Appreciate the Big Things: perhaps my shadow traits are showing

This week I am leaving my lovely spring dappled little town on the outskirts of Vancouver, Canada – and heading down to the icy cold of Northern Arizona. Yes! You read that correctly!

In my little town, spring is no longer perched tentatively on its edge; it is coming on strong. The crocuses are done along with the pussy willows. The magnolia tree is now its dropping petals on the driveway. The camellias are opening their heavy pink blooms along with the quince. This past weekend Craig mowed our lawn, and the pesky snails are bravely emerging from the carpet of last year’s leaves to terrorize the fresh new green.

I am leaving the spring in the NorthWest to head to the winter in the south. It goes against what I would expect, and it belies my preconceived notion that Arizona should be hot.

Sadly enough, it has just been pointed out to me by my wonderful friends, Laura Nagle and Susan, that I had been reading the Fahrenheit temperatures as though they were Celsius! OH Crap!! I guess I had better unpack all of those cute little tank tops!! I had more summery climes in mind! Silly Canadian!

Anyway, regardless of the weather, and my very temporary disappointment over the lack of sun and heat, I am thrilled to be headed south to present at the  Northern Arizona Autism Conference which is sponsored by their fabulous Autism Society (NAzASA).

I am presenting on two topics.

The first is an examination of some of the challenges faced by those with autism and looking at how we can make ourselves a better fit for supporting those who process differently, both in our classrooms and in our lives. I use stories about my son – and photos as well – partly because it is so easy to get his mom’s permission (insert hearty laughter), and partly too because I believe people learn very well through the medium of story. My premise is that our mostly-NT-world could really use the opportunity to consider the world from a different perspective. It is all about considering perspectives!! Oooohhhhhh, I love considering perspectives.

The second is a presentation on literacy strategies designed to increase social understanding and perspective-taking ability. I have created these strategies over the past few years to enable teachers to support students with social understanding challenges within the regular education classroom. I am excited about this because these strategies are universally designed (UDL) – to be used with the entire class…  to support the development of social understanding… in an inclusive setting!

I absolutely love presenting…

I get to talk about my topic of interest; I can talk about autism and education and social understanding to a captivated (and somewhat captured) audience!! LOL! C’mon, what’s not to love?!?

Oh my! I suppose… my autistic shadow traits are showing…



For those of you who might want a bit more info about the weather in Northern Arizona: Susan was kind enough to point me to this posting from the National Weather service:

Prior to this, I had been perusing this from the site Weather Underground:

Somehow, it didn’t look as cold in Celsius… It’s all about perspective!


30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2012)

About Leah Kelley, Ed.D.

Leah Kelley, M.Ed, Ed.D., Writer, Consultant, Activist, Speaker, and Educator, working with Teacher Candidates at UBC. Authors blog: 30 Days of Autism. Projects support social understanding, Neurodiversity paradigm, Disability Justice, and connecting Disability Studies in Education(DSE)to Educational Practice. Twitter: @leah_kelley Facebook: 30 Days of Autism: Leah Kelley
This entry was posted in acceptance, Arizona, ASD, Aspergers, Autism, Autistic Shadow Traits, Laura Nagle, NAzASA, Neurotypical, promote social understanding, Social cognition, Social Thinking, Teacher and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Appreciate the Big Things: perhaps my shadow traits are showing

  1. Have fun! p.s. Shadow traits are awesome. 🙂


  2. A Quiet Week says:

    Wow! Seems like a very nice conference! I lived in New Mexico for 30+ years and I can tell you, up north it gets very chilly! I suspect the altitude is part of it.

    I love the idea of materials for an inclusive classroom setting. The spectrum tickles many people without a diagnosis and social skill can help every one to communicate better!

    Happy Trip!


    • Leah Kelley says:

      Exactly!! I agree with you! I’d also would love to add that the kind of interventions that build cognitive skills for dealing with social and emotional perspective taking are good for many who are not obviously dancing on the edges of the spectum. Children with anxiety, attachment issues, FASD, emotional dysregulation, depression, impulse control, and excecuive function challenges (to name but a few) would also benefit. That is the thing about what can be considered best practice for our kids with autism – the interventions that support the development of some of thier core challenges – benefit a wider variety of students in the regular education classroom! I recently had an ESL teacher share with me that these materials were going to be a wonderful match for her students new to speaking English .

      Thanks for your comment Lori.


  3. arianezurcher says:

    I am so pleased to hear you’re doing this! Safe travels and bring layers (of clothing, not hens!) By the way – I found you again, though this time I’ve added you to my bookmarks to I won’t lose you. Thanks for the tweet. Now if I could just figure out how to reply. Sometimes being NT sucks!


    • Ariane – have you discovered google reader yet? It’s by far my favorite blog-follower… basically all of my blogs go to google reader (which checks them for updates all the time), and whenever an update happens, it shows up. I only have to check one place, for the 150+ blogs that I follow. It’s great! (Also on twitter, there’s a little “reply” button you should be able to push and it automatically puts the person’s twitter “handle” in the response.)


      • arianezurcher says:

        Hi E. You are so thoughtful to write me about this. I’m looking at my google homepage, and forgive me for perhaps asking the obvious, is it the little eyeglasses icon on the far left? If I hover my cursor over it, it says “show reading list” and if I click on it a grey elongated vertical box appears. It looks as though I can add links, which I will do. As far as tweeting goes, I can’t figure out how to reply, but just to that person. I thought I was direct replying to someone who’d tweeted me and then found our entire conversation was public. (It didn’t matter, but it might be good to know how to do, in case it ever does matter.) I did find a tutorial about tweeting and when I have a free hour or so, will watch it! I’ll get there eventually!


    • Leah Kelley says:

      Thank you Ariane. I think I may have enough layers now! Also… although I packed a crazy array of stuff – I am please to report that now chickens made their way into my baggage. LOL


      • arianezurcher says:

        Good to know, that could have made your traveling a great deal more complicated! Glad you made it in one piece. (Weird expression.)


  4. renatabplus3 says:

    Sounds cool, in both senses of the word. What an incredible responsibility, I’m now in awe of you, I personally would be bricking it!


    • Leah Kelley says:

      Thanks Renata. It really is exciting… and this is the kind of work I have been doing with the university and with schools as well. So for me it is not at all uncomfortable – just an awesome opportunity to work in shaping the understanding I would like to see out there in the world. Hugs 🙂


  5. Erin says:

    I grew up in Flagstaff, AZ. At 7,000 feet the weather is much different then the rest of the state. I live in central Washington state now. It was 70 degrees farenheight yesterday! Unreal. Wish I could see your presenation.


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