Autism. Either 1 in 150, 1 in 85, or 1 in 66 people have autism, are autistic, or live on the autism spectrum, depending on who’s talking and who they are talking to. And I’ve got the nerve to start a blog that’s going to be a bi-weekly advice column all about autism and Asperger’s. (Yes, Asperger’s still exists. It’s labeled differently these days for Official Sort-of-Science-y Diagnostic Stuff, but it’s still here.)
My name is Jennifer and I come from a family in which having “strong autistic traits” is normal. Like the guy in the movie said, autism doesn’t just run in my family, it gallops! A bunch of us have been official diagnosed with various autism spectrum disorders, while the rest just keep living with a major combination of strong autistic traits and awesomeness.
And yes, I was Officially Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in 2002, at the age of 36. (Now would be the appropriate time for you to look at the pics of me on this page and then write a comment about how I look much younger than I am!)
The reason I got diagnosed with Asperger’s is that my amazing kid brother Jimmy got diagnosed with autism and that led to a lot of phone calls with my mom where she said stuff like, “They say he twirls so much because he has autism, but you always used to twirl a lot more than he does!” and “They say he recites TV shows and movies because of the autism, but you always did that a lot more and we didn’t even have a VCR back then!” and “They say he’s fussy about food because . . . .”
You get the idea. I got diagnosed. I started reading, researching, and attending every autism conference I could physically get to. I started bugging people who knew stuff about autism, whether they were people on the spectrum (great sources of info!), parents of kids with autism, medical researchers, psychologists, teachers, aids, and whoever else who was living on or adjacent to the autism spectrum who was willing to talk to me, whether verbally or by email or whatever else worked.
Through a combination of sheer dumb luck and persistence, I got to spend a bunch of time talking to people like Temple Grandin, Tony Attwood, and Ellen Notbohm. And then there were the many people with no books out, no notable names, but a lot to say and share.
All of this adds up to me doing my best to bring the best info I can to my readers and audiences. Did I mention I have a coupla books about autism out? I do, and they are fun, friendly, and totally available for sale on Amazon.com as well as B&N.com. Just search for”Jennifer McIlwee Myers” in books.
And those audiences? Those are audiences all around the US at autism conferences who I’ve gotten to present information to, whether it’s encouraging people to be less uptight about requesting eye contact (do you really need eye contact to tell if a kid knows geometry?), explaining the difference between “high-functioning” and actually safe in the day-to-day world, or just explaining the vital role that sensory processing disorder plays in all things autistic.
So, do I have something to offer here? I sure think so. Will I attempt to make it fun and interesting and useful to actual humans? You bet! Can a woman who alternates randomly between calling herself autistic, a person with Asperger’s, an Aspie, and/or an Asperginator survive the flame wars of the autism-centric Internet? I sure hope so!
If you have a question for a future post, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or else go to my Facebook page at facebook.com/aspieatlarge and talk to me there!