Note: This was one of our most popular posts and we thought it worthwhile to share again…
Occasionally in life, if you are lucky, you brush alongside greatness. Not celebrity, but greatness. A person truly inspired to invent, revolutionize, and create with the added momentum to actually implement their gift toward worldwide betterment.
I was blessed to have been afforded many hours with such greatness.
Eustacia Cutler was born into a privilege that most only have viewed actress Grace Kelly portray on film. Her book, A Thorn in My Pocket, depicts her life in a nostalgia that few today can even begin to imagine. Her Cotillion, the Dedham Polo Club, times at the Vineyard, life at Cambridge, Harvard, and stories of shared company of notables such as Winston Churchill, George Gershwin and Robert Frost. Talk more with Eustacia, and you will learn of her father’s invention revolutionizing flight. However, all of this is not the sum of the greatness of Ms Cutler. You’ve heard the statement not everything that glitters is gold? You see, Eustacia was married and had 4 children, one of whom had Autism.
In the 50s the pressure to institutionalize such a child came from doctors and family members. But when the pressure came from her husband, she went completely against the grain for the sake of her child, Temple.
Yes, as most of you know Eustacia Cutler is the mother of Dr. Temple Grandin. Dr. Grandin who went on to revolutionize the cattle industry as well as turn the world’s perception of Autism on its ear. Most of this information you probably already know, but the part you do not know is the day I was afforded time alongside Eustacia Cutler.
The 23rd Annual Texas Autism Conference was held in Corpus Christi this past week, and Sam and I had been asked to speak at one of the break-out sessions. The keynote speaker was Eustacia Cutler, who at the age of 88 offered such valuable and insightful information to the thirsty crowd of educators, parents and professionals, they were brought to their feet more than once. Her clarity, concern and connection with all in the room (primarily the mothers) intrigued my autistic son, Sam who was one of 4 to jump at the chance when the offer came to come up to the podium alongside her for a personal Q & A. When Sam (one of very few males in attendance) approached her and announced his name, and that he had Aspergers Syndrome the applause resonated with acceptance. Sam poised the question if Ms. Cutler was familiar with Moore’s Law which states that technology will grow at an exponential rate and if so, how does she perceive it will affect people with aspergers? Without missing a beat and looking my son straight in the eye she stated we, as humans, have a challenge ahead of us. Technology is essential, but perhaps Sam could be a forerunner bearing the seemingly impossible task of keeping the human factor within the technology field.
Her mind ever-sharp and in the moment allowed for many ‘ahh’ moments to walk away with. Here are just a few:
I want to address the difference between “in spite of” and “because of”. One of the greatest equalizers that spans across all barriers of humanity is that we individually cannot choose when we are born and when we die. I was born a sensitive and socially honest soul into a superficial and insincere social environment.
If I was born in a world where people constantly strive for self-improvement, valued relationships rather than objects, and looked for acceptance over status, I think I would have been just fine. The kind who prefers the former bullied me to think I’m crazy but I don’t think I am. So if I take this perspective, I did succeed in spite of these kinds of environments.
I knew from a young age that I wanted to help people.
We are re-posting a portion of a Disability Scoop interview with ‘Covert Affairs’ Star Christopher Gorham whose son has Aspergers Syndrome. This Hollywood actor has been in such TV programs as Ugly Betty, Popular, Odyssey 5, Jake 2.0, Medical Investigation, Out of Practice, Harper’s Island and Covert Affairs. Gorham is currently working on his next project “Justice League: Throne of Atlantis,” where he provides the voice of the Flash.
Christopher Gorham: We got a diagnosis fairly late. He was 9-years-old, which is kind of the blessing and the curse of that diagnosis. Because he’s very high functioning we didn’t really know that something was off until later. It’s upsetting to hear that something is wrong with your child. At the same time, it’s a relief to know what’s wrong with your child because if you know what’s wrong then you can start to take steps to help them.
Disability Scoop: When did you first notice that something might not be right?
Christopher Gorham: Second grade was when we really knew we needed to start investigating and finding help. What we were doing didn’t seem to be working and things were getting worse and he was just getting further and further away from his peers. (He was) not understanding the subtleties of socializing, not getting sarcasm, not understanding the difference between someone who’s really being nice to you and someone who’s actually making fun of you, not understanding that all attention isn’t positive. It’s really hard for a parent when your son comes home and tells you that his best friends are the two or three kids who are actually the meanest to him.
Disability Scoop: How has this new diagnosis changed your family’s day-to-day life?
Christopher Gorham: You get the diagnosis and then instead of just taking the kids to Taekwondo after school, now suddenly you’ve got occupational therapy and you’ve got speech therapy and you’ve got the psychologist and you’ve got the behavioral specialist. Your week is filled with therapies to help support him and it becomes so hard to find the balance.
Disability Scoop: How do you manage it all while shooting the show?
In a little over 2 minutes, this episode of the childrens animated program, Arthur, explains Aspergers Syndrome in a way that even judgmental adults can understand! Great way to have your visiting relatives and holiday guests understand your Asperger child’s actions and reactions during a lengthy stay.
When our youngest son was no more than 6 years old, we would enter a restaurant or someone’s home and he would throw up. He told us it was a picture or something on the wall that made him so ill.
I thought it had to be due to the content of the picture but after years of testing we found out it was the color! Yes, oftentimes those with sensory issues are not just sensitive to sound and noise, but also have a severe sensitivity to loud splashes of color.
The following article discusses an interior designer who takes that sensitivity in mind when decorating. If she can do it, we can too!
Designer Focuses On Interiors For Those With Autism
MINNEAPOLIS — A.J. Paron-Wildes’ home, a walk-out rambler in suburban Oak Park Heights, Minn., is a study in calm — all clean, uncluttered spaces and earthy, neutral hues that echo the autumn leaves framing the view of the St. Croix River. On an autumn afternoon, daughter Eva, 6, is having an after-school snack, while son Devin, 19, sketches intently, seated at the studio desk in his orderly bedroom.
If you haven’t seen it, here is “Asperger’s High”, a mock drama situated around a fictitious sitcom as seen on youtube.
Sam and Jennifer interview its very talented co-writer and actress, Leslie Tsina, below. Tsina talks about the making of the mock drama “Aspergers High” with some behind-the-scene tidbits, reactions from the autism community and her future projects.
Jason Axinn, our director:
Ben Siemon www.bensiemon.com/twitter: @benjaminjs
There is a new trend in Autism intervention called: Parent Mediated Approaches.
Carrie Alvarado, Occupational Therapist with the Autism Community Network, explains how this practice may benefit siblings, parent-child connections, and possibly decrease levels of parental stress or depression.
We divided this up into 3 Vlogs:
1) What are Parent Mediated Approaches?
2) Reasoning Behind the Surge of Parent Mediated Approaches
3) The Research Supporting Parent Mediated Approaches and its benefits
The Autism Community Network is located in San Antonio, Texas with an emphasis on collaboration with autism service providers, early diagnosis, and providing services to underserved young children and their families.
This Medical Vlog series is graciously underwritten by: