Where Do You See Yourself…by S.R. Salas.

Where Do You See Yourself…


Most hated question ever. E-V-E-R! So why is it the most often asked? And maybe it’s not, maybe it’s because I hate it so frickin’ much that I fixate on it when asked: Counselors in college forcing your hand to choose a major (seriously happened to me). Family worried you will never make a decision and leave the nest (my Mom was ecstatic that I married so young). Friends thinking you’re crazy because, not only have they chosen a career while you ‘just sat there,’ but they have already left home and are on their own. But the one that stands out most to me; that runs down my spine like a sharp, jagged fingernail? The one asked in job interviews again and again:

“So, where do you see yourself in 5 years?”  

(asked with a smile I’d personally like to wipe off my interviewer’s face)

I cannot possibly wrap my Autistic brain around that question. Truth be told, I don’t actually know what it means. I hear the words and know it’s one of those psychological questions HR(Human Resources) throws out there to discern a candidate’s aspirations, goals and job longevity. The question I’m suppose to answer making myself shine like a beacon screaming:“Pick me! I’m the one!!”

But I think it’s bogus. 

You’re trying to tell me there are people out there that know what they want? And that they have different goals at various stages throughout their lives? That they plan for these things, take the necessary steps and work directionally to attain these final goals? Seriously?

Fascinating… What must that be like?

There Is No Future

Hang on before you worry yourselves that this is going to be a bleak post of sadness and despair. It most certainly is not. I know my blogging has been scarce the last month (I’m remedying that as we speak)… but you guys know me better than that!

Moving along…

I was tweeting with my friend, Dave the other day and a subject came up that I have discussed with other Autistic friends as well. And it is this:

We see no future.

[Note:  This is not a figurative ‘cry for help.’ It is very literal in the sense that we actually cannotsee a fututre.]

Now, Dave is Autistic like I am, and we see eye-to-eye on quite a lot of things – which is a refreshing change of pace considering I’ve been misunderstood and been misunderstanding things my entire life. So when he tweeted me the other day:

“I’m a little lost in myself at the moment,  for the first time ever the future has started to worry me… I have a hard time picturing things…”

I stopped in my tracks. Dave was worried about a future he had a hard time picturing (it was like he was taking the thoughts right out of my head). I had been considering a post about my perceptions of the future and what it means – or  rather, doesn’t mean – to me. And then Dave happened to tweet the magical (and reassuring) message above.

“I’m quoting you!”

I told him. It was an obvious sign to write this post, so here we go…


What Are Your Thoughts?

When I ask you where you see yourself in 5 years you may say:

  • Graduating college
  • Married
  • Having children
  • Owning your own home
  • Running your own business
  • Running from the law
  • Writing a bestselling novel
  • Accepting the Nobel Peace Price
  • Retiring
  • Etc…

And if you can’t answer right away, you might think on it a bit. Consider your likes and dislikes, your wants and needs in regards to these things, and where you’d like to see yourself…

down the road.


Road? There’s A Road?

Where the hell’s the map?!  You see, when I tell you I don’t see a future, that’s exactly what I mean. Don’t get me wrong, routine-wise, I have each day planned down to a ‘T’ – but that’s not what this is about. We’re talking big time future. The next decade and, even more ambiguous…

T h e    R e s t    O f    Y o u r   L i f e

Well now there’s a scary thought. How on Earth am I suppose to sit here and guess what the rest of my life is going to look like. Aside from my routine, I don’t know what next week is going to look like. And you’re talking big time future! I’m not there. I’ve never been there. And yes I have certain likes and dislikes but what does that have to do with where I’ll be in say 5-10 years? And how do I know what I want now is what I’ll want…

down the road?

The Big Picture And How I Consistently Miss It

I’m a detail person. I will find the needle in the haystack. Every. Time. However, the Big Picture is a mythical beast I’ve never had the pleasure of encountering. Heard of it many times, though, and it sounded something like this…

“Renée, you’re missing the Big Picture.”


I cannot see past the day I am in. Unless it is a question of schedule or routine, I really can’t do it. Maybe that’s why it took me 39 years to find a career. And I’ll be honest, I did not choose to become a writer. Or an advocate. Or a blogger. Every single one of those things happenedthrough others’ suggestions. I was messing around and wrote a fiction book and J said: “Hey, why don’t you write a book about being Autistic.”

So I did.

