Autism Awareness Month

Autism Awareness Month 2018

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Another Autism Awareness Month has come to pass this April, and has given rise to many new avenues of dialogue toward the spectrum, especially those in respect to women and girls on the autistic spectrum. This past year has been an explosive one in the championing of diversity, equality, and the stamping out of sexual abuse and harassment to women – and we are delighted to know that this momentum is being picked up and addressed in the betterment of the ASD community.

The United Nations, as is to be expected, made available a vast series of panels and talks that were broadcast live across the world and are still, for the most part, available via their host website (1). Drawing inspiration from the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements leading to expose sexual harassment and abuse, the UN focused their efforts predominantly toward the empowerment of women and girls on the autistic spectrum. From talks about Gender Disparity in Diagnosis (2), Q&A’s with those in the film industry in talks with Women with Autism in Film (3) segments, and the inspiring panel curated for Empowering Women and Girls with Autism (4).

Not allowing the UN to be alone in the push for more accessible platforms for awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder, C-SPAN hosted Julia Basom, President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, and Allison Ratto who is a psychologist at the Children’s National Medical Center, Washington D.C., on the 21st of April (5) to discuss the spectrum at length.

Other organizations to add to the dialogue this April did so through engaging and helpful ways. Such as the National Institute of Mental Health with their panel in association with the team behind Sesame Street and the creation of Julia, the shows first character on the autistic spectrum (6), and the ThinkCollege’s  look at employment and ableism (7).

We hope that all of these resources provided will help bring awareness to the many facets of ACD beyond Autism Awareness Month, and work to better the everyday lives of all. This April was not only special for the many panels designed by these large institutions, there have been incredible grassroots campaigns and activities held across the country (8).

Chances are, that wherever you live, there is still much to do by way of raising awareness and taking part in the support and betterment of the autism community. By taking part in these homegrown events, you will be helping to make a difference.



  1. Welcome and Opening – World Autism Awareness Day, 2018. United Nations, published April 5th 2018.
  2. Gender Disparity in Diagnosis: Causes and Consequences – World Autism Awareness Day, 2018. United Nations, published April 5th 2018.
  3. “Please Stand By” – Women with Autism in Film (Pt. I) – World Autism Awareness Day, 2018. United Nations, published April 5th 2018.“please-stand-by”-–-women-with-autism-in-film-pt.-i-world-autism-awareness-day-2018/5780576542001/?term=women%20with%20autism%20in%20film&sort=date
  4. Empowering Women and Girls with Autism. United Nations, published April 5th 2018.
  5. Julia Bascom and Allison Ratto on Autism Spectrum Disorder Julia Bascom and Allison Ratto talked about autism spectrum disorder (ASD). C-SPAN, published April 21st 2018.
  6. NIH Special Event for Autism Awareness Month – The Story Behind Julia, Sesame Street’s Muppet with Autism. NIMH, published April 9th 2018.
  7. Expanding the Dialogue on Autism: Reflections on Research & Real Life in Employment. ThinkCollege, published March 22nd 2018.
  8. National Autism Awareness Month. Autism Society,


Christopher Duffley Inspiration

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Christopher is an amazing young man. He’s passionate, inspirational, driven, what we all hope we can be, this young man is doing it against very hard odds, he’s blind and has autism. Hope you are as inspired as we are after watching this amazing video.

To see more of Christopher and his cool journey, follow him on Instagram

Google Glass App Helps Autistic Children with Social Interactions

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A prototype software application, to be used with the optical head-mounted display Google Glass, has been designed as a social-skills coach for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

 A new study published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Robotics and AI finds that the wearable technology can recognize conversational prompts and provide the user with suitable responses in return. Moreover, children find it easy to operate and enjoy using it.

ASD is a life-long condition that affects 1 in 68 people. A defining feature of ASD is difficulties with social communication – which can include initiating and maintaining conversations with others.

“We developed software for a wearable system that helps coach children with autism spectrum disorder in everyday social interactions,” says Azadeh Kushki, an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto, and Scientist at the Bloorview Research Institute, Toronto, Canada. “In this study, we show that children are able to use this new technology and they enjoy interacting with it.”

Children with autism spectrum disorder are often drawn to technological devices and find them highly motivating tools for delivering interventions designed to help them. The problem with existing technology, however, is that using human-to-computer interaction to teach social skills can have the opposite effect to its goal, in that the user becomes socially isolated.

“The interesting thing about our new technology is that we are not trying to replace human-to-human interactions; instead, we use this app to coach children who are communicating with people in real-world situations,” explains Professor Kushki. “Children can practice their skills outside of their normal therapy sessions and it can provide them with increased independence in everyday interactions.”

