Sunday, October 31, 2010


I'm thrilled to add to our Awesome Aspies list, the world famous psychologist and author Steve Biddulph.
He, amongst other things, has successfully shaped the way we think about raising children, neuro-typical or otherwise and is one of my personal heros. He was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome as a child.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I think it's great to tell your friends and family about all the fabulous, successful Aspies out there in the world. It helps the neurotypical community understand that people with Asperger's Syndrome are normal people with amazing minds and limitless potential to achieve great things.

It is important to be mindful not to put too much pressure on children with Asperger's though. When my son was about 8 years old, we made the mistake of telling him about people with Asperger's whom also happened to be savants. He subsequently felt inadequate when he couldn't, for example, recite pi up to one million decimal places, creating unwanted anxiety about his own achievements, which he should have been very proud of. Needless to say we don't do that anymore!

Now that our son is a few years older, he feels both comforted and excited about sharing his condition with the "Awesome Aspies" I mentioned in yesterday's post.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Awesome Aspies

If you look around, you may be surprised who has Asperger's Syndrome or Asperger's Traits.

Most people are aware that Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Mozart and Vincent Van Gogh are likely candidates for Asperger's Syndrome.

Albert Einstein stuck out his tongue for a photographer on his 72nd birthday in 1951. 

Einstein was a theoretical physicist who changed the world with his theories. Like his Special and General Theories of Relativity, Quantum Theory and Unified Field Theory.
For more info see:

Bill Gates. Apparently no-one can write software code like he can.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 1756 - 1791
Was composing small works of classical music at the age of 5. 

This is one of many Vincent Van Gogh self portraits, painted in 1889.

Did you know that actor Dan Aykroyd was diagnosed with mild Asperger's and Torrette's Syndrome as a child?
Dan Aykroyd in "Ghostbusters" the movie, 1984.

Steven Speilberg was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome as an adult.

Lead singer of the super rock'in Aussie band "The Vines", Craig Nicholls, has Asperger's Syndrome. 

Check out The Vine's MySpace page:

Lady Hawke, (one of our family favourites), has Asperger's Syndrome.

Check out Lady Hawke's MySpace page:

Clay Marzo, champion surfer, also has Asperger's Syndrome.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Life That Time Forgot

In my past life, pre-kids, I was the complete contrast to my Aspie son. A social maniac. I had more friends than I could count and I loved to go out and have fun. My wonderful friends were a hoot and I was a happy camper.

Even though my friends are still there for me, we all followed different paths in life and gradually saw less and less of each other.

My focus became my children and my memories of the past were misplaced.

Nowadays I spend my time feeding, managing and entertaining my kids, unsuccessfully trying to teach our dog to talk (a simple "hello" would suffice), avoiding housework and occasionally dabbling in paid work, somewhere along the line I seem to have forgotten how to interact with people my own age.

Dear old hubby and I rarely get the opportunity to converse before we flop our weary bodies into bed at some ungodly hour and if ever I get a moment to myself (ha ha.. like that ever happens!) all I want to do is relax and enjoy the peace.

I daydream about escaping to a luxury hotel room alone - a big bed, room service and someone else doing the cleaning.

However, this week I have discovered that catching up with old friends does wonders for my mood and hence makes me a better primary carer (aka mum)!

So listen up friends and family of primary carers with a child on the Autism Spectrum! If your friend once enjoyed socialising, (not all parents did), they will again. Offer to mind those kids and send that primary carer out. Remind them of what grown-ups like to talk about (other than kids) and providing they are not candidates for driver fatigue, (let them sleep if that's the case), encourage them to catch up with friends, old or new or do something they think is fun and let the healing begin!

It's very hard nurturing friendships when members of your family prefer to be without visitors and often prefer not to socialise publicly. (This can end up rubbing off on all the family members.)

Some parents feel a deeper sense of loneliness and depression, which is common when caring for special needs children. This may require a more aggressive approach to acquiring "me time" and can be the least of their problems. (Reaching out is often the last thing you want to do when suffering from depression. That is why family and friends should take some responsibility in looking for the signs of depression and encourage their friend or family member to talk to their GP at least).

For more information on depression:

The Black Dog Institute:

Beyond Blue:  

happy-mothers-day.jpg Happy Mothers Day! image by citylimiIf this rings true for you, it may not be as simple as getting a babysitter once in a while. Make sure you are under the care of your GP and discuss all options in helping your situation.

