Autism and Mental Health Advocate Releases New Book

Russell Lehmann releases second book chronicling a life with Autism

Rusell Lehmann_MediaPhoto
Reno author and autism activist, Rusell Lehmann, debuts his second book about life on the autism spectrum.

 

(RENO, Nev.) – Author and internationally recognized speaker Russell Lehmann debuted his newest book, “On the Outside Looking In: My Life on the Autism Spectrum,” (Lucky Bat Books, 2019) on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 at Lark & Owl Booksellers in Georgetown, Texas, an Austin suburb.

The event began at 7 p.m. and featured Lehmann reading excerpts from the new book as well as a group conversation about Autism in our society. In addition to purchase availability for the book at Lark & Owl, copies may be purchased on Amazon or at local independent book sellers.

“On the Outside Looking In” is Lehmann’s story of overcoming the odds and achieving immense personal growth. Exposing his vulnerabilities, naiveties and painful personal experiences, Lehmann relays the many lessons learned and insights gained throughout the circumstances in his life. Emotionally powerful stories and intense poetry give a raw and transparent insight into Lehmann’s life on the autism spectrum.

This is Lehmann’s second book. His first book is entitled “Inside Out” and features his gripping and personal poetry.

About Mr. Lehmann:
Russell Lehmann was named a 2018 “Most Outstanding Young Professional” in Reno-Tahoe and has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, NPR, USA Today and numerous other national publications. He is a globally recognized motivational speaker, poet and advocate who happens to have Autism. He is a member of the Nevada Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities and an ambassador for several national Autism programs. He speaks to organizations around the world.

Worried About Not Doing Enough for Your Child? Don’t Be!

Russell Lehmann Parenting Autism

The most common question I get asked by parents of a child on the spectrum is “How do I know if I am doing enough for my child?”. By asking this question, it proves that you are indeed already doing enough.

Oftentimes parents question themselves and second-guess if they are doing the best thing for their child. Yet the solution is quite simple, for I always say that as a parent, if you lead with love, you can never go wrong.

Sure, the outcomes may not be to your liking, very few things in life are. However, by always trusting your parental instinct you can rest assured that your unconditional love and support for your child is, in the end, the only thing that matters. You know your child better than anyone else. Have faith in your expertise.

When I was growing up, and still to this day, what I appreciate more than anything from my mom are the simple things. An ear to talk to, a shoulder to lean on and cry, a big hug, words of comfort and a body to sit next to.

Your child is assigned with the exhausting task of always entering the world of others. For me, personally, I cherish the times when others make the effort to enter my world. Here I can be unapologetically me. I can be vulnerable, share my insecurities, cry, vent, express my frustrations and feel comforted that I have someone who loves me enough to just simply listen.

You, as the parent of a child on the spectrum, hold the key to unlocking their full potential. Believe in your child. Have faith that the path you are on together is, and will always be, the right path. Life may not ever get easier, but let me tell you from personal experience, that it does get better.

Why We Compare Ourselves to Others on Social Media and How to Stop

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” ~Steve Furtick

We all have certain triggers that can cause our confidence to take a sudden nosedive.

For some, it’s a trip to the gym. If you’re self-conscious of your body, watching fit people strut their stuff in their tightest fitting gym clothes likely has you over analyzing your every body part.

For others, it may be a certain individual—a family member, friend, or enemy that, for whatever reason, leaves them with the dreaded feeling that they just aren’t enough.

We all know the gut wrenching feeling that arises when we see or hear something that immediately has us second guessing our appearance, personality, or skill set.

Unfortunately, social media provides us with numerous platforms that help to quickly trigger that unpleasant self-disdain.

Facebook recently reminded me of just how powerful a determinant it is to my confidence level.

I found myself comparing all aspects of my life, both internal and external, to a person I had never met. She was a stranger in every sense of the word, and yet somehow, her profile page caused me to question my accomplishments, appearance, and even personality traits.

I didn’t realize just how illogical this was until I explained it to someone, and, now as I type, I’m reminded even further.

Regardless of how illogical these comparisons may be, our emotional responses to such images can be so strong that they completely overpower our sense of logic.

The reality is, people are constantly showcasing the best aspects of their life onto social media.

The arrival of a new baby and a recent trip to the Caribbean are both ideal picture-posting occasions. But do these same people post photos of 2 a.m. feedings or lost luggage? Not often, because that wouldn’t show them in an ideal light, but it would provide a sense of reality.

Reality is what is lost on social media. We emphasize the best versions of ourselves instead of the real versions.

Life can be hard, ugly, and downright depressing at times. But those likely aren’t the adjectives most of us would use to describe the photos we post onto our accounts.

The feeling of lack and dissatisfaction that we feel when scrolling through our newsfeed often results from comparing our true reality to our “friends’” idealized, perfectly Instagramed realities.

We are using the same scale to measure two entirely different realities.

However, we fail to step back and recognize just how wildly unfair and unrealistic these comparisons actually are.

So how can we stop ourselves from making them?

1. Reduce your time on social media.

This can be a challenge since we live in a culture that puts such a high value on social media outlets. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Allow yourself five to ten minutes a day to check your social media accounts and then be done with it. Especially avoid looking at profiles of people who trigger thoughts of comparison. You have nothing to gain in doing so besides anxiety and sadness.

2. Redirect your focus on the things that really matter.

When you direct your attention toward the real world, you have less time and energy to direct toward meaningless activities such as social comparisons.

Focus on a high-energy work out at the gym or finishing a book you’ve been putting off. Immerse yourself in activities that leave you feeling better for having engaged in them (versus Facebook stalking, which leaves you wishing you hadn’t).

Make a list of activities and then schedule them onto a calendar. Since we often spend time on social media when we have little else going on, having scheduled plans will reduce the time we are sitting idle.

3. Assess where those negative comparisons are stemming from.

As unpleasant as these comparisons can feel, they can serve a positive purpose in that they inform us of an area of our lives that may benefit from some improvement. The incident served as a reminder that I want to be secure enough in who I am and where I am in life that I don’t feel the need to measure it in comparison to anyone else (least of all, a stranger).

After my strong reaction to a stranger’s Facebook profile, I decided to work on developing a stronger sense of confidence and self-worth. I’ve done this in a number of different ways such as:

  • Putting a higher value on my relationships. I have amazing friends and family, but I admit that I often take them for granted. I’ve tried to become more present in my interactions with them, as well as in encounters with complete strangers.
  • Valuing my time more. In the past, I’ve been much more cognizant and respectful of others’ time than my own. I’m practicing putting my needs first and learning to accept that it is okay to do.
  • Doing more of what I love. Sounds simple, but I’ve really made an effort to go on quiet walks with my dog more or allow myself an hour to read a book. Doing things simply because I like to do them has given me an increasing amount of self-value.
  • Eating well and moving. I make sure to put my body in motion for at least thirty minutes a day (even if it’s just walking the dog), and I eat small, healthy meals throughout the day so I don’t find myself snacking mindlessly on junk. Putting a higher value on my body by eating clean and getting exercise has naturally given me a higher sense of self worth.

So, next time you make an unfair comparison, instead of allowing it to make you feel poorly about yourself, view it as an opportunity for a little self-evaluating.

Ultimately, social comparisons aren’t indicative of what others have that you don’t, but rather what you already have but aren’t quite aware of yet.

About Emily Holland

Emily, M.A. is a freelance writer and Certified Health Coach. Her curiosity for people, personal growth, and healthy living led to a Masters in Psychology and a certification in Health Coaching. She is constantly researching news ways to live a healthier, happier lifestyle and is passionate about sharing her insights through writing. Visit Emily at curiouscoffeedrinker.wordpress.com.

Moving Beyond Fear to Support Your Child on the Autism Spectrum


I increasingly feel as though I’m backed into a corner (a spot that is usually a safe place for me), but in this corner there is a subtle yet deafening voice issuing a profound ultimatum:

“Be safe and stagnate, or take risks and flourish.”

