Syracuse: Future Horizons Autism Conference

On Wednesday November 20, 2019, I will take a flight out of Atlanta which I will be bound for Syracuse New York. The following day, I will attend a Future Horizon’s autism conference at the Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center which will feature Dr. Temple Grandin. In the morning, Grandin will sign books, pose for pictures and answer any questions that each person will have,after, she will give her presentation, “Creating a learning environment for those who think differently.” Though I am not certain if this is based on a new book that has come out, I would be most happy to add it to my collection of books to read and review.

Dr. Grandin and at the Matthew Reardon,, held in Savannah

Moreover, this conference will feature Nick Maley, who fans often refer to as “The Yoda Guy,” as he had worked with Lucas films on the Yoda puppet. Not only will he talk about working for George Lucas but he will also share his own perspective of living on the autism spectrum. As someone who grew up watching Star Wars and favoring Yoda, I elected not to let this opportunity slip by and especially since he is someone on the spectrum like myself. His presentation is called, “The Yoda Guy shares his path to success.” In addition, Maley will also promote his book “Do or not outlook,” To learn more about Nick Malley, you can find out more by checking out this youtube video.

Last but not least, the conference will feature Paula Aquila, an occupational therapist from Toronto, Ontario. She will provide a presentation based on her journey in providing services for children on the spectrum. One of the books will talk about is “Building bridges through sensory” integration. Other topics will revolve around her work as an executive director for “Giant steps in Toronto.”

Though the conference is still four days away, I can barely contain the excitement as I always have so much fun at a Future Horizon’s conference. Not only because I enjoy Grandin’s wisdom with splashes of random humor but because I can take away a lot of new ideas to perhaps apply to my own presentations, which I have given at other conferences.

References

Autism Conference.(2019). Syracuse New York conference.[Web page] Retrieved from https://www.fhautism.com/about-our-autism- conferences/autism-conference-with-temple-grandin-syracuse-ny-november-21-2019/

Maley, N. [Nick Maley]. (2019,October). FIRST VIEW: my new animatronic Yoda, restored from original molds.[Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rObexmlEa0 .

Sundermeyer, M.(Photographer).(2019, March). Temple Grandin and I at Mathew Reardon Autism Conference.[Photograph] Savannah, GA. Savannah Convention Center.

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.

 

 

Review: An Evening with Temple Grandin: In Atlanta

By Miyah

Temple Grandin speaking in Atlanta

On January 28, 2020, I had the joy of hearing “An Evening with Dr. Temple Grandin in Atlanta,” at the Morrow Center, which is south of urban Atlanta and the airport. Because I live on the contrary side of town, I elected to stay in an inn up the highway from the locale. At any rate, I entered just after 5:00 PM. Once inside, pleasant team at a top counter and a splendid standing black-and-white sketch of Temple were displayed. Just down the hall was a lobby which held a short registration table and another which held the works and other resources by Grandin herself. Standing in right in front line of the table was Dr. Grandin herself, who was chatting one-on-one with one of her fans. Being that I was soon, I took a spot at the head of a small auditorium with round tables versus seating for a wider crowd. From what I gathered, this would be a smaller event unlike most events in which the auditorium is crowded, this ballroom was small. . Anyway, I grabbed a rapid dinner to go from a local mall in the city and came back to dine. Meanwhile, a short line was then developing, and Temple came to become more pre-occupied signing books and chatting with her fans. Meanwhile, Brad Masala, and his attendant were helping to check people in and making purchases.

 

All the while, I had the pleasure of meeting a mother of an autistic son after admiring her outfit. Here, she wore blue puzzle pieces on her tennis shoes. As we started chatting, I got in line and agreed to take a picture of her and Temple and do a group photo of the three of us.

Temple posing with a mother of an autistic son and I
My copy of Animals in Translation.

Shortly thereafter, I purchased a copy of “Animals make Us Human” and was hesitant to get my book signed. Instead, I elected to return to my seat and have her sign at the end of the talk.

 

 

Temple telling an amazing story

Shortly thereafter, Brad Masala stepped up to the podium to give a brief backstory about Future Horizons and how it became established as a publisher. Moreover he gave important announcements CEU’s being available to professionals at the event. Finally, he gave a biography about Temple which was followed by the trailer to the HBO film.

