In this week’s episode, Josh is talking to Travis Saunders who was a Finalist in the 2013 South Australian Community Achievement Awards.
Travis is the presenter and producer of the award-winning ABC podcast ‘The Parenting Spectrum’, a member of the Australian Autism Research Council, Vice Chair of the Board at Autism Camp Australia, an Education Consultant, Autism Advocate, professional speaker, adventurer and father to an incredible autistic son. He has taught in schools all over the world and worked with autistic students for more than 20 years. Travis travels the country presenting workshops and keynote addresses to students, parents, teachers and allied health professionals about neurodiversity, parenting and how to be a positive guide. In 2020 he was awarded Autism Spectrum Australia ‘Parent/Carer of the Year’.
In this episode:
- We get to hear the moment when Travis realised that we should celebrate our differences and focus on our strengths and interests to get the best of ourselves.
- 12 marathons in 12 months? Find out why Travis felt the need to do this.
- So interesting to listen to Travis’s dedication in giving people with a disability a voice
Connect with Travis on Facebook
Interested in Autism Camp Australia? Find out more here
Want to nominate someone? (It can take as little as 2 minutes to recognise someone making a difference)
Welcome to the inspirational Australians podcast, where we chat to people, making a difference in their communities and in the lives of others. And here is your host for today, Josh Griffin
Welcome everyone and, uh, very excited to speak with Travis Saunders for this weekly dose of inspiration. So Travis is the presenter and producer of the award-winning ABC podcast, The Parenting Spectrum, which you know, real talk is making me a little bit nervous yet to be speaking to an award-winning podcaster, but he’s also a member of the Australian Autism Research council. He’s vice chair of the board at Autism Camp Australia, an education consultant, Autism Advocate, professional speaker, adventurer and I’d say the most important is a father to an incredible autistic son. He’s taught in schools all over the world and work with autistic students for more than 20 years. Travis travels the country presenting workshops and keynote addresses the students, parents, teachers, and allied health professionals about neurodiversity parenting and how to be a positive guide. In 2020, he was awarded Autism Spectrum Australia, Parent/Carer of the Year. And the way we actually came across Travis was from 2013, when was a finalist in the South Australian Community Achievement Awards in the Carer’s Achievement Award. Travis, welcome. And it’s really great to speak with you.
Yeah. Thanks Josh. Thanks for having me on the show. It’s a, it’s a privilege.
No problem. So, you know, one of the things in your bio there talked about traveling the country, presenting workshops, has that been a bit different, you know, in recent times, or have you been able to still be involved with that over different methods?
I still being able to be involved in it, uh many different methods, but, uh, I think w what I’ve done in the last, I guess, since Covid came onto our shore, so to speak, I’ve had to re-evaluate and look at, uh, how I present audiences and prioritize some different things in our family’s life, because obviously we have a, we have an autistic child that requires very substantial support. So the first thing I did is that I had to prioritize my son and I had to prioritize my family over my work commitments. But what that’s meant over the last several months is that I’ve been able to reflect and review all of the products that I’ve been working on and delivering in schools over many, many years. I’ve got a very, very exciting, you venture, which is going to be released in 2021. We’ve developed a product which is called, uh, working with parents and over the years is as parents and carers of an incredible child that has significant needs. We realized there were a few, um, difficult situations that we’d been putting over the years in terms of working with educators, but also working with allied health professionals. And what we wanted to do was to bridge that gap. And then of course, there’s, then there’s the approaches that people use when they talk to talk to parents and also talk about children and adults that have a disability. And then finally it kind of encapsulates the whole lot is about T’s – teamwork, trust, and a two-way street. And this forms the word, which is called great. So we’re helping people create great relationships. We create great teachers, great allied health professionals, and great parents that can work together.
Yeah. That’s awesome. As you were kind of listing off those letters, I was like, is he going with great here? Yeah. So that’s awesome. Um, and you know, what, what you touched on there about relationships, it’s the best key, isn’t it to just so many walks of life. And I think when, um, you know, we’re talking about kids, whether that’s with autism or not, I wanted to have great relationships and communication. And so sometimes I think people maybe don’t, I don’t know, make that switch in their heads, that, that that’s the most important thing, start with that great relationship and everything can go from there. So, yeah, it sounds like what you’re doing is, uh, is fantastic and would just have so many benefits, not just as you’re saying to the parents, but to the allied health workers, to the education workers as well. That’s fantastic.
Yeah. Yeah, that’s right. And you don’t have to go very far to see, uh, where some of these relationships are falling, fallen down. You’re hearing about them, uh, online and through the disability bill commission. Um, you go into these different social media hubs or groups, and you’re hearing about not only educators and allied health professionals talking about how they want to develop those better relationships with parents, often talking about some of those pitfalls and about what they really wish they, they had, and they didn’t quite know how to get there. They didn’t quite know how to develop those relationships. And so that’s what, uh, we do, uh, uh, working with parents is that we, we help them, um, marry and, and form those really good bonds, which, which are respectful.
That’s awesome. You know, I was going to ask a quick question about the, uh, another thing that I really, um, you know, piqued my interest when you were describing all of that is the, um, you know, disability and language. Would you be able to give a couple of examples of maybe some common, you know, things that people misstep in terms of describing disability and, uh, and that kind of thing?
Yeah. Look, I might use a, even a, an example, that’s come up within our own family dynamic. So just to give the listeners a little bit of a perspective here, so I’ve got an incredible 11 year old son. His name is Patch, he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum before he turned two. Uh, he’s, he’s incredibly the changes my life. Uh, he changes the life of people in meets and the Patch has a very significant needs, and he requires a very substantial support 24 hours a day. As parents we’ve, we’ve had dealings with people in the community and, uh, people in the, in our own families, uh, that, uh, use words that are now being used in everyday life. And an example that I give here is, is the word crazy. Um, and this is, uh, uh, it’s a, and I don’t have anything against anyone that uses the word crazy, but I’m just like, I like to discuss it in terms of where my thought processes are and why I no longer use that word, use the word crazy to describe everyday things for me in my own life is, is no part is no longer a part of my vocabulary. And it’s because of the impact that I feel that that word can have on my son because of its historical context, because historically it was a word to describe those that had an intellectual disability or had some mental health issues. And so I don’t want you use that word. And, and likewise anatomy is the word insane to describe something that was bright. If we, as individuals look at our own language and try to replace some of those words, and we’re more conscious of those words that we use and replace them with other words, not only are we supporting those with disabilities by not making them feel less than, so we’re not using any of that language. We are ultimately improving our own vocabulary and the way that we interact with others and that’s, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Yeah. That resonates with me Travis, because I affected on that late last year in December, just before Christmas, that kind of concept of the word crazy. Uh, and its meaning in its origin. I realized, had that realization, that that’s part of my vocabulary. Um, and to this day, you know, it does kind of pop in there, but I think that is important to what you’re saying, just to be aware of the words you’re saying and to not look at it as, um, Oh, it’s just a, I don’t mean any harm by it. Why can’t I say it, but actually look at it from another standpoint? Well, this is a chance for me to expand my vocabulary and think of other words which are going to really make people feel good and computation. Yeah, really interesting. And you know, I’m sure there’s been some hard conversations with family members and friends, um, that might incorrectly think you’re having a go at them, but it’s not about that, it’s just.
Yeah, that’s right. I guess that’s why I opened up about my, my own experiences and, and reflect on my own behaviors. Uh, and when we run one of these workshops, when we’re talking about empathy with talking about language, what I do is, is I get those as audience members, the allied health professionals, the educators, to think about a word or phrase that they actually used that could have a negative impact on others. So they actually unpack that themselves and look at our own behaviors as opposed to me directing them and telling them a list of those words that maybe they should think about not using.
Sure. So, you know, I love this thing, um, that the way that you describe it, you know, your, your son, um, Patch and yeah, and again, it’s a love language, isn’t it, the way you just describe him, but, you know, you’ve told me that is your driving force for change. Was that natural for you to kind of come on this journey of, um, trying to help others?
