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WHO ARE YOU - LIVING WITH AUTISM
Photographs by Christopher M. Gauthier, Evidence and Artifacts
Stephen M. Shore, EdD, and Isabelle Sarikahan

Living with Autism

Stephen M. Shore, EdD - "The autism bomb hits the mark, and life is never the same again for the person on the autism spectrum or for the family members, educators, doctors and others who provide support. The first questions that bubbles up are: "What should I do? "What is the best intervention for my child with autism?" During the mid-1960s there were very few choices for a child who became non-verbal, had tantrums and very little body to environmental awareness. At that time an autism diagnosis was considered as a sentence to a life of dependency with either family members or in an institution. Perhaps, with luck and a lot of hard work, employment in a sheltered workshop was a possibility."

Stephen M. Shore, EdD was diagnosed with "Atypical Development with strong autistic tendencies." He was viewed as "too sick" to be treated on an outpatient basis and recommended for institutionalization. He was Nonverbal until four, and with much help from his parents, teachers, and others, Dr. Shore completed his doctoral degree in special education at Boston University in 2008 with a focus on helping people on the autism spectrum develop their capacities to the fullest extent possible. Dr. Shore is a Professor at Adelphi University in New York and teaches special education.

In addition to working with children and talking about life on the autism spectrum, Dr. Shore presents and consults internationally. He has presented in 25 countries, 46 US states, and 6 continents.

Dr. Shore presents on adult issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, advocacy, and disclosure as discussed in his book Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome, Ask and Tell: Self-advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism Spectrum, and Understanding Autism for Dummies.

Dr. Shore has presented at many USAAA Annual World Conferences. Click here for video and audio presentations from the USAAA World Conferences.

Dr. Shore serves on the US Autism & Asperger Association advisory board. He was recently presented the 2013 USAAA Chairman's Award for extraordinary contributions to USAAA and the autism community.


Isabelle Sarikahan - "I had a hard time graduating. The university kicked me out and said you have too many credits and to go out into the world now and see what's out there. I took a job at the University kind of doing menial laboratory work and then everyone told me I had to start applying for jobs. That was a really steep learning curve. Once you get and learn your education and learn your passion, how do you jump all those little hoops to get through the interviews to get through the things saying that I may not have the best social skills, I may not have the best ability to do teamwork with all the other individuals there, but really if you get me on board to your little company or place, I'm going to really succeed because I have a lot of knowledge and passion in certain areas and you'll forgive me for doing a few social blunders here and there. I had a lot of people pull my hands through that and I probably went through 50 or 60 interviews before I really understood the process of how to say stuff, how I am to present myself and the whole aspect of trying to sell yourself to get a job. If we can instill that and better explain that to autistic people we can exploit those things and find ourselves to jump into the work world."

Isabelle Sarikahan was recently diagnosed with autism. From a young age she knew she was different than the people around her and she constantly struggled with sensory issues, social issues, and other typical autistic traits. Learning was both a struggle and easy for her, depending on her passions and topics of interest. Not only did she struggle with the social aspect of life around her, but she also struggled with certain learning styles. Language was also difficult for her and reading even more of a challenge, so much so that she didn’t learn to properly read until she was in college.

Isabelle is employed as a Hazards Geologist with the Department of Natural Resources where she manages the landslide program. She is a board member with the Autism Society of Washington (ASW) and works as a self-advocate. She is on the ASW Legislative Committee.

Isabelle has a wife/partner, a son (age 2), and family on the autism spectrum. She manages a farm with her wife and mother-in-law where they raise goats, ducks, geese, and chickens.

Isabelle presented at the USAAA 2011 Annual World Conference in Seattle, Washington. You can download the video or audio presentation from the Self Advocacy - Experiences, Perspectives, and Challenges Panel Discussion. Michael McManmon, EdD, Tim Page, and Stephen M. Shore, EdD joined Isabelle on the panel.


QUICK FACTS
Autism is defined behaviorally, as a syndrome of abnormalities involving language, social reciprocity and hyperfocus or reduced behavioral flexibility. It is clearly heterogeneous, and it can be accompanied by unusual talents as well as impairments, but its underlying biological and genetic basis is unknown. - Martha R. Herbert, MD, PhD


Autistic Disorder
Qualitative impairment in social interaction, Qualitative impairments in communication, Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities. Learn more about the diagnostic criteria.


"If you meet one person with autism, you've met one person with autism."

"During the mid-1960s there were very few choices for a child who became non-verbal, had tantrums and very little body to environmental awareness. At that time an autism diagnosis was considered as a sentence to a life of dependency with either family members or in an institution. Perhaps, with luck and a lot of hard work, employment in a sheltered workshop was a possibility.
- S
tephen M. Shore, EdD, Professor, Adelphi University


"I had a lot of people pull my hands through that and I probably went through 50 or 60 interviews before I really understood the process of how to say stuff, how I am to present myself and the whole aspect of trying to sell yourself to get a job."
- Isabelle Sarikahan


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