What about Aspies? Oh what? You don’t think I can talk about that end of the Autism Spectrum? Well, I have a good idea of the variation of Asperger’s manifestations, I have a darn good idea when this diagnosis ‘label’ applies to someone I just met. But it’s the eye, the experience, the way in which I’m enmeshed in our community, our research, our cause.
But I can’t speak from experience. I don’t have a child with Asperger’s Syndrome. I don’t understand the subtle nuances of the differences between advocating for a child with Asperger’s Syndrome versus a child with any of the diagnosis’ my J holds….for that, I turned to Julie Clark, author of “Asperger’s In Pink”.
Please enjoy this short and insightful interview….of course to be followed by the giveaway…
Thank you for taking the time for this interview. I am honored that you are taking the time to do this and am excited for the information that can be passed along to Special Happens readers to further help them in their journeys.
Thanks so much for this wonderful opportunity, and the chance to connect with your readers!
Your book has been out for a little bit now…what is the one thing you hope people continue ‘hear’ as your message after reading your book?
Take an attitude of wanting to work together, be it with the school, extended family, neighbors, etc. So many people come into meetings and other stressful situations defensive, ready for a fight (talking about both sides, here), when what we really need to do is choose to work together and keep the best interests of the child front and center – personal issues, agendas, etc., aside. Keep a healthy perspective on it all.
Do you feel girls are being diagnosed with Asperger’s more these days than when your journey began?
Yes! When we first started our journey, it was near impossible to run across someone who knew of a girl with Asperger’s. This past year alone, many people I’ve met have commented they know at least one Aspergirl (as Rudy Simone says), which is encouraging.
But…I still think that girls are underwhelmingly misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. At least things seem to be moving forward, which is great.
Do you feel girls diagnosed with Asperger’s are receiving more support, more services now as a result of improved understanding of how Asperger’s affects girls?
That’s a hard question to answer. I still believe that girls have a tendency to be misunderstood, which leads to difficulty in finding the best fit for them, so their support system has room to grow. Much also depends on services and opportunities available to the girls (and even other special needs kids), in general. For instance, some readers have commented to me how they would love certain types of services, but being rural, their chances and choices are much more limited, if nonexistent. And I’m not talking strictly about families in North America – I hear this from moms all over the globe.
What advice would you give to parents who suspect their daughter might have Asperger’s?
Low key it around your daughter. Don’t talk about your concerns when she is within earshot. There’s no reason to have her question herself, her self worth, etc. No one likes being talked about, do they? Make an appointment with her pediatrician – just a parent meeting, no kids involved – to talk about the situation. If your pediatrician doesn’t have a solid understanding of Asperger’s, then see if the school can recommend someone to talk to, or consider contacting a therapist who specializes in Autism Spectrum Disorders and go from there. But above and beyond it all, always remember your love for your child through this. It sounds simple, but if the process becomes intense, it can be easy to lose both patience and perspective.
What is the single most important thing you or your daughter would say to a girl newly diagnosed with Asperger’s?
Well, Kristina definitely has her opinion regarding being an Aspie vs. being a neurotypical! I would encourage her, telling her that nothing is “wrong” with her. She simply has a different way of looking at the world, and that is a good thing.
How has your family’s life changed as a result of your book? Do you think your book has had an impact on how others view Asperger’s?
The other day, Kristina and I were talking, and she mentioned she feels like Hannah Montana at times. (Ironic, as she’s never watched it; she just knows the general storyline.) Due to “kids being kids”, and even some adults being less than understanding, she still is not comfortable talking about having Asperger’s publicly yet. But at home, she’s very proud of the book. At the end of the school year, she set up both a blog and twitter account (though the summer distracted her from both!), and is starting to get her own voice out there. She really wants to start up an Asperger’s Support Group at school, but isn’t quite sure how she can pull it off just yet – and is very concerned about being tormented by classmates if she does. (Sad, isn’t it?)
Personally, I’ve met some absolutely amazing people – from moms like you and me to fellow authors, including Dr. Tony Attwood. He is truly an amazing person, who also has a keen interest increasing understanding of girls and women on the autism spectrum. Now that school is back in session, I’m considering speaking, but I’ll probably have to cave, and die my hair, first. I haven’t even begun to do enough to increase awareness and understanding of the “pink” end of the spectrum – there is so much work left to be done, isn’t there?
As for the book, it’s encouraged others to step forward and share their stories, which is fantastic. This can only help broaden the general view of what Asperger’s is. Teachers have commented that it is interesting to see the process (school) from the perspective of a parent, and that that has helped them tremendously, as many haven’t thought of it from a parent’s perspective.
Some time ago, I read and reviewed “Asperger’s In Pink” by Julie Clark. Since that time, I have found Julie Clark to be gracious, down to earth, easy to relate to and open to our connection. Not only has she donated her time for this interview for Special Happens, but she, together with Future Horizons, has generously donated a copy of “Asperger’s In Pink” for one lucky Special Happens Reader.
HOW TO ENTER:
- Stop by Julie Clark’s interactive FaceBook Page, comment, ask questions – or just vent if you’ve had a hard day. (Return here and let me know you did – for verification – in the comments.)
Optional for Additional Entries (1 each):
- “Like” Special Happens on FaceBook (leave a comment that you have)
- Visit Klout.com and give me “klout” for any subject you feel I represent (leave a comment that you have)
- Leave a comment below that you’d like to ask Julie Clark yourself
Interested in other ways you can connect with Julie Clark or her daughter, Kristina, follow these links:
Julie Clark’s Blog: http://www.JulieClarkArt.com
Julie Clark on FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/AspergersInPink
Julie Clark on Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/JulieClarkArt
Kristina on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Kristina_AIP
Kristina’s Blog: http://twitter.com/Kristina_AIP
THE GIVEAWAY RUNS FROM TUESDAY OCTOBER 4, 2011 TO TUESDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2011 and is open to residents of Canada and the United States. The winner will be chosen at random on the evening of October 11, 2011 and notified via email. Neither Future Horizons nor Julie Clark have offered any compensation for this giveaway apart from the book for a randomly chosen winner. All opinions are my own. ~ GOOD LUCK ~