We had an awesome time at the EXPO, lot’s of folks came out and showed off their stuff. Here is who was there:
Autism Consulting and Training
Camp Lakey Gap
Asheville Parks, Recreations, & Cultural Arts-Therapeutic Recreation Program
The Launch Pad
Olson Huff Center
Autism Pride Week
Aspergers Adults United
Turning Point Services
Buncombe County Foster Care
The Mentor Network
Asheville Counseling and Wellness Center
Interact Speech Therapy
Shoe Box Tasks
F.I.R.S.T / PLAY project
The new resource list is hot off the presses!
Check it out and print it here!
Thanks to all who attended–I really appreciate your help in keeping this list relevant and helpful. –Sylvia
We are hosting the 2013 Autism Expo in Asheville, NC! Come join us at Mission Hospital’s Reuter Center on April 23rd to find out what new resources are available in WNC!
We will be updating this RESOURCE LIST and adding some cool new projects.
April 23rd, 2013
Mission Hospital’s Reuter Center (11 Vanderbilt Park Dr Asheville, NC 28803)
If you would like to have a booth at this event, please send me an email
Hope to see you all there!
In the past year, I have come across a large number of older teens and young adults on the spectrum who are struggling with various parts of their lives. Some of them are failing classes, or intimated by taking a large number of credits. Some of them are frustrated with their jobs, or have been fired for poor performance. Some struggle with with healthy habits, or have had arguments with families or housemates.
I have found that the solutions to a lot of these problems are logistics-based. A lot of people on the spectrum have a talent for academics, or have a pay-worthy skill set but have terrible logistical skills (executive functioning). This is a normal part of the ‘peaks and valley’s’ of skills found in many people on the spectrum, but is often over-looked by therapists, well-meaning friends, and family members. A lot of times people who have trouble organizing themselves end up feeling really bad/dumb/inept about themselves, which is a real shame and sometimes leads to a major waste of skills and brain power.
You don’t have to be an excellent clinician to help someone get organized about something. If you know someone with autism who is struggling to make friends, you can go on the internet with them, find something fun, and help them put it on their schedule (phone reminder, written calendar, whatever). Helping people plan stuff like transportation, or the exact change in routine they will have to make can really help. If a person is struggling with school, help them find the math or writing lab, and make some appointments to do their homework in there. Help them get the appointments in their calendar and set a phone alarm.
People on the autism spectrum are often visual thinkers. While some people on the spectrum experience intense emotions, many people do not converse about their emotions very often, and do not spend a lot of time thinking of precise ways to describe the nuances of their feelings to others. Additionally, people with autism often struggle with executive functioning, which is the ‘organizing and logistics’ department in the brain. Your executive function is what helps you recognize a problem, think of options, choose one, and follow through on your choice.
This means that when people with autism come to a typical therapy setting, they are working really hard, because they are practicing stuff they don’t do all the time (verbalizing deep feelings and discussing options). I might compare this to a non-technical person meeting with their tech-support staff for entire hour of technical talk.
If you are this non-technical person, do you want your technical adviser, who you pay to help you, to suggest a few things out loud and send you on your way? Would you prefer that they write some things down so you can remember what the hell they were even talking about? I know I always appreciate written directions. If I’m lost, I want to look at a map, not listen to a paragraph of directions.
All of this seems doubly true for people who are visual learners, and struggle with auditory processing.
If you are the therapist for a person on the spectrum, please do not let them leave your office without writing down your main points. I realize the therapeutic process does not always call for some concrete action points, but some version of a written transcript will dramatically increase your efficacy.
Less than a third of adults with autism have regular employment. There is a range of statistics regarding the exact rate (here and here and here), but whether the unemployment rate is 68% or 93%, it seems that many people who could potentially work are not working.
There are a lot more kids with an autism diagnosis than adults (because we recognize and diagnose it more now than we did 15 years ago), and many of these kids receive some kind of special services in school and/or in the community. However, most of those services end after high school.
As a society, we should want kids to be able to work, so that our tax dollars do not have to pay for them in the form of unemployment, prison, and institutional support.
The issue is: We don’t actually know how to help people become employable. We have some ideas, but we have a pitiful amount of research in this area.
The largest support program for helping people with autism find work is Vocational Rehabilitation Services (usually known as VR). It is federally funded, and operated on a state level. In 2006, 3,397 people with autism were served by VR.
