Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tony Attwood Draws a Sell-out Crowd at ASM Conference

Sometimes I complain a lot about the lack of resources where I live in rural Michigan, but I'm happy to say that we have an excellent state chapter in Michigan, the Autism Society of Michigan. Proving my point, they were able to get the well known Asperger Syndrome (AS) expert Dr.Tony Attwood to speak at their fall conference, which was yesterday, October 21, 2009. The title of his presentation was A Complete Look at Asperger's Syndrome: From Relationships and Making Friends to Emotional Management and Social Skills.

I attended with two other moms and a psychology student who belong to my group, Central Michigan ASA, which sponsored the breakfast for the conference. We arrived well ahead of the 8:30 start time and heard that there was a waiting list of about 70 people who had wanted to attend. Dr. Attwood is best known for writing The Complete Guide to Asperger Syndrome. He also recently developed the CAT-kit, a kit designed to assist in teaching people with AS social skills.

Unfortunately getting there early meant getting up at 6 a.m. and on the road at 6:45. Ugh. I am not a morning person and was lucky to have an assistant (my loving husband) to wake me up and hand me a rather large mug of coffee as I stumbled out the door. However, fortunately leaving early and therefore arriving early meant getting a good table in the center of the second row.
The room was packed and people were still scrambling for seats when the president of the ASM introduced Dr. Attwood. Aside from two short breaks and an hour lunch, our speaker had the floor from the 8:30 a.m. start time to the 3:30 p.m. end time. Yes, he spoke the entire time, and with humor, good facts, and stories he made the time go really fast. I was impressed.

Here are a few key points that I hope you may find helpful. Some you may already know, some you may not:

A large amount of people with AS suffer from anxiety because of the way their brains have developed.

Aspies tend to have high intelligent quotients, but low social intelligence quotients.

Depression occurs in one of three adolescents and adults (mostly due to social rejection)

Aspies may express sadness and anxiety as anger (which tends to get them in a lot of trouble).

Many people with AS have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from being teased.

Introducing yoga and meditation as relaxation skills may prevent Aspie from turning to drugs for help with relaxation.

Sometimes NT's (neurotypical people, not on the autism spectrum) are too subtle and need to be more direct with "Aspies".

*Young Aspies should spend at least an hour a week learning about emotions (and how they relate to social skills) from Kindergarten to twelfth grade.

One should always ask an Aspie if he/she needs a hug when they are upset, because it might be painful to him/her.

Some Aspies don't cry because they are afraid of getting hugged.

A lot of men with AS end up marrying women with high social I.Q's. These women tend to be nurses, teachers, social workers, etc.
Aspies may be inclined to spend a lot of time in their room because that is where they are the "kings of their own castles."
*This is the bit of knowledge I appreciated the most. I'll have to spend more time working on this with my eleven year old son.


Casdok said...

Really pleased to hear you found it helpful. And i will pass on to my sister about learning emotions for an hour a week for her 3 year old. Very interesting.

Corrie Howe said...

Thanks Liz for this post. I envy you that you were able to see and hear Tony Attwood. This is great information.

I'm going out of town in November and was looking for guest bloggers. You you be interested in posting this or something else one day?

Thanks for you support and your information. I find both very valuable

Jackie Igafo-Te'o said...

Thanks for posting, Julie. I was unable to attend and appreciated reading your notes.

Marla said...

Sounds interesting. I like the last bit of info about marriage. Very interesting.

Morgan said...

Well, some of you were there before 8:30...

I'm planning on posting about the similarities and differences of what he talked about and mental illness and also of what I experience. My blog has been inactive recently, but I hope to get it up soon before I forget things.

Here's a preview - When he said kissing is unhygenic, that's exactly how I feel. I can't stand to be kissed, and I want to wipe it off. It just feels uncomfortable on my cheek, and I think of all of the diseases that can be transmitted with a kiss.

Julie L. said...

Casdok: Yes, it sounded like devoting time to teaching emotions/social skills can really pay off. Glad you passed that on. : )

Corrie Howe: You are welcome for both the info and support. Yes, you can use this as a guest post if you'd like. : )

Jackie: I'm glad you found the notes helpful.

Marla: I wasn't expecting that bit of info, but I found it interesting too.

Morgan: My jacket was on time and saved a place for you... ; ) Was glad you made the safe choice of stopping when you needed too.

I found Dr. Attwood's comments about ASpies percieving hugs and kisses as unhygenic fascinating too. Just forgot to include it. Will try to make it over to your blog soon to check out the post you mentioned.