Beware the Trap of Being On the Spectrum and Turning 18 Can you avoid being one of the forgotten ones in this weird, lonely world or will you seize the day?

Beware the Trap of Being On the Spectrum and Turning 18 Can you avoid being one of the forgotten ones in this weird, lonely world or will you seize the day?

I’ve got some news for you and you’re probably not going to like it.  If you thought it was tough to be autistic and in school or if it was tough being the parent of a school-age child on the spectrum, the party is just beginning.

Forget about IEPs or whatever your school district calls their plans for your autistic child.  As most of us know, these pieces of paper are worthless.  I say most of us because there are some school districts that truly care and go out of their way to help our kids and who want to help shape them into productive adults.  

Those districts are few and far between.


You may be asking yourself, J.R., what the heck do you know about any of this since you were diagnosed as an adult and since there was no autism when you were in school?  That’s a great question and I’m glad you asked that.

I coached ice hockey for too many years to count and worked with kids in clinics from age four-adult and coached teams from age nine-high school varsity.  Besides teaching them hockey I also strove to teach them life lessons. My point is that for years I’ve been helping kids be the very best they can be.

After my diagnosis with Asperger’s at age forty-six, I hid away for two years telling a small handful of people about my diagnosis.  After “coming out” a couple years later I began finding out that if you were a child on the spectrum, the government, charities and other fundraising groups were all too happy to throw their money at charities catering to you.,

Trying to find any funding, programs or help for those around the age of sixteen and up was like trying to find Bigfoot.  You heard stories that in other places people had seen such a thing for adults, but no one could actually confirm it.


Earlier in the year when the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) had the number of people on the spectrum as 1-68, there were 50,000 autistics turning eighteen every year.  Yes, you read that correctly.  50,000.  Since then the CDC has lowered the number to 1-59.  I’m not a math genius, but for argument’s sake let’s just say that the 50,000 has now grown to closer to 60,000.  Can we all agree on that?

How is the future of America being prepared for life after high school?  How are they being prepared for the opportunities to not only contribute to society but to be leaders in their chosen field or in the community?  The answer will shock you.

As hard as we try, sometimes we don’t understand the way things are being taught

Let’s take a quick look at what middle and high school is like for someone on the spectrum.  Since our brains are wired differently, we don’t always speak the same language as the teachers.  That’s to say that we don’t always follow what they’re saying and need it explained in a different way.

Many of these kids have IQs that are either average slightly above average or flat out off the charts and the teachers, frustrated with the number of questions and not enjoying he disruptions are sending these perfectly abled autistic kids into special ed. 

That’s not a typo. They go to special ed where their peers label them as Sped Kids (Sped for special ed).


A lot of kids on the spectrum have trouble in maybe one or two subjects but either hold their own or excel at the rest.  Why should they be lumped in with students who are behind them academically just because some teachers don’t want to deal with the questions?

To answer the question above, schools (in general) are preparing our kids for life after high school by sending them the message that they are less than the “regular” students in the school and that they probably won’t have much of a chance to succeed since they only had a remedial education.  I know if I was the parent of a child in this situation I would be frustrated, angry and fight for the rights of my child.

As your child prepares to turn 18 what are you going to do about it?


Will you simply decide that college isn’t in the cards and have your student find a job of some kind or have you decided that they’re going to college?  There are more opportunities out there and I’m here to help. Finding the best fit for your particular child is of utmost importance.  They’re unique individuals with special skill sets, likes and dislikes, so why not find something for them that’s right in their wheelhouse?

In the coming days there will be more information on this, so keep checking back and sign up to get new posts by email in your inbox!

Photo courtesy Unsplash

On the Spectrum and Completely Depressed Is there a way to get this monkey off your back once and for all?

On the Spectrum and Completely Depressed Is there a way to get this monkey off your back once and for all?

