Florida's First Choice for Autism Support

Posts tagged ‘ASD’

Guest Blog: What Writing is to Me

Hello, it’s your girl Erica again, did you miss me? I’m sure you did! I wanted to write a blog about what writing is to me. The next blog may be about Merry Acres middle school, and it may not be! It will happen though I promise! Look at me rambling and I’m not even at the meat of the blog yet!

Okay all big words and joking aside, I am here to talk about what writing is to me. Writing to me is a lot of thing: It’s fun, it’s relaxing, and it’s my escape when I’m overwhelmed. I’d be crazy if I said it was all fun and games, heck I’d be crazier if I said that it was all pros and no cons!

Well, my readers let me tell you something…IT IS NOT ALL PROS! You see, writing to me is also: torture, stressful and my prison! Let me explain, writing is fun, sure, but it can be torture when you set yourself a deadline or when you are given a deadline, and let me tell you, those things don’t come with pretty red bows!

Writing is relaxing sure, but when you are trying to catch some z’s and you’re as forgettable and creative as me, it’s stressful hearing those words and sentences repeat in your head like a song on repeat until you write them down whether on your phone or on scrap paper!

Writing is an escape sure, but it can also be a prison! You won’t be free until you finish your sentence! Ha, ha, ha! Seriously though, writing is no laughing matter, I love it, sure, but sometimes I don’t. It’s fine though, because no matter what writing is my favorite thing to do. I loved since first grade and I still love it today!

In conclusion, writing despite its cons, is my calling. I know it is, with as many journals as I have and as many pens that lost their ink, I know I’m doing something worth while and someday I’ll be published. When that day comes, I’ll be on book tours and enjoy it very much. Ciao for now!

 

Erica

Guest Blog: Everyone, Meet Erica!

Hi! I’m Erica J. King, a young adult with autism who once lived in Tampa, Florida and my favorite thing to do is write original stories. When I’m not writing, I’m playing video games or thinking about writing. I once owned two hedgehogs named Rosabel and Quilliam Shakespeare. Alas, they both passed away, but they haven’t left my heart.

Melancholy aside, I have attended many different schools and academies. I’ve attended:  Radium Springs Elementary School, Oaktree Elementary School, Merry Acres Middle School, Benito Middle School, Wharton High School, Focus Academy, and lastly the Learning Academy. I moved back to Albany, Georgia to help out with my grandparents. One of which is gone, my grandfather. I’m not going to make my first blog super sad so let’s move on!

I have been working on a story called “Breakthrough”, and no it doesn’t involve some guy falling through thin ice! It’ll be my magnum opus is all you’ll need to know. I will just say one thing about it, it’s about a male writer. I have written fifteen journals for the first book, fifteen journals equal fifteen chapters, and as I’m writing this blog I’m working on the second book and that one will have ten chapters therefore it’ll have ten journals.

Now I’ll talk more about my school experiences, more on the lines of Focus Academy and The Learning Academy. I’ll talk about Merry Acres in a future blog, because that in itself deserves its own blog! Focus Academy was certainly an experience, I met my best friend Francesca Rosa there during summer school. We are still friends today. I learned a lot there about developing characters and layering them.

After doing the high school part, I did a transition program where I did puppy training and volunteer work at a food pantry. I also learned about filling out applications, self-advocacy, and writing checks. Then after I graduated from that, I attended The Learning Academy. I made a lot of friends there and even had an old friend of mine attend too! There I learned a lot about furthering my skills, learning styles, more self-advocacy and attending job fairs. I even learned how to properly act during job interviews.

In conclusion, I hope you readers out there enjoyed this introduction blog and I truly hope that you want to hear more from me, I’ll even share some of my original writings if y’all want! Just let me know below, and enjoy the rest of your day! Thank you so much again for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read this! I truly appreciate it 100%, really I do! Ciao for now!

Erica

Past blogs regarding Erica:  TLA Graduate Spotlight on Erica King

 

Autism & Back to School

It’s that time of year once again, every kid’s favorite: back to school! We hope everyone’s successfully readjusted to their school schedule and aren’t still stuck in summer mode. It can be a stressful time for parents as well, not knowing how their kids are going to be treated by the other students, their teacher, and the administration. Will they make friends? Will they have to sit alone in the cafeteria? Is getting them to do homework going to be a daily stress? My parents can attest to all those feelings, and I know personally just how scary the whole experience can be; the first day of school was my worst nightmare when I was younger. But it really doesn’t need to be. School can be a wonderful and fulfilling part of your life, a time you’ll look back on with nostalgia when the realities of adult life hit you.

I’d like to outline some general advice I have for the back to school period that can be beneficial for both the student and parents. This is assuming you’ll be in a general education classroom which, as I’ve previously discussed, is becoming more common for kids on the spectrum. First is to keep a constant line of communication between student, parent, and teacher. As someone who’s going into the teaching profession, I can’t understate the importance of this. Teachers have to balance the needs of an entire classroom, and it can be difficult to properly identify one student’s troubles if they don’t know what’s going on in that student’s mind. Not only is a good relationship with the teacher positive academically, but I’ve seen firsthand teachers who are willing to help integrate their special needs students with the rest of the class. New friendships are formed that never would have been otherwise.