Professor Kushki and her colleagues developed the app, named Holli, to be used with wearable technology such as Google Glass—a head-mounted display in the shape of eyeglasses. It listens to conversations and prompts the user with an appropriate reply.

For example, if the user is greeted by a person who says ‘Welcome’, Holli will provide various responses to choose from, such as ‘Hey’, ‘Hello’ or ‘Afternoon’. When Holli recognizes the user’s response, the prompts disappear and Holli waits for the next exchange in conversation.

To assess the usability of the prototype software, the researchers asked 15 children with ASD to be guided by Holli when interacting socially. They saw that Holli could complete most conversations without error, and that children could follow the prompts to carry on a social interaction. In fact, Holli was often able to understand what the user was saying before/he she finished saying it, which helped the conversation to flow naturally. As well as demonstrating its feasibility, the children also said how much they liked using it; they enjoyed the prompts and found it easy to use.

“This study shows the potential of technology-based intervention to help children with ASD,” says Professor Kushki. “These systems can be used in everyday settings, such as home and school, to reinforce techniques learned in therapeutic settings.”

It is hoped that further developments will allow customization for individual users, such as changing prompt location, size and medium, to cater to each child’s unique preference and ability. In addition, more work is needed to improve Holli’s ability to deal with speech differences that can affect those with autism spectrum disorder.

“Technology has tremendous potential to change the way we think about delivering services to those with ASD. It can augment existing face-to-face interventions to make services accessible in a timely and cost-effective way and help increase treatment effectiveness,” concludes Professor Kushki.

[Source: ]

Amazing Autism Quotes

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1. “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism,” Dr. Stephen Shore.

2. “What would happen if the autism gene was eliminated from the gene pool? You would have a bunch of people standing around in a cave, chatting and socializing and not getting anything done,” Dr. Temple Grandin

3. “It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a child with autism to raise the consciousness of the village,” Coach Elaine Hall

4. “And now I know it is perfectly natural for me not to look at someone when I talk. Those of us with Asperger’s are just not comfortable doing it. In fact, I don’t really understand why it’s considered normal to stare at someone’s eyeballs,” John Elder Robison

5. “Autism … offers a chance for us to glimpse an awe-filled vision of the world that might otherwise pass us by,” Dr. Colin Zimbleman, Ph.D.

6.“I’ve listened enough. It’s time for me to speak, however it may sound. Through an electronic device, my hands, or my mouth. Now it’s your time to listen. Are you ready?” Neal Katz, Self-advocate

7. “The most interesting people you’ll find are ones that don’t fit into your average cardboard box. They’ll make what they need, they’ll make their own boxes,” Dr. Temple Grandin

8. “This is a FOREVER journey with this creative, funny, highly intelligent, aggressive, impulsive, nonsocial, behavioral, often times loving individual. The nurse said to me after 6 hours with him ‘He is a gift’ INDEED he is,” Janet Frenchette Held, Parent

9. “Behavior is communication. Change the environment and behaviors will change,” Lana David

10. “I think when one becomes identified with a label that’ll become all anyone sees; the expansiveness and breadth of the all of who you are suddenly hidden from view. I look to the entire history of the label and how it came to be. Our Western world likes to compartmentalize putting everything into simplistic categories. Now they have such terms as “neurotypical” and “neurodivergent,” separating the entire human population on the planet into two categories. I would say that “neurotypical” is a diversity as well, Kurt Muzikar, Introduction to Bozo to Bosons (not yet published)

11. “For autistic individuals to succeed in this world, they need to find their strengths and the people that will help them get to their hopes and dreams. In order to do so, ability to make and keep friends is a must. Amongst those friends, there must be mentors to show them the way. A supportive environment where they can learn from their mistakes is what we as a society needs to create for them,” Bill Wong, Autistic Occupational Therapist

12. “Our wounds and hurts and fears are in our eyes. Humans think they build ‘walls’ for internal privacy. They think eye contact is about honesty but they mostly lie because they think they can hide their intent. Eye contact is invasive,” Carol Ann Edscorn

13. “Although people with autism look like other people physically, we are in fact very different…We are more like travelers from the distant, distant past. And if, by our being here, we could help the people of the world remember what truly matters for the Earth, that might give us quiet pleasure,” Naoki Higashida, The Reason I Jump

14. “Negative words carry negative vibration. Positive words carry positive vibration. What do you want your child to reflect back to you, the label of disordered or the label of gifted in a new way?” Suzy Miller, Awesomism

15. “I want Elijah to know that he is loved just the way he is,” Gee Vero.

16. “What makes a child gifted and talented may not always be good grades in school, but a different way of looking at the world and learning,” Chuck Grassley

17. “Parents have therapists come in their house and tell them what to do. They give their power away. Parents need to focus on healing and empowering themselves. They must shift their beliefs about autism. Once the parent knows who they are the child will respond,” Lori Shayew.

