To Schedule Lois to speak (Barb is currently choosing to do very few public events because she finds it overwhelming and is choosing to focus on her creative writing at this time), at your event please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anxiety Management and Connections – for corporations.
Anxiety Management and Connections – for parents and teachers.
Autism and Connection – for parents, teachers, practitioners, and those with ASD.
Barb taught this psychologist about neurodiversity and it show on WBIR:
Dr. Prislovsky discusses autism links to environmental toxins : WBIR-TV autism expert featured
Featured article in the Huffington Post. Huffington Post Raves about Audio book
“For Your Ears Only Show” host David Alpern discusses developments in ASD and the creative writing process with the authors of I Might Be You: An Exploration of Autism and Connection.
April 27th, 2013
“Must Knows Concerning Autism Spectrum Disorders Regarding Instruction and Inclusion”
April 25, 2013
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
This Author event explored perceptions and practical implications related to neurodiversity, justice, and motivation. Discussions included experiences of an individual with severe Autism and a practitioner who serves clients and family’s struggling with ASD.
Presentation participant feedback 1: I was surprised by hearing “goodnight” and “damn it.” I really hope to learn more about her circumstances and why she is able to say those words and not others? The fact that Barb was so witty and presented all of us with so much humor was extremely amazing to me. I completely agree with the fact that the presenter and Barb have a very close connection, and I could definitely tell that that truly helps Barb communicate. It was truly amazing to witness Barb’s personality through a laminate keyboard or computer. It’s amazing how much technology has helped Barb and others like her.
Presentation participant feedback 2 :I like what you said about being surprised that she was able to say certain words. I understand that Lois said that Barb suffers from Tourettes syndrome, which makes sense why she would have those outbursts but the fact that she is nonverbal is actually quite confusing to us as an audience when she says these things. One thing I think we sometimes overlook when we see people who are nonverbal (at least I overlook this myself) is I often times think that they are unable to hear, which isn’t always the case. One thing I thought about was that when Barb says she has her own “language”, does she also hear things in a different “language”? Does she hear things the way we actually say them or does it translate differently for her? These are just some things that I thought of!
Participant 1 response to participant 4: From your post, I can see that you really enjoyed the presentation. As a special educator, do you think that toughest challenge is to find a way for your students to communicate as freely as possible? It takes a lot of work and coordination to allow Barb to speak and be heard. This must take a great deal of patience and understanding. We saw Barb use technology to communicate and we also saw Barb use an old-school typing board. This was pretty cool because I had anticipated all new technology to be used. I guess one has to really think about how to allow the student to be heard and what will work best for each individual. I am sure there is overlap, but there must be a little niche for everyone that is unique. How can we do this in a class with disabled children where there is only one or two teachers?
Participant 4 response to participant 1: Your response is very thoughtful! It is nice to see “regular” ed teachers actively think and want to engage special ed students! I do believe that the toughest part is finding the way that each child can communicate best. We have a child in my class right now that can’t use a computer device to communicate because she has extreme behavior problems and would throw and ruin the device. We are having to use a picture folder for her to communicate. So naturally, this requires a lot of patience because we want so badly for our students to be able to communicate well and not have so many behaviors but time will tell what and how we can communicate! Try and Try Again!! Failure, as you know I’m sure, in teaching is going to happen!
If you have a student who is nonverbal but can point to make a decision… it would be good to ask questions and offer two answers for them to choose! Example: 1+1=2 or 1+1=3? and have them point to what the answer could be. This way you could see where they are intellectually! I am sure this would be harder for High School but I am Elementary School so that is why I used such an easy problem. I hope this helped answer your question!!
Presentation participant feedback 5: I really loved the presentation. There were so many interesting aspects that I learned from Barb. My favorite part was definitely when Barb answered questions. I was amazed by the fact that she was able to use that laminated letter board to communicate. She was able to have such quick responses. I loved that she had a great humor and it really seemed as though she enjoys life. It is amazing that she wrote a book and was able to express how her daily life and struggles are through that book. Even though Barb cannot communicate verbally, she expresses herself just as much, but in different ways. It is obvious that Barb is extremely intelligent and dedicated to helping herself and helping others understand. I have never had a special education class, so I have not had much knowledge about it, but this presentation definitely opened my eyes. I am so happy to have been able to have this opportunity to witness and becoming more knowledgeable about people that are not able to verbally communicate.
Participant 4 response to participant 5: I also thought it was crazy that she could communicate so quickly. It just shows that with hard work and dedication and even repetition, information can be stored and frequently used! It was a wonderful experience to see. It has made me look at my students who are nonverbal differently!
