Worth-It for You to Learn about the origins of “Hello World with Miyah”


It’s April, meaning that this is Autism Awareness Month to most of the world while others refer to this as Autism Acceptance Month. Since the opportunity is at grabs, I would like to share a little more about myself and how I got started as a blogger.    

First and foremost, I would like to mention that I wear 7 hats in society

I am employed at the Center for Leadership in Disability which is housed in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University . The second hat that I wear is that I am an undergraduate student in my last year with a major in psychology before going onto persue a master’s in public health with a concentration in statistics

The second hat that I wear is that I am an undergraduate student in my last year with a major in psychology before going onto pursue a master’s in public health with a concentration in statistics

I am the entrenuer to the blogging Brand “Hello World with Miyah”

I received a press pass to blog about a Future Horizon’s Autism Conference in November 2018. Temple Grandin and Anita Lesko were two of the speakers

  • I started blogging on youtube in late 2013
  • I expanded my blogs to writing on wordpress in 2016
  • Recently, I began blogging for Future Horizon’s books, which sells products related to autism resources.
    I am a homeowner in the greater Atlanta area which I have been for nearly a decade and recently just got a red-headed roommate named AJ who says “Meow.” homeowner in the greater Atlanta area which I have been for nearly a decade and recently just got a red-headed roommate named AJ who says “Meow.
Me at an autism airport rehearsal tour

I sit on the ADA at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport along with being involved with their monthly Autism Airport Rehearsal Tours. “Taking Flight: Autism Worldport Tours

  • Our team won an award from Delta Airlines

The 7th and final hat that I wear is that I am autistic and was diagnosed at age 11 in 1993 with Pervasive Developmental Delay- Non-Other Specified. Post, diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age 22 in late 2003, which was renamed as an autism spectrum disorder.  

My best friend Brad Clark and at I at 2008 Candlight Ball, since I don’t have ones for 2007. No we are not dating but we have talked about it.


It all began in 2007 when I could attend a special black-tie affair called CADF: Candlelight Ball, they held annually which raise money for autistic adults to receive services. Back in the day, I was a client for the Emory Autism Center, which had a program for adults. Based upon learning that a close a friend telling me of this exciting opportunity, I was persistent in contacting my behavior specialist. At first, the opportunities were slim pickings as the slots were almost full. Apart from the odds, I could get into the event. Prior, it required me to take etiquette lessons with other clients, which included two friends of mine. In the course of the lessons, the center hired a videographer named Damon Wood. While he recorded the lessons, he looked for clients who will do an interview As he was asking around, my late aunt and I was among those who he inquired. As a result, I said, “Yes.”

My Late Aunt Lois

As he was asking around, my late aunt and I were among those who he inquired. Following, Lois had had Damon and his assistant, Chris over for dinner. Next, I stayed in the dining room with Damon and Chris while Lois left the room. At such a time, I spent the next hour sharing my story in which I shed tears while I shared my desires. Though I wanted something to show those desires, Damon fell in love with some outspoken and straightforward things I came up with.  

When the big night came on March 8, 2007, I fell in love with the event which was something I saw out of a favorite TV show, “The OC,” which was big in the early 2000s. During, they treated my friends and me to a top of the line dinner and a lovely jazz band. Therapists and mentors who had worked with I also greeted me. Most of them approached me and said that my interviews in the video were fantastic. Then the big moment came when they showed the video, A Lifetime of Service, which was about all the things individuals could achieve at the center. Though I was expecting a Barbara Walters’s style interview, it surprised me. Rather, there were snippets of myself practicing dinner etiquette with my peers, cooking, studying and saying outspoken things. One of those things were, “Sometimes neurotypicals can be a pain in the butt, but I have learned to live with them. I moved the audience to laughter and tears. In fact, you can view the video down here. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAjywO1VMA4

Six year later, Wood had gotten in touch with me after looking over my archived videos. In consequence of, I agreed to meet him at a frozen yogurt shop in late June of 2013. During this time, we discussed doing a series of vlogs with me. He said that these should really be on you tube. At that date, I was in love with shows like Good Morning America and The Today Show. At the moment, he wanted me to a day in the life of an autistic type vlog. In the meanwhile, I desired to create a vlog that would look more like a news show by autistics for the nerd word, where we would cover everything from NASA to conventions like Dragon Con. All the same, Damon attempted to do a few sessions with me which I looked forward to. Prior to this, I began writing out scripts and constantly thought about old broadcasts in the 50’s ere combined with the first two words in the opening theme from the Partridge Family. In which, these words were, “Hello World.” That being said, those opportunities would not last being that he had a family to take care of and bills to pay. Therefore, I took over project on the 25th of October 2013, the day after my 32nd birthday. Link can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVr6z2U0eNE =qVr6z2U0eNE

Since that date, something has determined me to build an audience for myself. In the beginning, I relied on a webcam, a Kodak digital camera and iPod Touch. There were no fancy titles or music to speak of. As I researched vlogging, I found free editing apps on my iPod which had music and titles.   

Since that date, I have been determined to build an audience for myself. In the beginning, I relied on a webcam, a kodak digital camera and ipod touch. There were no fancy titles or music to speak of. As I began to research vlogging, I found free editing apps on my ipod which had music and titles.

During this time, I attended talks by Temple Grandin next to reading her books. Among this information was excellent information regarding autistics developing talents and skills which could turn into a portfolio. Being I loved to write, I elected to put my writing skills to use so I too could sell my work. I had elected that unlike my YouTube videos, these would be scholarly and practical application types that would be autism specific. 

I also stumbled upon a well-known vlogger named Casey Neistat who showed the meaning of “Day in the Life” type vlogs. Though I didn’t jump onto that bandwagon at first, I watched plenty of Neistat’s videos and listened to his music repeatedly. In 2018, I could download my first serious editing software along with getting a hold of the few of the same songs found in his videos. In January, my first works got published,

The first book I wrote about for Future Horizons
Temple and I at Matthew Reardon Autism Conference

At the same point, I elected to expand my written blogs by electing to find events where I could get a press pass and write blogs. One thing I wanted to blog about were events related to talks given by Temple Grandin. Luckily, my first opportunity was around the corner as a friend had invited me to an event in the Chicago area. I soon acted upon this opportunity by putting myself out there and making myself known. During the interval, a representative of Future Horizon informed me’s blogged about their books at conferences. Ecstatic as I was, I signed up and wrote my first blogs in mid-2018. These titles  includedhttps://helloworld240.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/reviews-its-just-a-what-little-sensory-issues-with-big-reactions/https://helloworld240.wordpress.com/2018/07/24/my-reviews-the-stories-i-tell-my-friends/https://helloworld240.wordpress.com/2018/07/25/reviews-on-manners-matters-temple-talks-to-kids-series/https://helloworld240.wordpress.com/2018/08/14/reviews-video-modeling-visual-based-strategies-demonstrated-to-help-people-on-the-autism-spectrum/https://helloworld240.wordpress.com/2019/03/28/review-dogs-and-autism/

and more…

Future Horizon’s trademark for bloggers

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Having said that, I hope you have a chance to check out my youtube channel as well as my written information.https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvee5Vz_h9bsFTwXbU3_GdA?view_as=subscriber

Note that if you like what I am doing, please hit those subscribe buttons and give me thumbs up. Also share this with anyone in the autism community. Happy Autism Awareness Month and Autism Acceptance Month

Until next time, I’m Miyah Ryan

A Brunch with Dr. Temple Grandin in Chicago

 

 A thank you note

As a network of Temple’s and an emerging writer, it was an honor to get my first press pass to an event where I would see a woman who I greatly look up to.  Thank you, Brenda and the Aspiritech Team, thank you to my friend who considered inviting me to “Brunch with Temple Grandin.”  Most importantly, thank you, Temple. Your hard work is very inspiring and I have learned a lot from you  between your talks, books, and emails.

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Temple and I before her talk
Sincerely,

-Miyah Sundermeyer

 

In June, I had the privilege of traveling from Atlanta to Chicago, IL., after being invited to a special brunch which held a talk by Dr. Temple Grandin.

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Me in Chicago at the L
The event was held to raise money for a non-profit organization known as Aspiritech which is housed in the greater Chicago area.

This program was founded by Brenda Weitzberg and her husband Moshe after observing their son, who was diagnosed with autism, being placed in three non-challenging positions which he struggled to keep post attending a 4-year institution of higher learning.  After doing research and finding out about an organization in Europe that hired autistics who are skilled and qualified in technology,  Weizberg elected to do something similar in Chicago.      Unlike most supported employment programs, which offer menial types of work where an autistic is kept down, Aspiritech helps their clients push the envelope by developing work skills in testing important software.  Such positions include  QA analysts and test engineers.   Each employee has an ASD diagnosis and is entitled to a job coach and other similar support systems such as mentors.    All the while supervisors and other leaders hold events for clients at Aspiritech which provide events that not provide social interaction but learn important social skills as well.   What is more is that Aspiritech just celebrated their 10-year anniversary of being in operation which served as a great opportunity for Grandin to have brunch and speak next to paying a visit to Aspiritech.

As someone who had been aching to get out of Atlanta as well as expand my blog brand, and grab ideas for autism airport rehearsal tours, what better way to start than starting with this event?   Once things were squared away, off I went to Chicago after a grueling 24 hours of flight delays and one cancellation, less than 48 prior to attending the event.  Still, I had time to settle into Chicago and do some sightseeing the day before by visiting the Adler Planetarium and seeing the Windy Kitty Cat’s Cafe with my friend

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My friend and Dr. Grandin at the book signing
The event began on the 2nd full day of summer on June 22,2018 with an unusual cold front bringing in several deluges of rain that felt like ice. Regardless, I was able to take the L-from my hostel in the Lincoln Park area to Linden, IL where I caught the bus the Glen Club which once was used as an old military bunker that was converted into a country club with a golf course.   Once inside, introduced myself to Brenda Weitzberg who I had exchanged emails with a few times about attending the event in order to take notes and write about it.  When Brenda first met me, and I told her who I was, “Miyah,” she replied excitedly.  All the while, I had a chance to get set up, network with other attendees and get settled in for the exciting adventure.

Still, I had been waiting on meeting my friend, who is connections with Weitzberg and Aspiritech, and had sent me a Facebook invitation to the event ” A Special Brunch with Temple Grandin” one month and a half earlier.    Yet, eating brunch with Temple was a more of a figure of speech but I ended up nearly behind her in line at the brunch buffet had it not been for my friend who stood between the two of us.  How did that happen?  I had encouraged my friend to get pictures of her as well as meeting Grandin prior to getting into the buffet line.

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Temple networking during brunvh
  Be that as it may, the staff of Aspiritech pulled Temple away making sure that had to chance to grab her food prior to having a chance to network with the management of Aspiritech.

Miyah brunch
My friend and I had brunch with Temple Grandin- courtesy of Moshe Weitzberg 2018

So politely, she excused her fans by announcing,    “Pardon but they are making me get something to eat,” which was then followed by being in the same line.   However, you are still reading the introductory part of this blog.

 

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As brunch began to wind down, Temple began her talk which began with a pun about how she was not going to use the mouse on the computer available to use for her power point.  “I am not going to use the mouse because I don’t like rodents because they bite,” which was responded by a crowd roaring in laughter.   She proceeded to talk about her adventures at Kennedy Space Center, located in Port Canaveral Florida, which I had visited 12 years before prior to seeing a Saturn V satellite being launched into space.

 

While talking about this, she shared her story about getting the opportunity to see the Space X rocket launch and using the camera of the iPhone 6 which she took multiple photos.  “Click, click, click,” she said before mentioning how wonderful the camera is.   From that, she broke away to talk about Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple and the inventor of the iPhone and how was not a scientist but a calligrapher or rather an artist and how he was saved career-wise.  Further on, she brought up other great examples such as one of my favorite film directors, Steven Spielberg.  While he had poor grades in school due to dyslexia, he had a camera that saved him.

Other things Grandin covered were her career life and how she did not let her autism be primary.  Rather, her career came first and how she often brought copies of her drawings to different plans and feedlots so she could get herself into the back door.    All the while she talked about her early years of employment which started out working as a seamstress at a dress shop, internships and other interests that drew out her passion to work in the cattle industry.   In addition, Grandin stated not to mock careers related to skilled trades and how there is a shortage of people in those fields right now and how this is critical to autistics today who are being babied because too many parents have been taught to rely on the medical model.   She stated that too many autistics are eligible for such jobs but are being coddled by their parents instead.  “I am seeing too many smart geeky kids being coddled by their parents who are stuck in the basement collecting social security playing video games,” she forwardly declared.  To back up her argument, she mentioned that new studies are not suggesting that video games have the same effects of addiction like with drugs.  “I am sure that makes the video game industry really happy.”

Together with her talks about getting young adults into careers, she briefly shared the way visual thinkers and learner see things which are by paying close attention to details.  She did this by showing a picture of cow backing away from a reflection of the sun and seeing how many people in the audience could understand why the cow was not moving forward.  “How many of you think it’s the light?”  Surprisingly, most people in the room did not raise their hands unlike me,  who is a visual thinker who had seen the complete opposite at two other talks where the entire room raised their hands in two separate parts of Georgia which were often followed by a “Good job,” and a crowd finding themselves amused.   This time though she said the lack of responses to understanding was”Terrible,”  while going to onto explain that most audience members have failed that test before.  Diversely, she talked about poor planning these days in buildings.  Say, a few hotels that she stayed at where one had no hot water and the other you had to use portapotties outside.   ” I don’t think people would appreciate luxury apartments with no electricity.”  Lastly, she talked about issues with CRJ aircraft carriers (I flew on one from Atlanta to Chicago and find they are poorly designed in that they are too short) in which the engineering on the doors is so poorly designed that it has to be closed the right way or the flight is canceled.   As a result, she forenamed that she had three flights canceled on her because the crew could not close the door properly.

 

Among other things, she mentioned there was a time in her life where she was afraid to fly which is something that she briefly mentioned to me last November while she was in Atlanta.   Though she didn’t touch on everything and I was able to discover what she did in “The Stories I Tell My Friends,”  she was able to briefly talk about a traumatic experience during her talk.  At the time of talk, she touched on overcoming her fear by making the situation interesting what I later learned more about and now use in our autism airport rehearsal tours.

Finally,  Q&A time brought in several members of the audience who participated and myself included.  One of the things that she put emphasis on that there are two places that she does not want to see autistics.  “In jail or dead,” which she stated right before I had a chance to ask her my questions.   Since there were no microphones, she gently directed me to “Speak up,” to which I responded a little louder.  “How’s this?” I asked.  Grandin came back with,  “So the members of the audience can hear you.”   At that point, I shared my concern about parents and guardians relying too closely on work programs which seem to keep autistics down.  She replied by telling me that these programs seem to be finding positions for high school age students and placing smart adults in jobs that continuously bag groceries. Next, we talked about issues related to getting on social securities.  “Do you know they now have classes on how to get onto social security?”   which I agreed was ridiculous for many different reasons along with acknowledging that parents need to stop holding their child’s hand for every little thing including shopping and cooking.   Conclusively, she answered questions of a client who is currently employed at Aspiritech who was recording the entire presentation and wanted a few tips on how to edit the video.  To my, surprise, Temple had great knowledge and experience on editing videos which I was greatly impressed by being that I edit videos for my vlog series all the time.  So that made me happy because I would have been willing to help him as well.

Post Temple’s talk, attendees lined up to purchase one of two books, “The Autistic Brain” and Grandin’s latest book, “Calling All Minds,” while others brought their own books to the brunch.  Prior to Grandin’s talk and book signing, I bought her latest book.   Post the talk I lined up to get my book signed, get a few pictures and a word in edge-wise.  When purchasing the book, the sellers were putting names into each book while Temple just signed.  Being that I had seen her so many times, I am used to having her ask me who the book was too in which she had always put “To Miyah, ” in each book before to signing her name.  In my mind, no one writes my name my copy of her books except for Temple herself which might seem rigid to some.

Matt, Temple and I
Temple Grandin, My Friend and Myself pose for a picture at the Temple’s book signing

At any rate, my friend and I walked up to the table where she signed a copy of my book.    It was there that I had a chance to tell her that I had gone to the Adler Planetarium before asking her how her flight from Denver was.   Yet, she was quick to tell me that he flew out of New Orleans on Southwest Airlines and that the pilot was terrific.  In between that time, my friend, Temple and I posed for a photo in which the entire group was clad in back and red.  Believe me, I had no idea that either one Temple or my friend would also show up and in black and red.   No, his was something that I didn’t even plan on doing because I didn’t know who would wear what.  Rather, I picked outfit because I felt it looked professional being, minus my pink hair that stuck out.

Following my friend and I sat down because he wanted one more picture standing with Temple once she signed her last book. Ahead, I watched her sign books while giving some great advice to a mother and her adolescent son about getting beyond video games and moving out into the world.  She asked him what he liked besides video games and the answer were dogs.  She told him that the rest of the summer, he was going to spend volunteering at a shelter and walking dogs.  As they walked out together several people mentioned that what she gave them were “Teachable moments” and it would really help him grow. Thereafter,  my friend was able to grab Grandin as she was getting ready to head with Weitzberg to their office which was brief prior to heading back to the bus with my friend.   After that adventure, it was time for me to think about getting ready for my early morning flight back to Atlanta.

It was while I was at this event, not only did I learn a great deal from Temple but I had a chance to learn more about Aspiritech and the amazing people both in leaders and clients.  Among other things, I made some new friends in addition to networks while getting rich notes from Temple’s talk.

 

 

 

 References

Grandin .T.  (2018, June).   Temple Grandin Talk.  Presented at  Brunch with Temple Grandin Aspiritech Fundraiser.  Glenview, IL.

Weitzberg, M. (Photographer).  (2018, June).  Brunchtime. [Photograph].  Glenview, IL.  Aspiritech.

 

 

 

My reviews: The Stories I Tell My Friends:

As a fan of Dr. Temple Grandin, I recently stumbled upon what I thought was yet another book written by Dr. Grandin herself, The Stories I Tell My Friends, about details she only tells those who she is closest to.  It was only on “World Autism Awareness Day,” that I learned that this book was not written by Temple, but by a close friend named Anita Lesko.  I first learned about Lesko when she and Grandin were interviewed on the YouTube channel “Autism Live.” During the interview, Grandin shared a few snippets of the book that she’d never publicly revealed before. For example, she talked about meeting the father of behaviorism, B.F. Skinner, and the surrounding experiences; she talks about his desire to touch her legs and her straightforwardness with him.  “You may look, but you may not touch,” she said.   She also explained how she had looked up to Skinner, that he was like a god to her, and how she was disappointed.

Temple

For those of you who have never heard of Anita Lesko, here is a little background:

Anita was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at the age of fifty and married her husband Abraham in 2015, who is also on the spectrum.  They married in 2015 at an all-autism-spectrum wedding at a convention specifically designed for autism, dating, and relationships.  Among the attendees was  Alex Plank, who is the founder of the forum Wrong Planet and was Abraham’s best man. Like her close friend Temple, Anita shares her passion for horses. As she grew, she found her way into areas of her life that she desired. One area in particular turned out to be the medical field, where she works as an anesthesiologist for some of the most intense surgical cases. Lesko has not only written The Stories I Tell My Friends, but also The Complete Guide to Autism and Healthcare; both of which were published by Future Horizons.  Lesko has also proven to be a great voice of self-advocacy who offers tips for other adults on the spectrum on issues such as employment.  Without further delay, here is my review for The Stories I Tell My Friends.

I picked up this book thinking that Anita would just hand the microphone over to Temple and let her share every story possible.  Rather, I was greatly surprised that the stories were about others in Temple’s life, as well as Grandin herself.  The book held moments where Lesko input her own stories based on each person she interviewed.   Throughout, the book often transitions back and forth from interviews at Temple’s birthday party to telephone interviews with Grandin. All along, there is information Dr. Grandin has already shared next to new things that I had never heard before. Such examples include  life as a college professor and the strong mentorship she offers her students. Being that I work in a university setting myself, I understand those bonds and have connected with doctoral students who have studied under my boss. I never thought I would hear Temple’s own students share their input on what she’s like as the role of a professor versus a public speaker and writer to the autistism community. As a reader, I found that to be very moving and nearly started crying, which made me wonder if wanting a be a professor had to do with being inspired by her own mentor during high school.   Other interviews came from Mick Jackson, the director of the HBO film Temple Grandin, her colleagues both past and present, and her closest friends, all of whom talk about what Temple is like privately versus how others perceive her from the outside.

In other parts of the book I found myself laughing very hard, especially regarding her stories regarding her childhood and all the shenanigans that she and her sister would pull, which I could relate to.  I laughed at my own shenanigans in addition to Temple’s childhood. Still, other stories offer a hint of practical advice. In one such example, Temple mentions being afraid of flying at one point in her life and talks about how she overcame it.  As someone who is working with the autism airport rehearsal tours, I was greatly intrigued and felt her ideas would be helpful for families during our tours. While reading, I felt like I was sitting down talking to her over a cup of coffee or two. At one point, I was getting ready to head to Chicago for the first time in my life.  One of the things she talked about was the way the tunnel at Chicago O’Hare airport looked like a scene in Star Trek. When I arrived at O’Hare at a later date, I felt a space theme but had a different perception that the setting looked like the movie WALL-E.  Finally,  the book also shares other interesting questions that I have wanted to ask based on her unique thinking and engineering skills. One such example would what she saw in her mind when the World Trade Centers collapsed and how I have always been fascinated by that, though I don’t have the mind of an engineer.  The book had parts that were touching and I could easily cry.

In review, Lesko’s book shares the life of the world-famous Dr. Temple Grandin. She doesn’t live her life like a celebrity out in Beverly Hills,  rather, she likes to lead a very modest life. She is seen as a local community mentor from a small town, who anyone can go to with problems, because she knows how to solve them. Grandin wants to show the world that that yes, she has autism, but that she is able to lead a regular life like anyone else and equality should always play a role in the life of any individual on the spectrum.  Rather than focusing on the autism, Lesko and Grandin focus on things like Temple’s interests, her career, and her great sense of humor—which I always love to laugh at.  This book puts emphasis on how Temple is fighting the current reliance on the medical model, labeling, and transitioning programs, and how too many young adults are being held back. She would like to see that changed.

The only thing that I would have liked is if Anita had interviewed Eustacia Cutler, who is the mother Dr. Grandin, as she was the one who had been the greatest impact on Temple’s life. Those two have a very strong bond that sets a great example for parents of ASD individuals both young and old. Overall, this book not only shares more of Temple’s life than the movie, but also has important information that will leave a legacy. When I finished the book, I didn’t want it to end because the content in this book is so rich, powerful, and profound that I nearly ended up in tears.

 

 

Lesko, M., Grandin G., Miller, C., Uhl, J. Jackson, Mick., et el. (2018).  The Stories I Tell My Friends.  Arlingon, TX.  Future Horizons Incorporated.

Winward, R. (2018). (Photograph).  The Stories I Tell My Friends.  Retrieved from IRL.

https://www.google.com/search      q=Photos+of+the+stories+I+tell+my+friends&safe=off&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi2ppTc1LjcAhXkTN8KHQ-bA8QQsAR6BAgFEAE&biw=1680&bih=917#imgrc=-cmeinVeogaxGM:

 

 

 

Reviews: It’s Just a What?: Little Sensory Issues with Big Reactions

Recently, I had a chance to read Hartley Steiner’s new children’s book, It’s Just a What? Little Sensory Issues with Big Reactions, which had many vibrant watercolor paintings of distinctive children on the spectrum with some sort of sensory processing disorder. Sensory processing disorder, or SPD, can cause frustration and stress.  Steiner uses the “a picture says a thousand words” strategy by arranging each painting with as few words as possible, only using the dialogue by each character while the paintings tell the story. She shows that every child has a creative imagination about what sensory processing disorder is like for them, all the while showing the extremely creative and often humorous imagination of a child through the images. The book demonstrates  a solution to solving problems and reduce sensory issues to the adults interacting with the children. Take, for instance, the first little boy who describes his discomfort of a tag on his t-shirt as feeling like he’s being hugged by a porcupine. During the interval, his mother steps in and cuts the tag out of the shirt to relieve the boy of discomfort.

It's just a what

My reviews

In many ways, I enjoyed this book for its awareness of sensory issues, artistic structure, and talent.  Moreover, it gave me a broader idea of how everyday ordinary items,  such as a tag on a shirt, can cause can cause misery to the point of torture to some people. I really applaud that they showed each adult taking the time to listen to each child while they described what their situations were, and appeared to respond to their needs rather than ignore them.

On the contrary,  while finding this book will be beneficial, I feel that she could expand on different types of issues related to sensory processing disorders and autism.   For example,  this book talks about sensory processing disorder only coming in the form of objects that touch the child’s skin, while failing to show illustrations related to getting a hug or touching their shoulders.  I really feel that this would have been helpful for the eyes of young readers who are just learning about autism and sensory processing disorders. Steiner also left out other sensory issues, such as sound or visual. For example, I don’t like the sound of a fire alarm system. Though some would argue that “it’s just a fire alarm,”  to me the sound is so grating that it hurts my body, like sandpaper scratching on a scab.

In spite of those missing elements from Steiner’s work,  I  am attached to this children’s book because of the education and creativity that it brings. I feel that it needs to be in the home of every family, whether their child has autism and sensory processing disorders or not.  Furthermore, it should be in every library,  place of worship, and public school in order for a child’s peers to know exactly what to expect. Teachers, parents, adults, and professional adults should also take to reading this book. Why? I found that this book will help lay the groundwork for people to understand how some on the spectrum think and learn: visually, by drawing pictures and diagrams. Being that I am somewhat of a visual thinker, this book was able to give me the message of what sensory processing disorder entails.

 

 

References:

Semisirdyzhyda, A. (2018, 8).  [book cover] It’s Just a What?: Little Sensory Issues with Big Reactions.  Arlington, TX.  Future Horizons Incorporated.

Steiner, H. (2018, 08). It’s Just A What?: Little Sensory Issues with Big Reactions.  Arlinton, TX.  Future Horizon’s Books. Future Horizons Incorporated.

Current Autism Airport Rehearsals at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport

Since April of 2016, I had longed to be involved with the developing autism airport rehearsal tours.   During my second “Wings for Autism Tour” where I volunteered and worked in my blogs for youtube, I managed to seek out the right connections who would allow me to get involved with the tours.   Upon my research, I connected with the director, who is an airline pilot named Captain Erich Ries who also have a young boy on the spectrum himself.  Early on, Ries and I swapped a few emails led to being involved with his autism airport tours which are held every first Saturday of the month unless there is a holiday, the tour is held on the second Saturday.

At present, Captain Ries and other members of Team Delta and myself lead a tour of the airport.  Each tour entails lots of information by a TSA member who often talks about accommodations through a program called “TSA Cares” which requires a family to call a toll free hotline at least 72 hours in advance in order to notify security of the child or adult’s special needs before helping the each attendee get through a security checkpoint.

By the same token, Ries leads a guided tour from the checkpoint, to the first state of the art sensory room, a concourse and a gate with an aircraft sitting at the gate.  At this point, Ries,  three other Delta employees and I give our input on what families can do.  For instance, Erich says that a family should always mark the calendar ahead of time with lots of stars and while sharing as many pictures as possible that are related to the destination. Meanwhile, my guidance has suggested that families skip taking the plane train and use the tunnels being that they are quieter and less crowded.

After sitting at the gate, the members of Delta use special security clearance in order to open the boarding ramp and let families and their children get a taste of an aircraft.  Once on board, Ries has each family sit in the Delta Comfort class as the seats are not only bigger but quieter as well due to some sensory overload.  He has also often talked about setting up a living room like an airplane setting in order for each individual to get accustomed to an airplane type of setting.  While Rise gives tips on air travels, other members of Delta hand out snacks and gifts for each child such as a narrative that provides visual support on the whole experience of traveling through an airport.

After Ries provides the information, each family gets a tour of first class and has the privilege of sitting in one pilot’s seat, holding the steering wheel while families can get pictures.

After each aircraft tour, families are them asked to meet back at the gate where group photos are taken after each session.

Erich on board
Enter a caPictured: Captain Erich Ries aboard an aircraft as second annual “Wings for Autism” event April, 2017 ption

 

 

 

 

 

While I hold such zest for these monthly autism airport tours, I feel that much work to improve the rehearsals needs to be set into motion.  For one thing, the monthly tours need to be more organized differently.

For one thing, Ries could attach a document into the emails of every single family member who has made plans to attend the tours rather than spend lots of time talking about these procedures.  Rather, his same tips and advice could turn into rehearsals at home.   For example, parents could use the tour date as if it were an actual day of flying, mark the calendar and use it as a pretend trip with all kinds of stars.  All the while, taking pictures of Atlanta in and showing them to their children, teens, and adults who are on the spectrum.  That way the experience would be made awarding.   During the interval, families set up chairs in their living room as if they are on an airplane and practice boarding.  For the moment, individuals sit in chairs while another member of the family plays the sounds of an airplane while another pretends to be a flight attendant offering things to eat and drink which I believe can be rehearsed as many times possible.

As the date gets closer, families should be encouraged to contact TSA Cares 72 hours in advance in order to practice letting the security so that each member is well prepared to handle an individual with autism.    Thereafter, each family would show up at the airport and practice checking in by walking to the ticketing counter where an agent would be well aware of each family member in order to receive a special boarding pass with the gate number and concourse location.   From there, they would meet rehearsal guides who would then lead through to a TSA Cares member not only get them through security but also demonstrate by patting down parent or sibling in order to let each individual know that they will be touched.   From there, the tour guide would show each family how to use two options in order to get to the gate.

The plane train- which is the faster option
The using the tunnel with the moving walkways in order to avoid lots of people and noises that would cause over-stimulation.
Regardless, a tour guide would be on either choice of getting from point A to point B.  In option 2, the individual can learn to use sunglasses and headsets in the tunnels and the moving walk-ways depending on the types of sensory issues.   For example,  the sound of wheels hitting the grooves on a moving walkway might be squeaky.

Upon arriving at the gate, families sit at the gate and engage at the gate with other families and tour guides before listening to board time, which is 30 minutes on prior to departure.  Like on a real flight, passengers board rows according to their seating by walking through the sky bridge or boarding ramp while the pilot turns the plane on (Depending on funding) As the plane is boarding, flight crews would demonstrate and talk about emergency procedures as the pilot maybe able to pull away from the gate and taxi around the run-way in order for individuals get used to the feeling of the plane in motion along with getting to know the sounds of the engines(Depending if there is funding).  All the while, a flight attendant offers  drink and snacks while another walks to a lavatory and demonstrates the sound of a toilet, while some families have their headsets ready and other gets accustomed to the sound.  However, Ries pointed out that families can have their loved one use a lavatory and sit down during mid-flight while a parent or sibling flushes the toilet.  Anyway, flight attendants would feel the need do a fake welcome to Atlanta and give baggage claim information and the carousel.

Yet, families can check out first class, get pictures in the cockpit with pilot while receiving gifts which includes an improved narrative which entails how to get from the gate to aircraft and how families can get to baggage claim and ground transportation.

Miyah in Cock-pit
Me in the cockpit during one of the tours

Once done, families are encouraged to follow tour guides back to the plane train towards baggage claim and ground transportation where they exit the airport and visit the baggage claim areas to see where luggage is picked up.

 

 

A Beginner’s Guide to Traveling through Hartsfield Jackson International Aiport.

On April 14, 2017, I attended my second “Wings for Autism” annual event in order to volunteer along with findings ways to help improve the rehearsals.   Whereas I signed up to get an overview of the whole process last year,  I signed up to volunteer this time around.    While the last meeting was 12 months earlier, I was more determined than ever to meet the right people in order to see this program get off the ground by way of major expansion.   Meanwhile, I managed to connect with an organization who not only works for Delta Airlines but also has a son with mild autism as well.  The pilot, who is the director and I both discussed that I was welcome to join the regularly monthly two-hour tours along with submitting my ideas written in my last blogs in bullet-pointed lists.   Correspondingly, I have followed suit.  Although I have provided Delta with a very expensive and time-consuming bottom-up way of expanding the program, I came to the complete realization that much observation from every angle needs to be taken.    For the time being, there are steps that families can take while inside Hartsfield Jackson whether in rehearsal or in on an official travel date.

 

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Wings for Autism Rehearsal Day 2017

With Hartsfield Jackson International being one of the busiest airports in the world,  I have simply learned that being in this airport for long periods can be very taxing.   Yet, there are many steps that one can take to keep the stress levels down.

First and foremost, it is recommended that one on the spectrum gets proper amounts of sleep the night before.   As someone who is on the spectrum and has flown a fair amount, I find that getting to bed early in order to get a good night sleep will help me function better in an extremely stressful environment.

The second recommendation for traveling and rehearsals is to eat a healthy breakfast that which can also help manage stress.  Once again, I have learned that I function better when I have had a meal with lots of protein before I travel.   On the other hand, it might be helpful to eliminate the sugar as much as possible as it can weaken the immune system for a long period of time.  This is especially since the airport has people from all walks of life coming from different corners of the US and the world for that matter.

A third recommendation is since Hartsfield Jackson is one of the busiest in air travels,  it’s going to often be crowded.   Since passengers often head from the main terminals to catch their flight, most will use the plane train, which can be crowded.  Yet, there is a second option that I highly recommend to passengers travelings with loved on the spectrum.   On the same level that one can catch the plane train,  one can use the tunnels which have regular and moving walkways.   Upon making observations after yesterday’s tour,  I took the plane train from concourse F to Concourse E so that I could walk through the tunnels.   Though an auto recording about using the moving walkways, it was otherwise quiet and less stressful.  What’s more is that individuals can avoid dealing with the flickering of the fluorescent lighting by using sunglasses and glasses with colored lenses if that is a problem.  Meanwhile, if the noise in the loudspeaker is a bother, using headphones and earplugs may help reduce stress as well.

 

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Delta Sign in Concourse E

 

 

A fifth recommendation that could help reduce stress levels for families and individuals would be to get to the airport as early as possible.  That way, an individual could become acclimated to the hustle and bustle of the airport.  All the way, finding a section of gates that are being unoccupied for a few hours between usages of departures and arrivals which can make the environment seem friendlier for one who struggles with lots of stimulation and sensory overload.   In the middle of the wait, the loved one could watch a movie on a tablet or laptop, play with a fidget spinner. play games,  eat a meal, stimulate or even watch airplanes take off.

Last but not least, Hartsfield Jackson Airport has a first of its kind sensory room in concourse F.  Though there are strict procedures to get inside this room, a family could get ahold of the airport in advance to let them know that they need the sensory room for a few hours. Though this room has mats, a bubble machine, and a ball pit,  I would recommend that each family brings a few stress balls, fidgets, and weighted blankets so their loved ones can benefit from the usage of this room.   That way, officials at the airport will be able to see the greater need and hopefully create and open other sensory rooms in each concourse being that Hartsfield Jackson is so large.  Beyond that, the world’s business airport.

While I am starting to share my input with family members as we speak, I realize that much more work needs to be done in order to help create a safer and more familiar environment for people with autism.   Though these tours only meet once a month, I recognize that we have not only changing the lives of others but also reshaping the way traveling has been done for many years.  What’s more is that these changes aren’t just happening in the airport but outside of them as well.

 

Successful Ways to Becoming Independent

On April 21st, 2017, I gave my first presentation outside of the city of Atlanta and even further, out-of-state in at the 8th annual Chattanooga Autism Conference on “Steps to Becoming Independent,” which I shared content in my last blog entry on June 18, 2017.  During that hour and 15 minutes in the adult’s track, the entire room was so packed that some of my audience members sat on the floor.  The room consisted of individuals on the spectrum, parents, caregivers, professionals and people in medical-type of professions.  While I lightly compared and contrasted on three individuals’ points of view on becoming independent, this blog will feature more of a practical application on how I believe one on the spectrum can strive to become independent, though I am reminded not to assume that every child, adolescent, and adult is the same in reaching those goals. Nonetheless,  I would like to draw attention to my ideas on steps that one can take to independence.

 

On the whole,  there are 15 steps that I identified when putting my together my presentation for the Chattanooga Autism Conference that I felt were real practical applications that can be put to use which I will again narrow down.  Nonetheless, the entire principle behind these steps is like teaching a knight or a soldier to arm themselves for battle as the world outside of the home can be a very scary place.  For someone living on the spectrum, teaching these things help in preventing an adult from going into one of the life’s battles without that armor.   When I moved out on my own at age 20 for the first time, for example,  I thought I could sit around and watch cable TV like I did at my parent’s house.  In spite of that, I soon learned that I had new responsibilities and expectations.  For instance, I resided in a rental house and was required to mow the lawn though I had no prior experience due to my father refusing to teach me as he then looked at autism differently than he would now.  For that reason alone, I soon ran into a roommate who was constantly sullen around me.  The experience of being around this kind of hostility scared enough that I got myself into trouble in other areas.   All the same, I now have the tools that I lacked fifteen years ago that I can now instruct other individuals and their families to apply when reaching for the stars of independence.

 

The first step that I find to be the most crucial is learning how to do chores around the house and taking turns to do so.  These chores should be put on a monthly chart where one does one chore all month long another does a different chore within the same month.   For instance, the individual would spend the month collecting all of the garbage in the house, put into the big bin in the garage and taking it to the driveway for the garbage man to pick up on weekly.  Another alliterative to this would be to take the trash to the dumpster or garbage chute on a daily basis. In return, parents and guardians should be giving the child allowance by not only rewarding the child but also teaching them about the value of employment.

 

 

Mowing lawn
Learning to mow the lawn should never been denied by parents or guardians

The second step adjoins with the first by teaching and showing older individuals how to use more advanced appliances for household chores.  Examples would be, a vacuum cleaner, a lawn mower, and a carpet cleaner.  Like with the first step, each family member takes their monthly turns mowing the lawn, while another washes or steams the carpet.

 

 

A third critical step that I believe plays a huge role is learning how to plan, cook or prepare meals for entire family members.  Being that this is the modern age mobile apps like Yummily and websites like Pinterest have lots of great and creative recipes for one to try.  Other ideas entail cookbooks such as “Just 5 Things” where one can great a gourmet recipe on five ingredients for those who are beginners.  First, though, one should always be taught how to cook, use proper measuring cups and spoons, and plan start and stop times accordingly to meal times.  Second,  learning how to look through these sources mentioned above, creating menus, writing them down and sharing them with family members along with negotiating when the individual will cook  Third, going over the approved recipes planned and seeing what one has on hand and what is needed in order to prepare the recipe.  Fourth, is advising one how to make a list and practice going to the store with their family members.

 

 

Cooking
Teaching individuals to plan and prepare family meals can enhance indepence

 

A fourth step that once again combines nicely while taking a slightly different angle is by gradually weaning when the child is old enough to be alone in certain places.  This is not only allowing these individuals to use their allowance money, and a grocery list for their meals but also shop for other needs and wants in stores like Target.

A fifth step will come once the child reaches adolescence and adulthood where parents and guardians should have a list of networks which consist of family, friends, neighbors, and people in place of worship for the sake of employment.   Notwithstanding, one these networks should be positive employers who should not only be understanding but also empowering and willing to teach essential job skills such as computer coding and perhaps job interviews.

A sixth step that may sound silly that may sound silly is allowing children and adolescents to sleep away from home.  Situations include sleepovers at friend’s houses, going to visit family members far away, and retreats.  Not only is a family member gradually weaning their child but the child is becoming comfortable with being away from home.  Otherwise, one who has never been away from home without the family nearby can experience stress, anxiety, and fear.  Being that people have put me into a little box, I have been around other adults who have been so overly protected that sleeping over at home was simply too much for them.

A seventh step brings about communicating with adolescents and young adults about serious issues outside of the home and even on the internet.   Such topics should include, how to recognize when someone is trying to take advantage of the individual and when to say no, having a run on with law enforcements, and meeting people online.

An eighth step can be on guidance in using a checkbook, reconcile a bank statement and keep track of what amounts are in the account.  Though I had failed during the time that I lived with my roommates between 2002 and 2003,   I had eventually learned how to do each of these things in three years later after moving in with my aunt once my lease expired.   Moreover, create a budget spreadsheet in order to help with budgeting for future living arrangements

A ninth step again ties into the eighth step by allowing these individuals to assist by splitting utility bills and perhaps rent so that they learn how to take on responsibilities.  Another option would be to create a calendar with due dates of the payments.

A tenth area should be encouraging that one learns to use transportation suited to their needs and budget.  For example, some people on the spectrum can learn to drive and get their own car.  Depending on if they are ready, parents and guardians should encourage the adolescents and young adults to take driving lessons.  If they cannot drive, however, options to learn the routes and bus schedules, learning to use ride-share companies and cabs are also included.  Furthermore, arranging carpools with people going the same direction can be of help.

An eleventh area would be to encourage adolescents and adults to get involved in areas of special interests such as a community such as attending a local astonomy club and meet up groups based on those interest.  Other areas that should be included are local houses of worship where one can learn to be involved by volunteering.

A twelfth and final area that should most definitely be encouraged is to steer these individuals away from people who are going to be patronizing because I feel that these adults are most likely going to have a negative view of autism as a whole.  In fact, one late mentor who was also a self-advocate on the spectrum explained to me that you have people who act like hammers who have the tendency to treat people like a nail by finalizing that we are broken and need to be fixed.  My suggestion is to avoid people like this as much as possible as they are going bring these individuals down.

While  I feel that these steps will be helpful, there is a realization that there is a multitude of challenges among those who care for children, teens and adolescents alike.  For one thing,  I have seen parents argue over their children’s abilities.  Whereas one will debate that their child has certain problems combined with their autism, the other spouse often battles the other parent on how they have enabled that child to become lazy.   In the mean time, nothing productive gets done and the child continues to spiral downward.  Though I cannot speak for every individual and their strengths and weaknesses, I do realize each had things that they can do and work around what they truly cannot do.

 

References

First Time Living Independently [Photograph found in LaLa Kringry]. (2014, December 24). Retrieved April 24, 2017, from http://www.memes.com/coffeeglue/87 (Originally photographed 2014, December 24).

[Photograph found in Making Money through Chores, Wikipedia]. (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2017, from http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Money-Through-Chores.

Savitzky, A. (2013, June 23). Match Cooking [Photograph found in Match Cooking, Good Thinking, Syracuse]. Retrieved June 20, 2017, from http://newatlas.com/match-prep-cooking-system-offers-independence-to-adults-with-autism/28028/ (Originally photographed 2013, June 23)

 

 

 

 

Steps to Becoming Independent

By Miyah R. Sundermeyer

As more and more information about autism becomes up-to-date, larger numbers of adults on the autism spectrum are learning to live independently.   Some collaborate with their parents or family members to purchase a condominium, while others seek out roommate situations where other people have autism or similar types of issues,  all the while others live in apartments with a support system who checks in with them weekly.   Besides living in their own place, numerous individuals are involved in their communities by attending places of worship, holding down careers, various jobs at the same time, some are self-employed.  Although there are lots of success stories to count for, there is a multitude of steps that one with an autism spectrum disorder must take in order to hold a success at being independent.

In the time that it takes for a neurotypical to develop, mature and pick up on the basics for becoming independent, it is a very different story for someone who is on the spectrum.   Whereas an NT picks up on basics such as doing chores, paying bills on time and managing a budget, one on the autism spectrum will often struggle to juggle such basic tasks and live independently, one of the first steps to becoming independent comes by directing each individual.     Being that I live with mild autism myself while being independent I did a bit of research on better ways that one may achieve such a lifestyle. Among my research, I found timely advice by Dr. Temple Grandin and her opinion on how independence can be achieved.

Temple Portrait

(Pictured to the right: Dr. Temple Grandin, Matthew Reardon Evening keynote)

As reported by Grandin herself, the learning of independence begins at before the age of adolescence in order to help a parent or guardian let go of their child.  As a matter of fact, she defined 12 steps that one can take in order to become independent.  While some of her views may sound silly, I really felt that each was just as important as an element is to a molecule.

 

  1. The first step is that one needs to determine the difference between a meltdown from a tantrum so that bad behavior can be corrected while meltdowns need to be accommodated as sensory plays a role in autism.

2. The second step involved learning manners which I consider to be legitimate being that independence incorporates being out in public or dealing with the community.  Considering that one will not only deal with meltdowns in a public setting but also become easily overloaded and overwhelmed as well.  That individual is going to need to practice stating, “Excuse me, I am going to need a moment.” and want some downtime

3. The third step declared that practicing good grooming habits is a must as it will help one on the spectrum learn to present themselves in future critical situations such as getting and maintaining a job.  As I heard her mention on June 19, 2013, at one of her talks and in her  book “The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships,”  she mentioned that one on the spectrum cannot go around dressed like a “Dirty slob.”

4. The fourth step entails turn taking in which she states that she learned how to share a sled and play games with her sisters.  From my perspective, I feel that turn taking is good practice for one of the spectrum learning how to share chores, cook meals and divide the bills among roommates.

5. The fifth step brings about knowing the differences between the rules at home and the rules at school

6. The sixth step adds that developing areas of strength such as learning that one is good at math, writing, art, computer program and other such areas were critical

7. The second step is to expand areas based on those strengths that could turn into careers.  In my case, I discovered that I have a strong knack for math and my colleagues are currently encouraged to pursue a career in statistics and research while writing these blogs which are scholarly and practical application based.

8. The eighth step – Grandin suggested that developing current areas of strength would be to develop new work skills.  In her case, on Temple stated that her mother got her a sewing job at the age of 13 which earned her areas of strength in embroidery.

9. The ninth area advised that spectrum continues to try new things in order to help a child grow as well as get one out of their own comfort zone.

10.  The 10th step that was advised by Dr. Grandin was on anger management.  She felt that one who learns to switch from anger to crying would prevent one on the spectrum from getting a criminal record and destroy their chance of getting a great career later on.  In many of her talks and books, Temple explained that she got into a fist fight while in boarding school and lost horse back riding priviledges for a week.   As a result, she learned to switch from anger to crying.

11. The 11th step hinted that limiting television and movies and doing other things such as helping with chores around the house were a key to better success

12. Last but not least, the final step entailed learning how to shop solo  by giving a child a grocery list, for example.   When I was 14, I needed personal hygiene items so my mother took me to a local grocery store and gave me money to shop while asking me to pick up butter as she waited in the car outside.

None the less, Temple Grandin was not the only source of information on in order to find friendly resources for one on the spectum to maintain independence.   The next supportive source was a young adult male named Arman  Khodeai who was interviewed by Alex Plank who’s the founder on wrong.   His steps seemed to have a more modern set of 9 steps that any adolescent and adult would be able to grasp before and even during the time that one lives on his own.  They include:

  1. Build a support system- example friends, neighbors, family, people at work
  2. Focus on weakness and turn them into strengths
  3. Learn to cook
  4. Balance finances
  5. Become engaged with the community
  6. Find ways to become assertive
  7. Figure out which transportation suits your needs
  8. Eat and live healthy
  9. Follow your dreams and look through the wanted adds

Last but not least,  their ideas are compared and contrasted with my own as I too hold a series of steps that one on the spectrum can learn to master.  While I would like post them all, I will name only a few.  If you want more information, you may email me about sending a list of ideas.

  1. Have a set of networks ready for child can have employment in place
  2. Encourage sleep overs during childhood where child sleeps away from home
  3. Parents and guardians need to teach child and adolescent how to run vacuums, lawn mowers, carpet cleaners
  4. Structured schedule with chores and take turns with siblings on them- e.g- One does dishes while the other mows lawn one month
  5. Pick the right roommates- meet in restaurant and find values and morals in common
  6. Encourage meal planning and meal preparation
  7. Learn to select the right roommates- meet in public place such as coffee shop and learn interview what they are seeking

In closing, a one on the spectrum who wants independence should know that the grass is not some green on the other side of the fence.  If you would like to hear more about my story as a young adult facing my first situation, please be sure to check out my vlog “The Grass is not so Green on the Otherside of the Fence.”

 

Grandin, T. (2013, June 19). An Evening with Temple Grandin. Speech presented in Decatur GA, Decatur First Baptist Church.

Grandin, T. (n.d.). Keys to Successful Independent Living, Employment and a Good Social Life for Individuals with Autism and Asperger’s – See more at: https://www.autism.com/grandin_independence#sthash.vHHhU1Nr.dpuf. Retrieved 2017, from https://www.autism.com

Grandin T. (1996). Thinking In Pictures, Vintage Press, New York. Updated and expanded in 2006

Grandin T. and Barron T. (2005). Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships, Future Horizons, Arlington, Texas .

Kohdaei, A. and Plank, A. (2012.) .10 Steps to Become Independent: Learning the Basics of Essential Life Skills « 10 Steps to Become Independent: Learning the
Basics of Essential Life Skills – Wrong Planet Wrong Planet. http://wrongplanet.net/10-steps-to-become-independent-learning-the-basics-of-essential-life-skills/./