That’s a, that’s a really, really good question. And I guess there are a lot of facets to this in terms of the way it all came together in terms of the driving forces too, of what inspires me to, to help others. I think intrinsically, um, from experiences from when I was a lot younger, uh, am I am driven to support those that have discriminated because of differences , to help them, uh, have their own platforms and have their own voice and have their own commentary around discussions recently started talking about this, I guess, in the last 12 months or so, is it, uh, I have a chronic facial motor tick.You can see from time to time skins in my neck line and, and into my face. And, and, uh, it doesn’t exist as much these days as to what it did when, when I was a lot younger when I was in school, but more in particular when I was in high school years. And, and I was bullied, uh, for this facial tick. And it was something that I, that I really tried to mask. I’ve tried to hide from others, uh, you know, position my body. So I was on the side, I put my hands up to my neck line to my face. Uh, I’d make up stories about, you know, about what was so to try and to kind of deflect, uh, people looking at me, staring at me, making commentary about, about my own differences and, and it wasn’t until I started talking about this and really started to embrace my differences, uh, that, uh, I was more comfortable with my own facial tick. And since then that facial tick and its number of occurrences has dramatically decreased, but it was something that was quite debilitating for me early on in life. So I think the fact that I had these own experiences as, as a young person and certainly helped me to connect with others that, that also have differences because I’m able to understand from some perspective as to what their life. I’m absolutely driven to support others, the education aspect, I guess that’s helped in terms of communicating and networking with others and, and having the knowledge on, on how to, uh, be creative with content and how to connect with audiences so they can get the most out of it. And so it’s tons of advocacy work there. Uh, that’s helped me, but in terms of, um, storytelling, uh, I remember working in schools that, uh, there were three, four classroom in one space and sometimes the partitions were up and sometimes the partitions were open and I was a geography, social science, science teacher. And, uh, I’d always try to finish a lesson on a story related to the curriculum. And I remember looking across one day and there was a math class and an English class, all stop, pens down, listening to my story and say, I will use those, those, those stories and that methodology to sell what I’m trying to, uh, to achieve in terms of getting people to understand differences are a great thing and to embrace differences and what that can not only mean for the individual with a disability, that all individuals can be supportive.
That’s great. I can imagine being at one with the students and what, what is the story? This is much more exciting than Math. So, you know, you’re talking about storytelling and using that, but, um, in, on top of storytelling, I know that you’ve used some physical kind of things like running marathons and doing incredible feats of athleticism and endurance to kind of raise awareness and spread a message. Um, can you tell us, and give us a bit of insight in how those ideas kind of came to life?
I guess in the early days, I wanted to talk about autism awareness and, uh, I wanted people to understand and understand what, um, various aspects of autism. And so I remember one day I thought I’d use one of my strengths, which used to be exercised at this particular time in my life. Uh, but I’ve let myself go. And I decided that I was going to go for a run around it, run around the block, and I’ve got about 500 meters. And I was physically ill, I was struggling dealing with, uh, some of the things in my own life. I’ve been obviously dealing with those traumas, those traumatic situations early in my life with, with regards to bullying harassment in school, uh, I was struggling, um, comprehending what an autism diagnosis would mean for my son and, uh, our family dynamic and our life. So I went for this run. I sat on the gutter after five minutes and I throw up, uh, I was absolutely spent my bucket was full. Everything was flying over the top. And I realized then that I needed to get fit. And I meant to look up to my mental health and welfare in order to support my, my son and also my family and I wanted to support other families. I want to support all organizations, which were supporting children like my son, and I’m seeing my home, my family. And so I set up what was called Run for Autism at the time. And I ran 12 marathons in 12 months and a bucket load of cash.
Just quickly. What was the time difference there between you and the gutter and running 12 marathons and 12 months, because that must have taken some training to get to that point.