The last two weeks have been less than stellar. And by “less than stellar,” I mean they sucked. Whatever I worked on seemed to be wrong, my self-esteem was in the toilet and life, in general, wasn’t a whole lot of fun.

But on the bright side, I didn’t have any suspicious packages mailed to me this week. Of course, there were also no regular looking packages either. Not getting packages is the upside to not being famous.

My point with the whole suspicious package thing is even though I know there’s a brighter side out there, sometimes I just can’t see it, or sense it in any way. I know it’s there, but there are times it simply takes a while to find the brighter side.

But we can and will eventually find the brighter side!

To answer the question at the top of the page, is there a way to get this monkey off our back once and for all? Sadly no. Depression and anxiety are things that we will always have to live with to some degree, but we can find ways to make it easier. We can come up with ways to get the depression gone in a few days rather than a few weeks or months.

“J.R.,” you say. “It sounds like you’re going from the bright side to sating anxiety and depression are always nearby.”

Yes, I did say that, but what I hadn’t yet gotten to, is the fact that we can learn to control the depression and anxiety with some coping mechanisms.

Just as each person on the spectrum is unique, each of us has our unique ways of settling down and letting go. What follows are several ideas for getting rid of stress, depression and anxiety quickly, before you fall down the proverbial rabbit hole.

Go outside and do something. This is one I struggle with in a big way. I tend to plant myself at my desk day after day. Then depression sets in and I say I’m going to leave the house, but I don’t.

When I do make myself get outside to either walk, sit out on the patio and read or just relax, I feel better. If I know I feel better when I go do things, why do I sit at my desk, hyperfocusing and not going outside?

FYI, going out to the front yard in pajama pants isn’t going outside.

 

Find your thing that clears (or helps clear) your mind. For some it’s meditation, others yoga or exercise. Whatever it is for you, start doing it or if you are doing it, do it more!

I try to meditate, but its still a work in progress. One thing I like to do is sit in my beach themed reading area in my office, light a couple sticks of incense and either sit with my eyes closed and just relax or I nerd out and read comic books. Looking over, I see I have a decent sized reading stack piling up.

The idea is to get your mind off the depression or the anxiety that’s weighing on you and get it onto something fun or onto nothing at all. If you’re not thinking/obsessing over it, it can’t bother you too bad.

 

Believe in yourself. This is the absolute hardest one for me. My self-esteem is naturally down. It has been my whole life and though I hate it, I deal with it. I’ve actually gone as far as working with a man who has overcome way more than I ever had to and has soared.

If this is something you struggle with, follow the link to check out more on Brian.

 

The final tip I have is simple. Find a person or two that you completely trust and let them know what they need to look out for. You may think that you’re baring all your weaknesses, but if this person has your best interest in mind, they’ll see it as strength and not weakness.

How do you deal with depression, anxiety or any of your other traits? What’s worked and what hasn’t? Let us know.

***

Want to keep up with what’s going on at Not Weird Just Autistic?

Enter your email in the upper right-hand corner where it says, “Get new posts by email” and you’ll be one of the first to get the fresh dirt on all this good stuff.

An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart. You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Support, run by some terrific people. There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in purple. If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group. They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

 

Photos courtesy Unsplash

All About Finding Courage and Leaving Your Comfort Zone What do you expect will happen when you finally destroy the walls of fear once and for all?

All About Finding Courage and Leaving Your Comfort Zone What do you expect will happen when you finally destroy the walls of fear once and for all?

Ah, the comfort zone.  It’s where we like to be, but there are times when it’s not where we should be.  In order to grow as individuals, we have to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone and get out there and be afraid sometimes.

While fear is technically a four letter word, it’s not a four letter word in the sense that other words that begin with the letter F are defined as four letter words.  Do you see the point I’m trying to make?  If not, what I’m saying that fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to doing things we want to do that will help us grow as people and don’t hold the possibility of death, such as skydiving.  Skydiving is definitely out of my comfort zone.

