If you spot a ‘sensory room’ at a sports stadium, you likely have this couple to thank.

When Julian Maha and Michelle Kong’s first infant was diagnosed with autism, their world turned upside down.

Maha and Kong’s son Abram was an easy, delightful, precocious newborn at first. Around age 2, his behaviour abruptly changed. He stopped talking. He stopped sleeping. He wept inconsolably half the night.

Though they are both physicians themselves, his mothers were at a loss. They consulted several physicians, finally landing an appointment with one of the top speech postpone specialists in the country.

After a short examination, the doctor abruptly delivered the daunting news: Abram has autism. He would probably never speak, never tell, “I love you.” And the doctor’s opinion was that there was a good chance Maha and Kong would end up institutionalizing him because he was only going to get worse.

Maha and Kong were stunned.

“It was as if someone had dropped a bomb in our lives, and we were just standing there holding the pieces, ” Maha said in a TED Talk. Abram’s diagnosis changed everything — including what would become the couple’s life calling.

Maha and Kong speedily became aware that families affected by autism often feel isolated and excluded from society.

The couple found themselves thrust into a whole new world, and soon discovered that many parents of kids with autism find themselves with little social support.

Some people with an autism spectrum ailment are nonverbal totally or merely at times, which can stimulate communication difficult. The vocalizations that sometimes come with autism can be fazing to people without autism who are unfamiliar with them. Too many noises, suns, people, or other stimuli can push people with autism into sensory overload, which can lead to meltdowns.

And then there are the premises. Because they communicate differently, people with autism are often perceived to be unintelligent or unfeeling.

Abram and two brothers Juda. Photo via Julian Maha.

However, Maha and Kong realized that many of society’s perceptions of autism are simply wrong. People with autism are often very intelligent and experience a full range of feelings. Many utterly can and do feel and understand — it’s only that sometimes, they just can’t demonstrate it in ways that most of us without autism understand.

Maha and Kong believe that many of these prejudices can be dissolved through awareness, acceptance, and inclusion. So they set out on a major mission.

They founded KultureCity, an all-volunteer nonprofit that advocates for acceptance and inclusion of the persons with autism — and helps make it happen.

Based out of Birmingham, Alabama, where Maha and Kong live, KultureCity seeks to transform national societies to be accepting and inclusive of neurodiversity.

“Everyone’s aware of autism now, ” says Maha. “I think it’s the next step of adoption and inclusion that’s really going to start construct changes for so many kids.”

Noise-cancelling headphones can help a child with autism in sensory overload. Photo via Julian Maha.

KultureCity works toward that goal by developing people in guest service positions on how to interact with guests with sensory processing differences. They also help stimulate spaces more all-inclusive through minor adjustments and accommodations. The educate is the most important thing, though, Maha says. When non-autistic people know what to expect and have tools for interacting with someone who may made sensory overload, everyone’s experience is more positive.

KultureCity has helped generate sensory-inclusive spaces at more than half of NBA stadiums, in addition to other venues.

The organization works with zoos, aquariums, professional sports venues, and other public spaces around the country to help them be more sensory-inclusive.

Maha points out that there’s a difference between a sensory-friendly space or event and a sensory-inclusive one. A sensory- friendly space offer lower noise levels and mob, but such accommodations might obstruct the experiences of others. A sensory- inclusive space provides accommodations that have little to no impact on anyone else, but make a big difference for people prone to sensory overload.

Such an accommodation might be a room where people can escape the crowds and noise in a sports stadium, for example. Or it could be a grab bag filled with things like noise-cancelling headphones, stimming tools, and weighted lap pads( which can help people feeling grounded ).

Calm lighting, minimal decor, and various grounding activities give people a respite from sensory overload. Photo via Julian Maha.

But that really only scratches the surface of what KultureCity is doing. Most recently, they’ve generated a free app that provides various resources for people with sensory processing differences and parents of kids with autism.

It can be a challenging diagnosis, but Maha wants people to know that people with autism are no different from your children or loved ones who don’t have it.

“They view the world differently and they take in the world differently from us, but their wants and needs are still similar, ” Maha notes. “They still seek adoption and inclusion, they want to be part of the community, and it’s our mission to help embrace them regardless of their differences.”