Yeah, about that 18 months, I think in the end, uh, I remember that first I ran four marathons and Glenn and Ultra Marathon, and then the year after I’d gone to a presentation and, and, uh, heard Pat Farmer, famous Ultra Marathon runner talk about raising money and through running. And this was back when, fundraising platforms were quite the in thing online. And, uh, and people were kind of willing to, to, to support, uh, lots of different causes or not-for-profits. And so I set up the platform and I had, um, people from all over Australia run wearing the t-shirt. And, uh, when we raised somewhere between 150 to 300,000 Australian dollars with kind of online and offline donations. But I guess the big, big change in my family’s life was to do with cycling across America. Yeah. And then this came about as a very kind of a dark time in my family’s life. As a general myself, we were quite struggling, uh, in terms of our own relationship, but our son was struggling in terms of, uh, connecting with the curriculum that we were delivering with him using external or outside providers, because we’re all looking at it at his weaknesses in terms of his development. We weren’t looking at his strengths and interests to the degree of which we should have been looking at them. And so we had big dynamic kind of shifted in terms of our understanding in terms of what was important. And so Fiona and I had a Patch had moved to New South Wales and Patch was attending an autism specific school there. It wasn’t working out for a variety of different reasons. And, and, uh, I remember one day going to a sailing event, there was a local disability organization that used to, um, use these little 12 foot skiffs. And they had carers that go out with the children. And it was an opportunity, uh, for the children to try something different and Fiona, She was quite skilled in the art of selling these little 12 foot skiffs. So she was out with Patch and I was actually sitting on the side with another father whose 24 year old son was out there starting with a carer. And this 24 year old Trent was his name. He’d come in and he’d, he’d, he’d say to dad, dad, dad, can I, can I go out on a 12 foot boat on myself? And, uh, then say, Oh, I, you know, not yet, Trent, not yet almost there, mate. You’re almost there. And Trent would turn to me and he’d only just met me and he’d say, Travis dad says, there’s nothing I can’t do that says there’s nothing I can’t do. And Trent would go out and come back in again. And we’d all have this same conversation. We had it half a dozen times that day. And I remember on the way home from the sailing, the bed, talking to Fiona and kind of reflecting about another organization in Australia at the time, which was strength and interest base, train, and spark, this little kind of thing in the back of my mind. And it was a guy called Chris Barney and it started up, was called the, I Can Network a Strength and Interest based program for autistic children and adults that ran in school. And it was a mentor private, and it was something that was just absolutely fantastic. And so I started to reflect, what were the times in my life and Fiona’s life that we felt embraced and we felt connected. And what, what was the times that we did what we were really good at?
Yeah. I started to reflect on, on things that Patch was really good at and Patcg loved camping. He love the great outdoors and he loved movement. Movement in the sense of, he loved the jump around. He loved, he loved trampolines. He loved going on swings. And so how could we combine all of this to combine all of our passions? And so one thing led to another, a month or so went by and I managed to source a, a bike called a Hase Pino, it was a semi recumbent tandem. Patch set on the front. I sat on the back and I paddled. For Patch riding the bike, wasn’t about him paddling at this stage, now he is motor planning differences, and you can now ride a bicycle as a result of what we did, but it was about getting him out into the community. It was about that movement. It was about camping and adventure. And so one thing led to another, we got the bike and Patch absolutely loved it. He was giggling for the first time in months and months and months. And he was starting to verbalize certain words to describe parts of the bike. And then one day I got out a map of America and I put an, I put a line right across them across the States, Fiona and I have spoken about doing a trip in the States. She thought we were just going to do a little, a hundred miles journey, but I said, Hey, come on. What’s the worst that can happen. We’ve got long service line. Let’s take it. Let’s take advantage of this. Let’s embrace our family and our, and our differences and let’s get back to basics. And so we did it, we cycled from one side of America to the other. 5,600 kilometers, 79 days, taught Patch using number plates that we found on the side of the road, uh, using the, the place names of signage as, as we pass them on this huge journey. We camp in national parks, we rode with the bikers and we stayed in strangers houses. We got put up in autism organizations, uh, different locations Patch had an opportunity to connect with individuals that saw him for somebody who was doing this amazing thing with his family, as opposed to somebody that did have these unique differences and what the rest of society often refers to as the weaknesses or deficits. And for the first time in his life. And he was starting to Excel and he was excelling because we were taking these strengths and interests and creating these splinter skills to then work on those weaknesses. And it was a beautiful thing, best thing we’ve ever done.
And it shows when you focus on the individual and you’re focusing on Patch’s, strength, and his things that he likes. And that’s incredible to see that he blossomed then, and he’s developing, whereas put someone in an environment where that doesn’t suit them and forcing them to follow along. It doesn’t work. And I think that’s an interesting lesson that a lot of people can take something from, and that inspirational stuff. And it also, again, what I’m taking from it as a, a dad to two young girls myself, like you guys just put your family first and you knew that that was important and that’s really inspirational to me as well.
Yeah. Look, it’s, you know, sometimes you’ve, you’ve got to put your career to the side at certain times in your life, if you can. I mean, what variety, uh, led to still, uh, so many different things to be able to fund that trip for our family, we were just lucky that we had the opportunity with long service level. And I realized that not all families have this opportunity. Uh, I feel very privileged to the fact that we’re able to do that, but what I try to talk to, uh, parents and, and those that work with children with disabilities, and particularly those that work with children who are autistic, is that you can do what our family did, but on a small scale, you can take a step back and you can go for a bike ride in a local town, or you can set up a campsite in your backyard. You don’t have to go abroad to do what we did.
