About Me

I’m a Canadian-born, naturalized American, with Dutch immigrant parents and an English husband…talk about a mixed bag!  I like to think it gives me a broader perspective on life, but it probably just makes me odd…

I am a wife and mother of three great kids, who are the center of my universe.  Daniel is 12 and is our sweet, absent-minded professor (who takes after his dad!)  Gregory is 10 and loves to tell jokes and act out funny scenarios to keep everyone laughing.  And Sarah at 7 (going on 17 if you let her!) is my ‘mini-me’, although I swear I didn’t give my parents as much trouble….

I am a sensitive soul and cry at the drop of the hat in sympathy with the lives around me….those Hallmark commercials just do me in.

I’m a self-proclaimed nerd, and love learning (just about anything!), reading, travel and music.  I sing with the New Jersey Choral Society and enjoy listening to jazz and classical music.  But I have an adventurous, side as well.  People who know me professionally are usually stunned to discover that I have skydived, piloted airplanes, ride a motorcycle, ski, and SCUBA dive.

On a more mundane level, I enjoy exercise – especially yoga, dance and tennis – and work out almost every day (although you’d never know it by my physique!  I also enjoy my food!)  I’m addicted to my Starbucks ‘2 pump, no whip mocha’.

I hate to cook, but don’t mind doing laundry.  I hate close-minded people, but don’t mind eccentrics.  And I believe that life should be LIVED!

Despite all of the above, I hate talking about myself publicly, and only put this page together under duress from my dear husband, without whom this blog would not exist.  😉

37 Responses to “About Me”

  1. Alex Kolevzon September 29, 2010 at 7:33 am #

    A few corrections are necessary to your blog:
    1. mapping of the entire human genome has already been complete.
    2. we are curently able to identify genetic causes of autism in between 20% and 40% of cases (not 50%)
    3. within the research community, autism is generally accepted to be a genetic condition with some 10% of variance produced by environmental risk factors not necessarily considered to be “causal.”
    4. trials with fragile x medicine in humans are already underway and with promising results so I would remove the 10 year estimate.
    5. these trials are not with gene therapy but with medication that may reverse the synaptic deficits associated with the genetic defect in fragile x

    best,

    alex

  2. wanderingwords07 September 30, 2010 at 10:55 am #

    I am adding your blog to my role, it touches a personal place in my life 🙂 tell your son that my sister is 19 and has AS and has a daughter that is three months old! He will do great things in life as my sister is a wonderful mom!

  3. Terry Herman Sissons September 30, 2010 at 11:28 am #

    I am a retired child psychologist, and an American citizen living in England with my English husband. I have German, Dutch, and Polish ancestors, five brothers and four sisters. I’m pretty sure we got it from the German/Dutch side, but we too have Asperger’s in our family, along with manic depression, alcoholism, and high IQs, some of which are quite quirky.

    I’m not one of the depressed ones, though I sometimes worry that I might be one of the ones with Asperger’s, a possibility that invariably brings me up short when I’m into criticizing somebody else’s outrageous insensitivity. If someone doesn’t tell you you might be autistic, it’s quite possible to go through life with no idea.

    Like you have reached the conclusion that “fixing” people is not as straight-forward as one might first think. Even physicist Steven Hawking says his serious illness that has put him into a wheel chair and severely constricted his ability to speak says it is one of the best things that happened to him.

    As a graduate student, I was taught that autism was a form of schizohrenia. I’m now 70 years old, and have watched the research into autism develop over years. I now live in Cambridge where some of the world’s most gifted autistic scientists have worked. And still do.

    Hurray for you. And hurray for Gregory. Best wishes for your family.

    It’s a great blog, by the way.

    Terry Sissons

    • Joanne Houldsworth September 30, 2010 at 11:52 am #

      Thanks Terry – It is truly amazing how far research and understanding of autism has come in such a short time. I’ve only been studying it for the past 2 years and things have already changed dramatically!
      So how is Ol’ Blighty today? (It feels like rainy London here…) 😉

  4. alienhippy October 7, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

    Hello, you sound just lovely.
    I am definitely not closed minded and would probably fall into the eccentric bracket.
    Which I am proud to wear.
    I am an adult aspie with dyslexia and I am glad I found your blog.
    Love and hugs. x

    • Joanne Houldsworth October 7, 2010 at 4:48 pm #

      Thanks Alienhippy – and welcome! I see from the photo on your blog that you ride motorcycles too…You go, Girl!