Another important thing, and it’s one that in hindsight I’m glad my family forced on me, is to get involved. Boy/Girl Scouts, sports, clubs, any extracurricular activities. When I was much younger I did these things (reluctantly at first), and ended up making many of my friends through them. It also allowed my mom to form relationships with the other parents so they could set up play dates for all of us. Even for older students, it’s never a bad idea to stay active, learn some valuable life skills, and have fun instead of wasting away doing nothing like many high schoolers are prone to do. I know that for many with ASD, putting yourself out there in social situations can be a daunting task, but facing your fears and anxieties is the only way to overcome them. Building a rapport with your teacher and getting involved with the school are what I consider to be the most important methods of feeling comfortable in school from the very beginning of the year.

 

G. Sosso

Hurricane Safety

HURRICANE SAFETY

With the uncertainty of Hurricane Dorian’s impact on Florida, now is a good time to prepare. CARD-USF has Hurricane Safety brochures in English and Spanish as well as a Hurricane Social Narrative. Also, be sure to register with the Special Needs Registry in your county at FLGetAPlan.com

Hurricane Safety (English):https://www.dropbox.com/…/CARD_2018HurricaneGuide_FINAL_dig…

Mental Health Awareness Month

Happy May! May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Did you know, according to research (Ghaziuddin and Zafar, 2008) up to 80 percent of individuals with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum disorder have at least one co-occurring mental health disorder. Common co-occurring mental health disorders include ADHD, anxiety disorders, depression, mood disorders, and eating disorders.

For Parents:

It is important to make the point that there are other medical issues that need to be ruled out before a mental health diagnosis. However, if you have a child on the Autism Spectrum and suspect a mental health concern here are some signs and symptoms to be aware of: impulsivity, attention challenges, hyperactivity, aggression, irritability, crying, avoiding school, restricted or rigid rules with food, resistance to change, low frustration tolerance, bullying, unusual fears or worries. If you feel that you child may be having mental health concerns please contact your primary doctor for a referral for an mental health evaluation.

For Mental Health Practitioners:

Take a look at our mental health guide book to support you while working with individuals on the autism spectrum who have a co-occurring mental health disorder.

Guidebook

As always if you need assistance with resources please contact CARD-USF for assistance. We can be reached at (813) 974-2532 or Card-usf@usf.edu.

 

Written by Charisse Dawkins, LCSW

The Challenges of an Adult ASD Diagnosis

Receiving the diagnosis of ASD can be many things; scary, surprising, an explanation, a relief, etc. I’ve always viewed it as the first step in the path of overcoming the obstacles you’re inevitably going to face due to the condition. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome (which is no longer a thing by the way) back when I was 14. That’s pretty late in life, especially when compared to many of my fellow students in the Learning Academy back when I attended in 2014-15. For many of us, the signs have already shown themselves by early childhood, but what happens when they go unnoticed or even ignored for decades? It used to be that adults were essentially never diagnosed with autism, and it was seriously stigmatized. While things have improved at this point, I still feel like autism is viewed as something only young kids experience; that it just goes away once you reach 21. In this piece, I want to discuss the process of diagnosing an adult with ASD is like, and how it feels to receive a diagnosis so late in life.

As I mentioned, autism awareness seems heavily geared towards children. Thankfully, with so many breakthroughs in the psychological fields lately, making early diagnoses is more efficient than ever. However, sometimes people can slip through the cracks, and that’s where the problems begin. Katherine Stavropoulos, a mental health clinician, lays out some of the issues with adult cases. One major reason why clinicians are hesitant to test adults is because of this clause in the DSM-5 regarding ASD: “Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period (but may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities or may be masked by learned strategies in later life).” Say someone in their 30s wants to receive a diagnosis, it’s no simple task to get a complete rundown of their childhood, especially if they have no close relatives. In addition, many of the testing methods for ASD are geared towards kids and teens, but as of just a few years ago, a new test called the Adult Repetitive Behavior Questionnaire (RBQ-2) was developed, which has seen use as a convenient tool in this regard. Perhaps consider checking it out if you find yourself in a similar situation to what I’m describing.

So what’s it like being diagnosed in your 20s or even beyond? I’ve always been grateful to have received my diagnosis when I did, since I’ve had 10 years to form healthy and effective coping strategies. Imagine being like Samantha Ranaghan, who was 34 when she got diagnosed. Actually, maybe it’s not too hard to imagine, as (despite the age gap) I found everything she talked about in her blog to be incredibly relatable to how I felt. From finally feeling “normal,” to life making sense, people saying “you don’t act like you have autism,” it seemed to be a positive thing in her life. This is just one case of course, but there’s very little out there of adults talking about their diagnosis. While everyone deserves a proper evaluation, I can’t help but feel adult ASD diagnoses will only become rarer in the future as we get better and better at detecting it from a young age.

2013-03CARDfriendposter

We created these posters in 2013 and they continue to be very popular among school age children. You can download the PDF version here.

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