18. “Not everyone is perfect. There is always an imperfect side to everyone,” Finn Christie, Age 10, on making Perfect Babies.

19. “Life is… not about counting the losses and the lost expectations, but rather swimming, with as much grace as can be mustered, in the joy of all of it,” Leisa Hammett

20. “For every 3 years your child is in public school, you can expect one exceptional teacher, one mediocre teacher, and one teacher who makes your life miserable,” Rick Seward, disability advocate for Alpha Resource Center in Santa Barbara, 2002

21. “The labeling undermines us in so many levels! But people don’t know, they need to be reminded that we too are God’s children. People don’t mean harm because they too are God’s children. Love heals lots of wounds. Love is patient, love is kind; my motto in life. You are loving. Mom has healed her consciousness to allow me to truly reflect my real identity as God’s perfect child. Just don’t let your senses get you fooled, we are more than our bodies. Find the truth so you can reflect your real being,” Nicole (13 years old, non-verbal, labeled autistic.. typed independently on her iPad)

22. “Music therapy, equine therapy, and art therapy are all ‘therapeutic’ because they are a vibrational match. They have elements to them that your child can use at his current level of high-vibrational function to make sense of this lower vibrating world,” Suzy Miller, Awesomenism

23. “Stop thinking about normal…You don’t have a big enough imagination for what your child can become,” Johnny Seitz, autistic tightrope artists in the movie Loving Lamposts.

24. “The way we look at our children and their limitations is precisely the way they will feel about themselves. We set the examples, and they learn by taking our cue from us,” Amalia Starr

25. “English is my 2nd language. Autism is my first,” Dani Bowman

26. “We are the doorway into a New World Order that is based on love and heart. We have the heart key. We only need the respect of others to learn how to serve wisely and kindly,” Lyrica, nonverbal, from the book Awetizm

27. “Rome was not built on the first day. I need time to build the Eiffel Tower of my life,” Jeremy Sicile-Kira

28. “Within every living child exists the most precious bud of self-identity. To search this out and foster it with loving care; that is the essence of educating an autistic child,” Dr. Kiyo Kitahara

29. “We contain the shapes of trees and the movement of rivers and stars within us,” Patrick Jasper Lee

30. “When doctors, parents, teachers, therapists, even television describe typical spectrum kids, without meaning to, they’re describing typically male spectrum traits — patterns first noticed by observing boys. Only boys. And we aren’t boys. So they miss and mislabel us,” Jennifer O’Toole, Asperkids

31. “Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine,” Alan Turing, creator of the first computer used to break codes during WW II.

32. “My autism is the reason I’m in college and successful. It’s the reason I’m good in math and science. It’s the reason I care,” Jacob Barnett, sixteen-year old math and physics prodigy.

33. “Think of it: a disability is usually defined in terms of what is missing. … But autism … is as much about what is abundant as what is missing, an over-expression of the very traits that make our species unique,” Paul Collins, Not Even Wrong: Adventures in Autism

34. “The concept of neurodiversity provides a paradigm shift in how we think about mental functioning. Instead of regarding large portions of the American public as suffering from deficit, disease, or dysfunction in their mental processing, neurodiversity suggests that we instead speak about differences in cognitive functioning,” Dr. Thomas Armstrong

35. “My autism makes things shine. Sometimes I think it is amazing but sometimes it is sad when I want to be the same and talk the same and I fail. Playing the piano makes me very happy. Playing Beethoven is like your feelings – all of them – exploding,” Mikey Allcock, 16-year old who was non-verbal until age 10

36. “By holding the highest vision for your child when they can not see it for themselves, you are lifting them up, elevating them and helping them to soar,” Megan Koufos

37. “There is no cure for being human,” Cheri Rauser, mom to Isabell

38. “I know of nobody who is purely autistic or purely neurotypical. Even God had some autistic moments, which is why the planets all spin,” Jerry Newport, Your Life is Not a Label

39. “The good and bad in a person, their potential for success or failure, their aptitudes and deficits – they are mutually conditional, arising from the same source. Our therapeutic goal must be to teach the person how to bear their difficulties. Not to eliminate them for him, but to train the person to cope with special challenges with special strategies; to make the person aware not that they are ill, but that they are responsible for their lives,”   Hans Asperger

40. “Autism is really more of a difference to be worked with rather than a monolithic enemy that needs to be slain or destroyed,” Stephen Shore, PhD

41. “I view ‘autistic’ as a word for a part of how my brain works, not for a narrow set of behaviors and certainly not for a set of boundaries of a stereotype that I have to stay inside,” Amanda Baggs