I didn’t know anything about advocacy. I had been advocating, but I didn’t realize that’s what it was. My kids needed certain things, so I made sure they got them. Because that’s what parents do. And the VBPD PIP program for advocacy, that I gush about every so often? Didn’t know a thing about it. My friend Fran said: “You need to do this!”

So I did.

And blogging? I didn’t even know what it was exactly. Then J (of course) said to me: “You need to start a blog for your advocacy.”

So  I did.

So this is the part in our relationship where I show you my Achilles heel. This independent person that seemingly moves through life with purpose; that cannot fathom listening to or taking others’ advice; that will not ask for help; that will research a subject until she’s blue in the face because she can’t ask someone else for information and believe it’s not faulty in some way…

Cannot plan her own future.

(this fact evident in what I revealed to you above)

So Here I Am…

Smack dab in the middle of the Big Picture: My future. Yesssss! Well done me! Must have been all that planning and hard work. All that futuristic insight I nurtured from such a young age. The constant care and consideration of that fateful question:  “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Right?


I couldn’t see the future when I was 10. Or 20. Or 30 or even now at 41. I will never see the future because the fact of the matter is, it is truly impossible for me to do. In 5 years I will end up where I end up. Simple as that. It’s all conjecture at this point because anything can happen. And that’s at the crux of it my dear friends, because if anything can happen then that means

Renée does not have control.

(And I think we all know how Renée feels about control because she told us about it here).

There is no way to control the future. Perhaps that’s the reason I’m unable to even tackle the idea of it, because there are too many unknown variables. Too many possibilities. Too many choices. We can choose a course or direction and it might work out the way we plan… kinda’ sorta.’ And most that I know fit in that category – they get where they’re going one way or another (but at the very least they know where they’re going). However, I’ve never met anyone that said to me:

“Wow! Life truly is perfect because everything I always wanted happened exactly the way I knew it would.”

And that thought gives me pause. Maybe it’s okay to admit that I can’t see the future. And maybe it’s okay for me to live ‘in the moment’ because I’ve (accidentally) surrounded myself with good people and I’m safe. And, yes I admit it’s impossible for me to see down the road. I own that. But maybe that doesn’t make me the slacker I always thought I was for not pre-planning my life and knowing exactly where I’d be like everyone else did.

Maybe I should have just played it up whenever asked, as if I knew what was what. Like in my last job interview (years ago), when the woman baited me with, where I saw myself in 5 years. Maybe just for the hell of it I should have said:

“In your position, and I’ll do it in two.”

Then maybe I wouldn’t have been the only one in the room fearing an unforeseeable future at a loaded question.




This can explain why despite nearly an MBA, a BS in Business, 8 years in the army, I have interviewed for many good jobs, but never get them, and typically wind up with so, so jobs. I stink at interviewing, am great at the job, but it is the interview that kills me as well.

Father and son with Asperger’s at the heart of memoir ‘Raising Cubby’

Father and son with Asperger's at the heart of memoir 'Raising Cubby' (via NewsCanada-Plus)

Health-News.Network Father and son with Asperger’s at the heart of memoir ‘Raising Cubby’ John Elder Robison, author of “Raising Cubby,” a memoir about Robison discovering his son, who like him, has Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, speaks…

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Is there hope for math-challenged scientists? Temple Grandin, E.O. WIlson speak out.

Is there hope for math-challenged scientists? Temple Grandin, E.O. WIlson speak out. (via NewsWorks)

May 7, 2013 By Faye Flam Tony Auth Shock and outrage were bound to follow when the famous biologist-writer E.O. Wilson proclaimed that many scientists are at best “semiliterate” in math. When this heresy appeared in an op-ed piece for the Wall Street…

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VIDEO: Susan Olsen Opens Up About Son’s Struggle with Asperger’s Syndrome, I can relate a great deal.

VIDEO: Susan Olsen Opens Up About Son’s Struggle with Asperger’s Syndrome (via http://entertainment.jtn-network.com)

It’s been decades since Susan Olsen played young Cindy on “The Brady Bunch,” but she still remains close with her on-screen siblings. “We all know that there’s only five other people on the planet that know what it’s like to have had our…

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How People with Asperger’s Experience the World-A guest post

Asperger’s syndrome is categorized as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Kids with Asperger’s (for short) often have difficulties socially engaging with others and correctly reading non-verbal environmental cues. Some with Asperger’s report unique hobbies or patterns of behavior, such as being interested in an esoteric musical genres or remote galaxies in the universe. If you’re interested in how those born with this condition experience life, read on for some insight into their perception of the world.


