Visiting Nashville TN for the Future Horizon’s Autism Conference

Temple and I at a FH conference in 2014 held in Atlanta

On Thursday, November the 29th, I will be boarding a flight that is bound for Nashville, Tennesee.  During my stay,  I will spend much of the afternoon and evening studying, dining and sleeping in my hotel.  The following morning, I will grab myself a large breakfast before hopping on the hotel’s shuttle which will drop me off at the Nashville Airport Marriott.  It is at this site that Future horizons will hold it’s autism conference where I will blog about the event and the speakers.

 

I am particularly looking forward to attending this event is that two out of three speakers are women next to being on the spectrum like myself.   What is more is that one of them happens to be Temple Grandin, who I have been acquainted with for quite some time. One of the main reasons is because her latest talks included information about how an adult with autism can learn to drive.  Being that I am 37 and have never learned, I feel it’s never too late.  So I am hoping to inquire with her second reason I catch up with Temple is that I have a friend who is currently unemployed and is facing some levels of discouragement at the moment.   I would like to put her on the phone with him because she is very encouraging and I believing she would give him some helpful advice.   Say, getting a work portfolio work samples that my friend can present when seeking a new job. All the while hoping to provide tips when he gets discouraged.   Ultimately, Temple and I are both very quirky women on the spectrum who believe in getting things done.   I look forward to seeing another go-getter like myself who believes in others on the spectrum.  

Not only that, I look forward to meeting Anita Lesko, who the second woman on the spectrum who will be presenting.   At the present, Lesko and I have not only had the chance to hear her speak live in an interview on World Autism Awareness Day.  I also had a chance to read her book “The Stories I Tell My Friends,” which is exclusively about Temple herself.  I am also inspired by her own amazing adventures including her all autistic wedding and her adventures flying on a fighter jet next to sharing some of the same struggles that I face daily.   As those of you who are my followers recall,  I read and reviewed that book.   So am I excited to finally be able to meet Anita.   

Following both of their talks, I look to get my copy of “The Stories I Tell My Friends” and hopefully at the same time.  Apart from getting the book signed, I hope to pose in a photo together with Temple and Anita.  Particularly as a way of saying “Thank you” for allowing me to read and review their book.

 

 

At long last,  I will have the chance to meet Dr. Jim Ball, who is specialized in ABA.    One of the reasons to listen to him is because of the some of the work that I am currently becoming more familiar with all this.   As I don’t know much about Applied Behavior Analysis, one would argue that it would sensible to get my feet wet.  This is especially since so many adults with autism are protesting the use of ABA versus other therapies such as floor time. 

While I impassioned about the conference,  there are two more days.  During that time, I have to remind myself that things need to be done now and then.  Between work, finals to study for and a flight to catch, there is a lot to be done.  

At this time,  you may wish to look at the link which contains information on the conference. 

https://www.fhautism.com/about-our-autism-conferences/autism-conference-with-temple-grandin-in-nashville-tn-november-30-2018/

Reviews: It’s Just a What?: Little Sensory Issues with Big Reactions

Recently, I had a chance to read Hartley Steiner’s new children’s book, It’s Just a What? Little Sensory Issues with Big Reactions, which had many vibrant watercolor paintings of distinctive children on the spectrum with some sort of sensory processing disorder. Sensory processing disorder, or SPD, can cause frustration and stress.  Steiner uses the “a picture says a thousand words” strategy by arranging each painting with as few words as possible, only using the dialogue by each character while the paintings tell the story. She shows that every child has a creative imagination about what sensory processing disorder is like for them, all the while showing the extremely creative and often humorous imagination of a child through the images. The book demonstrates  a solution to solving problems and reduce sensory issues to the adults interacting with the children. Take, for instance, the first little boy who describes his discomfort of a tag on his t-shirt as feeling like he’s being hugged by a porcupine. During the interval, his mother steps in and cuts the tag out of the shirt to relieve the boy of discomfort.

It's just a what

My reviews

In many ways, I enjoyed this book for its awareness of sensory issues, artistic structure, and talent.  Moreover, it gave me a broader idea of how everyday ordinary items,  such as a tag on a shirt, can cause can cause misery to the point of torture to some people. I really applaud that they showed each adult taking the time to listen to each child while they described what their situations were, and appeared to respond to their needs rather than ignore them.

On the contrary,  while finding this book will be beneficial, I feel that she could expand on different types of issues related to sensory processing disorders and autism.   For example,  this book talks about sensory processing disorder only coming in the form of objects that touch the child’s skin, while failing to show illustrations related to getting a hug or touching their shoulders.  I really feel that this would have been helpful for the eyes of young readers who are just learning about autism and sensory processing disorders. Steiner also left out other sensory issues, such as sound or visual. For example, I don’t like the sound of a fire alarm system. Though some would argue that “it’s just a fire alarm,”  to me the sound is so grating that it hurts my body, like sandpaper scratching on a scab.

In spite of those missing elements from Steiner’s work,  I  am attached to this children’s book because of the education and creativity that it brings. I feel that it needs to be in the home of every family, whether their child has autism and sensory processing disorders or not.  Furthermore, it should be in every library,  place of worship, and public school in order for a child’s peers to know exactly what to expect. Teachers, parents, adults, and professional adults should also take to reading this book. Why? I found that this book will help lay the groundwork for people to understand how some on the spectrum think and learn: visually, by drawing pictures and diagrams. Being that I am somewhat of a visual thinker, this book was able to give me the message of what sensory processing disorder entails.

