So I want you to imagine something. Imagine it’s 8:00 PM and you’ve just run out of milk and you don’t have time to go to the store in the morning. So you send someone from your household to go get the milk at the grocery store and they say, OK, I’ll be back at 9:00. It’s just it’s going to take me a while to get the milk, but I’ll be back soon.
And now it’s 9:30, and they still aren’t back. And so you try calling them, and you tried texting them. No answer. You can’t look up and see where they are rather because they disabled that on their phone, and you don’t know what’s going on.
There are a TON of different paths you could take when helping someone with Asperger’s. Where do you start? What will be most effective? What should you avoid?
If you are confused about how to actually get started, this article is for you.
Everything we do at Asperger Experts is based on personal, real-world experience living with Asperger’s every single day. Unlike the doctors, we don’t get to turn it off at the end of the day. So that means finding real solutions that work for our lives, as well as the lives of our customers and clients.
Over the years, we’ve developed the AE Process which guides people with Asperger’s and their families on how to improve life…
I spent many years very ill, going from doctor to doctor and being the “perfect patient”. I did everything they suggested and took EVERY medication that was prescribed up until my kidneys gave out as I was taking upwards of 20 medications a day. I realized I was spending a fortune and repeating the same treatments over and over without relief.
It was at that point I chose to start taking responsibility for this body I am in and realized I needed to advocate for myself. That no one could remember what it was that I needed from appointment to appointment. I came to understand that each specialist would do what they saw fit but that it was up to me to not only tune in to what…
Asperger’s is a neurological condition that causes one to become overwhelmed by sensation, be unable to connect socially with their peers, and withdraw into a world of their creation. Now if you look and ask a doctor, the term Asperger’s has actually been phased out, it’s now been replaced with Autism Spectrum Disorder. And you can look in the new DSM, the DSM V, to find that.
But it essentially means the same thing, it’s just a different label for the same thing. Nothing has really changed at all. Autism Spectrum Disorder is just now diagnosed either as mild or severe (mild meaning Asperger’s, or severe meaning full-blown autism). But it’s just a different name for the same exact thing.
Simply put, the AE Process is a way for people with Asperger’s and their families to have a better life. It was created by people with Asperger’s, and has now been tested with tens of thousands of people all around the world.
The goal of establishing a solid community and a resilient emotional capacity is to be able to handle whatever life throws at you, by being able to emotionally process and relying on the community you are a part of to support you when necessary.
Establishing a shared culture, and connecting with yourself and others is the middle section of the AE Process, which was created by us at Asperger Experts based off of our experience living with Asperger’s 24/7.
The goals of this section are to ensure that your environment is one that supports and assists you (instead of working against you), to learn effective communication skills in order to influence effectively, resolve conflict, navigate the world, and finally, to gain a deeper awareness into how your motivations, emotions, meanings and intents all align through Influence Circles to either help or hinder you in life.
Change is the far right section of the AE Process, and it deals with knowing when to change, how to change, and what to change.
One of the most common errors & mistakes we see here at Asperger Experts is that many people are unable to be with it and hold space for themselves, so they end up trying to change the wrong thing. They often decide to fix things that aren’t actually problems, which ends up making everything worse, not better.
I have been through years of therapy, and that long journey came with the exhausting act of digging through my childhood, and looking more closely at the massive life changes that I had been through in my 30’s. Though I did make some headway on resolving said issues, I found more often than not, that I left my sessions more confused and anxious than when I went in.
That’s when the shift started. Though I felt it was important to deal with issues from my childhood and to release them, I also desired to get closer to the issues that I was currently struggling with. Talking through old situations and how they made me feel was great, but I wanted more. I wanted the tools to be able to connect…
When everything goes wrong, what do you do? We’ve all had moments where the metaphorical rug has been pulled from beneath our feet. Moments where it seems like all hope has been lost.
Most people don’t have a plan. So when everything goes wrong, they panic. And then they either do nothing, or pick some random, emotionally-driven action and hope it pays off. The problem is, those random actions rarely (if ever) pay off. Without some simple pre-planning, it is almost impossible to keep your composure and act appropriately when you need to course correct.
Here’s the easier way: Follow the process outlined in this article. And remember, when crisis strikes: You have a second. You really do. Take a moment and follow the…
You screwed up again, didn’t you? And you know what that means. It means you’re a failure. Well my friend, let me be the first to congratulate you! I’m a failure too, and I couldn’t be prouder. Oh man, I’ve failed loads of times. More than I could ever possibly count. Some of my mistakes, both conscious and accidental, have been small and mostly inconsequential. Others have been so monumentally, unfathomably stupid that they are still impacting my life today. And of course there’s everything else in between.
But you know what? If I could go back in time I wouldn’t change a thing, and I’ll tell you why.
Before we go any further let’s define failure so we’re all on the…
If you’ve ever been on an airplane, you’ve heard the flight attendants say “Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others”. You’ve probably also heard this phrase applied to life in general.
But what does that really mean? It means that without taking care of yourself and making sure that all of your bits are operational, it is very hard, if not impossible, to take care of others.
This isn’t a wrong act, or something to feel guilty about. It IS selfish, because you are focusing on yourself, but at the same time, it is selfless because through the act of self care, you can better take care of others. So, let’s call it “self-focused” rather than being selfish.