Asperger Syndrome: Really Autism?

Neuroscientists have confirmed with brain scans that kids with Asperger’s retain many cognitive and linguistic abilities that kids with traditional autism do not. At times, however, odd prosody or an idiosyncratic use of language can accompany the condition. A less reported finding is that those with Asperger’s will often display physical clumsiness, restricted empathy and difficulty sustaining eye contact.


Roots of Asperger syndrome

Asperger’s was “discovered” by an Austrian pediatrician in the 1940s. Hans Asperger, after whom the condition is named, noted that some children displayed consistent difficulties with deciphering non-verbal cues, like hand gestures or lack of interest in the audience. Hans Asperger also noted that children with this condition were more physically maladroit on the playground and showed an inability to empathize with other children and their problems. That said, Asperger’s Syndrome took another forty years to take hold in the public consciousness and did not become canonized in the DSM until the early 1990s.


Its Etiology

The exact causes of Asperger’s syndrome are currently unknown. Results from extensive brain imaging reveal no single commonality across all sufferers of the condition. That said, Asperger’s is treated by most psychologists as a pervasive developmental disorder. By doing so, psychologists can study and assess a constellation of symptoms and developmental abnormalities in lieu of pinpointing one all-encompassing etiological factor.


For instance, a psychologist would look for poor eye contact, an especially straight posture, problems with emotional reciprocity and out-of-place facial expressions instead of one behavioral giveaway. The “social awkwardness” of those diagnosed has been deemed “active but odd” by many psychologists. This denotes the fact that kids with Asperger syndrome very often want to fit in and feel included, but remain unsure of how to accomplish smooth social interaction. Kids often display trouble modulating the pitch and tone of their speech, and some even display echolalia, or the repetition of another’s speech.



The prevailing theory explicating Asperger’s among social psychologists is theory of mind (TOM). Theory of mind postulates, in part, that Asperger syndrome sufferers have trouble ascribing mental states to other people. In many respects, theory of mind is the lynchpin that explains an Asperger’s syndrome sufferers’ social difficulties.

Through further understanding the treatment options and mechanisms of this relatively newfound syndrome, psychologists can help kids with Asperger syndrome lead more fulfilling lives. That said, many with Asperger’s don’t feel any “different” from those without the condition, and many of the most intelligent and successful individuals in history likely would have been diagnosed with it. It’s not uncommon to hear someone find out their child or friend has this condition, yet they just assumed this person was “awkward.” So while they may have distinct experiences due to the condition, the way they perceive the world isn’t exactly “different” from how you or I do so.

Joseph Rodriguez writes about child development and psychology. His recent work is about the best online counseling degrees in the US.

From Josh Anderson…

Autism speaks: Marine dad listens, helps piece together puzzle

Read more: http://www.dvidshub.net/news/87036/autism-speaks-marine-dad-listens-helps-piece-together-puzzle#.UWeAD1pT17o#ixzz2QDThlQkY

Story by Maj. Bradley GordonSmall RSS IconSubscriptions Icon Subscribe To This Journalist

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – My son has autism. There, I said it – not easy for a Marine and a proud father. More specifically, he has Asperger Syndrome. Some call it a disease, but it’s not. Let’s make sure that is clear up front. People can’t catch it just being around him.

He is not a freak or weirdo, at least no more so than you or I. He is a young teen, working through the difficulties of puberty with the added bonus of learning, understanding, teaching and dealing with his relatively new diagnosis.

Every parent looks at his children through rose-colored glasses. We can’t always see their imperfections because we don’t want to believe they have imperfections. It is not until we remove our glasses and allow ourselves to accept the reality that our child may be “different” in some way do we let our guard down and do one of two things – deny or fight.

I’ve chosen the latter because my son has chosen to fight against what society views as different, to make them aware, in his own way, using the means he is just now learning to understand. I, on the other hand, have more resources and tools in my life toolbox.
I want to speak to the world to be his voice, his advocate, his sword and shield. One day he will be his own sword and shield. Until then he can rely on me to make sure the world knows that even though he may be a little different on the inside, he is as perfect as you are, as perfect as your children, as perfect as any person walking this Earth.

For those who do not know or understand autism, here are some startling facts.

Autism is now being diagnosed in one out of every 88 children in America, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. More specifically, boys are diagnosed at the rate of one in every 54, a number that is 10 times greater than 40 years ago. The CDC has gone on the record as declaring autism as an epidemic.

