Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ari Ne'eman SPEAKS, it's time to LISTEN to HIM!

Ari-awareness, NOT "Autism Awareness"

Ari Ne'eman is Autistic, 21 years old, and he has already accomplished so much. He is my best friend, and I am very PROUD of him.

From my English 0990 class I just completed...

Change-I-want-to-make paragraph (cause/effect)

The change I would like to make in myself is to ameliorate my generalized anxiety disorder. One reason I want to make this change is because my anxiety disorder affects my speech production. When Ari Ne’eman, my friend, telephoned me, I was unable to produce words. He spoke on the telephone and I typed out my responses on instant messenger. Ari’s compassion was evidenced when he heard my sounds and stuttering through the receiver and said, “Just type.” Another reason I want to make this change is that my anxiety disorder affects my ability to perform at piano recitals. I am a perfectionist, thus I cannot stand making mistakes. For example, I performed at a piano recital. While waiting for my name to be called, I was extremely nervous. I asked questions repeatedly. Because of my fear of making mistakes, I cried on the way home.

Ready, Willing, ABLE, and Employable

Kathy typed up a letter in addition to the evaluation given by my vocational program, Cuyahoga East Vocational Educational Consortium (CEVEC).

This is what Kathy typed.

"Some additional thoughts regarding Katie

Katie is a wonderful addition to our staff! She has the built in attention to detail that is impossible to teach but is an important ingredient for success in an office environment, especially in an accounting office. Katie often finds the inconsistencies that we are unaware of and has helped us become more consistent, both in our work duties and communications.

Katie has made the extra effort to learn the names of the other people working in our office (as you may know we have three firms sharing space) and she makes an effort to greet each one by name when the opportunity presents itself. She makes more eye contact as she gets more and more comfortable with each of us.

As Katie becomes more familiar with our expectations she has become better able to judge the quality of her own work and make more independent decisions on what should or should not be redone. I expect this to continue to improve. She errs on the side of caution, and that is the best way.

The other people in our office have observed the growth that Katie has exhibited, and are quite impressed with her efforts and abilities. They have expressed an interest in sharing her services and we are presently working out the details. This affords us the opportunity to continue employing Katie through the summer and hopefully into the fall. We have plans to increase Katie's skill set with some accounts receivable and other duties as she grows more comfortable and more able to absorb further instruction.

Thank you for introducing us to Katie. We hope to make her a permanent member of our working family and continue to help her grow as she is helping us grow.


Kathryn R. Light

I would like to thank Kathy and Phil for their patience, understanding, and helping me acquire new skills. Thank you for believing in me.

Support Accommodation, NOT pity!

Part I: ASD Friendly Employment

I work at Light and Associates, an accounting firm. My employers, Phil and Kathy Light, decided to thank me for my hard work during tax season. They gave me a card. Inside the card was a gift card to Borders, a bookstore.

The card reads:

"Katie -

This is just a little gift to express my (our) thanks for the great job you did during tax season. I appreciate your quality of work, attention to detail, your willingness to learn new things, and your pleasant personality!! I'm glad you are working with us & hope you will be part of t he Light & Associates "family" for a long time." - Phil

(From Phil and Kathy)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Autistic Advocates & Activists

Pictured (right) is Ari Ne'eman. He is an adult Autistic. He is the President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. He advocates for support, services, inclusion, education, and accommodations for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD's).

Stephen Shore is an Autistic adult. He advocates for support and inclusion for people on the Autism Spectrum.

Phil Schwarz is an Autistic adult. He advocates for people on the Autism Spectrum.

Alex Plank is an Autistic adult. He advocates for people on the Autism Spectrum.

Dora Raymaker is an Autistic adult. She communicates by using a variety of augmentative adaptive communication methods. She advocates for people on the Autism Spectrum.

Autism and other DISABILITIES: How to HELP YOURSELF!

Hi Katie,

Here are some things I use to manage anxiety:

-Vigorous exercise of 30 to 60 minutes a day (preferably cardiovascular in nature)

-Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, oats, etc.

-Reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption (In my case I don't drink any alcohol)

-Setting up routines and habits for daily, weekly, and monthly basis

-Breathing and relaxation techniques

-Squeeze stress balls-Affirmations and visualizations

-Practicing meditation

-Seeing a counselor on a weekly basis

Re posted with permission from Scott Michael Robertson, Autistic adult and Vice President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Being Autistic Versus Anxiety Disorders

I am autistic (NOT self-diagnosed). The mind of individuals on the Autism Spectrum is wired differently. However, my different wiring is not "natural variation." My autism spectrum diagnosis is a disability and presents negative traits such as not being able to focus on things other than my interests, inconsistent eye contact, sporadically delayed and incoherent speech production, stuttering, other speech problems, and auditory processing delay. My other challenges include: a hypersensitive auditory and tactile sensory system and other difficulties that present with being Autistic.

