Geek Club Books http://geekclubbooks.com Autism Education, Awareness, Acceptance, Inspiration Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:25:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 http://geekclubbooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/iconic-GCB-115-80x80.png Geek Club Books http://geekclubbooks.com 32 32 How to Spark Job Training for Autistic Adults! http://geekclubbooks.com/2017/06/spark-job-training-for-autistic-adults/ http://geekclubbooks.com/2017/06/spark-job-training-for-autistic-adults/#respond Thu, 22 Jun 2017 18:35:08 +0000 http://geekclubbooks.com/?p=12190

Business: JT FireStarters Mission: JT FireStarters is a business that is owned and operated by an adult with autism. Our mission is to provide job training... Read More

The post How to Spark Job Training for Autistic Adults! was written by Jodi Murphy and first appeared on Geek Club Books.

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JT Firestarters Job Training Autistic Adults

Business: JT FireStarters

Mission: JT FireStarters is a business that is owned and operated by an adult with autism. Our mission is to provide job training for autistic adults who experience challenges in finding work in the community. We bring them rewarding and fulfilling employment opportunities.JT FirestartersWhat is JT Firestarters?

We handcraft a product that makes it an easy and inexpensive way to start a fire. Our firestarters are made from recycled materials. Each pod is made from a cardboard egg carton, shredded paper, dryer lint and candle wax. JT FireStarters are used to start a fire in a fireplace, camp fire or fire pit. Our firestarters are sold in bags of 10 pods or individually. We sell to RV stores, campgrounds, hardware stores and other specialty shops in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Kentucky. Our goal is to increase sales to more states.

Why did you feel that starting your own business was the answer?

Starting our own business was the perfect solution. Besides having autism, our son Daniel has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He is bothered by certain environments. By owning his own business, Daniel and his staff can control environmental factors and structure his day and work tasks based upon his needs at any given time. Our family likes the independence that comes with business ownership. We can set Daniel’s work hours and make adaptions to meet his needs. We have met many people by across the United States by sharing Daniel’s story.

Is this a business that just employs your child or do you also employ others with autism or special needs?

Daniel of JT Firestarters

JT FireStarters has been in business since 2015. At that time, Daniel was still in high school in special education programming which lasted until the age of 21. Daniel worked at his business throughout the school day and his classmates worked at the job site to learn skills. JT FireStarters will continue to offer placement for job skills training for high school students and JT FireStarters will hire employees when we are financially able to do so. Hiring others with autism is a priority. Every job for a person with a disability creates two jobs. Each position at JT FireStarters also creates a position for a job coach.

What are 3 challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

The challenges we face include:

  1. Advertising and self promotion of our business: We rely on social media and word of mouth. I have also contacted newspapers & television media to gain exposure.
  2. Rate of expansion: We need and want to expand the business, but we have to balance the expansion with what is achievable. My husband and I both have full-time jobs and we make all the deliveries.
  3. Lack of Resources: We have had struggles with finding a building to rent, but word of mouth helped us find a rental space with a great building manager and landlord. We needed more supplies to make the firestarters and people have graciously given us egg cartons, boxes, candles and lint.

What are 3 rewards you’ve experienced from starting a business?

We have met many supportive people throughout our travels with JT FireStarters. I have received guidance from other parents who are navigating through the world of small business ownership. I have received emails from families all over the United States and Canada. I have become Facebook friends with strangers who I now consider to be friends.  The generosity of others is heartwarming.

Do you have a funny story you’d like to share?

Friends of mine save dryer lint for us. I go to church or a meeting and friends give me small zip locked bags of dryer lint from their purses!

Tell us about any upcoming plans.

Our future plans include expansion of sales. Our goal is to increase sales in current stores and to continually add more stores that sell JT FireStarters. Our ultimate goal is to own a building in which we would manufacture JT FireStarters and offer work space for other small businesses that employ people with and without disabilities.

What message would you like to give to other families who are searching for job opportunities for their autistic loved one?