  5. sword445 December 6, 2010 at 8:04 am #

    Dear Joanne,
    Reading your article on wrongplanet.com was like reliving my own experience. My son was diagnosed with AS when he was 11. While his “condition” is considered as mild, I knew from when he was only 2 that there is something different about him: he would spend hours playing with Legos without saying a word, he would get upset if schedule is changed, he never played with kids or even attempted to make contact with them, he had special interests that would last for a year or two and he only kept talking about that, nothing else. But he was the sweetest boy that mother would want, always telling the truth, never misbehaving as other young boys would, never asking for anything more than what we buy for him, and maybe a little untypical for AS kid – he is very empathetic and loving boy that just would not hurt anyone, even if it would be in self defense. I learned over the years what helped Anel to avoid anxiety, like packing his favorite things in advance and letting him take backpack everywhere he went (even just from bedroom to a living room), telling him in advance what will happen or if we need to change schedule, taking long bubbly baths to help him fall a sleep, cutting of labels from shirts before it makes him upset, cooking food that he can stand the smell of it… When he started school (and in foreign country!) he did not throw tantrums but he was very unhappy. It hurt me so much seeing him alone in school, day after day, never playing with kids. Anel always knew he is different and he kept saying that to us. We were lucky that he had great teachers until 6th grade, when all turned to bad and he became more miserable in school than ever and his grades were so bad that he almost needed to re-sit the year. He was crying because he is growing, his feet are bigger than mine, his favorite clothes no longer fit, he began to develop some facial ticks… I just could not watch him like that any more and I did not know what to do. I also just had my daughter and thought that Anel may be jealous, even though he never shown any signs of jealousy, he loved his baby sister so much and was very gentle and helpful and happy to spend time with her. But something was making him unhappy and while he was already 11 and entering the puberty, the behavior he was showing was not typical for just a “regular” pubescent boy. I asked school counselor to talk to Anel and she pointed out to me that he shows some signs that are on Autism Spectrum and recommended the therapist to us. I took him the next day for a test and the moment he was diagnosed I just felt such a relief and went on a mission, just like you. Two years after Anel’s diagnosis, numerous books, courses, sessions, weekly therapy, every day work with teachers and tutors, ups and downs, difficult transition to High School… – Anel is well adjusted and most importantly (almost always) happy little-big boy. (I call him that because he has a heart of an innocent baby, while he is standing tall at 180 cm).
    It’s not always easy, we still have hard days, but he has made such a progress over the past 2 years, that I can’t find words to describe how proud I am of him – over everything he has done, living through the confusion for 10 years, handling the big move to foreign country bravely as he did, learning new language, going into puberty and handling unknown emotions, accepting his diagnosis as mature as he did and working so hard with everyone to learn new ways… He is so brave and strong and that gives me strength through each day of my crazy busy insane life. I know he has bright future and I feel good knowing that I’m doing my part to prepare him to handle whatever comes his way.
    Knowing there are other mothers on the same mission, gives me additional strength to be there for my boy. So thank you for being there 🙂
    Alma

    • Joanne Houldsworth December 6, 2010 at 8:21 am #

      Alma – Thank you for your comment. It is humbling to think about everything that our kids have to deal with in a world that is so difficult for them. Finally getting a correct diagnosis is so empowering and has enabled us to better support our son. I’m happy to say that two years has made a world of difference for us too – Today Gregory is happy, relaxed and well-adjusted. I am sure there will be hurdles to come but today, we couldn’t be happier!
      Good luck on your journey – and keep in touch! Joanne

  6. Nancy December 9, 2010 at 9:16 pm #

    Joanne,
    I just found your blog today, and am glad that I did! My son, who is 9, was diagnosed at the end of last school year, AS/ADHD/PDD. What a whirlwind we have gone through, setting up his ISP, getting outside help, living a new life. This week has been a rough one, and am hoping we can just make it through Friday, and let the weekend relax and chill us out. Thank you for posting all your experiences, it has given me some new ideas and a breath of fresh air.
    Nancy

    • Joanne Houldsworth December 9, 2010 at 9:50 pm #

      Welcome Nancy! I hope some of these ideas will be helpful to you. If you have any good strategies to share, please let me know as well. And good luck on your journey!
      Joanne

  7. Dixie January 23, 2011 at 10:03 pm #

    Joanne –

    I love, love, love your blog. I am the mother of three sweet boys – one of them an aspie. Keep writing!

