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Special Needs Means Special Abilities

Kelsey is a 4th grade special education student who has been diagnosed with autism. She has not let that diagnosis define or limit her. She is active with gymnastics, dance, swimming, cheerleading and pageants. In fact, during the past several months, she has won over 30 pageants and volunteered for more than 100 service hours on related community service projects. Earlier this week, she was invited to make a special presentation for the special education students enrolled at Bonaire Elementary School. The students were excused from their regular class to come to a central location and participate.

Kelsey's pageant platform is that "Special Needs Means Special Abilities" - individuals with disabilities can make a difference and have a positive impact on other people's lives. During her motivational presentation, she showed them her display board, some of her pageant sashes and one of her pageant trophies. She encouraged them to reach for the stars and pursue their dreams. She also explained the importance of making a difference in your community. It was a great day sharing information about a platform that means so much to Kelsey.

During the past three months alone, she has been a featured speaker at a regional autism walk advocacy event; provided the featured entertainment (tap dancing) at a local pageant for developmentally disabled middle and high school girls; coordinated a community service project addressing animal cruelty prevention by collecting almost 250 pounds of dog food for a local humane society; volunteered at her mother's Pre-Kindergarten Sunday School class; and along with several other local pageant title holders, visited a local personal care home to play bingo with the residents and distribute gifts. Kelsey wants to start her own charitable foundation someday. I am very proud of my little pageant queen.

Carol Norris
Bonaire, GA

Addressing the Cause, Refusing to Cope Around the Symptoms

People told us that our son was just being a boy, that he’d outgrow his immaturity. I asked, “If he’s going to outgrow it, why is it getting progressively worse?” No one knew what to do. Hugs more like body slams. Homework & mealtimes were a constant struggle. Notes from teachers & principal about his behavior. He started describing himself as “stupid” and his self-esteem plummeted. No one had a solution that worked. I brought home books to get him interested in anything besides Minecraft.

Then I started working as Assistant Director at an Achievement Center working with kids who struggle with behaviors, academics or social skills. I learned about the methods and goal of the program. Then I started to notice how much in common my son’s behavior was in line with kids who come to the center. It all clicked, and it took me seeing both sides--knowing my son and the information gained from working there-- to put it together. I brought our son in for the sensory motor and cognitive assessment and it showed that he'd been struggling with ADHD and ASD. I was shocked and encouraged at the same time because I finally had real answers. It all made sense. Finally!

Blessedly, my initially skeptical husband followed my lead. During the program, our son started showing empathy. Toward the end of the "boot camp for the brain" program, he stayed seated for meals. His became less argumentative, he simply became a happier kid! And he started reading above his grade level... simply because he enjoyed it! His progress astonished us. He was voted Assistant Patrol Leader by his boy scout troop, he earned a spot in his school’s spelling bee the following year and now asks to go to the library, which makes my heart soar. His maturity and self-confidence are up. His grades are way up. He makes an effort to keep friendships. It gives me goosebumps thinking how much this program creating permanent, lasting change has impacted our family and I talk about it any chance I get. God is so good!

Sherry F.
Cary, NC

Symptoms and Tests for Asperger Syndrome

he fact as to why Asperger syndrome occurs in the body of individuals is still unknown, however it has been mostly considered that it occurs because of inheritance i.e. from parents to child. This syndrome as of now is considered as a unique disorder, which is why number of people facing the syndrome is still unknown.

Diagnosing Asperger

If an individual is diagnosed with syndrome then doctor shall begin with the treatment on the patient. But before beginning with it, he shall look out for his medical history to find if he has any allergy or disorder. People suffering from Asperger have low muscle tone or dyspraxia or also might go through the coordination issues which are important to be treated. But before beginning with the treatment, an individual should be tested for the same which includes conducting blood tests and X rays which will be helpful in determining the physical disorder in a person.

How can the syndrome be treated?

