Saturday, January 7, 2012


In the absence of posting anything new to this website or my blog, I've been busy making many life changes. With my job as Program Director of the College Internship Program (a role I grow to love more and more each day), getting married, and buying a house, I've been too busy to attend to some of my regular day-to-day activities.  This is in no way a complaint - I appreciate all of it, no matter how stressful or overwhelming it may feel in the moment.  My life's journey has involved many roadblocks, and these changes are definitely all positive.

One of the changes that has been majorly positive is Jacob.  He continues to do well at Culver City High School. I'm getting great feedback from all of his teachers, he has a few friends, and, through the school's Workability Program, he starts his new job at Best Buy on Monday.  Last year, he worked at Petco stocking and organizing and he did a great job so he's not worried about his new employment.  He's just hoping that he gets to stock and organize the merchandise in the DVD department as this is pretty much his dream job.  When Jacob has disposable income, Best Buy is one of his favorite places to shop, and he's bought a lot of his movies from the store in our neighborhood.  I'm just going to have to help him learnn to budget his money so every cent he earns is not spent before he cashes his check. 

I can't remember the last stressful moment I've had with Jacob.  The days of his disruptive behavior in class ended long ago.  He is now completely independent in completing his homework, so the days of coordinating with his teachers in turning in his assignments are a distant memory.  He wants to attend college after he graduates next year, so he's actually planning for his future.  He even takes care of all his personal hygiene without my prompting or nagging.  Pretty much of what I had hoped Jacob would be doing at this stage of his life are actually happening.  Way to go Jacob!

Did I really think this is where Jacob was going to be at 18?  To be honest, I had no idea.  Though he was an adorable little guy, his behaviors were at times extremely challenging.  He was never a child that could attend birthday parties on his own.  Play dates needed to be moderated and facilitated by me.  At one time, he had lots services to coordinate, so I spent hours driving Jacob to and from therapy and doctor appointments.  Now that it's nearly 15 years from the day of his diagnosis, I guess it all paid off because Jacob is now a fairly happy and confident young man.  Not that there isn't more room for growth, but at least now I'm optimistic about the future.  When Jacob was young, there were days when I feared the unknown.  At least for now, Jacob seems to be on the right path and the future isn't a big, scary question mark.

So yes, I'm truly a hopeful parent these days, I wish the same for every parent with a child with an autism spectrum disorder.  And now that I'm the Director of the College Internship Program in Long Beach, I can also help other parents reach this point with their young adult children.  Besides Jacob and all of the wonderful events currently happening in my life, this is something that I truly appreciate

Now that Susan's life is returning to a resemblance of normalcy, she will be again be blogging regularly at Taking the Awe Out of Autism, where she shares her experiences in raising her young adult son on the higher end of the autism spectrum.  The Spring term at CIP just started on Thursday, and with the addition of 5 new students, it's turning into a wonderful community that offers young adults with ASD, Aspergers and learning challenges the chance at acheiving a successful, productive and independent life.



  1. This posting could not have come at a better time. Yesterday marked the 1 yr date from B's diagnosis. To be honest, we've come so far (to us!) from that day, but sometimes the future can be so scary. I can't even imagine what the future will be like. It's so scary to think of the what ifs, and still mourning what I thought would be. Thank you!

  2. Greetings from New Zealand.I am a special needs teacher of challenging teens many of them are on the ASD spectrum.I am also the mother of a 28 year old with ASD also called Jacob.The challenging behaviours are still there from time to time largely controlled with diet.We tried anti epilepsy medication for Jake at 15 when the hormone surges of adolesence made him particularly challenging but we lost him to a frightening fugue state that Jake decribed as"There was no more of me left.It was like being locked out of your own home".Nutrition and ASD is a topic that I have researched for 28 years.Mostly because we detected very early certain foods caused chaos for Jake.
    Our Jake works part time in a supermarket, helps in our olive farm and vineyard,loves singing,loves people of all ethnic groups and studies their countries when he works with them.As a result Jake has made many friends of all nationalities and taught us all the importance of being openminded about culture,ethnicity and tolerance. Not bad for a "rigid" thinking Autistic. He is developing a passion for wild life photography that is exciting for him.He has four siblings who all support him lovingly now they have grown in understanding although not always they are not "saints".Two of his sisters are specialising in ASD therapy and education.
    We keep Jake on a natural diet [high antioxidant]as far as possible and he is the reason we grow olives for oil as a substance called oleocanthal may help keep him flexible and sort out his brain proteins.It is found in a high polyphenol fresh oil but needs to be spray free as Jakes responses to insecticides+some processed foods are abnormally sensitive. Although he does love the occasional junkfood treat.When he has overindulged it is always detectable Mc Donalds or KFC or too much sweet soda etc.The meltdowns give his "secret" eating binges away.Although being Autistic he always confesses his lapses in long and often hilarious apologies.I use gardening and nutrition education and a knowledge of how the brain works to give my students insight into their behaviour.Yes! Insight can be developed in ASD and we work on a programme called"keeping your amygdala cool" it was developed by trial and error to help and support all my students no matter what their"disorder". The garden/cooking/nutrition project along with good behaviour modification therapy and social skills training with family support good positive outcomes can be achieved.
    As a family we have always made sure we celebrate and honour Jake's uniqueness although it isn't always easy.You have to have a hide as thick as an elephant's get over embarrassment when the meltdowns are public and learn to watch your own stress levels.As I tell all the parents of the teens I work with "If you get stressed so do they".The future is an unknown for all of us and something we cannot control so after 28 years I reckon it's best to just accept your kids they way they are and find the common sense zone.Before reaching for expensive meds look at their diet and the amount of vitamin d from sunlight teens are getting.Especially those Aspies hooked on late night computer sessions.Check that they are getting natural essential fatty acids they are just that "essential" and ensure omega 3 ia part of their diet plus good vitamin D levels can make a big difference to our kids.The nourishment of our kids is fundamental to who they are and has more influence on the behaviour of all kids whether autistic or not than most "professionals" in this field give credit for.