Autism Awareness April

April has been designated Autism awareness month once again.

The word is getting out. Autism awareness and acceptance news is spreading.
This is a challenge to all of us to go one step more, some of us will make posts, give talks, write our blogs, participate in other awareness and acceptance activities.
I hope we can add awareness of autism in adults to the things we discuss this year. (2020)

Extrapolated from the most recently completed USA Census, There are 1.6 million children in the USA (2 percent of the total population of those under age 18) who likely are autistic.
Awareness is rising and help is becoming available for children. Never quickly enough but we are definitely making progress.

Children do grow up. Here is a statistic that might surprise you.
Did you know there are likely 4.2 million autistic adults over age 18???
(2 percent of the adult USA population age 18 and older). Did you know the majority of them will be completely unaware of their own autism?
Please share these statistics. Those of us who are affected by autism know the difference a diagnosis makes in our lives.
Thanks for sharing, and for promoting understanding of autism in all ages.
Learn more here:

https:// oldladywithautism.blog/author/debrabrisch3436/

feel free to copy and paste! Share Share Share thank you.

Autism enrichment

learning enhancement

stimulation for growth or comfort, adding wealth of experience

creating new opportunities for self expression, growing skills,

finding new ways to connect with our world.

When I was a very young child I spent my time in a ‘chair table’ seat which

kept me confined for much of the day. From the time I could sit up until I could walk with the aid of my parents holding my hands, I rarely left that table. My mother was autistic and I was her first child. She was terrified of germs since they brought me home as a preemie of 4 lbs with strict instructions to wear masks and sterilize everything!!!! I can remember spending time in that chair clearly. She would give me things such as measuring cups, spoons, some plastic toy or bits of food whenever I would get restive or call to her. She spent a good bit of time out of sight in another room but I could hear her, and often she had the radio on. The sounds fascinated me.
It got to the point that I was bored and restricted in that chair and began to fight being put into it.
A few whacks on my bottom got compliance at first, but soon after I began to fight in earnest. She finally understood that she needed to do something else with me. I was allowed to roam on the carpet or spent time in my crib with playthings.. when I was ‘free’ I was hit on the hands or the backside if I touched something I was not supposed to. I never understood why I was getting hit, It would come out of the blue and I never associated the punishment with the transgression. (that is another story).
A few times when at the grocery store my mother selected little “wonder books” from a rack and brought them home. She was a very poor reader, but I do remember her reading those books to me and my sister … the presence of my sister means I must have been at least 2 years old. How I loved the books! I was hungry for more books and as soon as I could talk I asked to be read to and asked for books when I spotted them in the stores. By 4 I was reading way above my age level, my first adult book was “Robinson Crusoe” which I found at the back of my grandmother’s closet on a visit to her along with a treasure trove of Will James, Sanford Tousey, and other books for older kids and adults. It is hard to describe the joy that brought! I started kindergarten as a reader but although we were taught words to read on the blackboard (boring, I already knew them) I was not allowed access to library books of the classroom in first and second grade. Instead while all of the other kids were reading, I was expected to work on my very poor penmanship and learning to print in first grade, then to write cursive in 3rd grade.
It caused me such pain to be punished like that. I felt only discouragement, the idea that I could write well enough to be allowed to read was never grasped. It caused me such despair that I struggled so with writing. I would never get to that bookshelf. ( I never did, in those classes) I was burning to get at the books!

About that time ( summer between first and second grade) my mother learned to drive and took us to the library a few times. I was so disappointed that I was only allowed to take out 2 books at a time. Sister could take out 2 books too, so that gave me 4 new books to look at. Soon I was pestering my mother for more trips to the library. I think she dreaded it and had very little interest in it.. it meant she had to read new and more difficult books to us (she was so dyslexic her reading was probably 2nd grade level).
Mother hated books around the house, ( somebody might ask her if she had read them, or ask her questions about them) although she usually had a woman’s magazine for the new recipe and craft ideas/ decorating ideas they contained. She hid my father’s favorite books in the back of the closet and refused to let him leave them around the house.
I read those magazines, and when I discovered my father’s books in the closet around age 10 I devoured every one of them. “How to make friends and influence people”, “Shepherd of the hills”, “Sgt York and his people”, ” How to build your dream home for under $5000.”… What if I had volumes of appropriate reading material instead?

I often wonder what might have happened if I had free choice and help in choosing special interest books and free- will selection of books at that age? I did not get that until I was allowed to walk to the library by myself at around age 12. I had to walk to school and the library was on the route. I came home with armloads of books several times a week.

What if I had been given more input and stimulation during the early years in that chair and in my first explorations as a barely-toddler. What if? ????

Fast forward to today’s children, especially those confined in any of many ways and in care (as are all infants and small children). Are children getting enough input from other sources besides tv and videos and continual exposure to electronic games ?
Are they having adventures in new places, seeing ,touching, feeling, observing, hearing,tasting new things every day?
At that very young age I was a sponge for knowledge, absorbing everything I could. Instead of being exposed to every possible stimulus and source of input, I was confined for the convenience of the adults in the house, shut away for the comfort of the adults, restrained and made to refrain from learning new things by the adults in control at home and at school.
Parents and caretakers may not be aware of the huge thirst for information and the inextinguishable curiosity that goes with many autistic children (and NT children too!)
Imagine nurseries, daycare, schools, institutions for care taking for both young and old people.

I worked in a child care institution before I retired ( most of the kids were autistic) and my mother was confined to a nursing home for the last 6 years of her life. I saw for myself the poverty of input on those “care” levels. Except for one ‘planned craft’ a day, it was videos, tv, music… and not much else, all day every day, even those in very limited amounts. (the kids had school and counselors daily as well).
I have seen the minimal interest in giving input and creative/ self expressive outlets to the residents there. “it just makes a mess” “what is the point?, it is a pain”.
What a desolate and vacant environment! Overworked, underpaid for the most part, struggling with their own lives, caretakers, parents, daycare workers and some teachers may be far less enthusiastic than the would-be participants.
I urge those who might have autistic persons in your charge to consider how lives could be enriched at every stage of living.

The best way to work

Autistic strengths and weaknesses of function
Find the best way to understand everything!

I have been spending time examining the ways I learn. I am beginning to understand all the best and worst ways I deal with the world.
I spent more than 65 years not knowing that it was near to useless to attend a lecture or live demonstration of any technique or process. I simply can not absorb the information presented.

I spent more than 65 years never understanding that what I heard and saw in lectures, live demos, and other audio or visual presentations such as television, video, or podcast would be wasted time for me.

I spent 65 years wondering how I could be so stupid, and how come I didn’t
seem to “get it” or understand what was evidently plain to others. Any social interaction or gathering was nothing but confusion, chaos, misunderstandings, frustration, and disappointment or humiliation or both to me.

I finally found out , through neurological testing once I knew of my autism diagnosis, that my sensory processing in all things audio and video, and especially in a combined format was only 30 percent or less functional. That is very very low! Finally I understood.
Try this. put on a pair of sunglasses, tear a tiny hole in a paper napkin and cover the lenses of the glasses so that you can only see the bit of light and image through the hole. Then put on earplugs, the kind that muffle all sound. Now go watch a movie or a video you have never seen or turn the radio on and listen to it without raising the volume . How much did you understand?
That is what most of my life experience has been like! No wonder I ‘didn’t get it’!

In order for me to learn, and to understand, I must read the information and look at diagrams, line drawings or simple photos in order for me to truly absorb and process information.
I will always struggle to understand real life interactions with others, or anything I observe (think of baseball games at the stadium, a concert or an opera, a lecture or appearance by somebody you admire) Real time is always too fast for my processing. It is how my neurology works.

Do you know how the neurology of your autistic children , autistic parents, spouse or friends works best?
Like my parents, peers, siblings, bosses, co workers, and teachers all those years ago, are you thinking I am being stupid, obstinate, willful or deliberately mean when in truth I do not understand what is expected of me, why, nor understand what might have just happened to create the upset situation I have somehow caused?

Neurological tests show I have high average intelligence… it proves I can learn.

But I also have real definable handicaps to understanding most things around me that happen “in real life” or “in real time” around me. Think of how this affects me every day. Interactions at the grocery, post office, doctors office, with neighbors, spouse and family, any ordinary interaction for you is filled with social hazards for me!

Sensory processing is how we receive any information, make contact with our world, or understand
what is happening around us. Sensory input is how we interact with others, with how we learn.

I have become convinced that knowing my strengths is the best way for me to proceed from here forward in light of my autism diagnosis.

Now I wonder about all the ways other autistic people process information. It seems that most autistic persons are highly visual. Movies, live demonstrations, videos can all be helpful. If the person has audio processing struggles, or is not visual, but is able to process audio spoken or sung words, etc best, learning techniques can be adapted. Not only learning, but what of every day life? What if the person whose best strengths are visual could use visual reminders of things needing to be done, of schedules or lists or to learn new ways to do things? How can this strength be put to work for better successes in every day living?

