I wanted to post this before releasing the next workshop flyer, because this symbol has gotten a very mixed reaction from the autism community…and rightfully so.
The puzzle piece has become a standard symbol for autism worldwide, from representing entire organizations to being featured on necklaces and bumper stickers. For both sides of the coin, it symbolizes autism being a bit of a mystery, a puzzle to be solved and completed. For some, it represents hope that answers may be found. For others, it is dismissive of their lives and experiences.
For SPARC and its mission, it represents something entirely different.
The purpose of SPARC is to educate, and though we don’t adopt the puzzle piece as our symbol (nor will we ever do so), we embrace a different meaning for it.
For SPARC, the puzzle represents connecting the pieces for minority communities.
It means connecting “stranded” families to resources and assistance.
It means establishing support systems for those on the spectrum and their caregivers in these communities.
It means linking a community together in awareness, acceptance, affirmation, and advocacy.
So, when you see the puzzle piece on any flyers or marketing for SPARC, know that it carries a completely different meaning for us. It doesn’t represent autism itself, but rather represents underserved communities being given much needed tools to assist with autism.
Don’t worry, though, it’s for good reasons! There has been a LOT of planning going on!
I’m not going to say too much just yet, as we are still in the finalization stages, but I will say that SPARC is preparing to team up with another great organization in the Riviera Beach community to offer not one, not two, but multiple SPARC trainings to the public, for FREE. I am beyond excited about this, and once we have everything solidified, we will definitely be announcing the details!
We aiming for an mid-October start, so check back here or like our Facebook page for updates!
Lesson of the day to fellow entrepreneurs: Get to know those in your community, and make your presence known as much as possible by attending local events (armed with business cards!), and connecting to those you have common ground with. You literally never know where your next opportunity or partnership may come from!
We are only a few days away from the first West Palm Beach class “Hello Autism” this Saturday!
I checked out the space today to make sure the equipment and setup would work, and yes, it will have a similar setup to this. I want this to be a discussion as much as it is a workshop, and I want it to become a regular occurrence.
If you haven’t reserved a spot yet, it’s FREE and there are still spaces available! Click here to go directly to the event and register!
We are excited and thrilled to announce that our first community class, “Hello, Autism” is set and ready! Here are the details:
Class: Hello Autism, the first class in SPARC’s community training series
Date: Saturday, August 3, 2019
Place: Mandel West Palm Beach Public Library at 411 Clematis Street, West Palm Beach, FL 33401 (Hibiscus Room on the 3rd floor)
RSVP: Email email@example.com with your name, number of attendees, and zip code. You will also be added to a mailing list to get updates on this and other classes from SPARC, including parking/transportation information.
PLEASE NOTE: RSVP is required for this class, as there is VERY LIMITED seating for it. We can only take a maximum of 20 people for the class. Preference will be given to those in the 33407, 33404, and 33401 zip codes. Don’t worry, though; if enough people email us, we will definitely arrange another class in the near future. Those who attend this class will receive a discount for the second class in the series, which focuses on the school system and autism. Please visit the Classes page for more information about the various class series.
I think Tuesday posts are going to be the days where all of my not-quite-realized post ideas are going to go. So, without further adieu…
Reading the thoughts of a young adult on the spectrum (via Facebook) has been one of the biggest eye openers for me, because he brings up situations and viewpoints that I never conceived of.
The autism world with regards to therapeutic approaches is becoming increasingly marginalized. It’s like being in a circle surrounded by base camps…and you are either not invited to them, or you don’t quite agree with them. Interesting position to be in…and a great launching space to create your own base camp.
A parent told me that she was confused when someone asked her what her son’s “special gift” was. She shrugged and replied, “I told her that I didn’t know what it was or what she meant.” I glanced at him, looked back at her, and thought, “Spatial intelligence.” I don’t really see them as gifts, though.
I follow several families on the @sparcguidance on Instagram. They are all composed of pure awesome, and I love that they are sharing their journeys. It’s not easy and not for everyone, but I appreciate it.
A 2-minute questionnaire has been developed by researchers at Rutgers University that could identify autism in children much younger than the average age of around 5 years old. You can read more about the questionnaire here and here. This is fascinating, especially since it appeared accurate across different socioeconomic groups. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that the questions are in layman’s terms, as opposed to overly academic or analytic jargon.
