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.
Miyah R. Sundermeyer
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.
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.
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.
Three weeks ago, I had the chance to attend the Future Horizon’s Autism Conference in Nashville, TN or music city. This one-day conference began early on the morning on the 30th of November and ended in the early evening. Attendees ranged from educators to professions and family members to adults on the spectrum. Speakers included Dr. Temple Grandin, Anita Lesko and Jim Ball. Prior to the first presentation, attendees checked in while others gathered around the table while others got their books signed by Dr. Grandin herself. All the while you could grab yourself a cup of coffee and a small continental breakfast.
Directly following her book signing and morning photos, Temple was the first speaker of the day. During her talk, she touched on everything from growing up as an autistic to sharing her main of autism becoming the main focus in a person’s life. Following her presentation, Grandin held a second book signing where fans could also get their pictures taken with her while asking her more questions related to autism. In my case, I had Temple sign my copy of “The Stories I Tell My Friends” in which you can find on wordpress.
Next up was Anita Lesko who made marched around the ballroom to the theme song from Rocky, “You’re Gonna Fly Now” while donned in white LED Christmas lights. Throughout her march, Lesko carried a basket with little cards that held her autograph and a quote by Bon Jovi. For the time being, Lesko also talked about growing up feeling that she was awkward and quirky while waiting until the age of 50 to be diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Prior to that diagnosis, Lesko explained what her life was like growing up while describing each job in detail. Say, working for a stable where individuals could jump horses. In exchange, she learned to ride and jump as well. Lesko also says that she learned how to braid horse manes which made a lot of money. Later, Anita also posed for photos and signed books including my book.
At the same time as Lesko’s talk, Grandin spent time talking with fans about everything on from tips related to employment, to teaching social skills to individuals on the spectrum.
Finally, Dr Jim Ball, a BCBA specialist spoke on everything related to the true definition of behavior to the way an autistic sees the world. While sharing each topic, he often placed lots of emphasis on Temple Grandin’s models next to sharing humorous stories of clients who he worked with. He also explained why so many autistic adults face unemployment and under-employment. Two of those reasons are because they can’t take criticism and because they are too honest for their own good.
In addition, the conference had resources for the greater Tennesee area from medical needs to special needs attorneys. Finally, there was a vendor that was run by a 10-year-old boy on the spectrum and his mother where they sold fidgets. for people who were on the spectrum. At the Future Horizon’s resource table, there were mountains of information from information related to meltdowns to medical advice. Other items were fidgets and magnets that read “Autism Awareness.” Still, the table sold just about every book by Temple Grandin from her most popular to her most current such as “Calling All Minds.”
Overall, the conference was able to provide its attendees with lots of very helpful and inspiring ideas for parents, educators, professionals, and those who are on the spectrum. For example, parents can take Temple’s models and examples and apply them to the lives of their children. Moreover, all the speakers were very approachable and friendly. For example, while signing books, Temple was not shy from recommending certain books for each scenario. By the same token, not one attendee seemed to complain or wear a frown. Rather, they were impressed with the information that was widely available. Likewise, I was bedazzled by each talk. In Anita’s talk, for instance, I admired the way she introduced herself for her talk with the music, the Christmas lights, and Rocky theme song. For this reason, I have a friend who is the spectrum who likes to do eccentric things when he does his presentations. Finally, I would also agree that each talk provided a good deal of meat along with feeling they were able to meet audience members who had come from very different backgrounds from one another. Say, one set of parents who brought there autistic son who does not use formal language but learned to speaks through writing and typing.
On the other hand, one thing that each conference seems to be currently missing is a sensory friendly room where autistics could take a break from the all the excitement. Being that FH provides lots of books that hold evidence-based studies related to sensory, I feel that it would be appropriate to have such a room that is readily available. Otherwise, the great conference that I found to be very successful.
On November 30th, 2018, I had the privilege to attend the Future Horizon’s Autism Conference in Nashville, TN. Since there was a one hour time change, my body automatically woke me up at 5:00 AM central standard time. This was perfect because it meant that I would have more time to get myself ready for the day’s events. After a shower, half a cup and coffee and breakfast, I packed up bags and caught the airport shuttle to the Marriott Nashville Airport where they were having the conference. Once inside, I dropped off my bags and headed over to the registration where I checked in. Meanwhile, scanned the lobby where there were three tables with books that contained lots of autism resources Future Horizons sold that. Behind the tables were Aimee Baller, her daughter and Teresa Corey who were selling the books. On the far right was a line and in front sat Dr. Temple Grandin who signed books and posed for pictures. In the meantime, I found myself a spot on the far left end of the large ballroom (which I later regretted being I could not get any photos of the speakers). Afterward, I grabbed a cup of tea and a pastry while going back over to the resource table. Once there, I was hesitant to pick up “Animals Make Us Human” and have Temple sign it along with my copy of “The Stories I Tell My Friends,” When I attempted to do, Aimee was already escorting Temple away who appeared to recommend a book to another that she thought might be helpful.
In the meantime, I sat down and studied the room for the perfect spot in case I could get photos of all the speakers. Being that room was large and since I didn’t have a superb quality camera, I did the best I could. Aimee introduced Temple who made began by making a joke related to technology glitches. Like all of her talks, Grandin touched on everything from growing up with autism to being used while sharing lots of splashes of humor here and there. A few examples that caught my attention was her concern that the autism label became way too focused on rather than the careers. She also shared that too many professionals were too busy making these assumptions in the hotel like the one that Temple presented at. Another thing that stood was her acknowledgment of the late Stephen Hawking. “Do you know what Stephen Hawking said before he died? It’s better to focus on the things you can do and not on what your disability will prevent you from doing.” Finally, she touched on the need of employees and how they cannot replace them. She also emphasized that because autistics pay close attention to details, jobs in skilled trade fields would be good jobs for them. Yet, because it focuses too many people on autism as a disability, too many parents are not allowing their children to go out into the world and get a job. Finally, I got up and ask Temple a question regarding learning how to drive is that she has recently been placing emphases in this area. She suggested that I need to find a friend early on a Sunday morning and drive around a big parking lot of a stadium instead of going directly to driver’s ed. Rather practice driving every Sunday at the same place at the same time.