What if the person whose strengths lie in hearing and audio input could use those to learn, to deal with lists and reminders, to find new ways to do things? Recorded information, books on tape, audio reminders on phone or hearing/listening devices would boost learning and performance. How else could tools that aid audio processing help every day?

People whose strengths are in physical performance, or related to scent, tactile information, or other ways of processing the information accessible around them could all be aided and supported better by finding ways that utilize their strengths.

I am especially concerned with children being forced to participate in meaningless rituals of social and traditional ways of ‘teaching” and other interactions, when in many cases very little benefit is to be gained. I struggled through out grade school. I was constantly scolded, punished, chastised for not paying attention when indeed I was trying very hard to understand what was being presented. It was demeaning and frustrating and I simply did not understand why I could not listen and learn. I was a very unsatisfactory pupil, and very unhappy almost always. I was completely lost! And I was trying so very hard to be good, yet getting scolded and demeaned almost continually. Nobody knew!

I got very little out of school until I was in 6th grade and the lecture method of teaching was augmented by assigned reading. I finally was able to read the assigned chapters and understand what all of the spoken lectures and demonstrations were about. I finally began to do well in school classes. Because my visual and audio processing lags so, I was never good at and never will be good at social interaction on a face to face, ‘real time’ basis, nor on the phone…… but because I get most out of reading and writing, I can still have a decent social interaction with people on the internet or by email. We can exchange ideas and information because I can process what I read at my own speed and do not make others or myself uncomfortable with my odd reactions, expressions, appearance, or easily misunderstood demeanor or emotional or flat expression in my spoken words. I do not get anxious to respond within moments to spoken requests, questions, statements, etc. I can take my time to understand the words in print, and to formulate my responses in print as well. Perfect media for my situation and particular strengths and weaknesses.

I urge parents to look deeply into learning the best ways to reach your child. The same for spouses, caretakers, teachers, and others interacting with autistic folk. By changing the methods you use to communicate, teach, interact, express yourself, you may find you change the attitude and outlook of the autistic person/s in your life. Find new ways to do everything , keep trying until you get positive responses.
It will mean all the difference in both your lives to find the best ways to make the “real” world’s input make sense and to share information.

Autism tools you can use

How to find help

This continues regarding tools you can use to help yourself live a better life. The same goes for those who care for an autistic family member or care about somebody who is autistic.

Many times we struggle with problems that are too big to handle alone.
Yet we are afraid to reach out to others or ask for help from professionals or groups which may be able to provide information, training, or other support you need.

If you are afraid to ask for help by yourself, please try to get somebody to be your advocate, whether you contact an attorney, social worker, minister or priest or others in a church group, service groups, there are specialists who are waiting to serve your needs and help you find ways to make your life better.

If you have struggles communicating there are people who can teach you skills to help express yourself better.

If you have needs for housing, food, clothing, there are agencies and individuals who are willing to help.

If you struggle with problems with drugs and alcohol or other substance abuse, even over eating, there are professionals and support groups waiting with tools you need to succeed.

If you struggle with emotional overload or anger management issues, there are professionals and support groups available.

If you need help with almost any struggle, there is help available.

There are things standing in the way of getting help, though. First we have to know ourselves well enough to understand our struggles. Second we have to admit we need help with them. Third we have to reach out to others to find the help we may need to overcome these problems.

Which stage are you in? Do you know your worst struggles? What brings the most frustration or pain to your life? Do you know why? How can we sort it all out?

Therapists, Social workers, and psychologists can help us understand ourselves better. We can find information online, in books, self tests, or talking with others in support groups or online forums. Take time to think through the biggest problems you have now or have had in the past. Then know that you don’t have to work on those problems alone.

Your Doctor might be a good place to start. You can ask for referral to professional help if your problems can be helped by medical professionals.
You can call the local crisis hotline and ask what agencies they have on their lists that could help you. The more specific you can be about your struggles, the more likely they can be to match you up with somebody who can help.

Hospitals and churches usually have lists of helpful connections, as do all social agencies and usually senior citizens centers have resources available. These can be to help almost any issue from depression and suicidal thinking, mental illness, homelessness, hunger, domestic abuse, child care, respite for caregivers, health care, home help, anger management, substance abuse, sexual abuse, and many other issues.
There are resources available for learning better communication skills, finding help for specific chores such as cleaning, laundry, mowing or snow shoveling, helping with transportation to medical appointments or grocery shopping.
The list of helps available is long, and there are usually more resources available in larger urban areas than in small communities. If you are afraid to reach out, you can check a lot of things online, or perhaps you will have a friend, family member or other willing soul to help you search out answers to your struggles.

