Hello World, this is Miyah and I would like to let you know that I have a call for proposals interviews for my podcast series. Below is the link and you can find more information. I am looking for wide range of topics that revolve around autism as a whole.
On November 21, 2019, I woke up at 5:00 am at the Syracuse/Liverpool,New York Super 8 motel. After a quick continental breakfast at the Super 8 of instant oatmeal, my Lyft driver picked me up roughly at 6:30 am. As I entered the vehicle, I stated the famous catch-phrase, “I love New York,” being that it was my first time traveling to New York state for the conference. During my short ride with Lyft, I was taken downtown beautiful Syracuse to the On Center at the Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center. Upon my arrival, I networked with a few conference volunteers before saving a seat right in front of the podium. After, I headed back up stairs, I briefly helped with on-site registration where I handed out pamphlets related to several of their products. Post, I went back downstairs where a large continental breakfast was offered. While breakfast was being served, a resource table which sold various books and other autism related merchandise such as fidget spinners were offered.
Amid my breakfast and networking, I spotted Dr. Grandin being escorted to the resource table where she signed books and posed for photos before her talk. Meanwhile, snapped a few photos and purchased “Temple Grandin: How the Girl who loved Cows, Embraced Autism, and Changed the World,” which was written by Sy Montgomery. At the same time, I picked by “Do or Do Not Outlook,” by Nick Maley and “The Complete Guide to Autism and Healthcare,” Grandin’s friend Anita Lesko. All in all, I look forward to reading and reviewing all three respectively. For now though, I will stick with my reviews of the conference.
In any case, the morning kicked off with a brief book signing and photo session with Temple before prior to giving her talk entitled “Connecting Animal Science and Autism.” Beforehand though, one of Future Horizon’s personnel opened the conference by giving a back story about history of Future Horizon’s, which was started by Wayne Gilpin in response to his son who lived with autism. Moreover, information about CEUs provided in which attendees could pick them up after lunchtime and get them signed.
Shortly thereafter, Grandin’s talk began in which she talked about the importance of “Kids on the spectrum” getting good jobs. She also put lots of emphasis on other historical figures such as Albert Einstein and Jane Goodall and where they would have been today. She stated that they most likely would not have gotten very far due to the over emphasis on the autistic label. Rather, they would have been coddled by their parents today and probably would have been stuck living with their parents while playing video games instead of exploring the world. She also mentioned that adults on the spectrum often go into two directions. “Go out into the world, get a job and live a productive life,” or “Get stuck addicted to video games.” She emphasized that because individuals with autism are being disabled, there continues to be a big shortage of personnel who work in skilled trades. In addition, she said there was a huge need for coders but it meant that individuals would need to move across the country. Additionally, she talked about Stephen Hawking since he could not write and got bored, he often thought about an advanced type of geometry known as “Penrose tiling,” which she said can be offered to elementary students who become bored with “Baby math.” For this reason, she stated that certain individuals think in patterns which is highly mathematically based. Finally, Grandin provided her audience with a 15 minute Q&A. During this part of the talk, I asked Temple about crying at work when I grew frustrated and especially during things like meetings. Her response was that it’okay for me to take a break and find somewhere like an electrical room where no one would find me. She also explained to me that scientists at NASA happen to cry all the time and particularly when I project gets shut down. She also answered a question with a young adult seeking to be a spoke’s person for the autism community. Yet, she encouraged him to put that on hold and work at least two jobs and build up a portfolio before persuing a speaking career.
Post Temple’s talk, she returned to the lobby to sign books prior to her flight home.
Promptly following Temple’s talk and Q&A, she walked a parent out of the auditorium who she shared her advice with before signing books and posing for photos.
In the meantime, Nick Maley , or “The Yoda Guy” took center stage and shared his story and various notes from his book “Do or Do Not Do,” which had lots of helpful hints on how a person on the autism spectrum can life a productive life. During his presentation, Maley shared that he had followed certain film makers around until they gave him a job while he worked out in Hollywood. He also shared some of his work outside of the original Star Wars Trilogy. His included make-up and prosthetics on films such as The Shining, The Hunch Back of Notre Dame, and Krull. Finally, Maley’s talk was followed by a Q&A where various fans got up to ask him questions. In my case, I asked him more about his work with Yoda. At first, I thought that he had been a part of his design which I learned was not correct. Rather, I learned that he worked on getting Yoda to operate correctly as a puppet .
Following his talk, Maley and I had the chance to pose for a photo and get better acquainted. During our short session, I had asked Maley a few questions. The first was how long he had known Dr Grandin. As it turned out, he did not. Rather, he was set to meet her and have breakfast for the first time. Yet, he was stuck in an airport due to delays. I also asked him how he got connected to Future Horizon’s . He had explained to me that he lives in Saint Martin , in the Caribbean and happens to own a Star Wars Museum which is also located. Of all the people who had gone through, was CEO of Future Horizon’s who had fallen in love with Maley’s work and wanted to get him connected to Future Horizon’s. It was from this meeting that I was very impressed with the way Maley carried himself and how he was able to reach the younger generations in the autism community with Star Wars remaining so popular.
After my meet with Nick and a much needed lunch break, I attended Paula Aquila’s session, which took up the rest of the afternoon during the one-day conference. Unlike Grandin and Maley, she was not on the spectrum. Rather, she is an occupational therapist from the greater Toronto Canada area who works with individuals on the spectrum through sensory integrative therapy. During her talk she touched on the way the brain worked and other solutions that can help individuals. She also talked about how she helped different individuals. In one case, she talked about a client who liked to play with door knobs and how she worked with her team to build an obstacle course that led to a door knob in order to expand the young girl’s mind. Finally, Aquilla set examples by having members of the audience participate in activities to demonstrate that they can be challenging at first but with practice, activities can get better.
Following Aquilla’s long session, the conference ended at 4:30 in whih a long line of professionals lined up to get CEU’s for attending talks by Temple Grandin and Paula Aquilla. All the while, I took a Lyft back to my hotel by the airport ad called it a night after a very exhausting day.
In my reviews over all, all three talks provided a lot of meat that many professionals, educators, caregivers and autistics need to hear but do not. In fact, many of them today miss the mark on what could be done versus what can’t be done. I also feel that while most people know about Temple, Future Horizon’s could be featuring more promotions on other writers who are on the spectrum like Nick Maley and Anita Lesko. For this reason, both of them provide a lot of insightful information that parents and autistics alike could benefit from. In Nick’s case, his book provides some very realistic insight about autism and employment while Lesko, who was not at the conference talks about learning and neuroplasticity. Moreover, I feel that Temple could speak later in the afternoon due to her busy schedule. Otherwise, she is always full of good advice. Finally, I feel that Future Horizon’s could reach out local communities where they hold their conferences and find out which individuals are holding onto jobs and leading meaningful lives. That way, they could host a panel during the last part of each conference. Finally, I feel that FH could call for individuals who have a business or a portfolio to promote them at the each conference. Otherwise, the conference was very good over all and brought out a good crowd. Like always, I learned a lot of new things not only from Temple Nick as well. Even more so, I am looking to open his new book “Do or Not Outlook.,” and write a review.
On the 24th of September, I had the pleasure of being interviewed for a podcast called “Converge Autism Radio,” by Stephanie Holmes. It was here that I shared my long road in education. In this podcast, talk about living on the spectrum and dealing with road blocks and the opinion of others.
On April 3rd, 2019, Autism Live, a talk showed hosted over the internet, featured Dr. Temple Grandin as a part of World Autism Awareness Week which is hosted by Shannon Penrod. Unlike last year, when Grandin and her friend Anita Lesko, had called in, to promote “The Stories I Tell My Friends,” things were different this year. Comparatively, Penrod played three archived interviews with Grandin.
1. The first was a brief Q&A which displayed questions on a screen prior to Temple looking into a camera gradually answering each question.
2. The second was an interview was at a studio in Denver for a show entitled “The Future is Bright” with Stephanie Shaffer.
3. The third was a retro-interview between Shannon Pendrod and Temple Grandin shortly after
In the first’s course short Q&A clips, Temple talked about a wide variety of items. One of them entailed individuals often struggling with remained hyper-focused on a particular item or top. Over and above, how there is a general rule of thumb to bring up that interest with someone twice, otherwise move on and talk about something else. A second example described sensory enrichment therapy in which Temple gave a great description. In which, a therapist will use a different method involving distinct types of therapy compared to ABA. Here, the therapist will use two different senses of at. In the example she gave, Grandin said they may have a child smell cinnamon while instructing them to “Touch carpet.” She also said these sessions often interchange the senses regularly.
All the while, Grandin’s interview with Stephanie Schaffer appeared to be much more up to date because a few of the things she talked are available in Anita Lesko’s book, “The Stories I Tell My Friends.” One thing, that Temple was the best way that an individual on the spectrum can learn how to drive. Rather than going directly to driver’s education, she explained that it’s better for an autistic. Instead, she explained that it’s better for an autistic drive a car in an area where there are no cars around. In her case, her late aunt used taught her how to drive by going to pick up the mail, which was three miles from Anne’s ranch. She talked about work skills and the importance of autistic learning them when they are young. Say, learning how to walk other people’s dogs.
Finally, she answered several questions that fans which fans had written prior to the interview. One question that she answered was on her views regarding inclusion. Grandin responded by mentioning her childhood experiences where she could be in a regular classroom during her elementary year. She shared her opinion about the DSM-V manual reduced the number of autism diagnosis. Originally, the Asperger diagnosis was going be eliminated from the autism spectrum altogether. Rather, the new diagnosis was going to be changed to a social communication disorder. ” I think that’s rubbish,” she openly stated.
If you are a fan of Grandin, check out the interviews here
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 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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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,
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/
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
Back story: January 7,2019
On December 26,2018, I had rolled out of bed after sleeping in late being that I was on holiday break for two weeks. That late morning, I made a late breakfast before jumping into the shower prior to heading out for a little day after Christmas R&R in the Midtown Atlanta area. The weather was a balmy 57 degree and I was not only going to hit the after Christmas sales but also grab lunch and shoot a few videos of people using the time skating rink for my vlogs. The day was going to be perfect and my evening would be just as relaxing. As I got off three in the early afternoon though, my phone was ringing and I answered. It was a call from my Aunt Lois’ neighbor.
Mark explained to me that the police and several of her friends were outside of her house trying to find a way in after not being able to get ahold of her for three days and finding her car tucked away into her garage turned carport. Not long after, the fire department arrived and climbed through her windows and took off a few of the locks. Once inside, there lay Lois barely alive and helpless several days alone after suffering a massive stroke and damage from fluids in her brain or so the MRI read. According to Mark, the paramedics said that she was septic, which means that she had massive amounts of poison in her blood. He also said that she was found with one eye open and the other closed while having drool in her mouth. Once in the hospital, Lois was kept alive on a ventilator or so I read on Facebook. She remained in the hospital for 10 days in a coma in hospice care post being taken off life support. Yet, she briefly came out of her coma on January 3rd where she had attempted to sip water. As a result, Lois was released from the hospital while we all believed that she would receive around the clock care in her home. In the meantime, her brother, Uncle Dennis, her brother began their trek down to Atlanta yesterday so he could help settle her new living arrangements. Sadly, Lois Ann Ryan slipped back into a coma in her home where she did this morning.
10 days, before her death and after Lois entered hospice care, a friend encouraged me to go see her and say goodbye to her despite a falling out that happened in late 2017. Upon entering her room, I signed in and grabbed my visitor badge before spending a half an hour with Lois she slept in a stable condition. At that point, they had already taken her off the ventilator and any other life supports. All the while, she barely looked recognizable. This was other her beautifully styled strawberry blond short hair and her hospital gown that very much resembled several t-shirts with little designs on that. Meanwhile, she slept in an elevated position with her head tilted down at an angle while I smelled the hint of urine and noting it in an evacuation bag. At this time, I asked for her forgiveness and told her why I cut her from my life for a while telling her I’d miss her. All the while, I saw her eyebrows rise next to seeing rapid eye movement or REM. Next, I recited Hebrew blessings and prayers from the Mourners Kaddish and the Aaronic blessings all before kissing her on the forehead and walking out backward. Though I cried at my friend’s house on the day that I received the news, I could not while visiting her one last time. Rather, seeing her in this state made me feel nauseated and I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible, though I knew I had to say goodbye. As sad as it was to see her in this that, I knew this wasn’t what she wanted. In fact, she had told me years earlier that if anything like this were to happen, she had a power of attorney on hand who she had long since instructed to take her off life support.
However, the real question that I am asking and answering here is “Can an autistic grieve?” My answer to that question is “Yes absolutely.” Like the rest of society, autistics are human beings like a neurotypical or an allistic, we have feelings just like everyone else. As one who is on the spectrum myself, I have faced many different types of grieve from bereavement to the loss of friendships. What I have learned from my own experiences is that each is very different.
In the case of losing a friend, who decided we were not compatible, I found that I had gone through 4 of the 5 stages of grief. At the moment, I am on the tail end of being angry that the relationship ended after attempting to bargain with my friend. In this particular case, I had attempted to meet with my former friend in not only getting closer but also with the hope of rekindling the flame of our relationship. It was only when she said some very mean and hurtful things by attempting to pin her deep dislike towards me on her husband and admit that our friendship was a lie, then the anger set in. What I have found is that the anger has last for nearly 4 years. When she first cut me from her life, I went through a time of shock where I barely noticed that she was gone by keeping busy trying to enjoy my life without her. In the middle of this state, I felt that I had room to be myself and that I didn’t have her problems to weigh me down anymore. I also played the song, “Let it go” over and over again. As time progressed, though, I began to see people, certain objects and dates, my depression was triggered. One such instance was a month later when attending a convention where two situations brought in the depression. In the first, I met a friend at the train station who sent my former friend a private message on social media because he wanted to know why. He also showed me what she had written him back. The second situation was running into another former friend of hers who I had a crush on for many years. Not only was it hard to see him but he snubbed me as well. In fact, I was so depressed that I ended up having to take a break from the convention by going into the pool area and cover myself with a bunch of towels. There I cried while remembering a common lie, “I love you like a sister,” which she often put into cards she gave me. Thereafter, I spent most of 2014 crying about my ex-friend and feeling lonely.
In 2001, my grandfather died of a heart attack and though I cried during the wake and on the ride home post the funeral, I only remember facing one stage. In this case, I only recall spending the entire summer experiencing lots of anger when working at an amusement park. Most people thought it was because I got too stressed out easily but I do believe that it probably stemmed from losing Grandpa John. This came along with the frustration of not being able to get a boyfriend like most of me co-workers next to my co-workers connecting and doing things together but usually leaving me out. This being said, I don’t ever recall facing the 5 stages of grief. Rather, I was too focused on starting my own life and learning how to overcome the societal barriers.
All the same, I have learned that despite the mass amount of resources for autism, from self-feeding to solutions on meltdowns, there are no books or other resources on how an autistic can learn about grieving. Considerably, most resources focus on how a parent should focus on grieving because they have learned their child is autistic which I find disgusting. In any case, I believe there should be countless books written and created for autistics. While some are good at reading, others would benefit from a narrative with lots of visuals that would show that what grief looks like. Other materials should have information on resources on what they can do in regarding grief. Rather, I see more materials talking about what to expect in terms of the death process and what happens when an autistic loses a loved. Thus, we need to change that. In any case, they should not be told how and where to grief because no one ever expects this from a neurotypical. Ever!
On the other side of things, autistics today are not taken seriously due to the large amounts of misinformation regarding autism. Most who are not properly educated hold small minds. So when a person in the life of an autistic dies, those who don’t understand often get the idea that individual will not be able to understand the concept of a loss or grief. Therefore they will steer them away from the topic of their loved one’s death and focus on things like their favorite movies. Though most would agree they are helping, they are actually doing more harm than good.
All the same, an autistic should be allowed to communicate about the loss of their loved ones and how they are feeling. This should especially be true for those who do not use formal language but rather use letter boards, communication devices and sigh language to talk. Because, it is even harder for an autistic who cannot communicate to let someone know without the use of such devices. Lacking these devices that prevent the communication can bring on more challenging behaviors. I recently learned that having a weaker immune system and tiredness come follow just after the a death. For an autistic, they need to be able to communicate how they are feeling following a loss.
Yet, since grief is not the same for everyone, I would expect that each autistic grieves differently. For example, some might understand the concept of anger, sadness, and acceptance while the other two stages may not make sense to these. Others may look at grief from the form of logic by talking about why their loved ones died and how it happened. Since Lois died last week, I had been doing lots of research on how and why a stroke can be fatal. If I even had a chance, I would like to see what a computer model replicating what her strokes looked like from the inside. Why just before her death and just hearing what she looked like when she was found, I was able to gather the evidence and recognize that she had a stroke. All the same, others will experience grieve by having higher levels of sensory input and anxiety which will prevent them from functioning.
Whatever an autistic grieves, one still have to recognize that one it is grief and even if it does not come in the same way as an NT or an allistic.
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.