Interview between Speaker 1 (Meg) and Speaker 2 (Maisie Soetantyo)

Episode 43: Creating a Meaningful Life: Authentic Approaches Across the Lifespan 

 

[Introductory note]

Hey, podcast listeners! Meg here. I’m so excited to tell you that we have a new free training for you. It’s by autistic speech language pathologist, Rachel Dorsey, and it’s on strengths-based goal writing. I know how hard it is to be on the ground trying to do neurodiversity-affirming work without always knowing exactly how to do it. But the best place to start is right at the beginning — with your goals. And in this 40 minute training, Rachel cuts right to the chase in teaching you how the old paradigm misses the mark, and working through really specific case studies to teach you what strengths-based goal writing really looks like in OT and SLP practice. It’s only 40 minutes and it’s totally transformative. Check out the free training at learnplaythrive.com/goalsmasterclass.

 

[Introductory music]

Welcome to the Two Sides of the Spectrum Podcast. A place where we explore research, amplify autistic voices, and change the way we think about autism in life, and in our professional therapy practices. I’m Meg Proctor from learnplaythrive.com. 

 

Meg: 

Before we get started, a quick note on language. On this podcast, you’ll hear me and many of my guests use identity-affirming language. That means we say, ‘autistic person’, rather than, ‘person with autism’. What we’re hearing from the majority of autistic adults is that autism is a part of their identity that they don’t need to be separated from. Autism is not a disease, it’s a different way of thinking and learning. Join me in embracing the word ‘autistic’ to help reduce the stigma.

 

Welcome to Episode 43. Maisie Soetantyo, M. Ed. is an openly autistic family and inclusivity consultant. Maisie is the founder of Autism Career Pathways (ACP), which is a non-profit with a mission to improve the quality of lives and expand opportunities for meaningful employment for all neurodivergent people. Through ACP’s events, Maisie works to engage everyone and the business community to create more inclusive spaces. After working with families for 3 decades, Maisie firmly believes that nurturing one’s autistic authenticity is a critical first foundation to meaningful self-advocacy, a career path, and living the best life as an autistic person. In this episode we talk about what we can do to support autistic people from childhood through adulthood in finding true, authentic meaning and connection in their daily lives. And I ask Maisie some of your most pressing questions — like, how to work with parents who may be asking for a compliance-based approach. We go into work, parent coaching, and what an applied growth mindset really looks like for us and for our neurodivergent clients. Whether you work with very young kids or adults, this episode is truly for everyone. Here’s the interview.

Hi, Maisie! Welcome to the podcast.

 

Maisie: 

Thank you so much for having me today, Meg.

 

Meg: 

I’m so glad to be here talking with you. Maisie, I want to start with your story. How did you wind up here running a non-profit related to neurodivergence and meaningful work?

 

Maisie: 

Well, I actually have been working with autistic individuals. I started working with autistic kids 30 years ago as an undergraduate at UCLA, and I am a former behaviorist. That’s actually how I got into this field and fell in love with autistic kids 30 years ago. So, I happened to be working as a classroom assistant at Los Angeles Unified School District, and that was an autism classroom. And many of those little kids, they were part of the UCLA Autism Project under Dr. Ivar Lovaas. So, that’s how I got started.

 

Meg: 

I’m gonna pause there. We’ve talked about Lovaas on the podcast before, but for people who might not be familiar, he’s sort of the father of ABA with the infamous quote about ‘Autistic people not being human’, but that we needed to sort of piece them together and make them fully human.

 

Maisie: 

Right. But I think, for me, I really enjoyed working with my little people, autistic individuals and the topic of autism, and psychology, and human behaviors, and sports watching. Those are all still my special interests today, right. So then, I think because I’m autistic myself, I felt something was not right, just intuitively. And I really tried to put together a more holistic approach, even after doing what I knew best to implement for 12 years. Because I just kept getting myself trained, just trying to put together better pieces for my clients. But I noticed that my clients, even though they were able to, for example, participate in school very successfully, close to independently, you know, there were still something missing. And at that point, I couldn’t really figure out exactly why because I took pride in like, really being creative and providing and designing program that were more outside of the box, if you want to say that, right.

