Michele Portlock is a mother of four children living in Parker, Colorado. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Brigham Young University and worked as an elementary school teacher for two years before taking an extended sabbatical to raise her family. Michele recently completed a master’s degree in behavior therapy from Arizona State University where she developed skills which enable her to help others navigate the autism experience.

Michele has three neurodivergent children, and has spent countless hours researching and studying how to best provide necessary and adequate resources for her children. This learning sparked a desire in Michele to reach out and help other parents navigate the autism spectrum in a meaningful way. At church, Michele has served as a stake public affairs assistant director, in a Primary presidency and a Relief Society presidency, and as a teacher. She currently serves as the Relief Society president in her ward.

Highlights

3:45 What does spectrum mean in the world of autism?

8:20 How can leaders help people that are autistic?

  • Take autism on an individual basis
  • Each autistic person has different needs

11:15 Autistic individuals don’t always pick up on social cues. They can be very direct and honest, which could make others feel uncomfortable.

13:00 Many but not all autistic individuals have alexithymia, which is the lack of awareness of emotions. It’s difficult to understand others’ emotions.

16:00 Autism can be an invisible disability

17:30 Michele gives advice to the parents of autistic children and explains how she involves the leaders or teachers of her children

22:15 Is autism genetic?

25:00 Leadership and autism

30:00 Would it be possible for an autistic individual to handle a big calling?

35:30 Autistic individuals take a more logical approach rather than an emotional or empathetic one. Sometimes they can come off cold or harsh but that’s just how they think. It’s not them trying to offend. Learning to communicate with these individuals is important.

42:15 Michele shares her experience as a Relief Society president. Her number one takeaway is that we won’t always connect with people but ministering is an opportunity to learn, love and listen.

47:10 When we accommodate one, we unknowingly accommodate many. We need to focus on inclusion because it’s a way to show love.

Links

Podcast: Navigating the Spectrum with Michele Portlock
MichelePortlock.com
Leading Those with Special Needs | An Interview with Stan Beagley
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