What it Means to be “Bad” – The Challenge of Special Needs and Criminal Arrest

By Carol S. Weinman, Esq., C.A.S., International Speaker and Author

“My son really is a good boy. And, now, he thinks he’s bad.” These were the words of a mom who recently witnessed her adult son – with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – in handcuffs.  It got me thinking even more about the unspoken fallout of an ASD individual’s encounter with police. Boys with ASD experience “hits” to their self esteem at a very early age. They feel different, sometimes odd, and often ostracized and misunderstood. Highly vulnerable from a young age, they are more susceptible to the after effects of being arrested, handcuffed or fingerprinted. They transition to adulthood with a compromised sense of self-esteem and self-concept. The impact of being arrested and handcuffed cannot be minimized. It is traumatic for anyone at any age, but for an individual with ASD, it can be even more devastating.

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Autism Training in Law Enforcement and the Call to Action

By Carol S. Weinman, Esq., C.A.S., National Speaker and Author

The willing desire to work together in unraveling the puzzle of autism is growing among law enforcement. The number of calls I receive to present on the topic of autism and police training increases every day. The reason: law enforcement officers want to better understand the complex mindset of those with autism spectrum disorder and more importantly, learn how to interact with them.

Hardly a month goes by anymore when the media isn’t reporting about someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who is arrested or has an unfortunate police encounter. That’s because what appears to be suspicious or criminal activity is behavior characteristic of an individual with ASD. So, how can a police officer know the difference? Well, the first step in prevention of these traumatic incidents among police officers and the ASD community is education.

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Summertime is Here! What’s the Best Camp for Your Child?

Summer is here, and finding the camp for your child can be a daunting task. There are a plethora of options when it comes to summer camps, but how do parents choose what works for their child?

To ensure that your camps are up-to-date with the latest research and information to support your child, it is important that they receive training and certification. Be sure to ask for and check for their credentials. If your child has special needs such as autism, many organizations such as YMCA and even Beaches Resorts Kid’s Camps have received staff-wide training and are designated as Certified Autism Centers through IBCCES. See below for some important considerations when looking for the perfect camp for your little ones this summer.

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Special Needs and Transitioning into Adulthood

By Elayne Pearson, C.A.S., Special-needs Preparedness Specialist, is an award-winning writer, poet, presenter, advocate, author, and actress.

It’s May, and some nice graduation announcements have arrived at the house. While I’m happy for each student, it occasionally picks at an old wound from Heidi’s high school graduation (or the lack there of). I ponder if I did the right thing by not having our painfully shy teenager participate in the formal commencement exercises like her Special Needs Educators had encouraged.

It’s hard to know whose advice to listen to.…

Back when Heidi was in preschool, Kim Peek, the autistic savant who inspired the Oscar-winning movie, Rainman, was traveling around the country sharing autism awareness. Kim was a phenomenon. When he and his father, Fran Peak, were invited to speak to a nearby Christian youth group, I was strongly prompted to attend.

The peaceful drive through rural towns with their snow-packed fields, farms, and shaggy horses felt surprisingly at home to me.

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The Magic of Better Speech & Hearing Month

By Kerry Magro, Self-Advocate, National Speaker, and Author

When we think of the impact of Autism Awareness Month in April, we sometimes forget May’s Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM) that had an impact on those with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Organizations have spearhead efforts to start a conversation for those with these communication challenges.

This month has a special connection to me as I was diagnosed with autism at four. Being in special education settings, I was often in classes with students with a wide range of speech, language and hearing disorders. Our supports were very challenging in our public school setting due to limited funding going to special education. Until 4th grade, before moving to an out of district school for those with learning disabilities, we only had one special education class ranging of students from the ages of 6-14. I often think about how this month could have truly benefited me as a student but also our educators. It’s the same way that I never knew about Autism Awareness Month in April as a child because it was never introduced to me or my classmates.

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Dr. Theresa Regan Releases New Book and Discusses the Importance of the CAS

1) How hateresas earning the Certified Autism Specialist been meaningful and satisfying?

Earning my CAS has not only been a milestone in my own journey in autism specialization, but also a way of connecting with others in the international community who also serve ASD individuals and their family members.  Although the community of providers serving those with autism is experiencing needed growth, to have easy online access to an abundance of training opportunities, job openings, news, and best practices is essential to my own best practice.

2) How has the CAS credential affected your professional growth?

So many things have come together to help me grow professionally in the area of autism services. I have been an adult neuropsychologist at OSF Healthcare for 18 years and have grown in so many areas of brain behavior relationships. When I had my own son 11 years ago, my world opened up to many topics only pediatric specialists seemed to focus on. I began to recognize autism in the adult and geriatric patients within my own practice. Earning my CAS certification brought all my professional and personal experience together into a more cohesive practice model.  I have now published my book Understanding Autism in Adults and Aging Adults as a professional, a mother, and a certified autism specialist.

