2021 AWorks Dinner of Hope
The intention of our event was to raise awareness about the need for employment of adults with Asperger’s Syndrome and high-functioning autism and to raise funds to enable us to help as many people as possible.
About This Year’s Event
This year we celebrated Asperger Works’ 9th Anniversary with a fundraising event designed to observe the successes of the past years and to inform attendees about the continued challenges our clients and our organization face. Above all, it was a time to applaud people and organizations that make major contributions to our community and to Asperger Works. Each year, we give out three awards: the Bryan Noble Award, which recognizes an individual for their strong advocacy on behalf of the disabled community of Massachusetts; the Asperger Works Award, which recognizes an individual for their staunch advocacy work on behalf of Asperger Works, the Autistic community, and indeed the entire disabled population; and the Community Service Award that recognizes a local organization for its work on behalf of disabled people.
But, beside all the serious reasons behind our Dinner, each year we also have a lot of fun. This year, Stephanie Beach of Stephanie Beach Magic entertained the young and the young at heart with her wonderful comedic magic. Acoustically Speaking, a band with personal connections to autism, was scheduled to provided music for both those who just wanted to listen and those who wanted to dance. Tim Coco, the executive director of Haverhill’s own radio station, WHAV, was our master of ceremonies. And we cannot forget about the 50/50 raffle and the ever-popular silent auction.
Asperger Syndrome (AS) is a developmental disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It is the mildest form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), with most Aspies having average or above average IQs. It differs from other ASDs in that most Aspies have relatively normal language skills and intelligence. Although not required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and unusual use of language may also be common. For boys, signs usually begin before the age of two. Diagnosing girls is much more difficult since girls tend to be very social at an early age. It is not until their preteen years that it may be noticed that something was amiss. There is no cure for Asperger’s and it lasts for a person’s entire life.
It is important to note that no two Aspies are the same, making diagnosis difficult. Some have spatial deficits often manifested by invading another person’s space. Some have heightened sensitivity and become over-stimulated by loud noises, lights, or strong tastes, smells, or textures.
On the plus side, adults with Asperger’s have the tendency to pay close attention to detail and to focus on their interests that can result in success in higher education and careers (if given the chance). Although Aspies are often associated with careers in technology, there are a number of historical and current popular figures who are Aspergians or are thought to have had Asperger’s.
Asperger Works Connection – Although the people above prove that those with AS could live successful lives, a large percentage are not so lucky. According to the latest report from the CDC, 80 to 90 percent of adults with Asperger’s are either unemployed or under-employed and are unable to support themselves. They rely on their families and the state for their livelihood. It is for this reason that, Daniel Rajczyk, our executive director, founded Asperger Works, whose mission is two-fold: to educate employers about the positive side of hiring people with AS and to help adult Aspergians lead productive lives through gainful employment.