Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Family in Need Times Two

I don't often post fundraisers on the directory, but I have two local families dealing with serious issues and serious needs.

First up is my friend and former student Linda Warren. I had the honor of teaching not only Linda but two of her adult sons, as well. They are a lovely family, and when one of her son's faced a serious crisis with his wife, Linda and two of her of other sons stepped in to help with the six kids. She has brought them to live with her and they range in age from under 1 to 9 years old, all with issues. Linda dropped out of school to take care of her six grandchildren, but doesn't have the appropriate transportation to get them around to all the appointments they will be going to as she works to get them assessed and into appropriate treatment.

From her Gofundme page:

Transportation for Grandchildren
$25 of $25k
Raised by 1 person in 2 days
Donate Now

Created March 9, 2015
Linda Warren

I recently got custody of six of my grandchildren when their mother tried to commit suicide. The children have not lived a normal life. Because their mother has severe mental illness, they have lived in a dark house with shades drawn for most of their lives. They have rarely had the opportunity to get outside and at least three of them have special needs. Some have mental disorders. Some have physical problems. None of them have adequate social skills. To remedy this I need transportation that will seat them all safely.

I want to change their lives for the better, but I have an old Chevy Classic and do not have a way to get them around. I cannot even take them all to the doctor, because they are ages 10 months to 8 years old and three of them require car seats.

They need to be assessed for disabilities. They need to be in school. Last year they missed five months of school. They need to play at the park and go to the doctor and dentist. Two of them need help with orthopedics.

I have to ask for help because I don't have a way to upgrade my vehicle. Having decided to go back to college myself, I was enrolled but now have to withdraw. I love my grandchildren, but they need help, and I am going to be there for them.

I don't want a new vehicle. I'm not asking for that. I would like to buy a used Ford transit vehicle that will seat them all.  I live 15 miles from services that will help my grandchildren. I need to get them there safely.
Our community is one well aware of the cost to raise special needs children, and I hope you will help this family. I have, and I wouldn't ask you to if I didn't believe in the need and know what a difference having a vehicle big enough to transpost these six children at one time would make.

Family 2: Lyla Grace Santos

The second family I'm asking for help for is another local family. The father works at the same place as my husband and the family are cousins to a childhood friend. I've been following baby Lyla's story for almost a year now and helping when I can.

Lyla needs a new heart. She is at the top of the transplant list and was just released from the hospital and she and her family are staying at the Ronald McDonald House by the hospital three hours away from home until Lyla receives her new heart. The bills are piling up, so please consider assisting this sweet young family.

From her fundraiser page:

[Image: Lyla Grace Santos]

About This Campaign

Lyla Grace Santos was born March 18, 2014. She was born with Cognitive Heart Defect. After she was a week old on March 25, 2014, Lyla Grace had to have open heart surgery to correct her aortic arch. She was then put on the heart transplant list and would eventually need a new heart. Almost a year later and after many heart cauterizations, Lyla Grace has been moved from being listed a 2 on the bottom of the heart transplant list to the top of the list as a 1A emergency. Lyla Grace needs a new heart. Her heart is no longer able to be fixed with heart cauterizations and medicine. Now that she has been moved up to the top of the list in Dallas, Texas, her parents Matt and Amy are unable to be more than two hours away from the hospital just in case a heart does come in for Lyla. Matt and Amy lives more than three hours away in Abilene, Texas. Matt was recently released from the Army due to medical in September 2014. Where he served three tours altogether while in the Army. So as of March 1, 2015 he will no longer get medical insurance from the military. Amy has been unable to return to work due to Lyla's condition. Matt and amy will need help with hotel, food, and other necessities being so far from family and friends. After getting the news of their baby girl needing a new heart, the last thing they need to be concerned about is money. Please if you can help this family with donations and always prayers. Please pray for Lyla Grace and her family. Thank you and God bless all of you. X X X

Please give if you can and share this post. Make it go viral. These families' needs are great, and we are a large, caring community. Let's welcome them to our community and show that when we see a need we move to fill it.

