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Archive for March, 2010

Recently, I lost a friend of mine. A friend who was just like me, similar in so many ways to me. She was once my co-worker, an incredibly compassionate veterinary technician, an intelligent, funny and yet tortured person. Julia, as I’ll call her, was like me in that she was wired differently from most people. She had a diagnosis of ADHD, which is so similar to autism spectrum disorder, the experts fail to draw any lines as to where one ends and the other begins.
Lately, her needless and accidental death, has me thinking deeply on the subject of my own differences and my own battles with myself. I had only really gotten to know Julia well after my own diagnosis, when I realized that we were close kin. Another of my kind!! Someone who perceived the world as strangely as I do, and shared all of my enthusiasm for the little things most people never take the time for. Things like the way the breeze whispers through the leaves on the trees, singing sweetly. Or the blessings of all forms of life, the way all life represents a manifestation of our creator and our awe inspiring universe.
We even had the same interests, or rather, obsessions. Animals, medicine, photography, reading, and music. Especially music. The manager of a local band, she had invited me out numerous times to see the band play. Sadly, I never made the time to see them or hang out with her.
I knew Julia carried pain, emotional pain, a huge burden. I could only assume that it had much to do with her struggles with ADHD, of growing up and living with the continuous challenges it presented to her. We never really talked much about the emotional aspect of it. I knew she was a heavy drinker, but I never questioned it because it wasn’t my place to do so. And knowing full well how easy it is to self-medicate oneself when faced with the loneliness that usually accompanies being different, I was non-judgemental.
Well, that heavy drinking led to her senseless death during that blizzard we had a few weeks ago. I had laughed that day, because her update on facebook had said, “Julia knows what it’s like to feel like a caged animal!” So did I. But perhaps the caged animal she was referring to that day had nothing to do with the weather. Perhaps, just maybe, that post had something to do with the cage of loneliness that those of us with AS and ADHD battle from the very day we are born. It was her last post.
I realize that I’ll always be different. I’ll never really fit in anywhere, which is one of the main reasons I like to travel so much. That is the only time in my life that I ever feel truly accepted by others, because my behaviors are excused as those of a foreigner. While I am happy to finally have a name and a solid explanation of who I am, I now realize that the unbreakable glass wall that has always separated me from the world that everyone else enjoys is always going to be there.
Sure, I have learned so much, blended in so well, that most people say they “Had no idea!!” that there was anything WRONG with me. Yes, I can care for myself independently, I maintain a few friendships, I work full-time. Currently, I believe the statistics say only 6% of people on the spectrum manage to lead independent lives. So I should be proud of this. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of myself, and I cry sometimes when parents with kids on the spectrum tell me I’m a miracle to them.
But despite all this, the pain of my past, the pain of the continued challenges of plain, old, simple daily living (which are completely overwhelming at times to me) beat me back down into that dark place again. Will the barrage ever end for me?
When I was 15 years old, I started cutting myself. I did it in small, hidden places that no one would see, ashamed that anyone might find out how much of a freak I was. I did it everytime I was faced with emotional pain, like the loss of yet another friend for reasons I simply couldn’t understand, the way I just could never seem to fit in with anyone, especially girls, and at that age it’s so important to have friends who are girls! I did it when relationships with boyfriends failed, when I argued with my parents, when yet another kid at school said something nasty to me. I did it when I thought about how horrid my grade school years had been, how lonely I had been. I did it because it seemed like the right thing to do, it lessened that unbearable emotional pain, made it easier to deal with. After awhile, it didn’t matter to me where the cuts were, or how visible they were. It didn’t matter because it was the one sure thing that I could count on to soothe me.
I also turned to other methods of self-destruction, as they seemed to be an escape from the constant life of loneliness I led. Self-destruction, in my mind, would be the event that would finally release me from that cage of loneliness that surrounded me no matter which way I turned. The pain was always there, and it continues to exist today. No matter what I have done to prove to myself that all that mattered was myself, the pain of the world’s rejection persists, raw and bleeding. Most of my accomplishments were a result of my persistence to prove to myself that I didn’t need people, for anything.
So then, why is the pain still there? I used to tell people that the numerous scars on my arms were battle scars, a SURVIVOR’S battle scars. Lately though, I have been wondering. Are these scars the scars of a survivor? Or are these scars merely festering wounds, just little reminders that this is a battle that I will inevitably lose, just as Julia did?

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William Stillman’s latest book will be released soon!! Waiting to see if I will be featured in it. I doubt it, but I’m still very excited over the release of this book!!!