For individuals, who are not suffering with physical disorder, patient can consult a specialist in the field who is proficient of dealing with these disorders. Asperger treatment UK proceeds by strictly observing the progress and development in an individual. Herein the doctor may observe the child’s behavior, his speech or how he play which shall be evident on how is he progressing with the treatment. Doctor may also look for inputs from relatives or parents of the children to know what difference has been noticed in them after the treatment.

ASC HealthCare
Bolton, United Kingdom

Our Princess, Insert Label Here

We have been on a 5 year journey of experimentation, failings, labels, and stereotypical comments.

She's "naughty, loud, weird"... "you need to get her checked out"..... "there is something wrong with her".... "have you considered testing?......."

Glasses prescribed, grommets inserted, hearing tested, IQ testing, and behavioral optometrist. Each specialist sending detailed reports on how to help her.

But still the label "naughty, misfit, failure, loud." were how people viewed her.

Well, we just know her as Jenna.

Finally we received a diagnosis of Autism this year.

Getting it wrong for the past 5 years I asked myself these questions:

Where does she fit on the spectrum?

What have I missed?

What treatment is needed?

What do I need to change?

Have I made the problem worse?

How do I shut up the skeptics?

How do I embrace her uniqueness?

Does she need "the label"?

Putting all the rules, diagnosis, stigma, and people's comment aside, I can come to a conclusion.

Jenna is Jenna and Jenna can be Jenna and no label will change that I love my Jenna.

She is unique, different and honesty will find it difficult to fit into cultural norms for a very long time.

That diagnosis of ASD can't change.

I can't change that my daughter can't read social cues correctly.

I can't change that creating friends will continue to be a challenge for her.

I can't even change that she is the most literal person I have ever met.

But.......

If I could make a wish, dream big for Jenna it would be very simple; I want people to value her, laugh with her, and embrace her uniqueness.

She has the potential to change the world. I just pray the world will take the time to see the greatness that is my 10-year-old ASD kid.

Jeramy Hope
Brisbane, Australia

How autism impacted me

I have 2 boys on the autism spectrum and I've written a blog about my experience. Here is the link to my blog at brightsideofautism.blogspot.com

Anonymous
Stittsville, ON, Canada

Update with a TV Appearance!

Hi there again!

It's Nick, the indie voice actor & marketing researcher, stand up comedian, and Autism advocate, who wrote a blog for this website back in January about his Asperger's being a positive thing (http://theautismsite.greatergood.com/clickToGive/aut/story/my-life-with-aspergers-syndrome212)

I thought it'd be awesome to do an update as to how I'm doing, well, I'm now applying to voice acting agencies here in home of England, and I managed to make a television appearance on a TV station here in the West Midlands of England called Big Centre TV! I ask if it was ok, and they agreed, that I could share with you the YouTube video of my appearance on there! The show I appeared is called 'SofaClub', I appeared on there to promote the indie game company I work for; MadSlug & their games that I have done voice acting for, and to do some of my impressions of characters from the TV comedy: Family Guy! I come into the video around 11:03 in case you're wondering. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DheOLASnXsk)

I'm also due to appear at the NEC arena in Birmingham, England to do a Autism talk for an Autism support charity, and later on that same year at Aston Villa F.C's Football ground to talk for another Autism support charity, so I'm keeping busy!

And as for Stand Up Comedy and other stuff I do, I'm going by a stage name for those things, I combined my name with the name of one of my favourite classic rock/metal bands; Judas Priest, and came up with my stage name that I now use: Nicky Priest. Catchy, isn't it?

Anyway, that's an update from me after my last blog, and I hope that this one also shows that, again, nothing is impossible for people with Autistic Spectrum conditions.

Take care people. Peace out and rock 'n' roll! :D

Anonymous
Birmingham, United Kingdom

My Little Annabelle

My little Annabelle was diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) a year ago. We thought she was just like other children entering stage terrible twos horrible three. She looks normal & her motor skill was ok so we assumed she was only delay in speech. We sent her to nursery when she was 2.5 years old, hope that she could pick up her speech & communication skills while mixing around. In fact, she didn't improve much and still shown temper tantrums, lack of eyes contact, couldn't focus during the class, only did what she likes at school.