Thank you,

Kim Wombles

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Guest Post: Ben Wilshire

Aspie's and sexuality

I believe that the subject of sexuality and Asperger’s needs to be discussed more and in an open way. The purpose of this post is to help people understand the topic a little more and discuss some things that can be done to improve outcomes in regards to relationship understanding for Aspies.

I would like to firstly point out Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as it is a good framework to consider when looking at improving quality of life. As seen in the drawing below, arguably sex is one of the most important motivators with sexual intimacy and friendship being on the third most important level. Maslow acknowledged the likelihood that the different levels of motivation could occur at any time in the human mind, but he focused on identifying the basic types of motivation and the order in which they should be met.
The difficulties that Aspies face vary from individual to individual, however there are a lot of commonalities. Research into the sexual understanding of Aspies is in its infancy however studies (and my personal experiences and of other Aspies) suggest that Aspies are as interested sex (and intimate relationships) as anyone else, but many struggle with the myriad of complex skills required to successfully negotiate intimate relationships. In my research into the subject I have also noticed that although some Aspies (like myself) don’t have major sensory issues, others do which can make intimacy a challenge. AS will also affect communication, both verbal and nonverbal, social interaction and empathic thought. It can also cause obsessive interests, need for structure and routine, motor clumsiness

People with Asperger syndrome can sometimes appear to have an ‘inappropriate’, ‘immature’ or ‘delayed’ understanding of sexual codes of conduct. This can sometimes result in sexually inappropriate behaviour. For example, a 20-year-old with Asperger syndrome may display behaviours which befit a teenager.

Even individuals who are high achieving and academically or vocationally successful can have trouble negotiating the ‘hidden rules’ of courtship. 

As Dr Tony Attwood says in the new book published by JKP “Been There, Done That, Try This!” “Their (Aspies) sources of information on sexuality may not be peers or personal experiences, but more likely the media, literature and possibly pornography.” This is why specific education needs to be provided to Aspies as more in-depth education will fill in the gaps that cause by lack of intuition. Specific sexual education is also important to help avoid such issues as Aspies getting into trouble with the law by acting inappropriately (such as accessing illegal pornography or stalking potential partners) and becoming victims of sexual assault because they got taken advantage of and in some cases this is caused (through no fault of their own) by not knowing what the intentions of their partner are. searching for a suitable educational programmes that relate to AS and sexuality I found one include many relevant topics and to be in a group structure which will also help participants to improve on their social skills. The program can be found in full in the book “Asperger’s Syndrome and Sexuality From Adolescence Through Adulthood” By Isabelle Henault. As far as I know this educational programme is the only programme to be developed and tested and is specifically to meet the needs of people with AS.  The course includes 12 workshops, each with its own topic. Although previously unpublished, the programme has been empirically validated and tested in practice with four groups. The results from these trials are also found in the book.

Through more exposure of this issue I believe that more organisations will realise that there is a need for specific education programs for Aspies and will look into the issue of sexuality more and develop and refine programs to suit this need for education. Also Aspies will realise there are resources out there to help them recognise their deficits and how to work around them.

If you have any comments/questions on this article or there is anything that you would like me to cover in a future blog post (as I want to write an article more in depth in the future regarding AS and sexuality) please leave a comment.

For anyone interested in reading about the perspective of a male Aspie (written in first person) using internet dating successfully please see Garry Burge's post here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

New Novel Featuring a Non-Verbal Autistic Character: The Place to Say Goodbye

My best friend's son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. I remember the night she called -- I was eight weeks pregnant with my first child, and it was my third wedding anniversary. I had gone to bed early because I could barely keep my eyes open and I had spent the day throwing up.  But then the phone had rung, and it was my friend.

"Happy Anniversary!" she said brightly, but then I heard the tears behind her words. "G was diagnosed with autism today."

I hadn't known that A and her husband had been seeing doctors for any issues, though I had suspected for about the last year that something wasn't right.  At G's second birthday party the month before, he had seemed much younger than 2, had thrown a fit, had flipped out while the candle was lit and during the singing of Happy Birthday, was still not talking at all.  I had not been around a lot of children, and for all I knew, these things could be normal, but somehow, I knew something was wrong. Still, A and her husband, M, had never told us they were seeking out help.

