Shownotes for the 15th Episode of the Podcast June, 2021


News and Updates:


Episode 14:




Inter-Ability Chorus:


                                            “For more information or to register, contact:

Erica Lyles (  or Kelley Coutts ( , Recreation Services Coordinator | 561-320-9512”


Game Night:


Contact Howard Thomas at 561-598-6200 or at and/or Trudi Zayac at 561-320-9516 or at


Autistic Pride Day:


An interesting article for this Father’s Day:


Golf Challenge 2021:


Summer Camp:


Contact Kelley Coutts ( and 561-320-9512 for more details


Interview: Josh ‘Deersey’ Deer


Autism Spectrum Award:


Josh ‘Deersey’ Deer:


Follow him on Facebook:


Youtube Video:


He also likes hockey:


Iron Horse Golf Club:


Arcis Golf Club:


‘Today In The World of Autism’


Nate’s 1st Story: Brain Differences between males and females with autism:


Nate’s 2nd Story: ‘The Reason I Jump’ Interview with The Translator


Previous thoughts on “The Reason I Jump” Documentary:


The Reason I Jump Review (Taken from February Shownotes):

So I have always had a fascination with the nonverbal individuals with autism, due to the different methods of communication that come to life within their set of circumstances. I’ve even written an article about the history of AAC (Augmentative Alternative Communication), which I will link to, because I think that anyway you can get someone to communicate, on their own, is very important as society sees communication as such an important tool, and the more we allow people to step into the limelight, or to remove the duct tape from their mouths, as role models for the rest of us, the better this societal habitat can be. Thus, I was eager to jump into the movie adaptation of the book known as “The Reason I Jump”.

In 2007, a 13 year old Japanese boy with nonverbal autism named Naoki Higashida wrote an autobiography about himself as a way to explain to people what he really was thinking, and how he could use this power to inform others on the great personality and humanity of other nonverbal individuals. 6 years later, David Mitchell, whose wife is Japanese and whose son is nonverbal like Mr. Higashida, who wrote the novel Cloud Atlas, which later got made into a movie, found the book and proceeded to translate it into English which then became published, in the English speaking world, in 2013.

Because this book is so special, there were eventual talks about shooting the film as a documentary, with the concession that Mr. Higashida would not appear in the film, instead a nonverbal Japanese boy from the UK, Jim Fujiwara would play him. In 2020, the movie was supposed to come out, but due to COVID-19, the schedule got changed, and there was a limited theatrical release in January 8th of this year. So how did I get to see it?

I will share with all of our listeners about how I managed to see it. It is on the Kino Lorber web site, and you can do a virtual screening for 12 dollars on the site, which will be on the shownotes. Otherwise, the movie is supposed to come out in May of this year.

The movie starts out with Mr. Fujiwara running in a field while excerpts from the book are read by Jordan O’Donegan, a theme that recurs throughout the film. Through the movie we get a look at 6 individuals from all over the world, and how the conception of the children of these families are seen, how the children communicate, and hope that the individuals, as examples, could serve as the great potential people have on the autism. In order to drive the point home, the narration is even read in the moments that could relate to whatever one of the individuals may be currently feeling. Along for the ride are also David Mitchell and a few specialists in the field of autism.

Typically, in media, people with nonverbal or limited speaking skills, like in the movie “Rain Man”, may exhibit savant characteristics, but the point of Naoki Higashida’s book is not to make him out to be a genius, though he is extremely intelligent, but rather to explain that we all think differently. The way memories are arranged, sensitivity to making mistakes, the ability to see details in things other people don’t, I can relate to a few characteristics as, while I’m not like Mr. Higashida entirely, he and I share the same spectrum that allows us to understand each other.

While I really enjoyed the movie, there is a point when the narrative, if just for a minute, dips into an us vs. them mentality, which I cannot fully endorse. Neurotypicals and people on the spectrum do wonderful things working together, and while perspectives may be different, the overall sense of humanity isn’t. It felt kind of jarring, thankfully that was the only point where I felt kind of red-faced about having autism.  

The closest I can compare this film to is “Autism Is a World”, an Academy Award nominated short documentary from 2004 which followed a woman, Sue Rubin, and how she communicates using the scientifically controversial method of Facilitated Communication which involves a helper assisting the  arm – hand – wrist of the person who is typing. For anyone who is against the methodology, there is no Facilitated Communication in this movie, instead you see people drawing pictures of their day to day life, letterboards, texting, and other methodologies.