The Autism Prophecies:
How an Evolution of Healers and Intuitives is
Influencing Our Spiritual Future
by William Stillman
Publish Date: April 20, 2010
Click the image above for a larger cover view

Paperback, 208 pages; published by New Page Books
ISBN: 1601631162

It is estimated that every twenty minutes a child is diagnosed with autism, and statistics are rapidly rising worldwide without any single known cause. Now, with The Autism Prophecies, award-winning author, William Stillman (Autism and the God Connection and The Soul of Autism), himself a person on the autism spectrum, completes his spiritual trilogy by revealing the truth about autism and its purpose. The Autism Prophecies explores the following:

Why abuse of those with autism threatens to increase, and how it’s driven not by fear of our differences but by fear of our similarities.
How some with autism are natural-born healers who employ compassion despite contradictory diagnoses indicating a void of empathy.
How impossible gifts such as mind control and speaking unknown languages could be occurring in some individuals with autism.
How parents may distinguish their child’s spiritual interactions from behavior that might be mislabeled—and unduly medicated as hallucinatory.
Why there’s a dramatic spike in night terrors, and the urgent signs families should recognize to protect themselves accordingly.
How the wisdom of many individuals with autism may help us to prepare for future hardships and an impending renaissance of civility, respect, and compassion.
In pursuing an enlightened future, The Autism Prophecies views these spiritual aspects through an autistic prism. William Stillman stands alone as the first and only author with the courage and foresight to illuminate the inherent spirituality in many persons with autism—individuals who, historically, have been marginalized and devalued by our culture. His unique research, called “brave” by his supporters, has gained the respect and attention of serious parapsychology scholars and spiritual scientists, as well as open-minded theologians.
Click here to pre-order this book on amazon.com

Praise for The Autism Prophecies:

“In The Autism Prophecies, William Stillman illuminates the Soul purpose of individuals with autism; that they are here to share their spiritual gifts and talents, to help usher in a new age of truth and enlightenment, and to remind us that we are all more alike than different.”

—Mary Riposo, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Using Reiki Techniques with Children: A Guide for Parents and Professionals.

“From his unique personal perspective and research into the experiences of many autistic individuals, William Stillman presents a provocative case for autistic individuals often possessing special ways of knowing that border on the psychic and spiritual. If valid, his reporting has remarkable implications for a fuller understanding of the nature of human consciousness.”

—Sally Rhine Feather, Ph.D., Executive Director, Rhine Research Center

“In The Autism Prophecies—the final book in his seminal trilogy on autism—William Stillman reveals more startling truths about evolution, the future of our planet, and what the rapidly growing community of individuals, that, sadly, are still being dismissed with the “affliction” of autism, are really here to teach us.”

—Sandra Sedgbeer, Editor-in-Chief, Inspired Parenting magazine and Children of the New Earth magazine

“Common minds judge and so fail to see what uncommon people so clearly show us we have the ability to know and be. The Autism Prophecies is wonderful! And for everyone who strives to become unlimited.”

—Nancy and Elena, co-producers and radio hosts, Beyondtheordinary.net

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Empowered Autism Parenting: Celebrating (and Defending) Your Child’s Place in the World
by William Stillman
Publish Date: August 2009
Click the image above for a larger cover view

Paperback, 224 pages; published by Jossey-Bass
ISBN: 0470475870

In this groundbreaking book, William Stillman, a passionate advocate on behalf of those with autism, offers a commonsense guide for parenting children with autism. He gives mothers and fathers, caregivers, and teachers the information they need to recognize the child with autism’s unique personality, passions, and intellect and therefore liberate them from today’s culture of fear. He shows why the current conventional incentive and reward systems send the wrong message to kids with autism and just don’t work. This book offers a sensible ten-step guide for enriching relationships with kids with autism through a belief in their essential competence.

Includes information that liberates parents from the culture of fear surrounding autism
Explains how kids with autism are intelligent but may have unconventional methods of communication that need to be understood and appreciated
Shows why your child doesn’t need traditional therapy or medication to “treat” autism
The author clears aside the common misperceptions of autism to reveal the truth: people with autism are intelligent, insightful, and inspired human beings entitled to participate and contribute to the fullest. He also shatters myths about high-cost therapies and “autism medications”—grist for an industry that promotes a culture of fear about autism.

Click here to pre-order this book on amazon.com

Praise for Empowered Autism Parenting:

“William Stillman, with his sensitive and compassionate gift for understanding, explodes the ‘myth of autism.'”

—Sally Patton, Ed.M.; author, Welcoming Children with Special Needs; executive director, The Creative Soul of Children, Inc.; and principle consultant/trainer, Embracing the Spirit of the Child

“William Stillman offers hope, understanding, and critical thinking for those who are affected by autism.”

—Robin Rice, author, A Hundred Ways to Sunday

“Wonderful. . . . This book moves us into a new paradigm of understanding autism as neither pitiable nor tragic, but as another way of thinking, one that adds value to the world.”

—Susan Senator, author, Making Peace with Autism

“This book is a valuable addition to the literature from the inside out—important insights from someone who himself lives and thrives within the spectrum.”