Cause your messages, you know, Patch loved camping, loved outdoors. He loved movement. And you, you, you made your experience focused on that. I see what you mean about, you can just strip the scale, but still the focus is where the key is. Um, yeah, 5,600 km, that’s crazy. There we go. You’re making a chain to break. Thank you. That’s uh, that’s incredible. That’s what it is. When did you start from?
Uh, so, um, a place called Anna Cortez, uh, in Washington state. And so over the North, then over the North cascades over the Rocky mountains, across six major mountain passes, which I guess I can run, I can do a whole podcast just on those mountains. And then across the gray lines of America and then, uh, around the likes of blacks area and then, uh, through the Appalachians and then, uh, all the way through to Washington DC finishing outside of the Australian embassy.
Uh, so from Washington state to Washington DC, there you go, I guess, uh, transporting us now from the U S back, uh, the South Australia. And if I remember correctly, when you were a finalist in the Community Achievement Awards, um, the award ceremony was at the Stanford Grant in Cornell.
It seems like a long, long time ago. And I think the, the thing with those, um, you know, award nights, uh, such as Awards Australia, is that they’re really great for networking, uh, you have an opportunity to, to meet others. I remember talking to the disability minister at the time, and as a result of talking to the disability minister at the time, he then came out to an event that I was running. I was running for 24 hours, uh, to raise the profile of autism awareness and understanding Australia at the time and are organized a bunch of other parents to walk. So I run for 24 hours and I asked him, I said, look, when you come out, I said, I’ll walk that lap, uh, of the union we’ve been in South Australia is at two points equal to the left. I just thought, I just want you to have, I just want to have a conversation with you so that we can start the ball rolling in terms of support networks. And so going along to those events and also being nominated, um, really helps as a leverage point to them, bounce off and brand new ideas, and then open up conversations and emails and, uh, to, um, meet new people and, and, uh, kind of use that as a stepping stone to, to support, you know, your cause or, or what, what you’re actually passionate about. And so I’ve been nominated again this year on the semifinalists.
I wasn’t even aware of that. There you go. Yeah.
Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. And not everyone has an opportunity to be able to have a voice and be able to be representative of, of a certain group of people. These days, I’m more about giving people with a disability and autistic individuals, their own voice. So it’s so important for us to give platforms for autistic individuals. And so if they’re, if they’re non-verbal that we use AAC devices and record those devices and put them into podcasts, and that’s why I created, uh, the Parenting Spectrum, uh, the ABC podcast about autism and family life. I wanted to, uh, give a voice to autistic people which have lived experiences so that, um, moms and dads and carers and guardians, um, and allied health professionals and educators can learn from those experiences firsthand experiences in gather ideas and be informed and, and be educated. And that’s what, uh, those awards do is that I never would have got to being a creator of an ABC podcast. Uh, if I hadn’t been recognized from it for some of that early advocacy. And so it enables you to build off everything that you do to them create for the change.
Absolutely brilliant. And one way I’ve heard it described from a past winner was that they described it like, um, the, and this might be a, this might not hit for some of the younger listeners, but in that Get Smart. The opening sequence, when is, uh, is walking, he goes down, the telephone booth is walking into the base and the door after door, after door is opening. And so he was saying, it’s like that, when you get involved with the awards and a door will open, just like you said, with the minister, and then that opens to another door and then there’s another door. And so, but you also had a really important word about leveraging it. So we do find that the people who would go out there and take that opportunity and connect and see where it can take them, that they get incredible kind of opportunities that open up that maybe weren’t there previously, and then they take that opportunity.
So that’s really cool to hear that that conversation, you know, led to so many cool things and you’re, you are a very driven person. So I know that for a fact that you would have done all these things anyway, very generous to say that it was, you know, the awards helped you with that. That’s great. How do you want to ask about the podcast actually a bit more? So, you know, who, who do you recommend listening to that? Because I think, um, just from my own experience and friends and family, that I know that, that now it seems everyone has, um, someone they know either with the diagnosis of autism or on the spectrum themselves, or a close family member or close friends. So it seems to me that, um, this podcast potentially it could be beneficial to anyone.