My advice for other families involves thinking about the strengths of the person. Focus on the positives and start small. Talk with others and learn from them. Network with other parents.

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Autism Superhero: Ninjago John http://geekclubbooks.com/2017/06/autism-superhero-ninjago-john/ http://geekclubbooks.com/2017/06/autism-superhero-ninjago-john/#respond Tue, 20 Jun 2017 13:00:37 +0000 http://geekclubbooks.com/?p=12082

Johnathan, aka “Ninjago John,” is always smiling and friendly to those around him. He is great at memorizing books, taking photos, building with Legos, singing... Read More

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autism superhero

Johnathan Autism Superhero

Johnathan, aka “Ninjago John,” is always smiling and friendly to those around him. He is great at memorizing books, taking photos, building with Legos, singing songs, and Tae Kwon Do. His family admires him for always having a smile, trying his best, and never giving up on his personal goals. You can always count on him to have a positive attitude and help others.

Ninjago John? You are a superhero! Welcome to the Mighty League:

Autism Superhero: Johnathan

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Autism and Driving: Why Following the ‘Rules of the Road’ is a Challenge http://geekclubbooks.com/2017/06/autism-and-driving/ http://geekclubbooks.com/2017/06/autism-and-driving/#respond Thu, 15 Jun 2017 21:20:13 +0000 http://geekclubbooks.com/?p=12103

By Megan Amodeo In life, there are many rites of passage. For most teenagers, the biggest and most sought after rite is driving a car.... Read More

The post Autism and Driving: Why Following the ‘Rules of the Road’ is a Challenge was written by Jodi Murphy and first appeared on Geek Club Books.

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Autism and Driving

By Megan Amodeo

In life, there are many rites of passage. For most teenagers, the biggest and most sought after rite is driving a car. Of course if you want to drive, you need a driver’s license. If you want a license, you need to take driver’s education.

In our school district, driver’s education is also a requirement for high school graduation. Since my oldest will be 16 in June, she qualified for driver’s education the second semester of her freshman year. Since she is my oldest, I thought it was a great idea for her to take driver’s education as soon as possible.

I temporarily envisioned all the free time I would have if my daughter could drive and pick up her sisters from all of their various activities. I daydreamed about her running errands, grabbing forgotten grocery items and waiting in pickup lines to drive her sister home from track practice.

I was ecstatic when she started her driving class this year.

I expected the normal apprehension and jitters everyone has when they first start driving. What I did not expect was the amount of anxiety and worry that would accompany my daughter like a backseat driver on every driving endeavor. She started driver’s education in the month of January. I was slightly worried because, living in the Midwest, we often see a fair amount of snow in the harsh months of January and February.

As luck would have it, we didn’t have much snow to brag about this past winter. With snow out of the picture, I assumed my daughter would be driving confidently in no time. One thing I should mention: she is a strict rule follower. When I say strict I mean by the exact letter of the law strict.

Today’s driver’s education students need to acquire a huge amount of driving hours outside of class. This means that my oldest has to drive a lot. Surprisingly, I was not very nervous driving with her. I tried to remain calm and relaxed while sitting in the passenger seat. I knew it would only make her more anxious if I was a nervous wreck.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that my daughter needed constant reassurance and she had to follow the rules exactly as they were written. Needless to say, I did not remember every single word of The Rules of the Road book that I had studied over 25 years ago.

Many people with autism, myself included, need to follow the rules.

It is often not good enough to just “try” to do things according to the rules. We, autistics, want to follow the rules exactly the way they were written. This goes along with our general need to have routines and schedules. We like to have everything in its place. We often cannot see the gray areas, only the black and white.

So what’s the major problem with following the exact rules of the road?

Simple. Most drivers aren’t autistic and don’t always follow the rules of the road. People speed, run stop signs, and turn without looking. My daughter had a difficult time understanding why people don’t follow the rules the way she does. She spent most of her driving time telling me what other drivers were doing wrong.

