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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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.
To those who are living with or closely know someone on the spectrum, Autism Awareness month is no stranger. Family members, professionals and business alike often strive to make a venue more autism or sensory-friends. Others strive to raise awareness in our major media sources. For example, on Netflix, one can find the popular show, Atypical about a teenage boy named Sam who is just transitioning into an adult and going onto college. Others raise awareness through the work of puppets such as Julia who is a character on Sesame Street, who’s played by Stacey Gordon, a puppeteer who has a son with autism. On the other side of the coin, are self-advocates, who are autistic that believe in autism acceptance. From their perspective, we should do away autism awareness. They believe that awareness often gives people the wrong impression of us. Alongside, they often boycott Autism Speaks the organization believed in curing autism. Along with a strong loathing of the organization, they also hate the puzzle piece for the symbol’s negative history that autism is a disease. Rather, they use the infinity symbol to represent neurodiversity. They also do not wear blue but red, as a color of “Love.” Whatever the case maybe, I take a very different stance in all of this which entails taking middle-grounds.
Yes, while I am an autistic and a self-advocate, I have developed a very different mindset than a lot of my peers on the spectrum. I am more willing to take middle grounds. What that means is that I prefer to take elements from both sides. Why? Well, it’s simple, really. Foremost we can’t have autism acceptance without autism awareness. Perhaps the most important of all is that those on the spectrum need to have a level of self-awareness and understanding of themselves. Once they have learned how to become more self-aware, then can become to accept themselves. For example, there was a time in my life I hated being autistic because I grew up in a world with people looked at me like I was broken and therefore underestimated what I could or could not do. In contrast, I was strong enough to want a normal life. I wanted to hold down a job beyond custodial work because I knew something had to exist. I only learned how to accept myself in 2004, based upon joining a support group for adults on the spectrum. At that, a mechanical engineer and a pilot named Robert Morris who also carried a diagnosis ran the group. Contrary to another support group, which felt more like a daycare for adults, this group focused more on gifts, talents, and careers. Here, they spoke out against closed minded views related to autism. They further celebrated Temple Grandin before her movie came out. While this group helped me begin my journey in self-discovery but also in self-acceptance. Despite that, I am don’t want to get too far down the beaten track. Once a person learns these things about themselves, they can learn how to better serve in their community.
With the Red Instead versus Autism speaks, this is where I feel it’s appropriate for a self-advocate to take middle grounds. When I mean here is yes, standing up for what’s right should be number 1. For example, learning to educate or sometimes re-educate people in the community on what autism is and what it is not. Some people believe that autism is an anti-social personality disorder and that we are all sadistic monsters who go off for no reason. Following the Sandy Hook Shooting, which took place on December 14, 2012, I was watching a live stream from my computer which contained a chat session. During the stream, the leader talked about this shooting which I was thrilled with. Sadly though, another member of the chat room jumped into the conversation and stated ignorant stereotypes about it. While this makes my blood boil, she blurted out that Adam Lanza had Asperger’s Syndrome and all that all people with Asperger’s syndrome have a lack of empathy who go off for no reason. Little did she know that an adult in her early 30s was closely watching her comments and could call her out on in her ignorance. When I responded, she boasted about how she was in autism research and knew better because she listened to experts. “That’s doesn’t make you an expert,” I came back. In a similar hasty manner, people with little education on autism lean towards the disabilities associated with autism while forgetting that a person with autism can be still a person. Therefore, one on the spectrum can raise autism awareness for the sake of educational purposes while explaining the reason behind Lanza’s shootings and perhaps explaining where the disability lies.
Third and finally, I have taken middle grounds because I have elected to support Autism Speaks. One of the main reasons is because I see them working hard to become more autism-friendly. Though not perfect, something like this never takes overnight. For example, I have seen then create a special blog designed for adults on the spectrum. In fact, I submitted a few articles. One of which included getting involved in airport rehearsal tours. I have also seen them feature more stories by the voices of autistics themselves and become more and more diversified. Otherwise, most self-advocates want to reach out to as many parents, guardians and other people in the community who support autism speaks. Most of the time, these parents or guardians often lost as what I should do with their children as there are so many voices giving them confusing answers. I feel that they need to hear from the real experts and that’s us. Our life experiences is what will raise awareness and acceptance. Not only that we know best what types of services an individual needs and how expensive something can be. Again, that where a self-advocate can come in and get involved with their local autism speaks chapter. They can also start a team or sign up to raise money and walk while learning to keep track of how Autism Speaks spends their money. Last but not least, they may consider getting on boards and advisory councils part of Autism Speaks because that’s ours. Someone will hear voices.