—Laurence A. Becker, Ph.D., Creative Learning Environments

“The new Dr. Spock for parents of children with autism.”

—Frankie Picasso, CPC; certified master coach trainer; author, Midlife Mojo; and broadcaster, Champion for a Compassionate Consciousness

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The Soul of Autism: Looking Beyond Labels to Unveil Spiritual Secrets of the Heart Savants
by William Stillman
Publish Date: April 2008
Click the image above for a larger cover view

Paperback, 224 pages; published by New Page Books
ISBN: 1601630050

In Autism and the God Connection, William Stillman chartered new territory by documenting extraordinary accounts of spiritual giftedness in those with autism—persons often deemed intellectually inferior. But more remains to be told. For those of us not privy to the ease with which many autistics tap their divine resources, we may ask, “How does it work?” Stillman’s new book, The Soul of Autism, responds by exploring the following:

Why the unaccountable and dramatic rise in autism—with no single known cause—is a necessary part of our spiritual evolution.
What is the secret component that makes autistic telepathy possible for us all if we only avail ourselves of it?
If certain autistics communicate with animals, what are the animals saying, and how might that hold relevance for the rest of us?
Perceiving deceased grandparents in Spirit is not an uncommon experience for many autistics, but what implies reciprocation in these highly unusual relationships that, curiously enough, center upon grandfathers?
How might we tap our multisensory giftedness like those with autism have? The author shares seven steps he developed to undergo a spiritual transformation (from which he escaped a brush with suicidal thoughts), and demonstrates how he applies it with glowing affirmations.
In pursuing answers, The Soul of Autism explores these aspects of spirituality through an autistic prism. We all hold the capacity for unlimited possibilities, but how we do it is what we may come to know from those who do it naturally. We have much to be learning from our autistic friends about transcendence rising, a new humanity accessible for all. The Soul of Autism illuminates the way.

Click here to pre-order this book on amazon.com

Advance Praise for The Soul of Autism:

“I believe the world owes William Stillman a debt of gratitude for the courage it took him to research and write this book. It is filled with rare wisdom and amazing stories that will totally surprise you!”

—P.M.H. Atwater, Th.D., author of Beyond the Indigo Children

“William Stillman continues his fascinating exploration of the myriad connections between autism and human personality. The Soul of Autism makes a strong case for why we should embrace rather than fear the differences between us.”

—Dean Hamer, Ph.D., geneticist and author of The God Gene

“William Stillman offers a wholly unique, compelling vision of autism. In The Soul of Autism, he reveals the often unrecognized spiritual gifts of those “on the spectrum” and explains how they can help all of us open to our deeper selves. Stillman believes the world needs autism. And after reading this moving and inspiring book, you will see why.”

—Melissa Chianta, Managing Editor, Mothering magazine

“As a family member of someone with autism, the importance of William Stillman’s work cannot be understated. I recommend The Soul of Autism to all who are attempting to understand these special earth angels at a deeper level.”

—Shelley Kaehr, Ph.D., author of Lifestream

“From the first sentence of Chapter One, “The world needs autism,” Stillman gently but firmly lets you know are about the listen to truths hitherto unarticulated and questions we can no longer avoid. Why do schools develop ‘best practices’ without consulting the highest experts of all, those with autism? Should society not be exerting equal effort in embracing diversity as we do in trying to create ‘normalcy?’ Are you brave enough to take Bill’s ‘simulated autism’ exercise—and face the emotional results? Regardless of where you fall on the spiritual spectrum, these are questions that deserve contemplation and action.”

—Ellen Notbohm, author of the award-winning Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew

“The Soul of Autism opens new avenues of understanding and raises serious questions about the assumption of lack of intelligence in any human being. Both ‘the assumption of intelligence and creativity’ and ‘the judgment that no intelligence and creativity exists’ are equally statements of faith, so why not choose intelligence and creativity and see what happens? Captain Picard of Star Trek: the Next Generation makes the statement, ‘I believe that with persistence and imagination communication is possible.’ The Soul of Autism forcefully makes a similar statement with numerous concrete illustrations from the experiences of people who live with and within the autism spectrum.”

—Laurence A. Becker, Ph.D., Creative Learning Environments, and producer of the international award-winning documentary film With Eyes Wide Open: Richard Wawro, Artist

“By opening the door to the invisible regions of life—where angels tread—this book, The Soul of Autism, turns darkness to light, confusion to insight, and shame to beauty. For, the desperate plight of the autistic is but a metaphor of the “momentous shift,” as Stillman terms it, that promises all humanity “a new brotherhood,” the ineluctable paradigm shift which erases isolation, neglect, depression, insecurity, dogma and terrible abuse, replacing it all with tolerance, nonviolence, service, knowledge, humility—and love.”

