Michael John Carley
(Photo courtesy of Ron Haviv)
Michael John Carley received his B.A. from Hampshire College in 1986 and his M.F.A. from Columbia University in 1989. As the Executive Director of GRASP, the largest organization comprised of adults on the autism spectrum, he has spoken at conferences, hospitals, universities, and health care organizations. He has appeared in the media widely, most notably in the New York Times, Washington Post, NY Newsday, the London Times, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Chronicle of Higher Education, NEWSWEEK OnAir, ABCNews, BBC News, FOX News Network, Psychology Today, Exceptional Parent Magazine, and on radio with Terry Gross’ Fresh Air, and The Infinite Mind. NPR News also aired a 12-minute story in June of 2006 that featured he and GRASP. Carley was also featured in the documentary, "On the Spectrum." He was one of two people on the spectrum to address Congress' first ever hearings on autism, and his articles have been published in magazines such as Autism Spectrum News, Autism Spectrum Quarterly, and Autism/Asperger Digest. His first book, Asperger's From the Inside Out: A Supportive and Practical Guide for Anyone with Asperger's Syndrome, was released in April, 2008 to humbling advance reviews (viewable by scrolling down the linked page). He has recently finished his second book, The Last Memoir of Asperger's Syndrome.
He was the inaugural FAR Fund Fellow in 2003; and he has since received NYFAC's Ben Kramer Award (2008), the BCID Award for Service (2009), Columbia University's Herbert M. Cohen Lecture (2011), and Eden II's Peter McGowan & John Potterfield Achievement Award (2011).
Until 2001, Mr. Carley was the United Nations Representative of Veterans for Peace, Inc. In that time, he was known primarily for his work in Bosnia, and in Iraq as the Project Director of the internationally acclaimed Iraq Water Project. Prior to 2001 he was also a playwright who enjoyed 15 productions and 10 readings of his plays in New York.
Along with his (then) 4-year old son, he was diagnosed with AS in November of 2000. He lives with his wife, Kathryn Herzog, and 2 sons in Brooklyn.
Kate Palmer, M.A.
Kate earned her master’s degree in psychology from Skidmore College, bachelor’s degree in psychology from Whitman College, and completed her coaching certification in the fall of 2012. She is currently a therapist, consultant, and facilitator specializing in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Trauma Recovery in the Hudson Valley in New York. She is also the regional facilitator for GRASP Hudson Valley. Her research has been focused on creating cognitive processes that bypass executive functioning deficits in adults with Asperger’s Syndrome which intends to help solve employment difficulties. She has worked with individuals with ASD’s and developmental difficulties over the past 20 years in both academic and residential settings as a special education teacher and in private individualized therapy. In addition to her research and therapy work, she also is a classically trained French chef and sommelier and a seasoned residential renovator. When not working or volunteering in her community, Kate enjoys pickup soccer games, cycling in the Catskills, and reading a book overlooking the Hudson River. Although originally from Oregon, and very proud to be, she has lived in upstate New York for 15 years and considers it home.
ONLINE NETWORKS MANAGER
. . . is also an author, food columnist, freelance journalist, and an international speaker and disabilities advocacy consultant. Her work in learning disabilities and neurological impairments is based on her own personal experiences living with NLD as well as interviews with individuals who live with these disabilities. Her first book, Employment for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome or Non-verbal Learning Disability: Stories and Strategies, is a career guide for individuals with Asperger Syndrome or Non-Verbal Learning disability. The Polish language edition of this book came out in March 2008.
Her weekly food column, North Country Kitchen, offers a medley of nutritional information, historical facts, and easy, seasonal recipes. It runs in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and the Lake Placid News. In 2011 she co-authored My Nine Lives with her mother, a Holocaust survivor. Her third book, Quick and Easy Meals from your North Country Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market was published in 2013. Yvona is on the Board of Directors of the Tri Lakes Center for Independent Living. She lives, writes, cooks, takes nature photos, and plays in the snow in winter and in the water during the summer, all in the mountains and lakes of beautiful northern New York State.
