BCC's OneBook project hosts Stephen Shore
Shore talks about options for 'autistic individuals'
Herald News - 4/17/2018
As professor Stephen Shore learned first-hand, sometimes things don't work out and a change of plan is required.
Speaking to a group of students, faculty and members of the public at Bristol Community College last week, Shore related his experiences as an "autistic individual," as he said he preferred to be called.
A public speaker, author of several books and a professor at Adelphi University, Shore was non-verbal until age four. Diagnosed with "atypical development and strong autistic tendencies," he said doctors back then recommended he be institutionalized. Instead, his parents opted to home school him with what would be considered today to be an "intensive, home-based early intervention program" that emphasized music, movement and sensory integration.
At first, he said, his parents tried to get him to imitate them, a common teaching technique, but one that wasn't suited to his needs as an autistic individual. Then his parents flipped it around and started imitating him, and once they did that, he became aware of his environment. "To reach an autistic individual you have to develop a trusting relationship ? you have to get to where they are," said Shore.
Today, he said, he is in an institution - one of higher education - where his research is focused on matching best practices to the needs of autistic individuals. "The three A's of autism - awareness, acceptance and appreciation - are the pathways to opening the doors to leading a fulfilling life," said Shore.
Rather than looking at autism as a series of deficits and disabilities, he said the focus should be on asking, "What can an autistic individual do?"
Traits associated with autism such as being detail-oriented, factual, truthful, data-driven and repetitive are assets in some fields of study and careers, he said.
Some of the situations where it might be advantageous include working with statistics, IT and accounting. "It might be possible to say if you put a ?typical person' in (these types of fields) the ?typical person' has a deficit in detail-oriented thinking. You can go that way," he said of the reframed view of autistic characteristics.
"We're starting to see a groundswell of organizations/companies actively seeking autistic individuals as their employees because they know there are certain things that some of us can do that make a great contribution to that organization," he said.
Software companies like Microsoft and large accounting firms such as Ernst and Young are hiring autistic individuals and not in what Shore called "charity positions," that they created to be good citizens. "That's an example of hiring autistic individuals for the right reason and turning away from what I call charity employment, where an organization doesn't really have a position, but they'll create a position."
Shore is the author of several books including "Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome" and co-author of "Understanding Autism for Dummies."
Shore's appearance at Bristol Community College was part of this year's OneBook Project at the college. This year's OneBook read is the autobiography "Born on a Blue Day," by Daniel Tammet, an autistic savant with extraordinary skills in math and learning languages.
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