By comparison, autism affects more children in the U.S. than diabetes, AIDS, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy or Down syndrome – combined.

Part of this new found epidemic is because of better diagnosis techniques and awareness campaigns within medical professionals and through organizations such as Autism Speaks.

I am sure there are many parents who will say “no way” and that this is just because pediatricians and parents are looking to explain away a child’s behavior. Being a parent of a child with AS, I assure you, we weren’t looking for a reason, and we fought hard not to label our son.

However, after many years of working with him and with therapists and teachers and caregivers, we allowed him to have the more intense testing and understand more of the complex make-up of our often-misunderstood oldest child.

I was deployed in Helmand province, Afghanistan, when I found out my son had been officially diagnosed with AS. As a parent, I felt helpless. I don’t say hopeless because I know there is a sunny-side to all of life’s problems, you just have to get to the point you can turn the situation over and find it.

I felt helpless because I wasn’t there to hold my boy’s hand. I wasn’t there to hold my wife’s hand. I wasn’t there to be the reassurance I knew they both needed. My son needed to know that I would do anything for him, help him learn about AS, help him understand it, and help him work through everything and develop the skills to beat it.

All I could do was write an e-mail or try to talk on the phone or Skype (always a challenge when there are three boys in the house, all wanting to see me at the same time and tell me about their lives – we all know those computer cameras and screens are only so big).

I couldn’t be there to just put my hand on his shoulder, give him that little physical touch I know that helps him relax, remain calm and reassure him that it will all work out.

I felt helpless for my wife. Not only did she get this news that we probably knew deep down, just weren’t ready to accept, but she had two other boys that she needed to care for and tend to while I was half-way across the globe, nine time zones away.

Lacrosse and soccer practice, Cub Scouts, Boys Scouts, after-school friends and weekend birthday parties all still needed to be taken care of, but they couldn’t receive the attention they deserved. She and my son needed to deal with this new wrinkle in life. It was overwhelming for them both, and the stress could be felt by the younger two boys as well.

I was helpless to do anything about it. I’m a fixer and I want to fix things immediately, and by being stuck in Afghanistan, I couldn’t fix my family. I couldn’t fix the parts of my life that meant the most. There were four people in the world who needed me and needed my special ability to fix it, and the moment they needed me most, I wasn’t there – I was helpless.

What a lonely feeling it must be to receive this diagnosis, I cannot even imagine. As a young boy, to not have your father, a “tough” Marine at that, there to give you that hand on the shoulder or that smirk and silent acknowledgement that “everything is going to be alright. I’m not going to let anything hurt you.” It had to be almost devastating to my son.

What a lonely feeling it must be to be sitting with her oldest son, the one who is so much like her it causes friction at times, to be there listening to the doctor tell you, tell your son, that he is now different according to societal norms.

Wanting to be strong for her son, to have to play both mother and father and wanting to scream at the heavens “why” and cry and be vulnerable, but knowing she had to be the one to carry on and push him through it.

She had to take more time with her oldest son to learn and understand about this new diagnosis, yet balance that with the equal time for the other two very active sons whose schedule in itself is a full-time job. Add to this the loneliness that there just aren’t that many people who understand autism, let alone Asperger Syndrome.

How do you talk about it in a combat zone? Who do you talk to about it? Are there others who deal with similar issues? Does the Marine Corps even understand? Does the Marine Corps have programs in place, do they have people available, do they know what services are required and can they provide them to me in a combat zone, to my son, my wife and my other boys?

In the spectrum of epidemics and world-threatening diseases, how much do we know about autism and AS? And if the medical world is still struggling to understand it, how can I expect the Marine Corps to empathize with me and help me understand and help me help my family?

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and putting our pride aside, my wife has leaned on the entire village to help raise not one, but all three of our boys so she can focus on our oldest and help him, understand him, teach him, and develop him, for him and with him.

It takes a lot of energy, and each day I am not with my family is another day I feel more helpless and not the fixer I know I’m supposed to be.

As parents, my wife and I may have actually been part of the problem, not the solution, for many years. I think we didn’t ask all of the questions because deep down, we didn’t want the answers.
We didn’t want to allow someone else to pigeon hole our son; however, in retrospect we may have done just that. We allowed teachers, counselors and his peers to pigeon hole him and use that against him, all while we didn’t want to acknowledge it, buy into it or believe it.

