Helping autistic teens enter postsecondary stream

By Heidi Ulrichsen | Sudbury Local News

Speaking in a precise manner, 16-year-old Chris Ahrbeck said he hates it when he hears news reports which refer to children with Asperger’s syndrome as “problem children.”

Asperger’s syndrome is a form of autism spectrum disorder characterized by social awkwardness and repetitive behaviour patterns.

Ahrbeck has a milder form of the condition, but that doesn’t mean life has been easy.

He’s often been bullied by his peers because his disorder, which has affected everything from his organizational skills to his ability to participate in team sports.

“I want to say I was never a problem child,” Ahrbeck, a Grade 11 student at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School, said.

“There were some issues, of course, but that’s to be expected with just growing up in general. My strengths are different from other people. That’s really what makes me different from everybody else.

“Individuality should not have a negative name.”

To give an example of a positive aspect of his disorder, Ahrbeck describes how he often becomes intensely focused on one interest, and is able to stick to a task, when those without the disorder might lose interest and give up.

“While I cannot concentrate on things that do not interest me, if something stimulates me, I’m very single minded about it, and I can work on it for hours,” he said. “I’m really interested in the sciences, the maths and Lego.”

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More resources on Autism:
Autism's Hidden Blessings: Discovering God's Promises for Autistic Children & Their Families

1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism or Asperger's, Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition

Thinking in Pictures (Expanded, Tie-in Edition): My Life with Autism (Vintage)

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