Following, the audience welcome Dr Grandin with an applause as she stepped up to the podium to give her presentation. “Well it’s great to be here,” she stated, prior to introducing herself . She also touched on historical figures, who had have been on the autism spectrum and how they began their great careers vs today. Of these, included Michelangelo and Jane Goodall and both were able to land in the back door of their careers. For example, she expressed that Goodall had gotten into the back door by using her associate’s degree in administration into a college and ended up with a degree. She also stated her arguments that because autism is looked at from a medical approach, too many people are being taught to focus way too much on the label. As a result of this, many individuals are ending up in the wrong situation. Say, adults today are ending up with overly protective parents who are getting on social security and playing video games versus getting out there and leading overly productive lives. However, said that it makes her happy when she hears about people with autism and other disabilities living productive lives and getting out into the world. For instance, she had shared a story seeing a man at an airport who had no arms picking up his shoes with his feet while going through security and put them on the conveyor belt. Earlier, that evening, I overheard her telling this story to another one of her fans. Nevertheless, I originally thought that she was talking about a man on the spectrum who had gone through an airport rehearsal tour, my bad. So, I found it helpful that she was able to tell her same story with the audience. What I also loved that she demonstrated that you can do anything you set your mind to.

In other areas, she forwardly touched about employment and how it is important for one to sell their work. “When you’re weird you sell your work, not yourself,” which the audience rolled in laughter at. In addition, she expressed her concerns about the growing number of needs in the skilled trade industry. She also advised her audience not to turn our noses up such occupation due to feeling their roles are important. Further, she explained that skilled trade types of jobs often come with hands on tasks and paying attention to details which people on the spectrum tend to do very well in. She set an example by talking about a recent visit to the Kennedy Space Center where she observed a structure in which a raccoon had climbed out of one of the hole. She also explained that she was able to visualize what types of things the animal might have been chewing on. “I thought, what have you been chewing on?” She also noted that visual thinking is common sense. She demonstrated this later by showing the audience a slide of a cow backing away from a beam of light from the sun. As the result the cow was backing away. She asked the audience how many people were able to recognize that beam of light. Out of the entire audience, I was the only one who raised my hand which she was able to pick up.

Following her talk, there was a short Q&A session and I was the first to ask her about developing an early portfolio based on some work I do back at the Center for Leadership in Disability. Yet, I was not able to let her know what I was doing because she had a hard time understanding my question. Thinking back later, I did not directly communicate some of the work that I do and how I can turn it into a portfolio. Instead, we ended up talking about me doing statistics for research, which is a field I am looking at for graduate school. She was able to tell me to be careful with the research industry with money drying up compared to the 70’s. Yet, she talked about a recent model in a paper with too many variables and how peer review was able to call the statisticians out. Still, she said that people need plenty of people who can do statistics such as in the teaching industry. She also went on to answer other questions including from a young adult who was on the spectrum who wondered whether or not she had the eidetic memory. She answered,” No” and gave him lots of other answers about her sensory. She said that for her, anxiety was her biggest sensory issue.

Post her talk, Grandin returned to to get sign books and chat with her fans. As I waited in line to talk get my book signed, I chatted with the same women, who I took pictures with earlier that evening. I found out that she was a parent of a son on the spectrum. Off topic, she showed me pictures of her adult son who loved his Barney and anything related to Barney. Upon seeing that and hearing that, I heard her talk about Barney, I burst into laughter and recalling that I had liked Barney for a few years at age 10 and how it drove my parents nuts. Otherwise, this wonderful mother had given Temple a small gift which was a hand made bracelet and beads and stitching which I thought I was precious.

Finally, Temple signed my copy of “Animals make Us Human,” and chatted with me about the the talk. We also posed for a few photos including this one below.

Temple Grandin and I posing for a photo after her talk

In review, the event itself was held in a beautiful venue which was a nice small room. In addition to that, I liked how there were round tables and chairs versus the traditional settings. Still, the event would have probably benefited more had there been several rows of seats. The event also lacked an audience of individuals who are on the spectrum, rather there were more non-autistics. Finally, depending on budgeting and availability, the event probably would have benefited had it not been so out of the Atlanta area. Rather, a location in a area like Decatur or Tucker, where I live has lots of churches for options with big auditoriums where she would have been more accessible for people who do wish to hear her speak. Other options would be been the Studio Movie Grill in Duluth being that a support group known as “SPECTRUM” would have brought out a lot of people. Otherwise, everything else was great.