For weeks, she only focused on what other drivers were doing wrong. I constantly had to remind her to pay attention to her own driving (Also, I didn’t want to die). After a month of frustrating drives, I knew the answer was helping her drive without focusing on everything and everyone else. I flashed back to my own personal experiences as an autistic learning how to drive and remembered that I had a similar problem.

Bingo! I can help her improve her driving.

I reminded her that just like in other areas of life, we can’t control how other people act. We can control how we act, or in this case drive. Yes, it’s that simple.

I told her to focus on her driving and to remember that she cannot control other drivers. I still have to remind her frequently that she cannot police the other drivers on the road, but she is improving every day.

Learning to drive is serious business. When the rigidity of autism is added to the stress of learning how to drive, things can become overwhelming. Just remember that learning to drive is a process requiring encouragement and patience.

By the way, my daughter received an “A” as her final grade for driver’s education. Look out world!

Megan-Signatureread-about-megan

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Happy Spectrumversary: My REAL Day to Celebrate http://geekclubbooks.com/2017/06/happy-spectrumversary/ http://geekclubbooks.com/2017/06/happy-spectrumversary/#respond Thu, 08 Jun 2017 18:15:29 +0000 http://geekclubbooks.com/?p=12086

By Becca Lory, CAS Birthdays are a funny thing. For one day every year, you stop to celebrate the day you first came into this... Read More

The post Happy Spectrumversary: My REAL Day to Celebrate was written by Jodi Murphy and first appeared on Geek Club Books.

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Happy Spectrumversary: My REAL Day to Celebrate

By Becca Lory, CAS

Birthdays are a funny thing. For one day every year, you stop to celebrate the day you first came into this world. The day you took your first breath on your own. The day you began to accumulate knowledge and experience that made you the person you are today. That is what we celebrate on birthdays. But what if the day you took your first breath on your own isn’t the day you arrived naked and screaming on this planet? What if the day you really began to accumulate knowledge and experience was many years after that fateful day you left the womb behind? Because for me, the day nature took its course and pushed my tiny body out into the world isn’t the day I celebrate myself. On that day, my mom did all the work. It was her day to celebrate.

My day to celebrate is the day that all of me entered the world. The day I took my first real breath, and was finally ready to experience life, all of it. That day is the day I received my official autism diagnosis. And that day is my real birthday, it’s my Spectrumversary.

People are often curious why I celebrate my Spectrumversary every year.

Why would receiving such “horrible news” need celebrating? To begin, it is the furthest thing from horrible news. Receiving my diagnosis was like being washed over with the freshest of clean air. It freed me and allowed me to finally understand myself, my life, my choices and my mistakes. It allowed me to forgive little me and gave me the courage to discover my adult self. I was suddenly free to just be me. No excuses. No apologies. I was no longer broken and useless. I had direction and purpose. But most of all, I felt validated. Validated that my experiences were true and that my struggles were real. I found I had strengths that had previously been called by many other names. I learned that perseverance can have purpose and special interests can become skill sets. My diagnosis woke me from a stifled life of depression and suicidal ideations and gave me a viable chance at actually living the life I was given decades ago.

The real question people should be asking is not why I celebrate my Spectrumversary, but rather how I celebrate. 

A Spectrumversary is more than just a day for cake and balloons. It is a day for mindfulness and gratitude. A day for acknowledging my growth and setting goals for the future. I start my Spectrumversary early. At the beginning of the month I re-read the very first AS book I ever read, Pretending to be Normal by Liane Holliday-Willey. When I first read it, it was like reading my own biography. It gave me an inkling of the idea that I was no longer alone. It also provided me with my very first lesson in autism vocabulary. I suddenly had words to describe what was going on for me. Years later the impact is not lost. Now these words feel familiar and comforting as my ASD community has become my home. I can see my growth in the book and each year I find another new piece that rings true. It is a perfect way to check in with myself on my growth and to see how far I come as person in these past 5 years.