Therefore, I would highly like to recommend that self-advocate learn how your differences side aside with people who support autism speaks and take middle grounds. As a result, I am not lighting it up blue to walking in red. Rather, I am combining the two colors together to make purple. My campaign logos are “Taking Middle Ground” and “Walk in Purple.” In fact, will walk on the 28th of April in the greater Atlanta area and wearing a T-shirt that not only promotes my campaign but also my blogging brand.
On April 1st, two very distinct things occurred. The first is that it has been marked as the official start of Autism Awareness Month. The second is that author, autism activist, and self-advocate Anita Lesko had a book published by Future Horizons come out as a new release. This book, entitled Becoming an Autism Success Story, finally hit the shelves on April 1, 2019. As a fellow blogger for Future Horizons, I had the chance to read this book a week before it released on the market. What I found differed from I expected.
Foremost, the book not only talks about Lesko’s upbringing and her background, it also talks about different methods that can help individuals on the autism spectrum. One such example is visualization and neuroplasticity, which is where one can learn to do something by seeing others doing an activity and then visualizing themselves doing that activity. Lesko also talks about hippotherapy, where one with autism works with horses to improve areas such as balance and coordination.
In another part of the book, Lesko describes growing up living in a poor family and finding alternatives to doing the activities her to otherwise could not afford. One such instance is receiving horse lessons for working at the stables by mucking out stalls. She also talks about struggling with coordination and having trouble socializing with everyone but her mother, Rita. Prior to working with horses, she never really talked to anyone. Beyond her childhood years, Lesko talks about how she broke out into the world of nursing and anesthesiology. In her book, she shares how she learned, which is through visualization to become a successful grad student and nurse.
To boot, she talks about transitioning from having supportive parents for 53 years and living with them prior to dealing with the bereavement of losing them. She also discusses becoming a support group leader and meeting her husband, Abraham, who is also on the spectrum. She talks about how she and Abraham never wanted to part and married at an all-autistic “2015 Autism in Love Conference.”
Finally, she talks about making self-discoveries at 50 after being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in 2010. She spent much of this time doing lots of research on autism. Right in the middle, she stumbles upon the popular documentary The Woman Who Thinks like a Cow, which was about Temple Grandin. She also talks about how she met Temple at a conference in 2013 and how those two have been able to become friends.
In reviews, I highly recommend this book, whether you are a parent struggling to find answers for your child (despite if they are 10 or 21) or are a person with autism who is battling with depression and is ready to give up. Not only does Lesko share helpful tactics, but she also describes that she has intense training in life coaching. To show says she is open to others on the spectrum contacting her in sharing their success stories while talking about using 7 steps to using visualization.
In other areas, I found myself on the edge of tears when she described losing her whole immediate family right around the same time. I especially found this touching as I had just lost my aunt Lois three months ago, who could mentor me and change my life. That was one part that really hit home for me as I read the rest of the book on April 7, 2019, before turning the lights out.
Things I would have liked to have read about was about how long she had known Abraham before they fell in love and got married. I also would have liked to have heard her talk about her wedding in more detail. In other areas, I would like to have heard her talk more about how they selected Anita to speak at the United Nations in 2017. Finally, a little more about how she wrote The Stories I Tell My Friends. Otherwise, this book is worth the read.
[Photo] (2019) Becoming an Autism Success Story. Future Horizon’s
Books. Arlington, TX.
Lesko, A. Atwood, A, & Grandin T. (2019). Becoming an Autism
Success Story. Future Horizon’s Books. Arlington, TX.
On April 3rd, 2019, Autism Live, a talk showed hosted over the internet, featured Dr. Temple Grandin as a part of World Autism Awareness Week which is hosted by Shannon Penrod. Unlike last year, when Grandin and her friend Anita Lesko, had called in, to promote “The Stories I Tell My Friends,” things were different this year. Comparatively, Penrod played three archived interviews with Grandin.
1. The first was a brief Q&A which displayed questions on a screen prior to Temple looking into a camera gradually answering each question.
2. The second was an interview was at a studio in Denver for a show entitled “The Future is Bright” with Stephanie Shaffer.
3. The third was a retro-interview between Shannon Pendrod and Temple Grandin shortly after
In the first’s course short Q&A clips, Temple talked about a wide variety of items. One of them entailed individuals often struggling with remained hyper-focused on a particular item or top. Over and above, how there is a general rule of thumb to bring up that interest with someone twice, otherwise move on and talk about something else. A second example described sensory enrichment therapy in which Temple gave a great description. In which, a therapist will use a different method involving distinct types of therapy compared to ABA. Here, the therapist will use two different senses of at. In the example she gave, Grandin said they may have a child smell cinnamon while instructing them to “Touch carpet.” She also said these sessions often interchange the senses regularly.
