Temple Grandin Eustacia Cutler Autism Fund

The Temple Grandin
and Eustacia Cutler Autism Fund

Dr. Sally Burton Hoyle
Aspergers, Autism, Eustacia Cutler

Leading with Strengths

This is a wonderful letter from Dr. Sally Burton Hoyle who directs the College Support Program at Eastern Michigan University.  A must read for parents and teachers!

Dear Eustacia,

My dream came true on Tuesday! A student in our College Support Program for students with ASD at Eastern Michigan University after interviewing has been awarded an internship with the prestigious Henry Ford Historical Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. He will be working with the curator of trains and will be doing research for the curator on trains. This may not sound like a big deal for many of you, but what if you were told your child has autism and may not ever read, write, or talk.

His parents believed in pursuing all interests and strengths that the student indicated through language, communication and behavior. His strong interest in Thomas the Tank engine cartoon series and toys emerged as a young child as it does with many children. But his parents then took him to train shows, expositions, even a train summer camp was arranged for this young man. He entered college and majored in history and minored in architectural preservation as a way to further his knowledge base in trains.

He will need supports because autism does not go away, however there are specific strategies that will work with him, such as visual supports, graphic organizers, google calendar and social supports that take place within situations.  The interview included supports for the student.  We rehearsed prior to the interview, I sat next to him during the interview and placed my hand on his forearm when he was talking too much and going off on a tangent about trains. He loudly exclaimed at one point during the interview, “I want to be the Steve Irwin of trains” he got a lot of laughter.   What a great day for all of us.

His success will be due to our belief in leading with your strengths.

Sally Burton-Hoyle, Ed.D

Associate Professor ASD Area

Department of Special Education

College Supports Program Faculty Advisor