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US Autism & Asperger Association, Inc. September 18, 2009

Welcome to USAAA Weekly News, an email newsletter that addresses a range of topics on Autism Spectrum Disorders and Asperger's Syndrome.

Know Your Emmy Hopefuls: Christian Clemenson

Men with Mops employs autistic adults

Memoir drags autism's hidden pains into view

Group looks to offer lifelong care

USAAA News Around the World
A safe haven for children with Asperger's syndrome

Enduring Autism Through Vedanta

Shop Online and Support USAAA

Know Your Emmy Hopefuls: Christian Clemenson

The crowd at the Emmy Awards is filled with many of the same faces every year — the result of popular television series getting renewed over and over. But there are always a few people on the red carpet who make you say… who? Leading up to the Emmy telecast on Sunday night, we’ve been talking to some first-timers and other nominated actors who might not be as familiar to viewers as the Alec Baldwins, Sally Fields and William Shatners of the world.

Christian Clemenson’s supporting actor nomination for his work in “Boston Legal” is an honor, but the show is history. Last year, ABC pulled the plug on the series. Mr. Clemenson portrayed Jerry “Hands” Espenson, the sort of quirky-yet-brilliant lawyer — Asperger’s syndrome was the source of his tics — who thrives on legal shows. The character was a rare long-term gig for Mr. Clemenson; in the upcoming season he has recurring roles on “The Mentalist,” “CSI: Miami” and “Raising the Bar.”

Q. Your character had Asperger’s syndrome. Did you ever hear from either advocates or people with the condition about how you represented it on screen?

A. I would receive these letters. They were largely two types of letters and I could tell from the handwriting whom they were from. If it was just general handwriting, it would be from the mother of someone with Asperger’s. And if it was incredibly precise, exact, perfect handwriting, it would be someone with Asperger’s syndrome.

The letters from the people with Asperger’s were amazing. But the ones from the mothers were really the moving ones, where they said, ‘I look at this and I see hope for something.’ And that was sort of nice, really. It’s an amazing feeling to know in a concrete way that your works has affected people in a positive way.

Click here for entire article on Know Your Emmy Hopefuls: Christian Clemenson.


Men with Mops employs autistic adults

For an autistic worker, the hardest part of a job is often the easiest for everyone else: Joking with co-workers, sharing desserts on a special day, instinctively treating your boss with respect.

This is an issue more companies in New Jersey will have to start dealing with, autism advocates are saying, as there will soon be a surge in autistic adults in the work force.

" [Men with Mops, a company that hires part-time autistic workers exclusively] now has about 80 customers and is manned by 23 autistic men with mostly severe disabilities..."

A state-commissioned report due out this month is starting to tackle the problem. It's an issue that presents more challenges as unemployment reaches historic heights and as public interest and dollars still remain fixed on autistic children.

"A lot of public awareness has been around children with severe challenges," said Leslie Long, public policy director for Autism New Jersey. "You have to now look at John who's now 20. Putting him on a brochure for funding isn't going to work anymore. He has a right to work and wants to work. How do you help him?"

Click here for entire article on Men with Mops employs autistic adults


Memoir drags autism's hidden pains into view

By David Royko, Chicago Tribune

Karl Taro Greenfeld is part of a celebrity family, or one that was. His brother Noah, younger by a year and seven months, was among the earliest autism media stars, with a series of books written by his dad, Josh, and profiles by, among others, Dan Rather and "60 Minutes" in 1978, when Noah was 12.

"As autistic children become autistic adults, what then? These are people who, in many cases, will require intensive services for their entire lives, and to see what this means for Noah and others like him is horrendous. It is not a happy life, not for the family, and certainly not for Noah.

To describe what makes "Boy Alone" -- Greenfeld's memoir about life with autism -- extraordinary means divulging "plot twists," so consider this a spoiler alert.

