Best 1 hour and 21 minutes of a life time last week.

Last week, I had one of the best 1 hour and 21 minutes of a life time.  I got to listen to a lecture and discussion from Dr. Temple Grandin.  It was an intimate venue instead of one of her bigger conferences and felt at times questioning myself how did I get so lucky?  Tickets sold out very quickly and was very impressed with UNT Kristin Farmer Autism Center for hosting such an organized event.  They had a book signing before and after she spoke and a friend and I were able to have a brief discussion about our children’s equine therapy with Dr. Grandin.  I left texting Brad already wanting to go listen to her again the next time she came to Texas.


I was able to experience this day with my Mom, Godmother and their best childhood friend all of which is part of my extended family who are all very near and dear to me.  After the lecture,  my Godmother hosted a beautiful spring brunch where we all were able to reflect and share our takeaways.  What I found most intriguing after reading and watching so much about her history is how more she impressed me when I listened to her live. You do not capture her pure awesomeness, loving, weird, comical and quirky ways until you meet her in person.  Her sense of humor captured me and she had the audience laughing a big part of her lecture.

I could tell everyone’s journey in the audience was so different and quickly learned over a mimosa at brunch that everyone’s takeaways and notes would be so different. The audience consisted of mostly doctors and educators sprinkled with a few lucky parents of children with autism and of course a few of Cody’s fans too.

What hit home is when she said, “As a parent, think about life outside of school when they are 3-4 years of age. Don’t wait.”  This is when my brain started racing and I could not write fast enough and I started questioning myself if I am in this mind-set and already thinking this way. I then found myself taking notes to capture some of her ideas that I knew would work with Cody.

I loved when she said, “Take a hobby and put in a different environment.”  She shared a small story about a young boy she met at the airport who enjoyed digital design. She gently pushed him and said, contact your church and ask if you can do their monthly marketing brochure. A few months passed, the young boy contacted her with excitement that he had completed the brochure. She then stretched him and asked him to now produce another brochure but I want you to complete this in the offices at the church and not at home.

Loved this!  Taking something that Cody loves and stretching it to new opportunities. I immediately thought about his riding lessons.

Dr. Grandin was kicked out of high school for throwing a World Geography book at her teacher. Her parents soon placed her into a boarding school on a working ranch where she believes was one of the best things that could have happened to her development.  She calls it, “The School of Horse Barn Management.”  She not only learned to ride but all the responsibility and care that comes with riding and look at later in life where she ended up? She obtained her B.A. at Franklin Pierce College and her M.S. in Animal Science at Arizona State University.  Later on, Dr. Grandin received her Ph.D in Animal Science from the University of Illinois in 1989. Her parents and mentors gently pushed and stretched her out of her comfort zone at a young age and great things happened.

As a parent with a child with autism, you know what your child’s likes are and you soon learn their behaviors and triggers when enough is enough.  But exposing them to new things is very important. I recently read a post from a friend last week about her daughter exploring a new interest in ice skating.  She thought there was no way this would happen and before she knew it her youngest daughter was pointing to the skates and she was on the rink with her older sister!  This story literally made me tear up because, this was a Mom who gently followed her daughters lead with a gentle nudge after observing a desire to try out skating.  What a beautiful thing.

I won’t expand further on my other takeaways but I want to be sure to include them in my writing to refer to later.

  • Receptive Labeling – share real examples not just pictures
  • Children with autism need expectations. They need the rules before starting a task
  • As a young adult with autism, sell yourself. Make a portfolio that includes your work, any work certifications you earn and start a Linked In profile
  • Sensory issues can be paralyzing. To help them desensitize, she mentioned give them control. Don’t assume they need head phones on if the volume increases but place them around their neck for them to make that choice. Give your child the control.
  • Teach not what only is in front of them but allow them to explore. Proloquo2Go had allowed us to expand Cody’s vocabulary by giving him so many more choices. Schools often fixate just on a set amount of goals but stretch these.

My next steps for myself after this experience:

There were times were I could not write quick enough during her lecture so I captured a few of her power points to share. click here.





Published by mamalamaneustupa

Bio My name is Shelley Neustupa. I am a mother of two cool boys and a wife of 22 years to my high school sweetheart. My oldest son attends the University of Oklahoma. Boomer! My youngest is in 2nd grade and was diagnosed with Autism and Mixed Receptive Expressive Disorder at age 2. Since his diagnosis, I promised him I would advocate and educate as hard as he works each day in therapy. I began writing and have been able to touch many parents that may be new to this journey providing them with actual experiences (not candy coated), support and resources through my entries. Writing is my therapy and my hope one day that my nonverbal son will be able to take these diaries and speak about his own journey and how autism relates to his own experiences. Who knows he and his older brother may become National Speaker’s one day? Come along on our journey to better understand our lives through the eyes of a boy with autism, his Skilled Companion dog Jude, his big brother (and best friend) and mom and dad. My raw vulnerability captures the everyday moments of our journey and will bring even more awareness. A week does not go by where we do not learn something new about ourselves and I want to share these chapters with you. My Sons Undeniable Strengths… Extremely smart and figures out things quickly. Has a memory that allows him to remember more things than I could ever hope for. Persuasive by his personality and sheepish looks. Overabundance of stamina and strength. Loves the outdoors. Enjoys life and always has fun with an unforgettable smile. You can find us here: Writer: Autism Through His Eyes Facebook Instagram YouTube Pinterest Canine Companions for Independence News Interview Cody and Skilled Companion Jude - Our Story

One thought on “Best 1 hour and 21 minutes of a life time last week.

  1. Thanks for sharing your blog. I know it will be most inspirational to all those parents who face the
    challenges of raising a child who is on the spectrum of autism.

    Liked by 1 person

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