—Susan B. Martinez, Ph.D., Book Review Editor, Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies

“The Soul of Autism is a balanced and beautiful discussion of what is possible when we look outside our standard world view of those on the autism spectrum. Every parent, grandparent, friend, or educator with exposure to such a uniquely blessed child will relate to the powerful stories of connection and love. In the worlds of the soul, these heart savants may well be our greatest leaders.”

—Robin Rice, creator of Meditationmovie.com
and author of A Hundred Ways to Sunday

“Once again, William Stillman shows us why we must nurture both the intellectual and Divine uniqueness of our loved ones with autism.”

—Liane Gentry Skye, Author, Parent Advocate, Right to Communicate Educational Advocate

“Autism has been described as mysterious, alien, devastating and a puzzle to be solved by those who look at it from the outside and attempt to make those who have it appear normal. Those of us who have chosen a different route have discovered that looking at autism from within provides a totally different perspective. The Soul of Autism takes us on a journey of discovery into the spiritual aspects of autism which are so often overlooked and ignored by those who are desperately searching for a cure. This book is truly a wake-up call for all of us to look with new eyes at those who are different. This book is a must-read for anyone who truly is interested in understanding and connecting with those on the autism spectrum.”

—Gail Gillingham Wylie, author of Autism: Handle with Care and Autism: A New Understanding

“William Stillman is one of the few who can translate the workings of the autistic mind to the neurotypical community—and he uses his ability to delve into timeless philosophical issues. How do we know what is real? Is there a power beyond ourselves through which we can find a deeper understanding of ourselves and others? How do we communicate with those who cannot speak for themselves? Through every page of The Soul of Autism shines Stillman’s most important point about individuals with autism and similar disorders: no matter how a person appears on the surface, one should always presume and respect their intellect and human spirit.”

—Lisa Jo Rudy, About.com Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorders

“Kudos to the author, William Stillman, for sharing the stories and science in clear, easy-to-read language in The Soul of Autism. His respect and integrity in this presentation is outstanding as he shares the stories of intuitive persons labelled autistic and what they can teach us.”

—Caron B. Goode, Ed.D., coauthor of Help Kids Cope with Stress & Trauma

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Autism And the God Connection: Redefining the Autistic Experience Through Extraordinary Accounts of Spiritual Giftedness
by William Stillman
Publish date: April 2006
Click the image above for a larger cover view

Paperback, 272 pages; published by Sourcebooks, Inc.
ISBN: 1402206496

A powerful, groundbreaking new book for anyone touched by autism.

Autism has captured the world’s attention as the neurological disorder that impacts one out of every 166 children—ten times higher than just ten years ago. Despite the international scrambling of scientists to provide an explanation, there remains no single known cause for the rise in autism.

Autism and the God Connection is the first book of its kind to view autism through a spiritual prism, unlocking its hidden meaning. Through countless, compelling interviews William Stillman documents extraordinary examples of spiritual giftedness.

Autism and the God Connection boldly challenges our traditionally held beliefs about people with disabilities. Readers looking for hope, inspiration and a deeper understanding of their loved ones will appreciate the affirming anecdotes of ordinary families.

Review / purchase this book on amazon.com

Advance Praise for Autism and the God Connection:

“Autism is no accident of nature. It is a real affectation of consciousness due to environmental and subtle energy forces that affect the ability of consciousness in autistic children to perform in what we consider ‘normal’ ways. William Stillman has reached way out of the box by asking the reader to consider that there are other possibilities in play regarding the direction of humanity. It’s about time! Read this book with and open mind and heart. Allow your imagination to be stretched even a little and you will begin to see that Stillman addresses a picture far greater than we had ever considered.”

—Meg Blackburn Losey,
author of the international bestseller, The Children of Now, and Conversations with the Children of Now and Pyramids of Light, Awakening to Multi-Dimensional Realities.

“Everyone who seeks a more compassionate and wise life will benefit from this wonderful, insightful, and beautiful book. It is a very short step from understanding autism and the God connection to understanding you and the God Connection.”

—Gary Zukav
author of The Seat of the Soul and The Dancing Wu Li Masters

Thank you, William Stillman, for confirming what I have suspected to be true: our son is a gift with a special mission to fulfill on the planet earth. The stories in your life affirming book show us that parents of children on the autism spectrum have been blessed with an opportunity for greater spiritual meaning in their lives. Autism and the God Connection will transform the way our society views ‘so called’ disabilities.

—Nancy Alspaugh
author of Not Your Mother’s Midlife and Fearless Women, Midlife Portraits
and mother of ASD child

This book is a must read, whether you love someone with an autistic-spectrum disorder, or work in the field. William Stillman describes a parallel process of discovering his own spirituality, while exploring the heightened spiritual connectedness of those he works with. The result provides a deep sense of hope and understanding that I’ve not experienced with other books on autistic-spectrum disorders.