Sometimes you have to make some more substantial decisions in order to create a happier life. Change jobs or lessen your hours at work if you can. Don't do housework for a day a week, or even better, get a cleaner (I wish), rearrange your family schedule to include you. Organise regular help for the kids.

Think outside the square of your life and make a drastic change and don't forget in Australia, you can apply for a mental health care plan through your GP. This enables you to seek professional counselling through a psychologist or psychiatrist with a heavily increased rebate from medicare. I've got one and I love my sessions with my psychologist. More info:

The primary carer's happiness is extremely important to ensure success for your family. Do what you have to do to make it happen!

Good luck! Pursue happiness, stay kind, stay calm and stay tuned!

Friday, April 16, 2010


School can create a highly charged emotional environment not only for children with Asperger’s Syndrome, but for their families as well.

Many families feel like they are falling between the cracks of the system.

Aspie’s are too high functioning for a “special school" but are often not able to cope with the mainstream school system either, due to issues like bullying, slow processing abilities or anxiety.

Although many people with Asperger’s Syndrome are above average intelligence, (some are even savants), the system itself does not cater for their specific brand of thinking.

It is easy for a parent to fall into “fight mode”, feeling as though they have to fight for the rights of their children in the school system.

Even though we all want what is best for our children, parents can often do more harm than good.

No one wants to be the parent the school dreads!

The reality is, you and your school are a team and you have to be able to work together to reach the best outcomes for your child with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Some great tips for supporting your teachers are:

Suggest teacher courses: 
To help teachers understand Asperger's Syndrome and make the classroom better for everyone.
In Australia, I recommend:

Start a communication book:
Both you and your teacher jot brief notes everyday. You’ll be amazed at how much it helps by letting each other know details from home and school, like if your child had a good nights sleep or not, if they struggled or did well with work or socialization or if they are having a particularly Autistic day (sometimes for no reason). All information helps. Just keep it short and to the point.

If you and your teacher are more technically savvy start a communication email system instead of the communication book above.

Plastic envelope in bag:
I keep an A4 plastic envelope with a velcro latch in my son's bag for notes and other communications with the school. That way he can hand it to the teacher or to me and is less likely to lose little bits of paper. (You can keep the communication book in there too!)

Make appointments:
See school staff at regular intervals that suit you both, to stay on top of potential problems. Always ask what you can do to help the school help your child.

Write to the Minister for Education:
If you see problems in the school system, write to or lobby your local member or even better, your Minister for Education.

Let your teachers know you appreciate them.

Have a great new term with your team… and remember, stay calm, stay kind and stay tuned for more mokas posts!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Busy Day Schedule

Further to my post on change. Here is a sample of a busy day schedule that we used on a day that would normally have been overwhelming.

Unusually for us, my son had 2 parties in 2 days. The first was a Friday night sleepover party and as you can imagine, he was exhausted by Saturday morning.

We chose to "wag" morning swimming lessons and swapped the time slot for relaxation time, (making sure his sister gave him a wide berth) so he could clear his head and recharge.

We don't get invited to many parties, so I felt it was important to prioritise around them for his social benefit.

My husband and I also attended a wedding that same day and the kids were being babysat by my in-laws which threw in extra elements of change.

My son found the schedule really useful and it kept him calm as he knew exactly what he needed to do and what was going on throughout the day.

It was so successful that I'm actually planning on making up some templates, laminating them and re-using them for most days with a whiteboard marker. I'll post the templates on this blog soon.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

when change is no holiday

As a mother of a beautiful Aspe, day to day living is always throwing interesting challenges my way!

One of those challenges is dealing with change.

Most people with Asperger's Syndrome would rather everything in their lives stay the same... but as much as we try to control it, unfortunately the only constant is change.

Many of the qualities in people with Asperger's Syndrome, may be a result of them trying to stop change and create a predictable and constant environment for themselves.
Think playground, only wanting to play their own games, or taking over group assignments in the classroom, these things remove the unknown for them.
Given time and good peers, they will learn to compromise and get used to unpredictable friends. (So align yourselves with caring peers and help your person with Asperger's Syndrome nurture friendships if you can.)

Focusing on a special interest creates a very predictable pastime, making people with Asperger's Syndrome feel safe. It can be a place they turn to for relief of stress.