For those of us on the spectrum, being in a crowd gives us the heebie-jeebies and scares us to the point of a panic attack or even a meltdown, but it doesn’t have to.  Last night I had one such experience and since I’m here to write this post, I can say with 100% certainty that I survived the experience and stayed in my comfort zone.

I’ve mentioned quite a few times on the blog that I moved from the hustle and bustle of Southern California to the Ozarks in August of 2017, in large part to cut down on the sensory overload I was experiencing with my Asperger’s.  Now instead of bright lights, people moving everywhere, traffic and my senses being bombarded from all sides 24/7, I live between two lakes, amongst trees in a log cabin near Branson, MO.

For those who don’t know what Branson is all about, think of a mostly country and western version of Broadway with some other types of shows thrown in for good measure.  At last count, including touring acts that will stop by for just one or two nights, there are approximately 150-165 shows in Branson this year, with the majority of them running March-October.

Then in November these same shows change it up and run Christmas shows through the end of the year before taking a couple months out of the spotlight as they prepare to do it all over again.
 

Last night I was invited to the Terry Awards, Branson’s version of the Tony Awards. 

 
It sounded like a lot of fun and something I was looking forward to, then I got the real info.  The theatre seated 750 people and was expected to be full.  Since I was going as a member of the media, taking my autism service dog, Tye, with me wasn’t really an option, so I was on my own and knew I would be way out of my comfort zone,

I’ve had situations like these come up in the past and the first few didn’t go well.  As time went on, however, I learned to (kind of) overcome my fear and learn how to best handle this type of situation.  While events like last night are still uncomfortable for me and often make me want to run, I’ve found a few things that help me get through them and stay (mostly) in my comfort zone.
 

The first is to remember that as bad as you may think it’s going to be, the world will NOT stop spinning and you will not die from your fear.  This one is hard to believe at first, but trust me, you will survive and remain intact.

 
Find out as much as you can about the event or place you’re going so you know what to expect.  In the case of last night, it was a pre-party at a Mexican restaurant and then the awards show.  I knew that if the restaurant got too crowded, I could always step outside to catch my breath and remove myself from the crowd until I felt like I could go back in and be back in my comfort zone.

We were lucky enough to have tickets near the back of the theatre on the aisle so I could step out into the lobby or again outside if I felt a panic attack coming on.  When I’m able to pick my seats for events, I do like to sit near the back and on the aisle.  This is partially because I generally have Tye with me, but also because I can slip out mostly undetected if the need arises.

It’s OK to hang off to the side and not mingle and schmooze.  Just because you’re somewhere you don’t feel comfortable doesn’t mean you have to jump into the middle of things.  Staying off to the side is OK.  Hiding in the corner and looking like a creeper, not so much.  But finding a spot where you feel comfortable and where you think you can be without a lot of people coming up to you is the ideal location and a terrific place for your comfort zone to be.

Build appropriate downtime into your schedule both before and after the event that will pull you out of your comfort zone.  Doing so will give your body and your mind what it needs to both prepare and to decompress and process the stressful event.  For example, I made sure that I had nothing planned for the two hours before the event yesterday so that I could relax.  I spent a half hour laying down, knowing I wouldn’t actually sleep, but just resting.

This morning I let myself sleep another ninety minutes later than I normally would have so that I would be well rested and ready to face the day.  So far it’s worked.  I’ve been productive, gotten most of my work finished and had a great time last night.  I even got to meet someone I never thought I would meet.

J.R. Reed www,notweirdjustautistic.com comfort zone

Hanging with Miss Lulu of the TV show Hee Haw

Growing up, my family used to gather around the TV and watch Hee Haw.  Who should I run into last night at the awards?  It was Miss Lulu from the show and one who performed in Branson for many years,  She even got up on stage to sing during the show, which was very cool.
 
Now I want to hear from you.
 
Do you have trouble getting out of your comfort zone?  If so, what have you tried that hasn’t worked and if you have been successful, what have you done to successfully stay comfortable in what normally wouldn’t be your comfort zone?  We want to know!

