Other People's Words

AWN interview with Taylor Morris, a 17 year old with Asperger Syndrome

Posted in Uncategorized by Tera on June 12, 2010

This is a transcript of [Autism Women’s Network’s](http://www.autismwomensnetwork.org “Autism Women’s Network official site”) interview with Taylor Morris, a 17-year-old woman with Aspeerger’s Syndrome, and her mother, Robin. Taylor’s website is [MeetTaylorMorris.com.](http://meettaylormorris.com/ “Meet Taylor Morris”)


Sharon daVanport: Greetings, everyone, and welcome to AWN Radio on Blogtalk. I am your host, Sharon daVanport, and today is Thursday, May 6, 2010. However, for our friends overseas, it is already Friday, May 7, so happy TGIF to all of you—especially our friends in Oz who said that they were going to be tuning in.

We have a great show planned for you with guest Taylor Morris, and Taylor’s going to be joined also by her mother, Robin. Taylor is a young lady on the autism spectrum with a diagnosis of Asperger’s and we will bring her on in just a few minutes. However, I just wanted to update everyone with a quick announcement for our regular listeners. We’re missing someone tonight. Tricia Kenney, my co-host, is a bit under the weather so she does send her hellos and is really disappointed that she can’t be here with us for Taylor’s interview. So cyberhugs going out to Tricia.

I don’t wanna waste any time here. I wanna get right to the interview, and bring Taylor and her mother on. I also want to let everyone know who is in the chat room that we do have a call-in number. If you do have comments or questions for Taylor, please feel free to call into the switchboard.

I am flying solo this evening, so I’m going to give a disclaimer ahead of time and let everyone know that switching back and forth from the switchboard and the chat room might be a little challenging, so if I miss a question here or there, I’m sorry ahead of time. But I’ll do my best to keep up with both. So, without further ado, let’s bring on Taylor and Robin. Hello, Taylor. Robin.

Taylor Morris:

Robin: Hi.

Sharon daVanport: How are you guys this evening?

Taylor Morris: I’m doing pretty well; how are you doing, mom?

Robin: I’m doing all right.

Sharon daVanport: [Laughter] So are you guys on separate phones?

Robin: Yes.

Sharon daVanport: Oh. Okay. All right. Well, I’m just so excited that we’re able to have Taylor on this evening and have her talk to our audience about her unique autism experience as a teenager and a female on the autism spectrum. I wanted to start out, Taylor, to let our audience know how old are you?

Taylor Morris: I’m 17 years old, and I’m in my junior year of high school.

Sharon daVanport: Oh, okay. How old were you when you were diagnosed? Was it 18 months, did I read, or?

Taylor Morris: I think I was 24 months.

Sharon daVanport: Did you always know that you were on the autism spectrum from your earliest memories?

Taylor Morris: I knew there was something different about me from the very beginning. I didn’t recognize it was actually a diagnosable difference until about fourth grade.

Sharon daVanport: Okay. And, Robin, did you have an actual sit-down talk with Taylor and explain to her her neurological differences and her unique perspective and how she processes information being on the spectrum?

Robin: We didn’t do it that way. The way that I presented it was that: “Everybody has different kinds of brains and thinks different ways, and this is how you think.” It wasn’t about a diagnosis or about a big event. It was just part of our life. I said: “There are positives and negatives about the way you think, just like there’s positives and negatives about the way I think, so we just have to work differently around it.” But we tried not to make it a big deal.

Sharon daVanport: Right. Do you recall the age that Taylor was when you had that conversation?

Robin: It was a conversation that we always had. Whenever there was a situation that came up—there was a conflict—we would just work with her brain the way that her brain works. Again, it was not a “moment.” It was just how we talked.

Sharon daVanport: It was a way of life.

Robin: Yeah.

Sharon daVanport: It really is, isn’t it? It’s just who you are, right, Taylor?

Taylor Morris: Yeah. A lot of people ask me: “Is it weird for you?” I just think: “This is my life; this is what’s normal. It’s you all that’s weird.” [Laughter] It’s just me.

Sharon daVanport: When I watched your videos, I like the way you put that. I’ve heard you say that during your video broadcasts: that everyone else is different. You’re just who you are. It’s normal to you. [Laughter] As a female on the spectrum, I can totally relate to that.

As your mother guided you along your path of neurodifferences and learning to embrace who you are, Taylor, was it something that you were always able to accept? Or did you have moments where you struggled from time to time in accepting your differences?

Taylor Morris: I don’t think I’ve ever really struggled, just because of how high-functioning I am. I could still function as a normal person, but I was just different than most normal people. I just function differently, so it’s just like: “I’m different. Okay.” I can still do everything that everyone else does, it’s just different for me. I’ve been very accepting, ’cause I don’t think there’s any reason for me to deny anything. It wasn’t hindering me very much.

Sharon daVanport: Right. Do you think that being accepted by your peers in school played a big part in that, because you weren’t considered an outcast or the geek or someone that people targeted? Or did you have issues with bullying?

Taylor Morris: I’d say in elementary school and in middle school, definitely. I was totally the outcast. I was that smart girl who doesn’t have a clue. I was the intelligent ditz, and that’s part of the reason I transferred to the high school that I go to now. I wanted to go to a program where there were more intelligent people and not judgemental people. Now at this high school, I love it. They’re very accepting, very cool people. But yes, I did have that in elementary and in middle school.

Sharon daVanport: Right. Robin, how did you address those instances when you saw your daughter struggling with being the outcast or not being accepted?

Robin: It’s sort of hard to explain. In a lot of ways, I didn’t realize. We had gotten to the point where she didn’t need an IEP by the fourth grade, and she was basically not in the system anymore or anything, so for a while there we were in the sort of mindset that this was going away. I at that point didn’t realize that Asperger’s was going to be a continuing, permanent piece of our life. It just seemed like it was going away.

So when she would talk about struggling with school, I just related back to when I struggled with school. I would be compassionate and that sort of thing. But on the one hand, she didn’t talk about it a lot. On the other hand, it happened to me and I wasn’t on the spectrum. So I think at that particular point, if I’d have realized the degree to which she was still struggling specifically because of the Asperger’s, I think I might have handled it differently. But as it was, I just handled it like: “Your mom really loves you and I hate that happening.”

Taylor Morris: Also, I think I encouraged that, because like most kids, you don’t wanna seem like a loser to your own parents. So I often would not tell my mom about it, because I didn’t want her to think anything was wrong.

Sharon daVanport: Aw.

Robin: Silly, silly girl. [Laughter]

Sharon daVanport: You know, I can totally relate to that. I don’t know if you can relate to this, Taylor, but I can remember feeling ashamed and just embarrassed to tell my parents about the bullying that I went through in grade school and junior high. Is that more like what you’re saying, Taylor?

Taylor Morris: Oh, totally. And I wouldn’t. I almost felt as though that wasn’t my mother’s problem: that was my problem, and my problem only.

Sharon daVanport: How did you personally deal with that, then? Was it your down time and your alone time where you processed this? Can you walk us through, so others on the spectrum can know how your processing of all of this took place when you were bullied or targeted, I should say?

