Teen Goes From Special Ed To Valedictorian

For Chance Mair, sometimes emotions are hard to express.

And it was certainly an emotional night in suburban Seattle at Marysville Arts and Technology High School’s graduation earlier this week, where the students filed into the auditorium in black gowns and royal-blue stoles.

Not only was Mair graduating with the 50 seniors in his class, he was the class valedictorian. And he would be giving the valedictorian address, a momentous occasion for a student who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at an early age.

Mair had never told most of his classmates he has Asperger’s. Never told them he had started his schooling in a special education classroom, or that he received social therapy treatment when he was younger.

“It’s one of those things that for the longest time I didn’t want to tell people,” he said earlier in the day. “But now that I’m graduating, I don’t want to hold it back. I want people to know me for who I really am.”

Growing up in Marysville, Wash. Mair spent his childhood learning how to overcome sensory struggles that come naturally to other children.

Having Asperger’s meant he didn’t talk much, and he had difficulties understanding the nuances in body language. He was overly sensitive to loud noises and strong flavors. His parents recount stories where he would struggle to tell his peers he wanted to play with them, standing quietly by their side.

“I can know that I need to say something and I can feel the confidence to say it when I’m playing it out,” he said. “But then when I get to that step where I actually have to do it, like the execution, that’s when I tense up and get really nervous, really scared.

“Sometimes it’s not even a shyness, sometimes it’s like a fear, a fear of socialness.”

His parents knew his success depended on finding a place where he could build his social skills — and have fun doing it, too.

One way he did that was through bowling. He became fascinated with the sport when he was about 5 years old, playing with different teams in bowling alleys around the Marysville area.

“Diversity is one of the reasons I like it. There’s no one kind of person, there’s no one way you can bowl,” he said. “There are so many possibilities, I guess.” Continue reading Teen Goes From Special Ed To Valedictorian

Daily Mail: ‘I have Asperger’s ‘ – Under the microscope with Dan Aykroyd

'I feel I've got two or three cat lives left,' said Dan AykroydThe 61-year-old actor on the Blues Brothers workout, always being tired and why he doesn’t fear death

‘I feel I’ve got two or three cat lives left,’ said Dan Aykroyd

How fit are you?

I’ve never cared for sports. I played some baseball at school in Canada and used to walk two miles there and back through the snow. My Blues Brothers shows require a lot of energy, but that’s the only exercise I do. I can still do the moves, except for knee drops because I’m not as flexible as I was.

What’s your diet like?

I like hearty and authentic, yet simple, food — lamb chops with roast potatoes and a glass of shiraz is a favourite. I’m a wine aficionado. I usually choose food to complement wine. Good food doesn’t have to be fancy. My day-to-day favourite is a sandwich made with black pumpernickel bread, Swiss cheese, lettuce, mustard mayo, Black Forest ham, a few sliced pickles and a dollop of grape jelly.

Any vices?

Macaroni and cheese, made properly with spice and truffle oil. When I’m with my wife, Donna, we open a bottle of pink champagne and complement it with pecorino cheese and red pepper jelly.

Any family ailments?

No, my parents are 95 and 91 and going strong at the Aykroyd ancestral farm in Kingston, Ontario. But I was born with heterochromia iridum — different coloured eyes, one green, one blue. I also have syndactyly, where two or more digits are fused, I have two toes on each foot webbed almost to the top.


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Time: Jerry Seinfeld Says He Is Not on the Autism Spectrum After All

“I’m not on the spectrum”

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld has backtracked on recent comments he made stating that he was on the autism spectrum.

In an interview with Access Hollywood, Seinfeld said he does not fall on the spectrum, contrary to an interview with NBC a few weeks prior in which he said he did.

“I don’t have autism, I’m not on the spectrum,” theComedians in Cars Getting Coffee star said Wednesday. “I was just watching a play about it, and … I related to it on some level.”

The comedian was commended by members of the autism community after he told NBC’s Brian Williams in early November that he might be autistic. “I think in a very drawn-out scale, I think I’m on the spectrum,” he said, adding that he didn’t see being on the spectrum as dysfunctional but merely an “alternative mind-set.”

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BBC: Lesser-known things about Asperger’s syndrome

When people hear the words Asperger’s syndrome, they often think of children or Albert Einstein – even though he was never formally diagnosed. But here are some things about Asperger’s that are less well known.

Asperger’s syndrome, sometimes known as an autistic spectrum disorder, is a lifelong disability which affects people in many different ways.

While there are similarities with autism, people with Asperger’s syndrome have fewer problems with speaking and don’t usually have the associated learning disabilities.

They sometimes call themselves aspies for short. In recognition of the fact that their brains are wired differently, people with autism and Asperger’s say that they are “neuro-untypical”. They call people who don’t have either disability “neurotypicals”, or NTs.

And that’s just for starters. Here are some more lesser-known or misunderstood aspects of Asperger’s syndrome from those who know.

Is it mainly a boy thing?

Although Austrian paediatrician Hans Asperger thought it only affected boys when he first described the syndrome back in 1944, research since has found that there are likely to be a similar number of females on the spectrum.

The National Autistic Society says that because of the male gender bias, girls are less likely to be identified with autism spectrum disorders, even when their symptoms are equally severe. Many girls are never referred for diagnosis and are missed from the statistics altogether.

Asperger’s affects females in a slightly different way. Girls will have special interests but instead of building up an incredible wealth of knowledge on subjects like trains or dinosaurs – like boys with Asperger’s might – they tend to like the same things as neurotypical girls their age, albeit in a more focused way. Continue reading BBC: Lesser-known things about Asperger’s syndrome

Identity Critique: “I AM NOT AN ASPIE”

Guest Blogger Morad Motamedi is a graduate of George Mason University Class of 2013 who majored in sport management. He graduated with a 3.7 GPA and was an honor roll student. His goal is to work in the sport industry such as a fitness center or a sports stadium.

My passion for sport has been a big force in my life. Sport has had an effect on my socialization and cultural expression. I am by nature a person who loves participation in sports and love being around people. Since my childhood, although I was very much interested in meeting people and making friends, for some reasons then unknown to me the opportunities never presented themselves. Early in my childhood, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is clinically defined as social communication disorder.

People with Asperger’s, I am told, have a poor self identity. Although I wanted to make friends and be part of a group, it must have been my inability to make conversation and communicate that prevented me to express myself in a meaningful and friendly manner. My love for sport opened the door to a very wonderful exciting world.

People with Asperger’s are called Aspies. I do not see myself in a different world. I have done mostly my communication with people through sports. Sport has been the main subject of my conversations, entertainment, education and social life. I travel often with my parents and wherever we go, the first place to visit is the main sport stadium in that particular city. I have been at TD Garden in Boston, Staples Center in Los Angeles, Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Madison Square Garden in New York, Orioles Park in Baltimore, Football Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Olympic Village in Montreal, and University of Moscow Idaho sport facility.
Continue reading Identity Critique: “I AM NOT AN ASPIE”