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Stephen Shore Live Chat Transcript


Diagnosed with “Atypical Development and strong autistic tendencies” and “too sick” for outpatient treatment Dr. Shore was recommended for institutionalization. Nonverbal until four, and with much support from his parents, teachers, wife, and others, Stephen is now a professor at Adelphi University where his research focuses on matching best practice to the needs of people with autism.

In addition to working with children and talking about life on the autism spectrum, Stephen presents and consults internationally on issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, advocacy, and disclosure as discussed in his books Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome , Ask and Tell: Self-advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism Spectrum , the critically acclaimed Understanding Autism for Dummies ., and the newly released DVD Living along the Autism Spectrum: What it means to have Autism or Asperger Syndrome.


  Hi everyone! Welcome to our Live Chat with Dr. Stephen Shore!
  We will be starting in just a moment.
  Hi everyone. Stephen Shore here. Great to be here!
  It's great to be here with everyone. I was diagnosed as on the autism spectrum at 2 and a half and nonverbal.
  Fortunately my parents refuted the professionals' call for institutionalization and implemented their own "early intervention"
  And now.... with their support and the help of many others I am now a professor os special education at Adelphi University.
  I am ready to answer questions.
Comment From Henry Wright

Dr. Shore, my son Victor who s 10,He will be entering the 4th grade. Any advice on over coming fear of Fire Works. He has Aspergers, and doing so well Thank you

  Henry, glad to have you here!
  When you mention "Fireworks" I take you mean a fire drill?
  If a the ringing of a bell for a fire drill is causing problems there are a number of things you can do.
  One possibility might be to create some predictability in what for Victor is an unpredictable world. Perhaps providing him with advance warning before the fire drill occurs. Or depending on his developmental level, even a schedule or social story of what to do when it occurs can be good.
Comment From Henry Wright

No sir, we live in Orlando, very close to Disney, and we can not take Victor out to the parks at night becasue of the "Fire Works"

  As for fire works - like on the 4th of July, some ideas include having Victor where earplugs or sitting further away from the action.
  I was very frightened of fireworks as a child because I thought the sparkles where would come down and burn me. Using pictures, or even a social story as to what does happen during a fireworks display would have helped. So would have sitting in the car to watch the fireworks. These are just some ideas that would have helped me and may help others with autism.
Comment From Henry Wright

Great Thank you Sir!

Comment From Bobbi Collyer

Dr. Shore, what do you think of structured teaching? I went to a workshop and it sounds promising so I'm thinking of giving a visual schedule a try with my 11-year-old son, who's starting middle school this year.

  Hi Bonnie. Structured teaching - as is done with the TEACCH program - can be very helpful to many on the autism spectrum. With their focus on employing the strengths on the autism spectrum, structure teaching emphasis on making the environment comprehendible to people on the autism spectrum to increase success in interacting in the their surroundings.
  As for the possibility of bi polar disorder occurring with autism, that does happen. It's called "comorbidity" I dreadful sounding term. Autism can occur with bi polar disorders, depression, Tourrettes, and other conditions.
Comment From Guest

Can autistic kids be bipolar? or is this part of the spectrum?

Comment From Zach

Hi - thanks for chatting. My son Nolan is four, is verbal but is very quiet when he is speaking in sentences (as opposed to being very loud when just making noises). He knows all of the letters and sounds, but I havent found a way to get him to blend sounds together so that he can start working on phonics - any advice?

  Thanks for joining us Zach. You may want to try to have Nolan sing for communication, as music activates a different part of the brain.
Comment From Doris

My son is being placed in advanced math. Should I go easy on him when he has a bad grade in Health? He does not care about his personal hygiene. my son is very complicated, he talks very fast, which is hard to understand him. and hates to have his finger nails cut. he's in 8th grade and i still have to cut them because he cant.

  Hi Doris. Good hygiene is important for personal health and in social interaction. He may be having difficulties with sensory issues which are interfering with hygiene. Soap may be too strong smelling. Some people on the spectrum report taking a shower is like standing under a hail of bullets. Perhaps taking a bath would be better in this situation.
Comment From Sharon

Dr. Shore, my son Christopher is 19 and was formally diagnosed with Aspergers two years ago. He is living at home and he has just started attending community college. My concern is that he has trouble making friends although he has 'online friends'. I have suggested social groups but he wants no part of it. Do you have any suggestions for helping him socially?

  Hi Sharon. This can be a challenge that many with AS experience. One possibility is to get Christopher in a club or group that does activities of his favorite interest. For example, in high school, music was a special interest so I joined the band. In college I found a bicycle coop as bicycling was a favorite interest at that time.
  That way there's a ready made topic of conversation rather than having to deal with small talk.
Comment From Bobbi Collyer

Do you think that communicating through typing is easier or more effective than speaking for kids on the spectrum? I wonder about this with my son. Sometimes he just kind of locks up.