—Jeffrey A. Naser, M.D.
Medical Director, Main Line Clinical Associates

Autism and the God Connection is a fascinating and timely exploration of the special sensitivities and spiritual connections of people with autism.

—Dean Hamer, Ph.D.
geneticist and author of The God Gene

Autism and the God Connection is a compelling, powerful, and thought provoking book. Stillman describes the discoveries that unfold from conversations that he has with people that have a difficult time with conventional communication. He is able to see, feel and hear people from different perspectives.

—Nicki Fischer
Executive Director, Publisher and Editor,
The Autism Perspective magazine

The information and descriptions noted about the autistic experience in Autism and the God Connection should be well received by those touched with autism and by the understanding people who know them. It is like a breath of fresh air, a release of knowledge and feelings that were avoided and rarely acknowledged as truth. The accumulation and presentation of this information should enlighten people in the field of autism as well as people who want to help people.

“We all need to take a fresh look at who we are and who the individuals are that we are trying to help. We need to realize their attributes, promote the recognition and development of such, and enjoy the beauty of each individual as one of God’s creations. Mr. Stillman takes us to a new dimension of understanding of self and others; but understanding with which we should become better acquainted and of which we should make better use.

—William L. Jones, Ed.D.
Faculty Emeritus, Department of Special Education,
Bloomsburg University

Autism and the God Connection is a formidable challenge to simplistic explanations of autism. The clinical stories in this book raise significant questions about the nature of consciousness and its relationship to the brain. This book is about more than neurological issues; it is about our nature, our origin and destiny—in short, our connection with the Absolute, however named.

— Larry Dossey, M.D.
author of The Extraordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things

“I had often wondered if there were many others with autism who have spiritual experiences similar to mine, so I appreciated Stillman’s courage in writing this revealing book. While many without autism also develop spiritual gifts, it is important that people recognize this in those with autism, so I highly recommend Autism and the God Connection. I believe we live in an age of spiritual awakening and Stillman’s research is a great example of this.

—Penelope McMullen
Catholic Sister, person with autism, and author of “The Gifted Side of Autism”, Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities

“William Stillman’s Autism and the God Connection is a sensitive and illuminating work which could dramatically change how we view autism.”

—Carol Bowman, author of Children’s Past Lives and Return from Heaven

“Speaking from the heart, William Stillman provides us with a unique look at autism’s inner soul. This wonderful book should be required reading for parents of special children, and especially for teachers and clinicians who may be making some incorrect assumptions about the inner vitality and intellectual abilities of autistic function. Definitely an illuminating and inspiring read!”

—Dorita S. Berger
author of Music Therapy, Sensory Integration and the Autistic Child

“An intensely rare and innovative book! William Stillman has opened the door to a most intriguing partnership between the treatment of autism and metaphysical studies. The personal stories of autistics as narrated in this book parallel the ‘multisensory’ experiences described by intuitives, mystics and psychics, and call to mind the abilities of shaman who are able to traverse between the world of spirit and this physical plane. What an amazing realization that those long considered mentally challenged may actually be far more advanced in terms of spiritual perception, and it is we who must strive to advance to their level of understanding.”

—Kathy L. Callahan, Ph.D.
author of Multisensory Human: The Evolution of the Soul

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The Autism Answer Book
by William Stillman
Publish date: September 2007
Click the image above for a larger cover view

Paperback, 320 pages; published by Sourcebooks, Inc.
ISBN: 1402209770

It is currently estimated that 1 in 150 kids are affected by autism and that number is increasing at an alarming rate.

In a time when parents are overwhelmed with confusing, and often conflicting, information, The Autism Answer Book provides them clear and confident counsel by providing straightforward answers to their most pressing questions.

Written by an author who himself has been touched by autism, The Autism Answer Book covers such topics as:
Getting a diagnosis
Sensory sensitivities
Physical well-being
Mental health
School success
Written in an easy-to-read Q&A format, The Autism Answer Book helps parents understand and accept their child’s diagnosis and develop a plan for success.

From July-August 2008 Autism Asperger’s Digest:
“The Autism Answer Book is a gift from the brilliant voice of an exceptional author and speaker. Stillman’s version of ‘Autism 101’ manages to face the challenges of autism head-on while imparting hope and encouragement.”
© 2008, Autism Asperger’s Digest

Review / purchase this book on amazon.com

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The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children with Bipolar Disorder: Professional, Reassuring Advice to Help You Understand and Cope
by William Stillman
(technical review by Jeffrey Naser, M.D.)
Publish date: November 2005
Click the image above for a larger cover view

Paperback, 304 pages; published by Adams Media Corporation
ISBN: 1593374461

Build a loving, supportive environment for your child.

What does it mean for your child to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder? Where can you go to understand mood disorders, depression, and the highs and lows associated with this condition?

The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children with Bipolar Disorder is an authoritative handbook designed specifically for parents with questions about their child’s emotional well-being, options for medication and therapy, and educational considerations.

Author William Stillman helps you:
Define bipolar disorder
Recognize symptoms of mental health issues
Find a doctor and get a diagnosis
Heighten awareness of depression, mania and mood swings Maintain healthy family relationships
Navigate the teen years

Complete with professional advice to help you cope with daily life, this all-inclusive resource provides reassuring answers for you and your child.

Review / purchase this book on amazon.com

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The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children with Asperger’s Syndrome: Help, Hope, and Guidance
by William Stillman
Publish date: January 30, 2005
Click the image above for a larger cover view

Paperback, 304 pages; published by Adams Media Corporation
ISBN: 1593371535

From The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children with Asperger’s Syndrome, author William Stillman’s definition of AS: “Asperger’s Syndrome is the natural way by which some perceive the world from an alternate perspective and logic, creating misunderstandings, misinterpretations and social challenges when one attempts to assimilate with the world at large.”

As a parent of a child with Asperger’s syndrome, you may wonder what to expect as your son or daughter journeys through childhood. Your son is of average or above average intelligence, but how will he handle a fast-paced school atmosphere? Your daughter has little difficulty talking to adults, but how will she interact with her peers?

With The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children with Asperger’s Syndrome at your side, you’ll take the first steps toward understanding this pervasive development disorder and how it may impact your child. This complete handbook for coping with daily life helps you:
Get a diagnosis and understand the results
Discover the best options for education and learning
Work to improve your child’s social skills
Identify triggers that lead to sensory overload, such as sounds, bright lights, or certain textures and fabrics
Recognize symptoms of meltdowns and work with your child to prevent them
Educate family and friends about Asperger’s to provide a supportive and loving environment
Explore other resources, including reading lists, Web sites, and support groups
The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children with Asperger’s Syndrome shows you how you can maintain a positive attitude, honor your child’s unique experience, and strengthen the bond between you and your child.

Review / purchase this book on amazon.com

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What is it like to have an auditory processing disorder? What exactly is an auditory processing disorder? I’ll tell you, it’s pure madness. Plain and simple – it’s as weird as weird can be. But it’s also quite amazing, as is sensory integration dysfunction, in the way that it illustrates the intricacies in the way our brains work and process information.
You would think that having super sensitive hearing and an auditory processing disorder might sound like an oxymoron, but it isn’t, because they are two extremely different functions. Auditory processing refers to the way our brains process what we hear, and organize all that sensory stimuli into something that makes sense. See here for a better description: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auditory_processing_disorder
Not always the case for me, as you will see. A lot of the time, I have to work hard in order to “figure out” what I’m hearing. It has always been this way for me, although I never understood how or why, until my diagnosis.
Auditory processing disorder is similar to sensory integration dysfunction in the way that the wiring of the brain is quite different from most. It’s like over stimulation (maybe hearing and other senses) causes something to become lost in translation. Too much coming at me at one time will cause a major malfunction, and I don’t know if it’s due to the over stimulation itself or the anxiety that the over stimulation causes.
I can tell you that it has often resulted in a number of unintended social mistakes that have taught me to either quickly cover up the mistake or risk exposing my idiosyncrasies.
For instance, in anxiety causing situations (like a party or a noisy meeting, or even out shopping), I seem to lose my ability to understand people. This manifests itself in numerous ways. Sometimes, someone will say something to me, and all I hear is mumbo jumbo. A completely disorganized, alien language, with no recognizable content presents itself to me. Other times, I’ll hear some words, little bits and pieces, while the rest of the words seem to vanish from existence, leaving nothing discernible for me to even attempt to comprehend. “What the hell did you just say?” immediately pops into my head, but experience has taught me it isn’t really socially acceptable to say that. 🙂
Before, I would often panic, and have no idea what to do. In other words, I looked like a freak. These days, I’ve learned that it’s okay if I must ask someone to repeat themselves. Sometimes, I’ll look to my ASD aware companion for a coherent translation.
There are other aspects of the condition that are strikingly fascinating to me. And I’m not completely positive if they all are a result of the auditory processing disorder, but they seem to fit in here, so this is where I’ll squeeze them.
Oddly enough, I don’t seem to hear people unless they’re in my field of vision. So if you’re shouting my name at me across the mall, chances are pretty good that I won’t hear you. And if you aren’t close enough, I won’t even recognize you, but I’ll talk about that later. Obviously, I’ve been in many social circumstances where I didn’t hear or recognize someone, only to be labeled as a snob, a bitch, I don’t know what else. Big social faux pas, let me tell you.
My earliest memory of this social catastrophe occurred with a boyfriend. We were at the mall with a few friends, but had separated for a little while. Wouldn’t you know, I glided cluelessly by him, chatting to my best friend, while he was calling to me and waving? Only to realize that I had done so as a result of my friend bringing it to my attention? Teenage social disaster!!! How do you explain that one, when you don’t even know why in hell it happened? Is it believable to say that I’m that much of an airhead? Some would agree with that statement, and I know who you are too!
Needless to say, he was upset. Here he thought I was playing head games, when the joke was actually on me. Okay, I know you’re dying to know, or maybe you aren’t, what happened after that? Well, he wouldn’t talk to me, he left the mall, I left with my friend, and a few hours later we made up. But to me it’s just an example of the many social challenges ASD can present to a person, especially when you have it unknowingly.
Apparently, one of the signs of an auditory processing disorder is the need for language and speech therapy, which was necessary for me in third grade. So again, I fit neatly into the ASD textbook. Advanced speech prior to learning to walk, late walker, but a need for speech therapy. My pic should be posted as part of the description LOL.
I think one of the funnier, but more startling aspects of the auditory processing disorder occurs under extremely loud situations, like a concert or a convention. Sometimes, out of the blue, through that huge cacophony of merging voices, I’ll hear what someone far away has said, as if they were right next to me, whispering into my ear. Kinda creepy actually. I’ll turn to the person next to me to inquire or answer, and I’m met by the strangest looks sometimes. “I didn’t say anything,” is the alarmed response. Again, the joke is completely on me.
So what I’m saying here again is, if you see me in a crowded place, staring right at you, walking past you as you’re jumping up and down in your attempt to get my attention and I still fail to respond, please don’t take it personal. You might have to actually tap my shoulder or grab my hand, and then you’ll see the dawning recognition as it flows across my pleasantly surprised face. Either the auditory processing disorder kicked in, and your signals to me weren’t processed in this creatively wired brain of mine, or the fact that I’m face blind prevented me from recognizing you. Maybe both. Anyway, I’ll talk about face blindness another time. My electricity just came back on and it’s Saturday night. 🙂
Until next time, Namaste!