    • Joanne Houldsworth January 24, 2011 at 7:19 am #

      Thanks for your kind comment, Dixie – I’m glad you enjoy the blog! How old are your sons? Do you have any suggestions or techniques that have helped along your journey with AS? If so, I’d love to hear them! Joanne

  8. Dixie January 23, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    Joanne – Thanks for all the great book suggestions in your blog. I’ve found this book to be very useful in my journey of helping my aspie son: Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies: The Groundbreaking Program for the 4-A Disorders
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0345494512/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER

    I hope it’s useful to others as well.

  9. Momof2crazyboyz March 1, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

    Just found your Blog! love it.. Our oldest son just got diagnosed with AS last week.. He is 9 and this world is very new to me and my family. Alot of information to absorb and alot of information to still read. I also live in NJ and would love to hear about some of the resources available in our state. Keep up the good work. You can email me directly with any info you think would help my family. Thanks

    • Joanne Houldsworth March 2, 2011 at 7:06 am #

      Welcome to the blog, Momof2! It is very intimidating, confusing and overwhelming when you first get the diagnosis. I’ll contact you directly – I’d be happy to help with any questions you have. We’re all in this together! I am currently working on a series of posts about the IEP process, so you may find some helpful info there as well….stay tuned! Good luck on your journey!
      – Joanne

  10. Olivia March 11, 2011 at 11:14 pm #

    Hi Joanne,
    Thanks for your blog! Can I recommend must-have resources? Michelle Garcia Winner’s books on “Social Thinking” have the best outcomes I’ve seen yet – very powerful, insightful, and concrete. You may already be familiar – but I’m a die-hard Social Thinking follower and wanted to share. I’m looking forward to reading more – especially the IEP process. Again, thank you!

    • Joanne Houldsworth March 12, 2011 at 10:43 am #

      Thanks Olivia – That is a good suggestion. I attended a seminar that Michelle gave and she was great! Keep those ideas coming!!!

  11. Luke March 16, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    Hi, we have a 7-year-old son with Aspergers. He hasn’t been officially diagnosed yet since we’re having some trouble finding doctors nearby who specialize in austism/asp., but going down the list of symptoms, we can tick off just about all of them. We’re in NJ also, so if you have any insight into local resources, we’d love to hear them. (And we’re of Dutch descent also!)

    • Joanne Houldsworth March 23, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

      Hi Luke – and welcome! Where are you located in NJ?

      • Luke March 23, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

        We’re in Raritan (Somerset County), near Somerville and Bridgewater.

  12. Cathy March 24, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    Hi Luke.. We also live in Warren County. We go to a MD in Allentown, PA who diagnosed our 9 year old.. He specializes in Aspergers. There is also a support group starting in April in Somerset county. Below is the info. Feel free to email me directly.

    Dr. Dumont…484-350-3700.. They also offer Behavioral counseling which we go to weekly in Bethlemen, PA

    April 11 – Clarence Dillon Library ..
    If interested email me directly. Good Luck

    • Joanne Houldsworth March 24, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

      Luke, I am not located in your area, so I don’t have much to offer in terms of local clinicians. However, in addition to Cathy’s recommendations, I would suggest that ASPEN (located in Edison, NJ) might be a good resource for you. They also hold conferences twice per year (one this weekend, actually) which are very informative.
      Good luck!

  13. Lisa Jo Adair April 14, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    Joanne.. I have a 9 yr old boy who until recently, I always assumed just had ADD. This summer we moved across the country and he started 4th grade in a new school. I approached his teacher early on with tips on dealing with his behavior and clues that would indicate a “shut down” was imminent.

    As the school year has progressed, the disregard for social rules is becoming more apparent. This is what brought me to your blog. My son is very literal in how he presents and processes information. I always thought he was just quirky…. I am beginning to think it might be more than that. He often misreads his classmates. If they touch him suddenly and he doesn’t have time to prepare, he perceives it as a physical attack. The idea of boys rough housing is completely foreign to him. In his mind,”why would I want my friend to push me to the ground and sit on me”. He has been scolded by his teacher many times for things he has said to other students, even being sent to the SAC for calling a female student fat. When the SAC asked him why, he responded… “I never called her fat, I asked her to move and explained that because of her size with her standing there, we would never have enough room for both of us”.

    He doesn’t have all the symptoms. I don’t even know where to begin or how to navigate the process of finding out if he might have it.

    Thanks for all the helpful tips, I think many of them will be useful either way.

