want for our children—popularity, normalcy, achievement, genius—and what they truly need—grit, empathy, character—are explored by National Journal’s Ron Fournier, who weaves... more
Jane Whelen Banks, an AANE parent, has written a series of picture books to help her son understand social situations and other challenges of early childhood. Other parents can read these very accessible and charming books to their children, or follow Jane’s example to create books that address... more
Winnie Dunn has worked with many people with Asperger profiles. Based on her deep understanding of how their sensory issues impact their experience and functioning, she offers strategies to creating more hospitable environments and practical solutions. The book is refreshingly concise, with handy... more
The workplace can be a difficult environment for people with Asperger's Syndrome (AS) and this often impedes their ability to make use of particular skills and sustain meaningful and fulfilling employment.
This is the definitive guide to surviving and thriving in the workplace for people with... more
Finding a job is a confusing and anxiety-provoking process for many individuals with Asperger's Syndrome. This practical “how-to” guide describes exactly what it takes to get hired in the neurotypical workplace. Every aspect of finding employment is covered, from defining strengths and... more
The authors take an in-depth look at entrepreneurship. Using real-life examples, they point out that many of the unique characteristics of individuals on the autism spectrum that lend themselves well to entrepreneurial ventures. The book explores many unnoticed aspects of Vocational Rehabilitation... more
The Ultimate Guide for Getting People with Asperger Syndrome into the Workplace (and keeping them there!)
Hawkins guides readers through the process of gaining employment, from building a supportive team, addressing workplace challenges, to securing an appropriate post. The book includes practical... more
Up to 85% of the Asperger's population are without full-time employment, though many have above-average intelligence.
Rudy Simone, an adult with Asperger's Syndrome and an accomplished author, consultant, and musician, created this insightful resource to help employers, educators, and therapists... more
The behavior of children with Asperger profiles is often driven by anxiety and/or missing skills. Over-simplified behavioral interventions such as imposing inflexible negative consequences may increase a child’s anxiety--and do nothing to teach the necessary skills. This book offers a much more... more
“Hello, Mrs. Thompson, this is Ms. O’Conner, Jacob’s teacher. I’m calling today because there was another incident in class. Jacob is struggling with listening to directions. We were at morning meeting and, as always, he was jumping up and down and calling out. Another student asked him to sit and be quiet because he couldn’t hear. Jacob... more
Spring has sprung. It’s that time of year. Usually transition planning begins now in most school systems. However, it’s actually a little late. By the time you get this newsletter you will already be behind the eight ball as far as transition planning goes!! (Try understanding that if you have AS!!) So you better get busy! There are many steps... more
If your grandchild has been newly diagnosed, then welcome to the world of Asperger profiles. It is a mysterious and sometimes overwhelming world, but it is not one to be afraid of. Even if you are saddened, disappointed or angry about the diagnosis, keep in mind that it’s for the best. The earlier the diagnosis, the earlier the... more
Graduating from high school and transitioning to the world of work is an extremely important and exciting milestone. However, for many young adults with Asperger Syndrome (AS), employment can present some unique challenges. Despite the vastly increasing numbers of individuals being diagnosed with AS, adult services for this population are... more
People with Asperger profiles absolutely do have feelings, although they may have difficulty identifying and discussing them. In fact, many feelings – such as fear, anger and joy – seem to be experienced more intensely by those with Asperger profiles than by average people. In addition, some... more
There is some suggestion that environmental factors play a part in influencing certain characteristics of Asperger profiles, or may even affect the expression of genes. The emerging field of epigenetics, the study of the ways in which physiology can be shaped by external factors, might shed more light on this topic moving forward. We do know that... more
Scott was one of two student panelists at AANE's spring 2012 "Perspectives on College Life" program.
My name is Scott Finkelstein and I just graduated from Brandeis University. I actually finished a semester early and am currently looking for a job (in case any of you are hiring…), but I will walk with the class of 2012 in the spring.
An Individual Educational Program (IEP) is a formal structure for achieving the educational goals of students with learning differences. IEPs are written collectively by a team of teachers, parents, and professionals involved with a student’s welfare, based on concerns raised by parents and/or teachers, usually backed up with specific diagnoses... more
We live in a rapidly changing society that can be more hospitable to some people than to others. The rate of social and cultural change in and of itself can be overwhelming to those who typically struggle with transitions. Many people with an Asperger profile can easily feel over-stimulated by lights, sounds, and textures. In an increasingly... more
It is important that families of children with Asperger profiles also consider the special needs of the neurotypical (NT) siblings of these children. The good news is that studies comparing “typical” siblings of children with special needs to matched siblings have found the first group to have no greater chance of having psychological problems... more
“Plant a radish, get a radish, never any doubt.
That’s why I like vegetables; you know what they’re about.”
Words by Tom Jones from The Fantastiks
Commonly Shared Family Expectations
1. Children will eat what is served.
2. Dinner is eaten as a family.
3. Families take vacations... more
Nobody knows for sure what causes an Asperger profile. Current research indicates that there is a genetic foundation for this constellation of traits, involving a number of different genes. So it is not surprising that when a person receives an Asperger/ASD diagnosis, the family often realizes that... more
Use the following template to share information with your child or student’s new team and teacher. Change categories or language to fit your student. Thank you for sharing your expertise!
The word "family" can evoke powerful memories and emotions. Thinking of family recalls the Robert Frost line, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” When grandparents are involved, the line could often be changed to, “…they can’t wait to take you in.”
The relationships between kids and their... more
When I was first asked to speak to a special gathering of grandparents, I had a moment of panic. Being a grandparent is so complex: there’s so much to say and so little time. Then I realized that this is the perfect metaphor for our lives as grandparents. There’s so much we’d like to do, and not enough time!
Since our lives are busy and... more