Taylor Morris: I think when I was bullied, for the most part, I would just work on avoiding those people. The less contact, the better. I would avoid those people like the plague. If I had to deal with them, I just wouldn’t talk to them. I’d pretty much refuse to interact with them and if they bullied me, with the temper that autistic people are known to have I’d either spit back at them pretty fast (I was known to fight back) or I would just ignore it and kinda stop it, and then just kinda relax and forget about it.

Sharon daVanport: That reminds me of how Temple Grandin said she threw a book one time at someone—

Taylor Morris: Oh, God.

Sharon daVanport: —and got very angry. It just really set her off when she was targeted. Did you have consequences in school for some of your behaviors when you fought back?

Taylor Morris: No, not really. I really should’ve, but no. I can think of two things. One time, a kid next to me in a locker bank, he was a jerk to me every day ’cause we’d go to our lockers every day. Finally one day I just hit him over the head with one of our locks. It was a detachable lock, and I never got in trouble for it and he stopped bothering me. The other time, I hot-glued an object to a kid’s hair in Tech Ed.

And no, I never got punished for those things, because I think I had a reputation of being a good kid. There were never any consequences for it. I never hit kids; I never did anything that would cause profuse bleeding or lead to very serious consequences. I had enough of a can on my temper.

Sharon daVanport: Now, Robin, is this the first you’re hearing of some of this? [Laughter]

Robin: I didn’t hear about the hair. [Laughter] I did know, I think, about the hitting with the locker.

Sharon daVanport: What about the glue gun?

Robin: I know, the glue gun. That’s new to me. Given how much she put up with, I think: “Go, girl.” She wasn’t ever taken to the principal’s office for fighting and she wasn’t considered a troublemaker. I found out more and more as she went on, but she was definitely seeing herself in a very low self-image way at school. But at home, it was a different story.

So I would tell parents: If it seems like everything’s going okay, it might not be. I had someone else say: “What do you regret about it?” It would be that period of time when I didn’t really know that I needed to be looking at that.

Sharon daVanport: Right. I hear my mother say the same thing, and of course I’m 45. My mother looks back on a lot of the supports she wishes that she would’ve been able to get for me. However, I think it made me tough. Do you think that it has developed within you a resilience, Taylor?

Taylor Morris: Oh, totally. Now she talks as though she could’ve done better, she could’ve done better. I personally think, in all honesty, one: just the environment I was in, there was nothing she could’ve done, even if she was more on board. I think that’s part of the reason I didn’t tell her. And two: Yeah, I think it makes me a much stronger person for it, because if you’re babied your entire life, once you get in the real world you’re not gonna know what to do.

Sharon daVanport: Right. Now, we hear a lot in the autism community about the spectrum being so vast and wide and different autism experiences. We know that there are many autistics who are non-verbal and who rely on augmentative communication if it’s available to them. How would you describe your autism experience, when it comes to your strengths and then we’ll get into your challenges after that. What do you embrace most about your strengths?

Taylor Morris: For my strengths, I’d say one, the intelligence, I think, is pretty prevalent in the autism community. You almost never hear of a dumb autistic person; they’re very, very smart. Very intuitive, almost, when it comes to academic things. I think that really helps. I get so far ahead in school. I think the other thing that autism helps with is my work ethic. I think that the autism makes me almost able to focus more. It’s great for being a student, and it makes me able to succeed in the hard program that I’m in.

Sharon daVanport: Right. Did you have a good support base when it comes to friendships? Did you have a handful of friends? One friend that you really considered your go-to person, the person that you hung out with? Or did you have a group of friends?

Taylor Morris: Well, it had always been I have one close friend who’s the go-to friend; we’re tight. And then there’s a group of about ten people that are your close friends, but you wouldn’t share as much personal stuff with them. And then you have about 30 acquaintances. I think that’s how my social circle’s always worked. Just only one or two personal friends, and the rest are “chill” friends. Very few of my friends know about my autism. Let’s put it that way.

Sharon daVanport: And is that a personal choice that you’ve made?

Taylor Morris: Yeah.

Sharon daVanport: Why is that?

Taylor Morris: I made that choice because I didn’t think it was necessary for them to know. Especially as I’ve started this website and stuff, I’ve become more and more open about it and more of them are knowing now. But before I just felt, I didn’t want them to label me. I didn’t want to seem more different than I already was. I love being different, but at the same time I don’t want them to have a reason to judge me. I want you to judge me for being different just ’cause I’m different—not because I have a title.

Sharon daVanport: Right. Oh, I get that. I do. You want to be accepted for who you are as an individual? Is that what you’re saying?

Taylor Morris: Right. I don’t want them to pity me because of a title or treat me different ’cause of a title. I want them to treat me how they’d treat me as if I were any other person.

Sharon daVanport: Okay. Robin, I’d like to start with some sensory differences that you recognized early on with Taylor, and then I’d like to bring Taylor back into the conversation on some of those differences that she deals with now and how she handles it. When she was a young child—you can start as young as you want—what were some of the significant sensory differences that you noticed as a parent?

Robin: At two, she was diagnosed at about 50 percent, so she was at the one-year mark for pretty much everything. But certain clothes would bother her. There were certain textures that she just—the biggest thing, I think, was the textures for her, specifically with the sensory [issues]. She was extremely sensitive to water, and she wouldn’t take a bath for a very, very long time as a little girl. We finally got her in a swimming pool at the special ed school after a very, very long time of coaching [laughter] and then we were able to go to the bathtub. There were sensitivities to those kinds of things, but she didn’t have extreme sensitivities like some do.

Sharon daVanport: Would you agree with that, Taylor? That your sensitivities were not extreme?

Taylor Morris: I would agree, totally. I don’t have that level of sensitivity. I understand the sensory issues, but it’s never a situation where I would break down ’cause something was so uncomfortable. Yeah, I think the main thing is still just textures: certain foods, certain clothes that I just don’t like the touch of, the taste on my tongue.

Sharon daVanport: The textures of food.

Taylor Morris: Right. That would be anything spongy, like eggplant or something like that.

Sharon daVanport: Does it make you gag?

Taylor Morris: No; it’s just I don’t wanna eat it. I could force myself to swallow it, but I wouldn’t want to. It’s not even the taste; it’s the same thing with tofu chicken. It tastes great, but the texture just bothers me.

Sharon daVanport: How did you explain that to your mother when you were presented with certain food items and it was something that was a sensitivity? Were you able to find the words? Because I know personally that I wasn’t. I used to say to my mother: “Well, peas tickle my teeth” and my mother would just giggle and laugh and say: “Okay, well your teeth can’t tickle.” I’m like: “Well, mine do.” [Laughter] And now she gets it. Now my mother’s like: “Oh, Sharon’s teeth tickled.” To this day, I can’t eat peas; they tickle my teeth. I am here to tell you: they tickle my teeth. Were you able to use words?

Taylor Morris: No. Usually when I was young, I would either say: “I don’t like the food.” In my mind, that’s a reason to not like food: taste isn’t the only reason. So I’d just say: “I don’t like it.” Or I would just bear it and eat it, ’cause I would think it was just something wrong with me. I remember several foods that my parents used to make that I’d eat, even though I hated the texture, just ’cause I didn’t wanna be rude.

Sharon daVanport: Right. [Laughter] Now, Robin, did you intuitively understand that it was a sensitivity with her senses when she would say: “I don’t like it”? Or did you think she just didn’t like it?

Robin: Well, I would just say it was that she didn’t like it. But I have a very wide range of acceptance of who my kids are and who I am, and we’re all very different. So if someone said: “I don’t like it,” that’s all you had to say. If she doesn’t tell me, then obviously we’re gonna keep making it. [Laughter] But pretty much we’ve accommodated all of us in different ways, and that’s just our family style. We’re very accepting of what you like and what you don’t like, and what your style is and what it’s not. It didn’t always come under the terms of Asperger’s.

Sharon daVanport: Right. Do you think that perhaps it might’ve been more helpful as a parent if she had been able to say: “This is how it makes me feel,” so that you would understand that it was a sensory difference? I know that you say overall it didn’t matter, because of your overall acceptance and being able to go with the flow of the family. But seeing as it is typical for individuals on the spectrum to have sensory challenges or differences, do you feel that it would’ve been something that you would’ve liked to have known or made a difference?

Robin: Yeah. I think I would’ve been interested to know that. Whenever there’s something that comes up—something just came up today. We were talking and it kinda clicked: “I don’t think Taylor sees it this way.” Both my husband and I went: “Oh, right! That’s probably what it is. That’s why this keeps happening.” So I’m always interested in that.

But I think what I would do is I would, instead of using myself as an example in that particular one, just ’cause of our style, I would say to other parents that if a child says: “I don’t like this” and it’s really persistent and you know that you have some of these issues, you could ask more deeply. Taylor wouldn’t have known to say: “I don’t like the texture,” beyond “I just don’t like it.”

But asking a question, that is definitely something I have used as a tool for us. When I sense that there’s something more than just what is an average, normal, everyday problem, I ask a lot of questions. I try to figure out where the issue is. I know there’s potential in there for a better plan to work with if I ask those questions and figure out where things are really going wrong.

Sharon daVanport: Okay. Now, Taylor, I remember recently watching one of your videos where you talked about a sensory difference. I believe it is with fleece. Is that correct? How does fleece make you feel? If you could describe it, if you could paint a picture for our audience, when you come into contact with fleece, how do you feel?

Taylor Morris: Not as dramatic as this, but like running into an electric fence and you just have the instinct to run away—to run back. When I touch fleece, I just wanna go: “Ew! I don’t wanna touch that anymore.” It’s almost like you’re touching something hot and you wanna take your finger off.

Sharon daVanport: Okay. I think that’s good for parents, especially, to know. That’s why I really have appreciated watching your videos. As a parent—I’m parenting a child on the spectrum, a teenager—and I know that just hearing how you relay some of these things has been really helpful to me to know that these things not only exist personally for me, but to go the extra mile and ask my son. [Laughter]

I wanna get into some of the things that you enjoy doing. You talk about having a passion for running. Has that always been something that you’ve done all your life, or is it something that you started doing in junior high or high school?

Taylor Morris: I started freshman year in high school. I started because I wanted to challenge myself. I’d say my ego was pretty high at that time; I was pretty good at everything I did, so I wanted to challenge myself by doing something athletic—which I couldn’t do for most of my life ’cause I had been overweight. I wanted to challenge myself by seeing if I could be good at something athletic. That’s where my running started, and when I actually ran more I actually started liking running for the sport rather than just the challenge.

Sharon daVanport: Now, do you feel that you like running also because it’s a sport that you can do not necessarily with a group but as a sport that you can enjoy on your own as well?

Taylor Morris: Yeah. We do recovery runs in the woods, and I just love running in the woods and just feeling the breeze and just being at peace with myself. As far as competing goes, I actually prefer to compete. I feel almost lonely, as if I would’ve wanted to have been on a team sport. That’s why I like cross-country better, ’cause it is a team running sport.

Sharon daVanport: Okay. So you do enjoy group activities?

Taylor Morris: Yes, yes. Especially for sports. I love working together.

Sharon daVanport: What kind of group activities do you enjoy, other than the running and the sports? Are there any other group activities that you prefer to do with more than one or two of your friends?

Taylor Morris: Some school activities, particularly in math or in science, I like the group thinking. I’m in Calculus right now, which is very challenging and we work through these hard problems together and we can have a lot of fun. We can make jokes. We’re in this exclusive group in the program that I’m in. It’s a very small, exclusive group, so everybody knows each other; everybody’s generally friendly. Yeah, I love working in groups, to work through a problem that I couldn’t do on my own.

Sharon daVanport: What are some group activities that overstimulate you, where maybe you feel very exhausted or tired after doing, which is something I hear a lot from people on the spectrum? Is that something you experience as well?

Taylor Morris: I’d say more like parties. I don’t go to parties much at all, but when I do go to a party-type environment, I get overstimulated very quickly and I kinda just whisper to a friend: “Let’s get outta here.” I’d also say groups when I’m not familiar, when I’m not comfortable with the people that I’m with, I wanna get out of there fast. It’s all about the people. It’s not even about the setting so much; it’s who I’m with. Am I comfortable with those people?

Sharon daVanport: What are some of the goings-on that would make you feel uncomfortable in a group setting?

Taylor Morris: If a teacher randomly assigns groups and I get into a group of people that I am not comfortable with or that I do not like, I will shut down, essentially. I’ll either do all the work myself or I just won’t interact with the people at all, just ’cause I’m not comfortable with them. The same thing at parties. If I’m in a not-comfortable situation with not-comfortable people, I’ll just back out.

Sharon daVanport: Do you find it easy to advocate for yourself in situations like that, with teachers. I know that you said that you whisper to a friend if it’s a party situation that you would prefer to leave. How about with school?

Taylor Morris: I grit my teeth and bear it. I don’t wanna be at the pity of the teacher, saying: “Oh, I don’t like this group. Can I go to that one?” I don’t wanna look awkward in front of everybody. Most people would think: “Oh, why couldn’t you work with that group for 20 minutes?” I just deal with it. I think it’s not a big enough issue that I should really be pulling the attention of someone else.

Sharon daVanport: Do you feel that your teachers do not hold that against you? They go ahead and accept your work? Even if you were assigned to do it with a group, they’re okay with you doing it by yourself?

Taylor Morris: If I did all the work in a group, it usually makes the other kids look bad, quite frankly. The way our school works is it reflects poorly on them.

Sharon daVanport: [Laughter] Right.

Taylor Morris: [I’m not getting?] any extra credit, but…

Sharon daVanport: You’re saying a few things that remind me of some advice that Dr. Tony Attwood has been very open and outspoken about, when it comes to advising females on the spectrum. You said one of them is to be able to have someone, like when you go to a party, to be able to whisper to them and say: “It’s time to go” or find a quiet place for you to go and sit if you don’t have that opportunity.

The one thing I would like you to elaborate on—and also you as well, Robin—is the intuitiveness. Dr. Attwood has spoken a lot about females on the spectrum being very intuitive. He likens it to someone who has a deficit in their eyesight, so they have extra good hearing. So he feels like with a communication difference with those of us on the spectrum that we compensate and make up for it in other ways. Overall, he’s said that in his clinical experience, he’s seen that it shows through when it comes to that intuitiveness. Has your intuitiveness been something that you have always understood, or did it take you a while to learn to trust your gut?

Taylor Morris: Oh, I’ve always trusted my gut. I can’t speak on the spot, the right words, you know. With that group of “it girls,” the clique, you gotta dress in the right clothes and you gotta say the right thing, and I can’t do that. But intuitively, I just know which people are good people and which aren’t. I know that sounds odd or judgemental, but for me it’s very intuitive: Is this a person I wanna be around? I can usually tell within ten seconds of looking at them. I follow that gut; if I feel really good about a person, they more than likely become my best friend.

Sharon daVanport: Would your advice be to others on the spectrum—and we’re addressing females as well, specifically, through the Autism Women’s Network—would it be that you would advise them to not second-guess their gut? I know at the forum on our website, we have a lot of conversations going on about that. Many others on the spectrum might second-guess and think: “Oh, but maybe I’m wrong.” Then they get themselves in a bad situation. What would your advice be to someone when they get that initial gut instinct, to be able to follow through and have that confidence? Where do you find that confidence, Taylor?

Taylor Morris: I just trust that I wouldn’t be having that intuition if it were wrong. The purpose of the intuition, I think, is my mind trying to compensate for what it can’t do. It’s usually right, and if it’s ever wrong, there was nothing I could’ve done about it. That’s what my intuition said. I follow it every time, and it’s never, never turned me wrong. If anything, I might accidentally judge a person and then they end up being nice. That’s the only way it’s ever wrong. It’s never wrong the other way.

Sharon daVanport: I think that’s worth talking a little bit about in a few minutes—about misinterpreting someone and misjudging them the other way. I don’t wanna forget to go back to that, but while we’re on the intuition, I’d like to have you speak to that now, Robin, as a parent. With Taylor, did you always see that she had a very intuitive sense about her? I follow your website, and I know your meditation, how you walk people through understanding who they are. I can see that Taylor has really, really grown from that as you’re being a parent. But is it something that you were always able to tap into and encourage her with, or is it something that you also had to just learn along the way? How was that with you and Taylor?

Robin: I’ve always been extremely intuitive. I’m an extreme intuitive and empathic; Taylor’s empathic. That means if someone’s upset and she’s sitting next to them, she pretty much can’t help but take on being upset and feel it as well. I remember one of her kindergarten teachers came up to me and said: “You’re gonna think I’m crazy, but why does Taylor start talking to me on the playground about the things I’m thinking about?” [Laughter] Well, she’s just a very intuitive girl!

So I think she has a really strong intuition. But I truly, truly believe that our intuition can be followed and trusted. As Taylor says, it’s much more likely that we might miss something, but if something is there, it’s there for a reason. It’s a warning sign. That is one of the beauties, I think, of the Asperger’s: being able to tune in in a different way. I encourage her deeply to trust what she feels and have helped teach her some of the tools of that.

Sharon daVanport: Right. Now I’m gonna go over here to the chat board really quick. I see some people are making comments, and I wanna see if I’m missing any kind of questions or comments here.

Robin: Can I say one thing about the social side for Taylor, that I think might be valuable?

Sharon daVanport: Sure.

Robin: She seems to hold it together really well at school and all the places that she needs [to be,] but part of the reason why she can is when she comes home we all know she needs a floor to herself to pace. Or she needs us to go away so that she has some space to herself. It’s built into our life to try to give her that space, to not crowd her.

She doesn’t tend to have a lot of friends over; she doesn’t want the friends over. They could come over any time, but that’s just not really her style. I think she gets enough of it at school, but then part of her process…When we’re looking at colleges, one of our criteria is she has to be able to get a private room. Without the down time, she can’t do the up time. I just think that’s an important piece of the puzzle to put in there. We have do design that for her, or she gets really wonky.

Sharon daVanport: That’s an excellent point. If you could just lay it out for parents who are listening and say what you said again. But if you had to say to them in a step-by-step method, if you had to say to them that your child needs that down time, that is natural for them. What advice would you give to them? I know you just said it, but talk to them personally.

Robin: Absolutely. The way that I see it is that all of the things, all of the behaviors—the flapping of the hands or whatever the gestures are, the pacing, whatever it is—that is what your child needs. No, they can’t do it necessarily all day out in public and those kinds of things if they’re gonna find their way in the world, but it should never be shut down all the time. There should be a time when they can do whatever they want without shame, without ridicule, without “You shouldn’t do that.”

If they wanna do it privately, which is Taylor’s style—she likes to pace without anybody else on the floor. She likes to put away the dishes after dinner, but only when we’re not in the kitche—fine. Great. Whatever you need.

Everyone deserves to have what they need, and it’s not wrong to flap your hands if that’s what makes you feel sane, or pace or whatever. My advice is to make sure that there’s time when they’re not being prohibited from doing whatever it is that soothes them, for some period of time every day, or as needed. That will facilitate the ability to hold it together in other environments for longer and longer.

Sharon daVanport: Okay. Taylor, what are some of the stiimming behaviors that you find calm you down?

Taylor Morris: Mostly just pacing, but when I pace I lose all concept of the physical world, so I find that I talk to myself—kinda more mumbling, not full articulation. I notice I do move my hands and shift them. I’ll rub my fingers between each other, just really random things. The only thing that’s solid and defined, the required thing, is the pacing. The rest of it comes in while I’m in my own little world.

Sharon daVanport: This is a great interview. I’m really enjoying your willingness, both of you, to open up about all of these topics. I do have someone in the chat room who says that they are in queue, so I’m gonna go over to the switchboard. Someone who wants to come on and make a comment or have a question for you, Taylor. Is that okay if we go ahead and go to the switchboard?

Taylor Morris: That’s fine.

Sharon daVanport: Okay. Let me get over there really quick. Susan?

Susan: Yes. Hi, Taylor. I’m your number one fan.

Taylor Morris: Oh, thank you!

Robin: I know what person that is. That is your fan club person, Taylor! [Laughter]

Susan: Yes.

Taylor Morris: Wow. Small world! Hello.

Susan: It is a small world. In one of your videos, yout talked about whenever you lose reality of here and you go into your own place, could you expand on that, as far as where you go whenever you’re pacing and what that is like?

Taylor Morris: Thanks for calling. I go into pretty much an alternate universe. It’s still Earth, in a sense, but all different people. It’s very much a fantasy world, in terms of there’s more than just humans here. There’s all sorts of different species and creatures and it’s very different from this world. I think the key thing is that I do not exist in that world. It is all third-person.

So I’m a camera watching these people go about their lives. I think that’s what makes that world so radically different than this one. In reality, I’m just pacing and flapping my hands or whatever, but in that world I’m following these very exciting epic journeys. I think that’s the summary of what my other world is.

Susan: Are you in control of those journeys, or what’s going on in that world?

Taylor Morris: Oh, totally. Yeah. It’s all under my control; they’re all my stories. I would almost call it “storywriting 2.0.” It’s video storytelling. Sometimes I think about writing these stories down in a book, so that other people could read it. But it would just take too long.

Susan: [Laughter] What would you say to parents that have young children and are listening to this radio interview and they see their child pacing and they don’t understand it? Sometimes they may want to cause them not to go into that world or shake them out of it. Do you think that parents should allow their children to experience that?

Taylor Morris: Uh, yeah. [Laughter] If they don’t, I would consider that borderline cruel. If the kids don’t have any time to be in their own world, it’s almost denying part of their identity. If you have an autistic kid, that’s just part of it. You can’t deny it. Definitely the kid shouldn’t be in that world the entire time. They need to learn how to exist in reality, but to never let them go into that world? Like my mom said, I go wonky within a couple days if I can’t go into my own world.

Susan: As a mom, I was so left out. Is there any way that I could participate in that with them? Or is that just something that y’all just have to do on your own, independently?

Taylor Morris: It’s our own world. My mom could never join my world. She has no concept of it, ’cause she’s not autistic herself. She has no concept of what that world would be like. I can describe it, but there’s no multiple-person participation. I’m physically gone from this world. I’m just a zombie pacing around. There is no me left in this world, when I’M IN that world.

Susan: Thank you for taking my call. I just find it very fascinating. I appreciate her willingness to share so much of her intimate world, so much of her personal self.

Taylor Morris: Thank you for calling in.

Sharon daVanport: Yes; thank you for calling in, Susan.

[Susan hangs up]

Taylor, I had a question from something that Susan brought up. When you talk about going to your place—an alternate universe, as you call it—what benefits do you personally get from that? Is it a time where you rejuvenate or you just sit back and relax? Can you describe that?

Taylor Morris: It’s the time my conscious mind turns off, in a sense. I don’t have to worry about that assignment due tomorrow; I don’t have to worry about the track meet the next week. That’s all gone. The world I go into is my full existence for that time, and I get to experience whatever I want.

I’m a very athletic person, and I like doing epic things. I’ll have my characters go through boot camp or something intense, and I get to experience that as if were real, but without actually doing it. It’s just so much fun; I feel sorry for people who can’t do that.

Sharon daVanport: I’m looking forward to a book. This sounds like a book, Taylor. [Laughter] It really does.

Taylor Morris: The way I think of it is, I’m thinking of writing one of my character’s stories, a sub-character.

Sharon daVanport: What character in your alternate universe, if you had a choice, would you highlight?

Taylor Morris: Most of them would at least get their own Harry Potter- length series, if I wrote a story on the main characters. The sub-character I was thinking of is a granddaughter of one of the main characters, and essentially, she has to go to a military school before she can be in her position of power as a general. So it’s just a story about her getting through military school. She was never in the children’s military camp; she got added in a bit late, so she’s the odd one out. But she ends up doing really well.

Sharon daVanport: Well, Taylor, this is so awesome that you’re sharing this with our audience. For you, Robin, I’d like for you to speak to the concerns that some parents. They say: “My child talk about some”—well, they call it “bizarre.” Now I don’t see that what Taylor’s saying is bizarre. They may not mean it in a bad way, but for lack of a better word, that’s typically what I hear when I receive e-mails. Did you ever worry when you knew that she was talking about these different characters and alternate universe? Or was it something you always knew from a very young age that she did? How did you as a parent—?

Robin: Yeah, I did know from an early age, because occasionally she would talk about those things. I remember when she was really little, she would wake up in the morning and before she was fully awake I would say: “So, where did you go in your sleep?” and she would tell me about these incredible…

I remember one day she said: “I was at the sun,” and I said: “Really? How is it?” and she said: “Well, hot.” [Laughter] You think? [Laughter]

Sharon daVanport: How literal of you, Taylor. [Laughter] “Hot.”

Robin: First of all, I’m a fiction writer, so I have a sense of the other worlds that we go into when we create this, so it’s not completely foreign to me. But to speak directly to the parents: This is simply a reality of kids with autism. We hear from all of these young people that are writing Taylor and they’re saying: “Oh, yeah, I have a world like that. I never knew anyone else did.” Or: “I never knew that no one else did. I thought everyone had these other worlds.”

So whatever it is, it’s standard-issue, for the most part, to have a very deep, rich life going on in the imagination or wherever it is in the brain. It seems like they’re checked out, and they are gone. They look gone, but they’re not doing nothing. If you can think of them as little writers or little directors of TV shows. They’ve got this world going on.

I really believe Taylor has learned a lot. She puts her characters—this is what she’s told me—she puts her characters in situations and even though she’s not trying to use that to learn something, later on she realizes that she has learned something. The characters are often older than her and in situations she’s not been in. I actually think this is a way for her to exist and to experience things.

I also know that she controls that world. This is what I would say to the parents: They don’t get to control very much as kids here. It’s sensory overload; it’s all of these different things that they’re put through the wringers, all that sort of thing. They don’t get a lot of choices, and in this world, they get to be king and queen. That feels really relieving. Nothing’s gonna happen in that world that they’re not ready for. I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s soothing.

Sharon daVanport: Wow. You mentioned, Robin, that Taylor looks gone. I relate to that with the e-mails that I get from parents who are frightened and say: “It seems like I can’t reach my child,” or “They seem gone. They’re not there.” You get it; you know she’s not [really gone.] Can you describe the look? Even if you can’t describe the look, can you advise parents on how they should respond to that when they see their child that way?

Robin: Yeah, absolutely. When we would see her “gone,” if you will, first of all I didn’t wanna frighten her out of it, although we do all the time. We come upstairs and don’t realize she’s pacing and we scare her. But knowing that she’s off in another world, that’s great.

What I was concerned about was that I didn’t know always if she was aware that she was gone. I think in the beginning, she probably wasn’t as fully aware that she was gone. I knew that was a real problem if she was out in public or at school or things like that. What I did was I taught her to become aware when she was in the other world, and to come in and out of it with more ease. I would say to her: “Wow, are you aware that your hands are flapping right now?” Not that it’s bad or to stop that or anything, it’s just: “Wow. Are you aware that you’re doing that?”

You could see her come out of it and become aware of her hands and be back. She oftentimes wouldn’t even answer the question that I asked, but it did bring her out in a gentle way. We brought her to a place where she could become aware of what was happening more seamlessly. Because she was conscious of it, she became conscious of when she went in and when she went out, as opposed to it just happening. That’s what my understanding of what we did was, but your understanding might be different, Taylor.

Taylor Morris: I don’t have any conscious memory of back when I couldn’t tell when I was in or out of the world. That was when I was younger; my memory’s all kind of blended. But, yeah, I think I can come in and out of my world very easily: if I run into something or if an alarm goes off, or if I just lose track of my thought. It’s not hard to come in and out of my world, and what Mom described, that’s the way she taught me, as opposed to a lot of children who don’t have any control over it and they just slip in and out. Even I do still, today. Even earlier when Mom was talking on this phone conversation, I started to slip into my own world and I had to get myself out, ’cause I need to pay attention.

Sharon daVanport: [Laughter] Really, you’re not “gone” like some parents fear, like their child is lost or autism has stolen their child. Are you describing that it’s not that, it is actually a place where you’re recuperating, rejuvenating? You’re there, you’re just learning to become more aware when you’re there of your surroundings? Is that correct?

