INTRO, SUMMARY AND QUESTIONS
The Hill Family: Who are we?
Why does this issue mean so much to us?
What unique challenges do we face as a “family of Aspies”?
How do we work together to meet those challenges?
Hi! You may be wondering who we are and just why this issue means so much to us. Well, we are Blair and Jodi Hill. We have two children, Caleb and Miriam. The unique part is that all of us have Asperger’s Syndrome which is a form of Autism. We call ourselves, “The Aspie Family”. We’re kind of like the Addams Family …a little more modern…but at times, almost as strange. We use the term “Aspie” as a way to identify ourselves. Many people ask us what unique challenges we face as a family of “Aspies” and what do we do to meet those challenges. We would love the opportunity to share our story with you.
Our lives, individually and as a family, are just full of stories of daily life with Autism…some humorous and some not so funny, with many adventures and struggles, victories and disappointments, laughter and tears… we could write a book. In fact, we are in the process of doing just that. Keep checking back often so you don’t miss it.
We are excited that you decided to visit our site. Maybe you stopped by because you are looking for a speaker for your event. If so, make sure to check out our booking page and give us a call to set that up. Maybe you were asking yourself, “What is autism?” and looking for more information to help you understand yourself, a family member, co-worker, or classmate. Or, maybe you were just wondering what a family of Aspies looked like. No matter the reason for your visit, thank you for stopping by. We hope you found what you were looking for and more.
Although this site is not exhaustive in information about Autism Spectrum Disorders, we want to give you some of the basics and point you in the right direction for resources and links that can be very helpful in your journey toward understanding ASD.
Don’t forget to go to the contact page if you have any questions or want to share your experience with Autism. (Once we review it and have your consent, we may post your story to encourage those who may be struggling with their ASD and help those who don’t have it but want to understand it better. We reserve the right to choose the stories we publish and edit them for space and appropriate content.)
Again…thank you for stopping by and we hope you enjoy your visit.
I grew up an only child on a farm in rural ND 10 miles from the closest small (don’t blink you’ll miss it size) town. Being an only child (and a girl) living on a farm far away from civilization has its own challenges. Add the fact that I had undiagnosed Autism Spectrum Disorder and it becomes even more interesting and challenging. School was a challenge not because of the academics of it; I liked school and was a pretty good student. However, the social aspect was an anomaly. Although then I didn’t comprehend that I had problems socially, there were just so many times that I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on and why people were reacting the way they were. Many times I felt like a spectator not really feeling involved in my own life.
In elementary school, my teachers said I was a daydreamer. I had potential – but needed to apply myself. I think now that I was overwhelmed and retreating into my own world to “get away” from whatever it was. I remember times when the teacher or someone was getting after me for something; I didn’t understand what I had done and I would start to blur them out with my eyes…kind of a way of looking like I was listening but feeling uncomfortable with eye contact that I would block them out and not actually look at them. This was most likely misunderstood as aloofness, but again, I didn’t understand that.
I also remember as a child that I liked to spin a lot. Spinning is one form of what is called stemming that I used. In my studying of ASD, I have learned that this is common with many people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Rocking, flapping, or even banging the head are other ways that those with ASD use to calm themselves and cope with situations that become overwhelming.
Much of my time is spent thinking, planning, and processing. I tend to be a perfectionist and like to be prepared for any situation I may encounter. Over the years, I have developed many rituals for starting my day, for showering, for bedtime routines as well as many other situations. One way I prepare is a kind of rehearsing or role-playing. I am constantly processing the steps to every situation throughout the day, projecting what I think may happen and how I would/should respond. It may even be as simple as trying to remember what questions to ask someone that I just meet or even how to keep or end a conversation. I know many people say that “everyone struggles with this” but it is different with someone on the Spectrum. We tend to almost have a meltdown (not necessarily outwardly but inwardly) becoming overwhelmed and suddenly feeling awkward and many times, because we don’t know how to end a conversation, we will either ramble on, monopolizing the conversation or kind of falter and fade off and then walk away. Many times we are misunderstood as rude or self-centered when really it is just that we don’t know what to say or do next. We freak and just walk away to avoid any more awkwardness.
To this day, I still struggle and need time to process my day to come and what happened during the day. My brain is constantly going even at times when I “should” be focused on something else. It is even very difficult to settle down at night to sleep. Many times I read a book or do something like watch television or play solitaire type games to refocus and settle my mind. This is many times when I journal as well to help process my day's activities. Since I like to write, journaling really helps me process life around me. It also helps me to articulate what I see, feel, and understand as well as what I don’t understand and what I don’t “see”.
And those times when I am overwhelmed and on “sensory overload”, I take a time out and find a quiet spot and close my eyes and take a few breathes and say a prayer. I can’t complete this “story” without adding the fact that I know my relationship with Jesus Christ is my daily support. Today, I am a writer, singer, minister, public speaker, wife, and mother. Without Him, I know my struggles would have been much more difficult and my accomplishments much fewer. He is my source of daily strength and faith. Without my faith in my Heavenly Father, I could do nothing. I owe him everything. He gets all the glory.
We interviewed the kids to get their perspective. Here is what they said…
Well, I think Asperger’s Syndrome is not so much a disorder as it is a different way of brain thinking. One thing I'm not very good at is socializing or making friends. But what I am very good at is technical things: Lego projects, science projects, and inventing things. I have trouble when my little sister gets upset and starts whining. Those sounds really irritate me. But she's really a great sister and I love her.
It's sometimes hard to take directions from my parents because I may see many other ways of it being done. That sometimes causes a little bit of trouble. Having Asperger's syndrome, I think of many different ways of doing things that other people may not even dream up.
One of the ways that you can help to not have breakdowns is, when you feel one coming on, do something that makes you happy or something that you enjoy. Forget about the problem for a while and do something that keeps you focused and takes your attention off of what was causing the meltdown. This can calm me down a lot. If you look to God he can help you with the things you struggle with and he'll make your gifts shine.
Asperger’s Syndrome can actually make me smarter than other people. Sometimes it makes me hard to make friends and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it's really hard to sleep because my mind keeps thinking of many, many thoughts. It's like a computer hard drive it keeps running and running and running. It helps me sleep is when someone rubs my back or I take melatonin or I get rocked.
I have a lot of really nice dolls. They almost seem real to me and it makes me very mad if somebody takes them and does something bad to them. One of the good things is I have many good ideas about a lot of good inventions I want to make someday. It’s really hard for me to save money because I want to buy all the stuff in the store with my money.
By the way, I have a suggestion for all the kid’s parents. If you would like to help your child get over a meltdown, tickle the back of their neck…it helps them relax and calm down.
If you would book a speaking date go to our contact page!
Autism Awareness Events / Conferences
Home school conferences
Elementary, Middle, Secondary Schools and Colleges – parents, educators, and students
Churches –Sunday school teachers, Pastors & parishioners understand the ASD families in congregations
Retail / Office in-service programs – understanding co-workers with ASD