SOCIAL MEDIA OUTREACH COORDINATOR
Stephen Katz has worked on a variety of projects for GRASP; including, “Persons on the Autism Spectrum in Their Communities of Faith,” aground breaking seminar, moderated by Executive Director, Michael John Carley.
Stephen’s background also includes; training with the Miracle Project, the musical theatre arts program for special needs kids, as seen in the HBO Documentary, “Autism The Musical.” He has co-led socialization groups for 16-21 year olds with a variety of special needs, including those on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum and those with varied communication and learning differences at The Manhattan JCC. Additionally, Stephen was employed by YAI/NIPD where he worked with individuals of all ages and abilities in their homes, creating and implementing teaching strategies that increased language, academic, vocational and life skills, and helping them lead more independent and productive lives.
Previously, Stephen worked in advertising, marketing and finance. He is also an artist and has studied at the prestigious Art Students League and Parsons School of Design. His education includes a Certificate in Human Resource management from New York University, and a Certificate in Learning Theory and Applied Behavior Analysis from The New York League of Early Learning (NYL) with additional classroom and hands-on training and experience in Verbal Behavior, DIR/Floortime and Son Rise.
When she is not digitally occupied, she is an analog clinical social worker and chaplain in New York City.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Erin Emerick, M.A. (Secretary)
Since receiving her Master’s degree from Prescott College in Counseling Psychology, Erin Emerick has been working with children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental delays and challenges. Prior to moving to New York City, Erin worked at The Joshua School in Englewood Colorado. At The Joshua School (a private school specializing in providing services for children and adolescents across the autism spectrum) Erin created a counseling program from the ground up. The program focused on providing not just one-to-one counseling services, but social emotional education and strategies for coping with intense negative emotions. Erin received her B.A. from Naropa University in Boulder Colorado in Interarts with a minor in visual arts. She initially provided art therapy services at The Joshua School and Adam’s Camp and maintains a passion for exploring how art can aid expression, especially when words are hard to find for an experience. Erin loved to challenge the children she worked with to find their own kind of creativity – especially when they felt they could not.
Erin moved to New York City in the summer of 2010 in order to keep working with children with developmental delays. When The Joshua School could no longer financially support a voluntary program, she relocated and found full time work as a behavior therapist in Manhattan. She currently uses ABA techniques and interventions in her current position.
Erin endured a variety of educational challenges and mis-diagnoses herself as a child, including being labeled “mentally retarded” by a public school system. These experiences inspired her current work and strong desire to see a better future for those who are diagnosed and navigating the educational system today. Erin feels very blessed to be working with GRASP. She currently enjoys living independently in Brooklyn.
Bill is Director of Business Development at RTech Healthcare Revenue Technologies, Inc. He has over 30 years of healthcare technology consulting and system implementation experience. At RTech, Bill is responsible for new product development and management and implementation of the RTech technology strategy.
Prior to joining RTech, Bill was a Director at PriceWaterhouseCoopers' HealthCare Practice, Director of Revenue Cycle Systems in Financial Services at a major teaching hospital, Senior Project Manager at a revenue discovery firm and installation director for revenue cycle system vendors. He has managed revenue cycle system implementations and directed numerous change initiatives in the revenue cycle as part of those implementations. Bill holds a B.A. from Syracuse University and a M.B.A. in Health Care Administration from Baruch College/Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in The City University of New York.
Bill is married with two children. He enjoys playing tennis and golf, doing crossword puzzles and reading.
Amy Gravino, M.A. is a certified college coach for individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome, and is also diagnosed as having AS. She is the President of her own recently found college coaching organization, A.S.C.O.T Coaching, LLC, which offers coaching and consulting services for individuals, families, school districts, and professional organizations.
Amy obtained her Masters degree in Applied Behavior Analysis at Caldwell College in Caldwell, NJ. A seasoned public speaker, Amy has been speaking at autism conferences across the country since age 14, as well as at school assemblies and professional development workshops. She is presently authoring The Naughty Autie, a dating and sexuality memoir for young adults and adults on the spectrum.
Articles Amy has written have been published in a variety of outlets, including Autism Spectrum Quarterly, the Autism Asperger Publishing Company newsletter, the Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation annual newsletter, and more. She was also an interview subject in the documentaries Normal People Scare Me and ARTS, and will be interviewed in the forthcoming documentary, Desire.
Amy is currently offering private services as an Asperger’s syndrome college coach, and hopes to one day work on a college or university campus helping AS students to thrive and succeed, both academically and personally, in a higher education setting.
Amy is also an avid home cook, and spends many happy afternoons and evenings whipping up her favorite dishes at her home in Montclair, NJ.
Karl Wittig, P.E.
Karl Wittig was diagnosed at the age of 44 years with a mild case of Asperger Syndrome. He worked as an electrical engineer doing research and development in the areas of electronics, computers, video, image processing, and communications for over 28 years, working for the research divisions of major electronics corporations.
Karl has a B. S. with distinction in Applied Physics (1976) and an M. Eng. in Electrical Engineering (1977), both from Cornell University, as well as an M. S. in Computer Science (1987) from New York University. A member of two engineering honor societies (Tau Beta Pi and Eta Kappa Nu), he holds 19 U. S. patents, and is a registered professional engineer in the state of New York.
As a young child, Karl was obsessed with virtually anything electrical or mechanical, which led to his choice of career. Although he had exhibited quite a few autistic traits both as a child and as an adult, and had suspected for a number of years that he might suffer from such a condition, he was not diagnosed until relatively late in life. As a result of his experiences, he is deeply interested in increasing public awareness about the milder conditions of the autism spectrum.
Rachal Bales, MA, LMFT
Rachal Bales is currently a licensed marriage and family therapist living and working near Joplin, Missouri, where she was also born and raised with 6 brothers and sisters. Looking back, Rachal sees the very clear pattern of spectrum behaviors throughout her family, especially her mother. She believes that having been raised by a very strong, aspie single mother living below the poverty level is probably one of the most significant factors in how she came to be who she is today.
Rachal is married to Doug, who has come to understand his own level of Aspergers. They have 3 boys, all on the autism spectrum in distinctly different ways. Rachal states one of her greatest heroes is Temple Grandin’s mother Eustacia Cutler, who was forced to make decisions about her daughter that NOBODY had done before. “Having 3 children, I cannot imagine the strength it took to stay firm in her resolve that Temple would achieve such great heights. As a parent, I vacillate between acknowledging/accommodating my children’s differences and needs, while also trying to maintain that push to expand their comfort zone in life so they can achieve more. Eustacia Cutler did this with grace, finesse, and amazing strength. She did it despite repeatedly being told she could not. She is the reason that Temple is also a hero of mine, and of millions of people around the world.”
Regarding GRASP Rachal says, “Finding GRASP and reading Michael John’s book was a turning point in my self-understanding. To have access to that level of validation finally helped me feel like I have a right to exist, and to be just as I am. It has changed the course of my life in a way I could never have predicted and for which I am ever grateful.”
Julie Bundrick has been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder, and in August of 2002 at the age of 34 she was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Julie works for The Furniture Box in Geneva, Illinois where she is the Floor Display Coordinator. She also performs childcare duties for a local church as well as for other individual families in her area. Julie is a volunteer for Orthokids at Delnor Hospital's Health and Wellness Center which provides aquatic therapy for children with various mental and/or physical disabilities—including Autism and Asperger Syndrome. This year, Julie also served as a co-coordinator assisting with booths and presenters for the Illinois Health and Wellness Fair. Her special interests include problem-solving, working puzzles, fishing with her Dad, spending time with her parents, hiking in the fall, and helping others to love and enjoy their lives and who they are as individuals.
After many years of therapy, Cathy Collins found out that she was on the spectrum, with nonverbal learning disability, after seeking a referral to a specialist because of what she had learned about Aspergers from Michael John Carley on a broadcast of Fresh Air. A native Californian, Cathy has an M.A. in Latin American Studies from UCLA and an M.A. from George Washington University in Human Resource Development. After graduating from college, she spent a year in Calexico, on the Mexican border, as a second grade teacher in a bilingual education program for the children of migrant farm workers—a totally wrong fit for someone with challenges in social skills and deciphering nonverbal cues! She has worked for the U.S. Coast Guard for over ten years in her primary field of intelligence research. Prior to her current assignment in Virginia, she spent six years in New York City at Governors Island. She also worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C. and London, England. Her special area of expertise is Latin America, and she participates in a number of inter-agency conferences on Caribbean affairs. As a collateral duty, she serves as Federal Women’s Program Manager for U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area. Special interests are Haitian history and culture, Jungian psychology, collecting folk art, and reading the works of Charles Dickens.
