A few personal notes as I listen to her:
- Autism is a large and broad continuum and diagnosis is not precise. It is a behavioral profile.
- We wouldn’t have computers or even electricity without folks on the spectrum. We’re so glad that many of these folks were allowed to pursue their interests and follow their curiosities.
- It’s important to learn social skills! Visual thinking was a big asset in her career designing livestock facilities. It’s the same for me too, by the way.
- She could not learn computer programming. She did but she couldn’t. I have found equal struggle trying to explain to folks that I just “do” computers differently.
- As a “photo realistic visual thinker” / “object visualizer” she was poor at algebra. Pattern thinkers / spacial visualizers may be great at music / math but poor at reading. Natural skills in verbal facts / language translation might then result in poor ability at drawing and if you’re an auditory thinker, visual perception may be more fragmented and difficult to process.
- Animals notice details; they are very sensitive to their environment. By creating the right environments, you can help lead and navigate users (or animals) through the system. Animal’s world is sensory based. Their memories are sighs, sounds, taste, and touch. In humans, language covers up sensory based thinking.
- Thinking is bottom-up. Concepts consist of specific examples placed in categories. Everything is learned by specific examples. It’s also associative, not linear.
- How to categorize problems when troubleshooting: People training vs equipment design problem. A major design fault vs an easy-to-fix glitch.
- Expose kids to all types of things, but don’t overwhelm them. Help them build out their own games, projects where they can understand rules and duties, negotiation skills and social skills.
- Emphasize developing areas of strength. Let them proceed ahead to more advanced lessons in areas of strength; don’t hold them back.
- Mentors are essential!
- Keys to successful employment on the spectrum: Sell your work, not yourself. Ask your boss for specific goals and work outcomes. Bosses need to correct mistakes and give specific instruction. Don’t be vague.
- Sensory processing disorders occurs often (co-morbid): Dyslexia, learning, ADHD, head injuries, oppositional defiance, many others.
- Attention shifting (context switching) is difficult; takes longer to shift back and forth between two different things.
- Sometimes words and sentences “vibrate” or agitate when you read; makes it hard. This is true for me! Sometimes I can’t keep the words on the literal page.
- Significant brain scan findings: Amygdala (fear center) was 3 times larger; while the cerebellum is 20% smaller. Anxiety management is required because of biological differences. I know this to be true because my anxiety is never-ending.
- Accommodations in the work place: No fluorescent lights, quiet place to work, may need breaks to calm down, no hidden surprises in work routine, no scratchy clothes.
- We need more communities to help kids on the spectrum succeed.
- In the context of family, all members will need to be involved and may need help, especially when it is severe. There is a need for a network of heads of organizations to share ideas and no silos.
- Having an identity around autism isn’t healthy; instead, focus on the work.
I like that she’s wearing Orange. 🥰