Episode #94 Interview with Jeffrey Snyder (Autism Advocate & Public Speaker)

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Jeffrey Snyder was born on March 27, 1989 in Providence, RI and has lived his entire life in Seekonk, MA. He was diagnosed with Autism in 1990 and ever since then, has achieved multiple successes in his life in areas of education, long-term employment, independent living, and speaking/panel engagements.

Learn More at https://jeffsnyderautismneurodiversityselfadvocate.wordpress.com/

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Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the autism and action podcast today we have another very special guest. We've got Mr. Jeff Snyder. He is with the going the distance. That's the name of his personal blog. We'll put the link in the show notes for you guys. He's coming all the way from Massachusetts today. Thank you, Mr. Schneider for taking the time to be here and to share your story with all of our listeners.

My pleasure. My pleasure, Tasha, thank you for having me on.

You are very welcome. Well, I can't wait to learn more about what it is that you do. It sounds like you've got your hands on a lot of different things. And you've been doing some incredible work. So if you would just take a moment and share about the services you offer and a little bit of your story.

Well, a little bit about myself. My name is Jeff Schneider. I am an autism neurodiversity, self advocate and public speaker. I am based in Seekonk, Massachusetts, which is a small town about five minutes away from Providence, Rhode Island and about 45 minutes southwest of Boston. And, and a little and then I was first diagnosed with autism back in when I was 21 months old in December of 1990. Upon my graduation from high school in 2007, I became the first autistic student in my town school district to have completed pre K through grade 12 within the school system and not coming from other towns or or school districts. I have also been living in my own apartment since 2015. And in addition to my website, I am also a moderator for the global autism projects. Autism knows no borders platform on mighty networks. I am a core team core team leader for the autism Tree Project Foundation in San Diego, California. And most recently, I was appointed to the junior BOARD OF THE UNICORN Children's Foundation in Boca Raton, Florida.

That is a lot of responsibility. You are doing some incredible work at sales like with a lot of different agencies and networks. Share what it is that you like to offer personally for services.

Well, one of my primary biggest big things is that I do offer a I do offer public speaking engagements I offer speaking services for conferences, trainings, workshops. I also offer speaking services for fan conventions because two of my I have a two part presentation that is appropriate for fan conventions called Autism in Disney characters. And for those who who don't know, autism and Disney characters, is a presentation which highlights several Disney characters that may display traits of autism that we don't really see in real life. For example, like the character of dopey from Snow White, dopey is nonverbal, which means that some neurodiverse people are nonverbal. Also, there's Tigger who doesn't really understand personal boundaries. So that's one that's one area and then the other. And then another example, is the character of Elsa from Frozen, who struggles to find her identity as being struggles to accept that she would. She She doesn't really embrace her ice powers, which is like someone not bracing their autism or neurodiverse ability. So I do so I draw for those. And then I do a, I do blogs every Monday through Friday. I just did a blog 95 This morning, and the blogs covered not just growing up with autism, or growing up in our diverse but also they cover a special issue cover education and mostly employment affecting the neurodiversity community. And I hope and the main mission of going the distance is to share my story with those and hopefully they can get inspired to pursue their own dreams and passions after hearing my story.

Now, inclusion in the workplace is something that you have a real big passion for. Share with us a little bit about your experience with helping the community with inclusion

in the workplace. Well, for those of you well, I this list of course is my primary passion but my but I do have a day job I work as a janitor, slash Porter for A major supermarket chain up here in the Northeast. And, and I have, you know, I work in a supermarket. So I've seen, I've seen it all and you know how how working in a in retail and in the soup, and especially in a supermarket can affect neurodiverse people in the way that in terms of sensory issues. Also, you know, asking for accommodations, also, also just, you know, just, you know, trying to, you know, do the job, to the best of your ability, and unfortunately, some managers don't really get that. So, one of the big things that I really want to make companies aware is that, you know, we want to contribute to the organization, and the business in general, we want to be successful. But unfortunately, there's a lot of competition, there's a lot of myths about neurodiverse people that may hinder people like, like myself from getting from getting a paid job, which is you know, that we don't have empathy we don't, we're kind of lazy slackers, we want to make, we intend to make things difficult for people, which is not really true. And we're only we only want to, we only want to be a part of the team. But it would just have to, you know, kind of, it's a little bit of both ends, like, like we have to give in to what the company wants if the company wants to given to what we want. So it's it's all about finding the common ground for someone in the workforce?

What's going to be reasonably accommodating for you, and what's going to be an acceptable commendation for them. I know that there's a lot of valuable resources online. What is it the there's a website that has a lot of them listed on there, that's very helpful to go to, I'll have to find that plug that in the show notes as well. Job Accommodation. network.com, I think is the name of it. But that that's amazing that, you know, you have been able to really work as much as you have, and inspire others to work with others as well. That's a big impact on your community. Right. Yeah,


Is there anything else at all that you would like to share with our listeners today?

Um, well, I also well, in addition to my employment, I'm also really big in special education, which is also because I grew up, you know, on the I was on an IEP throughout my school career. And I want to try to reach out to schools to kind of make them aware that neurodiverse people may not handle you know, certain school activities, and educational activities, the same way as a normal person would, because here's the thing I, I despise fire, for example. And this is the biggest one that I I couldn't stand school safety drills growing up, particularly especially fire drills, lockdown drills, school bus evacuation drills, and those kinds of and, and then another area that I really kind of kept hidden was school assemblies and school assemblies are extremely overstimulating and very bothersome to neuro diverse students. And I gotta tell you, when I left, what I always went to school assemblies, but when I left school assemblies I always had, I always had a headache and a migraine because of all the tension and the overstimulation of, you know, going through the assembly, and not everyone wants to be in a large room with their entire student body. So my objective is to reach out to teachers and administrators to say that we can make things easier for neurodiverse students if we, if we listen to each other. Like, one example would be whenever I had a fight, when we were we had a fire drill, I would get taken out of the building before they would pull the alarm. That's one example. And then the other big thing, of course, is advancement. Notice in general, because I get that schools want to they want to create a surprise in that element to a school safety drill, but unfortunately, not neurodiverse and sensory friendly students that you know, they want to get advance notice and I think it's necessary for students to come neurodiverse students in special education students to get that advance notice out there, just so they can plan ahead mentally, and maybe even physically. So that's one example right there. And then, you know, maybe meeting the firefighters or the police officers who are going to be conducting the lockdown drills, and or maybe even doing a custom school City School Bus evacuation drill with the driver, a school bus driver, that's gonna run the drill. So all these little things that can all these little things can make a difference. And then school assemblies are another big big factor, maybe half the chalk, maybe have the student go to a library or go to the office and just kind of wait out the wait out school assembly, or if it's really important, maybe have them watch it on. Maybe have it be a live stream format, from a classroom. And especially now with Zoom and all these streaming platforms that we're doing. I think schools should really take into account that they can live stream assemblies and neurodiverse students in special ed students that want to be watched or have to be at the assembly don't have to be at that assembly. They can just, you know, be a part of it, but just watch it from a different location.

Definitely great suggestions for better sensory inclusion. You know, and working with the students and working with the staff to work together and come up with reasonable accommodations. I think that this is very needed in school districts all across the country, for sure. Well, I am so grateful for you taking the time to be here today. Mr. Schneider. Where is the best place for our listeners to find you online?

You can find me on you can find me on my main website, which is Jeff Snyder, autism, neurodiversity self advocate.wordpress.com. I am also on Facebook, I am on LinkedIn, Twitter with my my twitter name is go distance 3562 I am on Instagram also go distance 3562. And I also have a speaker hub for anyone who wants to learn more about my speaking engagements. And if anyone wants to reach out to me for a either for a consultation or a speaking engagement or even a podcast interview.

Everybody y'all go check out all the different links that he just gave you and check out all the different services that he offers on the website and blog. Go the Distance. Thank you again so much for taking the time to be here today. My pleasure, Tasha

Let's Discuss!

Now, we would love to hear from you.

Do you have questions? Do you have ideas? Do you have an opinion? Do you think we missed something?

Let's have a discussion in the comments below or head over to the Autism in Action Facebook group. We would love to hear from you!

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