Taylor Morris: Yeah. It’s not like the kid goes “ka-poof!” when they’re in their own other world. It’s not like their mind or soul disappears. It’s just in a different place, and they’re still very much thinking and interacting within that world, as far as I can tell, from my experience. It’s just, you can’t see it ’cause I’m not here. It doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything.

Sharon daVanport: Right. Wow, this is fascinating. I really think that this is a great conversation to have. I know a lot of parents fear that their… We hear those buzzwords like: “The child’s been stolen;” they’re “not here.” You’re really validating that it’s not in essence that. It’s something that you’ve created for a purpose—for a healing purpose.

Taylor Morris: Right. Yeah. I don’t know what I’d do without it.

Sharon daVanport: I would like to ask you, Taylor: I know you’re very aware of different autism experiences and that yours is unique to you, as all of ours is unique to each of us. What would you say to parents who might say to you: “How lucky you are, Taylor, that you have the ability to speak for yourself. How lucky you are to be able to do this. My child can’t.” They have this whole different set of concerns. How would you still, as someone on the spectrum, encourage these parents to still embrace their child’s neurology.

Taylor Morris: It’s very hard, especially ’cause autism is such a fingerprint. Every situation is different. But there’s so many complications and everything that I just say to parents: “You gotta learn to love your child for who they are.” To a certain extent they can grow, but they can’t change. Autism isn’t something that you can just cure with an antidote. You gotta love your kids for who they are. If you don’t, your child’s really losing something.

A lot of kinds of autistic people, they don’t have a lot of things in life most people have. But to not have the support of their parents or the full joy of their parents on top of that, I think, is just a devastating blow to those kids. I just gotta say: “Treat your kids like they have something to do in life. Don’t have this attitude of moping or anything. Experience all the joy you can with your kids, because if you feel happy with your kids, I think the kid will respond. I really do.”

Sharon daVanport: They’ll sense that, right? Is that what you’re saying.

Taylor Morris: Oh, totally. Just ’cause your kid doesn’t talk or any of that…even when I didn’t talk, I loved how much my parents loved me. I can’t even imagine it being any different for different kids. Not even on the autism spectrum, but just in general. That love is so crucial, and I think that love is a lot of what carried me through in my life.

Sharon daVanport: Right. Our switchboard is just lighting up, so I’m going to go to another call if that’s okay with both of you. [Laughter]

Taylor Morris: Fine.

Caller: Hi, Taylor. I have a six-year-old who’s on the spectrum, and he tells himself stories. He does a lot of stuff that sounds similar to what perhaps you do. He has very rich stories, and so creative and just so impressive. He just seems to really need it, and we recognize that it seems to be a real tool to him to sort of organize himself and it feels good to him.

But we sometimes have a hard time reaching him. The other thing is, he’ll do it in the morning when he’s trying to get ready for school. He’ll go into his storylines, and he’s hard to reconnect with. When he does reconnect, it’s almost like he’s woken up. I just wondered if, when you started to do that, if you were really young and if it got easier for you as you got older to reconnect?

Taylor Morris: Along with what my mom was saying earlier, she would say: “Do you realize you’re flapping your hands?” I think she would gently make me realize that this is not a fully awake state. There is nothing wrong with it, or anything, but it’s not fully awake. I think it does get easier as I get older, ’cause when I was 10 I would hide myself away, pace a little bit, make sure my parents didn’t hear me. I think he will be a very successful young man who will learn how to cope with this more and more as he gets older, as long as you encourage him, and the more you make him aware without making him feel ashamed.

Caller: Okay, good. I thought it was a valuable tool. I just didn’t know if I should help him now start to be more aware—if there was something I could do, or of that was something he perhaps would learn on his own. Thank you so much.

Taylor Morris: Yeah.

Sharon daVanport: Thank you for calling.

Caller: Thanks for hosting this show. This is so valuable; I really appreciate it.

Sharon daVanport: Oh, you’re welcome.

Caller: Bye.

[Caller hangs up].

Sharon daVanport: Okay, I’m gonna go right to another call so that we can get as many calls in here as possible.

Lindsey Nebeker: Hi, this is Lindsey Nebeker.

Sharon daVanport: Now, for all of you who may not know Lindsey, she is on the board of directors with our organization, with the Autism Women’s Network. I’m just so happy that you called in, Lindsey.

Lindsey Nebeker: Oh, absolutely. Taylor, first of all, I just wanted to thank you for coming on to the show today and sharing your story. I think a lot of people who listen to this are gonna be very inspired and I’m pretty impressed, myself. I would encourage you to keep remaining confident and strong, and just keep sharing your story. I think it’s just wonderful how you’ve really embraced this. When I was 17, that wasn’t my situation.

I’m 28 and I do have a diagnosis of autism. I’m also dating a guy who also has autism himself. Over the years we both have been giving workshops and seminars and writing articles and being interviewed about dating and autism and relationships. So that’s a particular interest I have in mind when I’m doing research and studies. I just could not resist having to ask you if you ever have had interest in dating. Have you ever experimented around with dating guys? Do you have any interest at all to pursue a relationship one day or get married? I know these are probably very, very odd, abstract questions, but I didn’t know if that ever popped in your head.

Taylor Morris: I’d be happy to answer. The way I always work is, it seems at the beginning of every school year I get a crush on a new guy. I always think I’d like to date him, but then I think: “He’s not really like me. I’d better just shove it.” [Laughter] So I definitely have the interest; it’s totally there. But then I realize: “My schoolwork’s more valuable; I should probably just keep it in my fantasy.”

Lindsey Nebeker: Yeah. Yeah, that’s understandable. I think I was that way, too, Taylor, absolutely, during school. I was definitely a complete nerd and so I would often not really pursue my crushes. There would always be some guy that I was not interested in at all that would be trying to pursue me. Do you ever get those, too?

Taylor Morris: I think I’ve had three guys ask me out this year, and I’ve had to turn them all down, just ’cause I didn’t like them. They’re nice guys. I have cute guys flirt with me, too, but even if they ask me out, I think I’d say no, just ’cause of how dedicated I am to the schoolwork and the track and that stuff.

Lindsey Nebeker: That’s understandable; that’s understandable. To be honest, there are a lot of people that are on the spectrum that aren’t at all interested, ever, to have a relationship and they just wanna focus a lot more on their friendships or their career, or just other things in their life. It’s not like everyone has to have an interest in it or anything like that. Okay, well, that was all I wanted to ask. Thank you so much, once again, for coming on today.

Taylor Morris: You’re welcome.

Sharon daVanport: Lindsey, I just wanted you to mention while you have the opportunity, since you called in, about the workshop that you are doing in Virginia. You live close to D.C. I think that Robin and Taylor might find this just really fascinating, what you’re doing with these workshops and young girls on the spectrum. Can you share that?

Lindsey Nebeker: Yeah, absolutely. This is the first time I’ve ever thrown this kind of workshop, so this is gonna be our little test thing here. But it is a six-week seminar starting on May 17, a workshop for navigating teen girls who are on the spectrum. Each week, we’re gonna take a different element of what a teen girl would normally experience throughout her adolescence and growing up into adulthood, and we make sure to encourage the girls to practice the right to make independent decisions. It’s not like we’re forcing them into these areas. But it’s just to expose them to these areas.