There is no reason to struggle alone when there are so many ways to find the help you need. If you struggle with overwhelming issues, feel lost and alone, even if you can’t be specific but only know you need help, there is help available.
Please reach out, you do not have to do this alone.

Autism and ageing

Special hazards in ageing are magnified in autism.

I took some time this past summer to help a friend who had fallen and had to have surgery for multiple fractures that resulted.
Yesterday I heard from another friend that her husband had fallen getting out of the tub, and that she had fallen on the concrete walk outside their home.

I fell 2 years ago and did severe damage to muscles and tendons of one foot. It took months to recover full function.

I think you can guess where I’m headed with this one. All of us are over 60 years old, all of us were injured due to falls.

National council on ageing provides some information to put the importance of avoiding falls into perspective.

One in 4 people over 65 will have a fall this year.

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury in those over age 65.

Falls are the most common reason for being hospitalized in the over 65 age group.

Do I have your attention now?

Autistic people may be at even more risk than the general population because of our struggles with seizures, poor proprioception, general poorer physical care and body condition, difficulties with executive function, and other autism associated struggles.

As any person ages, they become weaker, have problems with vision, slower reaction times, and other failure of our bodies to work as they used to. Health problems such as hypertension, stroke, heart disease, etc all make us more vulnerable to every day accidents.

What can we do to help ourselves live safely and thrive as we get older?

To prevent falls, we can talk to our doctors about our physical condition and medications that might interfere with coordination and balance or perception. We can ask for help in assessing our homes for safety hazards, as many senior programs are available today to help with risk assessment, therapy for balance and coordination, etc. Make sure your eyes get checked and that you have the right prescription lenses. If you have glasses use them, don’t try to get around the house without them!

We can ‘do it ourselves’ or ask family, friends or others to help us assess the risks associated with conditions at home.

Remove clutter from floors and especially hallways and stairs.

Provide safe footing on floors and in bathtubs and showers.
Remove throw rugs and look for trip hazards such as raised thresholds, step-up or down floors of multiple levels. Look for inclined or rough transition areas from one type of floor to another.

Use painted or bright colored tape to mark these places so that attention is called to these trouble spots if they can not be modified. Use traction strips or no slip mats for bathrooms and kitchens, and mark the edges of steps with bright color or white so they are more easily visible.


Be aware of porch and basement floors which can be so hazardous and slippery when wet. there are special textured paints which can be applied to most surfaces to provide better traction and add non-slip qualities to floors.

Wear clothing that is close to your body and does not drag (long cuffs, billowing legs or skirts of pajamas or hemlines of robes, trailing belts of robes, etc can all catch your feet, legs, or hands, and can be caught on projecting knobs, stair rail ends, or other furniture details.
Wear safe footwear.. no scuffs, socks, slippery bottomed slippers, bare feet, or thong type sandals. Shoes with non slip soles are better. Wear them from the moment you get up until you go to sleep at night, any time you are standing upright, wear those shoes !

Install hand rails and grab rails where they can help you most, bathrooms and stairways, long hallways, etc. You might need to use a walker or other assistive devices to help yourself rise from furniture or your bed. Your toilet might need a ‘booster seat’ and/ or bars on each side to make it easier to rise after use. You might even need lift/assist chairs or other electric boosters to help you rise from prone or sitting positions. Always use the hand rails going up and down stairs. Don’t carry things that require two hands up and down the stairs. Find different ways to get those things where you want them to be. Ask somebody to help or carry less at a time. Arrange things on one level as much as possible to keep from having to make trips up and down for things such as laundry, the freezer, or to care for pets etc. And be aware of pets around your feet as you walk or go up or down steps. Even if they were sleeping in the other room a moment ago, they will likely follow you closely if you move. ( you know that!)

Make sure you hide cords from lamps and other electrical devices so that they are not trip hazards. Make sure your pathways are lighted completely, no walking around in the dark! Use night lights everywhere you can. Make sure the pathway to the light switches in each room are clear. You might even use glow-in-the dark paint to make the switches easier to locate in the dark.

If you are aware that you are losing muscle tone or getting weaker, you might be able to get therapy or be prescribed particular exercises to do which will improve strength, balance, flexibility and grasp.

If you think this doesn’t apply to you right now, realize that it surely will apply as you get older. Think ahead about what you can do to ease the risks of injury or death because of falls, then please take action.