Ian facilitates the Albuquerque GRASP group and serves on the board of the New Mexico Autism Society. Ian's current projects include building an autistic-run retreat
center in the mountains in Northern New Mexico, and running a software
development company with an all-autistic developer team. Ian lives with
his wife, 2 daughters, a bunch of animals, and some fruit trees.
Dena Gassner, MSW
Dena Gassner is the second of three generations of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder in her family. At 44, she has survived multiple misdiagnoses and resulting disabling pharmaceutical institutionalization. Disabled not by autism, but by misdiagnoses, she survived mistaken labels including "ADHD, Bi-polar, Depression and PTSD". She was finally saved through God's grace embodied in her son, Patrick, who also has autism. Many seek her uncanny insight into seeking wholeness and authenticity in charging toward a life not separate from, but wholly embracing life with autism.
Her activities include; Board member for SEMAR (the Southeastern Jurisdictional United Methodist Church Agency for Rehabilitation); Chair, Kentucky Conference Special Needs Committee; Inclusion Ministries Consultant and Chair of the Special Needs Ministry Task Force for the Kentucky Conference of the United Methodist Church; Founding Member, ASD Consortium of Kentucky; Advocacy Consultant for the ARC of Kentucky; member, Inclusion Network of Cincinnati. She holds a Master's Degree in Social Work from the University of Kentucky having studied as a multidisciplinary evaluator at Children's Hospital's Center for Developmental Disorders. She is a frequent contributor to local newspapers and the MAAP newsletter and recently had her first publication accepted for the Autism/Asperger's Digest. With her son, Patrick, she is a politically active advocate for persons with disabilities in her home state of Kentucky.
Rebecca was born in Oklahoma and grew up in Southern California, where she received a B.A. in Biology. Joining the great exodus to Oregon in the early 1970's, she obtained MS and PhD degrees in Environmental Geography. For the next 20 years she taught at universities in Oklahoma, Massachusetts, and Iowa. She retired early in 2000, and promptly dug up her yard for a flower garden. She has a typical sorry tale of difficult life experiences, misdiagnoses, mistreatments, and was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in 2001. Rebecca currently lives in California but, before moving in 2011, she lived for years in Iowa City, Iowa, and facilitated the Iowa City/Coralville GRASP Support Network. She also brews a mean cup of coffee, makes a fantastic red quinoa salad, and has a house fulll of houseplants and African folk art.
Kate Goldfield is a 22 year old psychology major from Standish, Maine, who attended Goucher College in Baltimore. She has written several articles on issues relevant to adults with autism spectrum disorders, and has been published in the Baltimore Sun, Hartford Courant, and forthcoming December 2006, The Autism Perspective magazine. She has spoken at the first Penn Autism Network Conference as a panelist, and at the 2006 ASPEN Spring Conference. She has been involved with Asperger's and autism groups in Maine, Baltimore, and Washington, DC, as well as several online groups. After discovering her own Asperger's Syndrome two years ago, she decided she wanted to get as involved as possible in the autism community and try to make the path easier for those who come after her.
Temple Grandin, Ph.D.
Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is inarguably the most accomplished and well-known adult with autism in the world. She has been featured on major television programs, such as "ABC's Primetime Live", the "Today Show", "Larry King Live", "48 Hours" and "20/20" and written up in national publications, such as Time magazine, People magazine, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, and New York Times. Among numerous other recognitions by media, Bravo Cable did a half-hour show on her life, and she was one of the "challenged" people featured in the best-selling book, Anthropologist from Mars.
