Autistic Social Skills

As I mentioned in the attachment that I added to the end of the video of last month’s meeting, we didn’t finish all of the material due to the great dialog that was generated, as well as the fact that just about everyone had to leave early.  I also felt that I didn’t do as good of a job of pointing out the specific social skills issues that stem from our executive functioning impairments.   It’s not that the information I did provide wasn’t good and very beneficial, its that I don’t feel that it really address the bigger subject of social skills.

 

Therefore, I redid my PowerPoint slides of that section so I can present the information that I feel needs to be shared.  Nevertheless, instead of being an amendment to last month’s presentation, it ended up becoming a reboot.  I’ll leave the original on line because it went into greater detail about the foundational issues that were discussed prior to the section on “Executive Functioning,” while this “reboot” concludes with the solutions that I couldn’t get to in the original because I ran out of time.

“I’m wired differently, here’re all the things I can’t do,” is not a recipe for successful interaction with anyone (believe when I say I tried that method and it failed me miserably) nor any other endeavor that we might under take.  Although society may make us feel like we were “born on the wrong planet,” that doesn’t make it true, nor does it give us the self-confidence that we need to succeed any anything, especially social interaction.  In fact, the entire mentality is self-defeating.

Success for Autistics/Aspies in any area, including social interaction, requires a root level understanding that builds our self-esteem and self-confidence.  How do we accomplish this, with a “holistic understanding of Autism/Asperger’s.”  That means instead of defining us by solely by our weaknesses, we need to also need to give our strengths their just due.  Just as a blind person compensates by developing a more acute sense of hearing, frontal lobe impairments result in Autistics/Aspie result in a greater reliance in other areas, resulting in superior abilities in those areas.

Another way that this discussion of the neuroscience of Autism/Asperger’s is going to be different from what’s typically presented is that I won’t be teaching trigonometry to kindergarteners.  I came up with this analogy to explain to Dr. Woodruff why conferences designed to educate parents and Autistics/Aspies should simplify how Autism/Asperger’s is explained to them.  We also need to focus more attention on what will allow us to devise strategies for dealing with struggles that we face today, rather than solutions that science MIGHT provide us 5-10 years from now.

For those who aren’t familiar with Dr. Woodruff, he’s a neurologist who works at the about 2011-14.  During that time, he donated all of his knowledge to anyone who Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale who attended Autistic/Aspie meetings for personal reason from wanted it.  I soaked up everything that he had, that was within my ability to comprehend, like a sponge.  He examined the material that I’d come up with prior to our meeting each other and completely overhaul several portions of it.  Everything that I share on the subject of the neuroscience of Autism/Asperger’s has his endorsement as to being consistent with consensus view of scientists at the time he assisted me in developing this material.

Identifying the Needs and Assessing the Solutions of the Autism Community

 

I’m putting the series of Autistic/Aspie Social Skills on hold because I’m in the process of changing venues.  I appreciate Ability 300 allowing us to use their facilities free of charge, but there has been a problem with people being able to read the PowerPoints due to design of the classroom.  So in June, I’ll be moving to my church that that will let us use the fairly large flat screen TV that will be perfect.

 

So for this month, I want a topic that doesn’t require PowerPoints.  Therefore, we’ll discuss the specific needs of the Autism/Asperger’s community for both Autistics/Aspies and their parents, as well as assess the various solutions that are available.  A lot of the programs are simply not as effective as advertised due to inadequate funding and/or some of the caseworkers/care providers that are just there to collect a paycheck.  Having volunteered to help the refugee community, I’ve observed them “hit the wall” in terms of the programs reaching their limits in terms of how much they can help their clients improved their quality of life.  It’s at this point that the refugees ban together and fend for themselves.

 

So my goal isn’t to change the system, its to alleviate its burden by figuring out how to solve our own problems while minimizing our dependency on taxpayer funded bureaucracies and organizations.  A great example of this are all of the housing programs out there for us.  The thing is, I didn’t get diagnosed until I was 40, yet I’ve been living by myself since I graduated from high school (with a few brief exceptions in which chronic employment issues made it impossible).  I know a number of other Autistics/Aspies who have had the same success in this area as I have.  So why not give us the opportunity to be volunteer role models to the Autistic/Aspie community in this area?  Just because some Autistics/Aspies don’t have the ability to have my level of independence doesn’t mean that those who do should be denied the opportunity because of those who don’t.

