Curious about Autism Spectrum Condition?
Gathering information for a loved one?
Newly diagnosed or self-diagnosed?
My role is to provide context, answer questions, and be a resource about life on the spectrum for patients and their loved ones.
Hi, I'm Lara Schaeffer, a Certified Autism Specialist and the founder of Exceptional. I was not diagnosed with autism until I was in my forties. Soon after, I realized that there must be many other people out there who were just like me--children, teens, and adults who have ASC but didn't realize it for a good portion of their lives.
Some presentations of autism can be hard to spot, which is why ASC is frequently undiagnosed or misdiagnosed (especially in females). I work with and advocate for a population that can be quiet, even silent, because some individuals within it are as yet undiscovered.
So much of my life finally made sense when I was diagnosed, but it took me years to fully adjust to my new reality, as may be the case for many others. On top of this adjustment, there's an added hurdle for those newly diagnosed as well as for their families--the fact that deep stigmas and erroneous stereotypes surround autism in our society. In addition, there is very poor visibility in our society of people on the spectrum who are happy and fulfilled even though they face the daily challenges that come with their autism.
Once diagnosed, many people on the spectrum experience a sort of relief, as they could always sense that they were different from neurotypical people. Some individuals also face challenges in adapting to their diagnosis and seek my consultation for a session or two (possibly on top of regular visits to a licensed therapist). Other clients may have self-diagnosed their autism, perhaps after a family member received his or her diagnosis--I may be the first professional these self-diagnosing individuals connect with on their journey of realizing that they are on the spectrum. Often, parents and loved ones of a person newly diagnosed with ASC will have questions about the condition and how they can best support their loved one.
I am a resource for all of these people; I want to help, and I am ready to listen and to share. I invite you to read more about how I do those things on my "About" page.
For more information about ASC in general, please see my videos below and my blog page on this site.