So then, I basically ditched it. I said, okay, it’s just — it’s enough for me. And I walked away from it. And I got certified in a relationship-based programme called Relationship Development Intervention. And I, to me, that made more sense. And it’s very different than training people to become therapists and providing parent training, where it was more instructional based. And in a relationship-based programme, like such as RDI, and also floor time, it’s very different because it’s all about developing your own intuitiveness to be able to follow this child, right. And so, at our clinic, we — my husband and I — both work as parent coaches for 20 years. And when I work with a client, they become like part of my family, you know. We visit, we do stuff together. And of course, they grew up.

And even though they are an excellent pizza connoisseur, they still can’t get a job, couldn’t get a job, a summer job at Domino’s, right? Because they were not able to talk about their strengths, and they can’t compete with other neurotypical job seekers, right. So, that’s how I started in 2019. I said, “What’s the point?” If all my clients — I’ve known them since they were like five, seven, and they’re now in their 20s, some were able to finish college — and the world’s not ready for, you know this, the world’s not ready for neurodivergent people. It’s just, so yeah, so that’s why I created the non-profit Autism Career Pathways. But I think, our non-profit, how we’re different is that we want to engage with our community. I realised that we can’t tell people what they should do. We can’t just give people a checklist. We have to really empower people and influence people to want to make room for neurodivergent people. And that’s not easy. So, that’s why. We’ll talk more about ACP pathways, but I think that’s probably enough information.

 

Meg: 

Yeah. No, that’s really interesting information. And the threads that I can sort of follow through it pretty intensely are how you were looking at what you were doing with this bigger lens, and that was attuned to your values and your intuition as a person about what felt and didn’t feel right. And you were able to look beyond, well, this is how I was trained to, “What am I doing?” And I hear your process of unlearning ableism, which we’re all doing, autistic and non-autistic people, are unlearning ableism and trying to figure out how to do something different. And I really enjoy hearing about how much curiosity fueled you. That you kept saying, “And I just wondered what the missing piece was. And I wondered if I could be doing something different.” 

Maisie:

Yeah.

Meg:

“And then I saw that what I was doing was great, but it was leading to kids who couldn’t get that sense of fulfilment in work, and I wondered what could be done around that.” And I also hear you say that the work wasn’t all on the kid. You said, “The world isn’t ready.” So, how do we not just teach our clients skills, but how do we — at the risk of sounding cliche — how do we also change the world, right?

 

Maisie: 

Well, I think that everyone has to start with compassion. I know, it sounds so cliche. But I actually put three things on my sticky note, you know. I think everyone has an opportunity to be a game changer. Three things, right. Be the game changer. Figure out how each one of us can be the game changer, right. And then, once you understand what you can do, then you have to change the narrative for neurodivergent people, you know, for our community. You have to be the influencer, if you want to call it that, because we can’t dictate and instruct people, “You should do this, and this and this, and this,” that wouldn’t work. When I did ABA, that was the formula. We instruct, we do checklists, we write things down, we train people very quickly. We can’t, because we’re here. Like me, and so many other therapists trying to figure out what would be the best way to do. We’re here because we love the people we serve, right? So, number three, going back to that is, then you have to take part in the story. Right? Whether you’re the parents, whether you’re a teacher, whether you’re therapists, or business owners, or mentors at work, job coaches, those are the three things.

When you meet a new person, neurodivergent or not, but if you’re working as a job coach, you will work with autistic people, you start over. Like, drop everything that you’ve been trained and things that — you start over, because that person in front of you deserves your investment in time and in the relationship. And I think it works both ways. People forget about this, right? I learned so much from my client, I learned so much from other autistic adults whose journeyed there; they were ahead of me. And with my own diagnosis, I realised that I — I’m not here today because I was self-made. I wasn’t self-made. I had parents, especially my mom who just followed her instinct to really figure out how to support me, you know, and I was, I struggled in school a lot. And now I know why. I was a very slow reader, so my mom had to sit with me after school to help me catch up with schoolwork. Because in the old days, we didn’t have all these therapy options, you do the best that you can. I had — I have dyscalculia, some number dyslexia. So, I, my math ability is still very terrible. So, I had a math tutor.