Then I remember how giant this diagnosis was. How there are things that I do and say and know to be true now, only because of that amazing revelation. I spend the rest of that day being kind to my autism. I stay sensory low and social low. I wear only comfortable clothes and eat only what I like and can tolerate. I wear my autism tee shirts with pride. I don’t edit my behavior or language. I let my body and mind guide my day. In other words, I let my autism flag fly freely. I give myself a break from all the neurotypical hoops I hop through just to live an independent life in a world that was not built for brains like mine.

Sure, the day finally ends with dinner and cake but no balloons for this spectrumite. No surprises or singing. The focus is not on a number or another orbit around the sun. Instead the focus is on congratulating myself for all my hard work, for spending extra time on self-care, for setting mindful goals for the next year, and for relaxing inside and out, something those of us on the spectrum rarely, if ever, let ourselves do.

Once a year, I stop in my tracks to celebrate myself in all my quirky and complicated glory.

I pause and thank the universe for allowing me survive and thrive. I acknowledge my differences and honor my challenges. My Spectrumversary is all about me. It is the one day of the year that I allow myself to say “Yay me! You go girl! Keep rockin’ this life with your bad self! You are a survivor. You are worth it.”

And do you want to know what? This year I said something new to myself. This year when my Spectrumversary swung around, I hit the biggest of personal milestones. I looked around at my life and was genuinely able to say to myself for the very first time, “I really like the person that I am now and I am proud of myself.” I have never been able to say that before and really mean it.  This year all my hard work started to pay off in all aspects of my life. My dedication to learning about myself and living a self-defined, successful life on the autism spectrum is really paying off big. I can genuinely say that I like who I have grown into and it feels amazing!

Positively Autistic

Read About Becca, Positively autistic

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Autism Superhero: Max http://geekclubbooks.com/2017/06/autism-superhero-max/ http://geekclubbooks.com/2017/06/autism-superhero-max/#respond Thu, 01 Jun 2017 13:00:27 +0000 http://geekclubbooks.com/?p=12053

Max is the super sweetest! His mom admires his loving spirit. Max is a huge fan of Dr. Seuss and reading about the United States Presidents.... Read More

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autism superhero

Autism Superhero: Max

Max is the super sweetest! His mom admires his loving spirit. Max is a huge fan of Dr. Seuss and reading about the United States Presidents. He loves playing outdoors….running, jumping, dancing and singing. His favorite super hero is Iron Man.

Sweet Max? You are a superhero! Welcome to the Mighty League:

Autism Superhero: Max

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Submit your autism superhero

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Non-Verbal Autistic Boy is at the Heart of a Debut Novel http://geekclubbooks.com/2017/05/non-verbal-autistic-boy-is-at-the-heart-of-a-debut-novel/ http://geekclubbooks.com/2017/05/non-verbal-autistic-boy-is-at-the-heart-of-a-debut-novel/#respond Tue, 23 May 2017 17:40:57 +0000 http://geekclubbooks.com/?p=12056

It’s been a whirlwind of excitement for author, Jem Lester, whose novel Shtum has just been released by The Overlook Press. His journey started when... Read More

The post Non-Verbal Autistic Boy is at the Heart of a Debut Novel was written by Jodi Murphy and first appeared on Geek Club Books.

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Shtum Non-Verbal Autistic Boy

Author Jem Lester, ShtumIt’s been a whirlwind of excitement for author, Jem Lester, whose novel Shtum has just been released by The Overlook Press. His journey started when he won the City University/PFD Prize for Fiction in 2013 for Shtum which he wrote for an MA in Creative Writing at City University. He was immediately signed with an agent at Peters, Fraser and Dunlop.

Jem began his MA at 45, after decades of writing, because “I felt I needed the mentoring. Plus, I wanted to test out my fading belief that I was a good enough writer to be published. Thankfully, it appears that I am.”

Since signing with Orion in 2015 and Shtum’s publication in the UK and Commonwealth, a number of foreign publishers have chosen to translate Shtum. It has, or will be published in Holland, Israel, Croatia, France, Poland, Denmark, Turkey, Portugal and, of course, it debuts in the US today.