 

 

References:

Semisirdyzhyda, A. (2018, 8).  [book cover] It’s Just a What?: Little Sensory Issues with Big Reactions.  Arlington, TX.  Future Horizons Incorporated.

Steiner, H. (2018, 08). It’s Just A What?: Little Sensory Issues with Big Reactions.  Arlinton, TX.  Future Horizon’s Books. Future Horizons Incorporated.

Current Autism Airport Rehearsals at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport

Since April of 2016, I had longed to be involved with the developing autism airport rehearsal tours.   During my second “Wings for Autism Tour” where I volunteered and worked in my blogs for youtube, I managed to seek out the right connections who would allow me to get involved with the tours.   Upon my research, I connected with the director, who is an airline pilot named Captain Erich Ries who also have a young boy on the spectrum himself.  Early on, Ries and I swapped a few emails led to being involved with his autism airport tours which are held every first Saturday of the month unless there is a holiday, the tour is held on the second Saturday.

At present, Captain Ries and other members of Team Delta and myself lead a tour of the airport.  Each tour entails lots of information by a TSA member who often talks about accommodations through a program called “TSA Cares” which requires a family to call a toll free hotline at least 72 hours in advance in order to notify security of the child or adult’s special needs before helping the each attendee get through a security checkpoint.

By the same token, Ries leads a guided tour from the checkpoint, to the first state of the art sensory room, a concourse and a gate with an aircraft sitting at the gate.  At this point, Ries,  three other Delta employees and I give our input on what families can do.  For instance, Erich says that a family should always mark the calendar ahead of time with lots of stars and while sharing as many pictures as possible that are related to the destination. Meanwhile, my guidance has suggested that families skip taking the plane train and use the tunnels being that they are quieter and less crowded.

After sitting at the gate, the members of Delta use special security clearance in order to open the boarding ramp and let families and their children get a taste of an aircraft.  Once on board, Ries has each family sit in the Delta Comfort class as the seats are not only bigger but quieter as well due to some sensory overload.  He has also often talked about setting up a living room like an airplane setting in order for each individual to get accustomed to an airplane type of setting.  While Rise gives tips on air travels, other members of Delta hand out snacks and gifts for each child such as a narrative that provides visual support on the whole experience of traveling through an airport.

After Ries provides the information, each family gets a tour of first class and has the privilege of sitting in one pilot’s seat, holding the steering wheel while families can get pictures.

After each aircraft tour, families are them asked to meet back at the gate where group photos are taken after each session.

Erich on board
Enter a caPictured: Captain Erich Ries aboard an aircraft as second annual “Wings for Autism” event April, 2017 ption

 

 

 

 

 

While I hold such zest for these monthly autism airport tours, I feel that much work to improve the rehearsals needs to be set into motion.  For one thing, the monthly tours need to be more organized differently.

For one thing, Ries could attach a document into the emails of every single family member who has made plans to attend the tours rather than spend lots of time talking about these procedures.  Rather, his same tips and advice could turn into rehearsals at home.   For example, parents could use the tour date as if it were an actual day of flying, mark the calendar and use it as a pretend trip with all kinds of stars.  All the while, taking pictures of Atlanta in and showing them to their children, teens, and adults who are on the spectrum.  That way the experience would be made awarding.   During the interval, families set up chairs in their living room as if they are on an airplane and practice boarding.  For the moment, individuals sit in chairs while another member of the family plays the sounds of an airplane while another pretends to be a flight attendant offering things to eat and drink which I believe can be rehearsed as many times possible.

As the date gets closer, families should be encouraged to contact TSA Cares 72 hours in advance in order to practice letting the security so that each member is well prepared to handle an individual with autism.    Thereafter, each family would show up at the airport and practice checking in by walking to the ticketing counter where an agent would be well aware of each family member in order to receive a special boarding pass with the gate number and concourse location.   From there, they would meet rehearsal guides who would then lead through to a TSA Cares member not only get them through security but also demonstrate by patting down parent or sibling in order to let each individual know that they will be touched.   From there, the tour guide would show each family how to use two options in order to get to the gate.

The plane train- which is the faster option
The using the tunnel with the moving walkways in order to avoid lots of people and noises that would cause over-stimulation.
Regardless, a tour guide would be on either choice of getting from point A to point B.  In option 2, the individual can learn to use sunglasses and headsets in the tunnels and the moving walk-ways depending on the types of sensory issues.   For example,  the sound of wheels hitting the grooves on a moving walkway might be squeaky.

Upon arriving at the gate, families sit at the gate and engage at the gate with other families and tour guides before listening to board time, which is 30 minutes on prior to departure.  Like on a real flight, passengers board rows according to their seating by walking through the sky bridge or boarding ramp while the pilot turns the plane on (Depending on funding) As the plane is boarding, flight crews would demonstrate and talk about emergency procedures as the pilot maybe able to pull away from the gate and taxi around the run-way in order for individuals get used to the feeling of the plane in motion along with getting to know the sounds of the engines(Depending if there is funding).  All the while, a flight attendant offers  drink and snacks while another walks to a lavatory and demonstrates the sound of a toilet, while some families have their headsets ready and other gets accustomed to the sound.  However, Ries pointed out that families can have their loved one use a lavatory and sit down during mid-flight while a parent or sibling flushes the toilet.  Anyway, flight attendants would feel the need do a fake welcome to Atlanta and give baggage claim information and the carousel.

Yet, families can check out first class, get pictures in the cockpit with pilot while receiving gifts which includes an improved narrative which entails how to get from the gate to aircraft and how families can get to baggage claim and ground transportation.

