On this site, you will find a wide range of information on autism spectrum disorders (ASD). My goal is to promote awareness of autism spectrum disorders and support the research and outreach efforts of domestic and international organizations. Only by better understanding autism spectrum disorders and learning to identify the symptoms, can we ensure that the people who live with autism spectrum disorders receive the care, respect, and quality of life they deserve.
I fell into human services sort of by accident, but it changed my life. Most of my early career was spent in retail, but after spending five years at Walmart, I realized my work just wasn’t fulfilling. Around that time, my cousin suggested I apply for a position at May Institute because she thought I might like it. I was interested, but a little unsure. I knew that some individuals at May Institute could have very serious behavior problems, and I didn’t know if I would be up to the task of fully meeting their needs.
I decided to take a chance, though, and it wasn’t long before I realized that I had stumbled upon my true life’s work. Over the course of my time with May Institute and other organizations, I’ve worked with an incredibly diverse range of people: people struggling with severe behavioral and/or physical disabilities, people who are high-functioning and those who require full-time professional care, children and adults…and I’ve loved working with all of them. It’s incredibly rewarding to feel like you’re enriching someone’s life by helping them learn, getting them out in the community, counseling them on relationships, and just hanging out and having fun with them.
People with disabilities are often forgotten or ignored, both generally in our culture but also sometimes, tragically, by the people who should care the most about them. According to the 2008 Annual Homeless Assessment Report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 42.8 percent of adults in homeless shelters were disabled, compared with 17.7 percent of the general U.S. population. Marginalization of children and young adults with disabilities can also happen in schools, due to insufficient resources or lack of awareness or initiative. Children can slip through the cracks when there’s only one special education teacher and a classroom full of students with a variety of disabilities, some of them severe. In addition to the suffering and anxiety caused by inadequate attention in the classroom, a compromised education in childhood can also lead to serious economic disadvantages later in life.
We need to work together to promote awareness of ASD and other disabilities, and to create a network of support and education for families with diagnosed and undiagnosed members. We must also reach out to those who educate and care for these individuals.
I invite you to explore this site and learn more about autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PPD-NOS). There are many, many ways to help and a real need for that help. There really is no better feeling than knowing you’re actually making a difference for somebody—that you’re helping to meet a real and pressing need.
- Original Comedy Offers Edinburgh Fringe Audiences a Window to ASD
As the biggest performing arts festival in the world, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival plays host every August to an enormous range of wonderful and unique shows. But this year’s festival featured something particularly special: an original play about ASD performed entirely by adults on the autism spectrum.
Presented by West London Community College, a two-campus facility offering education for adults with ASD, “The Trip” is a new comedy penned by WLCC teacher Jamie Foster. She hoped to raise awareness and paint a new picture of the complex, diverse condition that is ASD, and
- Two New Centers to Join Autism Treatment Network
As of September 2014, the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (ATN) will add two new medical centers to its nationwide system, bringing the total number of ATN facilities in the U.S. and Canada to 14. The two new sites include the Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of California, Irvine, and the Knights of Columbus Child Development Center at St. Louis’ SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center. In addition, Autism Speaks announced that it would
- New Firm Leverages the Unique Skills of ASD Adults for the IT Sector
People on the autism spectrum in Calgary, Canada, may soon be making a valuable place for themselves in the information technology sector, thanks to a pilot project presently underway in the city.
The project is spearheaded by Meticulon, a unique consulting firm that currently receives funding from Autism Calgary and the Sinneave Family Foundation. The Meticulon model of operation focuses on recruiting and training individuals with autism spectrum disorders, and placing them with client companies on a contractual basis. The company thus acts as an intermediary, helping individuals with ASD to expand their skills and increase their access to employment