On the Outside of Life Looking In: Trapped Inside an Autistic Body

anita-lesko-1-500pxBy Anita Lesko, BSN, RN, MS, CRNA

Imagine going the first fifty years of your life with an invisible disorder that you don’t know you have.  It affects every move you make, every word you speak, and simply everything you do. You realize you are different than other people and never fit in, only you don’t understand why.  As a child, other children run away from you.  You try and make friends only no one wants to be your friend.  You have all kinds of sensory issues that others don’t seem to have.  Your sense of taste, smell, touch, hearing, and vision are amplified as if you live in IMAX 24/7, 365 days a year.   Every social interaction seems to end up as a negative one.  When you attempt to join in on conversations at work, everyone ignores you as if you are invisible.  You are a target of bullying and harassment, not only throughout your school years, but at your workplace as well.  You spend fifty years feeling like you are on the outside of life looking in.  As if there’s a glass shield keeping you away from joining in with others.  You see people together out in restaurants, in malls, everywhere you go, you see them laughing, talking, having fun. Yet there you are, alone.  You try and get used to it, but deep inside you long for even just one friend.  The feeling of loneliness at times totally consumes you.  Holidays are the worst, as you are aware that others are gathering for big celebrations, as you are home alone yet again.  Sadly, this is all common to individuals on the autism spectrum.

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Meet Twiddle, a Sensory Resource for Autism

Throughout her life, Lily had been marvelous with her hands. She loved creating beautiful knitted sweaters, delicate embroidery and award-winning recipes. As she aged, Lily’s eyesight began to fade, and those wonderful hands became idle and chilled. The Twiddle gave Lily’s inquisitive hands something to keep them active, engaged and warm. Lily was also reminded of how much she was loved, even when her daughter, the creator of Twiddle, couldn’t be with her.

Meet Twiddle, a new Certified Autism Resource that was created as a sensory tool for individuals with autism, dementia and other sensory conditions. Twiddles are playful comfort aids that assist people of all ages with a range of sensory-related conditions. Providing comfort or activity as needed,Twiddles assist in organizing tactile, visual and auditory input. They are also a way of expanding someone’s personal space, and with more than 25,000 sold since 1997, Twiddles provide an affordable, drug-free therapeutic alternative. Continue Reading →

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Autism Awareness in Nigeria: Meet Nobelova Gradani

IBCCES Certified Training Partner Nobelova Gradani is educating the Nigerian community about autism in effort to reduce stigma about ASD.

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Meet Helen Obiageli Oshikoya, the founder of Nigerian-based Nobelova Gradani. Nobelova Gradani is an IBCCES Certified Training Partner that was created to help train and educate professionals that work with individuals with autism in Nigeria.

As part of their self-funded effort to address the burden of autism in Lagos Nigeria, the organization has been involved in many efforts since 2012, including school-based awareness programs, screening of at-risk children and training of middle-level intervention service providers.

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Reputation Matters: Personal Branding for Autism Professionals

LidaBy Lida Citroen, IBCCES Board Member, LIDA360

Everyone has a personal brand – whether you are a politician, celebrity, physical therapist, or teacher  — that forms their reputation, in person and online. Right or wrong, other people’s perception of us determines whether they want to work with us, hire us, partner with us, or interact with us.

In the 20+ years I’ve worked as a personal branding and reputation management specialist, I’ve helped define, design and re-direct the perceptions of my clients in industries across education, technology, healthcare, finance, coaching, and many more. I can say with all certainty that your personal brand is directly related to the opportunities you attract and the credibility you hold in your field.

As an Autism professional, you interact with educators, students, parents, administrators and other colleagues, who form perceptions of you that directly influences whether they see you as valuable and relevant to them.

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Featured Certified Autism Specialist: Dr. Ann Marie Leonard-Zabel

Featured CAS or ACAS Name: Dr. Ann Marie Leonard-Zabel, CAS, ACAS 1 and ACAS 2; Full Professor of Psychology; School Neuropsychologist; Clinical Instructor and Clinical Supervisor

State/Country: Massachusetts

School/ Organizations: Curry College Department of Psychology; NEALAC Clinic – private practice; KidsInc School Neuropsychology Post-Graduate Certificate Program

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International Autism Training and Certification for ASEAN Professionals in Singapore

St. Andrew’s Autism Centre (SAAC) in collaboration with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards is presenting a two-day conference in Singapore September 8-9 to bring a world class autism training and certification to professionals in Southeast Asia. The internationally-recognized program is regarded as the gold standard in certification that recognize individuals with advanced knowledge in autism.

During the two-day training conference, attendees will take part in hands-on activities and group sessions with other education and therapy professionals from around the world. Collaborative sessions will teach how to leverage autism traits and characteristics as potential springboards for success in education and health care. Attendees will also take part in engaging discussions on effective self-advocacy, meaningful engagement in the community and how to effectively model training for individuals with autism. Through a series of two-day conference sessions, they will provide attendees with expert knowledge centered around the IBCCES 10 Areas of Autism Competency.

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Tips for Attending a Successful & Affordable Autism Conference

By: Taveesha Guyton, Social Worker, Future CAS

In July, I was an attendee of the Autism Society National Conference held in the beautiful city of New Orleans, Louisiana. I am a social worker who specializes in working with the intellectually disabled and autism community. When the opportunity arose for me to not only go to New Orleans, a city I have admired for many years, but also attend a conference I professionally attached too, I became Super Man, “Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound”!

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Using Summer to Advance your Skills

brigid  By Brigid Rankowski, Autism Advocate & National Speaker

For many professionals in the educational fields, the countdown to summertime has been going on for months. As the students yearn to be outside the classrooms, so do the educators long for a respite. However, when the classrooms are all packed up sometimes that’s the best opportunity to get some more work done. During the school year, it is difficult if not impossible to keep up to date on the newest books or educational tools while still maintaining the day to day operations. The free time allowed during the summer months can offer valuable time to reflect on the past year, prepare for the upcoming school year, and work on improving their skills working with disability community.

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Problems with Parades and your Special Needs Child? Keep it “UP”!

By Elayne Pearson, Special Needs Preparedness Specialist, Author, and National Speaker

July is great for recalling our amazing heritage in this choice land. I adore the patriotic music, programs, and parades. However, there were many years when even attending a local July 4th parade with Miss Heidi, our cute daughter with Down syndrome and autism, was very stressful. Personally, I loved the spirit of patriotism, the scalloped star-spangled bunting, and creating parade floats. Our four daughters in their crisp red, white, and blue outfits (and matching hair bows) undoubtedly felt the excitement in the air too, but our youngest, Heidi (who craved peace, quiet, and predictability) probably felt like she was entering a war zone, with random firecrackers, flashing police lights directing the excited mobs, smoke and BBQ odors from vendors, and bands playing with true vigor.  More than once, Heidi darted off in a “parade panic” and our family (also in a panic) thankfully always found her.

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3 Things I’ve Learned from Developing Autism Technology

Contributed by Awake Labs

At Awake Labs we are developing a tool to empower autistic individuals and their caregivers to better understand anxiety with the goal of preventing behaviour meltdowns. This tool is called Reveal. It’s a wearable device (it looks a bit like a fitbit) and app that measures and tracks anxiety in real time. I’m new to the team and the first couple of months have been eye opening. So far, these have been my main takeaways.

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