About the Author

Kai is an autistic college student. He has been an active local self-activist and public speaker since 2010. He is passionate about Autism acceptance and normalizing neuro-diversity. He is starting a website in order to use his personal experience as well as professional knowledge to help other Autistic students and their families get prepared for and succeed in a college setting.

 

The Diagnostic Process: More Waiting

After the first assessment visit, you will have a couple more similar ones as they do specific tests to learn about your brain and life. In my case we did some tests about my anxiety and my attention span to see if I had additional conditions making it hard for me to succeed in school!

Then, comes the waiting. After the last test, you will schedule another appointment for two to four weeks to discuss your results and make a plan. This can be the hardest part. It is where I am now.

The Diagnostic Process: Visit 1

If you are an adult in America, your Autism evaluation will likely be part of a complete neuropsych evaluation. Neuropsych means they are checking for neurological, cognitive, and psychological conditions. This means you will have to take several different tests. These are tests where you write. Instead, you complete tasks and answer questions about yourself. Here are descriptions of the tests I had to take. You may take some of the same tests or different ones.

The first test I had to take is the ADOS. That stands for
Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. During this test, your psychologist will ask you to do some tasks that feel silly. You also will be asked questions about your feelings and how you interact with others.

Next, I had to take the MMPI or Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). This test is on the computer. It has a lot of statements and you click one of two buttons based on whether or not you agree with the statement. This test is to help them better understand your personality and problems you may be having.

The third test I had to take was just a general assessment where they asked me tons of questions about myself, my life, how I felt, and so forth.

These are all the tests I did on visit one. After this visit, we scheduled another testing day so that I could finish the general test and take some more tests based on the results from this visit.

The Diagnostic Process: Pre-Evaluation

This time next year I will be applying to Graduate programs. I want to make this transition as easy as possible for myself and for the schools. Therefore, I am securing paperwork and confirmation of my diagnosis. There’s a second benefit, I can share my experience with other young adults questioning and with families. This will be an ongoing series of posts in which I share and reflect on this experience.

Step 1: Find a Behavioral Health center or other location where you can be tested. Colleges with doctorate programs in psychology are a great place to look as they are likely subsidized with lower rates for uninsured people.

Step 2: Visit or call. Your name will be put on a list for a phone screening.

Step 3: During a phone screening, an employee of the clinic calls and asks you some simple questions about yourself. What sort of treatment or evaluation you are seeking? Why? Have you had any previous help? If the clinic can help you, you’ll be put on a waiting list.

Step 4: Wait. I waited almost four months. Which is actually a significantly shorter wait than some experience. This is likely because I went through a private health system.

Step 5: When there is an opening, someone will call you to schedule an appointment. This appointment is likely going to be three to four hours long.

Overall, it was a lot of work and waiting. But, it was worth it. There are a lot of benefits to an official diagnosis and the accompanying paperwork. Firstly, it confirms what’s going on is what you think is going on. Secondly, it can help you choose appropriate supports and goals. Thirdly, it lets you access supports in housing, school, and the workplace. Finally, for some it can be very validating.

Yes, I do “look more Autistic” when I am working. That’s on Purpose.

I am a man of odd jobs and passion projects for which I am sometimes lucky enough to receive compensation. Currently, that includes being a professional self advocate in an interdisciplinary internship regarding Neurodevelopmental disabilities; guest lecturing on autism, the autistic experience, and related topics; conducting research on neurodivergent narratives in young adult novels, and co-directing an inclusive theatre organization. I am also a full-time college student. People who observe me in both areas are often surprised by my behavior.

While I am endeavoring to be more authentic, I have always made a conscious effort to avoid masking during advocacy and volunteer work. Why? Because I can not recall ever seeing a successful adult who spoke like me, or didn’t speak like me as the case may be, or acted like me, who stimmed, flapped, and jumped like me, who are like me. I doubt my peers ever did and as I study human development and the importance of representation I see this as a huge issue.

I understand the platform I am gaining on campus is coming easier to me because I am perceived as a young white male, who is able to voice his thoughts independently and well. However, I do not want to support the idea of a singular story of success.

When I sign instead of speak, my colleagues learn that there is no link between being articulate and intelligent and neurodivergent children learn that they will be listened to and their thoughts have value no matter their communication method.When I flap, tic, and stim, my colleagues learn that stimming is natural and beautiful and the children watching learn that they can express themselves naturally as well.

I do “look more Autistic” today, it’s the most important part of why I am here. You should try it.

 

 

Affordable Sites for Sensory Toys/Aids/Fidgets

Hello,
Today’s tips is sites for fidgets for the individual. All of these sites have a variety of items available at relatively affordable prices. These are my three favorites.

1. Stimtastic.co (Autistic owned and awesome). chewables, fidgets, jewelry, and a variety of items.  2. Arktherapeutic.com Aimed at speech therapists it includes sensory tools, chewable items, writing aids, and fidgets.
3.Fidgetclub.com has a variety of fidgets and sensory items.

Fidgets for the Classroom Teacher

Hello everyone! Today’s Monday resource post is going to be fidgets you can get a classroom set of for under five dollars! I know a lot of teachers would like to provide fidgets for special education or inclusive classrooms but with an already stretched budget that can be hard. So here are some affordable fidgets you can buy in bulk. [No links are included in this post.]

 

Dollar Tree

Did you know the Dollar Tree sells party favors? The best time to go is near a holiday where you can get themed ones with a larger variety!

  • Magic Springs (6 for a dollar.) It would cost only four dollars to have a classroom set of 24 magic springs. These are a silent fidget with a variety of uses when properly utilized.
  • Soft Dough (8 for a dollar). Play dough as a fidget is best for older grades and students who do not mouth objects.
  • Whirligigs (8 for a dollar). These are pinwheel type fidgets you spin between both hands. They aren’t ideal for a focus fidget but are a great sensory toy for free time or when you need a sensory break.

Party City (All 5$ or less for 24)

  • Stress Balls
  • Bouncy Balls ( recommended only for older grades)
  • Stretchy Characters
  • Rubber Spiky toys
  • Silicone Bracelets
  • Zipper Bracelets

Amazon

  • Hedgeball pencil toppers
  • Fidget Bolt Pencil Toppers

Stimtastic

  • Hedgeballs (5 for 1.25)
  • Mini Poppers (5 for 1.00)

 

Monday Resources: Self-Care Checklist

Back to school can really make it difficult to focus on the whole picture. It can make your grades seem like the most important thing in the world or cause mental/chronic illness flair ups which can make self care both extremely hard and really important. So today, I am going to share with you a cool self-care checklist template from the web and walk you through the process of making your own.

The first decision to make is whether you want a daily or weekly list. I decided to go with weekly because not everything will get done everyday and this lets me see if there is an area I am routinely neglecting so I can rework my plan.

Next, pick a couple of tasks you’d like to accomplish each day for self-care such as hydration, exercise, hygiene, nutrition, and sensory diet. Also, put a goal or two.

Then write out, or digitally design, your checklist and keep it in someplace you see ueveryday. Go back and change it to adapt to what you need it to.