Miyah in Cock-pit
Me in the cockpit during one of the tours

Once done, families are encouraged to follow tour guides back to the plane train towards baggage claim and ground transportation where they exit the airport and visit the baggage claim areas to see where luggage is picked up.

 

 

Will My Traveling Experiences Ever Rule the World

This month, I am traveling to Nashville out of Atlanta as I had been blogging for Future Horizon’s, a publishing company that has products related to autism.20181129_135804[1] Likewise, they include conferences related to autism where they not only promote their books and similar products but also their authors of a well.   One of these people includes Temple Grandin in which I will see her tomorrow.    The nice thing is that it will hold this conference in a hotel near Nashville International Airport(BNA).    As long as Southwest offered a great deal on an airfare, I elected to book a flight I set which for this afternoon.

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The main reason I am writing this is that of my passion and work with the “Taking Flight Autism Worldport Rehearsal Tours.”   Pursuing a year and a half of volunteering on the first Saturday of the month hearing Captain Eric Ries give the same information to distinctive families.    I should also talk about my experiences of the time I flew to Chicago over the summer but that story is another world on its own that I still had not written about yet.  For now, I will only focus on my experiences of going to Nashville with the help of Ries and the rest of the Taking Flight Tour.   Further, I should mention I post this “Business trip”  there is an airport tour scheduled in which I will be in another hotel near the airport tomorrow night. Either way, onto my experiences now.

This morning, I left the house around 8:00 AM so I could get onto the bus at 8:30 and be on the train station at 9:00 AM.  So what if I would be at the airport before the date of the flight. Three days earlier, I contacted TSA cares 72 hours which a fellow TSA member often advises families to use at the start of each tour.   At the time of the call, they assured me I would get an email and a phone call.    It so happened that I received neither regarding my travel plans out of Atlanta. I preferred to locate a TSA supervisor hoping they would already put into their system.  To my dismay, there was no TSA supervisor looking out for me.   Rather, I was sent to the special accommodation line in which most used wheelchairs while others used strollers. 20181129_131354[1]   At all events, I found that despite the name, while I did not need to wait for a significant amount of time, there was nothing special in this line and there was no real accessibility.  Because TSA did not follow through for me, I had to tell a few officers about my sensory processing disorder that very much ties into my autism.  To add to the chaos, a personnel member of American Airlines, who battles with mental health issues explained he has had TSA cares never followed through with him.  He said there were many times where the supervisor at Hartsfield Jackson did not bother to follow-up.   Following the time in line,  I went through the check-point itself which was mostly smooth other than my laptop bag being searched and having to be put through the metal detector twice.  Fortunately,  I had gotten to the airport in plenty of time in case there was a problem.    Here, my computer bag covered my laptop which entitled security to check my bag.  I did not face the problem of being patted down since I wore no metal.

December 1,2018

As a woman living on the spectrum, I face mild sensory processing issues.   In that event, there are three parts on my body where touch is an issue.   Foremost, I have learned that it hurts whenever anyone else touches my collarbone.  Second, would my stomach which is ticklish which will leave me giggling like a little six-year-old.  Third, I dislike it when someone touches my shoulder as I am often surprised.   I was lucky along with explaining to the officers what my situation was and they were very understanding and cordial.   Most of all, I got everything back with no problems.

Following, I took the escalator downstairs to a level where the electric train, Dr. Grandin called it when I emailed her about a successful airport tour.  Instead, I attempted to avoid the train and walk to concourse C being there are signs at Hartsfield stating that each concourse is 5 minutes walking distances.  Since there are four concourses beforehand, I felt that 20 minutes was good.  I found the atmosphere to be warm along with having a dislike of the smell of tire particles floating in the air.  So I boarded the train at concourse B and rode it to C where I took the escalator to sit up at my gate.    Since I noted not only where my gate would be, I sat in a favorite spot at which is in front of a big window where one can catch glimpses on planes taking off and landing.  I enjoyed lunch.20181129_131104[1]

Flashing forward, two hours later,  after a 5-minute delay in boarding and departure time, I could line up in the pre-boarding session with no trouble.   What is more is that none of the personnel who worked for Southwest bothered to question whether I am autistic. I was one of the first people to board and since Southwest allows one to pick their own seats, and I selected to sit in a window seat in the second row behind the bulkhead section.   After that, my short flight to Nashville was smooth sailing, and I could get off earlier than other passengers after waiting for a few passengers who were trying to meet their connecting flight to Phoenix.

In the meantime, I stepped into the delightful and easy to navigate, “Barry Nashville Airport” while shutting the airplane mode off on my mobile device.   All the while attempting to get pictures of an aircraft sitting at one gate.    Yet, I discovered that I had a voicemail and went to retrieve it.   It turned out to be the supervisor from the TSA a BNA who was looking to get me set up for my flight on the following.    Since she didn’t leave me a phone number, she elected to call me later that day.  Following, I got a phone call from the same woman on Thursday night while I was waiting for the hotel’s reception to get started where I would get free food and drinks before dinner.  At the moment, I could explain my situation to the TSA officer who I found to be very helpful in which she could not only provide me the name of the officer who would meet me the following night.   I explained to them what I would wear, my height and my purple bag.  20181129_135051[1]

