Dena Gassner has autism spectrum disorder. She is also a mother of two and pursuing a Ph.D. in Social Work at Adelphi.
On April 2, 2016—World Autism Day—she spoke at Adelphi University about her experience as a parent with autism, as part of the annual Issues in Independent Living for Adolescents and Adults on the Autism Spectrum conference hosted by the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education in partnership with the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Association (AHA).
Huffpost Rise, the daily video news update from The Huffington Post, also recently featured her story. Gassner spoke candidly with host Cat Greenleaf about misconceptions about adults and parents with autism spectrum disorder and how her diagnosis has transformed her life.
“The diagnosis gave me a framework of identity. It doesn’t define me,” Gassner said. “It explains me, somewhat to other people, but more so to myself.”
Gassner was moved to tears in describing what the diagnosis has meant for her relationship with her daughter.
“We’ve had this healing that I can’t even describe. It’s been wonderful,” Gassner said.