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:

 

 

 

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.

Blogging for Future Horizons

Blog networkSince late 2013, I have been running a blog series called “Hello World with Miyah,” which originally began on Youtube after being encouraged by a cameraman who interviewed me in 2007 for a charity benefit.  He felt that I was so outspoken, extremely straightforward, and that my voice needed to be said to other people in the autism community. During the first year of vlogging I faced unemployment and attempted to take a real estate course, which I had a great distaste for. Still, I pushed myself to build the brand “Hello World with Miyah Sundermeyer”  by recording myself using an iPod touch. Topics contained everything from daily life as an autistic person to relevant information on autism for the general public.  Other topics included things that I am passionate about, like Dragon Con and the classic and very popular animated series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. At this point, I had no desire to write any blogs.

Future Horizon's
Grandin and I at the Asperger’s Conference in Atlanta, November 12, 2014

It was only in 2014, after meeting Dr. Temple Grandin, that I learned about creating a portfolio and selling my work to get a job that could turn into a career involving writing. I knew that I was a skilled writer and wanted to sell my skills by writing blogs related to autism. In 2016, I officially opened an account with WordPress.  I had no clue what I was going to write about but I did know that I was on my way to writing my introduction to my blogs.  However, when I have invited a special event entitled  “Wings for Autism,”  known as airport rehearsal tours, I perked up. Based on what I had seen, I elected to write my first official blog on what I felt needed to be done and how I would like to be involved in the airport tours.  I also decided that I wanted my blogs to offer scholarly advice which held some practical applications that families, professionals, and other advocates could use to take seriously. So far, most of these blogs have lots of cited information and other resources in addition to my own writing that I felt my reader could find helpful.

However, how where does Future Horizons come in, and what does that have to do with blogging?   It all began in November 2014, when I had two opportunities to meet and hear Dr. Grandin, and I gave her my business card. It was at this time that I first met Teresa Corey, the liaison of FH, and her assistant, Brad Masala.  Like with Grandin, I managed to give business cards to  both. I had started at the Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD) and was doing things related to autism resources for individuals on the spectrum and their families in order for them to get better access to services,  while sitting on a planning committee for the first statewide autism conference in Georgia. These experiences gave me an opportunity to bring many ideas to the table.  One of those included having FH attend out conference a vendor and sell their books and other resources that could be essential to families, professionals, and individuals with autism.  However, I would only have to wait for our 4th annual autism conference for that dream to actually come true, which finally took place back in May.

 

When that day did finally arrive, I had a chance to purchase The Stories I Tell My Friends, Temple Talks, and a few magnets while networking with Amy from Future Horizons.  I told her that I was a blogger and had just gotten a press pass to blog about Temple Grandin in Chicago.  Amy recommended that since I am a blogger, I should consider blogging for them by doing two things:

  1. Read and review books which have been published by Future Horizons prior to being released in the market.
  2. Attend their conference and blog about them.

Though I would like to keep blogging about scholarly and practical applications related to autism, I realize that this opportunity will not only help me build up my portfolio but also sell my work and learn how to build my skills in lots of ways, especially in writing.