Photo Courtesy Pixabay

The Fascinating Truth About Autism and Bitterness Why can't we get over it?

The Fascinating Truth About Autism and Bitterness Why can't we get over it?

I’m just going to lay it all on the line.  When we as high functioning autistics (HFAs) get hurt, excluded, lied to, screwed over or otherwise wronged, whether intentional by the person(s) involved or just perceived by our brains, it quickly turns into bitterness and we have a hard time letting go of it.  We want to let go of it and have the bitterness go away, but as hard as we try, it lingers like one of my autism service dog’s toxic farts.

Let me be clear about one thing.  When I said. “perceived by our brains,” that’s something that’s real to us as autistics.  I can’t tell you how many times this has affected me over the years, but it’s now 1:46 am and I tried to sleep for the past two hours but couldn’t because the bitterness over something keeps churning over and over in my brain making slumber impossible.

It will sound strange, but alternative music played at a high decibel level will normally help me relax and clear my head but not even a heavy dose of Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, My Chemical Romance, Velvet Revolver and a few others could do it for me tonight. This bitterness has a hold on me and won’t let go, probably because I have to come face to face with it in about twelve hours.

As I sat down and started banging away at the keyboard, a Foo Fighters song I like but rarely hear came on and I thought some of the lyrics were fitting for what I’m writing.

Bitterness J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com Not Weird Just Autistic

Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters

Because you’re not the one but you’re the only one
Who can make me feel like this
You’re not the one but you’re the only one 
Who can make me feel like shit

The truth is that, yes, others can make us feel awful but even as autistic adults there has to be some way to put these thoughts that stir up bitterness out of our minds.  But how?

The easy way out is to avoid human contact altogether, something a lot of us go out of our way to do.  But is that really a solution?  Not in my mind.  As uneasy as I generally feel in group settings or one on one with people I don’t know or don’t know really well, sitting at home alone with a flatulent black lab isn’t the answer to my problems.  In fact, it makes me more depressed and makes me feel like no one cares about me.

We could try talking the situation out with the person(s) who filled us with bitterness but I’ve found often that leads to more bitterness and feelings of anger.  To use a sports metaphor, it’s a good option on paper, but when we get on the field, it’s not going to work.

As HFAs, each of us is unique and that means that we each have to come up with a mechanism to get rid of that bitterness and get on with our lives.  As I said earlier, for me it’s often loud alternative music that somehow soothes me and gets the thoughts to go away, at least for a while.  When that doesn’t work I’ve used meditation, breathing exercises and a combination of hot showers and stretching to loosen up my muscles.

My go-to way when nothing else works is often writing, but generally, the writing is full of the bitterness that’s inside me.  Depending on what I’m working on that’s a good thing.  Tonight/this morning it was a good thing because I decided to write about the bitterness inside me.

The reality is that our brains are wired differently than most of society and people either don’t understand what they’re doing to us internally or the truly horrible people out there know exactly what they’re doing and screw with us for the sport of it.  Neither is good, but when you’re tormenting someone so you can have fun, you’re a special kind of a-hole.

As I bring this to a close, I’ll keep cranking the loud music and hope that between that and the writing I can find the slumber I desperately need because I have a very busy day ahead of me and I need to be at my best.

When you get the bitter feelings that won’t go away and distract you from work or keep you from sleeping, how do you handle it?  Share your tips and ideas with us all.  Please.

 

Want to keep up with what’s going on at Not Weird Just Autistic?  Enter your email in the upper right-hand corner where it says, “Get new posts by email” and you’ll be one of the first to get the fresh dirt on all this good stuff. 

An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart.  You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Support, run by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in purple.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

Photos courtesy Pixabay Creative Commons

Foo Fighters, The One, lyrics by Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel and Chris Shiffett.

Foo Fighters, The One, video.