 

As I’ve stated many times before, the less taxpayers money that its spent on those who can be taught to not need it, the more money that’s available for those who have to have it.  This is the mindset that I’ve been trying to get the Autism community to open its mind to since I became a self-advocate back in 2010, and it’s the approach that I take whenever discussing this subject.

Brief History of Autism

 

Links affiliated with video:

 

PowerPoint Slides of presentation:

brief-history-of-autism-public-version

 

“Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact” (1943) [Slides 5 & 33]:

https://simonsfoundation.s3.amazonaws.com/share/071207-leo-kanner-autistic-affective-contact.pdf

 

History of Blame (PBS) [Slides 14-15, 17 & 22]:

http://www.pbs.org/pov/refrigeratormothers/fridge

 

Guide to the Richard Pollak Collection of Bruno Bettelheim Research Materials 1863-2006 (University of Chicago) [Slide 16]:

https://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/scrc/findingaids/view.php?eadid=ICU.SPCL.POLLAKBETTELHEIM

 

Portland Press Herald (Oregon Newspaper) [Slide 18]:

http://www.pressherald.com/2014/03/16/book_q_a__writing_about_brother_s_death_helps_portland_author_and_others_/

 

The Embryo Project Encyclopedia (Arizona State University) [Slides 27-28]:

https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/early-infantile-autism-and-refrigerator-mother-theory-1943-1970

 

Bettelheim’s TV show appearances (Dick Cavett Show) [Slide 29]: http://dickcavettshow.com/index.php/component/zoo/tag/dick-cavett-show/Bruno%20Bettelheim?Itemid=101

 

Bettelheim’s “Documentaries” [Slide 30]:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0079291/

 

Rimland’s Overkill (Health Counselor Magazine, Vol. 3 No. 6; June/July 1994) [Slide 39]:

http://www.bestbehaviour.ca/briefhistory.htm (link, affiliated with a website the promote a specific autism early intervention method, no longer valid)

Getting Autistics/Aspies Jobs & Off Public Assistance

This video references both of the following documents.  I recommend that you download both so you can see for yourself that my commentary on both of them is accurate.

2008 JAN (Job Accommodation Network: Accommodation and Compliance Series: Asperger’s Syndrome [Based on the DSM 4]):

https://autismambassadorscorps.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/jan-2008.pdf

2013 JAN (Job Accommodation Network: Accommodation and Compliance Series: Autism Spectrum Disorder [Based on the DSM 5]):

https://autismambassadorscorps.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/jan-2013.pdf

I spent more time during last month’s presentation talking about “the JAN” then I intended.  Because of this, I barely touch on my assessment of Voc-Rehab.  So this month, I focused almost solely on that.  However, I realized that I still left out a few points, so I attached an almost 10 minute amendment that I recorded early this afternoon to the presentation video.

After I finished & was getting ready to leave to the public library so I could use their super high speed internet to up load the video, I realized that there was still a couple of points that I intend to bring up.  However, I restrained my perfectionistic tendencies by realizing that these points would only further reinforced (or should I say dog piling on top of) points that I’d already made.

Educational Struggles of Autistics

On March 21, 2015, 6 individuals with a personal interest in Autism meet together to discuss the “Educational Struggles of Autistics.” 4 officially diagnosed Autistics (Jason, Sam, Jon & Phillip) 1 who has been friends (Beth) of the Autistic who organized the meeting (Jason) for 20 years, & may herself be Autistic 1 Father (Bryan) of twin Autistic son & daughter who are in their last couple of months of Kindergarten.)

My Resume

Downloadable PDF

SUMMARY:
• 37 years on and off experience working with individuals with disabilities
• 34 years of experience as a utility volunteer mostly, for the churches that I have attended
• 34 years on and off experience in various forms of childcare
• 16 years on and off experience in various forms of cross-cultural assistance
• 4 years of experience in Autism advocacy and self-advocacy

GOALS:
• To work as part of a teaching team, subordinate to certified teacher, therapist, etc., to help children with special needs to live as productive of lives as they possibly can
• To provide the unique personal insights that Adult Autistic advocates/self-advocates have to offer while helping
• To become gainfully employed, and off public assistance, for the first time since May 2009