So things, for example, like makeup and fashion typs and tips on self-defense. We’re gonna have somebody come in who’s a hairstylist and give them hair tips. Then we’re also gonna do a day where we take them to the mall and get them little mini-makeovers. We’re doing a session, too, on bullying and peer pressure, and embracing your confidence and self-esteem. So hopefully that goes well. We’ve had our class filled up already, so I’m excited about that. It’s gonna be for 14 to 18-year-old girls. That’s just basically what our class is. Hopefully it’ll turn out well.

Taylor Morris: It sounds cool. Good luck.

Sharon daVanport: Lindsey, while you’re still on the line, I know that we’ve had a few questions over on Facebook when we posted the information about your upcoming workshop about makeup. So I would just like to hear Taylor’s take on makeup. Is that something that you’ve been interested in? Makeup or fashion?

Taylor Morris: The thing I hate about internet videos is you don’t get to see too deeply into my personality, beyond what I say. I’m a total tomboy—I’m not gonna even lie. I don’t wear makeup; I don’t care how my hair looks; I like lifting weights; I like doing track. For some reason, guys like me for that. I never got that. But, no, I’m into makeup or hair or any of that at all, except for a special occasion. Once it gets to a special occasion, I totally wanna go into that feminine side. There’s some pictures of me, especially on my website, that totally embrace that. I always think of makeup and hair as a special occasion thing, not really a part of my daily being.

Lindsey Nebeker: Right, yeah. And you know what? There are plenty of girls that are just like you, seriously, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. With these different classes and stuff, we’re just gonna introduce these kinds of things and at the same time, encourage the girls to make their own decisions. What we really just want in the end is for the girls to express themselves the way they want to and feel happy about. There’s plenty of women that really don’t care to wear makeup. There’s just absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Taylor Morris: My attitude is: If I get enough attention I do from guys when I wear nothing but athletic clothes and don’t wear makeup, I’d get way too much attention if I did. [Laughter] Maybe it’s a little egotistic, but, you know.

Sharon daVanport: [You’ve already got three?] guys after you, right? [Laughter]

TM I’m too busy for the guys. Sorry, gentlemen.

Lindsey Nebeker: I think I know what you’re talking about. When I really have dressed up a lot and everything, I noticed there’s sometimes this unwanted attention. [Laughter] It’s like: “Sorry, everybody. I’m kind of taken.”

Sharon daVanport: Yeah. Right. Dave’s happy to hear that. [Laughter]

Lindsey Nebeker: I don’t wanna take any more of your time. But I just wanted to thank you, once again, for coming on today.

Taylor Morris: Thank you for calling.

Sharon daVanport: Thank you, Lindsey. I’ll talk to you later.

Lindsey Nebeker: All right. That sounds good. Bye.

Sharon daVanport: Okay, bye-bye.

Taylor Morris: Bye.

[Lindsey hangs up.]

Sharon daVanport: Okay. That was Lindsey Nebeker. She’s just really awesome. She’s been such an asset to the Autism Women’s Network, and she just brings so much to our organization. She actually has a diagnosis of high-functioning autism; she doesn’t have a diagnosis of Asperger’s, so she was non-verbal, I believe, until the age of four or five. I believe that her diagnosis is just a little different than some of the women that sit on the board. We’re happy to have that diversity over there at AWN.

I want to get back to a couple last questions before we have to wrap things up. I just looked at the time, and my goodness! It has just flown by. We’ve only got 15 minutes left. [Laughter] So we’ll have to wrap things up. We’ll have to do another show just to be able to cover so much more. One thing I wanted to ask you, Taylor, is: Do you know many girls on the spectrum?

Taylor Morris: At my school, I have one friend who’s on the spectrum. There’s a couple other girls I would suspect to be undiagnosed, and so I’d say I don’t know a lot. I don’t have a real community with them. It’s not like we’re friends ’cause we all have autism kind of thing. But, yeah. I have a friend who has Asperger’s Syndrome, but for the most part, no. For the most part, I don’t know that many people. I just know a couple.

Sharon daVanport: I’m finding that more and more, and that is one reason why many of us decided to start the Autism Women’s Network. We wanted to be inclusive of not just Asperger’s, but of the entire spectrum of autism as a whole, and to bring together a community of females on the spectrum. We were finding that we felt so isolated, and the underdiagnosis and the underrepresentation on the spectrum, from what we’re hearing and from what we know personally, it’s been difficult for a lot of females. Do you find that you wish sometimes you were able to have more friendships which were akin to “naturally speak your language,” so to speak?

Taylor Morris: I pride myself on being different. I appreciate an autism community, but at the same time, I like being the different one. I think I would lose that effect if I were in a community where it was all the same. So I’d say I’m very glad my friends, for the most part, are neurotypicals. It’s one, teaching me how to function in a world that is mostly neurotypicals, and two, it gives me an opportunity to be unique without even trying.

Sharon daVanport: There we go. And I think that that’s one thing that a lot of the females over at the AWN have expressed. They are within their communities surrounded by friends and family who are neurotypcial, but yet if they wanna hop over every now and then to the forum to chat a little bit about some different things going on, they’re able to do that. So it has it’s place, but they feel the same way. They say the same thing, and I know that I’ve appreciated that, as well. That’s a very good point to bring out, Taylor.

I also wanted to ask you about college. Are you applying already for college?

Taylor Morris: The application process doesn’t start till about September-Octoberish, but yes, we’ve already been visiting colleges and we’ve narrowed it down to about three or four schools already. We were very on the ball with that.

Sharon daVanport: What do you foresee as your focus of study? What would you like to go into?

Taylor Morris: I have a very big passion for science. I actually haven’t really mentioned it much in any of my videos, but you could have a whole other conversation on the connection between autism and nature for me. My mind is so much more at peace when I’m in the woods, and I wanted to feed on that for my career. So I plan on majoring in research biology or zoology, just so I can be in that element.

Sharon daVanport: Why zoology? Do you have an affinity with animals?

Taylor Morris: I do, especially with how animals interact in the environment. I just find it so fascinating. Humans have to do so much to get themselves to comfortably interact with the environment: they have to build houses, they have to build Safeways, all that stuff. But animals, they just interact with what’s there. It’s hardwired into them, and I’m so interested in that relationship, particularly in Maryland’s ecosystems. I would love to work here for the rest of my life in nature.

Sharon daVanport: Oh, wow. I know Sara Childers. Do you know Sara? She was on our show, and she works with wildlife.

Robin: We know her from Twitter.

Sharon daVanport: She lives in Florida, and she works a lot with animals and wildlife. She talks a lot about the affinity she has with animals as well. I think that that’s something I have seen and observed throughout the autism community: that it is something that we can relate to on a more natural, instinctual level. [Laughter]

Taylor Morris: Yeah. Definitely.

Sharon daVanport: Now, Robin, for you as a parent, did you always see that Taylor gravitated towards animals in a very unique way.

