For the December meeting, Mari asked her fellow Damsels to read and learn about Temple Grandin. They read from the book RAD American Women A – Z by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl, viewed online articles and watched videos (including the Temple Grandin movie and her TED talk). The group came well prepared and Mari did an incredible job preparing an agenda and several activities as part of her role as meeting leader.
After sharing dinner, the girls got out some jitters and wiggles with the “changing the leader” game. They had to really focus on paying attention and follow non-verbal cues. After a few minutes of following each other’s actions and making eye-contact to change the ‘leader’, the group moved on to discussing Dr. Temple Grandin.
Mari had a few questions prepared and led off by asking what everyone likes about Dr. Grandin. The responses included: “I like the way she thinks and how she explains the way she thinks and what she sees”; “I like that she was so nice to animals”; “She was patient and persistent waiting to have her designs produced”; “She is different in a good way because she has a photographic memory”; “Being autistic gives you the power to read another language”.
Mari shared that she likes Temple Grandin because she has learning disabilities herself and understands what it is like to think differently. She then led the group in a couple of great exercises that helped her friends understand what it might be like to have learning disabilities.
The Mirror Activity was developed by the International Dyslexia Association. Mari and her mother led the activity and increased the pressure by giving very short time frames to complete each task. The group feedback was very positive and included the following thoughts: “I thought it would be easy, but it was challenging”; “It was hard, the teacher was going quick and it was tough”; “It didn’t feel very fair”; “It was a really good activity”; “It was very hard and I don’t think I could do that everyday”.
Next, she showed them a page with the names of colors written in different colors and asked the group to only say the color of the word she was pointing to. It was very challenging and you can find it as part of this Disability Awareness Activity Packet.
Finally, it was time to decide on a positive action. The options included raising money for an animal shelter, going to a farm and making suggestions, showing more people the Mirror Activity to raise awareness, make something for rescue pets and visiting a cow farm to see how they are raised. The Damsels ended up voting to host a food/supply drive for a local animal shelter in early March.
Mari was also thrilled to announce that Dr. Grandin will be in town for a lecture early next year and that the Damsels will be attending as a group. The meeting ended on an incredibly high note!