42. “My autism is like the taste of tepid saké, different but interesting,” Sue Rubin

43. “Like Asperger, I too would sometimes like to claim a dash of autism for myself. A dash of autism is not a bad way to characterize the apparent detachment and unworldliness of the scientist who is obsessed with one seemingly all-important problem and temporarily forgets the time of day, not to mention family and friends,” Uta Frith

44. “Even for parents of children who are not on the spectrum, there is no such thing as a normal child.” Violet Stevens

45. “Our duty in aut­ism is not to cure but to re­lieve suf­fer­ing and to max­im­ize each per­son’s po­ten­tial,” John Elder Robison

46. “Disability doesn’t make you exceptional, but questioning what you think you know about it does,” Stella Young

47. “Being autistic is not about living in a vacuum, sucking in everything around you, living in an existence shutout from your environment. If anything, the environment becomes more real, more painful, more evident,” Jocelyn Eastman

48. “Vibrant waves of sequenced patterns emerged in my head whenever I looked at musical notes and scores. Like pieces of a mysterious puzzle solved, it was natural for me to see music and its many facets as pictures in my head. It never occurred to me that others couldn’t see what I saw,” Dr. Stephen Shore

49. “We need to embrace those who are different and the bullies need to be the ones who get off the bus,” Caren Zucker, co-author of “In a Different Key”

50. “I don’t want my thoughts to die with me, I want to have done something. I’m not interested in power, or piles of money. I want to leave something behind. I want to make a positive contribution – know that my life has meaning,” Temple Grandin

51. “Autists are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It’s that you’re destroying the peg.”- Paul Collins

52. “Don’t think that there’s a different, better child ‘hiding’ behind the autism. This is your child. Love the child in front of you. Encourage his strengths, celebrate his quirks, and improve his weaknesses, the way you would with any child. You may have to work harder on some of this, but that’s the goal.” – Claire Scovell LaZebnik

53. Do not fear people with Autism, embrace them. Do not spite people with Autism, unite them. Do not deny people with Autism, accept them for then their abilities will shine.” – Paul Isaacs

54. “I see people with Asperger’s syndrome as a bright thread in the rich tapestry of life.” – Tony Attwood

55. “Autism is as much a part of humanity as is the capacity to dream.”-Kathleen Seidel

56. “I looked up to the stars and wondered which one I was from,” James McCue

57. “I see everything in color. I have synesthesia, which means that the part of my brain – that controls the senses – sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste – are wired differently,” Jeremy Sicile-Kira

58. “Connection is what moves this world forward. Connection is a profound human experience,” Jenny Palmiotto, The Therapist Shift

59. “By separating the autism from the person, are we encouraging our patients’ family members to love an imagined non autistic child that was never born, forgetting about the real person who exists in front of us,” Christina Nicolaidis, A Physician Speaks

60. “Blue sky may be beautiful but lighting the tall buildings blue is autism-awareness,” Tito Mukhopadhyay

61. “Autism makes you listen louder. It makes you pay attention on an emotional level as well as an intellectual level,” Jace King, brother to Taylor Cross, Normal People Scare Me Too.

62. “Presume intelligence with all children with autism. Presume all of them are hearing you,” Lori Shayew, The Gifts of Autism

63. “Autism is about having a pure heart and being very sensitive… It is about finding a way to survive in an overwhelming, confusing world… It is about developing differently, in a different pace and with different leaps,” Trisha Van Berkel

64. “Until we create a nation that regularly wants to employ a person with autism, assure for a quality education for each person with autism, and eliminates the far too many unnecessary obstacles placed in the way of success for a person with autism, we really won’t be as successful as we must. We need to get all in our nation to embrace the belief that each person with autism is valued, respected and held to the highest level of dignity and must be provided every opportunity for the highest quality of life each and every day.” ASA President Scott Badesch

65. “Showing kindness towards those who are different and embracing our imperfections as proof of our humanness is the remedy for fear,” Emma Zurcher-Long of Emma’s Hope Book

66. “Nowhere am I so desperately needed as among a shipload of illogical humans,” Mr.Spock

67. “…I don’t need to apologize for Reid as much as interpret his behavior for the uninitiated. His actions aren’t immoral or wrong; they just get misconstrued or misinterpreted,” Andrea Moriarity, One Track Mind: 15 Ways to Amplify Your Child’s Special Interest

68. “…autistic people are people: they’re not puzzle pieces or baffling enigmas or medical mysteries to be solved or ‘normal’ people ‘trapped’ in the bodies of autistics or any of that crap that infects so many portrayals of autistic people in both the clinical literature and the popular media. At the same time, I think it’s equally important to celebrate the differences between autistic people and typical people, and to recognize the need for accommodating autism as a significant disability…” Steve Silberman, an Interview with Steve Silberman author of Neurotribes.