EDUCATION:
• Completion Certificate in Carpentry, Phoenix Job Corps, Phoenix, Arizona (1989)
• High School Diploma, Mesa High School, Mesa, Arizona (1988)

Activities and Achievements:
Vice-President, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, February-April, 1988.
Bowling League, First Place Team (1987)

SKILLS AND PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT:
10/12-9/13: Volunteer Library Assistant, ELL Assistant and PTO Member at Mountain View School, Phoenix, Arizona

9/09- present: After receiving my Autism diagnosis at the age of 40, I was mentored as an Autistic Self-Advocate by the co-organizers of the adult Autistic/Asperger’s support group at which I learned about Autism by Sue Golubock, M.Ed., OTR/L (Retired Occupational Therapist and Autistic) and Tara Marshall, BA, SLPA (Speech Language Pathology Assistant and Autistic). Dr. Bryan K. Woodruff, MD (Neurologist who has a personal interest in the Autistic community) instructs me on all things neurological.

7/93-9/96: Various lead and assistant teacher positions with Word of Grace Church’s Early Childhood department, which required completion of a seven week, fourteen hour, teacher training course taught by Lisa Ratan. This included study of basic childhood development concepts.

7/90-3/91: Teacher’s Assistant in a 4-K class at Word of Grace Church, Mesa.

2/87-5/88: Volunteered one hour per school day at Parkway Elementary School, the school that all special needs students attending Mesa Public Schools were bussed to prior to the passage of Article IX.

Childhood: Grew up with a younger sister, Kelly, with Downs syndrome.

PERFORMING ARTS:
• Wrote scripts for, and performed, puppet shows for:
2 churches in Mexico during a mission trip with Pure Heart Christian Fellowship (1997)
2 Community outreaches for the College and Career group of Word of Grace (1994)
Monthly shows for Word of Grace Church, Mesa, Arizona (1993-1996)
• Directed a troop of children puppeteers (1993-1994)
• Wrote and directed
A Christmas play that was performed by the children’s ministry of First Arabic Baptist Church, Phoenix, Arizona (2006)
A drama/comedy skit at a 12 step retreat (1992)

OTHER WRITINGS:
• “Putting the Autism Puzzle Pieces Together”
First Edition (Self-published as public domain on the internet, April 2013)
Second Edition (Projected to be self-published as public domain on the internet, October 2013)
• 6 page critique of the Center for Disease Control’s 2012 report on the 2008 rate of Autism
• “The Abrahamic Wars” (Unpublished due to copyright issues)
• “The Handbook of Christian Discipleship Recover” (Unpublished due to copyright issues)
• Commentaries on a variety of political, religious and sociological topics.
• “Real Life Allegories” (Short stories about lessons that I learned through various real life experiences.

OTHER CHURCH RELATED VOLUNTEERISM:
Child care in correlation with various adult ministries, Vacation Bible School, van driver, donations pick-up and delivery, ESL Assistant Teacher, refugee assistance, etc.

AUTISM AMBASSADORS CORPS:
Mission: The Autism Ambassadors Corps is a coalition of autistics and neurotypicals who seek to bring the entire autism community together in constructive dialog in order that all side can obtain mutual understanding and admiration for each other.

4/13: Invited by the Mountain View School to do a 30 minute presentation at a special event that is still to be scheduled.

4/13: Presented a 6 hour “Putting the Autism Puzzle Pieces Together” seminar in addition to annual conference

7/12: Presented on ministering to Disabilities, with an emphasis on Autism, at Greenway Bible Church’s “Youth Vacation Bible School”

4/12: Presented “Autism in the Church” seminar in addition to annual conference

4/11: Hosted the first of what are now annual Autism conferences at Covenant of Grace

1/11: Launched Autistic Mentoring Group at Sam Bartlow’s apartment in Mesa

1/11: Launched Autism Mutual Support Group at Covenant of Grace Christian Fellowship

10/10: AAC received a formal pledge of support from Covenant of Grace

5/10: There was a dispute between myself and the majority of Autistic Self-Advocates who believe that the only solution to our grievances was political activism. Everyone that spoke up, except for myself, rejected the concept of constructive dialog between Autistics and teachers as a waste of time because they would never listen to us.

Core Values

Downloadable PDFs

GOALS

1) Provide a COMPLETE, CURRENT and USABLE understand of Autism

2) Form groups that promote constructive interaction between Autistics and Neurotypicals

DEFINITION OF AUTISM

Autism is an atypical neurological connectivity paradox resulting in heightened activity in some areas of the brain and decreased activity in others, compared to neurotypicals.

