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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How Childhood Jobs Prepared Me for Success as an Autistic Adult

Anita outsideBy Anita Lesko, BSN, RN, MS, CRNA 

I have the good fortune to be a friend of Dr. Temple Grandin. We have a lot in common. We are both autistic, and we share a very similar youth that played a big factor in our adult life. We both started having jobs at a very early age. Temple often talks about her early days, when her job was to greet guests at the door for her mom’s dinner party, and take their coats to hang up. Yes, it was a job. She was given a responsibility to carry out.

Among her numerous other childhood jobs was the one I, too, did for many years — mucking out horse stalls. In conversations with Temple on the phone, we’ve talked about those days of our teenage years spent shoveling out one stall after another. We both love horses and being around them. It was peaceful and it was also a form of therapy. In essence, it was our occupational therapy.

All the childhood jobs we did prepared us for the day when we’d start our careers. We were used to working, showing up on time, following orders from a boss, figuring out how to get a job done. It was just a regular part of our life. So, when the day came to embark into our careers, we really didn’t have to transition into anything. We were already there.

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TLP Provider Certification Course

We offer a variety of continuing education courses for clinicians and educators working with children and adults in the areas of learning, communication, therapeutic intervention, wellness, and brain performance.

The primary objective of all training is to provide innovative clinical tools and strategies that can be immediately applied upon course completion in clinics, hospitals, schools, and homes.

With the demand for autism experts and autism therapists on the rise, it is more important than ever for teachers and health professionals to have some form of ASD training. At IBCCES, we are committed to providing professional development training through our Autism Certification.

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3 Tips for Social Workers and Autism

socialworkersBy Taveesha Guyton, Social Worker & soon-to-be CAS

I am a social work professional whose expertise is working with the intellectually-disabled and population of individuals with autism. I really love my job and who I work for.  My sole purpose in my position is to provide resources, education and advocacy for this steady growing population, which affects 1 in 68 births in the United States.

1. Listen to you clients.  What I want for my clients is very different from what they want for themselves.  Many times in the field, professionals who work with clients look at the end result versus looking at the here and now. I have learned to listen what is being said and sometimes what is not being said.

2. Provide Choices.  Providing choices. It is important to exercise the ability to choose. Providing options are the best way for people to find out what they like and do not like and it also helps create more conversation about many other things. Choice making is a skill I feel is not exercised enough with this population. (Check out great visual support ideas here.)

3. Ensure proper supports are in place.  What is needed for this individual with autism to maintain a ” normal” life is usually the question asked and how do we as  a professionally supportive community help create this world for this individual? Will the individual need vocational rehabilitation because their goal is to earn competitive wages? If the individual’s goal is to live alone, will this person need the assistance of a Supported Living Coach? Will this individual need guidance for activities of daily living such as medication management, making doctor’s appointments, meal preparation and grocery shopping? What about socialization and community-based outings? Will the individual need someone to help integrate them into the community?

In assisting in the coordination and maintenance of services for the individual with special needs or autism, social workers are able to make the lives of  individuals with autism a little better.

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