Dr. Grandin didn't talk until she was three and a half years old, communicating her frustration instead by screaming, peeping and humming. In 1950, she was labeled "autistic," and her parents were told she should be institutionalized. She tells her story of "groping her way from the far side of darkness" in her book Emergence: Labeled Autistic, a book which stunned the world because, until its publication, most professionals and parents assumed being diagnosed "autistic" was virtually a death sentence to achievement or productivity in life.
Dr. Grandin has become a prominent author and speaker on the subject of autism because "I have read enough to know that there are still many parents, and, yes, professionals, too, who believe that 'once autistic, always autistic.' This dictum has meant sad and sorry lives for many children diagnosed, as I was in early life, as autistic. To these people, it is incomprehensible that the characteristics of autism can be modified and controlled. However, I feel strongly that I am living proof that they can." (Taken from Emergence: Labeled Autistic)
Even though she was considered "weird" in her young school years, she eventually found a mentor, who recognized her interests and abilities, which she later expanded into becoming a successful livestock handling equipment designer, one of very few in the world. She has designed the facilities in which half the cattle are handled in the United States, consulting for firms such as Burger King, McDonald's, Swift and others.
She presently works as an Associate Professor at Colorado State University but also speaks around the world on both autism and cattle handling.
Dr. Grandin's current best seller is Animals in Translation. She also authored the best seller - Thinking in Pictures and Other Reports From My Life With Autism and produced videos - "Visual Thinking," "Careers" and "Medications" VHS; and Dr. Temple Grandin (DVD).
Xenia Kathy Grant
Xenia Kathy Grant lives and works as a respite provider in Denver, CO. She was officially diagnosed as High-Functioning Autistic in 2001, but had known that she was on the spectrum since 1986. She has a degree in political science from Maryville College in St. Louis (1987) and a Certificate of Completion in Medical Transcription from the Vanderschmidt School (1991). She has had many jobs since graduating from college. She has been a telemarketer, bookshelver, factory worker, medical transcriptionist, worked in the mail room, done data entry work, cleaned cat cages at a vet's office, and now has been doing respite work for the past 5 years. She is on the Board of the local autism chapter, on the Board of Autism National Committee, and has been with Autism Network International since it's beginning in 1992. She is involved with many church activities at Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church. (Russian Orthodox) Her interests are: history, geography, Russian Orthodoxy, flags, collecting things in foreign languages, maps, cats, and Battlestar Galactica.
Robert E. Hedin
. . . graduated fourth in his class from Technical High School in Springfield, MA in 1955, receiving the Rensselaer medal as the outstanding math and science student. He attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY on a scholarship where his major was E.E. While at R.P.I., he met his future wife. After dropping out of school in 1957, he was hired as a broadcast technician and cameraman by a local TV station, WWLP, with the proviso that he would obtain the necessary First Class Commercial Radiotelephone License within six months. He advanced to the position of weekend supervisor. In 1964 he married his college sweetheart who was an R.N. with a B.S. and M.S. in nursing.
In 1966, they moved to the Philadelphia area after he had obtained a job at a major network station. He and his wife have three children, two boys and a girl, and have been married for over forty years. His children all graduated from private colleges without any student loans, although they were all attending college at one time. Financial planning has been one of his interests for many years. In 1998 he retired early in order to spend more time with the family, and to enjoy travel and hobbies. Bob has been an avid computer enthusiast for over 20 years; he taught himself basic programming in the early days of computers when they first appeared on the home market. He has been an amateur radio operator for over 50 years, and active in genealogy since retiring. His newest interest is in Asperger’s Syndrome. In Dec. of 2001 he read an article in Wired magazine titled, "The Geek Syndrome", wondering if it might apply to one of their sons. In Feb. of 2003 an article appeared in Parade Magazine on Aspergers; the description of AS fit their son more clearly. After reading the article himself, their son agreed, "That's me!" After months of internet searching, internet AS forums, and reading many books, he realized that his other two children had a number of AS traits, as well as himself. He joined a local support group for parents of AS children, and another for families of "adult children" with AS. Most of the support groups are for parents. After seeing the benefit of support groups for parents, he saw that a support group for adults with AS/HFA was sorely needed; there was no such group in the area. Fortunately there was such a group in New York City called GRASP. The founder of our support group for families of "adult children", Tina Caterino, arranged a conference call with GRASP's executive director, Michael John Carley to discuss the idea of a support group in the Philadelphia. With their encouragement, Bob launched a membership drive. Adults with AS/HFA have responded, along with parents, and professionals. The membership stands at 26 and growing. The first meeting was held in Berwyn, PA on Sat. Jan. 8, 2005. Meetings are scheduled for the second Saturday of each month. Between meetings, a listserv is available for online members to discuss issues and keep in touch with one another.
