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Collier explains that individuals with Asperger Syndrome can mainstream

As an advocate for individuals with Asperger Syndrome (AS), Angela K. Collier knows they must deal with social interaction difficulties but are not a threat to society.

Collier’s concern increased after reports alleged that Adam Lanza had AS. Lanza murdered 27 people and then killed himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14.

People with AS “are hard workers, perfectionists, rule abiders, want to ‘fit in’ and long to be self-sufficient and successful,” Collier said. She is executive director of AS Support, Educate, Advocate (SEA) Beyond Tomorrow.

“Parents and individuals with Aspergers are concerned that our community will hear ‘Asperger Syndrome’ and immediately jump to the fact that an individual with AS committed these horrendous acts,” Collier said. “It wasn’t AS that made this person commit this act.”

Asperger Syndrome doesn’t cause people to commit such horrendous acts against others, she said.

Collier hopes the community won’t see one person’s “acts of evil” as typical for all individuals with AS. “This would be detrimental to the progress we’ve made in Madison County,” she said.

AS is one of a group of neurological disorders known as autism spectrum disorders. AS is on the mild end of the spectrum. People with AS have rigidity in thinking and difficulty in focusing on rules and routines and in engaging in repetitive behavior, Collier said.

People with AS are classified as high functioning, often with normal or above normal intelligence. They can learn in mainstream classrooms and hold jobs.

Collier is holding open house at the SEA Beyond Tomorrow Learning Center at 461 Capshaw Road, Suite F on Jan. 2 from 4 to 6 p.m. Collier’s center will educate, remediate and support individuals with AS at all ages. A day program is available for students in grades 5-10.

“The SEA Beyond Tomorrow Learning Center is an alternative to situations where students often experience difficulties in large middle and high school settings,” Collier said.

Asperger Syndrome SEA Beyond Tomorrow is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. For more information, send email to as.seabeyondtomorrow@gmail.com or visit aspergersyndromeseabeyondtomorrow.com.

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