Finding Strengths in Autism

BY 

At 21, Dawn Prince-Hughes was homeless and destitute when she found her calling — at a zoo in Seattle, Washington. It was 1985. Prince-Hughes had fled to Seattle from rural Montana, where she had feared for her life after coming out as gay. She did not yet know she was autistic — she would be diagnosed with autism about 15 years later — but she knew she had trouble making friends. “I had failed miserably trying to connect with human beings,” she says. “They do not make sense to me.”

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Facing Frustration

I can relate to many of the points in this article.   For years I was not aware I was on the spectrum.  Now that I am aware it can still be difficult.  In my career I was often misunderstood. I can be rigid in my thinking and I am repetitive in my thoughts. I have learned over the years to disclose my autism as needed.  In dating I do get some rejection. I wish I knew about it when I was working.  The hard part at times is reminding myself of my strengths and successes.  – Greg

Dania Jekel, Executive Director, and Sonia Janks, Contributing Editor

There are many words and phrases connected with autism that we hear a lot — like anxiety, executive functioning, bullying, passions, social communication, and sensory sensitivities. But I think there is one word that underpins many areas, but is often ignored. That word is frustration.

The definition of frustration is “the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something.” Over the past 25 years, I have seen this emotion become a common thread when individuals with an Asperger/autism profiles feel they are unable to change a circumstance or achieve a goal (whether that is actually true or not.) The root causes are many and vary depending on a person’s traits and lived experience, but here are some of the main reasons why I often see frustration accumulate:

  • Delayed, inaccurate, or unacknowledged diagnosis. This can often be the first frustration that is the core of all of the other frustrations. Before a person’s neurological differences are recognized or understood, many things just don’t make sense. Why are certain tasks harder? Why are things confusing? Why do things seem easier for others? Even after a diagnosis is realized, frustration can continue if people you come in contact with dismiss or minimize it. 
  • Not feeling understood. Whether communication challenges make it hard for the person to convey their thoughts the way they want, or they are trying to interact with those who lack the ability to relate to different neurologies, the absence of understanding can cause deep frustration. read more

Sensory-Friendly Home Modifications for Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder

When you have a child or family member on the autism spectrum, creating a safe and functional home environment is an important task. Autism can have a huge impact on an individual’s development, lifestyle, and social connections. People on the spectrum can be particularly sensitive to lights, sounds, and other stimuli. Many crave order and routines to make sense of the world. Safety can be a concern for those who wander, are drawn to water, or are prone to head banging or self injury.

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