Still, I really liked the event

One other thing to mention, when attending her talks, Future Horizon’s has done a great job with accessibility. For instance, they provide a microphone so Temple doesn’t have to repeat the question twice. They also provide better access to the slides via a QR code which are some similar things we are working on at The Center for Leadership in Disability, where I am employed. Another area they touched on prior to Temple’s talk were some of her sensory issues. In this case, Brad advised against flash photography during her talk and no video recording. That said, I had sat in the front of the room and had gotten up to use to rest room twice during her talk. She told me that one of her sensory issues was having people walk in front of her while she does a talk and how it disrupts her thoughts. I feel that Future Horizon’s could announce to their audiences to either sit further back or not get up in the middle of her talk, instead use the bathroom before or afterwards.

On a final note, I would like to thank Future Horizon’s and Temple Grandin for the opportunity to go out and blog about this exciting event.

Miyah R. Sundermeyer

An Evening with Dr. Temple Grandin in Atlanta

On January 28,2020, I will have the honor of attending and blogging about about an event put on by Future Horizon’s, which was just two months after attending their conference in Syracuse New York. This time though, FH will feature an “Evening with Dr. Temple Grandin,” which will be in Morrow, GA which is just south of the airport. The doors will open at 5:30 with registration and the book store open. Moreover, Grandin will be happy to sign books and answer any questions her fans may have. Directly following at 6:30, Grandin will begin speaking until 7:45 where she will spend the rest of the evening signing books and continuing to sign books and connect with her fans. Like with the last conference in Syracuse, I look forward to attending and keeping people updated.

Temple Grandin at the Future Horizon’s Autism Conference in Syracuse New York

Syracuse NY: Future Horizon’s Autism Conference reviews

Me in Syracuse NY

On November 21, 2019, I woke up at 5:00 am at the Syracuse/Liverpool,New York Super 8 motel. After a quick continental breakfast at the Super 8 of instant oatmeal, my Lyft driver picked me up roughly at 6:30 am. As I entered the vehicle, I stated the famous catch-phrase, “I love New York,” being that it was my first time traveling to New York state for the conference. During my short ride with Lyft, I was taken downtown beautiful Syracuse to the On Center at the Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center. Upon my arrival, I networked with a few conference volunteers before saving a seat right in front of the podium. After, I headed back up stairs, I briefly helped with on-site registration where I handed out pamphlets related to several of their products. Post, I went back downstairs where a large continental breakfast was offered. While breakfast was being served, a resource table which sold various books and other autism related merchandise such as fidget spinners were offered.

Temple Grandin signing books and posing for photos before her talk
My copy of Temple Grandin: How the Girl who Loved Cows, Embraced Autism and Changed the World.

Amid my breakfast and networking, I spotted Dr. Grandin being escorted to the resource table where she signed books and posed for photos before her talk. Meanwhile, snapped a few photos and purchased “Temple Grandin: How the Girl who loved Cows, Embraced Autism, and Changed the World,” which was written by Sy Montgomery. At the same time, I picked by “Do or Do Not Outlook,” by Nick Maley and “The Complete Guide to Autism and Healthcare,” Grandin’s friend Anita Lesko. All in all, I look forward to reading and reviewing all three respectively. For now though, I will stick with my reviews of the conference.

In any case, the morning kicked off with a brief book signing and photo session with Temple before prior to giving her talk entitled “Connecting Animal Science and Autism.” Beforehand though, one of Future Horizon’s personnel opened the conference by giving a back story about history of Future Horizon’s, which was started by Wayne Gilpin in response to his son who lived with autism. Moreover, information about CEUs provided in which attendees could pick them up after lunchtime and get them signed.

Shortly thereafter, Grandin’s talk began in which she talked about the importance of “Kids on the spectrum” getting good jobs. She also put lots of emphasis on other historical figures such as Albert Einstein and Jane Goodall and where they would have been today. She stated that they most likely would not have gotten very far due to the over emphasis on the autistic label. Rather, they would have been coddled by their parents today and probably would have been stuck living with their parents while playing video games instead of exploring the world. She also mentioned that adults on the spectrum often go into two directions. “Go out into the world, get a job and live a productive life,” or “Get stuck addicted to video games.” She emphasized that because individuals with autism are being disabled, there continues to be a big shortage of personnel who work in skilled trades. In addition, she said there was a huge need for coders but it meant that individuals would need to move across the country. Additionally, she talked about Stephen Hawking since he could not write and got bored, he often thought about an advanced type of geometry known as “Penrose tiling,” which she said can be offered to elementary students who become bored with “Baby math.” For this reason, she stated that certain individuals think in patterns which is highly mathematically based. Finally, Grandin provided her audience with a 15 minute Q&A. During this part of the talk, I asked Temple about crying at work when I grew frustrated and especially during things like meetings. Her response was that it’okay for me to take a break and find somewhere like an electrical room where no one would find me. She also explained to me that scientists at NASA happen to cry all the time and particularly when I project gets shut down. She also answered a question with a young adult seeking to be a spoke’s person for the autism community. Yet, she encouraged him to put that on hold and work at least two jobs and build up a portfolio before persuing a speaking career.