Some examples of change that may create anxiety in Aspe's may surprise you. I've noticed in my circles, quite distressing change can range from fear of becoming an adolescent, moving house, relief teachers, daily changes in the news, not having favourite underwear in the right drawer, a favourite shop closing down, a sleep over at a friends house or holidays, etc.

Interestingly, I have noticed actual grief occur when unwanted changes happen within a special interest. (More about this later.)

Some tips for helping our friends through change are:

-Give as much warning as possible of daily events.
e.g. "Today when I pick you up from school, we'll be going to the post office before we go home."
e.g.2. "There will be an extra visitor at Christmas lunch, she's Nana's new neighbour and is a very lovely lady who likes gardening".
e.g.3. I once had a teacher that would text me if she was going to be away that day! (Wow.. you can't ask for more than that!) and that enabled me to prepare my son better for the day.

- Keep a weekly schedule complete with clocks, words and pictures of activities.
If that seems too hard, just have a basic hand drawn schedule of weekly events in columns & rows and blue tack it next to the front door. (e.g. Monday, band, normal uniform. Tuesday, library day - take library bag & book, normal uniform. Wednesday, sports uniform... etc, and it's easy to change it week to week if you need.) Something basic is better than nothing at all.

- If you have a particularly challenging day coming up, make up a schedule, also with clocks, words and pictures, just for that day. (stick figures are an easy picture you can use.) and read it together a few times so they feel comfortable with the information before it happens.

- Try and be organised the day before. e.g. pack school bag together the night before, talk about the next day. (Don't pack the lunch though .. yuck, soggy sandwiches!)

- Have fun together, every chance you get, if your family & friends are willing.
Plan something fun together and have a laugh. Go to the ice cream shop, see a movie, go for a walk or swim. Try not to feel bogged down in routine, it's nice to know good things happen outside your schedule too!.. however, always ask and talk about your plans first and if a little spontaneity doesn't work out for the fun stuff, schedule it in!

There are many factors that contribute to meltdowns and problems coping with life, change is just one of them.

Good luck with your schedules! (I know I need to take my own advice and get organised!)

Stay calm, stay kind and stay tuned!


.. how could I forget?

Aspergia also features a magnificent rail network, complete with rare and special trains and the roads are filled with beautiful collectable cars and bikes.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Planet Called "Aspergia"

Ahhh, welcome to mokas!
It's been a long time coming but finally I've put fingers to the keyboard and am starting my blog about Asperger's Syndrome.

My son, who is a pre-teen Aspe, refers to himself as an "Aspergian". The otherworldly resonance is more than appropriate.

It's like he and his Aspergian friends are from the planet "Aspergia". A planet on the outer rim of the Autism Gallaxy, filled with beautifully engineered structures, amazing artworks, intricate computer networks, a well researched & documented history and a government with immaculate treasury.

Aspergia features a hard working, law abiding community of experts in a wide variety of fields, not the least including robotics, Harry Potter, Ben 10, Star Trek, Dr. Who, surfing, music, mathematics and physics, just to name a few.

The Aspergian's with similar special interests are wonderful friends, talking at each other for hours on end about the details of their interest, then at the end of the day they all go to their homes alone and enjoy the solitude. What a wonderful place!

Luckily for Earth, these Aspergian's have been magically transported here. Possibly to enhance the lives of the Earthlings, who seem to be lacking in the mental capacity to tackle many jobs that Aspergian's excel in. 

The Aspergian's are able to do amazing things like put a stop to the 2nd World War with their code breaking skills, discover the theory of relativity (Albert Einstein was an Aspergian), create musical masterpieces, engineer, account, research and learn.

They have given Earthlings so much and in return the Earthlings need to do a few things for them.

It turns out that Aspergian's need lots of understanding to survive here on Earth.

I think many Earthling's know the basics about "classic Autism" and are confused as to what an Aspe is really like! (Quite different to their cousins from Autisma!)

Aspergian's are wonderful people, who are a lot like Earthling's but they think a little differently. 

Aspes pine for friendship and feel loneliness.

You'll be amazed at how happy they'll feel when you compliment them. (Never criticise an Aspe!)

Give them a little extra time to process answers and try and be patient. There is a lot going on in that amazing mind!

Be calm and be kind and stay tuned for more info soon!

Lots of warm wishes
Mrs Mokas