Today on Mom Autism Money, we sit down with Blake Baumann of Aspie-R Coaching. Blake is a life and success coach that specializes in working with young adults and teens with Asperger’s. As a parent of two young ASD adults as well as being on the spectrum himself, he understands personally the struggles that are faced by both autistic individuals and parents.
Blake shares great, actionable ideas to help prepare your kids for communication in social circles and work venues, ways to build confidence, and exercises that can help your child envision a future they can get excited about. We also learn about Blake’s 1% rule, which can help you or your child improve skills in a focused area by 3,700% over a year.
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Full Episode Transcript
Brynne: Hi, everyone. Welcome to Mom Autism Money. Today, we are talking to Blake Baumann. And Blake is a life and success coach that specializes in working with young adults and teens with Asperger’s. So as a parent of two young ASD adults, Blake is also on the spectrum himself. So he understands personally the struggles that are being faced by both Autistic people and their parents.
That’s why he made it his mission to help our Autistic youth unleash their genius so that they can launch into life successfully. And this is a really good interview, Joyce. He has so many tips that, you know, he’s talking about how, like a lot of times kids with Asperger’s, their parents might view them as lazy or something when really they’re just overwhelmed and just really need that self-confidence built.
Joyce: And also what I like about what he explained, too, was communication and how we communicate is so essential for them. And he explained what he does himself to communicate and understand. And what he does with his clients, too. So that was a good tip. He has amazing tips. I think he needs to seriously write a book about this because he’s so good at explaining things that you’re like, oh, okay.
That makes sense. Oh yeah. That makes sense. Not just for like parents, but also someone with Asperger’s as well that’s struggling because the same struggle he has and how he coped may help someone else. So this a good episode, and I hope you guys really enjoy it.
Brynne: Hi, everyone. Welcome to Mom Autism Money. Today we’re talking to Blake Baumann of ASPIE-R (sounds like ‘aspire’) and we’re going to be talking about career in life skills for children and specifically for young adults with Asperger’s.
So Blake, thank you so much for being here with us today. I’m wondering if you can tell us a little bit about yourself and your business and how this all got started.
Blake: Absolutely. Well, thank you both for having me. I am a certified life and success coach who works with young adults with level one autism spectrum disorder.
It used to be known as Asperger’s or high functioning autism. And what I do with them is I really help them to work, to launch into life and really tap into their genius and help them unleash it so that they can live an extraordinary life. And before I was actually coaching, I was an executive leader at several different companies.
I was in sales and operations. I was even a golf professional, and then taking me all the way back to my teenage years, I used to work at a pizza place, folding boxes. And right before that, I worked for my dad where I ran wires underneath houses and through attics. And what’s interesting with me is in my early twenties, I had this shift.
I’m a big time introvert and you won’t know by meeting me, but I’m a massive introvert and I had this shift. And I always put myself since that shift into extroverted roles. And part of that was in executive leadership. I started working at a technology company and started getting young adults that reminded me of me when I was at age, just very quiet, very shy.
Very literal is another way of saying that. And people struggled to communicate with them and it was always me going in to kind of play that middleman of, okay, this is what they’re meaning, and this is what they’re meaning. And now we can work together because everybody has clarity. And at that time I had no idea that I was autistic.
None whatsoever. It was when my son got diagnosed with autism, that I also figured out and found out through taking the test that he was taking, that I was autistic as well, and then found out later on my eldest daughter was autistic, too. And so what that did for me is that put a direction for me to go in and start researching cause I had no idea what that meant.
And, uh, I actually basically told the doctor that my son couldn’t be autistic. He was just like me. And so he needed to redo his test. And because I had this thought about what autism was and I was dead wrong. And so when I started researching autism, I found out there is a whole lot more and it is truly a spectrum.
We’re all different. And there’s a saying out there, and I know it’s an overused saying, but it’s true. And, and it’s that if you met one person with autism, you’ve only met one person with autism. We’re not all the same. My son and I are completely polar opposites. He is not very strong at math. I’m really gifted at math.
He can read Harry Potter novels in like an hour. It would take me two to three weeks to read a novel. Understanding that, and then I started researching and I started finding stats that were kind of scary. And this is really why I started my, my business, Joyce and Brynne, was that I read this report from the Department of Human Health and they were sending it to Congress and it was around 2017, And basically it talked about that there is 50,000 teens transitioning to young adults that were on the spectrum.
