While you are reading this, at least one child is born with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) in the United States.
Question: Have you ever wondered about what happens to Asperger children?
Answer: They grow up to be Asperger adults! So, once an Aspie, always an Aspie!
Asperger’s Syndrome is characterized by difficulties with communication. Aspies, as Aspergians call themselves, have trouble reading body language and other social cues. Some have problems with eye contact, voice modulation, shaking hands, expressing themselves verbally, processing language, and they may appear clumsy and uncoordinated. However, they are highly intelligent, intensely focused, excruciatingly honest, and punctual (usually arriving to work twenty to thirty minutes early). Aspies pay great attention to detail since in an Aspie’s mind, there’s minimal room for error.
Contrary to what some have been saying in the media, there is no cure for Asperger’s Syndrome. Definitely, things have improved greatly for those who have received appropriate services as children. But please note that most Aspergians neither want nor need to be cured. What they do need is to be allowed to work in their chosen professions so that they could become contributing members of society.
That’s the dream. But it is not today’s reality for most people who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome or High-functioning Autism.
Now put yourselves in the shoes of an Aspie, like Daniel Rajczyk, the Executive Director of Asperger Works.
Even as a child you are aware that you are different from others, but you don’t know why. No one knows how to help you, so it is decided by professionals that you have undefined Learning Disabilities. When your parents agree to have you tested so that you can be enrolled in the Chapter 766 program because you need Occupational Therapy, you become labeled SPED. To other students, you are now a target for bullying because you are SPED, an inferior being. Often, they call you a “retard.” Neighborhood kids don’t want to be seen with you because, let’s face it, who wants people to know that you are friends with a retard.
And guess what? You are still not receiving Occupational Therapy. You are fortunate because you have parents who will fight for you. They threaten to sue the school department. All is resolved through arbitration and the school department hires an occupational therapist, who leaves after one year because you are the only client she has in the Haverhill area. Still, you don’t complain but face the world with quiet dignity and a smile on your face. You graduate high school, you go to college, and you try to get a job, which is difficult for a person like you.
Finally, when you are over 30, you find out that you have AS; and suddenly, you understand everything. So, when you still can’t get a good job, you go back to school, earn your Masters, and decide to start a nonprofit to help other Aspies like you.
Please understand that just because today there is a greater awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorders, of which Asperger’s is one, there is still very limited appropriate employment available for that 1 in 68 child with Autism who graduates or ages out of high school. 80% of all Aspies are unemployed and are supported by family or the state. This is just one problem that Asperger Works is trying to change by providing job coaching, mentoring, and employer training. Asperger Works wants to turn Aspies from community liabilities into contributors.
Please aid us in achieving our goal to help put Aspies to work!
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