Life Growing Up With Autism: First Hand

Chris Jones autism interview

In this edition of Beyond the Puzzle Piece, I introduce you to Christopher Jones. Christopher is an 18 year old math enthusiast, with an interest in history and politics as well. Chris also has a unique experience and voice when it comes to Autism Spectrum Disorders. Following an initial diagnosis with Asperger Syndrome at the age of 4, Chris has received Special Education services since that time. He was part of the first wave of students with what is called “High Functioning Autism” to go through the educational system while receiving services specifically for his needs. Chris has received Physical and Occupational Therapy to help cope with sensory issues, as well as Speech and Language Therapy and Social Skills groups to assist in communication skills. He started in a self contained Autism Support Classroom with a dedicated Special Education Teacher, and was gradually included further into the general education classroom. Now 18, Chris is a High School Senior with very strong opinions about everything from music to politics, and certainly autism. Join my conversation with Christopher as he shares with TGNR the thoughts, experiences, informed views, and reflections of his life with autism.

By Anne DeFranco Special Education Contributor

Continue reading

Beyond The Puzzle Piece: Autism’s Forgotten History

autism history feature image

By Anne DeFranco Special Education Contributor

“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” – Edmund Burke

History’s undeniable value is why we continue to teach and study the great events of the past, both tragic and triumphant alike. Scholars compel humanity to analyze events within their historical context and evaluate the consequences of those events. This approach is particularly relevant when looking at the history of Autism and the Autism Spectrum.

Napoleon Bonaparte, a great student of history, mused that “History is a set of lies agreed upon,” a warning, in part, that urges the importance of objectivity when using history to help best understand the lessons learned from previous generations. If history is to be the great teacher, how does autism’s history factor into the current evolving understanding of autism today? As a parent, why is it so important to learn about the past when gathering the information necessary to best guide your child?

Continue reading

Raising Boys Who Happen To Have Autism: A Mother’s Story

Anne DeFranco intro image January 31

(Image Credit: Anne DeFranco/TGNR)

For TGNR‘s 1/31/2016 installment of Sunday Brunch, TGNR introduces you to Anne DeFranco. This is the first edition of a monthly column that will discuss autism from the perspective of both a parent and as a Special Education professional. Anne is the proud mother of three children; her two eldest sons have been diagnosed with Autism. Both are now high school age. Professionally, Anne has earned bachelor degrees in Special Education and Elementary Education. Additionally, she holds certifications for Secondary Education and English As A Second Language. Anne has worked as a special education teacher in both traditional and non-traditional classroom settings. She has served as a school Supervisor for Special Education, as well as a District Representative for the Special Education Department, grades 7-12. Most recently, Anne worked as a Program Supervisor for a live-in facility, overseeing four adults with severe disabilities, all of which were non-verbal.

In her first installment, Anne tells her story about Autism, how it became a part of her life as a mother and ignited her passion to bring the best information and guidance to those in need.

By Anne DeFranco Special Education Contributor

Continue reading