Ah that is the age old question, isn’t it? Why won’t they just listen?
You daydream about a perfect world where the beds are always made, homework is swiftly done, teeth are frequently brushed, your viewpoints are clearly expressed and understood, and there’s not an argument to be had.
Sadly, that is not the world in which we live. It sucks, I know.
So what do you about it? Are you doomed to wallow in misery as these problems remained unsolved? Sure, if you want to. But there’s a better way! Believe it or not, it is possible to expertly navigate the relationships and social situations that surround you every day.
To work this magic you need to learn and master a very special skill-set….
When you are having a conversation, how often do you listen? I mean TRULY listen, not listen to formulate your next sentence. How often do you listen just to hear the other person?
If you are like the majority of people the answer is “hardly ever.” Deep listening (listening for the sake of listening) is one of the most valuable communication skills you can ever learn because it shows the person you are conversing with that you care.
By listening for the sake of listening you validate their emotional feelings and help them feel connected and less isolated and alone.
For people with Asperger’s, being deeply listened to provides a space to process emotions WITHOUT getting freaked out by them, shutting down and going…
Holding space is one of the simplest and most effective things you can do to help someone with Asperger’s emotionally process the day. Simply put, holding space is acceptance without judgement. It often, but not always, involves sitting with someone, practicing Deep Listening, and being a mirror to help them become aware of themselves (their feelings, emotions, and physical sensations).
Holding space helps people with Asperger’s (or really anyone) process their emotions, feel safe, and be able to settle and center themselves.
Holding space DOES NOT involve fixing, judging, offering advice, manipulation or any act of change. It simply allows what is already there to have the space to be.
A lot of people have trouble when practicing holding…
So your child has just gotten their very own Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis, or at very least, you strongly suspect that they’re on the spectrum somewhere. Congratulations! As a proud Aspie myself it is my honor and pleasure to welcome you and your family to our little community. I really think you’re going to love it here.
Many times when I’m speaking to parents who are just getting introduced to this new world I’m often asked the same question. Whether the child is 4 or 44, parents all want to know: “Should I talk to my son/daughter about their diagnosis? If so, how? When? What if they’re already pretty turned off to or angry about the “label”?
We’re thrilled to announce a new partnership that will bring Asperger Experts resources in front of The Mighty’s wide-reaching readership. We will now have a growing home page on The Mighty and appear on many stories on the site, allowing us to get many more people involved with our organization.
The Mighty is a story-based health community focused on improving the lives of people facing disease, disorder, mental illness and disability. More than half of Americans are facing serious health conditions or medical issues. They want more than information. They want to be inspired. The Mighty publishes real stories about real people facing real challenges.
We’re dedicated to providing comprehensive support for people with Asperger’s Syndrome in their lives….
When you are stuck, frustrated, and want to change, most people turn to the “how”. As in “How do I get motivated” or “How do I stop feeling so anxious.” The how is VERY important, however most people don’t realize there are actually 4 stages to change. And ‘the how’ is stage 4.
Here they are:
Stage 1: Wanting It
This is the most basic state of change. You’ve got to want the change you are seeking. In other words: It is impossible to create change in yourself (or someone else like your child) unless there is a genuine desire. If you don’t want it… then why would you change?
And if you are trying to change someone else, especially if they don’t want the…
Troubleshooting is the art and science of identifying root causes and fixing them. It is most commonly applied to the computer repair world (such as “My computer won’t turn on”), but we’ve found it to be an invaluable tool for life in general.
In essence, troubleshooting is a particular mindset in which you ask a series of questions in an attempt to gain a new perspective on a problem.
Sometimes you find out that what you thought was a problem actually wasn’t at all. Sometimes you find out that you forgot something simple, (“Have you plugged in the computer?”) and sometimes you find out the answer was something weird and obscure that you never would have thought of.
This is part 3 of a 3 part series (read part 1 here and part 2 here) on how to completely and utterly destroy the spirit of someone with Asperger’s, ensure they are in Defense Mode for a large portion of their life, and make sure there is nothing but tragic suffering for everyone in their life.
If you don’t want that, use this as a guide for what NOT to do.
This is part 2 of a 3 part series (read part 1 here and part 3 here) on how to completely and utterly destroy the spirit of someone with Asperger’s, ensure they are in Defense Mode for a large portion of their life, and make sure there is nothing but tragic suffering for everyone in their life.
If you don’t want that, use this as a guide for what NOT to do.
This is part 1 of a 3 part series (read part 2 here and part 3 here) on how to completely and utterly destroy the spirit of someone with Asperger’s, ensure they are in Defense Mode for a large portion of their life, and make sure there is nothing but tragic suffering for everyone in their life.
If you don’t want that, use this as a guide for what NOT to do.
Why do people with Asperger’s sometimes smell like the inside of an onion that has been rotting in a graveyard for a century? Or to put it another way, why do people with Asperger’s often struggle with hygiene issues?
It’s not that they aren’t motivated. It’s not that they don’t care. Often, it’s just that they are so deep into Defense Mode that they don’t have enough energy to care. Their energy is completely spent just getting through the day, and defending against the world in general.
