Autism & Success Stories

Mark Macluskie, around 12 months, about two years before his autism diagnosis; and at home last month before his 16th birthday.

Researchers are finding more cases where early, intensive behavioral therapy can improve language, cognition and social functioning in children on the autism spectrum. Deborah Fein, a clinical neuropsychologist at the University of Connecticut conducted a study of 34 young people … Continue reading

Stephen Shore’s Journey with Autism

Stephen Shore is an assistant professor in the Department of Education at Adelphi University and also a member of the ICare4Autism Advisory council. At just 18 months old he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and tomorrow be will be speaking at Clarkson University’s David Walsh ’67 Arts & Sciences Seminar Series in Potsdam, New York. His presentation will be an autobiographical journey, titled “Life on and Slightly to the Right of the Autism Spectrum: An Inside View to Success,” which will cover the challenges he faced with verbal communication as a young child to becoming a professor.

When he was diagnosed, professionals said he had atypical development and was too sick for outpatient treatment, in fact, he was recommended for institutionalization. However, he had great support from his parents and others and began speaking verbally at the age of 4. Now as a professor, his research focuses mainly on figuring out best practices to address the needs of autistic individuals.

His presentation will focus on teaching of musical instruments, classroom accommodations, and issues faces by young adults, such as relationships, higher education, employment, and self-advocacy. He will start the lecture with an activity to demonstrate to his audience how it feels to have autism and the struggles to communicate and socialize.

Apart from his work with children and spreading his story, Shore does presentations and consultations on an international level. He has written a variety of books including Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger SyndromeAsk and Tell: Self Advocacy and Disclosure, and his critically acclaimed Understanding Autism for Dummies. He is the president emeritus of the Asperger’s Association of New England, and other autism related organizations apart from ICare4Autism.

Stephen Shore will be speaking at our upcoming 2014 International ICare4Autism Conference where he will present on developing employment opportunities for young autistic adults as well as autism as it relates to the Arts and our sensory systems.

For more information on the conference and registration, please click here

For a video on Stephen Shore’s life with autism click here

Autistic Teen Garners Nobel Prize Consideration for Work In Quantum Physics

An autistic teenager has been “tipped” for a Nobel Prize. Jacob Barnett is earning his masters in Quantum Physics at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), with research that has garnered him consideration for a Nobel Prize. Oh, did I mention that Jacob is only 14? Jacob was diagnosed with autism at the age of two when he exhibited regressive behavior, losing communicative and social skills. Doctors believed Jacob would need special education and accommodations for life and would likely never be able to read. Despite the severe diagnoses, Jacob’s parents paid special attention to Jacob’s behavior, noticing that he was particularly happy when doing something meticulous, like counting, and disinterested with typical toddler activities. His mother, Kristine Barnett explained, in a 60 minutes feature on Jacob, that her and her husband engaged Jacob in the activities he liked after school and saw unbelievable progress. By kindergarten, Jacob was still behind his peers communicatively and socially, but, according to his father, he would return home and ask when he would get “to learn algebra.” By the third grade, Jacob, accompanied by Kristine, was auditing college calculus. The mother-son-duo laugh about the experience explaining how other students were surprised when Jacob would participate, believing that Kristine was enrolled and unable to find a babysitter. At the end of the course, Jacob requested to take the exam, and upon earning an ‘A’ was offered a full scholarship to IUPUI. In preparation for starting college before the age of 10, Jacob taught himself all of high school math in two weeks. Today, at 14-years-old, Jacob is earning his masters and conducting research that has put him in the running for one of the world’s most coveted prizes. He is thought to have an IQ equal to or greater than that of Albert Einstein.

Throughout all of this success and the attention, Jacob attributes his academic trajectory to the autistic experience, discrediting the ideas of “genius” and “savant.” In his presentation for TEDxTeen, Jacob encourages divergent thinking, telling the audience to “stop learning and start thinking.” He believes his interest and aptitude in math and science was born out of boredom as he was forced to “stop learning” when placed into a public special education program. While he was treated as disabled, he focused on “shapes and shadows” and considered large-scale theories of physics, soon proving himself differently-abled. His parents observed this difference and fostered his specific strengths. Today, Jacob’s autism diagnosis is barely visible, though, he asserts, he still has difficulty tying his shoes.

In order to succeed you have to look at everything with your own unique perspective. Okay, what does that mean? That means that when you think you must think in your own creative way, not accepting everything out there.

Jacob Barnett, TEDxTeen

At Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices, our care is specialized. We are dedicated to identifying and fostering the strengths of our children. We facilitate and encourage open communication between all caregivers (parents, teachers, therapists, and physicians) so that individuals’ strengths do not slip through the cracks. Jacob Barnett’s advice is valuable for society’s larger understanding of learning and ability, as well as the subsequent implementation of inclusion.