Nearly twenty-four hours later, after a long and exhausting day at the conference, I sat outside of the hotel in which they had held the conference while waiting for the shuttle. For the duration of the time, I had been talking to a network who was interested in getting to know me.  During the interval, I received a text from the supervisor who would meet me in front of the security checkpoint after making sure I was once again accommodated to get pre-boarding accommodations. When the shuttle arrived, I said goodbye to my new friend and informed the TSA supervisor I was on my way back to the airport.  Upon my arrival, I once again walked up to the ticketing counter with Southwest and requested that I get pre-boarding. Once again, there were no complications.   All the while, I didn’t walk far when the young woman in a traditional uniform approached me.  “Are you Miyah?” She asked. I said yes.  It was shortly that she brought me through a checkpoint where they worked with me one-on-one.  This was instead of a line which I found to be very helpful and less strenuous. Though I had done lines for TSA checkpoints for years which was old had.  Regardless, I was very impressed with the accommodations that an airport can provide and individuals and their families.  Finally, I flew back to Atlanta last night and arrived late while sitting in the bulkhead and enjoying the scenery of flying at night one of my favorite times to fly.

Because of my last 31 hours of travels,  I have a few tips for families they can use.

  1. Families and individuals should call the TSA cares as many times as possible to make sure they set your accommodations in place.
  2. If they do not follow through, then I would report your city’s TSA to the airport for not following through because if you or your child has special needs, it entitles you to service
  3.  If you fly southwest,  you can request a pre-boarding when you book your flight
  4. Make sure you contact your airline and let know your situation and that you need pre-boarding, special meals, etc.
  5. Finally, you can check out my other written blogs about autism airport tours.

 

 

Autism Conference with Dr. Grandin, Anita Lesko and Jim Ball in Nashville

On Friday, November 30,2019,   Future Horizon’s, will host an autism conference at the Nashville Marriott Airport.  Featured speakers will be Dr. Temple Grandin, her friend Anita Lesko and Jim Dr.  Ball.  The event will also feature lots of additional resources related to autism that one can purchase which are designed to provide some meaty resources that the reader can apply to their own life.  Examples include “The Stories I tell My Friends”,  “Manners Matter,” as well as a few others in which Temple and Anita will be able to sign during the event.

The first speaker will be , Dr. Grandin who will talk about her latest book, “Calling All Minds” which is a book which is all about sharing her favorite crafts for children on the spectrum versus playing video games.  Thought I was able to pick up a copy, I am yet to sit down and review Temple’s latest book and write a review.

Brunch with Temple
Grandin and I in Chicago earlier this year signing “Calling All Minds.” .

 

 

 

Following Anita Lesko, who is also on the spectrum and a good friend of Temple’s, will take center stage and talk about her life as a woman who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in her 50’s.   In the same manner, Lesko will most likely touch on topics of her her marriage to Abraham in 2015 in which the entire wedding party and guests were on the spectrum.   Apart from this, Lesko will share her experiences of personal interests to earning a career in the medical profession as a anesthesiologist who often shares her struggles on holding a high demand career with high levels of stress to colleagues who have misunderstood Lesko’s situation.  Sooner or later, Anita will also share her experiences of writing “The Stories I Tell My Friends” which is exclusively about Temple and the people who have gotten to know her down through the years.

Anita Lesko
Pictured: Anita Lesko

 

Finally, the conference will feature Dr. Jim Ball, who is a licensed specialist in Applied Behavioral Analysis or ABA. During he talk about the work he has done for 25 years in serving children and adults with Autism.  He will share valuable information on programs related to ABA and specific curriculum which he believes to be the most effective in treating students and other patients with autism.   Post Ball’s presentation, the conference will come to a close with the hopes that families, professionals and attendees who are on the spectrum will come away with different mind-sets that one with autism can have a self-fufilling life despite the challenges.

If you are in the area and would like to attend,  information can be found below

https://www.fhautism.com/about-our-autism-conferences/autism-conference-with-temple-grandin-in-nashville-tn-november-30-2018/

 

                                                      References

 

Autism interview number 13: Anita Lesko on healthcare and her all autism     

     wedding.  [Photograph].  Learn from autistics: Connecting parents and caregivers with       autistic voices. https://learnfromautistics.com/voices-from-the-spectrum-13-anita-    lesko/

 

 

 

Reviews: Video Modeling: Visual-Based Strategies Demonstrated to Help People on the Autism Spectrum

I recently read Video Modeling: Visual-Based Strategies to Help People on the Autism Spectrum by Stephen Lockwood, a behavior specialist and special education teacher.  Lockwood has had lots of experience working with individuals on the autism spectrum.

In his book, Lockwood discusses that individuals on the spectrum often face high levels of neophobia: fear or new environments or situations which can lead to meltdowns. He also talks about people on the spectrum who struggle to keep up with their peers.  One such example includes refusing to play with toys or other children, perhaps a sibling or a neighbor down the street.  Locke defines video modeling strategies, which often have a “mind’s eye view” of certain scenario.  In this case, parents would create an example video or two. One video would contain the child’s peers interacting and the second would hold footage of the the toys being played with. Once the video is edited, the child would be placed in a play-friendly environment with the exact same toys and peers. The video would be played repetitively to model the desired behavior in this setting. These video model strategies can be employed until the the child learns how to play and interact with their peers appropriately.

Lockwood teaches his audiences that video modeling can be used in any environment on any type of recording device by parents, teachers, or others in the community. Parents can find videos on Youtube (or make their own) modeling the activity they are trying get their child involved in; for example, celebrating the 4th of July. Recordings of 4th of July celebrations could play repeatedly for weeks prior to the 4th of July celebration. Within the video, they would model appropriate behaviors, eating certain kinds of foods, and learning how to watch fireworks at a public display.