Finally, a multiple intelligence note: As I’ve mentioned in my post on spatial intelligence, I’ve noticed that quite a few of my clients have been above average or exceptional in this category, regardless of sex, race, etc. It is not the easiest intelligence to spot, though. So here is a tip for parents: Someone with high spatial intelligence is often good at building, but they may be also really good at directions and orientating themselves to areas. They are really good at games that focus on spatial strategy (like Blockus or Tetris-like games), and can probably help with putting things together, be it a Lego set or that new chair for the living room. The key to remember in any of the intelligences, though, is that the person enjoys it. If they love it and are good at it, you have potentially found their purpose.
Programing Note: We’re on the lookout for guest bloggers, so please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to write something about autism, multiple intelligence, life purpose, etc. We’re also working on our first workshop on multiple intelligence and uncovering them! We will give more information once everything is finalized, but we are definitely excited about it!
I’m currently in the process of testing out my Find Your Intelligence assessment, and a peer of mine offered to be a guinea pig. About 10 minutes later, she was staring at me in mild shock over the results. Her top intelligence area was Naturalistic, something that she wasn’t expecting at all.
We talked about what exactly that meant for her. In essence, she is both energized and calmed by being in nature. She spoke of how often she goes into nature to hike, swim, or just walk. As a child, she loved to climb trees and take care of her animals. It was present in nearly every aspect of her life so far, and when those activities were absent, she realized how much more stressful her life would become. In the end, I recommended that she try to do something “in nature” as often as she could during the week, even if it was just a walk outside around the block. A week later, she was still in awe of how she had missed such an obvious aspect of her life and happiness.
For those with naturalist intelligence, nature is like a reset button. I think this is the case for most human beings, but it goes double for those that are high in this intelligence. They need to connect to the living world regularly. It could be as simple as the aforementioned walk, or as intense as snowboarding or mountain climbing. Regardless, it is the interaction with nature that brightens them. For some, it also becomes a focus of exploration and fascination, and they become scientists and educators of nature. Regardless, nature helps them bring out their best.
I am always looking for others to try out the FYI assessment, so you can email me at email@example.com if you’re curious about it. While there are formal sessions and classes available, I also love just chatting about the MI theory and where other think they fall on it!
So, what are you waiting for, Naturalistics? Get outside!
I will be starting a series this week covering the different types of multiple intelligence. This theory is the cornerstone of my business/thesis, and I thought it would be nice to explore the components of it a bit more to give better insight into what I do.
The Multiple Intelligence theory itself was developed by Howard Gardner in 1983. In his book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, he mapped out eight different types of intelligence that went beyond the traditional viewpoint of IQ. There are a few others that have been suggested, explored, and/or dismissed, but these are the core eight:
I will more than likely touch on the proposed/suggested intelligence types at the end, since they are quite interesting themselves.
The first intelligence that will be covered later this week is Visual-Spatial, which I have seen often with regards to my autistic clients.
First, a lovely Happy New Year to all of you! I hope you had as much fun saying goodbye to 2016 as I did!
Being that my business is all about expanding autism awareness and acceptance, I was intrigued by this article about an empathy kit. It was created by a design student who has an autistic sibling. It addresses quite a few of the sensory challenges of autism, including taste, hearing, and vision. Combining something like this with my presentations could make for an even more engaging experience for those who take the trainings.
Check out the article and let me know what you think. Is this a good start on such a concept? What would you add or adjust with the kit?
Over the past two months, I have had the amazing opportunity to talk with volunteers from a great nonprofit about autism.
These two trainings (with one more coming up in about two weeks) were more than just throwing up a PowerPoint and shooting off some stats about autism. I always wanted it to be more than that. We had discussions. We dispelled myths. We got personal as the volunteers began to realize that the behavior of those around them made so much more sense now. I met one volunteer’s autistic teen son and had a rousing conversation about Pokemon Go and what he wants to do for a career. I spoke with clients of the nonprofit itself who listened in out of curiosity. For some, they walked in with the extent of their knowledge of autism consisting of the movie Rain Man. They left knowing more, and most importantly, wanting to know much more. One even asked if she could bring her teen children to the next training.
This is the gap I hope to fill. The concept of autism awareness has become, to me, something of a gimmick. Light everything in blue, raise some money, and then business as usual until next year. Meanwhile, families continue to face battles everyday coming from the lack of actual awareness and acceptance in the world at large. Hardly anyone in my trainings knew that autism had anything to do with sensory processing and sensitivity. They didn’t know that an autism “meltdown” is different from a regular tantrum. They had no idea what having autism feels or looks like.
They know now.
If that 1.5 hour training helps them understand, build acceptance, and be willing to talk to someone whose experience is different from theirs without judgement, then I consider it Mission Accomplished.
FYI: The nonprofit where I have been training volunteers is called the JW House, a place for families of hospitalized individuals to unwind and feel welcomed. Check them out below!