I’m sure we aren’t the only parents who feel that way, so if anything, I hope other parents who read this will allow themselves to let go of their pride and be part of their child’s solution, not their problem.

My son is a complex young man, wrapped in hormones, surrounded by a judgmental society, learning to deal with the curve ball life has dealt him and only recently being able to put a name or a reason to his symptoms.

He was diagnosed less than a year ago, only after strong urging from his therapist – someone he has seen for several years, someone he trusts implicitly, and someone who has watched him grow. His therapist asked the difficult questions, and, as some of his behaviors became more prevalent, pushed us to ask more questions and seek more answers in an effort to help our son feel “normal” and be “normal.”

Once my son learned about AS, he began to understand more why he wasn’t as good at team sports and why he always wants to be the one in charge, yet doesn’t like to accept responsibility for team failure.

He knew he was a smart kid, always has been. He often didn’t really listen in class because he didn’t feel he needed to since he picked up math, science, reading and comprehension just by looking through the book. While the rest of the class was learning how to add one plus one and get two, my son was already understanding the concepts of two times two making four. In his mind, class is beneath him because he gets it. Even today, he has difficulty with doing high school homework because he knows he can ace the tests.

We struggle with getting him to understand the game of high school – that the schoolwork and homework are parts of the game and that tests are only a small portion. We constantly work to help him understand that every aspect of the game is a means to an end where he will get to move on to college where less is required, yet more is expected.

It’s a daily grind, often ending in raised voices, teenage attitude and hurt feelings. In the end the work gets done, but not without some sweat and tears.

And we haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg of his recent life. His emotions are often on a hair-trigger, a symptom of AS. A situation that most would find to be insignificant can be a major ordeal for him.

He remembers events that upset him long in the past and at the most inopportune times. It doesn’t take much and when it does, an emotional roller-coaster ensues, not just for him, but for the entire family.

Routines, black-and-white rules, fixation, having to complete a thought no matter how long-winded, detail oriented and irrelevant to the topic at hand may be, and little ability to be flexible when events or situations do not unfold the way they were originally discussed or supposed to be in his head, all make for some difficult, emotional and mentally and physically exhausting days, not just for him, but for his brothers, his teachers, his friends, his primary care providers, his mother and, from a distance, me.

My purpose in writing this isn’t to evoke sympathy for me, my son, my wife or my family or to place blame on anyone or any organization because of my son’s autism. My purpose in writing this is to help others understand and let others know that my family isn’t unique.

This epidemic has probably impacted a family near you, and it requires our society as a whole to learn and understand and have empathy for those who must fight the fight day in and day out.

In the past, because so few people knew about or understood autism, families were often dismissed.

Even today, as more and more families are faced with this new epidemic, there is still very little our services family programs know about and understand.

We need more education, better education, not only for our senior leaders and decision makers, but throughout the Corps, the other military branches, the Department of Defense and our government.

Every leader, Marine Corps or commercial enterprise, stresses the family as essential to company success and growth, however more often than not these same leaders do not have as diverse a knowledge as they would like.

This needs to change now and our organization, as a whole, is responsible for making this change both positive and substantial. More resources are required to develop programs that help families.
Even at a base as large as Camp Lejeune, the services required to help those diagnosed with AS or autism is not as significant as it should be for an epidemic and the services to help the families are even less.

Schools, as a whole, have some programs for “special needs” children; however, even our schools are not adequately equipped for this new epidemic. For an issue that affects one in every 88 children in America, we do not have the appropriate resources to combat the growing spate.

Of course, more resources requires more funding, and in the grand funding scheme, autism receives less than 0.6 percent of the National Institute of Health funding compared to the less prevalent childhood diseases that receive a preponderance of the $30.5 billion budget.

We need to do more. We must do more.

I am determined to be my son’s sword and his shield. I am his advocate and will be the advocate for even more like him. I am my son’s voice in this world of noise and I will be their voice too.
Autism speaks and it’s time the world listened.

Read more: http://www.dvidshub.net/news/87036/autism-speaks-marine-dad-listens-helps-piece-together-puzzle#.UWeAD1pT17o#ixzz2QDU6Ba3d

As an Asperger’s Dad of 3 on the spectrum and an Army Veteran I can relate to these military folk and their dealings with autism and I am helping to bring their voice as well as mine to the masses to find support to help autism!!



Read more:http://www.dvidshub.net/news/87036/autism-speaks-marine-dad-listens-helps-piece-together-puzzle#.UWeAD1pT17o#ixzz2QDTyho3i

An anthem for Autism from Youtube by BJ McKelvie and he talks about autism as well.