In other news, please join us in welcoming Perry Hoffman to our Advisory Board. Perry was officially diagnosed with autism in first grade but was mainstreamed in 6th grade. He made the honor roll at Midwood, H.S. (Brooklyn). He later earned his B.A. in English from Hunter College in 1993 and recently completed his Masters in Secondary Education at Queens College. Perry currently works as a case manager for the NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene where he provides advocacy, referrals and pre-natal care to pregnant women. He was a featured speaker at the MAAP conferences in 1996 in Chicago and 2000 in Tampa. He lastly won the 2000 and 2001 Recognition Award from the Autism Society of America. Perry resides in Bayside, Queens.
Kari M. Marchant, Esq.
Ms. Marchant is a practicing attorney running her own law firm for almost 15 years, concentrating on divorce and family law. Her particular set of aspie traits and science background give her the cool objectivity and hard logic to cope well with the tumultuous emotional drama of family law. Her family background, life history and experiences give her compassion and understanding to actually help people get through crises well.
BS (1989) San Jose State University – Major: Geology, Minor: Chemistry
MS (1993) University of California, San Diego – Scripps Institution of Oceanography
JD (1997) Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Born in Utah in 1957 to a devout family belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon), she is the daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter of spectrumites (father, paternal grandmother and great grandmother), with four of her five siblings also ranging across the high-functioning autism spectrum. She was informally diagnosed with “Asperger Syndrome” at age 50 by one of her sons, which was immediately confirmed by the clinical psychologist who was providing marriage counseling at the time. Kari has five adult children (one on the spectrum), nine grandchildren and counting. She considers that she had a very happy childhood, although they were quite poor, and her conflicted parents separated numerous times while she was growing up, divorcing soon after she left home. Upon graduation from Box Elder High School in Brigham City, Utah in 1974 she entered the University of Utah as a declared physics major, married young, left school after a successful first year and moved to Ithaca, New York the next year as her new husband was accepted into the astrophysics department of Cornell University as a graduate student. They lived for 10 years in upstate New York having her first four children there and being a full-time mother. The family relocated to Silicon Valley in California in 1985 and she resumed formal higher education. Before her diagnosis she was eventually married three times (for 12, 8 and 2 years respectively) with three divorces. Having unlabeled autistic traits without any understanding of the syndrome (despite having a child diagnosed in 1996) definitely made life more complicated than it might have been with an earlier diagnosis. Community activities: Serving as the San Diego Regional Facilitator for GRASP since 2008, she regularly volunteers in schools, churches and other community organizations in a variety of ways. Personal interests: Nutrition, health and fitness, family, pets, keeping up with science and technology, hiking, hunting, camping, gardening, needlework, skiing, and volunteering.
Allen Markman received his B.A. from Queens College in 1975 and his M.A. from the New School in 1977.
Mr. Markman is a psychiatric survivor who was active in the psychiatric patients' rights movement from 1971 to 1986. He hosted a monthly radio program, the Madness Network, on listener-sponsored WBAI radio from 1980 to 1986 under the auspices of Project Release.
Mr. Markman is a (retired) Pacifica Radio veteran, having served as WBAI Radio's subscriptions director for 17 years.
He was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome in 2002. He is a co-facilitator of the New York City Adult Asperger Syndrome Support Group. It was his idea for an organization in 2002 that led to the formation of GRASP.
Tom McAnaney chairs the GRASP Manhattan Over-50s Group. He became a GRASP member in about 2001, at age 51, shortly after receiving his diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. He had sought a diagnosis after recognizing himself in a newspaper article.