Hygiene is on their priority list! It’s just #27, and they only have enough energy for #1-3, which would be basic life functions (eating, sleeping, etc), getting through the day (school or work), and keeping it…
I have a confession to make. This article probably won’t be the most amazing article you’ve ever read. In my personal and admittedly biased opinion I think it’s still pretty awesome, but it’s not Pulitzer Prize material. It may bring a wry smile to your face, and give you a small epiphany or two, but you probably won’t have any eye-watering-belly-laughs or earth-shattering revelations.
So now that you know that, do you still want to continue? Good. I thought so.
What I did just then is a technique called “expectation management”. For those that are unfamiliar with this term allow me to break it down for you. Webster’s Dictionary defines expectations as “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in…
Are You Acting Out Of Fear and Anxiety, Or Love and Connectedness?
When you look at the etymology of the word “Influence”, it means “any outpouring of energy that produces effect.” Without this idea, we wouldn’t be able to change or shape our internal world, the world of others, or our relationships.
In our work at Asperger Experts, questions regarding Influence are the most asked type of question. Things like “How do I get my child to do their homework?” or “How do I stop myself from having anxious thoughts?”
A parent will try to get their kid to do homework by yelling at them or threatening consequences (outpouring of energy), but…
Life isn’t about luck. A lot of people would like to think it is, because it makes them feel better, but it isn’t. The mechanics of life are not about luck, they are about finding the right recipe and then following it.
There are recipes for everything. We all know that there are recipes for food and music. But there are also recipes for pretty much everything else in life.
In today’s highly connected world, learning how to do something is never the hard part. And then once you do learn how, if you follow the instructions you should get a similar result.
The problem lies in “following the recipe” part. In order to properly follow the recipe, you need 2 things: 1) Willingness…
Be. Allow. Accept. This is the essence of “Being With It”. This is one of the simple, most profound tools you will ever come across. (So much so that we hand out wristbands that say “Be with that” to anyone who attends our weekend workshops).
When we say “Be with it” we generally refer to one’s emotional state. So often people with Asperger’s (and their families!) get so overwhelmed, burnt-out and spent that they have very little emotional processing capabilities. Then they forget to process their emotions once things get a bit better, and get stuck in a freeze loop of more and more overwhelm.
What do you do if someone with Asperger’s is addicted to video games?
First, we have to understand the cause of video game addictions. Some people would say that the screens and games are designed to pull them in and keep them addicted. Some would say that they just don’t want to be a part of the outside world. Some people have no idea.
The current widely accepted model of addiction comes from the idea that the thing that the person is addicted to (whether that be video games, cocaine, alcohol, phones, etc) is the thing that is causing the addiction.
In other words, drugs cause people to be addicted to drugs, video games cause people to be addicted to video games, etc.
You have never felt more powerful than you do in this moment. You are conscious of your muscles warming up as blood flows into them preparing to handle whatever is about to happen next. You feel the familiar tightening in your chest and neck. The tingle of sweat beginning to form on your skin. Your focus sharpens. You feel awake and alive.
What is this amazing feeling? The answer may surprise you: stress.
For those of you that have somehow avoided feeling stress this far into your life, allow me to define it for you. (Congrats, by the way, but you should probably call your neurologist now to get that looked at.)
Embarking on the Asperger’s journey alone sucks. A lot. Some (including us) would say that it is almost impossible to succeed (aka thrive in life) without having a solid support system.
When you look at the etymology of the word support, it comes from “sub”, meaning “Up from under” and “portare”, meaning “to carry”. So in essence, a true support system carries you. It is a community; a system that helps ensure that no one has to shoulder the entire burden.
At school I ate a peanut butter & jelly sandwich for lunch almost every single day from 1st grade – 10th grade. When I say almost every single day, I mean that I can literally count on both hands the number of days I didn’t eat PB&J.
I was one of the pickiest eaters you can imagine. Everything had to be a certain way. EVERYTHING. I had to have a specific brand of bread. I had to have a certain type of jelly. And if you used the same knife to cut my sandwich that touched anything green, it was game over.
This extended well beyond PB&J. Up until the age of 12, the list of foods I ate were:
Environments cause tendencies. Write that down and stick it somewhere that you can see it often, because it is a golden rule of life that isn’t often talked about.
What I mean by tendencies is that certain environments have a better chance of causing certain things to happen. A school causes tendencies of learning. A prison, not so much.
Sure, you can work on changing yourself, getting out of Defense Mode, aligning your Influence Circles, Holding The Space, and everything else we teach, but if you aren’t in a proper environment, everything will be much harder, take much longer, and be a lot more frustrating.
So what is an environment exactly? In our world, it’s just a distinction…
Defense Mode is one of the 4 core pillars of the AE Model. This is a state in which someone with Asperger’s is scared, frustrated, or angry, as well as shut down and & withdrawn. In Defense Mode, everything is harder because you are constantly trying to protect against an imminent, perceived, but extremely vague threat. The perceived threat creates the same anxiety as a true life threatening situation. Fortunately, the vast majority are not actual threats, but merely signals that the brain perceives as threats.
In scientific terms, what is going on is a complex biological, neurological & psychological rat’s nest of “problems” that all compound on each other (but have roots in low vagal tone). Simply put, there is simply too much to process…
Whether you are a parent, teacher, therapist, or person with Asperger’s, learning how to build & create trust leads to strengthened relationships, less Defense Mode, and an improvement in life in virtually every area.