Post Temple’s talk, she returned to the lobby to sign books prior to her flight home.

Shortly after Temple’s talk

Promptly following Temple’s talk and Q&A, she walked a parent out of the auditorium who she shared her advice with before signing books and posing for photos.

Nick Maley during his presentation

In the meantime, Nick Maley , or “The Yoda Guy” took center stage and shared his story and various notes from his book “Do or Do Not Do,” which had lots of helpful hints on how a person on the autism spectrum can life a productive life. During his presentation, Maley shared that he had followed certain film makers around until they gave him a job while he worked out in Hollywood. He also shared some of his work outside of the original Star Wars Trilogy. His included make-up and prosthetics on films such as The Shining, The Hunch Back of Notre Dame, and Krull. Finally, Maley’s talk was followed by a Q&A where various fans got up to ask him questions. In my case, I asked him more about his work with Yoda. At first, I thought that he had been a part of his design which I learned was not correct. Rather, I learned that he worked on getting Yoda to operate correctly as a puppet .

Nick Maley and I after his presentation in Syracuse NY

Following his talk, Maley and I had the chance to pose for a photo and get better acquainted. During our short session, I had asked Maley a few questions. The first was how long he had known Dr Grandin. As it turned out, he did not. Rather, he was set to meet her and have breakfast for the first time. Yet, he was stuck in an airport due to delays. I also asked him how he got connected to Future Horizon’s . He had explained to me that he lives in Saint Martin , in the Caribbean and happens to own a Star Wars Museum which is also located. Of all the people who had gone through, was CEO of Future Horizon’s who had fallen in love with Maley’s work and wanted to get him connected to Future Horizon’s. It was from this meeting that I was very impressed with the way Maley carried himself and how he was able to reach the younger generations in the autism community with Star Wars remaining so popular.

After my meet with Nick and a much needed lunch break, I attended Paula Aquila’s session, which took up the rest of the afternoon during the one-day conference. Unlike Grandin and Maley, she was not on the spectrum. Rather, she is an occupational therapist from the greater Toronto Canada area who works with individuals on the spectrum through sensory integrative therapy. During her talk she touched on the way the brain worked and other solutions that can help individuals. She also talked about how she helped different individuals. In one case, she talked about a client who liked to play with door knobs and how she worked with her team to build an obstacle course that led to a door knob in order to expand the young girl’s mind. Finally, Aquilla set examples by having members of the audience participate in activities to demonstrate that they can be challenging at first but with practice, activities can get better.

Following Aquilla’s long session, the conference ended at 4:30 in whih a long line of professionals lined up to get CEU’s for attending talks by Temple Grandin and Paula Aquilla. All the while, I took a Lyft back to my hotel by the airport ad called it a night after a very exhausting day.

In my reviews over all, all three talks provided a lot of meat that many professionals, educators, caregivers and autistics need to hear but do not. In fact, many of them today miss the mark on what could be done versus what can’t be done. I also feel that while most people know about Temple, Future Horizon’s could be featuring more promotions on other writers who are on the spectrum like Nick Maley and Anita Lesko. For this reason, both of them provide a lot of insightful information that parents and autistics alike could benefit from. In Nick’s case, his book provides some very realistic insight about autism and employment while Lesko, who was not at the conference talks about learning and neuroplasticity. Moreover, I feel that Temple could speak later in the afternoon due to her busy schedule. Otherwise, she is always full of good advice. Finally, I feel that Future Horizon’s could reach out local communities where they hold their conferences and find out which individuals are holding onto jobs and leading meaningful lives. That way, they could host a panel during the last part of each conference. Finally, I feel that FH could call for individuals who have a business or a portfolio to promote them at the each conference. Otherwise, the conference was very good over all and brought out a good crowd. Like always, I learned a lot of new things not only from Temple Nick as well. Even more so, I am looking to open his new book “Do or Not Outlook.,” and write a review.