This one sums it up, even though I am high functioning it speaks to the feeling of being lost, confused that many feel!!

This one is nice too from BJ McKelvie!!

What makes a good educator by the Stellar Mari Nosal!!

Mari Nosal Best Teacher
Mari Nosal Best Teacher
Mari Nosal Best Teacher

I really like this article, its references to ancient literature. I believe a community does need to work together, and support one another. They do not seem to, can not get the funding to get our autism arts foundation rolling, but it in a perfect world it is the right thing to do.
I find Mari’s writing to be very interesting, and compelling.

“To live with Apathy is to live with evil men”. Plato described the essential ingredient of human survival when he coined this powerful statement. If mankind does not function as an interdependent group, humanity as we know it would die. Humanity does not reside in a bubble. Society consists of people from different walks of life. Situations may vary amongst the human race. One commonality is shared amongst our society. That commonality is the need for assistance from fellow human beings.

Human design leaves all humans with fleeting moments of failure and despair in their lives. In order for those moments to be fleeting, and not long-term, emotional support from others is nonnegotiable. This is self – evident in the field of education. Team work and a positive educational system result in a fluid symmetry that benefits the student, parent, child, and society alike. A positive educational experience is dependent on a network of people that work cohesively as a unit. As Uri Bronfenbrenner believed, social, emotional, familial, and environmental issues are all part of the educational process.

A teacher cannot be expected to perform all of the above functions alone. A supportive team for the teacher is imperative when difficulties arise. Cohesiveness is the strongest ingredient in terms of a positive classroom climate. Teachers, educators, administrators, and the community must work together for a mutual goal. That goal is the successful assimilation of children into our society; the end result is children who are empowered with the skill set needed to be future productive adult members of society. As educators, one gets one opportunity to assist children in developing to their fullest capacity. Children are not commodities. If mistakes are made, they are irreparable. The deleterious out come will be a child who carries negative self efficacy into adulthood.

Educators have the monumental responsibility of mapping the successful or negative outcome of a child’s life. It is an awesome responsibility. Fluid symmetry between all people responsible for a child’s positive outcome must be supportive of each other. A teacher that lacks support will inevitably harbor feelings of futility. Futility will breed an apathetic demeanor. The end result will be a teacher who loses their zest for teaching, and a child who loses their zest for learning. My personal goal is to equip myself with the knowledge to help people within the community. I dream of a utopian world. All human beings will be assisted in gaining the tools necessary for a self productive life. Everyone in society would be equipped with the skills needed for self empowerment and positive self efficacy. The aforementioned skills are the building blocks to travel the road to success. May no one in the educational community be unsupported. May No Child Be Left Behind.

Mari Nosal M.Ed

Aspergers Syndrome The Hidden Disorder by Mari Nosal

autism nosal pict
autism nosal pict
autism nosal pict

This article is very valid. I am asperger’s, have always been a brainiac so was considered a bit different but normal. In 43 years, I have had few friends. I am married but other than my wife, I have had no real friends in decades. I want friends,but people do not get me. I reach out to people and ask them to help my non-profit but it is a struggle.

I hear from people all the time, that I need to work on this or that socially, or to slow down, or simplify. It really annoys me at time, why should I have to change who I am for them, why can’t they expand their level of understanding. I am told your eye contact is bad,it has hurt me many times over the years in job interviews because I talk fast, and have poor eye contact. As LMFAO says sort of, I am autistic and I know it..

I really like Mari’s article and can relate in many regards.

Lately, I haven been observing comments regarding what Aspergers is, how it effects the lives and family of individuals living with this syndrome , their family, and individuals whom they have daily interaction with. My experiences and opinions conveyed in this article are not internet and research related. They are resultant from bringing up a son who lives with Aspergers daily.

Aspergers is not outgrown, nor curable. Individuals with Aspergers merely learn compensatory strategies as they grow and silently struggle daily with their difficulty communicating, working with, and living with the neurotypical population. Aspergerers is a neurological disorder which effects many aspects of their daily lives. Because they tend to have normal to above normal I.Q.s, society perceives them as merely quirky loners.

The old phrase, “One cannot tell a book by it”s cover” is an appropriate analogy here. Ican equate their issues with a cast. When one sees an individual with a cast, they know that individual has a broken bone. In regards TO Aspergers, these individuals look like functioning neurotypicals on the exterior. I will now explain that is not the case.

Aspergians have issues impairments with communication, appropriate behavior, and socialization, or assimilation in the neurotypical society if you will. Children with Asperger’s have excellent and advanced expressive language skills. (speaking to people) Aspergians have large vocabularies and are excellent at conveying data, information, what happened on a T.V. show, etc. i.e. factual information. They often have difficulty in reciprocal conversations.

Their difficulty conversing in social situations goes beyond a lack of interest. On the contraire, they silently wish that they could socialize better. I recall my son calling from college. He attempted to join groups because he wanted to fit in with other students. He attempted to join the Frisbee club, but impaired motor skills hampered that effort. He attempted to join in at parties but difficulties with reciprocal conversation squelched that effort.

My son called me at home making me aware of his efforts to fit in, have a girlfriend and more. He informed me of his efforts to make friends and socialize. My heart broke silently when he said, “Mom I try and try to fit in but it is not working, can you teach me?” I suggested he join the computer club and he responded by saying, I only like computers because I have nothing else. My computer is my only entertainment.

Aspergers creates havoc in terms of the individual’s ability to process information, strategize, and receive information. Hence, their difficulty with receptive language. (Processing and absorbing information) Reading body language and knowing how to respond when someone is sad, despondent, or distressed is difficult for Aspergians. I recall a gentleman telling me that he wished he new what to say or do when his wife was upset.

The man told me that it hurt him greatly because he wanted to say and do the right thing in such situations but did not know how.

Individuals with Aspergers are prone to sensory overload when presented with loud noises, strong odors, office environments where several conversations are going on simultaneously, and parties where background music is playing while people attempt to converse with them. It is not uncommon for Aspergians to have tertiary anxiety disorder which rear their ugly face in situations mentioned in the latter paragraph. Aspergers is a neurological condition.

On the surface they tend to be academic prodigiesin certain areas of academia. Hence their nickname as children of the little professor. In reference to language skills, many aspergians speak in a concrete format and upon further review in a reciprocal conversation their sentences may be out of context. Due to receptive processing language deficits, many individuals have difficulty with being given more than several steps through the auditory modality at one time.

It is a misnomer that Aspergians do not warrant speech therapy. On the contrary, speech therapy can assist children in honing expressive language skills i.e. using descriptors, expressing emotions verbally, describing an experience like a trip to the zoo in more than rote terminology. Speech therapy can also assist children with deficits in sequencing. An example of sequencing would be verbally summarizing a story in sequential order.

Aspergians tend to struggle with fine and gross motor skill impairment as well due to neurological impairment. Pincer grip issues can cause issues with difficulty in cutting with scissors, tying shoes, and other fine motor skill tasks. Tasks such as bowling with one hand, midline issues, riding a bike, and climbing trees can prove difficult as well. Hand grip is generally weak and hampers ability in hanging on to jungle gym rungs, etc. Hence they tend to be ostracized by their peers not only for their social deficits, but lack of athletic prowess as well. Thus, they may benefit from physical therapy.

Aspergians may commonly present with A.D.H.D., Non Verbal processing disorder, and other maladies. They may not appear to stim. Upon further observation however on will notice that many aspergians run their hands up and down a drinking cup, have feet or legs that are in constant motion, stretch arms bent at elbows while turning wrists, tap tables and feet, and whistle, to name a few. These may be used forms of mild stimming to release anxiety.

Aspergians tend to prefer simple foods void of mixed flavors when young. This is due to sensory overload from heightened taste buds. Simplified, a spaghetti sauce can put their taste buds into sensory overload. It is extremely common for Aspergians to have tactile sensitivities. As children, a scratchy tag or rough texture shirt can drive them to the point of sensory overload, which is resultant in an emotional meltdown. A rough shirt may feel like someone is scratching their back with fingernails.

Due to mind blindness and neurological delays in development that normally place them approximately four years behind their peers, children with Aspergers are prone to being bullied. Cognitive behavior therapy may be productive in assisting children with developing emotional skills.

Please attempt to understand these children. Do not minimize nor assume that they go on to lead independent fulfilling lives. Many of these children grow up to be underemployed due to inept social skills. A college degree does not guarantee a decent due to neurologically based social, and processing difficulties. Due to popular belief not every aspergian becomes an engineer or scientist. They are as diverse as you and I. In my sons case, he is advanced in English but struggles with math and he is an Aspergian.

