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 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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
- Families and individuals should call the TSA cares as many times as possible to make sure they set your accommodations in place.
- 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
- If you fly southwest, you can request a pre-boarding when you book your flight
- Make sure you contact your airline and let know your situation and that you need pre-boarding, special meals, etc.
- Finally, you can check out my other written blogs about autism airport tours.