Give us a brief overview of Shtum

Shtum is the story of three generations of men, grandfather George, father Ben and 10-year-old Jonah, who is a non-verbal, autistic boy. It is about the fight to get Jonah the education he needs and deserves and how through him, decades of family secrets and hurt are finally unravelled. It is not simply about autism, but about human communication, what’s left unsaid, or can’t be said and the transmission of trauma down through the generations.Shtum Author Interview

What inspired you to write it?

My inspiration was not purely that my own son is profoundly autistic; but more a realization that despite his lack of language, he was far better at communicating his needs and wants than I was. That, I think, forms the core of the story. I thought it was imperative to provide readers with an honest account of the day-to-day struggles and joys of living with a child such as Jonah, but I didn’t want to focus entirely on that particular narrative thread. I thought that to place it in a wider context would enable a far wider readership to find something to identify with.

Who’s your illustrator and why was he perfect for capturing the spirit of your book?

Leo Nickolls designed both the Hardback cover and the subsequent UK paperback cover. He produced something that interpreted the story perfectly.

The central image of a long-haired boy in shorts was instantly identifiable to me as Jonah, Shtum’s central character. He is filled with a burst of multi-color, a cascade of spectra that, to me, represents two things brilliantly: The huge autistic spectrum and, more directly, the crystal that is a symbolic part of the book. Jonah loves to hold the crystal up to the light and loves the different colors that are produced through its prism. White light, like Jonah, is multi-faceted and full of unseen beauty.

Lying by the boy’s feet is a number of beautiful feathers. Again, Leo Nicholls has identified something of great significance. Feathers are one of Jonah’s favorite things, he loves to pull them apart and watch the soft down drift away on wind. You can find him by following a trail of feathers.

I think it is an outstanding cover, beautiful in its simplicity and very impactful. The typeface for both ‘Shtum’ and ‘Jem Lester’ adds to the effect wonderfully. It is basic, innocent and suggests naivety. All these themes have been continued and expanded on in the finished hardback.

Who is the ideal reader and how do you see the book being used?

I would hope that Shtum is a good choice for most readers. Certainly, it has amazed me that so many 5*reviews on Goodreads come from dyed in the wool Crime fans. What I didn’t set out to do was write a manifesto or campaign document, but if it is used simply to highlight caring for an autistic child, that would be enough.

What’s the message you want your readers to take away after reading Shtum?

Well, the feedback so far has informed me that many people have taken inspiration from the book. – so that’s one goal right there. Also, that the vast differences that exist within a diagnosis of ASD were more widely acknowledged and understood. I’ve written elsewhere about the stereotypes a la Rainman, but so many people have told me that they had no idea that autism also meant people like Jonah. Now they do. On a professional level, as a result of SHTUM, I wanted to be able to continue my career as a novelist, which I am.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about Shtum?

Shtum is a book about communication and the lack of it. My experience of autism informed its representation in the book. I set out to write an honest book and I hope that I achieved that. I believe it’s the first time that a non-verbal autistic boy has been represented in fiction, but he’s not a plot device, he’s a character with his own challenges that are not glossed over.

Do you have any moving fan feedback you’d like to share?

I’ve had more moving feedback than I care to mention. I think I’m proudest when people speak of Shtum’s honesty and reality and when readers thank me for writing it – when I’m just thankful that they’ve read it!

If our readers leave with only one message after reading this interview, what would you like it to be?

Well, two things. For readers, please read it and enjoy and think about your reaction next time you see a young adult skipping down a supermarket aisle. For aspiring writers – it’s never too late, I was 50 when Shtum was published.