Tom is from Philadelphia, PA, and has lived in New York City since 1981-82. While his academic degrees (BA, MA) are in Economics, his lifelong interest is railroads, particularly passenger rail transit, and related topics such as urban planning. (His vacations usually involve long train rides.) Other interests include international relations and classical music.
Though in no way claiming broad computer expertise, at his job (in transit) he gradually became the go-to guy for small database work, which he very much enjoys; he speculates that his Asperger-related passion for logical order has come through for him here. Though eligible for retirement, he plans to continue working.
His drive for logical order seems to have moved him when he was young to read in certain areas of psychology, philosophy and even theology in an attempt (in those pre-Asperger days) to find his place in the world – to come to terms with his difficulties functioning in society. The long-run benefits of that quest for understanding are still with him.
Dr. Irma Jacqueline Ozer, Esq.
Bio coming soon.
Lars Perner, Ph.D.
Lars is an Assistantt Professor of Marketing at San Diego State Universityy and holds a Ph.D. in Marketing from the University of Southern California. He became interested in autism spectrum conditions after being diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at age 32 and found that his background in consumer psychology (e.g., information processing, perception, interpretation, motivation) and international business (e.g., cultural expectations and communications styles) could be applied to understanding autism. Lars has written extensively on the paradoxical nature of autism and is a frequent presenter at autism conferences on topics such as life planning, college preparation and succcess, cognitive processes, the dynamics of autism, perspectives on autism, and ther role of values in approaching the treatment of the condition. He is currently combining his interests in marketing and autism by studying how characteristics such as sensory vulnerabilities, difficulties in communication, and dislike of change affect the shopping experiences of individuals on the autism specttrum. Many of Lars' autism materials are available at http://www.aspergerssyndrome.org.
"Growing up, we moved from place to place, - at least 8 different schools.- So not making many friends seemed understandable." says Branden. This year he will be married 25 years, has 2 college age kids, and held the same job for over 20 years. He is a member of a born again church since 1981 and served as a deacon for 13 years, and has also led small group meetings in his home. “Yet I lived in denial of the obvious” Diagnosed with AS in the fall of 2004, at the age of 45, many things finally made sense. Now, a GRASP co-facilitator he has found a joy and comfort in a community of folks like himself. "Helping and encouraging others is very fulfilling!" His love for photography led to an associate degree in Pittsburgh in 1979 and has won various awards. This outlet of expression laid dormant for too long is now revived in digital photography. "I have time again for this passion now that the kids are grown."
Peter Rousseau went through much of his life with undiagnosed Asperger Syndrome. Continuous struggles in the workplace and in the school setting, considered extreme on his special interests, clumsy, and individualistic in a conformist society, Peter taught himself coping skills, some of which proved effective. Not until he was 35 years old was he finally able to make sense of the struggles he had faced and why the struggles were there.
Peter has dealt with not only the disorder, but the oft accompanying bullying in schools and the workplace. Open and honest regarding his experiences, both humorous and painful, Peter shares his knowledge of the disorder to both skeptics and those inquiring regarding the differences whenever the opportunity arises. He has often said, “To have not only Asperger Syndrome as an adult, but also the insight and hindsight to understand events logically is invaluable not only to myself, but to others in the autism community and their families.”
Peter spends much of his time reading and researching about Early American History (1775-1890) and increasing his knowledge of computers and technology in general. He resides with his wife and three children in upstate New York.
Diagnosed with "Atypical Development with strong autistic tendencies" Stephen Shore was viewed as "too sick" to be treated on an outpatient basis and recommended for institutionalization. Nonverbal until four, and with much help from his parents, teachers, and others, Stephen Shore is now completing his doctoral degree in special education at Boston University with a focus on helping people on the autism spectrum develop their capacities to the fullest extent possible.
In addition to working with children and talking about life on the autism spectrum, Stephen presents and consults internationally on adult issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, advocacy, and disclosure as discussed in his book Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome, the recently released Ask and Tell: Self-advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism Spectrum, and numerous other writings.
A former board member of the Autism Society of America, Stephen serves as board president of the Asperger’s Association of New England as well as for the Board of Directors for Unlocking Autism, the Autism Services Association of Massachusetts, MAAP, and the College Internship Program.