Canton High alumna speaks at Asperger/Autism Gala


Canton resident Kelsey Oates took the stage at The Asperger/Autism Network’s annual gala, Coming of Age: Transforming the Future, last month to talk about her experience with Asperger’s and finding AANE.

Kelsey Oates with her cousin Katie Ryan, her mother, Kathy Oates, and father, Bob Oates

Kelsey Oates with her cousin Katie Ryan, her mother, Kathy Oates, and father, Bob Oates

Diagnosed at 24, Oates found herself hurled into the diverse, vibrant, and sometimes confusing world of Asperger’s Syndrome.

Some with her diagnosis have attended MIT, while others have struggled to finish high school. Some are hyper-competent at work, but miss the social skills that most people take for granted.

Even the diagnosis itself is a hotly debated issue. In 2013 the DSM-5 (the leading manual on classifying mental disorders) eliminated the individual diagnoses of Asperger Syndrome, Autism, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder: Not Otherwise Specified, and folded them all into Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Because of its longstanding existence in both the literature and organizations, many individuals stick with using Asperger’s to describe themselves, as it is simply what fits them best.

Many have also moved towards using the term “Profile” rather than “Syndrome.” (AANE itself uses “Asperger Profiles” in its descriptions of members.)

Because of this confusion, getting a diagnosis was only part of the equation for Oates. It wasn’t until she started attending AANE’s support group for young women that she finally found people that she could relate to.

Oates has since attended conferences and talks with speakers like Sarah Hendrickx and Liane Holliday Willey and even shared her own story at the spring conference on Women and Asperger’s.

In addition to serving young women on the spectrum, AANE hosts social and support groups for adults, parents, siblings, and grandparents and provides coaching for adults, parents, and professionals. They also run quarterly conferences that feature speakers from the field and their own membership​.

Without AANE, Oates would not be where she is today. She encourages anyone who is interested in learning more about Asperger’s and/or Autism to check out the organization today at

Kelsey Oates is a communications designer and a 2007 graduate of CHS.

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avatar Posted by on May 12 2017. Filed under News. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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