Dan and Julie Coulter have made presentations to a wide range of audiences at national, regional and local conferences. Their son, Drew, was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in 1997. Dan was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in 2009. Dan and Julie's presentations make use of their own experiences and of the research conducted for their videos. In producing their DVDs, they've conducted extensive interviews with people on the autism spectrum, experts in Asperger Syndrome and autism, parents and other family members, psychologists, social workers, teachers, employers, coworkers and others.
Feedback from AANE Conference Keynote
"Dan Coulter shares his remarkable perspective about how to troubleshoot the challenges and capitalize on the gifts that come with having Asperger Syndrome. Embedded in his personal narratives are a wide range of strategies and discoveries that have enabled him to navigate multiple roles in life: individual with AS, successful employee, devoted husband, and the father of two children – one of whom also has AS. Dan’s presentations are sprinkled with humor, suggestions, and powerful video clips. Above all, he champions the idea that people with AS should follow their passions, developing the skills necessary to overcome whatever stands between them and their goals."
Dania Jekel, Executive Director, Asperger’s Association of New England
Promoting Awareness of Asperger Syndrome and Autism in the Family, School, and Community
Dan and Julie describe practical ways to generate understanding and acceptance of children and adults with Asperger Syndrome. They discuss:
- How people with Asperger Syndrome think differently and how this can affect their behaviors.
- Seeing things from the perspective of an individual with Asperger Syndrome.
- How Asperger-generated behaviors are often misinterpreted and how to explain them to others.
- How to talk with immediate and extended family members, including using age-appropriate messages with children.
- Educating school staff and classmates about Asperger Syndrome in general — and disclosure strategies for individuals.
- Educating the community and dealing with difficult behaviors in public.
- Ways to interact positively with someone who has Asperger Syndrome and help them modify their behaviors.
- The role outside support and counseling can play.
- Providing the appropriate safety net for people with Asperger Syndrome as you help them develop the skills to interact, spread awareness, and advocate for themselves.
Finding and Keeping a Job with Asperger Syndrome
Dan and Julie describe successful strategies employees with Asperger Syndrome have used to get hired and stay employed. They discuss:
- Assessing your strengths and challenges and looking at the total job to find a good career and individual job match
- Working with a job coach
- Preparing for a successful job interview
- Disclosure issues
- Asking for reasonable accommodations
- Modifying challenging Asperger behaviors and fitting into the workplace
- Giving coworkers cues they can use to help you get back on track if you don’t notice that an Asperger behavior is interfering with work
- How and when to socialize in the workplace
- Taking direction, following instructions and asking for help
- Using feedback from your supervisor and coworkers
- Being productive in your job and becoming a valued employee
- Success stories of employees who have Asperger Syndrome
Helping Students with Asperger Syndrome Succeed in School
Dan and Julie describe steps teachers and parents can take to help K-12 students with Asperger Syndrome reach their academic and social goals. They discuss:
- An overview of Asperger Syndrome and how it typically affects students
- Determining an appropriate placement in a public or private school
- The roles of teachers, special education teachers, instructional aides and the child study team
- Teaching tips and techniques that help a student with Asperger Syndrome do well academically and be accepted by classmates
- Structure and flexibility
- Giving directions
- Calming upset students
- Dealing with interruptions
- When to call on AS students
- Class presentations as opportunities to excel
- Feedback from student
- One-on-one communication tools
- The role of appropriate scheduling.
- Promoting general awareness of Asperger Syndrome and ways to disclose that an individual student has AS
- The importance of social skills training
- How parents can advocate effectively
- Finding resources to support a student with Asperger Syndrome
- The positive things a student with Asperger Syndrome can bring to a class
Preparing High School Students with Asperger Syndrome for College
Dan and Julie describe concrete steps students and parents can take to help students succeed in college. They discuss:
- The differences between college and high school
- Skills to develop in high school for college success
- The college search and selection process
- Making disclosure decisions
- Arranging accommodations based on IEP and psycho/educational testing
- What parents can do for college students, including legal limitations on what colleges can tell parents
- Taking responsibility for assignments, time management, finances and course selections, personal hygiene, and laundry
- Adapting to dorm life
- Using special interests to meet people and make friends
- Dating in college
- Using academic and social supports
- Learning to be a self-advocate
- The value of part-time jobs in high school and college
- A step-by-step college preparation checklist for each year of high school
Understanding Brothers and Sisters with Asperger Syndrome or Autism
Dan and Julie describe ways to help siblings accept and support brothers and sisters on the autism spectrum. They discuss:
- How parents often assume siblings know more about Asperger Syndrome or autism than they do
- Explaining a diagnosis to siblings using age-appropriate messages as they grow
- Typical ways siblings react to a brother or sister on the autism spectrum, ranging from withdrawing to becoming highly responsible super achievers.
- Making siblings feel valued in the family
- Ways to build bonds between siblings
- Strategies siblings can use to get along and deal with difficult Asperger or autism behaviors
- When parents should step in and when to let siblings work things out on their own
- Helping siblings see how supporting a brother or sister on the spectrum is in their self-interest
- Ways siblings can disclose to their friends
- The importance of listening and family meetings
- Using positive reinforcement
- When to seek counseling and outside assistance
- A look at some best siblings moments
Succeeding with Asperger Syndrome
In this presentation, Dan looks back on his life and his career in broadcasting and corporate public relations in light of his diagnosis with Asperger Syndrome in September of 2009. He discusses his challenges and the strategies that enabled him to overcome obstacles and succeed. Some key points covered in this talk include:
- Childhood mysteries that were solved by an Asperger Syndrome diagnosis at age 59
- Dealing with challenges like becoming overwhelmed, having trouble remembering names, being naïve, having difficulty making small talk, making inappropriate comments, and difficulty reading social cues
- Using talents like creative writing, speaking in front of a group, finding innovative solutions to problems, and making funny quips
- Learning social skills through trial and error and using strengths to compensate for challenges
- Dating fumbles and successes
- How being naïve helped Dan get a high school job as a radio disk jockey and become a local celebrity
- Learning to make small talk
- Becoming a TV weatherman after college and learning to deal with difficult people on the job
- Learning to manage people as an AT&T television writer/producer/director
- Using Asperger strengths to climb the corporate ladder and generate successes such as:
- Devising national media relations strategies and programs for AT&T.
- Managing national AT&T press campaigns.
- Increasing media coverage of AT&T services.
- In an AT&T/Disney collaboration, helping create the television program “The National Information Infrastructure and You,” featuring Bill Nye, the Science Guy.
- Managing PR for the largest IPO in US history at the time for Lucent Technologies.
- Managing workaholic tendencies
- Making an Asperger marriage work
- Learning to be a father to a son with Asperger Syndrome
- Starting a family business to help people with Asperger Syndrome
- Finding a balance between work and family life
- Using an Asperger Syndrome diagnosis to design successful interactions at home, with friends and at work