    • Joanne Houldsworth April 16, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

      I’m glad you found the blog helpful Lisa Jo. It can be a daunting task, but keep up the good work on being your son’s strong advocate!
      Best wishes…

  14. Kim June 6, 2011 at 1:28 am #

    Hi Joanne!
    Our son was just diagnosed last month at 8 1/2, so I feel like now I am a professional reader! He is also our little professor and has one younger brother and one baby sister (now 4). It’s craziness as I am currently homeschooling them overseas. We are in the process of figuring out who to tell what. Anyway, I appreciate your blog! It reminds me I am not alone.

    You won’t find aspie news on our blog btw. At least not at this point until we have told folks ‘in the right order’.
    Hugs from Africa!

    • Joanne Houldsworth June 6, 2011 at 9:32 am #

      Kim – Thanks so much for your note. And no, you are definitely NOT alone!!! I understand the ‘craziness’, especially while you are trying to figure things out initially. Plus, having other children, you’ve got to maintain the balance within family – keeping everyone happy, healthy and heading in the right directions…no easy feat! Good luck with your journey.
      Joanne

  15. Doug June 13, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    Joanne,

    I’d like to communicate with you directly. What is the best way to do so?

    Doug

  16. Colleen R September 15, 2011 at 11:39 pm #

    Hi Joanne,

    I love your blog as well. I stumbled across it when looking for writing on massage and aspergers. You certainly love your family very much and I do believe you are helping many more families as well. Can you contact me through email when you get a moment? I’d like to talk to you more about massage.

    Many thanks,
    Colleen

    • Joanne Houldsworth September 17, 2011 at 11:50 pm #

      Hi Colleen – Thanks for your interest. I sent you an email directly.

  17. Ligia November 3, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    Hello Joanne,
    I would like to write to you directly to your e-mail to share my story—-It has been a great gift to have found your blog.
    I admire your courage for making this blog and I thank you for sharing your stories and articles.
    L.I.M.

    • Joanne Houldsworth November 4, 2011 at 12:14 am #

      Ligia – Thanks for your comment. I’ve sent you an email directly.
      JH

  18. ALice Tibbitts February 2, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    After reading I am more scared for my grandaughter them before. Her mother must has AS.
    But I was 21 when I had her and my heavens that was 49 years ago and knew nothing. She is the mother of my grandaughter wth AS. They live in a mess. I ofcourse can’t get threw to my daugher. I am trying to teach my grandaughter Life Skills I have her everyday her and every other week end. So we have a Life Skill chaulk Board on the wall.
    Bathing does not seem tobe a must for them..HELP even witthe chalf board rewarding this is not working……………Does ny one know If I cn see about DIsability for my grandaughter she is 12 and does have an IEP. My daughter is woking at a nursing home in house keeping and doing well. Once she returns home she sits and this is IT, no cleaning, most of the time doesent cook. HELP HELP..I have to be sue my grandaughter is taken care of. The counselor said she wll never leave home. Crushing moment…Si I would like to see abaout Disability now soon as I can..Any help willbe gladly received…thanks and blessings to all. Thanks for yoursite it is very important to us ll.

    • Joanne Houldsworth March 23, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

      It sounds like you have your hands full, Alice. Thank goodness your granddaughter has you in her corner! Good luck to you, your daughter and granddaughter on life’s intricate journey. Best wishes, Joanne.

  19. Kylie White February 8, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    I’m truly happy to come across your blog. It is absolute pleasure for myself to introduce to another advocate like you who is spreading as much awareness and experience to its audience about Autism. My sister sarah has two beautiful autistic kids. Being a single parent, Sarah has suffered so much hardship both financially and emotinally. We just recently decided to convert those experience into a blog and a facebook page where sarah will share all of her experiences and problems to solutions. So I am reaching out to you as a fellow advocate to support us.

    Please like our facebook page and help us grow more.
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Autism-Autism-Spectrum-Disorder/350242585063628

    Also We’ll truly appreciate if you mention our blog under “Autism Sites Resources”.
    Our blog is, http://autismsd.com/

    Thank you for your time and consideration.
    Kylie White

  20. Cameron Von St James September 18, 2014 at 11:12 am #

    Hi Joanne! My name is Cameron Von St. James and I had a quick question for you and was wondering if you’d be willing to email me when you have a free moment? My email is cvonstjames AT gmail DOT com ☺ Hope to hear from you soon!

  21. Amy July 3, 2015 at 11:44 am #

    Hi, I just stumbled on your blog and am so happy I did! I have a five year old girl diagnosed a few months ago. Thank you for this blog, you posts made me smile today!

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