 

And, you know, my mom really did the best that she could. The one thing she knew how to do very well was just to give me real life experiences. She took me to work, she took me to the market. My dad also did it. But he did it his own way, you know. So, I think that was really amazing qualities. I’m very lucky that I didn’t have this like, typical, I guess, Asian parents who were very focused on academics and achievements and performance, because they knew that wasn’t for me. So, I wasn’t book smart at all. But I became street smart over time through my struggles. Because part of it, I knew that I’d done my best and my parents accepted that I’ve done my best. Like, I would wake up at four in the morning to study for math tests, and I still get like terrible, terrible, terrible grades in all my math subjects. And you could hide that from other people. Like, other friends, they don’t know because the only one seeing your, you know, school marks, your parents would know about it, but you can hide that. So, I was really good at like, just keeping it together. And yeah, so see, I digressed. What was your —? [Laughs]

 

Meg: 

Yeah, no, no. So, I really love your three points that you keep on your post-It note.

 

Maisie:

Yes.

 

Meg:

About figuring out what we can do. Like, what role can we play, and then getting in the arena, right. Doing the work, even though we don’t have it all figured out yet, just getting in the arena. And then also, you said, kind of forget everything you’ve been taught and meet your autistic clients authentically and openly. And then, I also really love your story, because it highlights how you have built your life on your strengths and on those real-life experiences. I would venture that 4am cramming for math is not the like foundational building block of your life; you’ve really built it on your strengths. And I want to circle back around to meaningful work, because that’s where you’ve landed a little bit in your own work. How do you define meaningful work in the context that you work in?

 

Maisie: 

Yes. So, this is what Autism Career Pathways really want to do. We want to spotlight autistic people’s stories, and autistic excellence in our community. We want to figure out how autistic people can mentor other autistic people, autistic people buy autistic products, you know, like all of this, you know. Because within our own community, it’s very important that we support each other within the autistic community. And then, hopefully, we can engage with the autism community in our bigger communities so we can support each other. But, to me, when it comes to meaningful work, or meaningful life in general, I think that depends on the individual, right? So, I think that’s where the roles of parents become so important, because parents are the ones who would notice progress. And progress doesn’t have exploration date. You can learn to drive at the age of 40. You can — I failed finishing up my master’s degree. I had to do it again, much, much later in my 40s, you know, and it was still hard, but I did it. And meaningful work, to me, it’s really about having something that you can look forward towards to when you wake up in the morning.

In however you’re doing it, how much time you spend on it, you know, where your heart is in and you’re willing to wake up in the morning and do the best that you can to fulfil the expectations, right. Yeah, so, I mean, work is not — I mean, to me, I like meaningful life because some of my non-speaking adult clients. For example, Big Al’s toffee is someone who I actually was working with him when he was three as his ABA therapist when he was three. And now, he’s I think 27, 28. And his business is Big Al’s Best. Unfortunately, he moved to San Diego, so I don’t have a toffee supplier now in the Bay Area. But that’s a really amazing story. How, you know, I followed this family, I followed Alex, and his meaningful work, if you want to call it that, is his toffee business. He does everything independently from making the toffee packaging, he doesn’t drive, but he delivers the toffee. He goes to markets and fairs, and he’s very, very successful. But that’s something that if you ask Alex, like, “What do you do with the money?” He probably doesn’t care about the money. He just loves the process. Meaningful work means you can do the process, and you enjoy it, and you feel productive doing it. Does that make sense?

 

Meg: 

It does. Yeah. It’s hard to untangle meaningful life from meaningful work given our productivity-driven culture. And you would like to, right? You would like to say our worth and our self-value is tied to our life, not to our work. And we spend so much time at work, for better or for worse in the world we live in. It’s really a lot easier to feel joy and find meaning if you do, like you said, get to look forward to what you’re doing in your work and feel like you’re bringing your strengths to it.

 

Maisie: 

Yes. Yes. And I think it helps to, uh, help you to also regulate yourself because it’s familiar, there’s a rhythm to it. And I think it doesn’t matter, going back to the example of Alex, it doesn’t matter if some days he doesn’t do anything. But he also does a lot of volunteer work in the community. So, like I said, no one is self-made, right. So, he has supportive parents just like my parents, who, in the creative way, they have created family goals and they go for it together. They love to travel, they actually love to visit all kinds of breweries, and they wanted Alex to take part of that culture. So, they figured it out. They find connections in the community. And they make it happen, you know, and whether it is paid work or volunteer work, someone like Alex, he’s very busy. [Laughs] Yeah, so, you know, that’s, I think, in my mind, how you define that meaningful work. Yeah.

 

Meg: 

I hear you tracing some of your clients lives from childhood through adulthood, which is such a useful perspective that you get to have. A lot of the therapists who listen to this podcast work with adolescents, or kids or even young kids. Given that kids grow into adults, what advice do you have to those therapists?

 

Maisie: 

I think that is, again, it’s just unfortunate because today, what we learn in school is not necessarily going to help us become the best therapists, or clinicians, or teachers, or mentors at work. Because again, I think the responsibility falls on you to really figure out in this relationship, do we have a mutual understanding to invest in each other so we can learn from each other? You know, yes, adult guides are more experienced. But each child you work with has, I guess, a door that you have to unlock. And once you open that door, more doors will open up, you know. That’s maybe, it’s a good visual. And sometimes it takes a while to figure it out. I think autistic people, autistic neurodivergent clinicians are great, because we are very curious creatures, you know, and we can hyper focus. We’re also great out-of-the-box thinkers, you know. So, always have the mindset of ‘My knowledge for this person is never going to be enough’. Because if I’m not reading the clues, you know, because I’m stuck in my own ways, or the programs or the goals that I have created, you know, or maybe other team members have created, you know, it’s very hard, actually. Yeah. Because there are a lot of goals that you have to let go.

 

Meg: 

Yeah, yeah. We do. Neurotypical therapists like myself have so much to learn from autistic therapists. And like you’re saying, it’s not just specific information. It’s a mindset that we can learn. I interviewed Sarah Selvaggi-Hernandez once during the summit on autistic strengths, and she said, “It seems like neurotypicals just need to already know everything and be right.” She said, “I just don’t relate to that at all. I’m so used to being open and curious, and being wrong over and over and over again. And it doesn’t assault my sense of self like it seems to me for neurotypicals,” and I think, you know, a lot of us listening went, oh, man. That’s an area for growth.

 

Maisie: 

So, here’s another tip for people who love working with autistic individuals. Don’t focus on the problem. It’s very easy because parents come to you with a list of problems. “Can you make my child talk? Can you make him stop running around? Can you make him look at me,” you know, all these wish lists, right? And remember, parents, especially parents of newly diagnosed autistic kids, they’re all in the crisis mindset. When they give you that list, actually, they want acknowledgement. And they want to be validated. That’s our role, I think. Number one is to validate how our client, whether it’s the child or the parents, feel. We have to be good listeners first, right. So, if we focus on the problem, then one, I think it gets very distracting because you can’t keep track of things because you just — and it’s, to me, it’s like digging a hole. You have a hole, you’re covering it up, then other holes pop up except the holes get deeper, deeper, and deeper, you know. You have to work harder to fix it. But then, you’re actually not working on important developmental foundational pieces that would serve and really support this young person to be able to self-advocate, to grow up and know who they are. And I think a diagnosis is nothing if you don’t have self-acceptance,

 

Meg: 

Yeah, that just keeps coming up over and over and over again, that our goals should be for our clients to know themselves, to know their strengths, to know what kinds of supports that they need, for the people around them to know how to support them, and for them to be able to ask for what they need when it’s not freely given. But that starting with knowing and accepting yourself, and not skipping that. I think the other big barrier is obviously the medical model, right? That we are, even if we went to graduate programs that didn’t train us to use this deficits-based lens, which is pretty rare, we get that standardized test, and we get that evaluation template, and get the insurance standards and it’s like, find the deficits, treat the deficits, meet the goals. It’s not serving anybody, like you said.

 

Maisie: 

No, no. And that’s what I mean, you got to be able to change the narrative for each client, because the language you use to describe them, it’s damaging, you know. Imagine — I always tell everyone, you know, if you write a report for a client, imagine your client can read it. Imagine your client is sitting there during IEP meetings, how would your client feel? How would your student feel? You know, I should — I want to ban the word ‘behaviours’‘deficit’‘social skills’. Because autistic people have the skills. Well, we — because we’re not supported, we have the dots, but we don’t know how to connect the dots because we’re not supported. Because we don’t speak the language. I mean, we speak a different language. Yeah. So, it’s like there is no manual for places and expectations that we are expected to be successful in.

 

Meg: 

Right. Right. It goes back to that idea that there’s this cultural difference that we’re not bridging well. I do want to say for people who get stuck on the documentation piece, we did talk about this in Episode 12 of the podcast that we can write strengths-based evaluations and goals, and still bill them to insurance, and still bring them to the IEP team. We talk about that there. Since you have so much experience, Maisie, working with parents, another question I get a lot from listeners, is they always say, “What do I do when I’m working with a parent who is asking me for a compliance-based or behavioral approach?” Do you have advice to these folks?

 

Maisie: 

Well, they’re asking you those type of goals because they’ve been told that that’s the standard, the best practices, right? So, I think we have to first of all, help parents get out of that crisis mindset. Because when you’re in that crisis mindset, you want a quick fix, right. And unfortunately, these type of goals focusing on changing behaviors, we think that it’s measurable progress because our eyes can see the improvement, you know. A child who cannot sit before and now the child can sit and do a puzzle, you know. In a medical and research world, that’s what we could easily measure, right? But when you talk about emotional intelligence, when you talk about competence, all the stuff that falls under executive functioning, it’s very hard to measure those kind of progress, right, especially for people who are using different communication methods. It’s different because they can’t say, “Oh, yeah, I hear you. I get it. I know how to do this,” right?

 

Meg:

Yeah. And the thing we’re not measuring with that kid who learns to sit still is what impact does this have on them? What are they pushing down to sit still? What needs are they not meeting and what needs are they learning that they can’t ask to be met? When we just measure observable behaviour, we’re missing the child’s internal experience and saying it doesn’t matter.

 

Maisie: 

Yes. Yeah. So, I would say, because I do this all the time with parents. I just talk to parents all the time; parents of newly diagnosed kids. Like, I always talk about the difference between ‘fix it’ and ‘growth mindset’, because it’s different. We want, of course, to be able to nurture growth mindset, because that’s going to carry our little kids into adulthood and living their best lives in their own way, right. Not like fixing what really is challenging for us, of course, because of the sensory differences. Again, not focusing on the problem. And I think, being a good listener to parents and helping them with getting out of the crisis mindset a little bit at a time, and do it in a creative way. Show videos, maybe, of autistic teens talking on YouTube videos, because parents need to be able to kind of foresee into the future a little bit, but not get scared. So, you as a therapist, you don’t want to give TMI — too much information — because, believe me, it’s already TMI for each parent because of the internet, all these things that people tell him to do, or things they read. It’s very, very scary. It’s a scary place for parents. So, our job is to actually help parents to slow down and just really focus on what they can, you know.

 

And I think, for all of us working with kids, I think the parent training or the parent training approach would be helping parents to see and understand the possibilities through us. And that’s why I think, if we really focus on that ‘What am I trying to help my client to understand’ and really just engage and get the feel of, it’s happening, I see that, you know, and this is maybe — like, the materials or these toys, you know, it’s really… Those are vehicles, those are not important, but what you have to really focus on is what kind of support works to help you, as a therapist, along with the client to get there. And that, then, you share with parents. So, I think that — I think it’s hard. I really struggled at the beginning. But, you know, when I switch gears, then I really was able to do that. So, when I describe my session to parents, I can help them understand better. And also videotape, you know. It’s videotaping, it’s great, because it’s just to share with parents this is what I was thinking as I was doing this particular, uh, practising this particular objective. And this is what I was thinking, and I had to slow down, I had to — you know what I mean? Just because it’s just so rich. A human mind is so rich, and that’s what we need to empower parents to understand. Helping a child to make decisions is very — when you think about it, making a decision, you know, what do we want to wear today? It’s very complex. You know what I mean? So, you can’t teach that by repetitions. Today’s Monday, you wear red. Right? It doesn’t work that way. [Laughs]

 

Meg: 

Yeah. So, I hear you saying that you hold space for where the parents are. You listen to it. And you want to slowly and thoughtfully sort of open up the possibility of, “Your kid is okay, your kid is cool. Here’s all the possibilities. And let’s start by knowing them, and accepting them, and see where we can go.” But you’re modelling that right through the work and you’re clueing the parents in on how you think about the process, how you think about the child, so that they have something different to model for them that they can try when they’re trying to figure out how to support their child. Because probably all they’ve seen is deficit and compliance-based approaches. So, that’s what people think supporting means.

 

Maisie: 

Absolutely. And honestly, I didn’t know when I started this that giving parents instruction to do what I do successfully doesn’t work at home. Because home is a different environment, and we can’t provide parent training like that. And when I was doing — when I became parent coaches, we had this intensive immersion programme where we actually take parents to stay with us. Parents come from all over the world and we book, what’s that called, like a hotel with kitchenette — hotel apartments, right? So, then we actually work with them. We observe and work with them from nine to five, sometimes three to nine. It was a lot of work. For a week, so we really understand this family culture. It was a really humbling experience, you know. I see why parents struggle because they have kids who were very aggressive. I saw how a family, for example, who did not, wasn’t able to go out to eat at a restaurant because their daughter became very, very stressed out, you know, and just, they couldn’t manage it. So, can you imagine? You haven’t been out at a restaurant for years, right. So, these are stories, real stories, that I think a lot of professionals, clinicians don’t see. And when we give parents an assignment on a piece of paper, “Practice this,” and parents feel very, very guilty. Like, they’re not able to do that. They don’t have it in them to be able to carry any assignments, you know, but they may be afraid to admit that. Like, I can’t — I haven’t done it, you know? So, this is, again, if we focus on the problems, this is a very unhealthy culture, and there is no nurturing the right relationship with parents, because parents are our partners, right. Did I answer your question?

 

Meg:

You did, yeah.

 

Maisie:

Okay.

 

Meg:

I feel like so much of what you’re seeing is shifting away from performance and achievement and this mindset that therapists have of we want to feel good about what we just did in our session, towards being able to ask a bigger question. And to step back, and to not know, and to be curious. And it does feel really good when you execute a perfect session in your clinic, and the kid does the thing that meets the goals, and you’re like, “Wow, I’m a good therapist!”.

Maisie:

Absolutely.

Meg:

Maybe it doesn’t matter. Like, maybe what you just did doesn’t matter at all. It just sort of fed your ego. I’m saying this from my own experience. I’ve done this. I’ve been like, yeah, I nailed it. And then, you know, when I really get honest and talk to the parents, they’re like, this doesn’t — this is very different from what happens at home. And that’s uncomfortable because I am not in their home and I don’t know what to say and don’t know what to help them, and so it’s very tempting to just move right along past that. And you’re asking therapists to sit in that discomfort too and to stay focused on what matters the most, which is our client’s authentic and joyful participation in their real lives.

 

Maisie: 

Right, right. And also, one more thing to keep in mind is that productive doesn’t mean happy and laughter, you know. So, a lot of times, because you think that if your client is having fun, that’s productive. But that could be one-sided. And when we share that with a parent waiting, you know, in the waiting room, “How was the session?” That’s always the first question, “How was it? How was the session?” And, you know, if your client happened to be like, maybe have a great relationship and can do more with you as a therapist but the parents are not able to do that, it could really be — it’s sad to them, right. Because they feel like why can’t I even get this simple thing going? And, you know, help my child learn. So, yeah, so that’s another to keep in mind. Yeah.

 

Meg: 

Yeah, that’s such an important reminder. Maisie, I feel like we’ve touched on all of these really big central core things today. If people listening have one big takeaway, what do you hope they’re walking away from this conversation holding on to?

 

Maisie: 

I think that we can all be different together. Everyone needs to be different together. For parents, and therapists, professionals, adult guides, I think we have to help our kids to be able to navigate the world. I mean, the mountain — the mountain is very steep to climb, right, for autistic people, for neurodivergent people. Because we’re talking about all kinds of issues medical care, like housing, employment, unemployment, under employment, you know, that mountain is very steep to climb. Why don’t we work together to make sure that we help our kiddos to be the best climbers in the world? But right now, all these pieces are not connecting. It’s not even — it doesn’t even form the right kind of picture for each neurodivergent child and that’s something that I lose sleep over. It’s sad, you know, because I see both ends, you know, I see, even for autistic adults, it’s challenging.

 

Meg 

Thank you so much, Maisie. Tell us what you’re working on now and where we can find you online.

 

Maisie 

Okay, projects. I’m the project queen. I love projects. [Laugh] I love to host online events that would really elevate autistic people’s stories, including non-speaking autistic business owners. So, I do that. Usually once a year we would host like an event like this, like an Autistic Makers Spotlight. So, last year, we hosted one with Caitlin and John Stamos on Instagram live. This year, we’ll probably do something similar but with a different theme. Last year, we also hosted the very first autistic-led Cultivating Autistic Entrepreneurship with over 25 autistic adults, business owners, including non-speaking business owners, which was just amazing. So, we want to continue to do that. We’re launching a Better Community Project. That’s a new project; I’m almost done with it. So, what it is is a sensory-inclusive business small business certification. So, we want to start certifying eateries and libraries. If anyone has a clinic, and you want to learn more how to be not just sensory-inclusive, but also neurodivergent-welcoming, if you have a connection with your libraries, e-mail us. E-mail me at [email protected] so that you can help our community become more divergent welcoming.

So, we created an online, very easy to process information, short videos, a one-page thingy, and ideas. Neurodivergent-welcoming ideas for libraries and eateries. We have recommendations for sensory, mobility access, better mobility access, like everything. Sensory, communication, neurodivergent-welcoming ideas. Yeah, all of this. But the goal is, again, to engage with our community. We can’t tell them, “Oh, you have a restaurant. So, you should do A, B and C.” No, we want to help them think and understand and then think about, “Oh, this is what we can — how we can contribute. This is how we can be more responsible to get feedback from neurodivergent customers,” you know, so that’s, yes, there’s a lot of little things going on in there. Um, yes. So, if people want to participate, e-mail us or check out our Instagram accounts. I run two Instagram accounts. One is under my name @MaisieSoetantyo, that’s the parenting one and @AutismCareerPathways. That’s just a name on it. And then lastly, I am currently building an online parent training platform. So, that’s in the works also with our other neurodivergent parents and professionals. So, I’m trying to take care of two tracks ’cause I can’t just work on one and not make sure the beginning part is like, much better.

 

Meg: 

I hear that. You are the project queen. I’ll link to your social media and all of your projects that are currently up in the show notes. Thank you so much, Maisie.

 

Maisie:

You’re welcome.

 

[Ending music] 

Thanks for listening to the Two Sides of the Spectrum podcast. Visit learnplaythrive.com/podcast for show notes, a transcript of the episode, and more. And if you learned something today, please share the episode with a friend or post it on your social media pages. Join me next time, where we will keep diving deep into autism.