I didn't know what to say but I promised to come visit A at work the next day.  I had no idea how she would manage going to work with the newness -- the freshness -- of the diagnosis.  But the next day I met her there, and she took a break and we sat in the waning fall sunlight while she explained how G had been diagnosed. How overwhelmed she felt. How crazy this all was.

G. is 23 now. He lives in a group home and goes to a program on weekdays.  He has never said a word, doesn't use any form of communication. He understands what we say though, and he is sweet and gentle. He can put together a complex jigsaw puzzle amazingly well and he snuggles with his mom.  He also grunts, grinds his teeth, and squeezes his hands together in frustration. He has obsessive behaviors, like wanting to sit on the ground before he gets in a car and turning lights on and off repeatedly.

I recently published my third novel, The Place to Say Goodbye, about a 32 year old man, Carson, with the kind of autism G has -- nonverbal.  Because we don't know what nonverbal autistic people think or feel, I wanted to give them a voice, so only the reader is privy to Carson's thoughts.  The novel also features Carson's caretakers -- his identical twin 25 year old sisters who don't know what he thinks or how he feels.

Autistic people and their families need a voice -- and I hope this novel helps give them one. Here is the link to purchase the book:

Kindle Edition:
Judy Mollen Walters is the author of the novels, The Place to Say Goodbye (2015), as well as The Opposite of Normal (2014) and Child of Mine (2013). She can be reached at

Friday, February 20, 2015

Dawn Marcotte: Resources to Help Autistic Students Choose the Right College

Finding the right college is key to successfully graduating and lists like the Top 10 Colleges for Autistic Students can only go so far. 

Here are a few other resources to check before making any decisions.

ASAN's Navigating College Handbook
The Navigating College Handbook was published in 2011. This book was written by autistic students, for autistic students and its point of view is unique. The book is available for free at their website, Navigating College The ebook contains information on getting academic accommodations, housing tips, health and safety, advocacy and social life. 

Online Websites
Searching for college is a big business online. There are many websites with information about colleges across the country. Unfortunately few of them include any information on the support services for autistic students. is a web site that specifically targets autistic students. The site has a listing of colleges, universities and post-secondary programs designed for autistic students. However the programs they list are submitted to them for inclusion on the list and the list is far from complete. If students have a specific school in mind, checking this site to see what programs are available is a good first step. However if the school is not listed here, it doesn't mean they don't have support programs available. 

Another website to check is SpectrumU ( This site lists many colleges in alphabetical order or by type of university. However this is in a list format, not a searchable database. The site does have some excellent information on searching for colleges with appropriate services.

Print Resources
Consumer Reports has done a review of online and print resources for college guides and comparisons. While none of the online resources they recommend address services for autistic students several of the print books do.

The College Handbook by the College Board, Guide to Colleges by Fiske and Profiles of American colleges by Barron's are all top resources and all include information on special services. College Handbook is actually the number one recommended book resource as it includes information on costs, educational quality, environment and has the largest number of schools included in the guide at 3,800. This may be a good first look to understand what is available and learn the vocabulary that goes with a school search.

Online Forums
There are also several forums where students and parents can go to learn more about college and post-secondary life from people who are living it. 

·         Aspie Central (
·         Wrong Planet (
·         College Confidential (
These forums are all active and provide valuable information and discussions on college and other post-secondary options.

Other Options
Not every autistic student is going to attend a college with support services. However there are independent programs who will provide needed support at the college or university of choice. These programs are fee based and vary widely in cost and services. 

Here are a few examples:
·         AHEADD -
·         College Internship Program -
·         College Living Experience -
·         College Steps Program -
·         Student Curriculum on Resilient Education -
Autistic students can be successful in college and beyond with the right supports in place. 

 Dawn Marcotte is the CEO of, a website designed to help teens and young adults on the spectrum live to their highest potential.

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