“The Reason I Jump” while having never read the book, is a fantastic film about nonverbal autism. It explains things in ways, that people all over can understand, and it fascinates with how complex our brains really are. It’s the idea that people long to communicate and long to be with others. In a way, “The Reason I Jump”, which is explained midway through the movie, is because of a movie like this.


                                            Merrick’s 1st Story: Gloria Mendoza – 2016 ASA Winner


Gloria Mendoza Interview:

Merrick: Can you tell us a little about yourself?


Gloria Mendoza: My name is Gloria Mendoza. I graduated from Gettysburg College with a double major in Computer Science and Music in 2014. From 2014-2015, I looked for jobs without success. A ray of hope arrived in the Autism at Work program. After successfully completing their training program, I was hired at SAP’s Customer Success department. I have been with SAP for a little more than 5 years. I started out as an intern for SAP’s Mission Control Center, and in 2016, a colleague approached me and offered me a position as a full time employee. From then to late 2020, I was supporting a variety of customers as a Technical Quality Manager. Currently, I am in training to become a project manager. I also like singing very much which explains why in addition to Computer Science, I selected music as a second major. I am a mezzo-soprano and have performed at several Autism At Work event, including the Els for Autism Grand Finale award’s ceremony, and singing the national anthem before a crowd at one of the Philadelphia Eagles NFL games.


Merrick: You’ve gotten to be a worker for SAP’s Autism At Work Program, why are programs like this so important?


Gloria Mendoza: Programs like this are very important because everyone deserves to have an equal opportunity for gainful employment. People with autism tend to be cut from the employer’s application pool, solely because of their perceived awkwardness in social situations. There are many benefits to hiring people on the spectrum such as attention to strong technical details, and their hardworking nature. Programs like SAP’s Autism at Work program provide employers the opportunity to tap into a largely unused skillset and bring hope to those on the spectrum.


Merrick: How did you get to be nominated for the second (Autism Spectrum Award) ASA award?


Gloria Mendoza: On July 25th, 2016, the Els for Autism Golf Challenge had an event at the Philadelphia Country Club. One of my mentors approached me and asked for me to sing the National Anthem at that event. I happily accepted. On a hot summer day, I sang at the event there, and my performance got an overwhelmingly positive response. So much so, that my nomination was sent in along with a recording of that performance. It was this performance that got me my nomination for the second Autism Spectrum Award.


Merrick: How did you feel getting it?


Gloria Mendoza: To say I was happy to get it is an understatement. In fact, I was overjoyed, but a little overwhelmed at the same time. I couldn’t believe that my performance at the Els for Autism Golf event got me nominated for this award, and that I actually won it. Nevertheless, I felt very proud of myself for it. What made the moment of receiving the ASA award even more special, was that it was also my birthday. It ended up being a very special birthday present. Not to mention, I even got to spend some time off in Las Vegas.


Merrick: How has it impacted you?


Gloria Mendoza: Everyone in my immediate work team, as well as everyone in the Autism at Work program is very proud of me for receiving this award. I feel like I am an inspiration for many people on the spectrum who struggle in the job search, as well as young kids on the spectrum who are facing the challenge of living life on the spectrum. One mother even approached me at the post-ceremony party and told me that I was an inspiration for her son. A comment like that made me feel that I could make an impact in someone’s life. In terms of my career, I have been given many opportunities to challenge myself. For example, I am the very first person in the Autism At Work program to go to customer businesses around the country. I have also been given more opportunities to share my story. For example, in 2019, I got to tell my story at SAP’s CEO Summit in New York city. Not to mention, I was asked to sing again, and I got to meet the CEO’s of many corporations. It was very exciting for me to share my story and sing for many business executives. I have even been interviewed for the CBS Sunday Morning news show. The interview is available here.



Merrick: What are your future plans?


Gloria Mendoza: I am currently in the process of taking a big step forward in my career. As stated before, I am currently in training to become a project manager. In October of 2020, I started a rotation on a team specializing in the accounting aspect of project management. Part of that training involves me having to take two certification exams. One of them I have already passed to obtain my certification in Microsoft Project 2016 (Orange Belt). The second exam is the rigorous CAPM (Certified Associate Project Manager) exam. I have been studying very hard for this exam and am planning to take the exam later in the year. From there, I hope to start out as an Associate Project Manager and start managing projects based on what I have learned over the past few months. In short, there is nowhere to go but up in my career and in my life.

Merrick’s 2nd Story: OPP & The Golf Trust


Other Foundations:





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