Find more on Jem Lester and Shtum:

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Autism Superhero: Jaydan http://geekclubbooks.com/2017/05/autism-superhero-jaydan/ http://geekclubbooks.com/2017/05/autism-superhero-jaydan/#respond Thu, 18 May 2017 16:04:57 +0000 http://geekclubbooks.com/?p=12035

Meet the amazing Jay-tie! Mom says her Jaydan is an outgoing, kind and lovable superhero. He loves doing whatever he can to help mom…a good... Read More

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autism superhero

Autism Superhero Jaydan

Meet the amazing Jay-tie! Mom says her Jaydan is an outgoing, kind and lovable superhero. He loves doing whatever he can to help mom…a good guy just like his favorite Marvel superhero, Spiderman. Jay-tie is active! He enjoys riding his scooter, dancing, singing and spending time with his family.

Jayden, we agree with your mom…you are a superhero! Welcome to the Mighty League:

Jaydan - Mighty League Certificate

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Submit your autism superhero

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Autistic Children and their Unique Sleeping Problems http://geekclubbooks.com/2017/05/autistic-children-and-their-unique-sleeping-problems/ http://geekclubbooks.com/2017/05/autistic-children-and-their-unique-sleeping-problems/#comments Tue, 16 May 2017 18:39:07 +0000 http://geekclubbooks.com/?p=12041 By Megan Amodeo Bedtime can be met with joy after a long day, or resistance and frustration if you hate going to bed. I, for... Read More

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Autistic Children and Sleep Problems

By Megan Amodeo

Bedtime can be met with joy after a long day, or resistance and frustration if you hate going to bed. I, for one, treasure my sleep. I look forward to going to bed after a tiresome and busy day.

At some point in our lives, we experience sleep issues. Typical people experience sleep problems. Those of us on the autism spectrum experience sleep problems.

Not everyone likes sleeping, or being anywhere near a bed. We have all experienced sleepless nights. Mothers with newborns are constantly up and down from dusk to dawn. I remember being up continuously with a colicky baby. When our children become teenagers, we are wide awake for different reasons. Sleep often slips through our grasp as we lay awake worried about their safety, finances, and jobs. Or maybe chronic insomnia keeps your eyes wide open at night.

Autistic children often experience unique sleeping problems.

You are definitely not alone if your child never seems to sleep. My oldest daughter spent the first six months of her life screaming and crying due to colic. She was inconsolable at times. Looking back, I also believe that some of her sleep issues (once the colic subsided) were due to her being on the autism spectrum, which I didn’t know until she was 7 years old. She liked routine. No, she didn’t just like routine, she thrived on it.

Once I established a regular feeding and bedtime routine, she slept without difficulty. She loved to sleep as long as we stuck to the schedule. It was amazing! To this day (she is almost 16), she sticks to a very rigid bedtime routine. She also sleeps without worry.

My youngest daughter, who is also on the spectrum, had sleep problems too. She too was a fussy baby who craved routine. She has also thrived on a rigid schedule. Now age 11, she still likes to stick to a bedtime routine.

Which brings me to the point of bedtime rituals.

Although they can be tedious and restrictive, my daughters on the spectrum function better with schedules and routines. That is why having a bedtime routine is extremely helpful in establishing healthy sleep patterns.

Since I am on the spectrum too, I love schedules! That is most likely why, without even knowing, I started a bedtime routine with my first daughter almost immediately after she was born. I craved routine and sameness. I needed to be on a schedule to function after my daughter and I came home from the hospital.

I started a nightly ritual of bathing, reading and singing before putting my newborn down to sleep. Do not get me wrong, it was not easy at first. After the first six months of colic and feeding schedules, my daughter and I settled into a nightly ritual. I used the same routine with each of my daughters as they were born. It provided continuity and a sense of calm. My daughters knew what to expect because we rarely deviated from the routine.

Now that my girls are in junior high and high school, they do most of their routines independently. Although, my 11 year old and I still read together nightly. By establishing a bedtime routine, children know what to expect. The routine creates independence. It also creates a soothing atmosphere. Bedtime struggles can be minimized and often eliminated. Besides, who doesn’t love a bedtime story?