Presentation participant 6: I absolutely LOVED Barb’s presentation. I was completely blown away. I wasn’t completely sure what to expect but it truly was amazing. One of the reasons I have gone into the field of Special Education is because I have been motivated by people with disabilities which I have met, seeing all that they can achieve. Time and time again I am amazed to be see what people like Barb are able to accomplish. I think that as a society we put people with disabilities “in a box” for lack of a better expression. We assume that because they have a specific disability that they are virtually unable to do anything. Seeing people like Barb excel in ways that no one expects it’s truly inspiring and something that reminds me on a daily basis that we can do whatever we would like in life as long as we put our minds to it. As a future special education teacher it is really important to me that my students are not dwelling on what they cannot do but expressing and improving on the things they can. I think that Barb is not only an inspiration to people with disabilities but everyone and shows a true example of hard work. I am so thankful to have gotten the opportunity to experience what she is like in person. She is a remarkable woman.
Presentation participant 7: I had been looking forward to “hearing” Barb speak all week long. I was seriously just beside myself with anticipation. I researched her online, watched countless videos, and read articles. None of it could have prepared me for how truly amazing she is. She is hilarious, first of all. My instructor was right when she said she was one of the funniest people she knew. I thought during her question and answer segment that really showed. I also was really moved by her writings that she had audience members read. It breaks my heart to know that educators and the general public write people like Barb off every single day. If we gave every person the time of day, respect, and attention they deserve, think about how much we could learn from them? Barb is an amazing woman with such a funny, touching, and courageous story to share. I wonder how many other people have a story that no one is listening to yet.
Participant 8 response to participant 7: I agree with your statement that we could learn a lot from Barb. She had so much to tell and teach that I probably missed a lot of it. I think it goes to show that we should not discredit someone before we see what he or she can do. This easily applies to our students where we have to hold back our presumptions of pre-judging them before we see what they can do. In addition to, it also forces teachers to look at their students and believe that they can learn. No one gave Barb a chance until later in life; we shouldn’t rob a student of that opportunity to learn and express either.
Presentation participant 8: I was very skeptical/interested in seeing how Barb would be able to communicate although being defined as “non-verbal”. I came away from her presentation with a whole new perception on those who are considered non-verbal and their effectiveness in communication. I was reminded that communication is more than just being verbal; there are various forms of communication. Barb is able to tap into a specific means to communicate and thus enters the “communicating world” that most presumably excludes her from. She brought up a lot of very interesting points and perspectives of her own difficulties in life and that communication lies at the root of them all. She realized a long time ago that without communication abilities she would have a hard time being “accepted” in society. The same can apply to teaching. If we as teachers cannot communicate with our students, whether it is about something in academics or expectations or values, we will do a disservice to them and thus not prepare them adequately to be able to succeed and flourish in our culture. I was thankful that Barb was able to highlight this aspect by sharing her story. I wish we could have gotten to hear more from her!
Presentation Participant 9: It isn’t very often that “normals” get to interact with, much less learn from a person with any form of Autism. We certainly know that they exist, but for the most part they are hidden away, out of sight, out of hearing range where their “weird” ways of interacting with their world does not interfere with us and our way of life. Why? As Amanda so aptly put it “You do not consider me a person unless I can speak in your language.”
Barb is a brilliant and fiercely clever human being who is very much aware of her surroundings and how she feels about things. (Though I’m fairly certain one of the highlights of the night was when she replied to a man’s question with “I love it when beefcakes ask me that question.”) Growing up in a school where students were not taught alongside their students, but much like ELL students are stuffed away in CDC classes it was never explicitly said that they were less human or not as intelligent, but it was certainly implied. As a little kid, I could never believe that. One of my best friends, who was deaf, but was one of the funniest guys I knew. Barb has accomplished so much more in a few months than most of us will accomplish the whole of our lives. She wanted to write a book so she went out and did it. No excuses, just did it. Oh and the giddiness that I felt when she told me that her favorite author was C.S. Lewis! It was an eye opening experience and way more fun than I was expecting.
Presentation Participant 10: Barb also reminded me of the limitations that we put on our kids in special education. We are the ones who advocate for our kids but are we the first ones to limit our kids? I spoke with a regular ed. teacher about a student the other day and told them to give the student the work, tell the student they COULD do it, and they did it well! Even though my students are resource/behavior issues in our school, when we choose to limit students they limit themselves. If we encourage students to excel, they tend to excel. Great thoughtfulness.
Participant 4 response to participant 10: I absolutely agree! I have students in my class who are completely nonverbal and after hearing Barb I had to sit down and think… how am I limiting their communicative needs!? It inspired and excited me!
Presentation Participant 11: I thought that Barb’s speech was outstanding. It provided a wonderful insight, or “peek behind the curtain” if you will, into the mind of someone with her condition. It was very informative and eye-opening. I think that it is incredibly inspiring how well she is able to communicate using the board, and the fact that she has written a book is astounding. It really helps to put things into perspective, I think. I also learned a new phrase – “neurotypicals.” I thought that was an interesting term. But yes, I greatly enjoyed her speech, and I found it uplifting that she had such a great sense of humor. Also, as noted, it was good that the presentation wasn’t a voyeuristic look at her life, but rather an explanation of what her language is like. It was a fascinating speech and I wish her the best of luck in all of her future endeavors.