Spotlight On Bullying:  Depression And Other Genuine Scars

Spotlight On Bullying: Depression And Other Genuine Scars

Bullying is real in the autistic community.

I knew I needed to write something tonight, but I wasn’t quite sure what to write about.  I have couple posts already started, but neither seemed to really float my boat, so I went about doing some site updates and turned on some loud music while I tried to gain clarity on what to write about, the first video, below, Bully by Shinedown, resonated with me from the moment I hit shuffle.  As I listened to the words for the hundredth time, I started thinking of incidents where I was bullied as a child and even recently.  Yeah.  Bullying.  That’s a good topic.

The words resonated with me and suddenly I had my topic.  Bullying and the depression and other crud that drags along with it for years and years.  And I’m speaking about bullies both on the spectrum and off, though mostly off.

There is such a thing as an autistic bully.  Take the character of Sheldon Cooper from the TV show The Big Bang Theory.  Though never officially said, Sheldon is the poster boy for the arrogant autistic bully that doesn’t realize a bully, because he’s autistic.  Today I’m discussing more the neurotypical bully, as that’s what I’m most experienced with, I’m simply acknowledging that we have our bullies as well.  It’s not just you neurotypicals.  Be cool.

Keep in mind that the word autism wasn’t formally being used until almost ten years after I graduated high school and the term Asperger’s, my time of high-functioning autism, wasn’t spoken of until a few years after that. My bullying was because I was weird, different, odd or whatever they were calling me that day.  There’s an interesting side to the bullying that I just now thought of.

J.R. Reed wwww.notweirdjustautistic.com @NWJautistic bullying

This is what it feels like when bullied–physically or mentally.

I went to public school through fourth grade and then Christian schools from five-twelve.  While I remember a little bullying from the losers in my neighborhood Webelos troop/pack/whatever it is, I don’t really remember any bullying from kids at public school.  I sure as hell remember the bullying and the crappy remarks from kids and teachers at the private schools.  And being set up by a couple kids in eighth grade to get me in serious trouble with the principal that I would eventually prove wasn’t me.

But no memories of public school.  Weird, huh?  It’s almost as of there were students and teachers eviler at private than at public school.

The bullying, mental and physical in middle school and mostly mental in high school, still hurts.  I do my best to push it away so I don’t think about it, but every once in a while, it pops back up for a bit.  The faster I can push it away, the better I feel.

I’ve heard this song, Bully by Shinedown, hundreds of times.  It’s on my Creatin’ Music playlist along with a lot of other loud songs.  Tonight, I guess since I was thinking of topics to write about. I guess I listened a little closer.

Let me be perfectly clear.  I don’t in any way suggest we confront our bullies.  All that will do is create more problems. We’d love to make ’em pay, but they will.  Life will get them.

J. R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com @nwjautistic bullying

The Three Amigos of bullying are anxiety, depression, and self-esteem. This is Chevy Chase, Martin Short, and Steve Martin.

Bullying, whether as a child or an adult leads to several issues in the brain that need to be dealt with.  Quite simply, they’re anxiety, depression, and self-esteem.  These are like the Three Amigos for the autistic person as all three tend to come riding into town together, much like the Three Amigos on your left, only not nearly as funny

We get anxious because we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.  We know something’s going to happen and when it does, we want to be ready.  Spoiler alert:  We never are ready!

We get depressed because we got pushed around or called names or made fun of, or were belittled by our math teacher for not showing the work the way it was taught.  We get depressed for all sorts of reasons, but it all boils down to the fact that it’s embarrassing, degrading, painful, and yes, for some it leaves scars.

Ah, self-esteem!  I can’t remember the last time I felt really good about myself for an extended period of time.  That doesn’t completely mean that life sucks, but it certainly has its pauses from the good feelings and reminds me just how good the good feels.  Things have certainly gotten better in the self-esteem department, but like everyone, I have my days.

Bullying leaves invisible scars for years to come.

