The Frist Center for Autism and Innovation

Interesting segment on 60 Minutes about this Center – Greg

The Frist Center for Autism and Innovation, engineering technologies and transforming the workplace – inspired by neurodiversity, at the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering brings engineers, business scholars, and disabilities researchers together with experts in neuroscience and education to understand, maximize, and promote neurodiverse talent. From a strengths-based – as opposed to deficit-based – understanding of autism and neurodiversity, the Center sees opportunities for innovation in technology and in workplace practices.
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Social Security Disability Approval

After many years of going from job to job with a lot of judgement being made against me and harassment towards me, I decided I needed to officially document my disability in order to have some protection in the work force. My disabilities caused frustration for me and my family for many years. I had problems with communication and difficulty interacting with others. Yet I was too social to be considered to be autistic. As a result I had difficulty maintaining jobs and relationships. My slowness in the way I move my body can be misinterpreted as being lazy, which is not the case at all.
In order to obtain my disability status I was given medical tests and the findings were dysthymic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, learning disorder, and avoidant personality disorder. I also struggled with slow processing speed but I was very detailed orientated in my work. It was determined by the state that my ability to perform sustained work over a normal work day without frequent breaks is limited. The state officials said there was also impairment in social and occupational functioning. The judge did feel that I was highly motivated to improve my success in the workplace. It took me three years to gain my disability status. After my approval some of the relationships I had changed. Some people who were supportive and kind over time became the opposite. The people who had been unkind and lacked understanding over time became very supportive. The most important change was my father’s understanding. My dad was frustrated at times because he did not understand why I could not hold a job, although he knew I did my best to be successful in the world. After my disability status was approved, our relationship improved. I viewed my dad as a boss. He knew how to manage an office but struggled on the home front.  He was however, able to see my success in the volunteer world where I received several awards due to my service.  My dad has passed away now, but I continue up my efforts in the community.