Be Prepared for School
by Sumiko Saulson
School can be particularly challenging for neurodivergent people who have autism, anxiety disorders, and other problems that can lead to sensory overload. How do you keep yourself from being overwhelmed?
Having a binder with a daily, weekly, and monthly planner or a calendar on your wall, or even both can help you with doing your best in school. Most schools offer a free one at registration if you start early enough. The Dollar Tree and 99 Cent Stores have them, and you can get 18 or 12-month calendars. There are also online calendars such as Google Calendar or iCalendar. Many phones have a calendar and an alarm you can set to help you get up on time and remember classes. Get to class early rather than late to avoid anxiety. That way you can get a seat while there are fewer people and have time for a video game or meditation to relax before class.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and for students, your first meal should be filled with protein. Sugars and caffeine give a short term burst of energy but may leave you lagging around 3pm when the effect wears off. Avoid carbo-loading, because that cereal turns into sugar later in the day. Instead, try eggs or…
Continue reading in SEARCH Magazine’s Winter 2019 issue.
Reaching For The Stars
by Lillian Csernica
People with autistic spectrum disorder sometimes develop a strong interest in a specific subject. That interest can progress to what some might call an obsession.
While neurotypical children may grow out of a particular “hobby” and move on to more age-appropriate subjects, ASD children often find what they like and stick with it. In the educational field, the term “preferred interests” describes the activities or areas of study that interest ASD people the most, distinguishing the interest from being a fixation or an instance of perseveration.
In January 2017, Kristin Patten Koenig and Lauren Hough Williams published Characterization and Utilization of Preferred Interests: A Survey of Adults on the Autism Spectrum. The study explains why these “preferred interests” are not drawbacks but vital elements… Continue reading in the Fall 2019 issue.
We’re Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo
by Michele Roger
The roars, the crowds and well, the smells; it’s all part of the excitement that accompanies a trip to the zoo. For some patrons on the autism spectrum, it’s some of these same aspects of a day at the zoo that can make it a challenge.
Zoos from around the world have come to appreciate that everyone experiences the zoo in their own way and have set up programs to help everyone enjoy the beauty and splendor of the animals.
Established in 1826, the London Zoo sits at the north edge of Regent’s Park between West Minster and Camden. The London Zoo is known for being the first zoo to open a reptile house in 1849, as well as the first children’s zoo in 1938.
In keeping with its pioneering tradition, London was one of the first zoos to create a digital package for autistic students attending with their school. The interactive, digital tour and printable pack is meant to be used ahead of the visit. The online tour goes through … continue reading the Summer 2019 issue.
Happy Milestones: an interview with Emerian Rich
by Michele Roger
1. I often hear parents wonder aloud if they should have their children tested. What was your experience when your son was diagnosed with autism?
We had our son tested because he wasn’t talking. We didn’t know what the reason was. When he was six months old, he said “Momma” and then never spoke again. When he hit one year old, we thought we better have him checked out. He was diagnosed with just a “delay”. They couldn’t give a full Autism diagnosis until he was five. At the time, we wondered if he was just behind because he was super premature. As a result, it was a lot of years waiting to see what was wrong. However, I am glad he got tested at one. He was immediately enrolled in speech delay programs and with therapists who taught him sign language first and then got him speaking. If we had waited, there’s no telling how long it would have taken him to talk.
2. What is a typical morning (or evening, whichever you prefer) like at home together?
Autism can mean so many different things to different families. My son is fairly high-functioning and is very independent. He has his own schedule, which sometimes drives us up the wall, but it’s very important to him. In the evening, he has dinner at a certain time, brushes his teeth, takes a shower, game time, and then bed on a strict regime. If he has to miss it or things are later/earlier, he gets very upset. In public and school, you could think … Read more in the Spring 2019 issue.
Cafe with Soul
by Michele Roger
In 1994, The Friendship Circle was founded in West Bloomfield, Michigan. It paired teen volunteers with special needs teens, including those on the autism spectrum. The primary goal was to establish a support system for the young adults and develop friendships. The program, supported by the local community, grew into what is currently over 700 teens and adult volunteers serving the community and children with special needs. With all of their success, another issue became evident: Employment.