However, Autism Spectrum Disorders are not a disease or mental illness. Autism is a SPECTRUM medical disorder, NOT "natural variation."

I strongly support Neurodiversity, especially Michelle Dawson's version. However, I just realized how my views have come into conflict with the mainstream Neurodiversity philosophy. I don't agree that the autism spectrum is 100 percent genetic. What about the environmental triggers, lack of oxygen at birth (personally experienced), exposure anxiety, GI issues, and other causes?

If Autism Spectrum Disorders are to be considered 100 percent genetic, then researchers and scientists would have a reason to fund eugenics. I am 100 percent against eugenics for all disabilities.

It is a fact people on the Autism Spectrum have mental illnesses and co-morbid medical disorders. For example, I have two co-morbid medical disorders. My  anxiety disorders are not part of me. They prevent my quality of life.

Deena, from the "No Myths" PSA said, "Autism is an integral part of who I am." My autistic disability (neurological and biological), my personality traits, and other positive traits are an integral part of who I am.

I have accepted and embraced my autism spectrum diagnosis. That does not mean I will do nothing to improve my quality of life.

Gifts & Talents:

I am a musician. I have been taking piano lessons since I was 10 years old. I am on hiatus from piano lessons and practicing.

I am a writer. I like to various things and sometimes opinion responses.

I am hyperlexic. I can read very quickly, above grade level, and generally have good comprehension (except some figurative language). I can decipher most words from contextual clues.

I am a college student. I have just finished Spring 2009 - my first semester of community college. Like Jake Crosby, I decided not to ask for accommodations. Consequently, I have struggled but the semester is almost over, and I am passing. I did tell my professor I am Autistic. She has been very understanding. I chose not to disclose my autism spectrum diagnosis to the disability services office because I wanted to prove to myself I could take tests without extended time.

I am an employee; nonetheless, I struggle significantly.

Anxiety disorders are horrible, devastating illnesses.

Sarcasm - Part I: I enjoy being anxious and having anxiety attacks, racing heartbeat, sweat palms, and other physical symptoms. Celebrate social and performance anxiety. Anxiety is a natural prevention of quality of life. Anxiety is natural suffering.

Sarcasm - Part II: I enjoy getting obsessive thoughts. I enjoy when my mind gets stuck, I think we should celebrate not being able to get thoughts out of one's brain.

Break time: An Adult With ASD Helping Herself!

To whom it may concern:

I have been a horrible person with ASD (Asperger’s Syndrome). I have wasted countless hours online when I should have been working on my English homework, practicing piano, engaging in my other passionate and deeply focused interests, and doing alternative (biomedical) and mainstream treatments to improve my quality of life.

I've engaged in frequent and pointless arguments, personal attacks, name calling, and other ineffective conversation methods. I've created and responded to insensitive and destructive threads one after another. I have conversed with people with ASD and parents of people with ASD. The common trend on Autism Speaks Social Network is attacking opposing views, defamation of character, personal attacks, name calling, questioning diagnoses, and other useless and disrespectful conversation techniques.

At no time have I really furthered my development through the various uses of Autism Speaks Social Network. It has been more a waste of time than anything, and I, for one, am vastly ashamed of myself. In my quest to offer personal experience and suggestions that would enhance the lives of autistic people and parents of people on the Autism Spectrum, I have harmed my own life by neglecting my emotional, mental, and physical health.

In my quest to gain more knowledge about how diverse the challenges of people with ASD are, I have learned reasons why I should "celebrate" having autism and argue with others that have opposing views in the Autism Spectrum community. I have partaken in one insane action after another. Well, I am done as of today.

Katie on Autism Speaks Social Network will now move toward her blog
. I will leave my account up and running if someone wishes to contact me through private message.

What am I going to do? I am going to be a better person with autism, friend, college student, and employee. I could probably quantify that statement in numerous different ways, but it all boils down to simply being a better person. After I improve my quality of life, I may or may NOT surface again. I have already obtained a laptop – Intel HP, but I still need to install a text-to-speech program and other programs.

For now, and until the end of the summer, I am going to have to say good-bye. Anyway, good luck to the remaining people with ASD who have specific medical diagnoses of Autistic Disorder, PDD-NOS, or Asperger’s Syndrome, and parents of people on the Autism Spectrum.