Lockwood also talks about getting people with ASD into the employment world using video modeling strategies. He explains that video modeling can be useful in helping people on the spectrum get out in the work world by showing them videos related to their tasks or on appropriate behaviors in the workplace, such as social skills.

As a reader, I was very impressed with this book as Lockwood was very clear on what video modeling is. Though I am not a behaviorist, I really feel that this book will be helpful for people in the community who look to mentor someone with autism and look to expose them to new things; for example, teaching a child to wash dishes or learn how to take the trash out by watching a video or two until the situation becomes a routine. I feel that these are going to be helpful in taking baby steps to independence while weaning away from Mom or Dad doing everything for them. I really feel this book is going to be helpful is for those who have a difficult time understanding certain written instructions.

When I lived with two roommates at the age of 20,  I had trouble closing the door behind me properly.  Several times, I would get notes that either one found the door wide open.   Due to this happening, one roommate attempted to write down the instructions in closing the door tightly until the lock clicked.  Still, I could not understand what she meant until she was able to demonstrate how to close the door and listen for the click.  I feel feel that video modeling would also be good for things like instructions that one could find critical. Additionally, playing videos would be beneficial to prepare those who have meltdowns in big, scary environments like an airport, where there are lots of surprises and unpredictability.

There are things in this book that behaviorists, teachers, and others in the community should take into account. While this book will be beneficial for visual learners, others on the spectrum will not be visual learners when exposing them to new environment. For the moment, this book looks at teaching simple work skills and only looks at individuals who are high school age. One thing to keep in mind is that these basic skills being taught in work environments could be taught at home using the video modeling before an individual becomes adolescent, perhaps by volunteering at a church or any child-friendly environment.  Yet, I understand where Lockwood is coming from, as these tactics that will help an individual on the spectrum find success in the workforce.

Overall, this is a great book. I greatly look forward to finding better ways to apply this model.

 

A Brunch with Dr. Temple Grandin in Chicago

 

 A thank you note

As a network of Temple’s and an emerging writer, it was an honor to get my first press pass to an event where I would see a woman who I greatly look up to.  Thank you, Brenda and the Aspiritech Team, thank you to my friend who considered inviting me to “Brunch with Temple Grandin.”  Most importantly, thank you, Temple. Your hard work is very inspiring and I have learned a lot from you  between your talks, books, and emails.

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Temple and I before her talk
Sincerely,

-Miyah Sundermeyer

 

In June, I had the privilege of traveling from Atlanta to Chicago, IL., after being invited to a special brunch which held a talk by Dr. Temple Grandin.

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Me in Chicago at the L
The event was held to raise money for a non-profit organization known as Aspiritech which is housed in the greater Chicago area.

This program was founded by Brenda Weitzberg and her husband Moshe after observing their son, who was diagnosed with autism, being placed in three non-challenging positions which he struggled to keep post attending a 4-year institution of higher learning.  After doing research and finding out about an organization in Europe that hired autistics who are skilled and qualified in technology,  Weizberg elected to do something similar in Chicago.      Unlike most supported employment programs, which offer menial types of work where an autistic is kept down, Aspiritech helps their clients push the envelope by developing work skills in testing important software.  Such positions include  QA analysts and test engineers.   Each employee has an ASD diagnosis and is entitled to a job coach and other similar support systems such as mentors.    All the while supervisors and other leaders hold events for clients at Aspiritech which provide events that not provide social interaction but learn important social skills as well.   What is more is that Aspiritech just celebrated their 10-year anniversary of being in operation which served as a great opportunity for Grandin to have brunch and speak next to paying a visit to Aspiritech.

As someone who had been aching to get out of Atlanta as well as expand my blog brand, and grab ideas for autism airport rehearsal tours, what better way to start than starting with this event?   Once things were squared away, off I went to Chicago after a grueling 24 hours of flight delays and one cancellation, less than 48 prior to attending the event.  Still, I had time to settle into Chicago and do some sightseeing the day before by visiting the Adler Planetarium and seeing the Windy Kitty Cat’s Cafe with my friend

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My friend and Dr. Grandin at the book signing
The event began on the 2nd full day of summer on June 22,2018 with an unusual cold front bringing in several deluges of rain that felt like ice. Regardless, I was able to take the L-from my hostel in the Lincoln Park area to Linden, IL where I caught the bus the Glen Club which once was used as an old military bunker that was converted into a country club with a golf course.   Once inside, introduced myself to Brenda Weitzberg who I had exchanged emails with a few times about attending the event in order to take notes and write about it.  When Brenda first met me, and I told her who I was, “Miyah,” she replied excitedly.  All the while, I had a chance to get set up, network with other attendees and get settled in for the exciting adventure.

Still, I had been waiting on meeting my friend, who is connections with Weitzberg and Aspiritech, and had sent me a Facebook invitation to the event ” A Special Brunch with Temple Grandin” one month and a half earlier.    Yet, eating brunch with Temple was a more of a figure of speech but I ended up nearly behind her in line at the brunch buffet had it not been for my friend who stood between the two of us.  How did that happen?  I had encouraged my friend to get pictures of her as well as meeting Grandin prior to getting into the buffet line.

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Temple networking during brunvh
  Be that as it may, the staff of Aspiritech pulled Temple away making sure that had to chance to grab her food prior to having a chance to network with the management of Aspiritech.

Miyah brunch
My friend and I had brunch with Temple Grandin- courtesy of Moshe Weitzberg 2018

So politely, she excused her fans by announcing,    “Pardon but they are making me get something to eat,” which was then followed by being in the same line.   However, you are still reading the introductory part of this blog.

 

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As brunch began to wind down, Temple began her talk which began with a pun about how she was not going to use the mouse on the computer available to use for her power point.  “I am not going to use the mouse because I don’t like rodents because they bite,” which was responded by a crowd roaring in laughter.   She proceeded to talk about her adventures at Kennedy Space Center, located in Port Canaveral Florida, which I had visited 12 years before prior to seeing a Saturn V satellite being launched into space.

 

While talking about this, she shared her story about getting the opportunity to see the Space X rocket launch and using the camera of the iPhone 6 which she took multiple photos.  “Click, click, click,” she said before mentioning how wonderful the camera is.   From that, she broke away to talk about Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple and the inventor of the iPhone and how was not a scientist but a calligrapher or rather an artist and how he was saved career-wise.  Further on, she brought up other great examples such as one of my favorite film directors, Steven Spielberg.  While he had poor grades in school due to dyslexia, he had a camera that saved him.

Other things Grandin covered were her career life and how she did not let her autism be primary.  Rather, her career came first and how she often brought copies of her drawings to different plans and feedlots so she could get herself into the back door.    All the while she talked about her early years of employment which started out working as a seamstress at a dress shop, internships and other interests that drew out her passion to work in the cattle industry.   In addition, Grandin stated not to mock careers related to skilled trades and how there is a shortage of people in those fields right now and how this is critical to autistics today who are being babied because too many parents have been taught to rely on the medical model.   She stated that too many autistics are eligible for such jobs but are being coddled by their parents instead.  “I am seeing too many smart geeky kids being coddled by their parents who are stuck in the basement collecting social security playing video games,” she forwardly declared.  To back up her argument, she mentioned that new studies are not suggesting that video games have the same effects of addiction like with drugs.  “I am sure that makes the video game industry really happy.”

Together with her talks about getting young adults into careers, she briefly shared the way visual thinkers and learner see things which are by paying close attention to details.  She did this by showing a picture of cow backing away from a reflection of the sun and seeing how many people in the audience could understand why the cow was not moving forward.  “How many of you think it’s the light?”  Surprisingly, most people in the room did not raise their hands unlike me,  who is a visual thinker who had seen the complete opposite at two other talks where the entire room raised their hands in two separate parts of Georgia which were often followed by a “Good job,” and a crowd finding themselves amused.   This time though she said the lack of responses to understanding was”Terrible,”  while going to onto explain that most audience members have failed that test before.  Diversely, she talked about poor planning these days in buildings.  Say, a few hotels that she stayed at where one had no hot water and the other you had to use portapotties outside.   ” I don’t think people would appreciate luxury apartments with no electricity.”  Lastly, she talked about issues with CRJ aircraft carriers (I flew on one from Atlanta to Chicago and find they are poorly designed in that they are too short) in which the engineering on the doors is so poorly designed that it has to be closed the right way or the flight is canceled.   As a result, she forenamed that she had three flights canceled on her because the crew could not close the door properly.

 

Among other things, she mentioned there was a time in her life where she was afraid to fly which is something that she briefly mentioned to me last November while she was in Atlanta.   Though she didn’t touch on everything and I was able to discover what she did in “The Stories I Tell My Friends,”  she was able to briefly talk about a traumatic experience during her talk.  At the time of talk, she touched on overcoming her fear by making the situation interesting what I later learned more about and now use in our autism airport rehearsal tours.

Finally,  Q&A time brought in several members of the audience who participated and myself included.  One of the things that she put emphasis on that there are two places that she does not want to see autistics.  “In jail or dead,” which she stated right before I had a chance to ask her my questions.   Since there were no microphones, she gently directed me to “Speak up,” to which I responded a little louder.  “How’s this?” I asked.  Grandin came back with,  “So the members of the audience can hear you.”   At that point, I shared my concern about parents and guardians relying too closely on work programs which seem to keep autistics down.  She replied by telling me that these programs seem to be finding positions for high school age students and placing smart adults in jobs that continuously bag groceries. Next, we talked about issues related to getting on social securities.  “Do you know they now have classes on how to get onto social security?”   which I agreed was ridiculous for many different reasons along with acknowledging that parents need to stop holding their child’s hand for every little thing including shopping and cooking.   Conclusively, she answered questions of a client who is currently employed at Aspiritech who was recording the entire presentation and wanted a few tips on how to edit the video.  To my, surprise, Temple had great knowledge and experience on editing videos which I was greatly impressed by being that I edit videos for my vlog series all the time.  So that made me happy because I would have been willing to help him as well.

Post Temple’s talk, attendees lined up to purchase one of two books, “The Autistic Brain” and Grandin’s latest book, “Calling All Minds,” while others brought their own books to the brunch.  Prior to Grandin’s talk and book signing, I bought her latest book.   Post the talk I lined up to get my book signed, get a few pictures and a word in edge-wise.  When purchasing the book, the sellers were putting names into each book while Temple just signed.  Being that I had seen her so many times, I am used to having her ask me who the book was too in which she had always put “To Miyah, ” in each book before to signing her name.  In my mind, no one writes my name my copy of her books except for Temple herself which might seem rigid to some.

