My Aunt’s Obituary

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

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

I used this picture over Lois’ dreadful obituary picture

Visiting Nashville TN for the Future Horizon’s Autism Conference

Temple and I at a FH conference in 2014 held in Atlanta

On Thursday, November the 29th, I will be boarding a flight that is bound for Nashville, Tennesee.  During my stay,  I will spend much of the afternoon and evening studying, dining and sleeping in my hotel.  The following morning, I will grab myself a large breakfast before hopping on the hotel’s shuttle which will drop me off at the Nashville Airport Marriott.  It is at this site that Future horizons will hold it’s autism conference where I will blog about the event and the speakers.

 

I am particularly looking forward to attending this event is that two out of three speakers are women next to being on the spectrum like myself.   What is more is that one of them happens to be Temple Grandin, who I have been acquainted with for quite some time. One of the main reasons is because her latest talks included information about how an adult with autism can learn to drive.  Being that I am 37 and have never learned, I feel it’s never too late.  So I am hoping to inquire with her second reason I catch up with Temple is that I have a friend who is currently unemployed and is facing some levels of discouragement at the moment.   I would like to put her on the phone with him because she is very encouraging and I believing she would give him some helpful advice.   Say, getting a work portfolio work samples that my friend can present when seeking a new job. All the while hoping to provide tips when he gets discouraged.   Ultimately, Temple and I are both very quirky women on the spectrum who believe in getting things done.   I look forward to seeing another go-getter like myself who believes in others on the spectrum.  

Not only that, I look forward to meeting Anita Lesko, who the second woman on the spectrum who will be presenting.   At the present, Lesko and I have not only had the chance to hear her speak live in an interview on World Autism Awareness Day.  I also had a chance to read her book “The Stories I Tell My Friends,” which is exclusively about Temple herself.  I am also inspired by her own amazing adventures including her all autistic wedding and her adventures flying on a fighter jet next to sharing some of the same struggles that I face daily.   As those of you who are my followers recall,  I read and reviewed that book.   So am I excited to finally be able to meet Anita.   

Following both of their talks, I look to get my copy of “The Stories I Tell My Friends” and hopefully at the same time.  Apart from getting the book signed, I hope to pose in a photo together with Temple and Anita.  Particularly as a way of saying “Thank you” for allowing me to read and review their book.

 

 

At long last,  I will have the chance to meet Dr. Jim Ball, who is specialized in ABA.    One of the reasons to listen to him is because of the some of the work that I am currently becoming more familiar with all this.   As I don’t know much about Applied Behavior Analysis, one would argue that it would sensible to get my feet wet.  This is especially since so many adults with autism are protesting the use of ABA versus other therapies such as floor time. 

While I impassioned about the conference,  there are two more days.  During that time, I have to remind myself that things need to be done now and then.  Between work, finals to study for and a flight to catch, there is a lot to be done.  

At this time,  you may wish to look at the link which contains information on the conference. 

https://www.fhautism.com/about-our-autism-conferences/autism-conference-with-temple-grandin-in-nashville-tn-november-30-2018/

Autism Conference with Dr. Grandin, Anita Lesko and Jim Ball in Nashville

On Friday, November 30,2019,   Future Horizon’s, will host an autism conference at the Nashville Marriott Airport.  Featured speakers will be Dr. Temple Grandin, her friend Anita Lesko and Jim Dr.  Ball.  The event will also feature lots of additional resources related to autism that one can purchase which are designed to provide some meaty resources that the reader can apply to their own life.  Examples include “The Stories I tell My Friends”,  “Manners Matter,” as well as a few others in which Temple and Anita will be able to sign during the event.

The first speaker will be , Dr. Grandin who will talk about her latest book, “Calling All Minds” which is a book which is all about sharing her favorite crafts for children on the spectrum versus playing video games.  Thought I was able to pick up a copy, I am yet to sit down and review Temple’s latest book and write a review.

Brunch with Temple
Grandin and I in Chicago earlier this year signing “Calling All Minds.” .

 

 

 

Following Anita Lesko, who is also on the spectrum and a good friend of Temple’s, will take center stage and talk about her life as a woman who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in her 50’s.   In the same manner, Lesko will most likely touch on topics of her her marriage to Abraham in 2015 in which the entire wedding party and guests were on the spectrum.   Apart from this, Lesko will share her experiences of personal interests to earning a career in the medical profession as a anesthesiologist who often shares her struggles on holding a high demand career with high levels of stress to colleagues who have misunderstood Lesko’s situation.  Sooner or later, Anita will also share her experiences of writing “The Stories I Tell My Friends” which is exclusively about Temple and the people who have gotten to know her down through the years.

Anita Lesko
Pictured: Anita Lesko

 

Finally, the conference will feature Dr. Jim Ball, who is a licensed specialist in Applied Behavioral Analysis or ABA. During he talk about the work he has done for 25 years in serving children and adults with Autism.  He will share valuable information on programs related to ABA and specific curriculum which he believes to be the most effective in treating students and other patients with autism.   Post Ball’s presentation, the conference will come to a close with the hopes that families, professionals and attendees who are on the spectrum will come away with different mind-sets that one with autism can have a self-fufilling life despite the challenges.

If you are in the area and would like to attend,  information can be found below

https://www.fhautism.com/about-our-autism-conferences/autism-conference-with-temple-grandin-in-nashville-tn-november-30-2018/

 

                                                      References

 

Autism interview number 13: Anita Lesko on healthcare and her all autism     

     wedding.  [Photograph].  Learn from autistics: Connecting parents and caregivers with       autistic voices. https://learnfromautistics.com/voices-from-the-spectrum-13-anita-    lesko/

 

 

 

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/./