Since a large portion of living with Asperger’s means understanding, living with, and eventually getting out of Defense Mode, and since Defense Mode relies on connection & trust, learning how to build trust is essential.
Raising someone with Asperger’s is pretty much impossible without a strong degree of trust between parent and child. (The same goes for teaching someone with AS or helping them in a therapeutic setting).
Learning to build trust is one of the best skills you can learn. Here’s how to do it.
When Asperger Experts started in 2012, I never in a million years imagined it would get to where it is now.
With literally hundreds of thousands of parents, teachers, caregivers, and people with Asperger’s following us on social media, reading our emails, and asking for advice, we feel deeply honored to be able to positively impact so many lives.
There’s 3 main reason why people love our courses and community:
Firstly, what we teach really works. Take a look at the reviews of Asperger Experts below and you’ll see for yourself . . . If you’re willing to trust the process, it really does work.
Secondly, everything we teach makes plain old common sense when you think about it logically….
Why rewards and punishments don’t work with neuro atypical people who suffer from anxiety.
I am prompted to expound on this topic because I am frequently in frustrating positions trying to explain to others why their well intentioned suggestions of a rewards and punishments model will not work with my neuro atypical daughter. I try hard to not be offended at their description and apparent assumption that I am not familiar with B.F. Skinner and behavioral psychology when I not only have a masters degree and 25 years of experience working with kids with special needs, but have also reared a neuro typical child that is thriving.
Asperger’s is pretty darn synonymous with shutdown, meltdowns, and retreating into one’s self. When I figured out why this was happening to me, it changed everything. Literally.
I went from having panic attacks, huge amounts of anxiety, weeks of depression and generally an unpleasant time…. To being happy, relaxed and enjoying life. I was finally able to stop defending and let down my guard. It was the singular greatest discovery of my life.
We call it “Defense Mode”. It’s a state where you walk around in near 24/7 fight & flight, scared of pretty much everything, always retreated, and constantly trying to defend (hence the name).
When you are in Defense Mode, most of the time you get a monotone voice,…
I was often concerned about Danny’s eating habits. He wasn’t willing to try pizza or pasta until he was 9, and has never tried red meat, fish, or most vegetables. He would have a meltdown if we cooked anything involving fish or olives that he claimed “smelled up the house and caused him pain,” and would be agitated if any prepared meal had anything green on it. As for school lunches, he ate the same thing – a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and apple sauce – every single day for 7 years!
I attributed his picky eating habits to his Asperger’s, but…
Since 2012, we’ve been helping people with Asperger’s & their families through our courses, communities and stories. Through this work we often get asked MANY questions.
Here are the answers to more of your burning questions.
As always, we’ll be answering this from our own personal experiences of living with Asperger’s, helping thousands of families, and understanding the latest science.
Why do they shut down so much?
First let’s define what “shut down” means in this case. We define shut down as the state in which someone with Asperger’s is withdrawn, avoidant and reclusive. They want to spend time in their room doing nothing but, as an example, playing video games all day, only coming out to go to…
You read a book. Or listen to a doctor or therapist and think “That’s a great idea!”… but when it is time to finally IMPLEMENT that advice, you easily forget to actually use your new found wisdom.
Sound familiar? It’s something I’ve done time and time again. So as a reminder, here are the top 9 things to remember when raising someone with Asperger’s. You might want to print this one out and hang it somewhere to remind you. If you’d like more reminders, inspiration, and hope, you can join our email list here.
#1 – It’s Not Personal
This is an essential mindset to always have. Kids WANT to do their best (adults do too). Nobody wakes up in the morning and goes “I’d sure like…
We’re fortunate enough to make a living helping people with Asperger’s and their families. We’ve been doing this since 2012, and have gotten a LOT of questions.
(Over 43,000 questions so far… but who’s counting?)
So here are the answers to the most common questions we get. Figured I would save you some time googling and looking through our materials.
Without further ado, lets get started!
Where do I start? What do I focus on?
Not social skills. Seriously. Everyone (including a lot of therapists and doctors) thinks that Asperger’s just means lack of social skills. You and I know better. For someone with Asperger’s, learning social skills is a SIDE EFFECT of what we call “getting them out of Defense Mode”.
A TON of our material focuses on something we often refer to as “Defense Mode.”
The term has popped up in most of our products, and we constantly find ourselves informing people of it and its debilitating effects on whoever is caught in it. It’s definitely a complex concept, one that dominates many people’s lives without them even knowing it.
But what is it?
Why do we call it a “success killer?”
Is there any way to avoid it?
We’ve received thousands of questions pertaining to Defense Mode and how it affects people with Asperger’s, so we decided to write a blog post on it. We sincerely hope this gives you better, clearer insight into this issue, and can’t wait to see what you get out of our teachings.
My name is Heather, and I’m the Office Manager of Asperger Experts. I work, I am married to a person who has Asperger’s tendencies (no diagnosis, but we’re pretty sure…), I am a Mom to a wonderful 10 year old who was recently diagnosed with Asperger’s and I am renovating a house we bought recently – a fixer upper. Lots of potential, lots of sweat equity. We moved the weekend after Christmas. No stress, right?
Enter Asperger Experts, A Most Awesome Company To Work For.
Last week I was feeling the stress. I was trying to nurture my son back into a routine after being sick on and off for several weeks, trying to help my husband get used to his new situation, and trying to settle into a new position…
My name is Rob Raede and I’m Danny’s Dad. As parents of kids with Asperger’s, I don’t need to tell you that raising a child with AS can be incredibly challenging and frustrating. My wife and I are thankful every day that somehow along the way we did enough things right to get Danny to a point where he could find a path to become a thriving adult.
Asperger’s as a term and diagnosis was fairly new when Danny was diagnosed at age 12. Not very many people knew about it, and no one had heard of Defense Mode or Sensory Funnels. Resources were limited, and we had to make a lot of it up as we went along. We wish we had Asperger Experts around when we were raising…
Hayden Mears here. It’s been almost three years since my good friend, Danny Raede, called me up and asked me to go into business with him. I remember my apprehension, my fear, my excitement at the prospect of touching so many lives simply by telling my story and revisiting my own struggles with Asperger’s. Despite any misgivings I may have had, I numbly replied, “Yes. Yes I will.” Days later, Danny arrived at my parents’ house in Bixby, Oklahoma and we began laying the groundwork for Asperger Experts. And so it began.
Fast forward to now, to today. As the year comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on what’s happened, what’s to come, and where Asperger Experts is headed as a company. It’s exciting, it’s…
It all has to do with the “Asperger’s Sensory Funnel”
Watch this short video (created by 2 people with Asperger’s) to learn why teaching someone with Asperger’s social skills should be one of the LAST things you do, and exactly what to do instead to cause rapid growth in someone with AS.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been victim to one of the most prominent issues that often accompanies an Asperger’s diagnosis: sensory overload. Some of my earliest memories involve dramatic episodes at local fireworks shows; I would clap my hands over my ears and scream until my mom hauled me from the scene. Trips to the movie theater also presented this problem, and my mom soon discovered the correlation between loud, invasive situations and environments and my frequent public meltdowns that left me so distraught.
As you read this, you may nod in recognition, all too familiar with how frustrating, confusing, and unpleasant sensory overwhelm can be for everyone involved. You may not know this, but many people with Asperger’s (myself included, at one point) feel an…
Note: This article was written to help people cope and rid themselves of anxiety in that moment to maximize comfort and minimize stress. To “fix” your anxiety permanently, you will need to figure out why you are anxious and what psychological need you are trying to fulfill by worrying so much. Of course, anxiety takes on many forms and manifests in countless ways, but these are my experiences with Asperger’s and anxiety and how I overcame something that could have easily destroyed my life.
For many people, with or without an Asperger’s diagnosis, anxiety takes over all rationality and becomes the primary mode of functioning. While anxious thinking can scare, frustrate, or impede the person grappling with it, many people find comfort in the familiarity they attach…
Note about the author: Ellen is the mom of two adult sons (including Danny) who are two years apart. She was, and still is, the “mom on call” for Danny, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s at age 12, and his older brother, who was the one with the more “normal” culture. She is thankful that she has had a very patient, and much more playful husband, to share in her parenting responsibilities.
I really hated summertime! Unless I could get frequent breaks, I disliked being with my Asperger son, Danny, playing Pokemon with him all day, and listening to endless monologues about his obsessions.
While I did my best to pretend to enjoy every single moment of parenting, I can now admit that I did not enjoy summertime. Here are some…
Raising a son with Asperger’s, we often had to celebrate in a different way. And, you know what? It was really fun and very memorable for all of us. Here are three examples:
When Danny turned 12, we were on vacation in Seattle. To celebrate his actual birthday, Danny didn’t want a party or special dinner, but instead requested a tour of Microsoft Headquarters. Fortunately, we had a business acquaintance whose son coordinated a fabulous tour of the campus. I really didn’t understand all of the technical terms or descriptions of software – but Danny did! He was focused, happy, thrilled, and social doing something that he wanted to do.
Danny was raised Jewish, and that meant we celebrated his Bar Mitzvah at age 13. …
Generally, people consider Hollywood to be a superficial, mean-spirited, and morally questionable industry that corrupts, deceives, and degrades a large percent of the world populace. Unfortunately, Hollywood doesn’t do much to challenge our opinions. Every year, various studios pump out disposable, forgettable shlock with nothing to offer except flashy visuals and gratuitous sex and violence. As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, I’ve often been annoyed at some of the ways certain differences have been portrayed in pop culture (Glee remains one of the worst offenders.)
Every once in a while, though, a film becomes exempt from these conceptions because of a beautiful, genuine, and eternally relevant lesson or message that lies behind the green screen and all of the distractions it presents. How to Train Your Dragon stands tall as one…
Historically, the world has not been kind to those who are deemed “abnormal.” As humanity has evolved (or devolved, depending on your view), those who challenge the system in any way or dare to think outside the box have been ostracized by their peers and sometimes have even been cruelly abused. Ignorance is and always has been one of the greatest dangers to the growth and preservation of the human race, mainly because of its tendency to manifest as cruelty, violence, or fear. Until we rethink our misconceptions and realize that “abnormal” doesn’t actually exist, no real change can be made. Unfortunately, most people will never reach this “ah-ha!” moment, embrace themselves, or celebrate the fact that what sets them apart also functions as the greatest advantage they will ever have….
It’s not easy to show who you really are. For most of my life, I hated myself with a burning, all-consuming passion. I’d look at myself in the mirror every day and scowl at the angry, broken person staring back. My own self-loathing clouded my perspective and my judgement, leading me to believe that everyone else hated me just as much as I did. I threw up all of my defenses and refused to let anyone in, lashing out at anyone who so much as brought up my unhappiness. For years, no one knew who I really was. It wasn’t like I was particularly easy to talk to or reason with, but I had to reach the realization that I had to want to change to make any sort…
At least once a day, we get someone writing in to ask us if something is right for people with Asperger’s… such as “Is homeschooling right for people with Asperger’s?” or.. “Is this medication good for people with Aspergers?”
The problem is… that is the wrong question to ask. Each individual is different, and Asperger’s is just a small part of who they are. I highly encourage you to take a look at the WHOLE person.
In my experience, everyone has, at one point or another, been anxious. It could have been because you forgot to close the garage door, or because some creepy dude sitting two tables away from you at a Denny’s is staring at you. Or, in some extreme cases, it could simply be because you stepped out of your front door and the prospect of riding the train to school is terrifying.
Unfortunately, I can accurately be described as an “extreme case.” Anxiety has always played a prominent yet unwelcome role in my day-to-day life, resulting in discomfort of the highest degree. There are days when I detest the very idea of facing the day, when I cringe at the thought of holding a casual conversation with another human being. Because of…
Our struggles are essential parts of our lives, no matter how cruel or unwelcome they may be. We NEED to hurt in order to truly live, grow, and love, and that’s a tough realization to come to. Many people structure their lives in ways that are safe yet incredibly damaging. I’ve met countless individuals who shut themselves away in their dark bedrooms and waste away in front of TV screens, never daring to step outside because that fear of pain through risk is always present. They would love to go out and experience life and all of the possibilities it presents, but that crippling terror always overpowers that desire for more. But here’s the kicker. A life without risks is a life without joy, and to those of you…
It is a fact of life that we cannot choose our families. The lack of control over many aspects of our lives can be frustrating at times, but we must accept the consequences nonetheless. When you are mad at your mother, it is common to wish that you could have a different mother or perhaps that she would get abducted by aliens. However, the natural circumstances that brought me into a life with my older brother, Hayden Mears, created all but negative circumstances. I do not know at what age I fully realized that my brother had Asperger’s Syndrome, but I have known for as long as I can remember. In short, the 19 years that I have lived alongside Hayden have shaped a wonderful journey that has helped…
A little bit ago we were doing one of our group coaching calls, and one mother launched into an epic speech about how letting her daughter fail was one of the best things that could have happened to them (Yes, that may sound weird at first).
We completely agree. What she did (letting go of the micromanaging of her child, combined with letter her daughter fail) was the great catalyst that inspired her daughter into action, and now they are thriving.
My name is Hayden Mears. I’m a diagnosed Aspie and a chronically depressed 22 year old man. In the paragraphs below, you’ll find things that are both sad and true. But you will also find triumph in my resolve to do and be better. I’m still struggling to find a good starting point, but I guess I’ll just have to fire away and hope it all makes sense to you.
I’ve been suffering for a while now. Hell, I’ve been suffering so much that my eyes burn with tears just thinking about the past few months. But it’s difficult to tell just by looking at me. You’ll almost always find me with a smile on my face, and I will continue to smile until the day I die. Without a…
Before I jump into this post, I wanted to let you, the reader, know something. This blog post is specifically geared towards those who want to learn how to stop bullying on a personal level. This is not a preachy rant about how to stop bullying on a global level, so please don’t treat it as such.
I’m sure that if I asked a crowd of people with Asperger’s if they’ve ever been bullied, the answer would be a resounding yes. It’s a sad fact, one that I hope will change as people become more educated on how damaging bullying really is. Even people without disabilities are relentlessly picked on daily, often for things as small as the way they look or a quirk they might possess. Growing up, kids…
Many people with Asperger’s crave acceptance and love through a romantic relationship, but few know how to actually go about finding and maintaining one. For years, I fit into this category. Growing up, I saw my classmates flirting and discovering young love, and I desperately wanted to experience that. But every time I decided to try and achieve happiness with another person, my determination would be replaced by paralyzing terror. I would freeze up and retreat, my entire body shaking violently as I sought refuge from my embarrassment.
These failed attempts continued until I hit age 19, when I charged recklessly into my first relationship. At first, it was bliss, filling me with a confidence I’d never felt before. The best part of it? She came to me and wanted to date….
We talk a lot about how to be productive, get things done, avoid overwhelm, etc. Until now though, we’ve never really discussed the HOW. So enjoy this video below of how to structure the day for someone with Asperger’s to actually get things done. We’ve included a download below as well.
My formative years can best be described as tumultuous, marked by odd behavior and incessant clashing with family, peers, and medical professionals. These seemingly endless conflicts prompted my parents to take me to a doctor, who not only informed them that I have Asperger’s Syndrome, but that I would never know any kind of friendship or success. My parents were devastated. Even today, my mom recalls seeing my dad slumped against his car in the parking lot, his head buried in his hands and his shoulders shaking with sobs. My mom’s reaction quickly turned from one of defeat to one of determination. From the moment I was diagnosed to the moment I left home for college, my “training” to become a functioning member of society never stopped. My parents…
Video game addictions are one of the most common things that we see when working with others with Asperger’s. Not only do we see them, but I was heavily into video games growing up, and spent most of my years through Junior High & High School playing video games, instead of socializing.
Watch the video below to learn what to do about this:
“We might need to consider other options for you, Hayden. You won’t get to live the life we wanted you to live.” I stared at her for a moment, then choked out one word: “What?” She cleared her throat and pushed her glasses up past the bridge of her nose before continuing. “A group home is probably the best option for you.” Her words hit me with the force of a speeding train. The rest of the session went by in an almost icy silence, occasionally interrupted by her explanations and concerns about me functioning in society. As I left the office, hot tears spilled down my cheeks, blurring my vision and my purpose. My mom tried to comfort me on the car ride home, but all I managed…
I tottered into the kitchen to find my dad slumped against the cabinet below the sink, his head in his hands and his shoulders shaking with sobs. “What’s wrong, Daddy?” I asked, squeezing my Pinocchio doll tight against my body as I stared at him with worry in my eyes. He looked up at me, his eyes shining with tears, and he choked out the words, “I’m leaving.” I stared at him. “What do you mean, Daddy?” I asked, sensing that something was very wrong. “I’m leaving!” he yelled, breaking out in fresh tears. I felt hot tears spill out of my own eyes as I ran from the room.
That is the earliest memory I have. My parents divorced when I was four years old, and I remained practically…
Growing up, one of my biggest challenges was making and keeping friends. I lived in constant fear that if I attempted to reach out to someone, they would immediate judge me for my differences and cast me out. I got to a point where I couldn’t stand my suffocating loneliness and decided to talk to others, despite my paralyzing fear of being rejected. I figured out years later that not only is this assumption not fair to me and my social growth, it’s also unfair to the person I want to reach out to. You see, by worrying that they will judge me, I am, to some degree, judging them. I am unfairly unassuming that they are some cold, unapproachable person without giving them a chance to prove me…
“He’s weird,” they whispered, loudly enough for me to hear them. “What’s wrong with him?” A new voice answered matter-of-factly, “Oh, he’s got Autism. My mom knows his mom.” I lowered my head and hurried to my desk, hot tears spilling from my eyes as I sat down and flung open my book. The teacher, ignoring the conversation, spun to face the board and scribbled a sentence diagram with a rapidly shrinking piece of chalk. My vision blurred as the tears flowed openly.
I was no stranger to these types of conversations. In fact, I almost expected them. I was subjected to social torture almost every day during my middle school career. I’d catch my classmates sneering at me when…
Everyone that we’ve met with Aspergers (including us) has some special interest. Something that they are hyperfocused on, and can talk for hours, if not days straight about. We’ve seen everything from lightning, to birds, to journalism and how things work. This fixation is one of the best abilities that one can have…. if you use it right.
The trick is to foster the passion into something that SERVES rather than consumes.
Well, we recently did a webinar with someone well versed in the area of nurturing individual passion, and during that time, we talked all about that. You can watch the recording below:
Don’t have time to watch? Here’s the breakdown:
Make sure to encourage whatever it is that are interested in (assuming it isn’t violent and destructive).
99% of the world, and people with Aspergers in particular, want to improve their lives. We hear lots of talk about becoming independent, getting a job, gaining a new friend, or simply living a dream. But very few actually do so. Why is there is a huge discrepancy between what people say and what they do? Why can’t people get even decision making power to truly do what they want, instead of being stuck? Come January 1st, everyone says they will be a better person, go to the gym, lose weight, finally do the thing they are putting off… but then they don’t. Why, as a society, do we suck at making long term decisions?
I recently attended a 1 day workshop all about this subject. How to plan out…
Hi I’m Kathy Sheehan, I help parents inspire kids to believe in themselves. Danny and Hayden asked me to write a guest blog and this is my third attempt. In the first I listed the seven steps you need to believe in yourself and briefly outlined each one. Danny’s response was, “Kathy our audience is very left brained, so I imagine a lot of “ok how do I do that?” going on when they read this. Could you add a bit more as to HOW to do each step?”
I can be a little oppositional at times so my second draft totally ignored what Danny suggested and went off explaining the first step and…
Of all the disorders, diseases, ailments, etc. in the world, Aspergers is in a very unique place. From the way I look at Aspergers, it is one of the few disorders in which a person can make their life infinitely better simply through the pursuit of knowledge. Doesn’t matter how much you study about cancer, it will not go away. Have an immune system issue? Can’t solve that with knowledge. (Directly anyway).
But with Aspergers, the “bad” parts can be mostly, if not all, resolved simply through acquiring different skills.
See, we see everything as a skill. EVERYTHING. The most obvious skill that people with Aspergers usually need to learn are social skills. You frequently see this as the “one” thing that defines Aspergers. Lack of social skills. But what about…
Yesterday, I discussed how the Aspergers mind layers things on top of one another to create what we call the “Sensory Funnel”. I said that if you work on the sensory issues the most, instead of the social/emotional, then everything else falls into place. We had some awesome comments on that post, with a few questions of “Ok, how do I actually DO this?”