Matt, Temple and I
Temple Grandin, My Friend and Myself pose for a picture at the Temple’s book signing

At any rate, my friend and I walked up to the table where she signed a copy of my book.    It was there that I had a chance to tell her that I had gone to the Adler Planetarium before asking her how her flight from Denver was.   Yet, she was quick to tell me that he flew out of New Orleans on Southwest Airlines and that the pilot was terrific.  In between that time, my friend, Temple and I posed for a photo in which the entire group was clad in back and red.  Believe me, I had no idea that either one Temple or my friend would also show up and in black and red.   No, his was something that I didn’t even plan on doing because I didn’t know who would wear what.  Rather, I picked outfit because I felt it looked professional being, minus my pink hair that stuck out.

Following my friend and I sat down because he wanted one more picture standing with Temple once she signed her last book. Ahead, I watched her sign books while giving some great advice to a mother and her adolescent son about getting beyond video games and moving out into the world.  She asked him what he liked besides video games and the answer were dogs.  She told him that the rest of the summer, he was going to spend volunteering at a shelter and walking dogs.  As they walked out together several people mentioned that what she gave them were “Teachable moments” and it would really help him grow. Thereafter,  my friend was able to grab Grandin as she was getting ready to head with Weitzberg to their office which was brief prior to heading back to the bus with my friend.   After that adventure, it was time for me to think about getting ready for my early morning flight back to Atlanta.

It was while I was at this event, not only did I learn a great deal from Temple but I had a chance to learn more about Aspiritech and the amazing people both in leaders and clients.  Among other things, I made some new friends in addition to networks while getting rich notes from Temple’s talk.

 

 

 

 References

Grandin .T.  (2018, June).   Temple Grandin Talk.  Presented at  Brunch with Temple Grandin Aspiritech Fundraiser.  Glenview, IL.

Weitzberg, M. (Photographer).  (2018, June).  Brunchtime. [Photograph].  Glenview, IL.  Aspiritech.

 

 

 

Reviews on Manners Matters: Temple Talks to Kids Series

My reviews: 

When I first began reading and reviewing books for Future Horizons, I had a chance to skim through all the current choices available to read and review.   One of those selections was a new book called Manners Matter: Temple Talks to Children, which is a part of the Temple Talks series for children by Veronica Zysk.  Being that I have enjoyed works by Temple herself, I was intrigued. I was captured by the colorful animated cover with the children and the wonderful title in big red letters. I got the idea that the little girl on the top of title perhaps represents Temple as a little girl.

T525-Manners_Matter Upon reading, I was captured by the cleverness and inspiration that went into making this book. One such example includes the animated versions of Temple Grandin during two different stages of her life, she can be either been seen as a little girl or a young adult.  While most of the animated illustrations mainly show children learning examples from their parents, others have drawings of Grandin as a little girl learning manners. There are drawings of Temple participating in hobbies during her childhood and talking about it afterward. Other parts show examples of stories she has shared during her talks regarding bad manners while she gives notes in between. One such case has a drawing of young Temple licking chocolate ice cream out of a bowl like a dog in order to show kids that bad manners can cause other kids to get the wrong impression and not want to be friends. If anyone has ever heard Temple speak, she talks about eating chocolate ice cream out of a bowl with her mouth and having her teacher take the bowl away, telling her to use her spoon and that she’s not a dog (this is one of my favorite stories and I laugh every time she tells it). The young adult version of Temple introduces herself in a friendly manner that children can understand by describing her features: that she likes to wear western attire and struggles with autism. Manners Matter shares a brief introduction to who Dr. Grandin is by talking about where she grew up and how she had lived a self-fulfilling life. She is willing to help children learn the same basics that she did.

Other parts of the book emphasize children understanding certain boundaries such as one little boy who is learning to be considerate by not insulting someone’s appearances at a grocery store. It also shows that he has learned to develop empathy for other people, which is a common stereotype among people with autism.  In this case, it shows that someone with ASD can learn anything.

The book offers a second part which is specifically for family members, educators, and community members. While the first part is dedicated to children, this is directed towards adults who help their children grow.  This part provides essential information from Zysk and Dr. Grandin that gives better insight into how one can teach social skills to the young individuals on the autism spectrum. One such example includes an understanding that manners are rules and that they can be taught in baby steps, one at a time.

There are things about the book that I would have loved to be seen differently.  The first is that the introduction to where Grandin grew up was inaccurate.  The reason why I bring that up is that people on the spectrum pay very close attention to detail and like to know every realistic fact possible.  I feel that having accurate information about Temple will help people learn about the area where she is really from. The other part that I would have loved to have seen is how Grandin always emphasizes to be direct but gentle when correcting behavior.  Finally, it would be nice if the book gave some input on body language for children and what’s considered appropriate versus not.

In conclusion, I found this book to be both helpful and humorous.  Though this is a good book for ASD individuals, I feel that all children could benefit from the content published in this book whether they’re on the spectrum or not. I enjoyed seeing animated ideas of what Temple would have looked like and dressed like as a little girl.  The creators of Manners Matter were able to capture young Temple, who is a real figure and teaches social skills.  Further, I felt that the message for parents will be useful while reading this book to their children.

 

Zysyke, V. & Grandin, T. (2018). Manners Matter: Temple Grandin Talks to Kids.”  Arlington, TX.  Future Horizon’s Incorporated.