A year later, I convinced my husband to consult specialist. Doctor explained all the symptoms and what treatment should be taken. She improves dramatically after attending occupational therapy & speech therapy for 3 months. She is now better in communication, express herself and pick up dual languages. Although she yet could control her emotion & fully sharing, might not be good story teller, not recognize words/ verbs, but at least she is willing to practice more & talks to us.

We're glad that she is doing so well, she improves bit by bit everyday. She loves drawing so much, with all the smiling faces, indicate everyone of us in the family and signed with her name on the top :)

My little Annabelle, let's us learn and grow with you together

Anonymous
Penang, Malaysia

Autism Awareness

There is definitely a lot more awareness regarding Autism now than when my son Matthew was a little boy. I remember a trip we took to Texas to visit family. We stayed at a Holiday Inn in Farmer's Branch. The restaurant area was right next to the swimming pool. There were kids laughing and playing and swimming and just being kids while we were eating breakfast. The stimulation was so much for my son that he really couldn't even eat....he just kept rocking back and forth and looking over at the swimming pool. We went down to the pool later and he was so happy. He couldn't talk and vocalized excitement and happiness in a different way......usually by flapping his hands and yelling. An employee of Holiday Inn came to tell me that "his" noise was bothering people in the restaurant. I said he was bothered by noises while trying to eat as well so they would have to "get over it" like he did. Anyway, I was extremely upset and after a few minutes, I did take my son out of the pool. The same lady came to apologize and said he didn't have to leave.......but we did anyway. My son is a 27 year old "non-verbal" man now and there is definitely more "awareness" -------hopefully with awareness comes understanding and acceptance.

Laura Jaquess
Golden, CO

Our Boy

1983 our beautiful baby boy was born our 3rd son, so adorable but very quiet. I felt something was going to be wrong, even though the pregnancy was uneventful, I just had this feeling.

Dean was always a very placid boy never would hit anyone and with the assistance of The Autistic Association we finally toilet trained Dean around 5 years of age. HIs brothers started swimming lessons under 5 and the instructor a very special lady -Mrs Parker said she could teach Dean too. Dean learnt to dog paddle . Dean loves swimming.

No health issues had all his immunisations. A very quiet baby would not suck a dummy preferred to suck pointer finger which he would bend and put in his mouth.

Dean started young to develop an attachment to buttons. Carried pyjama tops around and prefer to be alone. Dean would suck his finger and twiddle the buttons with his other hand. He would line up toys in straight lines, he did not snuggle when nursing him.

From manually grabbing hold of Deans hand and picking up papers and putting in the bin (over and over ) Dean always put litter in the bin. Sleeping was another issue we had but he is okay today He loved balancing on fences he would walk up and down cyclone fences - amazing balance

Deans 30th Birthday we hired a hall had fancy dress party a great night selected his own Police uniform costume. He had a smile on his face all night but mostly sat alone and smiled. He purchased himself a signed photograph of Nathan Hindmarsh and a Parramatta Jersey, Sharks scarf and a NSW cap now that's a real football fanatic.

a quote from our first next door neighbour

"So Dean, even though you will probably never realise, my time with you and your wonderful family has had a major impact on my life (in a good way) so Thanking You!!!"

This lady is one of many people Dean has touched. Dean elects to be non-verbal always has but can talk when he wants.

Anonymous
Sydney, Australia

EASTER JOY WITH A 'SPECIAL' GRANDSON

Our grandson is on the Autism Spectrum. He also has ADHD and is on medication. He is a very loving 8 year old. Recently we watched as he and his 2 year old sister got their pictures taken in their Easter outfits. He looked so handsome in his suit and tie and smiled as we complimented him. He was cooperative and smiled as he posed with his sister. The photographer was so enthusiastic and encouraging and seemed to highlight his status as the big brother. Later we went out to eat and the waitress was patient and kind, quickly retrieving the straws he took from her apron. It was a great day and really highlighted the power of a caring community and loving family.

Proud Grandmother

Anonymous
Parkton, MD
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