  Hi Bobbi. For many of use communicating through an assistive device (such as typing on a computer, pointing at pictures, or using a Canon communicator) can be more efficient than verbal communication. The most important thing one can do for someone with autism is to make sure they have a reliable means of communication - whatever that may be.
Comment From Roxanne Annis

Hello Dr. Shore my son Chase is 5 and he has been in early intervention and PreK with the same teachers, OT, PT! and ST for the last 3 years and he is very attached he will now be starting kindergarten and is having high anxiety over starting a new school. He does not do well with transition. We have tried social stories and I have now taken him to the school twice but yesterday it caused a major meltdown and anxiety any advice of what else I might try in the next few weeks?

  Hi Roxanne. Perhaps the transition to the new school needs to be done in smaller and slower steps. Maybe beginning with just driving to the school grounds and leaving. Later, park the car and walk up to but not into the building. And so one. Each attempt should be properly prepared with a schedule of some sort (for predictability), social story or other technique appropriate to Chase's development.
Comment From Guest

My son flaps his hands and rolls his tongue when he gets excited and we keep telling him to take a deep breath everytime we see him doing that. Should i continue doing this?

  Without seeing your son it's hard to say what is happening. However, I wonder if taking that deep breath is helping to regulate his sensory system. It may be good to have him seen by a qualified occupational therapist.
Comment From Lee

My daughter is 11 and is struggling with defience issue at the moment at school. She has started being aggressive towards the teachers and has been suspended 4 times now and faces explosion if she assaults another teacher. Its heart breaking. She is high functioning but has this rage, particularly towards authority figures. Is there anything you can suggest to help? I am in Melbourne Australia. Thank you.

  Welcome from Australia! It may be that your daughter is experiencing what Brenda Smith Myles and colleagues refer to as the Rage Cycle. What I wonder is whether there are "rumbling" behaviors indicating increasing anxiety before the "volcano" blows and there's a meltdown. If you can determine what those rumbling behaviors are, then you can head the explosion off at the pass by finding strategies to reduce anxiety.
  AS, hormones, and puberty can be a volatile mix for many. What I would do is to find a qualified professional in your area such as a psychologist/psychiatrist who is familiar with these issues.
Comment From Guest

my son is 14 and has AS can you give me some ideas on how to deal with the AS and hormones. He is high functioning but has anger issues.

Comment From David

Hi Dr. Shore! Any tips for helping my daughter do better with math? She is so smart with language and writing, but she really struggles with math.

  Hi David. Many people with autism are visually based. If you daughter is visually based then finding way to show mathematical operations visually with block, other objects, or drawing pictures may help. Taking objects in and out of paper bags can help with addition and multiplication.
Comment From Lee

Thank you, she does move her feet and that gets more rapid the more angry she gets. She hates socks and shoes and often is very pigeon toed when she is feeling stressed.

  Hi Lee... These actions sounds like they could be rumbling behaviors signaling an imminent meltdown.
Comment From Nancy

Hi Stephen! My daughter is going off to college next week and we are so nervous. She has Asperger Syndrome. Do you have any tips for how we can make her transition as smooth as possible?

  Hi Nancy. A question that many are asking...
  Making sure your daughter is well connected with the school disabilities office and that they understands your daughter's needs will go far in making college a successful experience. Also, visiting the college, the classrooms, and the dorm where she will be living before school starts will help with the transition.
Comment From Sarah

Hi Dr. Shore! I'm afraid my son's teacher doesn't know enough about autism to ensure he has a great experience in school. Do you have any tips for how I can help the teacher without seeming to aggressive?

  Hi Sarah. At the risk of excess self-promotion, giving the teacher a copy of my Understanding Autism for Dummies has a lot of good material for educators wishing to learn more about meeding the needs of students with autism.  
  Doing so will help present yourself as a resource of information to the teacher rather than a pushy parent.  The teacher will likely be grateful.
Comment From anne

what is the best way to teach my son's class about autism and aspergers so kids are understanding and dont bully him

  Hi Anne.  Another common question - which is good because it will help many others!  The best way is to educate children to appreciate the wide diversity within the human gene pool.  Simple classroom discussions on what students like to do and find easy (translate are good at) and what they don't like to do (translate) they are not so good at is a good way to start.
Comment From Jan

What are your thiughts on students telling their peers upfront they have aspergers or even giving informational sessions about ASD for their peers and teachers in the begining of the school year? Or do you think that puts a lable on them?

  Hi Jan.  The question of disclosing to others is vitally important and can be very helpful in educating classmate about differences.  The challenge is in doing it the right way – which is a topic of an entire presentation that I give.
Comment From Bobbi Collyer

Is that presentation available anywhere online?

  Excerpts of that presentation have been posted to YouTube.  Look up stephen shore autism and you'll find them.
Comment From colleen

Hi Dr. Shore! I just wanted to thank you for talking to us today. I think your story is so inspiring and it gives all of us parents so much hope. What do you think the best piece of advice is to give parents of young children with autism?

  Hi Colleen.  It's been a pleasure chatting with all of you about how we can best meet the needs of individuals on the autism spectrum.  I wish to thank Autism Speaks for for providing us with this opportunity to get together... and all of you for what you do to help those of us on the autism spectrum lead fulfilling and productive lives to our greatest potential.
Comment From Jan

Where do I get info on your presentation?

  Come visit my website or feel free to email me if you have further questions.
  Thank you everyone for joining us today!

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.