All the while, Grandin’s interview with Stephanie Schaffer appeared to be much more up to date because a few of the things she talked are available in Anita Lesko’s book, “The Stories I Tell My Friends.” One thing, that Temple was the best way that an individual on the spectrum can learn how to drive. Rather than going directly to driver’s education, she explained that it’s better for an autistic. Instead, she explained that it’s better for an autistic drive a car in an area where there are no cars around. In her case, her late aunt used taught her how to drive by going to pick up the mail, which was three miles from Anne’s ranch. She talked about work skills and the importance of autistic learning them when they are young. Say, learning how to walk other people’s dogs.
Finally, she answered several questions that fans which fans had written prior to the interview. One question that she answered was on her views regarding inclusion. Grandin responded by mentioning her childhood experiences where she could be in a regular classroom during her elementary year. She shared her opinion about the DSM-V manual reduced the number of autism diagnosis. Originally, the Asperger diagnosis was going be eliminated from the autism spectrum altogether. Rather, the new diagnosis was going to be changed to a social communication disorder. ” I think that’s rubbish,” she openly stated.
If you are a fan of Grandin, check out the interviews here
Despite everything from my blogs related to products and other events through Future Horizon’s, I have to once again realize the origins of these blogs. That is to write about topics are of scholarly value while others in practical application. Here, I would like to once again write about autism and traveling through an airport. Yes, it has been a while since I have put my peddle to medal and really talk about more things that I feel anyone could benefit from. Without further delay, here are more things I have considered.
Foremost, about a handful of airports, including Hartsfield-Jackson International airport have opened sensory friendly. To name a few others, Cork International Airport in Shannon Ireland, Heathrow International Airport, and Myrtle Beach International. Beyond that, officials from Pittsburg International came to visit Hartsfield with the purpose of designing a third sensory room in the US. Looking at their website, they stated that they have spoken with the public of how a sensory room should look like. A few suggestions were
Calming activities for children
As someone who have spent lots of time with the “Wings for Autism/All” events and the “Taking Flight: Autism Worldport Rehearsal Tours,” I support all of the above, being that autism can affect one’s sensory issues. That Hartsfield-Jackson being so big, I warmly welcome closing down the smoking lounges and converting them into other sensory rooms. Right now the option is to go all the way to concourse F, they locate which just inside the international terminal. Otherwise, finding the quietest spot at another concourse at an empty gate, discovering nooks inside each gate, and even walking downstairs with the tunnels and the electric train are. Even more so, since there are only a handful of sensory friendly rooms in international airports, out of 40,000, other options have to select.
On another note, families have the option of investing in noise canceling headphones which are wireless. After doing thorough research of trying out and looking into price options, I found that Sony really has the best quality for families who have loved ones with sensory processing disorders and other factors that trigger their anxiety. Yes, Sony and Bose offer a more peaceful experience for an autistic, this is a very costly investment. The average price of good quality noise-canceling headphones comes in at the price of $300-$400. In that case, a family night needs financial aid to help their child. Yes, there are cheaper options out there. For instance, Sony offers a pair of $50.00 noise-canceling headphones that required being plugged into a phone. Others only work when paired with a phone or plugged in. Unlike the Sony or Bose, listen to music. Still, they are thick enough to muffle loud, surprising and overwhelming noises. That said, if noise cancelling headphones are not an option, one can invest in getting a pair of headsets or old-fashioned foam earplugs.
I for one and a sensory seeker, which means that I enjoy the feeling of the foam when applying the ear plugs in a noisy environment.
Just as importantly, airport personnel needs to know that a passenger has an invisible disability like autism spectrum disorders. Just recently, airports in the UK have adopted the Sunflower lanyard program. This enables autistics to wear special lanyards with Sunflower which tells a worker that the passenger has an invisible disability and may need help. Why just today, while I was at the Wings for All, event, I received a gift bag. Inside contained a bracelet with the Delta logo that lights up in two directions. One one end, the light remains steady, whereas the other, the light will flash. This gave me another idea I think airports like Hartsfield-Jackson will find to be helpful. Like with the sunflower project, autistics would wear similar bracelets that light up while they are at an airport. All the while, they would train all airport personnel to in being able to recognize the illuminated bracelets. Whenever an autistic is about to have a meltdown, their parents and themselves can then switch the bracelet to flashing mode which would notify an airport official they need help. Believe me, I could think about all of this in one afternoon after seeing the bracelet post at the big event.
As I bring this to a close, I really hope that the public has time to read this blog and that these words taken seriously and put into action. Even more so, that families and individuals on the spectrum will feel more comfortable by traveling through an airport.
Dyson, M. (2019). Cork airport rolls out scheme for passengers with hidden disabilities. [Web article]. URL: