Travel and Autism

I’m sharing correspondence from Michale John Carley I think you will find useful. – Greg Wood
I’m on Day 4 after returning from Asia and I still can’t get my sleep schedule back. How I can be so lucky in adapting when I travel, yet so lousy at it when I get home?…beyond me. But I’d like to share a little about the gig I just had…11 days. 5 presentations, 3 media appearances, 2 site visits, 1 keynote, 8 million selfies, and numerous conversations, meals, and hours on a plane later, I want to congratulations to all new friends of Malaysia, a country made up of parts Muslim, Chinese and Indian culture who, perhaps due to that diversity, were made for such an embracing of the concept of neurodiversity in their first-ever autism initiative. Not that I’ve (or anyone has) witnessed every nation’s launch of this kind, but it’s easily the first that I’ve seen that wasn’t based on a tragic, medical, or disease model. It was positive at its core, and shone a light on their country’s individuals on the spectrum under the context of what they can do, not what they can’t. Congrats to AIM (Autism Initiative Malaysia), NASOM, EO, and Oasis Place KL. Oh, and…Wanna see a cool, 30-second clip of the closing ceremony? Click here. FaceBook users can also access some (mix of posed and action) photos here.
Soon I’ll have a large article on autism and travel (no relation to the Malaysia trip) to share, and after that, Autism Without Fear will begin its new life at Sinkhole, but for now please enjoy a reprint of my column from the Huffington Post this past January, “Packer Protests, National Anthems, and Why Despite His Autism, Green Bay’s Greg Clark Exemplifies All Veterans.” It is being reprinted for Exceptional Parent Magazine’s wonderful special edition for military families (thank you, EP!). You can read it in the lovely advance spread version by clicking here.
Oh yeah…other articles. Just a few…
• Longtime GRASP Chicago member, Jon Evans, is the guest on a long interview with the GEM network. What’s beautiful about this podcast episode is that you can hear the host learning as the interview travels on.
• Big thanks to Spectrum Life Magazine for reprinting my large piece on Autism Peer Supports in (or why they’re not in) Schools. Thanks again to Exceptional Parent Mag for allowing the reprint.
• Once again, I’m so proud to be an Advisor to GallopNYC. Great coverage on NY1, gang!
• And from England (how cool is this?…) World Cup (and this is the first in a series) coverage by and about spectrumfolk!
• In this day and age, how parents still get hoodwinked by the nonsense described in this NPR piece…is beyond me. Can diagnosing clinicians not suggest any sane treatments to help out, please???
• (Longtime comrade) Seth Mnookin has written a justifiably negative review of Edith Sheffer’s book, Asperger’s Children in the NYTimes. Thank you, Seth. Her research is solid. Her intentions are not.
• Again in England…a boxing class for people with disabilities. How awesome (and we can’t replicate in the states, why?)
• Australian buddy, Prue Stevenson, uses her Taekwondo black belt and spectrum ingenuity to create some fun, video performance art. Watch the video!
• While I’ve known for some time, my speaking in Beunos Aires, Argentina this coming October finally hit the web. Another “can’t wait,” for sure.
• Someone has finally funded a study on autism and homelessness (’bout time). Thank you to Brits (again???), Churchard, Ryder, and Greenhill.
Yours, y’all.
Michael John Carley
Author, School Consultant, Founder of GRASP

Traveling with Semester At Sea

Part of my issues in managing anxiety is in the world of travel these days. I had to learn how to keep my stress down but systems like the TSA are always a surprise. I create my own system to be ready for these things but they do not always work. An example is how I pack my luggage and have pre-check. I decided to go back to the class room and take a voyage on the Semester at Sea. I was with over 500 students, faculty and staff, and I was part of a group called life long learners. I had to manage many things outside my daily routine.
I learned how to be a part of a community and gain support. I tried different foods. I made adjustments mentally and physically to ensure my success.  I asked questions about the customs process before each port to ease my anxiety around any surprises. I was allowed to have a meeting before each port with the field trip department to ease my anxiety about things that were not normal like having to get up at 3 am to make a flight to a destination. I found that getting the information individually before our large and noisy pre-port meeting helped me remain calm and less anxious. Some of the topics covered in the pre-port meetings was safety and health issues of each country. The community offered accommodation to me after I explained that I was dealing with Asberger’s. At the beginning of the trip I was pretty anxious that some people thought I was high maintenance.  I attended classes, ate meals with a variety of people each day, enjoyed my interaction with the ship staff. In the past I may have gotten off the ship early, but I completed the full program.  
Here’s some interesting facts:
The ship traveled 22,721 nautical miles or 26,245 land miles
3000 pounds of peanut butter were consumed 
1440 pounds of jam were consumed
The trip lasted 102 days
We covered 4 continents and 14 countries 
We passed through 18 time changes 
The ship had 2 captains
2.5 million gallons of fresh water were consumed
812,000 gallons of fuel was used
Countries visited:
Hawaii, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, India, Myanmar, Mauritius, Chana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Morocco, Portugal, Germany