It’s true.  The scars can sometimes be seen on our faces as pained looks, but no one really knows what’s going on in our head.  We’re fighting back those moments where we were bullied.  Back to the boss that called me Forrest Gump for four years, back to the math teachers telling me, yet again, that they don’t care that the answer is right, the work wasn’t as shown.  F.

There’s more to bullying than just what happened at that moment.  We wish that’s all it was, but it’s really just the beginning for us.  And as we fall down that rabbit hole remember ing what was said or what was done to us, we get depressed and lose our self-esteem a few more notches.

Practicing neurodiversity and neurodivergence will help us all in the long run.  Most bullying is done out of ignorance.  If we all work together to educate our part of the world, bullying will slow down to an all-time low, because people will respect one another for who they are.  And that’s the way it should be.

 

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Supportrun by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in blue.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

An Asperger's Guide to Dating Neurotypicals, book. J.R. Reed @jrreedauthor Bullying

An Asperger’s Guide to Dating Neurotypicals is out on Amazon, Kindle and autographed copies are available for the same price on the J.R. Reed Author website.  If you’re of dating age and are on the spectrum or love someone who is, I recommend this book for you.  It’s written in a simple, easy to understand way and talks about the importance of communication as well as other time-tested principles. 

 

 

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Math and the what if outcome of my life How could my life have been different if being autistic was a thing?

Math and the what if outcome of my life How could my life have been different if being autistic was a thing?

Let’s clear one thing up, right off the bat.  I’m fifty-two, considering going back and taking a few classes to finish up a degree and I am terrified of math.  I don’t get math, the math doesn’t get me and that’s just the way it is.  It wasn’t always that way, though,  There was a time when I was good at math, though to look at my grades you would definitely not know it.  Let me tell you a story.

The year was 1982 and it was my first year at a small, mainly Dutch, Christian high school in Southern California.  Being a small school, we only had a couple math teachers and I was lucky enough to get one of them as my homeroom teacher.  This was back when we actually had homerooms and your first period wasn’t your homeroom.  This homeroom teacher is now a Facebook friend and though I never had him for math, I really wish I had the opportunity to let him try and teach me.

No, I got stuck with the other math guy. 

 

I got the guy who loved baseball players, was indifferent to most everyone else and though I’m sure he cared, was more than a bit gruff when it came to those who didn’t learn math his way.  I didn’t learn math his way because I have an autistic brain.  I didn’t know it at the time because there was no such thing as autism until I was well out of high school, but that doesn’t really matter.

Back then I was actually pretty good at math/algebra, whatever you want to call it in high school.  My problem was that even though I got the answers right because my brain worked differently, I showed the work in a way other than he taught it.  Since my work didn’t match his work in the way he taught it, I received D’s and F’s.  

That killed my self-esteem, my desire to take math and numbers in general.

 

What would have happened to my life had I received A’s and B’s and been rewarded for getting the right answers and obviously not cheating?  Would I have gone into another field where I could have supported myself and my daughter better throughout life?  I don’t know.  Maybe.  Maybe not. 

Imagine what it’s like to be in high school, get the answers right all on your own and basically have a teacher tell you to sit down, shut up, deal with the grades I’m given and, “put in the effort to learn it the right way.”  If I had the answers right, I apparently was learning math in a correct way, just not the way it was being taught.

My brain looked at the problem and saw it in a different way.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s the Aspie out of the box thinking.  I simply found another way to solve the problem correctly.

I graduated in 1984, which means that thirty-four years have passed and I’m still deathly afraid of math.  I didn’t know what else to do besides retreat into my own world and take as little math as possible.  My parents weren’t understanding, but why should they have been?  There was no research or discovery to tell them that there may be something different in the way I process things, so they just kept on me about my grades.

“You’re not living up to your potential,” is what I heard from my parents on what seemed like a daily basis.