Post Temple’s talk, I had the chance to line up and get her to sign the copy of my book while even getting photos with her. Along the way, I chatted with other attendees. Some were teachers while others were parents. Still, others were adults on the spectrum who were fans like myself. One particular fellow who stood out was a man who lived in the great Tennessee area and worked as a counselor. While waiting, he jokingly encouraged both of us to moo which I playfully declined. “You go right ahead.” Other people were not in line approached me I had networked with at breakfast. Some showed me their pictures with Temple while others came up and said hello. Still, others asked me if I really would learn how to drive. Last, one parent who was interested in me came up to get pictures with me while I could give her my business card. All the same, it was my turn for Temple to sign my book and have our photo taken together. “Who is this to?” Temple inquired while I told her the book was too me. All the while that parent insisted on giving her my spelling but I kindly corrected her by giving Temple my real spelling. Finally, I had my photo snapped with Temple and I before I briefly thanked Grandin and looked at the photo.
Following this, I ran into Anita Lesko who was standing between Temple and the doorway into the ballroom. Before introducing myself, I shared my photo with Temple and me to Anita. I finally had the chance to meet her in person post watching her talk on YouTube and tweet to each other via social media. Upon meeting her, Lesko was getting ready for her talk. Before I returned to my seat, I studied Anita who had a basket in her hand and LED battery operated Christmas lights thrown over her shoulders. Likewise, Anita’s introduction was much more laid back than Temple’s where she used powerpoint slides were recorded narratives on her biography. In the process of her biography, Lesko explained that she came from a very poor background where her mother had to sew all of their clothes. She also talked Rocky being her favorite movie and had made “You Fly Now” her theme song which played as Lesko marched down the aisles and handed out pieces of paper with her autograph and a quote by Bon Jovi. To add to it, Lesko had the Christmas lights turned as she marched. Afterward, Lesko began her talk about growing up before being diagnosed at age 50 with Asperger’s Syndrome. Before that, she described herself as quirky and awkward. She talked about her childhood in which she did interesting things like driving her tricycle in their family swimming pool. She also talked about how if she wanted to do something related to her interests such as horse jumping, she had to learn to work in the stalls where she got free lessons. She also talked about learning she could make a lot of money just by braiding manes and tails. Further, Lesko talked about working at an ice rink where she did lots of variables such as working the concessions and driving the truck. Post Lesko’s talk, like Temple, she stepped out into the lobby where she too signed books and took and photos while answering lots of questions. I got photos of Anita while meeting two other women on the spectrum who were blown away at what Anita had to say. During that time, I got pictures of these young fans. Meanwhile, Anita signed my book which she spelled out my name and wrote “Have a great day” with a little smiley face.
Meanwhile, I posed with one more photo with Dr. Grandin who was headed out to catch a flight. Temple was on her way to another autism-related event in Las Vegas. “I have been there three times,” I returned before people snapped photos of the two of us. Afterward, the same parent who got pictures of Temple and me approached me and began asking me questions on how she could help her son who was feeling stuck. In his particular case, he had the dream to be a marine biologist and was shut down by a professor was also on the spectrum who discouraged him from choosing a career in this area. He believed he could not be a marine biologist. So she was asking me how she could get him out of his shell but could come up with a solution all by herself by taking him to a marine center and get him excited again.
Following my brief conversation, I waved goodbye to Temple and told her I would see her next time. It was after she left I went to grab lunch where I sat with four women who were vendors that represented the greater Tennessee area. There, we all networked and talked about what we did for a living. Post lunch, I headed over to the vendor hall where they had everything from attorney resources to fidgets for individuals in the spectrum. One such vendor was run by a 10-year-old boy on the spectrum and his mother which I was impressed by. However, since I had recently purchased a few fidgets at the Future Horizon‘ resource table, I picked up a business card for other future opportunities.
Finally, I went to Dr. Jim Ball’s speech who not only talked about Temple’s models but also carried a great sense of humor while talking everything from reinforcers to autism and employment. One such area that really stood out is why in the world there is such a high level of adults are under-or unemployed. One of the main reasons is because so many adults can‘t handle criticism or being corrected. He also stated that a lot of it is that autistics are often too honest for their own good. In the examples he used, Ball talked about Sheldon Cooper and how he called his new boss stupid because he wasn’t a real scientist while becoming temporary fired. He also mentioned a young adult who had been learning to drive besides learning all the rules of driving and would call other people out to his parents. “That person is speeding” Ball stated in a humorous tone as the crowd laughed. Next, he walked about the difference between behavior and being annoying in which he pointed out that annoying is not a behavior. Last, I chatted with Jim briefly who I found delightful and very passionate about her work. We talked about Temple and how we both really appreciate how much she has done. I also talked about my work at the Center for Leadership in Disability and how I am training to become certified in registered behavior therapy besides connecting with him outside of the conference.
All things considered, the conference ended, and I headed back to the airport that evening to catch my flight home. As I reflected on all the wonderful things that happened during that day, I came away feeling refreshed remembering there is hope for an autistic and their families. What I most love about Future Horizon’s is that they have positive people who care about helping other people in the community grow. As a blogger and an attendee, I would like to thank Future Horizon’s, Dr. Jim Ball, Anita Lesko and Dr. Temple Grandin for all that each of you do.