Megan-Signatureread-about-megan

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8 Comic Con Lessons that Super-Charged Our Advocacy http://geekclubbooks.com/2017/05/8-comic-con-lessons-advocacy/ http://geekclubbooks.com/2017/05/8-comic-con-lessons-advocacy/#respond Tue, 09 May 2017 19:09:07 +0000 http://geekclubbooks.com/?p=12006

By James Sullivan and Jonathan Murphy James and Jonathan are two self-advocates who are getting out into their communities to talk about autism awareness and... Read More

The post 8 Comic Con Lessons that Super-Charged Our Advocacy was written by Jodi Murphy and first appeared on Geek Club Books.

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SV Comic Con and Autism Advocacy

By James Sullivan and Jonathan Murphy

James and Jonathan are two self-advocates who are getting out into their communities to talk about autism awareness and acceptance. They openly share their own experiences growing up on the autism spectrum hoping it will spark change—a change that will make this a more inclusive world for everyone.

“Like a Comic Con,” said Jonathan.

Recently, the pair attended the Silicon Valley Comic Con for a weekend of comics and pop-culture fandom. They knew that they’d have a great time but what they didn’t expect is that they’d leave super-charged to continue their advocacy quest to make a difference.

Here are the 8 life lessons they took away from the Con:

Let your geek flag fly.

Steve Wozniak SV Comic Con - Autism Advocacy
Steve Wozniak (Woz) is the head geek behind the SV Comic Con. Woz is a successful nerd who’s not afraid to be who he is. The SV Comic Con felt like he turned the whole city into his playground and we were invited to be ourselves without judgement at his private weekend party! Cosplay was encouraged and people felt comfortable dressing up as the stars and characters they love.

Everyone is a superhero.

We found it inspiring that both children with disabilities and their parents get a boost of pride from participating in SV Comic Con. Wheelchairs were transformed into props for cosplay. Parents cared enough to make the day special for their kids. Families treated each other like superheroes.

Never forget to be kind and respectful.

Star Trek at SV Comic Con - Autism Advocacy
Most of the Star Trek Next Generation cast came together for a 30 year reunion panel—it was a celebration with their longtime fans. All of them graciously answered any question that came their way, regardless of how “cringe worthy” it might have been. They were so warm, friendly and have genuine respect for their fans.

Live like Buzz Aldrin.

Buzz Aldrin at SV Comic Con - Autism Advocacy
Of all the panels we went to, who’d have thought that Buzz Aldrin’s would be the most interesting in terms of what the guy’s accomplished. Outside of going to the moon, the man’s spent his entire life devoted to furthering space exploration in any way possible – and in his down time, swims with sharks and hikes to the South Pole even in his 80s. He’s living his dream every day and isn’t stopping anytime soon. Neither should we.

Your talent is ageless.

Drew Struzan SV Comic Con - Autism Advocacy
I (James) found it inspiring to be able to shake hands and even exchange a few words of thanks with Drew Struzan, the artist behind such famous movie posters as the Star Wars films and Indiana Jones. 70 years old and still making magnificent movie posters. That and he’s got quite the grip! If we stay the course using our talents, perhaps we’ll have the longevity and strength to live our own meaningful lives.

Autism should always find acceptance.

Julia Sesame Street Autism Advocacy
It was great to sit and listen to the now retired cast of Sesame Street discussing the show’s direction to be even more inclusive. It was even better to hear Bob McGrath mentioning the new “Julia” character on the show and listening to the crowd applaud at the sound of her name, showing their approval. Autism acceptance makes it way to the Sesame Street neighborhood. Now it’s up to us to make it happen in every neighborhood.

Be social through shared interests.

SV Comic Con - Autism Advocacy
The crowd at SV Comic Con is so open to talking to you. You can sit next to someone who you’ve never met before and have these great conversations. It’s not hard to socialize. You have common interests so you’re all genuinely interested in each other.

Follow your dreams and never give up.