Soul Cafe and Soul Studio became the answer. In partnership with the Epicurean Group of Detroit, Soul Cafe serves up gourmet, Kosher, vegetarian breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday. Sundays, the Cafe offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner with highlights and specials from the chef. While many vegetarian and vegan restaurants have arrived on the Detroit food scene lately, Soul Cafe has been named number one for 2018. It also offers professional kitchen training for special needs adults. Trainees from the Soul Cafe work side by side with chefs and managers to learn the art of cooking and preparing food at the fine dining level. Trainees learn valuable skills otherwise taught in culinary school, from baking to sauces and plating to catering while earning their Serv Safe certificates … Read more in the Spring 2019 issue.
Qualified to Serve
by Lillian Csernica
My grandfather, uncles, and father served in the U.S. Navy. I asked my son John if he wanted to join the military. Although, he doesn’t like guns or barracks life, he does believe people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder shouldn’t categorically be denied the opportunity.
However, if he had been interested, he would not have qualified. Any diagnosis of ASD disqualifies you for appointment, enlistment, or induction into the United States Armed Forces. Like most neurotypical people, the military mistakenly believe people with ASD all have identical symptoms. Military.com provides these specifics:
CANNOT JOIN IF YOU HAVE
- Permanent motor or sensory deficits.
- Care by a physician or other mental health professional for more than 6 months.
- Symptoms or behavior of a repeated nature that impaired social, school, or work efficiency.
- Specific academic skills defects, chronic history of academic skills or perceptual defects, secondary to organic or functional mental disorders that interfere with work or school after age 12.
- Current use of medication to improve or maintain academic skills.
When it comes to determining fitness for service in the armed forces, the data available now shows .… Continue reading in the Winter 2018 issue of SEARCH magazine.
Living in the Light
By Lillian Csernica
Fifteen years ago my son was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Very little clinical information was available, much less biographical writing by families raising autistic children.
The best guide I found for what my daily life would become was a series of graphic novels written by a Japanese mangka named Keiko Tobe.
In With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child, Sachiko and Masako Azuma are overjoyed to welcome their baby boy, Hikaru. This joy is short-lived when Sachiko realizes Hikaru is not reaching the usual developmental milestones. Doctors diagnose Hikaru as autistic. Although, Japanese culture may be quite different from life in the United States, Sachiko’s love for Hikaru and her determination to do right by him creates a universal appeal. Sachiko sees how much is right in Hikaru and keeps working toward … Continue reading in the Fall 2018 issue.
by Samantha Blache
Twitching, screaming randomly, shouting curse words, and making rude gestures are what many people think of when they hear the word Tourette’s. Why? Because it’s what they’ve seen in movies. The truth, however, is different. That leads to the question, “What is Tourette’s?”
Tourette’s Syndrome (TS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder. The term is used to describe a deficit in the function of the brain or central nervous system. With TS, the barrier in the brain that keeps certain signals from going into the body are weakened. This allows them to travel throughout the nerves and causes the movements and oral sounds. These movements and sounds are called tics.
For most, TS becomes evident in early childhood and are characterized by motor and vocal tics that wax and wane. These tics can be … continue reading in the Summer 2018 issue.
Just Keep Swimming
by Lillian Csernica
To many people, summer means the beach with hot sand, cool water, sunshine, cold drinks, carnival rides, and all that glorious junk food. I remember the day my husband and I took our son, John, to the beach for the first time. John wasn’t even in kindergarten yet, but he already showed a fondness for water.
In early spring, the weather was still cold, the water even colder. John stood there holding his father’s hand, staring out at the Pacific Ocean with his eyes wide. The sight of it blew his mind.
Later, once the weather warmed up, we took John to the beach for the usual fun. That’s when we discovered the sensation of cold means … continue reading the Summer 2018 issue of SEARCH Magazine.
by Emerian Rich
When you have a baby, your whole world changes. Everyone tells you this will happen when you’re pregnant and it’s one of life’s solid truths along with death and taxes. Still, no matter how you prepare for it, or think you’re ready, it always seems to catch you off guard.
My son was born happy and healthy, if a bit early, twelve years ago. Despite complications during and after pregnancy, we were pretty happy for about a year. We reveled in the new baby smell. We giggled at his baby bandito burrito shape. We even smiled when he pooed. Every parent on the planet can recount these cute stories, whether you want them to or not.
At about a year old we realized we needed to get our son checked out. Even though he was a happy, energy-filled cutie, with the exception of…continue reading the Spring 2018 issue of SEARCH Magazine.