Check out this exclusive interview with Debra Solomon, the founder of Spectrum Strategies. Let us know what you think on our Facebook page!
Q: When did you decide that you wanted to work within the Autism community?
A: I decided I wanted to work within the Autistic Community the moment I was personally impacted by someone in my life that was on the spectrum. At that time, many professionals were not experienced with High Functioning Aspergers since it only became its own diagnosis code in 1994.
Q: How has working with individuals on the spectrum impacted your life?
A: It has made me more tolerant and even more open and honest about how much harder it is for someone on the spectrum to have a back and forth conversation with another person that comes so naturally for the neuro-typical person. These challenges continue in all areas of interpersonal communication and Executive Functioning Skills.
Q: What is the best advice you can give to young adults on the spectrum?
A: The most important advice I can give to a person on the Spectrum is that they should never feel ashamed of their disability and know it takes a very strong person that needs to work that much harder to achieve the same results. And always remember whether a person has a diagnosis or not, everyone has challenges and some type of handicap. Always focus on your positive qualities and they will always win out!
Q: What advice would you give to parents who have a recently diagnosed child on the spectrum?
A: As parents, we want to fix everything and come up with a solution before we understand what the diagnosis means. You must go to your school district and see what services are provided and set up a CSC to know what the district provides and then come up with a game plan. Early Intervention is they key component and this starts by putting a team together compromised of a psychiatrist or just a psychologist if medication is not required. Speech and language therapists are also an integral part of the process, as well as occupational therapists and a physical therapist. There is no one formula or team of people, each action plan is tailored to the individuals needs. As a parent, you must be mindful that although early intervention is key, there is a person in that body with real feelings that needs time to just be child.
Q: What type of feedback have you received from those individuals who have worked with Spectrum Strategies?
A: My clients have been very pleased. They find the coaching process is very effective starting with the Action Plan. This visual tool filled out by my client gives them concrete steps to follow and specific time frames to reach their goals. My clients express feelings of empowerment and confidence to complete tasks such as navigating the subway system, going on dates or going on job interviews.
Q: When did you start Spectrum Strategies and how did it come to be?
A: I started Spectrum Strategies last year, but I have been involved in the world of Autism for over two decades.I have always been a person who wanted to help others that were less fortunate then me and to be a positive influence in their life. I have always had a deep respect and admiration for teachers and have had the privilege of having some teachers that were very influential in my life. But, it was when I had my own children did I truly appreciate the value of a great teacher who has the ability to work with all types of students learning styles. I realized once a child becomes a teenager, the team of people has to be shifted and hiring a coach is an integral part of helping a young adult understand all the different options after high school.
Q: What are some of the most common issues young adults on the spectrum are dealing with?
A: Some of the most difficult challenges lie in executive functioning, including time management, scheduling, and organizational skills. In terms of daily functioning, personal management and personal hygiene are areas that need constant practice. I help structure and organize employment skills including resumes writing, coaching for a job interview and following up with job placement.
Q: What are your hopes for the autism community and the future?
A: My hopes for the Autism Community is with each passing year, the world continually recognizes the gifts of these young adults and are willing to bring them into their work place and give them the same opportunities as people in mainstream America. As each year passes, the percentage of full time employment in the Autism Community increases. This can only happen if the world is more tolerant of those who need more hand holding, direction and encouragement. Anyone who is involved, whether it be a co-worker, boss, or friend must accept these challenges in these individuals and feel proud that you are part of their road to success!
For more information on Spectrum Strategies, visit us online today at www.spectrumroadmap.com.