Make sure to visit: CapGeneration.com


Elon Musk answered a critic on Twitter. He forgot something very important: his fans.

Twitter can be a remarkable tool.

The ability to instantaneously send a message to your favorite athlete, a movie star, or even the president of the United States still seems like something out of a sci-fi novel. The platform’s ubiquity also means you may even get responses from the famous person you reach out to. That’s a good thing, right? As we’re learning with each occur day, perhaps it’s not.

When a science writer tweeted criticism of billionaire Elon Musk, she got a personal response from him — and many of his followers.

Writing for The Daily Beast, Erin Biba recounted what happened when she addressed Musk’s recent anti-media tirades and his criticism of a nanotechnologist as being “1 00% synonymous with BS” on account of her chore title.

“A billionaire w/ massive power @elonmusk lashed out at two of the most under-attack industries in the country: Journalism and Science. Both are essential for republic. We should criticize our important organizations, but we shouldn’t threaten their existence w/ powerful ignorance, ” wrote Biba in a series of now deleted tweets. She also noted 😛 TAGEND

“In this country we deify self-made men who generate empires and when they behave irresponsibly we call them ‘eccentric’ and say the good they have done for the world excuses their bad behaviour. But instead we need to make these men look at themselves and distinguish the true scope of their power and the RESPONSIBILITY TO HUMANITY that comes with it.”

Musk replied, “I have never attacked science. Definitely assaulted misleading journalism like yours though.”

Now, there’s nothing too terrible about his response. In fact, it’s the exact kind of reaction any of us might have when facing criticism we feel is unwarranted or unjust. The discrepancies between you, me, and Biba is that Musk has, at the time of this writing, 21.9 million Twitter followers.

A number of those followers took Musk’s response to Biba as an invitation to attack her.( She exemplifies a number of examples in her narrative; they’re pretty graphic .)

Her story creates a great question about what responsibility people with large followings have to mitigate harassment done in their name, if any.

There are no easy answers here. The truth is that there’s a big difference between someone with 20 followers and someone with 20 million followers. Both people can respond to criticism in the exact same way with massively different outcomes.

In response to Biba’s article, author Neil Gaiman opened up about some of the lessons in responsibility he’s learned in recent years and why “with great power comes great responsibility when you have millions of followers.”

Photos by Neilson Barnard/ Getty Images and Justin Sullivan/ Getty Images.

He began with his own experience, saying, “I screwed up very badly almost a decade ago a couple of times, and was called out by friends, before I understood that arguing on Twitter in front of millions of followers can be bullying.”

For the next several hours, Gaiman responded to occasional the issue of his worldview and what he sees as his social responsibility on social media. “If you define people on other people it’s bullying, even if you think you have right on your side, ” he wrote .

But truly it comes down to “not being a dick.”

Gaiman brushed off criticism that saying that people with big followings should take extra care not to subject people to an onslaught of harassment was itself a sort of censorship, chalking it up to etiquette.

Most importantly, however, he said this: “I learned long ago that there are ways of doing Twitter that discourage followers from ‘dogpiling, ‘ and that’s an important thing to be aware of when you have many adherents. I learned it from doing it wrong, and being called out kindly by friends I respect.”

This story could just as well be about any celebrity with a large following or intense fanbase.

This isn’t about Elon Musk, specifically, but the style we navigate technology and the new ways it has enabled us to communicate with one another. Again, Musk’s response to Biba was fine. Look at it in a vacuum, and it’d be hard to pinpoint the issue beyond a little bit of mutual snark. The overwhelming majority of his Twitter followers are also, I’m sure, good people who don’t harass others. But if even simply one out of every 1,000 adherents is the type of overzealous user who views criticism of Musk as something they need to personally address, that still amounts to virtually 22,000 people.

After a novelist tweeted “Hey has @elonmusk denounced his antisemitic followers yet or is he still hollering at scientists? ” he received a number of threatening images.

This issue plays out all the time and is often framed in a way that indicates the celebrity has cultivated a uniquely toxic fanbase, but that’s absolutely no truth to the rumors. The questions — whether discussing fans of Elon Musk, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, or anyone else — is that all it takes to completely ruin someone’s day( or worse) is for a small minority of any of these individuals’ fans to lash out. An overzealous Musk fan isn’t Musk’s fault nor is Swift responsible for the most outrageous acts undertaken by her legion of “Swifties.”