(Photo).  (2018). Manners Matters: Temple Grandin Talks Book Cover. Photo Source.

https://www.fhautism.com/shop/manners-matter-temple-grandin-talks-to-kids/

 

 

My reviews: The Stories I Tell My Friends:

As a fan of Dr. Temple Grandin, I recently stumbled upon what I thought was yet another book written by Dr. Grandin herself, The Stories I Tell My Friends, about details she only tells those who she is closest to.  It was only on “World Autism Awareness Day,” that I learned that this book was not written by Temple, but by a close friend named Anita Lesko.  I first learned about Lesko when she and Grandin were interviewed on the YouTube channel “Autism Live.” During the interview, Grandin shared a few snippets of the book that she’d never publicly revealed before. For example, she talked about meeting the father of behaviorism, B.F. Skinner, and the surrounding experiences; she talks about his desire to touch her legs and her straightforwardness with him.  “You may look, but you may not touch,” she said.   She also explained how she had looked up to Skinner, that he was like a god to her, and how she was disappointed.

Temple

For those of you who have never heard of Anita Lesko, here is a little background:

Anita was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at the age of fifty and married her husband Abraham in 2015, who is also on the spectrum.  They married in 2015 at an all-autism-spectrum wedding at a convention specifically designed for autism, dating, and relationships.  Among the attendees was  Alex Plank, who is the founder of the forum Wrong Planet and was Abraham’s best man. Like her close friend Temple, Anita shares her passion for horses. As she grew, she found her way into areas of her life that she desired. One area in particular turned out to be the medical field, where she works as an anesthesiologist for some of the most intense surgical cases. Lesko has not only written The Stories I Tell My Friends, but also The Complete Guide to Autism and Healthcare; both of which were published by Future Horizons.  Lesko has also proven to be a great voice of self-advocacy who offers tips for other adults on the spectrum on issues such as employment.  Without further delay, here is my review for The Stories I Tell My Friends.

I picked up this book thinking that Anita would just hand the microphone over to Temple and let her share every story possible.  Rather, I was greatly surprised that the stories were about others in Temple’s life, as well as Grandin herself.  The book held moments where Lesko input her own stories based on each person she interviewed.   Throughout, the book often transitions back and forth from interviews at Temple’s birthday party to telephone interviews with Grandin. All along, there is information Dr. Grandin has already shared next to new things that I had never heard before. Such examples include  life as a college professor and the strong mentorship she offers her students. Being that I work in a university setting myself, I understand those bonds and have connected with doctoral students who have studied under my boss. I never thought I would hear Temple’s own students share their input on what she’s like as the role of a professor versus a public speaker and writer to the autistism community. As a reader, I found that to be very moving and nearly started crying, which made me wonder if wanting a be a professor had to do with being inspired by her own mentor during high school.   Other interviews came from Mick Jackson, the director of the HBO film Temple Grandin, her colleagues both past and present, and her closest friends, all of whom talk about what Temple is like privately versus how others perceive her from the outside.

In other parts of the book I found myself laughing very hard, especially regarding her stories regarding her childhood and all the shenanigans that she and her sister would pull, which I could relate to.  I laughed at my own shenanigans in addition to Temple’s childhood. Still, other stories offer a hint of practical advice. In one such example, Temple mentions being afraid of flying at one point in her life and talks about how she overcame it.  As someone who is working with the autism airport rehearsal tours, I was greatly intrigued and felt her ideas would be helpful for families during our tours. While reading, I felt like I was sitting down talking to her over a cup of coffee or two. At one point, I was getting ready to head to Chicago for the first time in my life.  One of the things she talked about was the way the tunnel at Chicago O’Hare airport looked like a scene in Star Trek. When I arrived at O’Hare at a later date, I felt a space theme but had a different perception that the setting looked like the movie WALL-E.  Finally,  the book also shares other interesting questions that I have wanted to ask based on her unique thinking and engineering skills. One such example would what she saw in her mind when the World Trade Centers collapsed and how I have always been fascinated by that, though I don’t have the mind of an engineer.  The book had parts that were touching and I could easily cry.

In review, Lesko’s book shares the life of the world-famous Dr. Temple Grandin. She doesn’t live her life like a celebrity out in Beverly Hills,  rather, she likes to lead a very modest life. She is seen as a local community mentor from a small town, who anyone can go to with problems, because she knows how to solve them. Grandin wants to show the world that that yes, she has autism, but that she is able to lead a regular life like anyone else and equality should always play a role in the life of any individual on the spectrum.  Rather than focusing on the autism, Lesko and Grandin focus on things like Temple’s interests, her career, and her great sense of humor—which I always love to laugh at.  This book puts emphasis on how Temple is fighting the current reliance on the medical model, labeling, and transitioning programs, and how too many young adults are being held back. She would like to see that changed.

The only thing that I would have liked is if Anita had interviewed Eustacia Cutler, who is the mother Dr. Grandin, as she was the one who had been the greatest impact on Temple’s life. Those two have a very strong bond that sets a great example for parents of ASD individuals both young and old. Overall, this book not only shares more of Temple’s life than the movie, but also has important information that will leave a legacy. When I finished the book, I didn’t want it to end because the content in this book is so rich, powerful, and profound that I nearly ended up in tears.

 

 

Lesko, M., Grandin G., Miller, C., Uhl, J. Jackson, Mick., et el. (2018).  The Stories I Tell My Friends.  Arlingon, TX.  Future Horizons Incorporated.

Winward, R. (2018). (Photograph).  The Stories I Tell My Friends.  Retrieved from IRL.

https://www.google.com/search      q=Photos+of+the+stories+I+tell+my+friends&safe=off&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi2ppTc1LjcAhXkTN8KHQ-bA8QQsAR6BAgFEAE&biw=1680&bih=917#imgrc=-cmeinVeogaxGM: