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Why Prep?

AKA:  "The Spectrum"
AKA:  Asperger's Syndrome


Introduction:  I am autistic.

My son has autism, and although I have never been officially diagnosed, I believe I have it as well.

There has always been something different about me.  My parents recognized it when I was eight years old and had the school do some testing on me.  (I remember the testing, but nobody told me why I was going through that battery of tests).  I didn't mind being pulled from the humdrum of regular classroom life to do these inane tasks that they were asking me to do, because it was a change of scenery and I got to meet new people and escape boring class work for a while.  But, I always wondered.  It wasn't 'till 45 years later that I realized, it was because I'm autistic, too!

The tests all came back that I was a "normal" child.  But, you see, schools are not allowed to diagnose.  They are only allowed to determine if there is a learning deficit, which may require intervention.  It was determined by the school that I did not require intervention.

But, even if I had gone to a doctor, it is unlikely that the doctor would have caught it either, because back then (in the 70's), doctors probably didn't know how to diagnose "high-functioning" autism.

My son was the precipitant for me to recognize the autism in myself.  When my son was diagnosed, I began to notice that he had many of the same quirks that I had.  It got me to thinking, "Is that why I have always been different from those around me?  Am I autistic, too?"

Luckily, being autistic myself, I was able to help my son cope with many of the challenges that he would face, and still faces.


My son and I.

Autism FAQs

Question Answer
What is the difference between autism, 'the spectrum', and Asperger's Syndrome? Nothing.  They are all but different labels for the same thing.

It is called Asperger's Syndrome, because it was first recognized and diagnosed by Dr. Hans Asperger in 1944.1

It is called "the spectrum" because it is a HUGE spectrum, ranging from severe autism ("Rainman"), to mild autism, to 'high-functioning' autism.

What are the symptoms of autism? Keep in mind that autism is different for each and every child.

I have taught elementary for 25 years and besides having a child of my own with autism, I have taught many diagnosed autistic children.

Some common characteristics of autism can be...

-  Tendency to not look others in the eyes (but this is not always true), and can be overcome with training

-  Inability to express emotions the way that others do.  This is not because they don't have emotions.  THEY DO!  And, they have very deep emotions; they just don't express them outwardly in socially acceptable ways.  They don't weep, (at least not often); but they do express anger.

-  Lack of a sense of time.  (I noticed this one in all of my dealings with autistic persons).

-  Can be obsessive about certain things.  Usually, this comes in the form of being obsessive about rules.  Autistic children tend to have a biological imperative to point out when others are not following the rules.

-  Inability to pick up on social cues; and don't use social cues themselves.

-  Can be socially awkward; and this only because they don't have 'filters'; they say what they mean and they are direct.  They don't beat around the bush.

-  Others.

How can I know if my child (or I) am on "the spectrum"? Only a licensed physician can officially diagnose it.
How can I cope (or teach my child to cope)? DISCLAIMER:
I am not a licensed physician, and my suggestions are not to replace the qualified, professional advise of one's physician.  These are just ways that I am my son have coped.  If they seem to help, great.  If they don't, discard them and seek professional advice.

NOTE:  There is a whole list in Carley's book:  Asperger's from the Inside Out, and these are all in there; but I chose these because these are BIGGIES in my own life and the life of those I know who have autism.

(1)  Looking one in eyes
This can be trained.  I trained myself.  When I was young, I had a natural aversion to looking people in the eyes.  My parents would always say, "Look at me when I'm talking to you."  (And that helped), but I basically trained myself to look people in the eyes.  I cannot explain why we autistic people have that aversion.  I think it has something to do with it being too personal.  Looking at another person's eyes and having them look into our eyes is a very intimate thing for us autistic persons.  We don't give that privilege away to just anybody.  Consider yourself special if an autistic person will look you straight in the eyes.

(2)  Expressing emotions
As a child, I seldom expressed my emotions.  Even when I as elated, I didn't jump up and down and get all excited on the outside, but I was elated on the inside.  As a teacher, I learned that I need to show my students and/or tell my students how I was feeling.

For my child, I had to teach him how to handle his emotions in socially acceptable ways.  This is a forever on-going process that gets better and easier as time passes.

(3)  Sense of Time
My son copes with this deficiency by using a watch/clock and using timers whenever possible.  (I do the same).

(4)  Obsessive behavior
I'm 'OCD' about order and cleanliness.  Clutter is okay, as long as it is organized and labeled and I know where everything is.  I hate not knowing where I put stuff.  My son gets obsessive about various things.  Sometimes the obsession passes.  Sometimes it doesn't.  It was important to constantly reassure my son that things will be okay if something obsessed about doesn't happen or doesn't happen the way that we want it too or expect it to.  (My mom did the same with me).

(5)  Social cues
Every single social cue has to be taught.  My son may choose not to use them, but at least he has been taught to recognize them when they he sees them.  Basically, I had to teach my son how to handle each and every situation (and I'm still doing that; and I'm still learning myself).

(6)  Being too direct
"Beating around the bush" is a fine art.  It can be taught, but generally speaking, we autistic people look at it as a waste of time.  We've got more important things to do.  BUT, when it comes to preserving people's feelings, we can learn to "beat around the bush".

Are there any organizations that can help (after diagnosis from a licensed professional)? DEAR PARENTS:

As a licensed teacher (with 25 years of experience) I can tell you that the first thing you are going to want to do for your autistic child is go to the doctor that diagnosed the condition and get a note from the doctor stating the diagnosis and requesting services from the school.  I don't know about other countries, but in the U.S., upon receiving said document, the school must, by law, provide immediate services.  Get over any stigma you might feel.  By HIPPA laws and FERPA laws, your child's condition must remain a secret.  That means the school will know, and your child's teacher will know, but nobody else is allowed to know (unless you tell them or your child tells them).  What you get is amazing support from the school professionals.  As a teacher, I was able to secretly put into place certain accommodations for each child with special needs.


For children (and families) w/ autism
(and even into adulthood)
Just For adults w/ autism
National Autism Association

(this one is for teachers, too!)

Global & Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership
Asperger/Autism Network
Association of University on Disabilities
Autism Science Foundation Madison House Autism Foundation
Autism Society  
Autism Speaks  


Don't see one that you know of?  Contact me.

Aren't autistic people supposed to be endowed with special savant powers, like "Rainman" was really good at math? Yes!  and No.

No, very few autistic persons at actually good at math.  Some may be.  I don't know any, except Kim Peek (the person on whom "Rainman" was based).

But, they excel at something!

My son has a very good eye and an astounding attention to detail that would make any quality assurance employee marvel.

Footnotes (Sources)

1.  Carley, M.J., 2008.  Asperger's from the Inside Out, Penguin Books, Ltd.


Like I, Michael John Carley discovered that he was autistic when he was an adult.  He, along with some other autistics, started GRASP (Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership) in 2003.  GRASP is a non-profit 501(c)3.  This is from their website's "about" (history) page.

In order to support our peers at the individual level, GRASP provides assistance by offering autism assessments, neurodivergent coaching, free information and referral services, and virtual supports. At the larger level, we also offer educational workshops and programs to schools, post-secondary organizations, and companies. 

In 2008, Michael Carley published a book, Asperger's from the Inside Out.  It is like a handbook for autistic people.  (But, can be used as a guidebook for parents as well).





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