Podcast: Tips from Temple Grandin

Arguably the most famous person in the autism community, Dr. Grandin has been advocating for individuals with autism for more than 30 years.

In 2010, Grandin delivered the TED talk “The world needs all kinds of minds.” Grandin’s own experience with autism has informed her numerous books on the subject including My Life in Pictures which was adapted for the award-winning HBO film.

Podcast from All Autism Talk, sponsored in part by Trellis Services


Born on August 29, 1947, in Boston, Massachusetts, Temple Grandin was diagnosed with autism as a child and went on to pursue work in psychology and animal science. She has become a leading advocate for autistic communities and has also written books and provided consultation on the humane treatment of animals.

Grandin has been recognized by the academic community and the general public for her work. In 2009, she was named a fellow of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. She is the recipient of several honorary degrees, and has been featured on a range of television and radio programs.

In 2010, HBO released an Emmy Award winning film on Grandin’s life which continues to strike a chord with audiences. Temple’s willingness to honestly share her challenges as well as share her passionate perspective with depth and resonance has made her a very popular (and busy) speaker and presenter.


Podcast: Coaches Power Forward with Pat Skerry

Listen to the following podcast from All Autism Talk featuring Towson basketball coach and 2015 Bull Roast keynote speaker Pat Skerry.

All Autism Talk is sponsored in part by Trellis Services.

This year, a total of 238 teams (15 women’s), as many as 150 officials and lots of broadcasters showed up to support Autism Awareness Weekend in college basketball. Throughout the weekend, coaches, officials and broadcasters raised autism awareness by donning the blue Autism Speaks puzzle piece pin during college basketball games. In all, more than 3,000 coaches, staff, administrators, and officials were wearing pins and spreading the word.

Spearheaded by NCAA basketball coaches Pat Skerry and Tom Herrion, the program provides coaches, their teams, schools and fans with opportunities to raise awareness, fundraise and advocate for the needs of people affected by autism.

Pat Skerry has completely revitalized the Towson men’s basketball program and brought the Tigers back into the national spotlight. Skerry, who took over a program that had endured 15 straight losing seasons, wasted little time in righting the ship.

Skerry, a 21-year coaching veteran, has succeeded in changing the culture of the Towson men’s basketball program. During his first semester as head coach, his players posted the highest GPA for a Towson men’s basketball team in over a decade.

A native of Medford, Mass., Skerry played collegiately at Tufts from 1989-92 where he was a two-time team captain and garnered All-New England honors. As a point guard, he recorded a school-record 650 assists during his career – a mark that still ranks as the 17th best in NCAA Division III history. His 198 assists in 1990-91 is a Tufts single-season record. He also is fifth on the school’s career steals list with 95.

Pat and his wife, Kristen, have two sons, Ryan and Owen.

Creating Successful Play Dates for Kids with Autism

Play dates are a great way to help your child practice social skills, play skills, and communication skills with peers in a safe and structured setting. Preparing for a play date and having it go as planned can be difficult for many families with a child with autism. Here are some tips for a successful play date.

Thoughtfully select a peer
Choose a child who is close to your child’s age and displays age appropriate communication, social, and play skills. The peer should be able to play cooperatively and be flexible. It helps to have a peer who enjoys giving lots of help and suggestions to their friends. Your child’s school, neighbors, or members of your religious congregation may be able to connect you a good match.

Plan the activities head of time
Choose activities which both children will enjoy. They should be structured, organized and should require some level of cooperation. Make the play date fun and special.

Pre-teach the activities to your child
Prepare your child for the play date by practicing the planned activities in advance. Try role playing with your child, taking the role of their peer.

Know what you want your child to learn during play dates
Having clear goals will increase the likelihood that specific skills will be learned during play dates. Rather than simply hoping that something is learned, you can set an intention. Have two or three specific goals (e.g. taking turns, asking questions, responding to questions, changing play activities appropriately), and take notes on how your child did on each goal.

Keep it short
You may want to stick to 30 minutes for first few play dates. The 30 minutes can be further broken down into several 10-15 minute activities. Make sure transitions between activities are short and smooth.

Facilitate the play and provide reinforcement
Encourage cooperative play and guide the children to interact with each other. Provide frequent treats and praise as reinforcement for positive interactions.

Consider activities where the children need to work together, problem solve, and share the same materials. Treasure hunts are great activities – hide toys and treats around the house and give the children a map to the treasures. Art projects are also fun with friends – make a collage, paint a poster or mural. Yard games to try are Freeze Tag, Hide and Seek, Red light Green Light. Have fun!