The divorce rate is extremely high for Aspergians in relation to neurotypical couples. Some go through life having no romantic relationship or friends due to struggling with navigating the social maze. Without society’s assistance and a nationwide education program these children will not hone their wonderful talents.

Society owes these children AND adults a fighting chance. They cannot always control their behavior and depend on us (society) to equip them with the skills, guidance, and positive support network that they need to thrive as adults. Believe in children and they will believe in themselves.

In closing, I leave you with this food for thought. Not all disabilities are as apparent as a blind individual with a cane, an individual in a wheel chair, etc. Please attempt to look below the surface and understand. Thanks and stay well.

Mari Nosal M.Ed., CECE

A Very Special Mothers Day To Special Needs Moms by Mari Nosal


I really like this article by Mari Nosal. I meant to publish it but it slipped my mind. It is quite wonderful. It takes strength to be a parent of special needs kids. For some of us it is a struggle.


I was perusing the numerous racks of mother’s day cards recently. As is characteristic of me, my experience jettisoned into a silent analytical observation. I made mental notes pertaining to the responsibility afforded to a mother. It is a 24-7 job. Mothers must be on call to jump to attention for a whimpering baby with a wet diaper or hunger pangs. Mothers must be on constant alert for toddlers unrolling a roll of toilet paper that he is busily spreading from room to room with the roll unraveling behind him as he gleefully runs.

We are a tough breed who gets attacked with a projectile shot of vomit that lands on our bodies with the force of a speeding bullet. We wipe runny noses with an almost unlimited amount of tissue that seems to be pulled from thin air. We spend years of sleep deprivation from waking at all hours of the night to nurse sick children back to health. We spend the better part of our child’s teen years pacing the floor when our new drivers are past curfew , conjuring all the terrible things that might have happened to them within the confines of our mind.

Through challenges, trials, tribulations, childhood illness, mothers shrug it off and unquestionably support their children day after day. We never notice the first year of life when you smell like spit up, or that poopy diaper that leaked on your lap. If the child is out of baby food etc. we have all made a trip to the store smelling like the latter because our worries about looking presentable are blinded by the needs of our child.

There you have it. All mothers are special, but special needs moms are different. They are humbled, challenged, tough, protective, and cheerleaders for their children beyond the call of duty. They deal with doctors, teachers, therapists, and more who tell them their child will never meet a certain milestone. Milestones that traditional parents take for granted.

A word of caution, never say your child won’t, can’t, never will, or any other phrase which reeks of pessimistic projections for their child. Like a cat, special needs mothers have hidden claws behind their fingernails that will protrude when they are in attack mode resultant from any threat, or negativity aimed towards their child or the child’s mom.

Special needs parents will expect nothing but the best of care for their children. They are not afraid to vocalize and take action until their child gets just that. While other parents seek out babysitters for a weekly date night, many special needs parents silently stay home to care for their child’s demanding needs. It is much more difficult to get sitters for special needs children, and medical, and therapy issues can leave parents financially strapped. While other parents complain that their child did not make captain of the soccer team, these parents merely want their child to make the team and socialize with peers.

While parents worry about their child being popular, special needs parents worry about their child having friends at all. We shuffle our children to numerous therapy appointments, social groups, pediatricians, tutors, and specialists, while managing jobs, homes, and the stares from people in public.

Through it all we realize that we can climb mountains, make it to the summit and down again as we develop determination and strength to fight for our young like nothing else.

Now, back to my story about visiting the card shop. None of those cards appeared to be directed at special needs parents so I am providing my version that I would design for all of you out there.

I agree, never give up, keep trying, you never know what you can achieve if you really try.
==> A Mari Nosal Hallmark Card for Special Needs Mothers on Mother Day, simply brilliant.

To A Special Needs Mom (A Hallmark moment)

Mommies, you always look beyond my disability and see my talents

To you I am a diamond in the rough black on the exterior but shiny underneath

As my daily cheerleader you slowly buff me off to reach the shiny diamond that I am inside

Without you in my corner I would never have made it as far as I have

We have proved doctors and therapists prognosis wrong repeatedly

With you in my corner we will keep proving them wrong

Thanks for believing in me and helping me when others give up

Thanks for showing your love for me every day

Most of all, thanks for being my mommy

Happy Mothers Day Mommy from your special needs child to my very SPECIAL mommy

And from me – I wish all fellow Moms a happy Mothers Day

Mari Nosal, M.Ed., CECE