It’s Time to Let Go

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.

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: 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.

Reviews: Becoming an Autism Success Story

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.

Anita Lesko with a fan during the Nashville Future Horizon’s conference.

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.

Image result for photos of becoming an autism success story

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.

References

[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.

My Special Brother Bo

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.

References

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.

My Aunt’s Obituary

Below is an obituary that I wrote and published online alternatively to the posting in “Wages and Funeral Home and Crematories,” and was also published in the Gwinnett Post.

Whereas, I elected to create my own version of Lois’ obituary is that writing is a gift and a hobby of mine. Above and beyond, I feel there were too many details that Wages and Sons left out of the obituary. Say, Lois was an overcomer of polio during the same time when the epidemic hit the US when she was a little girl. What is more is that like me, Lois was a fighter and an overcomer, which I want people to remember about her. To add on, someone who works at a center that encouraging overcoming your challenges as a person with a disability, I felt it would only be natural to create my own. Last, I am one to pay close attention to details and I felt that one would like to know about some of the unique things from her life. There was a time in her life where she lived in Germany. Likewise, Wages and Sons appeared to either grab a picture from her last driver’s license or her passport, one of the two. On the flipside, I had spoken with some a cousin who liked this below and wanted to see it in the obituary.

I used this picture over Lois’ dreadful obituary picture

Will My Traveling Experiences Ever Rule the World

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

20181129_134751[1]

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

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

December 1,2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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