69. “Where we cheer on each other’s loved ones to succeed as much as our own, every milestone is a celebration.” Kerry Magro

70. “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible,” Frank Zappa

71. “The teacher must have to become autistic,” Hans Asperger

72. “We have to do away with this nonsense there is a window of opportunity for a person with autism,” Barry Prizant, author Uniquely Human at the 2016 Love and Autism Conference

73. “I believe everyone on the planet has their thing and, especially in my experience, autistic people all have a tremendous gift. It’s a matter of finding that gift and nurturing it,” Edie Brannigan, mom to runner Mikey Brannigan

74. “As an autistic I can readily see environmental phenomena of sun particles interacting with moisture in the air and rising up from the ground. I thought of these things I could see as sun sparkles and world tails,” Judy Endow. Painted Words: Aspects of Autism Translated

75. “When I did stims such as dribbling sand through my fingers, it calmed me down. When I stimmed, sounds that hurt my ears stopped. Most kids with autism do these repetitive behaviors because it feels good in some way. It may counteract an overwhelming sensory environment…” Temple Grandin, Autism Asperger’s Digest, 2011

76. “The experience of many of us is not that ‘insistence on sameness’ jumps out unbidden and unwanted and makes our lives hard, but that ‘insistence on sameness’ is actually a way of adapting to a confusing and chaotic environment…” Dora Raymaker

77. “Autism is here to stay and may be considered a part of the diversity of the human gene pool,” Dr. Stephen Shore

78. “As soon as a child is capable of understanding, they will know they are different. Just as a diabetic needs insulin, an autistic child needs accommodations … The label gave me knowledge and self-awareness,” Steve Andrews, Platinum Bay Technologies.

79. “A person with autism hears every sound intensely magnified. Thus, if the tone of voice is harsh or strict, they will feel scared and threatened and, consequently, may inadvertently scream or even attack. Aggressive behaviour is brought on by fear.”  Joao Carlos Costa, 21, non-vebal, autistic

80. “Therapists and educators have traditionally tried to suppress or modulate a child’s special interest, or use it as a tool for behavior modification: Keep your hands still and stop flapping, and you will get to watch a Star Wars clip; complete your homework or no Harry Potter. But what if these obsessions themselves can be turned into pathways to growth? What if these intellectual cul-de-sacs can open up worlds?” Scientific American article talking about the documentary Life, Animated

81. “To measure the success of our societies, we should examine how well those with different abilities, including persons with autism, are integrated as full and valued members,” Ban Ki-Moon, Former United Nations Secretary-General

82. “I need to see something to learn it, because spoken words are like steam to me; they evaporate in an instant, before I have a chance to make sense of them. I don’t have instant-processing skills. Instructions and information presented to me visually can stay in front of me for as long as I need, and will be just the same when I come back to them later. Without this, I live the constant frustration of knowing that I’m missing big blocks of information and expectations, and am helpless to do anything about it,” Ellen Notbohm, Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew

83. [So-called] Mild autism doesn’t mean one experiences autism mildly… It means YOU experience their autism mildy. You may not know how hard they’ve had to work to get to the level they are,” Adam Walton

84. “Are your eyes listening? That’s what needs to happen to hear my writing voice. Because of autism, the thief of politeness and friendship, I have no sounding voice. By typing words I can play with my life and stretch from my world to yours. I become a real person when my words try to reach out to you without my weird body scaring you away. Then I am alive.” Sarah Stup, Excerpted from “Are your eyes listening? Collected Works” by Sarah Stup

85. “When a family focuses on ability instead of disability, all things are possible…Love and acceptance is key. We need to interact with those with autism by taking an interest in their interests,” Amanda Rae Ross

86. “Art can permeate the very deepest part of us, where no words exist,” Eileen Miller, The Girl Who Spoke with Pictures: Autism Through Art

87. “Why should I cry for not being an apple, when I was born an orange, I’d be crying for an illusion, I may as well cry for not being a horse,” Donna Williams

88. “Just one step in front of each other, each day. In the end, that is all, we’re expected to take,” Donna Williams, (1963-2017), Footsteps of a Nobody

89. “The difference between high-functioning autism and low-functioning is that high-functioning means your deficits are ignored, and low-functioning means your assets are ignored,” Laura Tisoncik

90. “Humane storytelling is the way to advance society’s understanding of #Autism as it has the potential to change people’s hearts and minds.” Tom Clements


[Source: The Art of Autism ]

Is Your Adult-Child With ASD Ready to Move Out?

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As a parent of an adult child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), you may spend a great deal of time preparing for and agonizing over if your child will ever be able to live independently. In our society, most young adults move out of their family of origin’s home into their own home between the ages of 18 – 30ish. Sometimes this is because the young adult is leaving home to go away to college, sometimes it is because the young adult has a job away from his or her family’s home, and sometimes it is simply because it is time for the young adult to be more independent. Our society generally regards “moving out” as developmentally appropriate; however, you may wonder if your child with ASD will ever be ready for this rite of passage. (Please note some families choose to live together in multi-generational home settings.)

Start by thinking about the “new” skills young adults need to live on their own:

  • Managing money to pay the bills, rent, utilities, food, etc.
  • Managing  their lives to know when to go to bed and when to wake up so as not be late for work or school.
  • Eating right, creating a shopping list, purchasing food, preparing dinner, ordering take-out.
  • Remembering to take medications and maintaining health and hygiene.
  • Getting to appointments, work, stores, social engagements, etc.
  • Attending to the not fun chores of cleaning the house, washing and folding the laundry, etc……

All of this and more is necessary for independent living.

Some individuals are completely capable of living on their own; others will learn through experience, and still others will need to be taught specific life skills tasks before being able to live on their own. Some individuals will always need some help and will never be completely independent. There are community supports to assist individuals with ASD, which can provide supplementary services, although they often are not easily available.

Financial Considerations

Being able to afford to live away from home is a challenge for most young adults. What if your child does not have a job and cannot afford to live independently? Portions of public benefits (such as Supplemental Security Income — SSI, or Social Security Disability Insurance — SSDI) can be used for housing, but you or your child will likely need to find a way to supplement these dollars. Agencies in your community can help you determine what supports are needed and help access these services.

Physical Supports

If your child does not have the life skills to live on his or her own, work gradually to build one skill at a time. If your child desires to move out before all necessary skills are mastered, consider having support staff come into your child’s home to help with just those things that your child cannot manage independently, such as managing finances, cleaning, or getting out the door in the morning.

Social Considerations

If your child has always lived with you at home, he or she may be used to having other people around to talk to. If your child is considering moving out, make sure he or she has social opportunities so that he or she does not feel isolated. Rather than living totally alone, ask your child to consider a roommate or a group home. In addition to providing social connection, these options can help reduce the financial cost of living independently. If needed, roommates can share support staff, or a “roommate” may even be a support person who is there to assist when necessary.

Creative Planning

Informal groups of parents form as they begin to anticipate their children’s needs. Sometimes these are parents of children who have been in the same special education class at school. Sometimes they are neighbors, and most times they are subgroups of parent organizations that have brainstormed together throughout the years. There are at least as many creative possible solutions as there are groups of concerned family members to talk about housing options!

Let us know if we can help! Visit 

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Kid on the Autism Spectrum Becomes Eagle Scout

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It’s an honor only six percent of the one million Boy Scouts in this country will ever receive: becoming an Eagle Scout.

One South Carolina teen has earned it despite some challenges along the way. Robby Rose has is on the autism spectrum, he says it’s the challenges we face that make our victories that much more meaningful.

“I don’t think they ever really gave me a chance, I was in special ed since I started school before I moved here. But now since I am regular ed, I feel like I have beaten my disability,” Rose said.

His mother said the teen has excelled beyond her dreams for him.

“He has grown more than I could ever have imagined. More than I ever hoped for,” said Robby’s mother, Cindy Griffith. “The best I ever hoped for was that he would mainstream in school and hopefully do enough to get a diploma. Now he’s excelling at even that.”

His band director, Debbie Cooper said music is what speaks to Robby and has opened the door to reveal his many talents. With band, Rose said he doesn’t know what he would do.

“Sometimes music reaches areas that have been never been touched before and open new doors,” Cooper said. “Now he is mainstreamed in the regular classes and then even in honors classes.”

No longer in special education courses, his GPA sits at 3.6 at Boiling Springs High School on the way to a diploma.

“Because of  his speech, people mistake him as not being intelligent which is the furthest from the truth,” his mother said. “Just because he can’t say it doesn’t mean it’s not there and he can’t do it or feel it.”

Robby is proving autism won’t hold him back. If anything it’s pushed him to be the best version of himself, one deserving of an honor only six percent of Boy Scouts across this nation will ever see.

“It’s like getting a degree, you can easily get a job I sent you an eagle scout,” Rose said.

Rose became an Eagle Scout in April and will receive an official badge Sep. 3 during a ceremony.

His father has helped with Cubs Scouts and band practice, applauding Robby for his accomplishments.

“He put a lot of work in, going to all the camps doing on the merit badges,” Chris Griffith said. “They have to be able to survive in cold weather, they have to  to tie knots, first aid how to cook things like that, maintenance on vehicles home maintenance.”