WHO ARE AUTISTICS?

Autistics are human beings who have Autism. They have the same needs, wants, personality strengths and weakness, etc. as any other human being, but face unique challenges in having their needs and wants met. The subjects of what Autism is and who are Autistics are two uniquely different, yet interwoven subjects. The same can be said while discussing any group of people and the unique individuals that make up the group.

THE GOLDEN RULES OF DEALING WITH AUTISTICS

These Golden Rules provide autistics and their loved ones with the hope of personal dignity that comes through the understanding of one’s self, social inclusion, the possibility of self-improvement, the hope of achieving goals, etc.

1) Do unto Autistics as you would have other do unto you.

2) Believe that everyone, no matter their neurological configuration, should be given the benefit of the doubt that they can achieve their goals and overcome their personal challenges.

PRACTICES THE AAC SUPPORTS

1) Providing a COMPLETE, SCIENTIFIC, CLINICAL and EXPERIENTIALLY understanding of Autism.

2) Helping Autistics to develop effective self-management skills that will allow them to function with as little special assistance and/or accommodations as possible.

3) Teaching Autistics who can advocate for themselves how to so.

4) Speaking about autism on behalf of those autistics who cannot speak for themselves.

5) Providing informed referrals for who need them.

6) Develop solutions for parents how need childcare for their autistic children in order to attend autism meetings.

7) Working to bring more uniformity in autism diagnoses.

8) Autistics providing direct input to researchers.

9) Bringing recognition to those who provide actual support and services.

10) Having the term “Autism Spectrum Disorder” replaced with “Autism Paradox.”

THE AAC’S POSITION ON INTOLERANCE

There are many different viewpoints on the subject of religion. This is not a major concern of mine because I, as a volunteer English teacher at Covenant of Grace Christian Fellowship, have seen many students of many faiths come to our church for free English classes. We do not attack their religious viewpoints and they do not attack ours. I have spent many hours doing social calls to the houses of Buddhists and Muslims. There have been a few occasions where they have engaged me in civilized and respectful dialog about our respective religions.

Contrary to popular misperception, the majority of the believers of all faiths are human beings who want nothing more than to live peaceable lives with their fellow human beings. The majority of us know that forcing our religious viewpoints down other’s throats is not only a waste of time, but also counterproductive. I have stated to many of my Muslim friends that if I have to attack their religion to prove my own, then there is something wrong with my religion. Any individual or church that refuses to accept this principle will not be allowed to participate in Autism Ambassadors Corps activities.

There is another factor to consider. The churches that I associate with and respect insist that one of the missions of the church is to show the love of God to all those with whom they come in contact. One of the ways that they do so is by starting programs that tend to the practical needs they see that people need. This ranges from offering social service type of assistance to providing emotional and spiritual support to those who are struggling. Educating such churches to the struggles of Autistics would compel many of them to want to do something to help. The Mentoring and Mutual Support Group models will give a format for them to make a difference in the lives of the Autistic community if the churches are given the flexibility to act like churches. The kind of churches that I just described would never align themselves with organizations that forbid them to act like a church.

However, there are many that are so hostile towards religion that they try to forbid anyone from discussing religion in their presence, even when the conversation is not directed toward them. Such attempts amount to these individuals attempting to force their viewpoints on everyone else. It is therefore the position of the ACC that CENSORSHIP IS THE GREATEST FORM OF INTOLERANCE. Those who place such demands on others to soothe their personal hostilities towards another’s religious viewpoints are guided by attitudes that are contrary to the mission of The Autism Ambassadors Corps. All such individuals and organizations will not be allowed to participate in AAC activities.

Hostility is not limited to the subject of religion. I know many autistics who are hostile towards just about all neurotypicals. This would include their parents, teachers, authority figures, authoritative figures, civil authorities, law enforcement, political viewpoints, etc. For this reason, some of the most knowledgeable Autistics I know cannot have a major role at our events. By the same token, those who are hostile towards the concept of neurodiversity cannot have major roles either. Such individuals can come as members of the general audience with the hope that they can be reasoned with, but we should not hesitate to forbid those whose hostilities undermine the mission of the Autism Ambassadors Corps from participating in our activities.