Very few people will devote their professional lives to helping those diagnosed with a well-known but mysterious, challenging disorder. Even fewer people who themselves suffer from the disorder would pursue such a career – and when the condition is autism, such an endeavor would require a person with wisdom, patience, tolerance.
Dr. Stephen Shore is one such person. It would not be a stretch to say that he spends the majority of his waking hours in service to those, like himself, who are diagnosed with autism. Whether teaching courses at Adelphi University, writing books about autism, or making presentations to national and international audiences, Stephen is committed to improving lives.
“I teach courses in autism and special education primarily to students preparing for careers in teaching, social work, and psychology, and my research focuses on matching best practice to the needs of individuals on the autism spectrum,” Stephen said. “In my spare time, I give music lessons to children on the autism spectrum.”
Stephen also serves on the advisory boards of more than ten Autism and/or Asperger Syndrome organizations, and is working with Autism Speaks to determine the effects of upcoming changes in criteria for the autism spectrum in the upcoming release of Diagnostic and Statisticians Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association.
While admitting there are some ‘disordering aspects’ about autism, Stephen said he just looks at it as a different way of being.
“Having autism allows me to see, perceive, and decode the world in a slightly different way than those not on the autism spectrum,” he said. “It is my mission to use this different way of being to empower others with autism and other conditions lead as fulfilling and productive lives as possible”
After a lifetime of helping those with autism, plus all of his research, book-writing, and other outreach efforts, the next step was for Stephen to take part in evaluating potential research grants. He was given this opportunity when he was nominated to be a peer reviewer for the Department of Defense Autism Research Program (ARP).
“I found the scientific community to be interested and receptive to the viewpoints of individuals on the autism spectrum, and those directly supporting them,” Stephen said. “In this regard, the Army is doing a great service for those on the autism spectrum.”
Stephen’s experience on the peer review panel gave him a new appreciation of the research process, while also adding yet another outlet for his continued focus on anything that will help him gain a better understanding of autism.
“Involvement as a customer reviewer in the ARP is a great way to serve our country by aiding in research for the benefit of those with autism and other conditions,” he said. “I was honored to get involved with this important opportunity to make our voices heard at this critical juncture in moving science forward.”