Yeah, absolutely. It’s uh, Josh, I think it’s the podcast that every Australian, every person in the world should listen to. I think when we, you know, we originally created it, we created the name of the Parenting Spectrum, meaning that, you know, every parent has a different understanding, a different interaction, uh, with regards to their own experiences with their own children who have an autism diagnosis, but what it actually did was, and this happened afterwards, it was it the way that we’d made it. It was so inclusive and embraced everyone a difference. And it has so many different stories from so many different perspectives and it’s created so much knowledge or wealth of knowledge that it could support anyone across a broad, uh, across broad areas. So when you’re in the workplace, we’re not your teacher, we’re not, you’re an allied health professional interaction that you have on a daily basis, that somebody is autistic. And it created a way of thinking too, because we really dive deep in terms of the strengths and interest based approaches and what that meant for individuals. And we also broke down all those myths and misconceptions with regards to everything. We’d all been polled, um, over the years about what autism, uh, was. And we kind of smashed that, like we smashed it apart. And, uh, so over the last kind of 18 months, I’ve been contacted by countless parents, individuals on the autism spectrum saying how thankful they are, that with regards to the fact that we gave them a voice and that they consider it, uh, myself, that my family and that product, allies of the autistic community, which for me, is just, uh, which is a beautiful thing. And, um, having teachers and allied health professionals that work on a daily basis with, with autistic students contact me and say, you changed everything about what I do, your podcast and the people that you interview, maybe understand autism completely differently. And I’m now doing ABCD or eat differently, or I’ve stopped doing such and such because I didn’t realize that the harm that that was causing, and, and if you’re an employer, it can change your whole cultural practice of your organization and the way that you were actually working with somebody who was different within your organization, not just somebody who’s autistic, somebody who has differences and because it’s all about respect.
Yeah. That’s interesting. Cause I think, um, some people, you know, maybe there’s a stereotype of, Oh, I can’t hire that person because they’re on the spectrum or that’s not going to work for us, but, you know, using your, what you’ve been talking about strengths, um, and interest based, you know, potentially you could have the most superstar employee of all time if it’s the wrong role, but you know what I mean for that person?
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. As an organization, we interviewed somebody and we say, Oh, well that didn’t come across as somebody that had the great greatest communication skills. Uh, so therefore we’re not going to employ them. Whereas I felt a little bit possibly their strengths and their interests and what those could actually bring to the organization and how as an organization, we could then work with that person and help them embrace their own communication methods. And that we could be more accommodating as that organization in terms of the way that we actually facilitate learning for that individual to help them develop and develop their own strengths and interests. Thankfully, there’s a lot of organizations out there now that they’ve seen, seen this. A lot of tech companies are seeing this and they’re going, Oh wow, they are. Or that person is the most intelligent person with regards to this componentry or this particular item skill. They are going to elevate our organization and make them the best. And so that’s the way, hopefully all organizations will grow across the board in the years to come
For anyone listening. That is wondering how that might play out in a real life example of the fed. Just a quick story, that my brother that basically he’s, uh, was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Um, and you know, as, as time has gone on, we’ve realized that that’s just now under the autism spectrum, um, incredibly intelligent, but it comes across in different ways. He’s a horticulturalist and he uses his incredible, um, encyclopedic memory to memorize all the different plants, flowers, the information about them. Um, and he’s interested in it so he can retain it. If he hasn’t got an interest in something, he can’t retain that information. Um, and his detail attention to detail was incredible cause he can hyper focus. And so his employer has realized that, uh, over time and they use him now for specific things that they know his knowledge, his skills. And as you said, his strength interests as suited to, and that’s why I said superstar employee. Cause he that’s, his example is there. Superstar employee because they know what he’s like and they utilize his skills and his strengths, it doesn’t have to be a daunting thing. Employers can identify ways that they can really work with people on the spectrum. And you know, it’ll just be a beautiful thing to have someone who can do a job better than anyone else. And then that person is getting this incredible satisfaction that they’re valued and that they’re important as well.
And what, and what an advantage that is to not only the individual, but the organization and the wider community.
Definitely. Yeah. Thank you. Um, so it, wasn’t my story then I want to say thank you. But, um, anyway, before we finish up Travis, I really did want to ask you one more thing covered off on your podcast, which is fantastic. I also wanted to ask you, which was in your bio about, um, being a board member of the Autism Camp and again, not really being, um, not knowing much about that. It sounds a bit daunting having a camp where lots of autistic people come together because that must be hard to organize it. Tell us a little bit about, uh, about your role on the, um, on the board about what’s the camp is?
Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to talk about something that I’m really, really passionate about. So this year I was elected Vice Chair of the Board of Autism Camp Australia. Um, and I’m excited about it for, for lots and lots of different reasons. Uh, firstly, our CEO, um, Rachel, she is autistic and she’s got an autistic daughter and uh, she’s one of the most brilliant minds I’ve ever worked with. She is going to drive this organization to be a household name. And uh, I think that’s what drives me. I think everyone needs a little mentor along the way in terms of assisting them, is that the way that they do things. And I think without Rachel, even knowing she’s kind of like my mentor and what to what marvelous thing that is for me to, to almost do a round circle with that. I’ve got somebody in my life, uh, and she’s an autistic mentor and that’s, and that’s, that’s brilliant. It’s a program very different to a lot of other camps that have supported, uh, children on the autism spectrum in the past. It’s a program that not only supports the child has an autism diagnosis, it’s a program that supports siblings. So like yourself, Josh, you have a brother. Um, you would have gone on, on that camp and you’d have an opportunity to do, uh, just like your brother would have an opportunity to do, uh, rock climbing, art and craft, various water sports, uh, dance movement activities. Uh, you name it in terms of what you think of what an outdoor adventure type of activity top camp is, but also that your parents would have had the opportunity to go on that camp. So moms and dads accounted for and so we have almost like, it’s almost like a, kind of a, like a health retreat looking after their mental health, health, and welfare. So we have parents support groups and various things that they’re going to make mums and dads feel really, really good about themselves. And so there’s three camps running at the same time and people are able to all be themselves and connect with like-minded souls, with people that are going through, they’re probably different experiences, but there’s a lot of similarities there in terms of the things that they can connect with and talk about. And so it is fabulous and we’re, we’ve got some exciting things coming up. Um, and I encourage anyone that listens to this to go and check us out on Facebook, um, Autism Camp Australia, and, uh, see, what’s see what’s around the corner and see what’s about to happen because there are some things there that, uh, are so exciting
Like that Facebook page and stay tuned. But, um, yeah, that, that sounds so great because you’re right. Like the, the parents and the siblings and that it’s such a family effort and yeah, it can be, and you touched on it earlier, it can be so overwhelming and hard. And it’s top on your relationship when you have a child with, um, with any type of, uh, extra needs or that kind of thing. And, um, it’s important to look after yourself as much as just to look after your little ones. So yeah, that camp sounds really awesome
Yeah, I guess, you know, as family members when our children are diagnosed as having a difference, I guess. Uh, I think we’d bring in this, this, this bias, this information that’s been told to us through our family members, through culture, through generations of the way that we, we spoke about the spoke about disability and differences. And so part of what our role as running a camp organization is to re-shift or change, uh, that narrative and that perception of what being different is all about instead of being different when you’re autism transpire, it’s a positive thing. It’s something. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And so even though for some families, um, you know, it may have been a challenge very early on. It may still continue to be a challenge, but we kind of, we want them to be in an environment of where they start to thrive, uh, socially, but they start to thrive to, uh, emotionally, um, and that they realized that you’re not alone and these experiences, you know, they don’t have to be daunting experiences. They can be things that are, uh, that are commonly shared and amongst other individuals who are like-minded in terms of embracing, embracing that difference. So, yeah, like I say, we’re going to be everywhere all over Australia.
Well, uh, for a bit of a callback. That’s great. G – R – E – A – T, great. And, uh, speaking of your program that you put on hat, can people find that and get in touch with you, Travis?
Yeah, sure. Thanks Josh. Uh, so I run a, uh, a Facebook page school called School of the Road. Uh, I think originally I started that at School of the Road, uh, Facebook page. It was a more about, um, getting people to check, check us out as a family in terms of what we’re doing to embrace, um, embrace life. And I kind of, I set it up as a, as a bit of a private blog site when we cycled across America, but it’s kind of morphed over the years in terms of its advocacy. Um, and it’s where I talk about kind of tips and ideas and, and everything that the family is up to. And also some of those, uh, things that we’re doing in terms of our training. And so I’ve got a link on that page too, which heads to a website, which is, workingwithparents.com.au, and that’s where people can find out all about the training that we offer.
That sounds really cool. And so everyone can jump on and like School of the Road on Facebook and Autism Camp Australia on Facebook, and for everyone listening, those links that Travis just mentioned will be in the show notes. So it would be really easy to be able to find it. Travis, thanks for joining us. Thank you, mate. We can’t to wait follow your journey and here there’s exciting updates from you. Um, and yet we’ll, uh, look to keep in touch and talk soon.
Thanks so much, Josh. It’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you.
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