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My Son with ASD, a Stalker?

By Carol S. Weinman, Esq., Autism Legal Specialist

“My son didn’t do this. He wouldn’t even know how to do this.” These are the words I hear uttered over and over again in my work with criminal defendants on the autism spectrum. That’s when my challenge begins. My mission: to persuade others in power to understand why this individual could not possibly have committed the crime he is charged with. Of course, each case is as different as each individual. In certain cases, it is possible that someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may have knowingly committed such an offense.  But, in most scenarios, after reviewing all the information on this particular defendant, I arrive at the same conclusion – it just isn’t possible, at least not intentionally.  

stalker

Of course, that assumes you understand ASD. If not, well then, all bets are off. If the police officer, attorney, judge or prosecutor views this defendant through the lens used for more typical criminal offenders, then the situation looks very different. The behavior that resulted in an arrest is perceived as criminal under the law. For the court and prosecutor, it is that simple. But, is it? I would argue it is anything but. Because ASD is very complicated. It is at times often subtle and unrecognizable to the uneducated eye. That’s what makes it so imperative that those making what can be life-altering decisions for these offenders understand that it isn’t what it looks like. Which is exactly what I set out to do when I represented an individual charged with stalking.

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The ABCs of Early Intervention

By Taveesha Guyton, Social Worker

As a young child, I remember being dropped off at grandmother’s house and sitting and watching black and white movies of The Three Stooges on a floor model television in the living room. I remember watching the Price is Right and clapping my hands because I saw the audience do this on TV. Now we have IPADS which help children with eye- hand coordination, Leap Frog which helps children read and other assistive technology.

As a Social Worker, I am always concerned with the growth and development of my children. I often, compare my kids’ growth to the milestone chart given by the pediatrician to see if my client is developing according to the benchmarks. The questions are, what happens if children are below where they need to be and are there anything parents can do to help? What is Early Intervention? How does it help families? And what happens if a child has a diagnosis as being developmentally delayed at a young age?  

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Spreading Acceptance: How to Create & Share Your Own Story

donnaBy Donna Sigurðardóttir, founder of I am UNIK

My daughter’s future is bright.  She is thriving at school because they are meeting her every need with an admirable flexibility, thoughtfulness and respect.  All of which has been achieved with close cooperation between home and school, something that I believe are key factors in improving a child’s quality of life.  Why? Because, on one hand we have the child’s parents, who are experts in the child and on the other hand we have the teacher, which is an expert in teaching methods and goal setting. When these two respect each others roles and take the time to listen and work together, magic happens!

Our teacher’s mentality is priceless.  They have so much respect for my daughter and they put every effort in customizing her curriculum and learning environment to her needs. As an example I could mention that she always arrives late for school. Is that okay? Imagine this; she arrives into an empty school building and is exposed to minimum sensory input, which means that her stress levels are low and she gets a good start of the day. Otherwise it would take her teachers about an hour to unwind her after a chaotic school start and a maximum sensory input. That kind of a solution requires flexible thinking and caring.

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Why Dr. Stephen Shore is One of My Favorite Autism Advocates

kerryBy Kerry Magro, Self-Advocate, National Speaker, and Author

I’ve written many articles about how the lack of having a peer role model growing up on the spectrum affected me. I didn’t know about Dr. Temple Grandin and others who had autism that I could look upon to show me how far I could go. As I reached adulthood though I learned about advocates such as Dr. Grandin, Carly Fleischmann, Alexis Wineman, John Elder Robison, Amy Gravino, Jesse Saperstein, the list goes on and on.

One person though who I particularly look up to is none other than international speaker Dr. Stephen Shore. Stephen Shore is not only a dear friend but also one of the biggest role models I currently have in my life.

Stephen Shore Kerry Magro PhotoWhen I first met Stephen it was at an Autism Society of America conference. He immediately befriended me and wanted to get to know me better. After our first meeting I’d go on to read several of his books and later would be able to contribute a chapter to a book he co-authored called College for Students with Disabilities: We Do Belong. I to this day use his quote “if you’ve met one individual with autism, you’ve met one individual with autism” in a majority of my presentations. It shows how wide and unique our spectrum truly is.

Another quote which I enjoy from Stephen is on his website where he mentions the “unlimited potential for people on the autism spectrum.” What a wonderful message. I think that’s something our entire community wants to see for our loved ones.

Now even years later it’s been astonishing to see how many times our paths have crossed. Although we are only a trade ride away from each other, me being from New Jersey and Stephen teaching in New York at Adelphi University, we still end up running into each other around the world speaking at different events. Most recently, our paths even crossed at ISCRD 2017 hosted by IBCCES in St. Augustine, Florida.

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