Rose has juggled school, band, boy scouts, against the odds he says were once stacked against him.

“No matter your disability, we all have victories, every day, every hour,” Rose said.”

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Art Therapy for Children with Autism

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(Photo of Theresa Van Lith, assistant professor of art therapy in FSU’s Department of Art Education)

A researcher is working with art therapists to find better ways to treat children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Researchers were able to develop a set of guidelines for delivering art therapy to children who have ASD.

A Florida State University researcher is working with art therapists to find better ways to treat children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Theresa Van Lith, assistant professor of art therapy in FSU’s Department of Art Education, led a study that surveyed art therapists working with children with ASD to develop a clearer understanding of their techniques and approaches. The study was published this month in the journal Arts in Psychotherapy. (July 20th, 2017)

“I had noticed that is there is a high number of art therapists working with people who have autism, but I wanted to understand what their practice wisdoms were in terms of how they go about facilitating art therapy sessions,” Van Lith said. “We want to make it a transparent process for the client or the parents of a client, so they know what to expect.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 68 children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder by age 8 each year. As that population grows, more parents and educators are seeking out art therapists to address social development and sensory issues that generally accompany ASD.

The research team compiled and analyzed the art therapists’ expert opinions on topics such as what worked with ASD clients, their objectives during a session, their most preferred theoretical approach and the considerations they had to make when working with children with ASD.

“We realized there wasn’t a consensus with the theoretical approaches they used,” Van Lith said. “They were having to use a number of theoretical approaches together, and we wanted to understand what that would be like in practice.”

While the survey results varied, the researchers were able to develop a set of guidelines for delivering art therapy to children who have ASD. The proposed guidelines will serve as a basis of successful practice for new art therapy professionals and for further studies.

“We used these practice wisdoms from art therapists around the field to understand the most effective and beneficial way to use art therapy with child with ASD,” Van Lith said.

Some of the best practices found were: use the same routine to begin each session, explain instructions in a consistent manner, spark curiosity to teach new skills and be aware of transitions between activities.

The researchers also outlined aspects of practice that were found not to be useful. They warned art therapists on a handful of factors that could have adverse effects on clients such as being overly directive or too loose with direction, using over stimulating art materials and forcing or being restrictive with communication styles.

“That’s important because sometimes there is the assumption of ‘why can’t anyone do these techniques?'” Van Lith said. “People wonder why art therapy can’t be conducted in a much less formal situation. However, they don’t realize there are nuances in the way we deliver the art therapy directive — a lot of that is about knowing the client and the way a client responds to communication.”

Based on these guidelines and consensus, Van Lith is rolling out a larger study to demonstrate the efficacy of that working model.

“The idea is that, over time, we can build up the evidence that art therapy is effective for these children, and we can demonstrate how and why that is the case,” Van Lith said.

The ultimate goal is to educate art therapists about best practices as well as inform clients, parents and teachers about possible benefits of art therapy for children with ASD.

“As a result of more transparency, the clients can appreciate or understand some of the changes that might be going on for them as they receive art therapy,” Van Lith said. “We don’t want it to be a mysterious process.”

Van Lith co-authored the study with Jessica Stallings, associate professor at Emporia State University, and FSU alumna Chelsea Harris, who practices at the Emory Autism Center.

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Before Every Position I Applied to, I’d Ask Myself What Difference Will I Make?

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Written by Naomie Arroyo – People’s Care Area Manager

I wanted to talk about some inspiration leaders I have had the fortune of working with here at People’s Care; Catherine Bennage and Tony Kueter.

When I started working with People’s Care in April of 2013 as an instructor for Community Day Programs, I knew I wanted to be promoted within the company because I loved the foundation and mission, what the company stands for. I see everyone as a potential leader in their own right. I knew for sure I was going to strive to prove I could also be a leader and supporter of others.

So I worked through all the ranks, to currently having a title as an Area Manager. Before every position I applied to, I’d asked myself what difference will I make? I learned through the years it’s not a question, however it’s a way of life for me. The same mission follows me now as it did 20 plus years ago. Take positive action to create positive change enriching a culture of safety for all. Every small contribution will make a big difference and we all contribute to something bigger than ourselves. I learned through trial and error in my younger years that you have to connect/build rapport to lead/support others.

People’s Care with the support of many other amazing leaders such as Catherine and Tony, gave me many opportunities to grow, to be empowered, to empower others and to make positive change never straying from our mission. I learned though my wise amazing leaders that: Leaders don’t lead to gain power but to empower others. A true leader never stops learning or seeing the wisdom in others. Also never judge others by their success, judge them based off their failures, frustrations and even personal catastrophe, knowing they have the power to continue and still empower others.