 

I was trying to live up to my potential and in my mind, because I was getting the answers right without cheating, I was living up to my potential.  But report cards don’t lie and the grades showed that I wasn’t living up to my potential.  I’ve carried that with me for thirty-four years and I’m sure I’ll carry it with me until the day I die.

Let’s fast forward to the present and look at kids in high school today.  It could be math, or maybe English, history or any number of subjects that an Aspie struggles with.  The help that’s supposed to be there for these kids now that autism, Asperger’s and spectrum disorders have been identified often isn’t.

Kids today who have IQ’s off the chart will get stuck in special ed classes because they struggle in one or two areas and because they’re socially awkward.  That’s not right at all.  It holds the student back, throws a label on them and kills their self-esteem as bad, if not worse than mine was back in 1982-1984.

My focus is on high school age as well as college and adults because the reality is that we’re the forgotten ones when it comes to autism.  The overwhelming majority of money earmarked for autism at both the federal level and through charities is directed towards young children.

There’s nothing wrong with directing money towards helping children, but it does hinder the work being done for the 50,000 + high functioning autistics who turn eighteen each year.

 

Math and other autistic life problems, J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com

The IEP is supposed to help our kids, but more often than not it’s just a piece of paper that’s filed away in a student’s file and is forgotten about.

I listen to parents talk about their kid’s IEP (Individualized Educational Program) and what I hear is a joke.  These kids on the spectrum are told that they will get certain help to overcome the challenges they face in school, be it math, reading or whatever subject.  When it comes right down to it, the vast majority of these kids get very little of the promised help, if any at all.

One would think in the thirty-four years since I graduated high school, with the discovery of autism and how to help, that we as a society would be doing more for our future generations, but we’re not.  All we’re doing is creating a bunch of new J.R.’s who will go on to have big self-esteem problems in life because no one can recognize that we think differently and that we’re not developmentally disabled.

 

 

 

Just because we use our brains in a different manner doesn’t mean that we should be shoved into, as one Special Services Director for a school district recently put it, SPED classes.  SPED is code for Special Ed.  

Special ed is the last place a student with Asperger’s belongs.  

 

Remembering that high functioning autistics tend to be out of the box thinkers, do you really want to stick the smart kids of our next generation, the ones who have great opportunities to fix the problems we face now and will face in our future, in special ed because they struggle in one subject and are a little socially awkward?  

I can only speak on my behalf, but I don’t want to see them there.  I want to see them thrive, become educated and grow up to be the thinkers and leaders of a new generation.  Just as I wonder what could have been in my life had I been given the opportunity to get good grades in math instead of being made to feel like an idiot and a moron for not doing the work the same way, I wonder what will happen with our next generation if we keep blowing off their IEPs and sticking them off to the side instead of working with us and our unique set of challenges and abilities.

So what’s it going to be?  Are the Aspies of the world going to keep getting pigeonholed and shoved in the corner or are we going to be respected as individuals and treated like regular people instead of someone special?  What are we going to do about it?  Are we going to sit back and take it or are we going to fight for our rights?

I don’t ever want to hear another story of someone who has lived with the shame and negativity I’ve lived with because of math or another subject in school.  Let’s band together and fight back for our rights as people.  Who’s with me?
I’m proud to be a guest on a nationally known autism podcast next week.  You can catch me on the Elijah Winfrey Show chatting with Eli and Toni about growing up off the spectrum and about my new book that’s currently at #26 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases chart!  I’ll be live on Tuesday, May 15 at 11 am Pacific.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Supportrun by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in blue.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

An Asperger's Guide to Dating Neurotypicals, book. J.R. Reed @jrreedauthor

An Asperger’s Guide to Dating Neurotypicals is out on Amazon, Kindle and autographed copies are available for the same price on the J.R. Reed Author website.  If you’re of dating age and are on the spectrum or love someone who is, I recommend this book for you.  It’s written in a simple, easy to understand way and talks about the importance of communication as well as other time-tested principles. 

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