Greenfeld's family was first grappling with Noah's severe autism when it -- the word itself, let alone its hallmarks -- was still unknown to most. Since then, autism awareness has exploded. Even only a dozen years ago, one had to explain to most people what it was: "No, he's not 'artistic.' Autism is a neurological disorder defined by developmental delay, impaired social interaction and communication, restricted, repetitive behavior ..."

Click here for entire article on Memoir drags autism's hidden pains into view.


Group looks to offer lifelong care

Emily Rogers, who is 29, spends much of each day in her Middletown home viewing videotapes of TV shows such as "Family Feud" and "Wheel of Fortune." She laughs at a part she likes, rewinds the tape and watches it again. Over and over.

"If you watch her, you'd say she's happy," says her father, Denny Rogers of Liberty Township. "But it's just not the quality of life we want for her."

"It will be the first program of its kind in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, and one of about a half dozen farm communities in the U.S. that cater to adults with autism.

Emily has a moderate to severe form of autism, a developmental disability that affects her ability to communicate and interact with others. Unable to make conversation, she utters only a word or two at a time. She becomes agitated by certain sounds, such as a cough or whistle. She relies on a caregiver 24/7 in the home her parents bought for her.

Suitable community programs aren't available for their daughter, so Denny and Ann Rogers banded with other parents to start the non-profit Safe Haven Farms, a $3.2 million project where up to 24 adults with autism will live and work, aided by a specially trained staff.

The founders expect to close a deal this month on 60 rural acres in Butler County's Madison Township, about eight miles northwest of Middletown. Construction will begin soon after, and the timetable calls for the first residents to move in next spring.

It will be the first program of its kind in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, and one of about a half dozen farm communities in the U.S. that cater to adults with autism. The closest is Bittersweet Farms near Toledo.

"We feel it's become a mission for the rest of our life - that that's why we were put here," Ann Rogers says.

Click here for entire article on Group looks to offer lifelong care.

A safe haven for children with Asperger's syndrome
Out-of-school clubs for children with Asperger's syndrome are hard to find, but they provide a vital support

Raising four young children would prove challenging for many parents. But for Tracy and Doug Turner, the role is particularly demanding, as three of their children, aged between 4 and 11, have an autistic spectrum disorder.

Charlie, 9, and Emily, 10, have Asperger's syndrome syndrome, a form of autism that can cause difficulties with social communication and interaction. William, 11, has a more severe form of autism and attends a special school.

"People with Asperger's syndrome syndrome often find it harder to read the signals many of us taken for granted, such as facial expressions, tone of voice and body language, which can lead to anxiety and confusion.

Both Charlie and Emily have what their parents refer to as "high-functioning" autism. Like many children with Asperger's syndrome, they don't look any different from their peers and often appear mature and articulate, but they find it difficult to interact with others. Their behaviour is perceived as "unusual" by other children, which means children with Asperger's syndrome can easily become isolated.

Click here for entire article on A safe haven for children with Asperger's syndrome.


Enduring Autism Through Vedanta

Strength comes from reading Swami Vivekananda's Jnana Yoga lectures because it takes our mind away from this dreary, miserable world. This world is governed by Time, Space and Causation. These three have a built-in suffering potential. Things decay in time which causes untold misery by the death of dear ones. Separation in space also of loved ones can give us suffering. Causation is the most insidious because of what we might have done in the previous births. Let me illustrate the last by my own example.

"The very thought that this body and mind and also this world may not be as real as we think, mitigates my suffering....

I was born autistic and autism affected me in four ways. I was tense and was unreasonably fearful because my senses did not function properly. My senses distorted inputs. For example, my hearing was hyper; I could hear even the softest voice—normal sound was loud noise for me. An Ice cream Van's bell would drive me up the wall. I was hyper in touch also. When I was a child, a haircut caused me unbearable pain; I could not even be cuddled. Close proximity to people was difficult. In those early years, I did not enjoy variety in food; only cereal was enough.

Click here for entire article on Enduring Autism Through Vedanta.

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