Ready to find out if this rewarding career can be a good fit for you? Visit us at

Lessons from My Son with Autism, As He Nears the End of High School

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At the end of each school year, I reflect on what we have learned over the previous nine months. My son T.J. will be a senior in high school this fall, and while this annual period of reflection is always a critical part of our planning, this year has been particularly enlightening.

When T.J. was diagnosed with autism at age 2, we went through all the emotions, and tried every therapy we could find. We privately mourned the loss of the life we thought we would have, while happily and confidently accepting our new reality. We embraced his diagnosis with optimism, and even through tough times, our strong love for our children was always the driving force.

That hasn’t changed, and it never will. What has changed this year, however, are some of our expectations.Our motto in those early years was “Throw everything at him and let’s see what sticks.” We gave him every possible learning opportunity. Flexibility was key. If one thing wasn’t working, we tried something else. Our teams of teachers and therapists were always willing to change course as needed to ensure T.J. could succeed at school.

But now, at age 17, T.J. is pretty much who he is going to be as an adult. Yes, many things are still up in the air and could change as he experiences the world, but he has largely been shaped. He is wonderful and smart and funny and caring and affectionate. He loves animals, Harry Potter, Pokémon, Power Rangers, Star Wars and Pixar. He is curious about the things that interest him. He gets stressed out easily in a variety of situations and, with some assistance, can calm himself down. He has a bad-boy streak, which manifests as a love of things deemed “inappropriate” in school (swear words, South Park, Family Guy).

When T.J. started school, we aimed for the stars. For my husband and me, that meant trying to get him to college. I grew up with that mind-set. But I’m learning now that it’s not the best path for everyone. So this past winter, as we watched friends with children T.J.’s age plan college tours and prepare for the SAT, we quietly let go of that definition of success.

Our coming to terms with this is the best thing for him, and for us. It’s not what he is meant to do. At least, not in the typical leave home and go to a four-year university way. T.J.’s academic struggles, and his capacity for dealing with stress, are evidence that his path to happiness and success will be uniquely his.

We never let T.J. see that we were struggling with that realization. We didn’t want him to feel responsible for our preconceived notions of what his life should look like.

Along the way, we have talked with T.J. about what he wants his future to look like (a hard and scary concept for a boy who has said “I want to live with you forever”). Now, with his input, we are trying to find the best way to honor his ideas, while tossing in some challenges here and there to help him keep growing. His special educator is on board with this plan and is suggesting options for his future.

We visited a great residential program over spring break, which allows kids on the spectrum to live together, with 24-hour supervision, and provides opportunities to take a college-level course here and there. We can work with T.J. to structure this program to meet his needs, so that he is challenged while not being overly stressed. It’s a delicate balance, but we’re working on it.

So while we quietly mourn our own selfish ideas of what we thought his future would be, we are actively planning his actual future, with him involved every step of the way. It doesn’t look like the college tours a typical high school junior takes, but we are happy with what it is: opportunity, challenge, hand-holding (for him and us!). Slow and steady.

We will find our way, together.

Lauren Swick Jordan 

Classroom Yoga Helps Improve Behavior Of Kids With Autism

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Researchers have found that kids with autism spectrum disorder who did yoga at their elementary school behaved better than kids with autism who weren’t doing yoga.

The researchers surveyed teachers at a school in the Bronx who said a daily yoga program reduced the kids’ aggressive behavior, social withdrawal and hyperactivity.

Kristie Patten Koenig, an assistant professor of occupational therapy at New York University who led the study, says that yoga was effective because it seems to play to the strengths of kids with autism, while also reducing stress.

“We know that anxiety fuels a lot of the negative behavior, so the yoga program gives them a strategy to cope with it,” Koenig tells Shots. “And if it’s done every morning, it becomes an integral part of the day that sets the status of the classroom and allows the kids to become calm, focused and ready to learn.”

According to the researchers, yoga is increasingly being used in classrooms across the U.S. to get kids to behave and perform better in school. Early research suggests that yoga exercises help kids concentrate and focus, and improves their strength, motor coordination and social skills.

Many researchers argue that kids with autism need behavioral therapies early on, when they do the most good. Intensive interventions like the Early Start Denver Model, which has therapists work with children in their homes four hours a day, five days a week, also appear to be effective.

Autism spectrum disorders can be mild or severe, but they interfere with a person’s ability to communicate and understand social cues. People with the most severe version are unable to speak.

According to the latest estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 88 children has been diagnosed with autism. Rates have risen steeply in the last decade, which may be due to better detection.

The yoga program is being implemented in more than 500 classrooms across the city of New York among students ages 5 through 21 with significant disabilities. The results of Koenig’s study were published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy.

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