And 76% of them were never going to have friends because of communication issues due to autism, 15% would never are, would have a full-time job. Meaning 85% would not. And the ones that did have a full-time job at that time would only make $9 an hour. And they’re never going to live on their own that way.
And then the scariest stat was that the life expectancy was 16 years younger for people who had autism and nine times more likely for them to die of suicide. And so when I read that, I just, I said, this wasn’t going to happen to my kids. And so I started looking at, you know, what are the struggles, what are the challenges?
And I had to reflect a lot back on my life because in my early twenties, I went through exactly what these statistics were showing. And I made a decision at that point to radically change my life. And essentially by doing that, I transitioned the direction of my life and it led me to where I am today, where I’ve actually put together programs for young adults to help them really strive and get outside of their comfort zone and gain that confidence as needed for them to launch in the life.
And I know that’s a long way to get there and, uh, but that that’s kind of my story.
Joyce: Okay. Yeah. I completely understand that because the statistics alone, when I saw that, too, and also like in our family, it’s also eating habits because of, of, let’s say texture reason, or don’t know how to stop or even obesity.
It’s a major issue for kids in the spectrum, too. So that was something for me personally, this year, they started that I needed to be like healthy and like showing my kids to me, like it hit me. That there’s no transition. There’s nothing there there’s nothing and health wise, the suicide.
Brynne: So many people do go through it and it’s heartbreaking.
And we’re just so thankful that you’re here today, Blake, to, to talk to us about some of the things that you’ve seen that can help people through these situations and kind of get to a place where they’re better socially connected and all of these things.
Blake: Absolutely. Absolutely. One of the, one of the things that I have found is with our children, especially once they go through puberty, it just seems like something goes crazy a little bit.
This is kind of what happened to me is, is I went from. I would say I was pretty close to a neuro-typical child minus, you know, I had that quirkiness, that clumsiness until I hit puberty. And then once I hit puberty, it seemed like my anxiety went through the roof. And, uh, I was very, very fortunate that I had mom.
What she did for me is something that I think is incredibly important when we get into talking about our children, especially the ones that I’ve started working with is that, uh, she spoke basically of everything I was capable of doing. Yes, I wasn’t diagnosed early on, but she called me unique, and she didn’t call me odd.
She watched her language because she knew that the language she used around me would form my belief of myself and my identity. And I think one of the things with our young adults that really struggle is that they form this identity that they’re less than, and they’re not good enough. And that really leads them into some dark spirals and paths, uh, that they take.
It’s so important to talk about all their capabilities and to tap into their strengths. A lot of times it makes them uncomfortable because they don’t know how to handle when somebody is paying them compliments and things of that nature, but we shouldn’t stop because they’re uncomfortable with the compliments.
We need to teach them how to handle the compliments. And then, you know, kids can be mean and rude at school. And these are things that are unfair. But the best way of teaching our kids is to be the support that we can be right now as parents and not shy away from it. And what I mean by that is that sometimes as parents, we want to see our kids safe.
We want to make sure they have the best life that they can have. And so we take our comfort zone and we put it over our kids’ comfort zones. And when we do that, it really keeps our kids out of difficult situations when they’re young. And that’s actually the best time for them to deal with situations is when they’re younger, because then you can teach them how to overcome what skills they need to learn to be able to thrive in those situations and not when they get later in life as an adult shy away or shut down.
And so I think that’s one of the big things that I think parents should know as well. You’re not going to be around forever and that’s the scary part for us. And so we got to let our kids fail forward, and we got to let them fail in a way that we can pick them up. We can teach them how to do it and get them going in a direction that lets them be self-sufficient.
And I don’t know if that resonates or not. That’s just from my personal experience. And what I’ve seen in working with individuals is that sometimes we get over protective of them and we don’t give them a chance to fail or when they do, we immediately step in and we don’t let them deal with the situation.
We try to deal with the situation for them and that doesn’t teach them how to deal with it. That just teaches them mom or dad is going to step in every time I have a hard time and that works until mom and dad can’t step in. And usually that’s when they’re an adult and that’s when they have to step in for themselves.
Brynne: It’s too funny, but we talked about in an upcoming episode, we’ll be talking about this similar theme with just teaching kids about money, where we want to let our kids fail within our home, because like we all fail sometimes, you know, that’s part of the learning process. And when we do it in a way that we can provide our kids with support and guidance, to work through those problems and teach them the skills they need, this’ll be in a few weeks, guys, when we’re talking about money.
