Non-Profit Founder Suggests Humor, Creativity and Relaxation Techniques Can Benefit Individuals With Aspergers Syndrome
South Orange, NJ (PRWEB) November 14, 2011
As someone living with Aspergers Syndrome, non-profit founder Peter Eichler has overcome many challenges the latest being a stand-up comedy act performed in front of a live audience. Eichlers experiences and subsequent successes were the impetus behind his non-profit organization, Adam 2 Adam, which supports young adults with Aspergers and embraces humor, creativity, music, exercise and relaxation techniques as forms of therapy.
Eichler made his stand-up debut on October 16 at New York Citys Gotham Comedy Club, where he assumed the persona of a character named Melvin. After the show, I was convinced my first performance would be my last. I found the writing difficult, the rehearsal intense and my stress levels very high, he stated, noting that this level of sensory stimulation is especially difficult for someone with Aspergers. However, the feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive, and ideas for new jokes kept flowing so I brought Melvin back out of retirement.
Since then, Eichler has performed two more stand-up gigs and plans to do additional shows in the future. He is quick to point out that comedy is not his calling, but rather something he does for fun and to encourage others with Aspergers Syndrome to push their own boundaries. Audience members responded warmly to both Eichler and his character, and fellow comics also voiced encouragement.
Vinnie Vitale who is the Director of Operations at the American Comedy Institute as well as a comedian, writer and comedy consultant was one of the comics who performed during Eichlers first show, and he served as emcee at Eichlers second comedy gig. I think Peters Melvin character is great. In fact, Im not sure the audience even realized it was a character! Everyone seemed really interested in finding out more about this Melvin guy and what he had to say, remarked Vitale. Even though Melvin experiences hardship and pain, he still maintains a happy-go-lucky attitude. Through frustration and tragedy, we can find comedy and thats what this is all about.
Vitale noted that Eichlers act encourages others to take control of their lives and pursue their passion. For Peter to do this is really amazing and inspiring. Peter and Melvin are living proof that you shouldnt let anything prevent you from doing all the things you want to do. So long as Peter continues to pursue comedy, he will always have a place onstage at any of the shows I put together. I think he’s a great comedian, and I would love to see more of Melvin. I believe the more we see of Melvin, the more we are actually getting to see into the enigmatic mind of Peter Eichler.
Among the attendees at Eichlers debut performance was Barbara McKeon, Director of Aaron Academy in New York City. After the show, McKeon reached out to Eichler and invited him to present at her school. Aaron Academy works with Aspergers students through a strengths-based model, as opposed to the deficit-based approach used by most special education schools. We believe these students have tremendous gifts and talents that will be the key to their success, she explained. Peters approach to his journey with Aspergers is from that perspective, and fits in with our universal design for learning, or UDL, instructional framework. While Peter may not be familiar with the UDL educational philosophy, he struck me as someone who lives it, in that he seeks to access the world through his comedic strength.
McKeon believes Eichlers visit will be of value to students, parents and staff alike. We believe in community partnerships that help make our students aware of their potential in the world and embrace diversity in how to get there. We bring people into our school who embody non-traditional understandings of success and see our students for their potential. What I hope parents, community members, students and staff gain from my partnership with Peter is an understanding that success is defined in many different ways; and to embrace a persons strengths and promote their passion is one of the keys to that success.
Eichler hopes to develop a comedy workshop for McKeons students, and intends to speak with parents about how they can create an environment in which their children can thrive. He also plans to share a video of his comedy debut, which ends with a personal message where he discusses his experiences with Aspergers, the techniques that have helped him, his foray into comedy and his goals for Adam 2 Adam.
As I have come to understand the psychology of Aspergers for myself, I realize that all the noises I hear, the things I feel on my skin, the images I see like people moving in a crowd, certain smells and sometimes tastes these things make my body feel overwhelmed and overworked, so I havent had the energy or concentration for all that Id like to do and learn, said Eichler. My body is so sensitive to stimulation that it treats these stressors as if it were being attacked. But over time, Ive discovered that there are certain things I can do to relax my mind and body. Slowly, with patience and in very small steps, all kinds of learning can begin to take place, talents can be discovered and relationships made.
While Eichler recognizes that what works for him may not necessarily work for everyone with Aspergers Syndrome, he feels that its worthwhile for others to explore their options, including music, humor, exercise, meditation and other relaxation techniques. I am making significant progress by keeping my life as simple and organized as possible, exercising regularly and vigorously, taking risks, knowing my limits, participating in relaxing hobbies like music and maintaining non-stop determination to feel better about myself and my life, he asserted.
Through Adam 2 Adams partnership with JESPY House of South Orange, N.J., Eichler is working to create outreach and mentoring programs for children and young adults with Aspergers Syndrome. Adam 2 Adam also recently partnered with the Elila Center for Natural Healing in Berkeley Heights, N.J., where Eichler is helping to develop a program that incorporates meditation, yoga and other holistic therapies that specifically address the needs of individuals with Aspergers. The program will integrate various modalities that cater to those whose minds and bodies operate differently from the general population.
In addition to managing Adam 2 Adam as a non-profit business, Eichler offers consulting services to schools, parents and others who wish to create learning and living environments in which individuals with Aspergers can thrive. I will share my experience in helping to evaluate existing environments, routines and coping strategies, and will help clients build a foundation that enables people with Aspergers to forge greater connections both within themselves and with others, he stated.
The concept is that when you reduce stimulation in various areas of someones life, you create an environment where greater learning of all kinds is encouraged, Eichler explained. For example, Ill review the physical environment from the standpoint of acoustics and lighting, and examine routines to see if they can be streamlined to reduce stress. I can also provide a nutritional evaluation and develop exercise routines that are tailored to the individual. Where needed, I can recommend and coordinate the integration of additional services and mentoring.
Eichlers goal is to help others who share his condition, and show that they can achieve a better quality of life with laughter, creativity and strong social bonds. For details on Adam 2 Adam, including Eichlers contact information and comedy video, please visit http://www.facebook.com/adam2adam.
About Peter Eichler and Adam 2 Adam
Peter Eichler is the founder of Adam 2 Adam, a South Orange, N.J.-based non-profit organization that provides mentoring and support to te