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The Real Me

The real me. There are few people who actually know the real me. Sometimes, I’m not even sure if I know the real me. Since my diagnosis, I’ve made a lot of progress in the area, so I’ll try, as best I can, to describe the autistic person that exists beneath the mask I wear each day. I know that my diagnosis threw my family and friends into a tailspin, similar to the way it did to me. However, it was easier for me to understand the diagnosis because I can see my disabilities, most of which are completely invisible to others. I realize that my diagnosis sent everyone racing for answers, for explanations, and I have a feeling that most people were googling the internet for answers. Not a good resource for the most part, unless one can manage to find their way to a legitimate ASD research or advocacy website. Instead of having you all continue to guess which aspects of autism actually affect me (since every single autistic person is vastly different in their symptoms), this post will be my attempt to explain the autistic side of me. The side of me that I have struggled to hide from you for most of my life, for fear of being seen as “abnormal.”
So here goes…
I’m actually a textbook case for an ASD diagnosis, based upon my early child development. Many of the symptoms that I battled as a pre and grade schooler have faded, out of sheer determination to overcome them, or just the fact that autistic people change as they grow and experience more throughout life. So right now, I’m going to concentrate on the autistic parts of me that will always be there, hidden below my surface, like a deep and reflective pool of water.
One of the aspects of the autistic me concerns a diagnosis of what is called a sensory processing disorder or sensory integration dysfunction.
For more in depth information see: http://www.spdfoundation.net/facts.html.
I think the easiest way to explain this is to say that from a neurological standpoint, I’m wired much more differently than most people. Some of my wires seem to be crossed, enhanced, or non-existent. An easier explanation? I seem to be either super sensitive to the environment, or not as sensitive to certain things. For example: I have exceptional hearing. Not only do I hear frequencies that most people can’t, I hear EVERYTHING at the same volume. There is NO background noise for me…it all assaults me at the same volume, at the same time, like standing in front of a hundred tennis ball machines on the attack. So as you sit in your office working, and are content, paying attention only to when your phone rings, I’m bombarded by distractions. I hear the electricity happily humming through the fluorescent lighting, the door banging constantly as people stream through, the murmurs of every conversation throughout the immediate area, the constant scream of traffic on the roadways. How many people out there hear the electricity humming through the street lights and power lines? Just curious.
I’m also super sensitive to light, especially flourescent light. Light used to scare the hell out of me as a pre-schooler, because I didn’t understand it. To me it was this bright, burning monster that was about to gobble me up. I was so afraid of light that I used to have nightmares about the hanging lamp in my bedroom…other kids have nightmares about the thing under the bed or in the closet, but not me. Instead, I dreamt about that hideous light, catching and blinding me, burning me, maybe even sucking me up into some other frightening dimension. Maybe it could have been my mothership calling? Now that’s something to ponder.
I continue to be blinded by light. Today, I try to manage it, by positioning myself with my back to it or wearing sunglasses. So if you ever see me walking around Target with my sunglasses on at night, it’s because it takes some of the “burn” away from the lighting, not because I think I’m that cool. However, I have yet to find a way to defeat the burn from the street and headlights in the darkness. I actually can see so little when driving at night that I usually try to avoid it, the lights just completely blind me. Once, after a particularly nerve-wracking flu clinic for work, I drove home in the dark with my sunglasses on because my nerves were so on edge, I had to close my eyes every time I saw headlights or stopped at a street light. Maybe this offers an explanation to those of you who wonder why I seem so anxious driving at night when you’re with me.
