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April 27, 2006 - Image 31

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2006-04-27

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Health & Fitness

Picking Up
The Pieces

Asperger's advocate rallies for living
life to the fullest with the syndrome.

Nick Dubin: "I knew I wasn't

Ang ie Baa n, Sta f f Photog rap he r


stupid. It was that experience

that propelled me to get the


Judith Doner Berne

Special to the Jewish News

ick Dubin is turn-
ing what might have
been a setback into an
The 28-year-old West
Bloomfield resident only realized
that he had Asperger syndrome
a year and a half ago when he
made a self-diagnosis later con-
firmed by doctors.
Now he is rapidly becoming
the face of Asperger's in south-
east Michigan as an advocate for
understanding the developmen-
tal disorder that is part of the
autism spectrum.
"I always felt like an odd duck:'
Dubin says.
Now he knows why he always
has had trouble with social rela-
tionships and multi-tasking. And
why he delves so deeply into his
interests. .
Those, and some other symp-
toms, are part of the Asperger
developmental disorder defined
by the National Institute of
Neurological Disorders.
Dubin was clueless, in part,
because it wasn't until 1994 when
he was well into his teens that

the syndrome became part of
the Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual used to identify psychi-
atric disorders.
his parents, Larry
of Birmingham,
had always worried that such
a label might be limiting, Nick
found just the opposite.
He was about to graduate
magna cum laude with a master's
degree in special education from
the University of Detroit-Mercy.
All that was left was his student
teaching. He found himself
unable to cope and quit after a
"I felt it was something I
should have been able to accom-
plish," he says. "I knew I wasn't
stupid. It was that experience
that propelled me to get the diag-
"Teaching required a tremen-
dous amount of multi-tasking
and socializing. It didn't play to
my strengths, which I'm finding
I have. I had to pick up the pieces
of my life."

Making The Most
Dubin is working toward a
doctorate in psychology at the
Center for Humanistic Studies
in Farmington Hills. His studies

include an internship at Oakland
University where he's doing
Asperger's research. And he has
turned his life story into both a
book and a film.
The film, Diagnosis
Asperger's: Nick Dubin's
Journey of Self-Discovery,
drew a standing-room-only
crowd when it was shown last fall
at Birmingham's Baldwin Library.
On March 15, the Bloomfield
Hills Association for Special
Education held "An Evening With
Nick Dubin." His talk will be
broadcast at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m.
Friday, April 28; and at 3 and 8
p.m. Saturday, April 29, on the
Bloomfield Hills Schools' public
access channel. He also has been
invited to speak at a Birmingham
Temple Forum in Farmington
Hills this fall.
It will be full circle for Dubin,
who celebrated his bar mitzvah
at the humanistic temple. "It was
a great and positive experience
he says of his bar mitzvah. "It

was my first experience in public
Dubin now gives two to three
speeches a month. "Talking to
300 people is a lot easier than
teaching a group of second-grad-
ers for someone with my profile."
Two children who met Dubin
at his Baldwin Library appear-
ance are featured in Dubin's new-
est film, Being Bullied, in which
he encourages teachers, parents
and kids to curb bullying.
Asperger's "feels like it is a
dragon inside me Maxwell
Kranitz, 9, describes in the film.
"I just don't know why bullying
was ever invented:' says the Twin
Beach Elementary fourth-grader.
"No one ever beat me up:' adds
Andrew Ackner, 15, a freshman
at Berkley High School. "But they
tried to .push my buttons and it .
Dubin has befriended both
boys, according to their moms.
"My son's a little Nick:' Doreen
Ackner, an Oak Park resident,

says proudly.
"Maxwell looks up to Nick
because he is the first adult
he has met with,Asperger's,"
says DeAnna Kranitz, a West
Bloomfield mother of three. "I
look at Nick as Maxwell's angel,
here to protect and guide him
through the hard and good times
in life."
The boys' stories about being
bullied "break my heart," Dubin
says. "It might as well have been
yesterday. It kind of sticks with
But, as he points out in the
film, "Parents can reassure their
children that people get nicer
when they get older."
These days Dubin is doing
well at his studies in a collegial
atmosphere at CHS, according
to Sid Berkowitz, PhD., a West
Bloomfield psychotherapist who
is one of his professors.
"His academic-work is very

Pieces on page 32

What Is Asperger Syndrome?

Asperger syndrome is a developmental disorder. It is an autism spectrum disorder, one of a distinct
group of neurological conditions characterized by a greater or lesser degree of impairment in lan-
guage and communications skills, as well as repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behav-
ior. Unlike children with autism, children with Asperger's retain their early language skills.
° The most distinguishing symptom of Asperger's is a child's obsessive interest in a single object
or topic to the exclusion of any other. Children with Asperger's want to know everything about their
topic of interest and their conversations with others will be about little else.
Other characteristics include repetitive routines or rituals; peculiarities in speech and language;
socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior and the inability to interact successfully with peers;
problems with non-verbal communication; and clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements.

- National Institute of Neurological Disorders

Accessing Nick Dubin's Books,- Films -
Breaking Through Hidden Barriers and Diagnosis Asperger's: Nick Dubin's Journey
of Self Discovery (DVD) are available at NA5Nrw.thegraycenter.org .
Being Bullied (DVD) is available through the Judson Center,.4410 W. 13 Mile (at Greenfieldh
Royal Oak, (248) 837-2047; and Jessica Kingsley Publishers, www.jkp.com .


April 27 • 2006


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