Dear Parents of Autistic Adults, I wanted to let you know that while you want to protect your child; I am afraid you can’t hold on forever. Now hold on, I am not accusing you of being terrible parents and nor did I say it. Rather, I say that it might be helpful for you to unlearn everything that you have learned, maybe change your entire way of thinking. Why? If you keep clinging to them and coddling them, they will never move up on their lives. Yes, it’s true, there are lots of predators and evil people out there who would take advantage of your loved ones. That being said, your job is to teach them to set boundaries and fend for themselves. That includes learning to say, “No.” Instead of playing the role of a helicopter parent where you follow your loved ones around like a puppy dog and invade the privacy of their time with their friends, you could play the role of the mentor. In fact, it’s very embarrassing to see this.
What you may not realize about your poor choices is that you are destroying their self-esteem and self-worth. In fact, a majority of autistics experience depression regularly. I have even spoken with parents, who don’t realize they are being protective. A majority of them don’t know what to do with their loved ones because we motivate their loved ones. However, I suspect that because you said “No” and discouraged their children so many times, that they feel worthless. What I also notice are that a lot of individuals end up struggling to manage their emotions.
So again, I encourage you to change your way of thinking of perhaps work on some positive mantras like “My kids are able-bodied and can do everything they put their mind to.” Beyond that, hire a life coach who can help them be all that they can be.
Hello World, this is Miyah and I would like to let you know that I have a call for proposals interviews for my podcast series. Below is the link and you can find more information. I am looking for wide range of topics that revolve around autism as a whole.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Currently, I just read the newest release of the children’s book “My Special Brother Bo,” which was written by Britt Collins with illustrations by Brittany Lynn Bone-Roth. While Collins has a background in occupational therapy post receiving her education from Colorado State University, Bone-Roth has a background in art. The pair both have their share of experience working with very young autistic children in addition to other types of special needs. A short time ago, they paired up to create and publish this newest book that will be available through Future Horizons. It can be picked up at various autism conferences or online.
The story is told from the the point of view of a seven-year-old girl named Lucy who is the older sibling her pre-school-aged brother, Bo. While Lucy appears to have a normal childhood, she explains that her brother has special needs. Though Lucy does not directly mention that he is autistic, she implies that this is the case. One such instance is that Bo was enrolled in an early intervention where he was taught to speak and eat in a special gym. Lucy describes some of her frustrations of living with an autistic brother and not being able to do specific activities with her brother because he is scared of them, such riding on the swings. She also discusses feeling ashamed of inviting her friends over in the fear that Bo might not be accepted. Lucy also goes on to talk about how she loves her brother and feels proud to be his big sister, and to help him learn new things and succeed.
As a reader, I really felt that this book should be in elementary and daycare settings so that children can learn more about autism spectrum disorders, autism awareness, and autism acceptance in mainstream settings. At the same time, there should be more than one book and preferably describing what autism is. Not only that, there should be books similar to the one written above written by real children who have siblings on the spectrum with the help of their parents. That way, children will better be able to understand what it’s like to live with an autistic or neurodiverse sibling.
Bone- Roth, B.L. (Illustrator). (2019). My Special Brother Bo. [Illustration]. My Special Brother B. Arlington, TX: Future Horizon’s Books.
Collin, B. E. (2019). My Special Brother Bo. Arlington, TX: Future Horizon’s Books.