Each time I hear this voice, a fire ignites within me as I stand up in the corner, back against the wall, and remember a quote that has been the continuous theme of my 27 year-long journey: “You were given this life because you are strong enough to live it.”

I have had the amazing opportunity to travel to all corners of the country sharing my story, insights gained and lessons learned, and I make sure every audience I speak in front of takes one message home with them: I believe the heaviest burdens in life are only put upon the shoulders of those strong enough to carry them. The lesson for me here is clear: If I were to stay inside my comfort zone and not push myself out into the extremely frightening outside world, I would not be able to touch a single life with my message of hope, inspiration and acceptance.

Being a motivational speaker, I travel a lot, and I have recently developed PTSD when it comes to airports after I experienced a horrendous meltdown in June of last year at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Although this experience went viral after I wrote about it on Facebook, the mental and physical repercussions of this traumatic incident have been immense. Meltdowns are already exhausting. Public meltdowns? Downright agonizing.

Few people understand the torment and anguish that lies behind the word “meltdown.” Tears, hyperventilation, screams, adrenaline rush, intrusive thoughts, vulnerability, sometimes even vocal tics and convulsions. In five out of the last 11 trips to the airport, I have been met with intense anxiety, prolonged panic attacks, distressing meltdowns, severe depression and invasive bouts of OCD, resulting in me pacing back and forth in the airport, sobbing uncontrollably, twitching and rubbing my hands together, all the while feeling like my brain is in a vise grip that has been set on fire. On top of this, I am always met with two extremes from the people around me: stares of curiosity or purposeful avoidance. I am either on exhibit or completely invisible, and to be honest I don’t know which one is worse.

Throughout all of this, I have somehow managed to board my plane each and every time, sometimes assisted by my mother and/or airline employees and have subsequently given a heck of a speech to boot.

So the question remains: Should your concerns for your child limit their pursuit of a fulfilling life?

My answer? No.

Without a doubt each episode of panic or sensory overload I experience takes a toll on my mental and physical well-being, but I have found that through strife and struggle we can discover our individual purpose, and come to understand why we are here.

I’ll refer you to this famous African proverb: A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.

The purpose of this article is to inform you. After all, knowledge is one of the few things that can be given to you but never taken away. Having said that, you are the parent. You know what’s best for your child. When you trust your parental instincts above all else, while also compassionately pushing your child to take risks, letting them know you will be there to catch them when they fall, I believe you will be amazed to discover your child’s continuous growth of self-confidence, ambition and insight.

Parents of those on the spectrum often second-guess themselves and may regret certain decisions they made for their child. I know my mother did, but let me tell you, she has been the absolute perfect mother for a son with my struggles and circumstances. I believe when you do something out of love, you can never go wrong.

Police officer helps boy with autism find lost teddy bear after 911 call

By Ashleigh Jackson,

Police officer rescues teddy bear for boy with autism

(Meredith) - A 12-year-old boy was reunited with his lost teddy bear after a New Jersey police officer helped him find the beloved toy.

Ryan Paul, who has autism, called 911 last Wednesday when he needed help finding his small stuffed animal named Freddy, WPIX reported.

"My teddy bear fell down again. Don't worry I'll rescue you again. Goodbye again. See you again!" Ryan is heard telling a dispatcher before hanging up.

His father, Robert Paul, told the New York Daily News that he was initially shocked to learn his son had called the emergency line.

“I said ‘Ryan, did you call 911?’ and he said ‘Yes,’” the dad said. “I said ‘Why?’ He said ‘Teddy bear rescue.’”

Woodbridge Police Officer Khari Manzini located the stuffed animal a short time after arriving to the home.

"We found the teddy bear, the teddy bear was OK," Manzini said. "He was in safe hands, no injuries, nothing like that."

"Whenever we could use that training to make sure to not only keep ourselves safe but those folks that we're helping safe, you know it makes a great difference," he told the station.

Ryan's father applauded the officer for his kindness, and said he's proud to have "such a fine and caring police department."

"You know he couldn't have been more accommodating and understanding. It was really great," he said.

Russell Lehmann Autism Research

March 3, 2019 via Instagram @BiteSizeAutism

Research with 70 Taiwanese autistic adults found that sensory avoiding was associated with greater loneliness and anxiety. The relationship between sensory avoiding and higher anxiety was moderated by loneliness - this means that loneliness is key to sensory avoiding and anxiety being related. How do the results fit with your experience? Comment below!

READ MORE:
Syu, Y. C., & Lin, L. Y. (2018). Sensory Overresponsivity, Loneliness, and Anxiety in Taiwanese Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Occupational therapy international, 2018.

Autistic child handcuffed to chair at Louisiana elementary school

By: Bria Jones

www.easttexasmatters.com

WINNSBORO, La.  (KTVE)- A 9-year-old special needs student named Zykayden was handcuffed to a chair at Winnsboro Elementary School.

His mother, Shrena Henderson, was heading to Monroe when she got the call to come pick him up.

"I noticed he was in the classroom by himself four adults surrounding him and he doesn't have on shoes and he is foaming on the mouth," said Henderson.

It was the end result of an episode, Zykayden says, started after he didn't want to do his math work.

"I had started throwing stuff and writing on a table then they called the principal and the principal called the police," said Z. Henderson.

It's something his mother said never should have happened.

"You handcuff my kid to a chair," said an upset Henderson who wants her questions answered. "What was logical about that?"

NBC10/Fox14 reached out to the principal at Winnsboro Elementary School, he directed us to the Franklin Parish School Superintendent Lanny Johnson. When we called his office, we were told he was out sick for the day. While filming video of the school, a police officer came and told us the school called and requested we leave the property.

According to the school's documents, Zykayden tried to headbutt and hit teachers.  At that point, Winnsboro Police Chief Willie Pierce said his officer took the appropriate actions, despite the department not having a policy for handling special needs students.

"If we stand back and watch that child continue to do what he is doing, someone is going to get injured. We are here to prevent anyone from being injured him being placed in handcuffs did not hurt that child," said Pierce.

Henderson said her child is traumatized and accommodations should be made for kids with disabilities. Henderson said Zykaden was suspended for five days and she is now planning to homeschool him.

She has a pending case against the Winnsboro Police Department and believes this was an act of retaliation.

However, Chief Pierce said that is untrue.

Large Study Confirms No Association Between Autism, MMR Vaccine

DisabilityScoop.com

by Shaun Heasley | March 4, 2019

MMR vaccine

A vial containing the MMR vaccine is loaded into a syringe before being given to a 1-year-old. (Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Researchers in Denmark conducted a nationwide study of all children born to Danish mothers between 1999 and 2010. Using a population registry, they tracked 657,461 children for a decade finding that 6,517 of the kids were ultimately diagnosed with autism.

Children who received the MMR vaccine were no more likely to have autism than those who did not get the immunization, according to findings published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Similarly, the study found no evidence that the vaccine triggered autism in kids that were at higher risk for the developmental disorder due to environmental risk factors or family history. And, the results showed that there was no clustering of autism cases following vaccination.

“Autism occurred just as frequently among the children who had been MMR-vaccinated as it did among the 31,619 children who had not been vaccinated. Therefore we can conclude that the MMR vaccine does not increase the risk of developing autism,” said Anders Hviid of the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen who worked on the study.

The findings come amid heightened concerns about people forgoing vaccination with the World Health Organization recently naming vaccine hesitancy to its list of top 10 threats to global health in 2019.

Already this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported six measles outbreaks in New York, Texas, Illinois and Washington state. A U.S. Senate committee is expected to discuss the issue on Tuesday.

Also this week, the American Academy of Pediatrics wrote to Facebook, Google and Pinterest calling for the companies to do more to prevent the spread of misinformation about vaccines on their platforms.

Fears about a link between autism and the MMR vaccine largely emerged out of a 1998 study that was retracted in 2010.