On Wednesday, Sept. 21, something happened that I thought never would. I made the cover of a magazine. Dayna Busch, editor of the Missouri Autism report, interviewed me and here's the results.
Aaron Likens to speak at Touchpoint conference
Interview by Dayna Busch, editor
Many parents, submersed in the depths of raising children, find themselves thinking, “When he gets older, I’m going to ask him why he did that.” Multiply that several times as parents struggle with the difficult, often unexplainable actions of a child with ASD, and it becomes very clear why parents flock to hear Aaron Likens speak; Likens can tell them “why”.
After a history of inaccurate diagnosis with bleak prognosis, Likens was finally diagnosed at age 20 with Asperger’s Syndrome. This answered many questions, but failed to solve the problem. However, Liken’s analytical style of thinking, started him answering his own “whys” and he developed some very sensible solutions, a whole book full of solutions, to be exact.
His first book, Finding Kansas, scheduled for re-release April 3, 2012 under a division of Penguin books, describes the world as seen through the eyes of a young man with Asperger’s.
His unique insight is proving to be a boon to parents of children on the Spectrum by helping to unlock their understanding of the inner struggles of the person with ASD.
His unique insight is proving to be a boon to parents.
Likens’ perspective quickly gained the attention of Touchpoint Autism Services, who snatched him up to serve as their Community Education Specialist. He now travels across country, sharing is insights and speaking to parents. “I use a mixture of examples and humor to connect with the audience and my metaphors help the audience understand what life on the spectrum is like,” explains Likens.
He seems to be gliding through life, with a “wouldn’t change it” attitude that serves him well. “Everything had to happen just so, to get me to where I am now,” says a positive Likens, though he does admit that an earlier diagnosis might have made his school career a bit smoother. This, however, is exactly what he is now doing for parents and children who are dealing with various forms of Autism. By sharing his personal experience, he is making their paths smoother.
“That was the moment in my life that I had the most anxiety...”
Often touted as the next Temple Grandin, Likens is likewise challenging the stereotypical viewpoint that children with Autism cannot be helped. When asked about the comparison, Likens explains, “My writings have been compared to her rather frequently and I’ve been called the Temple Grandin of Asperger’s Syndrome. I saw her speak in 2006 and then again in 2010 at the USAAA conference. At the same conference, I was on a panel with her and that was the moment in my life that I had the most anxiety. Here I am, new to the field, next to the original and most respected name [in Autism]. I knew if I said anything she disagreed with she would immediately let the world know it, but she nodded her head quite frequently with what I had to say. How do I feel when I’m compared to her? It kind of shocks me because I honestly don’t put much thought into the work I do, meaning because it just comes naturally, I don’t understand the impact of it, so when people say it is good, or compare me to her, it gives me an odd feeling.”
With books two and three completed and another in the works, Likens the writer, blogs his daily thoughts and experiences at http:// lifeontheothersideofthewall.blogspot. Com/. Here we get a little peek at what it means to travel and live with Asperger’s Syndrome, a process he admits is becoming a little more “manageable” with practice.
Likens will be speaking at the Touchpoint Piece by Piece Conference to be held on October 26, 2011 in Columbia MO. For more information, contact miriam.cullimore@touchpointautism .org or call (573) 874-3777.
Aaron Likens, diagnosed in adulthood with Asperger’s Syndrome, is a popular author and speaker on Autism, and serves as Community Education Specialist for Touchpoint Autism Services. In his spare time, Likens is the USAC .25 Quarter Midget National Series flagman, and enjoys bowling and golf.
Cover Photo by Craig Somers, Indianapolis, IN.
Photo taken during the "Battle of the Brickyard,"
USAC's .25 Midget Series race held at
the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.