So, we shot a video explaining how to actually do this:
Right outside of where I live, there is a giant fountain. During the winter, it isn’t on, so there is just an empty circular pool where the water would be. But when it gets warm enough, the city turns it on. It is an awesome sight, spraying at least 3 stories into the air. Makes any day better.
Now imagine with me for a moment that the fountain gets a clog somewhere in it’s pipes. So, the workers decide that the best thing to do to fix the fountain would be to constantly try to add water back into the pool. This makes it function, but only on a base level. It now shoots only half a story into the air.
While the fountain now works, it isn’t living up to…
These are the realizations we had that enabled us to grow as people. Use this as a checklist, and guide your son or daughter to each one of these realizations, and they will be on the road to a successful life.
#1 “I have Aspergers”
The first realization is that your Aspergers Teen needs to accept that something is different about them. So many people are in denial about this, and use that denial as a defense mechanism. If your Aspergers teen gets to a point where they feel relatively safe and secure in life, they will be more likely to accept this fact.
In addition, it is kind of hard to change something unless you acknowledge it’s existence. This is a core principle in personal development of any kind. First see…
The most beneficial thing to ever happen to us was to get a mentor. Someone in life who had done it before, but was not attached on an emotional level like parents, friends, or even teachers. This one thing has been the greatest catalyst in pushing our lives to new heights each and every day.
Unfortunately, most parents and people with Aspergers are extremely clueless as to how to go about this. The good news is, it is easier than you think to get yourself or your child a mentor that can guide their life.
3 Defining Characteristics of a Mentor:
They are not in it to be friends, or give you or your child good feelings. They are there for transformation and growth.
When I was in elementary school, math was one of my favorite subjects. I loved it! It had rules, and I could understand it. Then came middle school. Everything switched. Math suddenly had letters, and the rules weren’t as concrete. So I started to loathe it. So much so that I would get extremely anxious at doing it, and always wound myself really tight. It would take me an hour to calm down and get out of meltdown enough to try again.
This is a pretty common problem with people with Aspergers. A lot of parents have written, called, and asked us questions over the past few days. The #1 question we got asked was “How Do I get my child to do x?” Replace x with any issue.
We are masters of our own happiness. We can choose to mope and throw a pity party, or we can step up and decide to be happy. Snuff out your insecurities, twist your negative outlook on life into a positive one, and eliminate the word ‘can’t’ from your vernacular. These actions all fall under the definition of “rising above.” Those who rise above the trials and tribulations of daily life and make a conscious decision to be happy are not only more pleasant people, but they can teach others to be like them.
Unfortunately, most people don’t rise above. They are so comfortable hanging suspended in a state of unhappiness and fear, never even attempting to change. There is a strange familiarity associated with unhappiness, and many people don’t want…
One of the earliest questions that we find most parents ask is “Should I tell my child they have Aspergers?”. On one hand, it is really nice to know what is actually going on, but on the other hand, there are completely valid worries about Aspergers becoming a label and an identity. We both know several people who have transitioned from “Human being with occasion Aspergers” to “Aspergers with occasional Human Being”, simply because they use it as an excuse all of the time.
The answer to this question is actually quite simple, and can be answered with another simple question. Watch the video below to find out what that question is, and what you should do.
Ah the holidays, the time for family, turkey, xmas lights and tons of overloading sensory experiences. This can be an especially difficult time of year for someone with Aspergers, due to the combination of smells, sights, tastes, and social behaviors expected, not to mention all of the relatives who don’t quite understand Aspergers. Here are some simple solutions that you can use to make this fun, yet stressful time more fun, and less stressful:
1. Let your child take frequent breaks – It is really important to let your Aspergers child take frequent breaks. Set up an area of the house where they can be alone and not bothered. This area should have minimal noise, controllable lighting, and no strong smells. This is really important, because of the fact that…
The Comfortability Continuum is a scale that dictates how open someone with Aspergers will be, and how willing to engage in life they are. We compare this against how “comfortable” they are, to determine if they are ready to live life “outside of their shell”. When someone with Aspergers gets into a new environment, they tend to retreat inward. In this video, Danny shows you how to get someone with AS living more, by increasing their comfortablility factor.
In this video, Danny defines what Aspergers means to him, and talks about how someone dealing with Aspergers perceives their world as they grow up. He also talks about why so many people with Aspergers have a hard time learning social skills, and how sensory filters need to be consciously built in people on the spectrum for them to be able to function.
Ok, so upon reading the title of this article, you may be asking yourselves, “What is this kid talking about?” As a hardcore Bat-fan, I have read almost every Batman comic published in the last three years or so, and I’ve come to notice certain aspects of his character that just can’t be ignored.
You guys ready for this? Ok, here it goes: I have concluded that Batman is autistic. His antisocial tendencies, niche for crime fighting, and lack of emotion correlate to many qualities of someone with Autism. There are many different interpretations of the character, but these qualities are consistently exhibited in most of his stories. Some may argue that he acts this way because his parents were taken from him at a young age, but based on…
Disclaimer: We are not Psychological or Therapy Professionals. You should always seek the advice of a Professional before deciding the right treatment option for you or your child. Any advice we give is for educational and informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical, legal or financial advice. Consult with a medical doctor before making any changes to you or your child's lifestyle. This website is for information only, and not a replacement for professional diagnosis, medication, or therapy.