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.

Continue Reading →

Share:
0

How Childhood Jobs Prepared me for Success as an Adult with Autism

By 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.

Continue Reading →

Share:
0

Tips for Overcoming Challenges with Special Needs Hair Care

“Brush Up” with These Helpful Tips

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

In the late 1980s, individuals with disabilities were coming into the bright spotlight of media and society, and my husband, Rod, and I vowed we would never keep Heidi (our sweet little daughter with Down syndrome) “shielded” at home like families frequently did in the past. Her sisters were proud of her, too, despite frequent rude stares from others. One thing I always did to bolster our confidence before going out with my little chickadees was make sure their faces were clean and hair was brushed, with a bow, barrette, or headband added including little Heidi. Her munchkin-angel face looked even cuter with curls, ribbons, and bows.

Fast forward a few years. Heidi’s late-onset autism (unbeknownst to us) created an extreme sensitivity with anything around her face, such as lip balm, sunscreen, eyeglasses, and all hair accessories. First, her annoyance was baffling, then frustrating, then down-right aggravating. Heidi detested anything in her hair, and seemed oblivious to pain when she pulled out a barrette, curler, flower, elastic, or ribbon. It drove me crazy.

Continue Reading →

Share:
0

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.

Continue Reading →

Share:
0

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.

Continue Reading →

Share:
0

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.

Continue Reading →

Share:
0

Study Released on Dreampad, a Certified Autism Resource

dreampadSarah Schoen, PhD, OTR of the SPD Foundation studied sleep and behavior in children with ASD using the Dreampad in a study that was published April 2017 in the peer reviewed Open Journal of Occupational Therapy. Dr. Schoen studied 15 children who used the Dreampad nightly for three weeks and analyzed the results of a pediatric sleep diary completed by parents. All 15 children showed improvements in sleep and every parent was interested in continuing use of the Dreampad. Parents reported reductions in bedtime resistance, sounder sleep and, importantly, better emotional, social and school functioning.

Continue Reading →

Share:
0

When A Child With Autism Struggles Understanding Sarcasm

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

Someone once said that ‘sarcasm is a metric for potential.’ Often at times though this is one of the hardest struggles for those with autism growing up.

A lack of sarcasm is often one of the most common characteristics of struggling with an autism diagnosis along with things such as social and communication issues, difficulties reading body language, using different tones in their voices and many more.

I remember as a young boy on the spectrum in computer class and hearing a joke that I didn’t find funny. It was a sarcastic joke by our teacher and while everyone else in the class laughed I was there completely blank. A girl looked at me after the joke had stopped like I had three heads.

Continue Reading →

Share:
1

Is Your Home Influenced by Down Syndrome (Trisomey 21)?

 

Elayne_And_Heidi_In_White_Touched-up[1]By Elayne Pearson, CAS, Speaker/Author/Disability Advocate

World Down Syndrome Day, March 21st – was created for public awareness, promoting fundamental freedoms, and encouraging inclusion for individuals with Down syndrome.

Many know Down syndrome is a genetically-based condition resulting in a range of mental impairments and developmental delays. It’s official term, Trisomy 21, is caused by an unusual division of the two 21st chromosomes into three. Hence, the term Tri-somy 21.

So, March is the third month, and the 21st day designates World Down Syndrome day. Get it?  Trisomy 21 on 3/21. Clever, huh?

Scientists hypothesize the chromosomal change happens at conception, and currently, there is no known cure for Down syndrome. I could go on with boring scientific stuff, but I won’t. But believe me, life with a child with Down syndrome is anything but boring! We testify of that. Having Heidi in our family has been a joyous adventure for almost 30 years.

Continue Reading →

Share:
0

Caring for the Caregiver

 By Taveesha Guyton, Social Worker

Being a caregiver is hard. The scheduling of medical, dental, school and after school activities and appointments is daunting. Let us not forget meal prep and clean up followed by the constant cleaning after little people who leave toys, and food everywhere. Yes, being a caregiver is difficult, and it is not easy when one is the caregiver of a child with Special Needs such as Intellectually Disabilities or Autism.   Is there care for the caregiver and if so, what does care include? Here are some helpful tips to help caregivers.

Continue Reading →

Share:
0
Page 1 of 2 12