Thursday, March 7, 2013

Post #799: Reaching the Future

This is my 799th blog post and once again I am in the midst of presenting to students. This has been something that has been becoming more and more common for me over the past six months and it's a group that I never would have thought I would ever present to much less a group that would hear my words.

I know I've written it before, but beyond a doubt I believe that talking to this group will have profound impacts that can't be measured. I had two smaller presentations at a small high school yesterday but the response was just the same and the questions were just as sharp.

Here's the thing, and this is so obvious that I feel bad writing it, but today's students are tomorrow's leaders. Yes, I know that was too obvious, but still it's true. Today's students are tomorrow's business owners, social workers, researchers and doctors. There was a student yesterday, maybe a junior, that is already working with a person with autism at Taekwondo. The questions she asked, and observations, were spot on and as I write this I wonder what the impact would have been if someone like myself did what I'm doing 40 years ago.

This is where the impact may not be able to be calculated. Also, I think back to yesterday's blog about being quiet about the sensory issues I had when I was younger. This is important because, if I would have felt more comfortable with who I was and from that, perhaps, I would have been more willing to speak about the issues I had. Another student came up to me and said he could relate to every story I told and concept I shared. If I had heard a speaker that sounded much like myself would I have opened up? Maybe, and if I had would years have been saved in misdiagnosis? Maybe so.

There's so many positives from spreading awareness and understanding to students that I wish I could speak to every student. Truly, on so many levels, I don't know if there is anything that I have done in my life that has had the same or more importance as presenting to students. Once again today I get the chance to stand in front of a classroom and share my story and insights. In fact, I get to do it five times, and I must say it's and odd feeling; to think that the place I most want to be now is the place that I did everything I could to avoid when I was a student. Like with most of the way my life has turned out I never would have thought that, nor would I have ever thought I'd have written 799 blog posts and yet here we are. I want to extend a MASSIVE thank you to all of those that have been reading for a long time, and also welcome those who are new, and here's to the next 799. As for today, I'm off to school.


  1. I attended your presentation at TRCC...the mom with a 4 year old who has been dx with asperger's and an 18 year old who, thus far, has been undiagnosed. I could have listened to you speak all day! You are the perfect blend of both of my children. Some of the things you said really hit home and reminded me of my oldest, others reminded me of my youngest! Asperger's is so complex and I try to learn something new every single day. Brody was dx back in October and it was like I'd been kicked in the gut. I went through every possible emotion a mother can go through...but after some research, it brought us closer together because now I completely understand the things he says or does. As like you, my 4 year old's "Kansas" is going fast, racing and the movie Cars, my oldest son's "Kansas" as of right now is the Military (which you mentioned and I almost fell out of my seat). The biggest issue I have...the quirks of the 4 year old aggrevate the quirks of the 18 year old and it's never a good thing. Luckily our services with Touch Point started on March 1st and I cannot wait to get the training I need to handle the behaviors of my youngest. He has just started with the MAJOR meltdowns and they are quite exhausting. We recently had an IEP meeting at our public school here in Dexter, Mo. for Brody, where he was not eligible for their program because he had tested too high on all of their evaluations. Unfortunately their evals are specifically for children with Autism, not asperger's. I tried to explain that even though his numbers were high, he needed help too. They did a 4 day in class eval on him and everyday I picked him up, all of the other kids were playing together on one side of the class and Brody was on the opposite side playing alone. When I brought that to the Asst. Administrator's attention the response I got...."That could be a coping mechanism for him and he will outgrow it." I tried to explain to them that is part of asperger's and something that needs to be addressed before he gets into kindergarten. They ignored me! I have decided that I will not be ignored anymore when it comes to what is best for him and I will do anything and everything possible to seek help for my oldest, even though he's fighting me on it. As of this week, we have switched to unpasterized milk, I've ordered all natural supplements and will keep him on a strict diet recommended by a chiropractor who he does have an appt with on Monday, his 4th birthday! I want to try anything natural that could help him vs waiting until he is school age and the techer's recommending medicating him. He does have asperger's but also has ADHD, OCD and sensory processing disorder. You have inspired me!!! There are not enough resources, or should I say, not enough support systems in place for parents of children with asperger's/autism and hopefully very soon I will start that support group! I'm a single mother and have absolutely NO support system in place which makes living day to day with 2 children with asperger's and them being so far a part in age very difficult to say the least. Sorry if I have rambled. I just wanted to thank you again for all of your hard work and making asperger's and awareness part of your Kansas. You are truely an inspiraton!! I cannot say thank you enough!

    1. Amanda, I feel your pain as an autism advocate... particularly for your older son. I didn't know my diagnosis until I was 25. That said... if you want more inspiration, I have overcome my challenges to be a licensed occupational therapist in CA and am working on my clinical doctorate in OT (as I will graduate in a few months).

      I think your older son can still succeed and be a productive member of society. If he can find an environment where he will thrive in and the support he needs to succeed, great! If you think he needs help, do what you can to help him.

      From my personal experience, my mom found OT by accident (2 years before I was diagnosed... as I spent 1 year making up the pre-req's to get to OT school). For the most part, it turns out to be a great fit. However, I have made more friends angry than ever before (even though the percentage is still low). Those hurt me more because they are supposed to be an understanding group in terms of autism is concerned. Also, it gave me fears that I am being portrayed as a polarizing figure in the profession- which by no means I am that is people get to know me as a person. That said, I do have a decent social life now and I would not change a thing (aside from wishing I have better social skills so that I can navigate social media better).

      If there is a bit of advice I can give you, be very patient. Some people change very slowly. But, there are times you can counter their arguments and they realize their error ways.

      One example I can give is with my mom this afternoon. She made a claim that people with schizophrenia probably have no future. So, I quickly doubted her by throwing the name of Pat Deegan (who is Temple Grandin of schizophrenia) and my mom quickly apologized.