The fun super sensitive sense? Smell. Ok, actually it’s not so much fun, especially when it comes to offensive odors. I can smell EVERYTHING, no matter how faint it might be to others. I like to say I have the hearing of a dog, and the sense of smell of a cat. To me, each place has a distinct smell, and that smell remains on someone for quite a while after they’ve been there. So yes, I can tell where you’ve been depending on the scent you’re carrying. Wawa? Check. Lowe’s? Got that covered too. Pizza shop? Yup. This ability drives me crazy as a health inspector. Imagine walking around for an hour with the stink of the greasy, fried scent of Burger King surrounding you. Ugh.
So have you been drinking tonight? Doesn’t matter how much you try to cover it up, I can smell it. (My kids are sooo screwed, if I end up having any.) 😉 And Dale’s favorite aspect of this ability? The fact that I can smell him smoking outside of the house, when I’m inside, no windows or doors open. Many a time I’ve opened the front door (obviously I find cigarette smoke offensive, so he smokes outside), and ranted, “Will you get the hell away from the door?!?!? That disgusting smell is coming right under the door!” To which he replies, “How the hell can you smell that?” Now we know the answer to that question. LOL
I think the worst of my sensitivities is my sensitivity to cold. I’m freezing, no matter what, unless the temperature is at least 80 degrees. Touch me and I feel as cold as ice. When I was a kid, my grandmother used to always say, “Cold hands, warm heart.” I still try to live up to that, Babcia.
Once, I went snorkeling in Mexico, in this beautiful, blue, 70 degree water filled with a gorgeous barrier reef, and guess what happened? Within ten minutes, I turned blue and began to shake uncontrollably. Freezing. So that was the end of that exciting snorkeling adventure. The funny thing is, I can run a mile without breaking a sweat. Am I ever actually too hot? The answer is not really. I never even use an air conditioner. As a matter of fact, I wear a coat at work in the winter, and a heavy sweater during air conditioning season. My co-workers constantly tease me about this, but I guess no matter how much I explain, it just doesn’t make sense to them. Sometimes I offer my hand as an explanation, and when someone feels how icy they are, I get a look of shock. Or is it fear? Sometimes I wonder…do they think I’m the walking undead?
Now, this might come as a huge surprise to some people, but I hate clothing. 😉 Most clothing anyway. Why? Well, I have a hypersensitivity to texture, or touch. It has taken me years of learning to find clothing that doesn’t make me scream in agony. Either it’s itching me to death, constricting and strangling me, or the tags and seams are torturing me. Needless to say, wool, turtlenecks, and bras have obviously been devised as medieval methods for my personal torture. I’m so bad with clothing that I can’t even sleep in it (sorry, but it’s the truth). When staying at someone’s home, I have to either be prepared for a few sleepless nights, or arm myself with some good sleeping pills. Well, I certainly can’t go wandering to the bathroom at night in my birthday suit, can I?
By now, you’re probably either bored out of your mind, or wondering which of my senses are “under” sensitive.
There are actually two noticeable hyposensitivities, my sensitivity to heat and pain. As I mentioned above, I never seem to sweat. To me, it seems like I don’t process heat properly even through touch, because I burn myself constantly. Cooking is almost always a guaranteed new burn during the process for me. While I don’t quite feel the burn, I always run cold water over them because I know that’s what I’m supposed to do.
As for pain, I have a much higher pain threshold than most people. It gets me into trouble sometimes when I’m really sick because I guess doctors are used to people crying and whining when they’re hurting. I can’t bring myself to say anything other than, “I don’t feel good.” I ended up in the ER for emergency surgery once, mostly because I think my doctors blew me off for a year, until I almost died. I guess I just wasn’t convincing enough when I kept telling them that something wasn’t quite right. But two blood transfusions and one surgery later, I was as good as new. Funny how quickly I heal.
If my sensory oddities don’t have you either amused or amazed by this point in time, the next aspect of the autistic me will, referred to by the experts as an auditory processing disorder. Today, out of all my other autistic tendencies, the auditory processing disorder continues to be the most challenging for me to manage. But that discussion is for another post. I hope that this description of my sensory issues has helped you, my friends and family, better understand who I am. Thank you for listening.

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