According to Autism Speaks, 500,000 kids with autism will become adults in the next decade.
Currently, it costs VR about $30,ooo per year to support a person with autism at work. For every dollar a person with autism makes in this program, it costs VR about $25. This study says more.
It doesn’t seem like we can afford to support 500,000 more people in this way.
What can we do? Here are a few resources from others:
A good collection of stats and ideas from Scott Standifer
We had a really successful event this week, and I’m really pleased with the updated resource list. I was happy to see so many autism professionals getting to know each other and exchanging contact info.
Please check out this downloadable PDF of Autism Resources in Western North Carolina: Empower Autism Resource List
In creating this list, I was really struck by a couple of things.
1. There are so many local resources! and so many specialists! This means the era of one person being “The Person” for autism in our area is over–which is great! We need options and specialties.
2. Look at all the recreation options! There might not be something for everyone, or something that is perfectly tailored for each child, but we are doing SO MUCH better than we were doing even two years ago.
NICE WORK ASHEVILLE
Empower Autism is hosting a lunchtime networking event at the Family Support Network! We are excited to welcome members of the professional community to this casual drop-in event. We plan to provide light food, lots of introductions, and a follow-up contact list for the people who attended. If you’re interested in stopping by, please RSVP to Sylvia via email: email@example.com
The holidays are not always easy for people on the autism spectrum. Holiday parties, lengthy meals with relatives, crowded houses, and gift-anxiety can be really stressful for people on the spectrum. The behavior expectations are different, and familiar adults are often acting unpredictably, and generally have less time to patiently explain what is going on. Quiet alone-time is at a premium for everyone, and most people are a little edgy. In fact, sometimes the holidays are not a ‘holiday’ at all for people with autism. Here are a few tips that may diffuse some holiday drama in your family.
Structure in the Home
Preparation for Big Events
Here is this info as a Printable PDF, in case you’d like to share it. Good luck! Please share any of your own holiday tips if you wish!
Parent: Ok, let’s pick out a gift for Mama
ASD child: NO. I want elmo/thomas/Xbox 360!
Parent: Yes, I know. At Christmas we give gifts to other people. What would Mama like?
ASD child: I don’t know.
Parent: Well, do you want to get her this necklace?
ASD child: No.
This scenario is even more awkward for a single parent attempting to help their child pick out or make a gift for them.
This year, Empower Autism is hosting an alternative method for gift-giving. We are structuring the gift process so that kids create presents for their parents with the help of our volunteers. They help wrap them up, label them and bring them back to their parents (who are munching snacks and socializing in another room if they wish).
When: Sunday Dec 11th 3-5pm
Where: UNCA (New Hall room 118)
Please RSVP via email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to attend. Let us know how many adults and kids to expect.
So, I get a lot of questions from families about helping their children with autism. Sometimes people want to know about changing behaviors, improving school performance, finding friends, dealing with puberty, or clearer communication. I know that for every question someone asks, there are additional folks who want to hear the answer…so I added a feature to the website where you can submit your questions, and I will answer them online. I will not include names and I will edit out identifying information. If you click on ASK above, you can see the form.
Here is the first question:
How can I get my 9 year old son to complete daily activities like homework and cleaning his room without fear of provoking a backlash or even a meltdown? He does well in school when he finishes his assignments and I know he can clean his room and do other chores because he has done them in the past. Lately he just refuses to take directions from me. –Tired of Walking on Eggshells
Dear Tired of Eggshells,
Sounds entirely frustrating! I agree that your son should be able to accomplish some daily explanations without melting down. You mentioned in your submission that your son uses a schedule in the morning and earns time on his DS on the way to school if he finishes his morning routine. Have you tried a similar system for the afternoon? You might make him a list of stuff to do when he gets home (including some downtime) and let him earn some stuff he really likes such as videogame time. The schedule and the reward-earning could take some of the power struggle out of the afternoon, and add some predictability. Check out these handout on Structure in the Home and Rules and Rewards for a place to start brainstorming.
For example, his afternoon could go like this:
get off the bus
30 min choice time: draw, go outside, play with trains (no TV or video games)
–Homework done? 20 min of video games
–room clean? 20 min of video games
You may need to present this new system to him in writing so he can get used to the idea. Here is handout on written explanations<.
GOOD LUCK! --Sylvia