Ernie Reyes Jr, SV Comic Con - Autism Advocacy
Ernie Reyes Jr. and Sr. led an entire selection of their students, young and old, in a martial arts demonstration. Reyes Sr., age 70, is still buff and ready to take anyone on, and Reyes Jr., known best among Ninja Turtles fans as Keno from “Secret of the Ooze” is still loving the spotlight from his career’s glory days and still ready to stop and have a moment with fans.

We had a private conversation with Ernie Jr. who told us “Follow your dream and never give up. Everything else will fall into place. The main thing for anybody who’s facing challenges or setbacks is to have a positive attitude and keep living towards that dream. Things will work out.”

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Photos by James Sullivan
Ernie Reyes Jr image by Al Ortega
Additional photos courtesy of Silicon Valley Comic Con and Sesame Workshop

The post 8 Comic Con Lessons that Super-Charged Our Advocacy was written by Jodi Murphy and first appeared on Geek Club Books.

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The Danger of Yes http://geekclubbooks.com/2017/05/autism-empathy-danger-of-yes/ http://geekclubbooks.com/2017/05/autism-empathy-danger-of-yes/#respond Thu, 04 May 2017 16:24:31 +0000 http://geekclubbooks.com/?p=12002

By Becca Lory, CAS One of the biggest myths of autism is that we lack empathy. It is quite simply untrue. In fact, I would... Read More

The post The Danger of Yes was written by Jodi Murphy and first appeared on Geek Club Books.

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The Danger of Yes - Autism Empathy

By Becca Lory, CAS

One of the biggest myths of autism is that we lack empathy. It is quite simply untrue. In fact, I would dare to say that most of us are over-empathizers. We tend to absorb the mood and energy of the people around us. This is intensified ten-fold with people we care about. When you put the over empathizing together with our social blindness, you end up with a grade A people pleaser who doesn’t know how to say no. Warning spectrumites, this combination is lethal!

I know, saying no is hard. Moreover, knowing when to say no is near impossible. It’s also difficult not to feel guilty for saying no. And worrying about hurting someone else’s feelings is horrible. Then there is the concern about what they might say or think of you for saying no. But I can tell you what’s worse than saying no, saying yes when you want to say no. This is the set-up for failure.

Now you may be wondering how saying yes can be so dangerous. But think about it. How many times have you said yes because you felt compelled to answer immediately. And right after the yes leaves your lips, you regret it. Maybe you forgot a previous engagement. Perhaps you needed a little more processing time. Did that person just ask you to go to the beach and you hate the sun? Then why did you say yes? Were you afraid you might miss a chance?  Think they might get mad if you said no? I am willing to bet one, or all, of these thoughts have influenced your yeses and I’m here to tell you no can be a positive.

Absurd you say. No is clearly a negative. But not this time around. We can too easily fall victim to our yeses. Filling up our days and weeks with unwanted activities and chores can quickly lead to social burnout. Yes can burn you out, stress you out, and wear you out before you have even gotten to the activity. I say, learn to use your no. Let no empower you to choose how to spend your time.  When we say yes to doing something we would rather say no to, we have not done either party a service. In fact, multiple yes offenses can even backfire, stress relationships, cause anxiety, and often lead to misunderstandings. Unmeant yeses result in more unmeant yeses.

That’s all fine and well you say but how do I say no or take the time I need to process without seeming rude or feeling guilty? Excellent question! There are many instances when a no is appropriate. Sometimes you must say no due to finances, or health, or maybe even your mental health. Regardless of the reason for your no, you have a right to take the time for processing and to decide how to respond. Saying no to a request can strengthen your relationships. It shows you value your time and who you chose to spend it with. It means when you do say yes, you mean it and you are all in. It means you genuinely heard the ask and took the time to give it attention. In fact, a well worded no, can be much more significant than an unmeant yes. So encourage you to try out your no this month and avoid the danger of yes.

Positively Autistic

Read About Becca, Positively autistic

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The post The Danger of Yes was written by Jodi Murphy and first appeared on Geek Club Books.

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