Typically, when we read about autism spectrum disorder (ASD), we’re reading information documented by experts or observers, rather than people who have actually experienced ASD personally. Recently, a Fort Wayne teenager has written a book documenting his experience with ASD, to help people understand what it’s like to be a person with autism spectrum disorder. Ayden Kenny’s book, “Autism and Me”, is currently in the process of publication.
Now 15 years old, Ayden Kenny was diagnosed with ASD at the age of three. His mother, Denise, took his diagnosis in stride, without sadness. She and his father Aaron took action to help boost his development through occupational therapy, an interactive and socially engaging schedule, and, eventually, homeschooling. He’s now considered “high functioning.”
Ayden left public school in third grade, and his memories of elementary school are not all happy ones. He remembers feeling isolated, being taunted and bullied, and unnecessarily reprimanded. He had a hard time making friends with his classmates. In an interview with Fort Wayne’s NBC, he talked about having trouble with socializing and distraction, which affected his schoolwork. That’s why he wrote and illustrated his book: to help people better understand ASD. He and his mother hope it will spread awareness and knowledge of how to treat people who may have autism spectrum disorder.
Denise Kenny says, “I feel so strongly that not enough people, even adults, understand, really, what autism is. Kids with autism or any other disability might seem different but, really, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to be played with or don’t want friends. … It’s important that kids do know about it, so that when there is someone with autism in their grade or class then they can recognize it and be friends and accept their differences.”
Ayden also hopes that the book will help kids with ASD feel seen. “Other people could be having the same struggles, so you can tell this story and it might help you relate to them,” said Kenny. “I also have trouble talking to kids on the playground. It’s mainly about awareness of autism and noting signs of autism, like people not liking change or not wanting to socialize. I hope it can help other people relate to kids with autism.”
If your child has been diagnosed with ASD, STAR of CA is here to offer support, keeping you informed of opportunities for fun with your kids and providing important support services. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896.
When we talk about autism spectrum disorder (ASD), we’re often talking about how to help children facing the challenges that come with it. Children grow up, and if you’ve got a child with ASD you’ve probably thought a lot about your child’s future and how it will be different from the future of his or her neurotypical peers. ASD is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder that exists in people of all ages. So, what happens to adults with ASD?
Some adults struggle after leaving high school. About forty percent of adults with ASD don’t find a job in their early 20s, and some struggle with social interaction. Body language can be difficult to read, and people with ASD often have trouble understanding social interactions or making eye contact.
On the other hand, many adults with autism spectrum disorder do quite well. Nicole Appel, for instance, is a successful artist with an enviable waitlist of collectors. She works part time at LAND Studio and Gallery in Brooklyn, NY, an exhibition space and studio for artists with developmental disabilities. “I enjoy making [drawings] and giving them. Both,” she says. “Giving people drawings makes them happy; making people happy makes me happy.”
Alexis Wineman, another successful adult with ASD, is the first woman with autism spectrum disorder to participate in the Miss America competition. She was diagnosed in middle school and says, “Prior to being diagnosed with autism, neither I nor my family had an explanation for my meltdowns and other issues. After the diagnosis, it was incredible how my siblings reacted. They were superheroes. They took me everywhere and pushed me into activities. They helped me with homework. It was just amazing how they sprang into action after years of not knowing what was going on.”
Familial support seems to be an important factor in the success of people with ASD. People without a strong support system can feel marginalized and have trouble thriving. As society becomes more accepting of people with ASD, embracing their differences instead of treating them as disabled, it becomes easier for those individuals to find their way in the world. Says Brooks Wolfner, a young man with ASD who works as a food services technician in a hospital, “I am aware that I have a disability, that I am different and that there are limitations to that. But I think being different is a good thing. If everyone were the same, it would be boring. It’s easier to accept and embrace who you are than to try to change. It’s easier to be happy.
If your child has been diagnosed with ASD, STAR of CA is here to offer support, keeping you informed of opportunities and providing important support services. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896.
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