But with these specific skills, I know every person’s going to be different and the application is going to be different for every person. But I’m wondering what some of those skills might be, that we could teach our children to kind of handle these difficult situations and come out the other side.
Blake: Sure. So a couple of things is, and I’m going to be a little bit different than some other people on how I answer this because when we have difficult situations, one of the things that we as humans like to do is to point the finger at somebody else and blame. And so one of the skills that I truly believe that we all need to master is just kind of self-reflection.
And bringing awareness to the situation. And I look at this kind of as a strategy, in a sense, but look at, okay, I did X and I got Y result. And so if I do, W will I get Z result and look at the different outcome possibilities that are out there. And a lot of times, as a person with autism, you know, my brain is wired completely different than a lot of people.
And so what I try to do is I try to really make sure I have the right data input and the right rules to run off of. I have found that generally when I work with individuals on the spectrum, is that if I can find kind of what their operating rules are, you can change these rules to get different outcomes.
And so if somebody is getting in a tough situation and how they handle it, find out why they handled it that way, question them, okay. When this person did this, or when this happened, what were the thoughts that went through your mind? And kind of map them out on a piece of paper. I know it sounds kind of silly, but what this does is this starts letting you know, what are the rules that your child operates by?
And you can look and you can see if they did something. And I don’t know what an example would be, but let’s just say that two kids are playing. Another kid took the toy, the kid that got their toy taken away, the other one hit them. And so when you go through that situation, if the toy was taken away, the kid that hit him, might’ve thought that they were never going to get it back.
And so there was a finality, there was a loss to it. And so they felt that the best thing from what they know at this time was to go ahead and punch show the message that you took my toy. Well, if you could change that role of throwing a punch next time it happens, and the meaning that it’s a finality that they’re never going to get their toy back to, Hey, maybe they wanted to look at your toy.
And they asked you, and maybe you missed that or how could you handle it differently and start putting those rules in place and practicing with them. That is something that will carry forward and you can do some of that with money as well. I’m sure you have an incredible program to talk about how to teach money to children, but if you learn what the rules are on why they would spend money a certain way, or what money means to them, you’re going to have a stronger chance of driving in the good habits versus the bad habits.
Does that make sense?
Joyce: Oh, yeah. It does.
Blake: From different skills, you know, just one is taking self responsibility. I, I truly believe that if we can get our kids to take ownership of their lives, then they’re not going with what other people are telling them. They’re going to be somebody who’s self independent. They’re going to have stronger boundaries so that they have less to get caught into difficult situations.
Because they’re going to know who’s directing their life and it’s going to be them. That’s one skill that I would definitely say is something that would be important. Another skill is, and this is the tough one for people on the spectrum. It’s that communication. And I would tell you that the sooner you can teach them how to try to communicate in the other person’s language, and I know this sounds silly, but the way I teach my clients is that if you were dropped off in a foreign country of everybody who speaks Spanish and you don’t speak Spanish, are you supposed to learn to speak Spanish? Or are they supposed to learn to speak your language?
And sometimes as neuro-diverse, we get upset because the neurotypicals don’t speak our language. And so we get very flustered by that. What I trained myself, and this was one of the big shifts that I had in my early twenties, was I trained myself to learn how to speak other people’s language. And really communicate in their style.
That was revolutionary for me, that changed the whole trajectory of my life. And I learned that by doing that, I could communicate better because they would understand me better. And I would understand them. And so part of this is studying body language. I believe the stat is 93% of all communication is non-verbal.
And so when you look at that, teaching kids body language, and there are specialists that are out there for younger children. As older children, what I would tell kids to do is turn off the TV as far as the volume goes and try to figure out what individuals are saying, and then see if you’re right and start picking it up that way.
Start practicing where you’re miming the other person’s body language. It’s called mirroring the other person’s body language and matching mirroring. And it’s a neuro-linguistic programming technique that helps build rapport. But what it does is once you start getting an alignment with body language, then all of a sudden it actually physically changes how you think.
And so you can communicate better. And that’s something that I don’t believe is taught enough or focused on depending on, and again, we know every, every child is different as far as where they’re at in life. But once they’ve gotten to a point where communication is something that they can do, this is the way to get it to that next level is focusing on the nonverbal body language aspects.
And I don’t think that gets focused on enough.
Joyce: So, what do you think we’re lacking on when it comes with kids with Asperger’s and where do we need to focus and work on when it comes to careers and life skills?
