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Special Report: Photo stories of Asperger’s Syndrome

Below you will find five feature stories produced by Street Roots, Leah Nash and the Regional Arts and Culture Council on understanding Asperger’s Syndrome.

The project was made possible in partnership with Street Roots and the Regional Arts & Culture Council in an effort to chronicle the diversity of this complex diagnosis of autism, illustrating the challenges and beauty of an unconventional life.

When you ask 11-year-old Willie Rates about life with Asperger’s, he seems comfortable with his place in the world, both figuratively and literally.

Part I: Catching the snowflake: A photo story of Asperger’s Syndrome

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Part II: The comfort of acceptance: A photo story of Asperger’s (Part two)

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Part III: Pretending to be normal: A photo story of Asperger’s Syndrome

Thomas Olrich, 35, was diagnosed with Asperger’s four years ago. He says he always knew he was different. “I knew something was up. I was always upset, always scared. Something was not clicking.”

Part IV: The man I am: A photo story of Asperger’s Syndrome 

Diagnosed with autism in fourth grade, Leska says, “I knew I was different but I didn’t know why and I had no idea how different I was. I realized that everything I wanted socially, to talk to other little kids and play with them, never happened. It did not happen.” Leska’s autism symptoms were not at the forefront until an unexpected divorce led to an autism regression and subsequent Asperger’s diagnosis almost 40 years later.

 Part V: New Found Aspigations: A photo story of Asperger’s Syndrome

About this series: Autism is the fastest growing disability in the U.S. with an economic impact of more than $90 billion. The Center for Disease Control reports that now one in 110 children are being classified with autism spectrum disorders, compared to one in 10,000 in the 1970s, and according to the Autism Society of Oregon, our state has one of the highest rates of autistic diagnosis in the country. Continue reading