Robin: Oh, sure. I remember we went to a rodeo and she looked at these sheep and these little kids were riding th sheep like the bucking broncos and everything, and she didn’t have real strong language at that point. But she looked at me with the most fierce look on her face and she just said: “Mom! I have to ride!” I said: “Okay, then.” [Laughter] “We’ll see what we can do.” So then we started therapeutic riding, and she was little then. She was probably three and a half, maybe? And to see these kids being bucked around, I just thought: “Wow. There’s something in there. We’re gonna find that.”

Sharon daVanport: So you highly recommend therapeutic riding? I hear a lot of things about that.

Robin: Absolutely.

Taylor Morris: Absolutely.

Robin: Absolutely. There is some place that the animals connect. From what I can see, there’s a place in between the worlds where they meet. It’s the best way I can describe it. Taylor wasn’t completely gone from this world, but she wasn’t completely here, either, and it was like the horse could meet her there. That was a great bridge.

Sharon daVanport: How would you describe that, Taylor? Your mother describes it as that in-between place. Was it a place that you went to like you were describing earlier? Was it totally different when you were doing therapy riding?

Taylor Morris: I ended up horseback riding a lot after the therapy riding, so most of what I remember now is the regular horseback riding I did with the other kids. I just say, when you’re riding on a horse, you just feel connected to that animal: like if you can feel its heartbeat. That part of me can feel more connected to an animal than I could to a person, and just sense their existence. I really can’t describe it, but it’s with every animal. It’s just a certain connection there. I’m not an animal freak, in a sense, but I love being outdoors; it’s just the nature, the sun, everything. I just feel a connection.

Sharon daVanport: Okay. I’d like to wrap it up here and I would like to give you, Robin, and opportunity, and then we’ll go to Taylor to close out with her thoughts. For you, Robin, you can say anything you want. If you had anything you wanna share with our audience, what would that be?

Robin: I really think that you can trust your child’s path. As crazy as it is, as difficult as it is, as challenging as it is, as fearful as you get around it, I really believe that you can trust…Your child was born for a reason, and the reasons are much greater than we normally would’ve looked at. But I trust Taylor’s life completely, and I trust that she’s here exactly how she’s supposed to be.

When you can trust that, you’re golden, you’re free. When you resist it, you suffer. That’s the bottom line: you’re gonna suffer if you resist…What should’ve been, what you wanted it to be. Go through your own grief process, for sure, because there is one when you finally realize that you’re not gonna have the 2.3 kids, standard-issue life. That’s very real for a parent, and I don’t take that away. Go through that. But then come back and say: “This is our life.” Look for what’s good about it, because there’s a lot that’s good that you’ll miss if you’re resisting it.

Sharon daVanport: Nice. Well, thank you for sharing that. Now, with you, Taylor, you get to close out the show.

Taylor Morris: Oh, wow.

Sharon daVanport: Anything you want to share, what would that be?

Taylor Morris: The biggest two things that came to my mind are: First of all, I was just thinking of the single greatest thing a parent could ever do to their kid is just be totally accepting. The example that came to my mind is that my mother is not a Christian, but when I said to her: “I wanna be a Christian; this is what I believe,” she was just like: “Go with it.” There was no resistance at all, even on that touchy subject of religion. It was just total acceptance. That just let me be free. A lot of the traps that I felt inside of my mind were free, because my mom validated what I thought. Not even validated it, in a sense, but she didn’t fight it. She didn’t say it was wrong. I think if you’re able to be that accepting of your kid, your kid will be so much better for it.

The other thing I have to say is, autism can suck sometimes. In my life, sometimes it’s obnoxious, but overall, it’s a cool thing and I would never change it. I think in the long run, honestly, it’s a plus. I’m almost tempted to say that us Aspies are a superior being to neurotypicals, just ’cause of the perks we have. Don’t think autism is a death sentence. It can be an opportunity. That’s just what I gotta say.

Sharon daVanport: Wow. Woah. You’re gonna have to keep your voice strong, Taylor. I don’t have to tell you that; I can tell that you’re gonna do that. Lastly, if you can tell everyone about your webinars real quick? Is there anything coming up in the near future? Any new videos that you’re gonna be having coming out that you’d like to share?

Taylor Morris: I have a video of my first recorded college visit up to Cornell University, up in Ithaca, which we plan to post. As far as the schedule for the webinars, I’m not sure of that. Mom, that’s more in your ballpark.

Robin: Yeah, I’m the secretary. We do have a webinar coming up, but we didn’t have a direct link for it. We will have links for it on the website, and there is an e-mail sign up form at MeetTaylorMorris.com. If you sign up for that, you will get notices of when she’s doing different things, including she’s gonna be on Exceptional Family TV. So those things, when they come up, you’ll see those.

Sharon daVanport: All right. Well, I wanna thank both of you very much for being our guests on AWN Radio, and we look forward to having both of you back. I just really appreciate all the information, encouragement, honesty that both of you shared with our audience. I just wanna thank you for that.

Robin: Thank you. Thanks for having us.

Taylor Morris: Thanks for the opportunity.

Sharon daVanport: Okay. All right, we’ll be in touch.

Robin: All righty. Bye-bye.

Sharon daVanport: Okay. Have a good evening. Bye-bye.

Taylor Morris: Bye-bye.

[Robin and Taylor hang up.]

Sharon daVanport: Okay, everyone, I think that’s gonna do it for us. This is AWN Radio, and just look forward to our post coming up within the next 24 on our next show for next week. We are still in negotiations of a scheduling conflict with our next guest. We found out that we both ended up having an appointment at the same time, so we’re trying to get a time scheduled so that we can bring you a show next week. For AWN Radio, Autism Women’s Network, I wanna thank all of you in the chat room and everyone listening, and everyone who will be listening to the podcast. Thank you very much, and we will see you or being talking to you next week on AWN Radio. Good night.



4 Responses

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  1. outoutout said, on June 17, 2010 at 12:48 am

    Thank you so much for transcribing these radio shows. I’m always interested in what’s on, but I find it much easier to follow along when I can read the words instead of hearing them. This was a great interview and I could really relate. Nice question by Lindsay there, too! 🙂 Thanks again!

  2. Tera said, on June 17, 2010 at 1:51 am

    No problem, outoutout! I just wish I were faster. 😀 (I’m still a noob at this whole transcribing thing).

  3. Jennifer said, on July 4, 2010 at 6:14 am

    i loved this interview! i want more, please! 🙂 i have a beautiful 8 yr old daughter on the spectrum and she reminds me so much of Taylor. her name is Riley. My baby! 🙂 thanks so much for a insightful interview. i’d love to pass this on to a friend of mine that works on a HBO tv show. is that okay…?

  4. Tera said, on July 4, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Hi, Jennifer!

    I liked the interview, too–Taylor reminds me so much of me (especially traveling in alternate universes).

    “i’d love to pass this on to a friend of mine that works on a HBO tv show. is that okay…?”

    I’d assume it’s okay to pass along, as you’d pass along a link to anything on the Internet. But you can ask Sharon daVanport. She’s one of the people who conducted the interview and is the executive director of the Autism Women’s Network. You can reach her at:

    sharon AT autismwomensnetwork DOT org (AT being @, and DOT being .)

    Also, Taylor has a website of her video blogs. It’s at:


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