Blake: Sure. That’s a, that’s a great question. One of the things that I see a lot with kids that I’m working with and I call them kids, they’re in their high teens, young twenties, but I’m in my forties.
So they’re all kids to me. One of the things that I’ve seen is it seems like that by the time they get to me, that when we reflect back on why they’re struggling, it’s because their parents had less expectations for them than they would a neurotypical child. And you know, one of the things that I want to caution all parents on is if you have less expectations for one child over another child, it’s going to be felt and seen by the children, even though it’s not verbally said, and what will happen is you will actually change how you’re treating your child.
For your, the expectations that you have for them. And so if it’s less, you’re going to do things that are going to give that child less chances and less opportunities. And so what I would tell you and challenge you to do is not do a less expectations, just do different expectations and treat them for who they are, but hold them accountable to higher expectations because that’s going to carry over into life.
And again, like I said, how you treat them, they’re going to learn things from your behaviors and you want them to be able to have the confidence that they’re great and not less than. And so that, that’s one, I talked about the comfort zone a little bit earlier, but making sure that you’re gently pushing them outside of their comfort zone consistently is big.
It’s something that is absolutely needed. Now, I have a big belief. My big belief is that you don’t have to push them way outside their comfort zone. You just have to do it like 1% a day. And if you did 1% a day at the end of 365 days or a year, most people would think that that person that you pushed 1% a day got 365% better.
But in truth, because it compounds on who they are each day, that they’re actually getting 3700% better. And it’s just pushing them 1% more. And what does that mean? What does 1% mean? Well, it could be everything from having them lock the house up for you at night. That could be a 1% or if they’re not accustomed and you want to teach them a skill. If they’re older and they said they’re never going to drive, but you know, that driving needs to be a part of their life.
That’s how my son was. A, 1% thing was, Hey, can you go get me something out of the truck real quick? And so they had to learn how to unlock the door, get something out of the truck and bring it back to me then, Hey, can you go ahead and start the truck for me the next day because it’s cold outside? Then hey, can you go ahead and turn on the windshield wipers?
Or can you reverse it and things at 1% ed him all the way till he was driving. And just by pushing our kids, just that 1% a day it’s going to compound. And what that does is that reinvents their comfort zone. And increases their confidence so that they’re more apt to take bigger and riskier steps in the world.
So, you know, when we think about where we’re lacking with kids, those are the two areas that I see are the most. When it comes to focusing and working on my career and life skills. One of the big things as parents, I think we have to give our kids a compelling future. I talked about having that expectation, but what’s so important for our kids is to know that they can live a great life.
Now, great is interpretive. A great life for one may be having a full-time job and living on their own. And other could be having a family and kids. It’s really up to that individual. But what you want to make sure is you want to make sure that you’re talking to them and building that opportunity that they will have a compelling future.
And you want to give them an environment of possibly. And so to do that, you know, it’s, it’s interesting is that you have to actually give them responsibilities. And make sure they’re accountable to them. And so they have to know the role, they play in the ecosystem of your home or the environment that they’re going to be in so that they can make sure that they’re doing what they need to do. And everything has to be age appropriate.
So if you have younger children, it could be something like getting your laundry from your rooms, emptying dishes, taking out trash, things of that nature. But they have to have this because that’s a life skill. That’s going to be important, not only in their life, but also they’re going to have responsibilities at work.
So what I would tell you to do is try to put them in situations where they can interact with people as well, because that’s, that’s a life skill. It can be limited and it can be just in the household to start off with. So, you know your child, you know their triggers, you know what causes the meltdowns or the shutdowns.
And so it’s different with everyone, but you got to push them just a little bit outside their comfort zone or else they’ll never grow. And so, for example, in my home, when my kids were younger, what we made them do is if they wanted something, we made them put together a presentation on why they should get it, or write out a letter of why they should have this new toy.
And we would make them present to us or talk to us about it. And the reason we did this is we know in life that you’re going to have to be communicating and you’re going to have to be showing exactly what you want. And why you want it and how it impacts other people. And so part of that is to show, you know, they had to do this presentation on, on, and I remember this with cell phones, you know, why they deserve a cell phone, the difference it would make in their life and how it would impact others in their life.
And so they went through this exercise and that’s just something that I believe helped them. All my kids have now had jobs and they’ve gotten jobs on their first try of getting jobs. And I believe going through this presentation aspect of what we made them do, it made just a significant difference in their lives.
The big thing for like me in my life was my mom forced me to play sports when I was younger. And when she did, I absolutely did not want to. I cried, I resisted, she made me. And so my first year in baseball, I played right field. Cause that’s where nobody ever hits it. So that’s the worst spot. And I just sat up there and picked flowers and did nothing.
Well, I have an older brother who was kind of embarrassed about it. And so he worked with me and pushed me. And this is why I think pushing is so good because I would have never, ever done any of this on my own. He pushed me so hard that the next year. I was so much better. And there an opportunity to become a pitcher.
They needed a pitcher. They told him I could pitch. I came in and became a star pitcher and that helped build my confidence in sports. And so that’s where I could put all my energy. With other kids now, you know, it could be sports, it could be D and D it could be different types of clubs that they’re interested in.
But I think being around people in those situations are just so critical to the success and the future life of ourselves.
Joyce: I keep learning. Thank you. Can you explain your business and how does it work and how does it help?
Blake: Sure. So my business is a life and success coaching business, and like I said, it basically, I focus on helping young adults to launch into life and tap into that genius aspect of them. And the way I do this is I really try to get into their operating system. You know, we’re all driven by beliefs and internal rules, and meta-programs, if you can connect with those individuals, and speak their language, then all of a sudden you can help them shift some of these disempowering rules that they may have or beliefs that are limiting them and get them to take pretty major action.
And so, for example, I’ll give you an example is I had a young lady who, she had no idea what she wanted to do in life. And, uh, she felt broken. She was always having meltdowns. And so I was able to figure out that she was a visual kinesthetic and that she had certain rules about if people didn’t react to her in a certain way, that meant that they didn’t like her and she would just break down and she ended up quitting several jobs because of that.
And so when I was able to get in there and work with her and figure out I started getting her to do things more hands-on because a kinesthetic, we are learners that have to do things hands-on and we have to basically jump in and learn physically. And that’s the best way I can put it is, so I started getting her to do some confidence techniques with body positions, they’re called power poses to create confidence.
We talked about some of her rules and we helped her see that her rules were just not good rules at all. They were really disempowering rules and we changed those rules so that if people didn’t act a certain way around her, that didn’t mean that they didn’t like her. That just meant they didn’t have enough information to maybe make an interpretation about her or they weren’t paying attention to her.
The other aspect of this is we found out that she loved music. And so she ended up saying that she wanted to be a DJ. Seven months later, she was actually selected to do a DJ job at Anime Matsuri, which is the largest anime convention in the US. And it gets about, I think it was right around 40,000 or 50,000 people that come to it every year.
And she was going to be the first African-American female DJ there. And she’d only been DJing for seven months. It was just so crazy, but she went a hundred percent and once we got these new rules programmed for her, she just started reaching outside of her comfort zone. Uh, unfortunately it was 2020. COVID hit and she did not get that opportunity because they had to close everything down, but she knew how much passion she had for music.
So she actually got selected to go to California where she’s in the top music production school. And she literally just produced her first music production, like a month ago. She was having an incredible time. And, uh, is living out her dream. She’s gotten to rub shoulders with celebrities and other people, and it was just, you know, two and a half, three years ago that she had no idea what she wanted to do in life.
And so that came because we were able to just shift a couple of rules in their life. The other aspect of this too, is with kids, we help them gain their confidence. And we help them, if they don’t already have a compelling future, we help them build that compelling future. We tap into their strengths because one of the things is if you can tap into their strengths, it will out shadow their weaknesses.
And most of the time we always focus on what we’re not good at, but I teach my clients how to focus on what they’re great at and excel at what they’re great at, and then build an identity around that. When that happens and you pair it up with what I call as an empowering routine. So something that anchors in that identity that keeps on pushing them that 1% every day, they take massive action. And then there’s certain skills that we’ll teach. So I mentioned that matching and mirroring that’s a rapport skill. So we’ll teach building rapport, we’ll teach active listening. We’ll teach how the words that they use make a significant difference in how they feel and how they react.
And then if they have any needs for job help, you know, one of the things that I’ll do is I’ll help them put together a resume package, some things about how they can stand out that’s different from other people that may be interviewing. But then we go through practice interviews, whether it’s going to be through zoom or in-person, and then pre and post interview preparation and how to talk, you know, if they want to mention that they’re autistic and how to bring that up in the conversations.
So I customize everything based on the young adult that I’m working with. But, uh, it’s always fun to see how much they grow. And, and sometimes as we know of our kids, you know, I gave you kind of an extreme example, but sometimes it’s just being able to pick up the phone and call your doctor and set up your own doctor’s appointment.
I did that with, uh, one of my clients just recently. And their parents were ecstatic because, you know, if you can get them to make that phone call to set their own appointments, and then they can start doing other things for themselves as well. And so that was a big first step because this young man was scared to speak on the phone and we were able to help him push through that.
And now he is off to the races on life. And so with my business, you know, I, I truly just focus on the individual and what they need to really gain that, that confidence and that compelling future and what they want to achieve. And then we just fill it in with the gaps that they have. Can I ask
Joyce: Can I ask you, where are you located?
Blake: Sure. So I’m based out of the central Texas area. Um, but I have clients worldwide. I have clients that are in Australia. I have clients in Spain. Most of my clients are US-based. Uh, I have them from coast to coast. So from California to Pennsylvania, down to Florida, everywhere in between. And so if, if they are in Texas, sometimes we’ll do, uh, if it’s convenient, we’ll do some face-to-face coaching sessions, especially when we get into body language.
But for the most part, the majority of what I do is via Zoom.
Joyce: So, all they have to do is go to your website and start there, right?
Blake: Yeah. If they wanted to go to my website, they’d be able to find my contact information and get in contact with me. A lot of times when I work with young adults, I start off working with their parents first, meaning that I have the first couple of discussions with the parents. I get to understand their young adult. And before I even, I will take on a young adult, I want to visit with the young adult one-on-one. And I do that for a couple of reasons, you know, I’m, I’m not going to be for everybody. There are some young adults that just, it’s not a good fit for me to work with them.
They need a little bit more specialized help than I can offer, but typically I want to make sure, too, that I can build rapport with them and that I can build trust and that I can start understanding how they think. And if I can do that, then I will absolutely work with them. If I can’t and I come back to the parents and I just let them know that I cannot.
And typically I’ll recommend some different routes to go as well.
Joyce: Are there any common coaching patterns that seem to help everyone regardless of their individual circumstance?
Blake: Absolutely. So I think the big thing that with the clients that I’ve seen is that the lack of confidence is the number one coaching pattern that is needed to be able to help.
And usually this is where the young adult really just does not have any experience with success that they’re aware of. Usually they do have experience. They’re just not aware of it. They’ve never connected the dots. And so one of the things that if you can do that will make an incredible difference is if you can show your young adults, the victories that they’ve had.
So what we do at our house is we have a victory jar. And basically we do this for our entire family. So it can be a family event. It doesn’t have to just be for your young adult or your autistic child. But basically we write down on a piece of paper and we fold it up, put it in the jar. Every victory we’ve had for the month or year, ours, we go year cause our kids are much older.
If your kids are younger, I definitely do this maybe on a weekly basis or no longer, no later than a monthly basis. But we write down all the victories that we have. And it could be as simple as I got an A or I got a B on my test today or it could be, you know, I got somebody that thanked me for doing a nice deed.
It could be anything from, you know, in, in our, our, uh, house. It can be anything that’s crazy. Like, uh, my, my son got a girlfriend and so, you know, having a girlfriend, but what’s so impactful about this is it takes these victories. And it makes them very tangible. And when you pour them out and you see how many victories you have, it starts stacking that confidence.
Because again, most of our kids don’t equate what they’ve done as a big deal or a victory. And so they don’t follow it that way in their mind. And because of that, they don’t have anything to draw all off of when things get going tough, or if things are challenging. And so by having this victory jar, and it can be a journal, it doesn’t have to be a jar, but having this, you can bring tangibleness and not all autistic individuals are kinesthetics, but the majority of the ones I coach are, and what that means is, you know, when they can touch and feel things, it becomes real to them.
And so by having that victory jar, that’s something that is incredible. The other thing is I keep on going back to this compelling future because it’s so important. Our kids need to know that they have a good life in front of them. And so what we’ve done with our kids, is we’ve built vision boards, and so we’ve said, Hey, what do you like?
What don’t you like? You know, let’s cut out the things that you like and let’s paste them on a poster. And let’s pretend that you’re going to be able to achieve this in the next 12 months. What are some of the things that you would need to do to, to start achieving this? And so it keeps them very focused on a direction. It helps them start having that goal planning, uh, strategy aspects to their life, where they’re able to start mapping out, you know, what do they want to achieve?
You know, when I typically start working with a young adult, they don’t know what they want to do. They know that what they don’t want to do. And so you can ask that and then kind of start writing the opposites down as well. So if your kids are older, that could be a strategy. But when you can help them start seeing a picture visually as well, it makes a big difference.
So they’re not just seeing it in their head, they’re seeing it out and about. And when you can start showing how their actions are leading towards that, it gives them excitement and something to start working towards. And that’s something that I believe, you know, if parents did those two things, you know, I think my clients would be cut way in half, but I’d be okay with that because I just think that it’s so big and it will make just a massive difference in their lives.
If they have those two things, they have confidence and compelling future. There’s nothing that’s going to hold them back.
Joyce: What challenges do you see in your business or misconception about Aspie kids?
Blake: Sure. Uh, I’ll take the misconceptions about Aspie kids first. And basically the biggest thing that I see is that people believe they’re lazy, that their kid’s lazy.
And that is probably the furthest thing from the truth. Now they may appear in the result of what’s happening, may show laziness, but it’s not, what’s really happening. What’s really happening is that they are scared to death. And they are petrified. And what happens when we get scared and petrified? We retreat.
And we retreat to something that’s comfortable.
So that’s where we lock our doors. We get caught in video games or we go on the internet and we just spend hours and hours and hours. Or you get caught up in like D and D games or, or things of that nature. It’s not because they’re lazy. It’s just because they’re scared. They don’t know what to do. One of the things that, the best thing that I can tell somebody with what I’ve found consistently across the board, it’s one of the best ways to help a young adult or a team on their confidence is by preparation.
If you can prepare them for what’s going to happen, you know, they’re more apt to actually participate in it because they know what’s going to happen. And part of that too, is if you can help them on the places that may cause them some anxiety. So let’s just say you’re going to be going to a birthday party.
And you let them know we’re going to be leaving at this time and it’s going to take us this amount of time to get there. And once we get there, we’re going to walk in the door and this is what’s going to happen. Let’s go through some possibilities of if there’s surprises, like you’re not expecting this or not expecting this, how can we handle those now?
So that when we get there, you know, there’s never a surprise. And by doing that, you create a lot of confidence and you get them to take action. So a lot of times that’s the biggest misconception that I hear is my son’s lazy. Or that my daughter’s lazy and that’s just not true. It’s they’re scared.
And that, that is something if you can help them overcome their fear, they’ll actually be more active. Now, in saying that they’ve trained themselves to be that way. So they’ve made this a habit and so they have to break the habits. So it will take some time and energy to get them out of that bad habit loop and into a more empowering habit loop, but it is possible.
And a lot of times they’re not lazy. Now as far as, you know, the challenges in my business, I think I’m the biggest challenge in my business. I still face anxiety today. I don’t like to advertise. I don’t like to say something that might be perceived as wrong or hurt somebody’s feelings, but I go through a routine every morning.
Where I actually do some meditation. And bringing awareness has really and bringing me into the present has really made a massive difference for me. And so I go through this where I meditate. I do a gratitude journal. And then I go through some techniques on myself and I put myself in a position to start taking action first thing in the morning.
And essentially what happens is with most people on the spectrum is we have a battery. And so as our battery life drains, you know, we need to be conscious of not letting it get too far down before we go back and recharge. And so one of the great ways is the more exercise you do, the more mental and physical energy that you’re going to have.
So that’s a great way, and meditation is a great way as well. But, uh, for the most part, that is a, that’s the big challenge for me is just me getting out of my own way. I have to catch myself because I do that. And when I do it, I just have to be conscious of it.
Joyce: You talk about embracing your Asperger’s. Could you tell me more about that?
Blake: Absolutely. So like I mentioned in the very beginning is that I did not know I was on the spectrum until I was in my upper thirties. And that’s when I found out my son was on the spectrum. Now, when I found out I could reflect back and see everything so clearly. And so it all made sense and it made me actually made me very proud of myself for the things that I did in my twenties. Basically in my twenties, what I did is I wrote down.
I went through a tough time and I finally hit my rock bottom point and I just wrote down everything that was wrong with me. I think there’s like 73 items on there. And it was everything from crooked teeth to dropping out of college, to, uh, not being able to communicate with people and, and not being understood and things of that nature.
So I went in and I circled three things on that list and I said, okay, I’m going to work on these three things. Number one was communication. So I read and I wasn’t a reader at that time. I’ve since become a reader. But I read over a hundred books on communication, everything from understanding body language, to understanding the words you’ve used to building rapport and it made an amazing difference in my life.
And that also helped me understand what my strength was. My strength with my autistic mind is I can see patterns and I can see patterns in people. I can see patterns and processes and I can see patterns. And other things as well. And so that helped me in my career because all of a sudden I started recognizing these patterns and I knew, you know, and I like to say it this way, if A and B and C happen and it’s going to produce result D.
And so if I want to…if I don’t want D and I want say result J then I need to do I, H, F and I can get those results. And so when I started applying that to businesses, all of a sudden I started getting promoted within the jobs that I was working very quickly. And it made such a big difference on how I related to people, because I could see patterns in people I could see, understand, you know their language, I could see patterns in business and the numbers and the results.
And so I could start giving input. And, uh, and with that, it just, it took off. Now the way, you know, when I think about Asperger’s and myself, I don’t call myself Aspie or I don’t call myself autistic. I call myself a Blake and I look at Asperger’s just being a characteristic of who I am. And so essentially like me having well now it’s kind of grayish hair, but I used to have brown hair hazel eyes, and those are just characteristics.
And so my identity is who I call Blake. And Asperger’s just a characteristic that I can use to tap into and, and be able to achieve things that are different. Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses. And so usually your gift is in your strengths. And a lot of times that’s how your mind is helping you tap into that.
So when you can understand that, then, you know, you can look at it as a characteristic strength instead of a flaw. And that, that’s the biggest thing that, uh, I would tell you about embracing Asperger’s.
Joyce: Do you have any tips on how parents can embrace autism and recognize it for what it is?
Blake: Absolutely. So I think the big thing is that don’t look at it as a shortcoming for your kid.
And I go back and I, I know I sound like a broken record because if you do, you’re going to have less expectations for them and then you’re not doing them or yourself any good. And so what I would have you to do is focus on all of their strengths. And no magnify those things. Build their confidence that way, because once you build their confidence there, then they’re going to be able to go to these other areas where they may have struggled and be able to either overcome them.
Or those areas won’t even make a difference when it gets into real life. So for example, my son, he struggled in math. He ended up dropping out of college because he kind of passed math and it was overwhelming. And it was something that, you know, we supported what he wanted to do. And now he’s in an, in a world where ironically, he works for a company that does tax credits, but he doesn’t have to do any math.
He’s more of a person who processes on the operational side and he makes a really good living doing that. And so, you know, if I would have focused on them and harped on him on his shortcomings in math, saying you’ve got to learn this, you gotta learn this. You gotta learn this. It would have made him feel bad.
I have a big belief. You know, you soar with your strengths, you manage your weaknesses. And a lot of times, those weaknesses don’t even present themselves once we get out of high school and out of college and enter the real world. And so if we can focus on that, that is something that is big. And I just go back to moms, especially, and dads can do this, but moms, you just, your heart and, and your kids’ hearts just seem like they’re always in sync.
And so when you’re the one talking favor and talking about possibilities over your kids, And showing them their strengths, you know, that’s the best thing that you can do for your child. And it’s it, it will help them develop the confidence that they need to overcome struggles when they present themselves.
Cause they will present themselves. And so that’s, those are my two things, focus on their strengths and make sure that you’re, you’re talking about all the possibilities and, and things for their future.
Brynne: I love that idea of planning a future that you can be excited about. And I think that’s a huge thing.
Just tying back to those initial concepts we were talking about and kind of why the business got started. I think just believing that the future can be good and better. And we can work towards something that we really want can just be so huge. So thank you for all of this.
Joyce: So Blake, where can we find you?
Do you share your social media where listeners can find you?
Blake: Yeah. The easiest place to find me is just going to be through my website and it has links to all my social media aspects and that’s going to be www. A S P as in Paul, I e dash r.com. So www.aspie-R.com. And if you want to connect with me, uh, you’ll see at the top, you’ll have my Facebook and Instagram areas to go.
I’m not a massive social media person. And so you’re not going to see a ton of, of social media aspects, but if you know, my phone number is on there and you can connect, there’s a form to contact me. And so you can contact me that way as well.
Brynne: Wonderful. Thank you so much, Blake.
Blake: Thank you for having me. I really love your mission and I know that y’all are making an incredible difference.
And so thank you for doing what you’re doing.
Brynne: Aw, thanks.
Joyce: Thank you.
Brynne: If you enjoyed this episode, we’d appreciate it so much if you could leave us a five-star review and subscribe to the podcast on whichever platform you’re using to listen, whether that’s apple podcasts, Spotify, or another one altogether. All right, we’ll see you guys next week.