There are things celebrities can do to discourage dogpiles.

Some celebrities, such as President Donald Trump, bring out the worst their fans. After being elected president in 2016, Trump was asked about instances of his supporters harassing minority groups. He half-heartedly turned to the camera and told, “Stop it.” Given that this came after a campaign filled with racist rhetoric and violent imagery at his rallies, his on-air plea to his supporters came across rather unconvincing.

Even if he’d been more careful about his language or been more convincing in denouncing harassment, a number of his supporters would have probably have done it anyway. Like Musk, Trump cannot be held responsible for every action by his supporters. Still, if you’re a celebrity, there’s definitely some benefit in letting people know you don’t want them to cause harm in your name. It won’t solve every issue, but it will almost certainly help.

That’s what Musk did, clearing the air a few hours after Biba’s article was published 😛 TAGEND

He took a proactive step to minimize the effects of harassment.

The lesson here is about empathy and the importance of not causing others harm.

A common criticism, as posed to Gaiman, is that indicating people take into account how their followers might react to something is tantamount to being forced to give up “free speech.” What this fails to examine is how the fear that posting criticism of the chairman or a billionaire CEO will result in days of harassment might also have a chilling effect on “free speech” as a concept.

Social media also has a flattening consequence in which people watch person like Trump singling out a family who blamed him as him only pushing back — failing to take into account that he is the president of the United States( and before that, a candidate for chairwoman and business tycoon ).

These types of power dynamics exist everywhere, but we’re usually be permitted to navigate them a little bit easier in the offline world.

For example, imagine you’re at a baseball game and someone sitting in the row behind you purposely spills a drinking on your head. You might pop up ready for a fight, ready to get in their face. Now imagine the drink was spilled by a toddler. Would you still be ready to fight the toddler? Would you still get in the toddler’s face? Likely not. This is because we all understand the importance of proportional answers. On the internet, this gets lost.

If we can find a way to bring offline proportionality and understanding of power dynamics to the world of social media, we can improve the way we communicate and live up to some of the platform’s loftier ideals.

Make sure to visit: CapGeneration.com

Feeling down about your body? This study says try compassion instead of comparison.

As a mom of two daughters, I know that body comparings start early.

My husband and I have tried really hard to instill a healthy body image into most children. We focus on health and what our bodies can do instead of what they look like. We try not to belittle our own physical appearance and strive to be an example of loving the bodies we’re in.

But society’s body-shaming messages still filter through. I’ve had to stop my daughters when they start comparing themselves to others. And admittedly, even I have a hard time not internally grumbling about Jillian Michaels’ six-pack when I’m doing one of her workouts.

Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/ Getty Images.

A new survey says that we can transform our own body image by transforming the style we think.

Researchers at University of Waterloo discover that girls can improve their body image and create less disordered eating habits by changing their mindset from competitiveness to compassion.

According to the study’s press release, which was published in the journal Body Image, “The study found that comparison-focused women who deliberately exercise compassion towards the females they compare themselves to experience less body discontent, a lower motivation to diet, and a reduced tendency to compare their appearance to those around them.”

Photo by Chris Hondros/ Getty Images.

“Making comparisons with one another arrives naturally to us, and in modern society, that is especially common when it comes to women and their bodies, ” said Kiruthiha Vimalakanthan, a co-author of such studies. But those comparisons tend to attain us feel badly about ourselves.

Instead of comparison and competitor, we should focus on compassion and connection.

Participants in such studies, which involved 120 females of diverse ethnicities, were split into three groups and asked to engage in self-help strategies to combat negative body comparisons. One group was coached to use a “competitive” mindset, thinking of ways the latter are superior to the target of their comparison. One used a “caregiving” mindset to develop compassion and kindness toward the target. And the third employed a “distraction” method to try to remove comparative thoughts wholly.

Of the three methods, the compassion approach proved the best available at helping women reduce negative body comparisons. According to the release, “This study is the first to demonstrate that trying to cultivate compassion for others — by wishing them to be happy and free from suffering — may, in turn, benefit one’s own body image and eating attitudes.”

We fare best when we feel less threatened and more connected to our fellow humans. So instead of begrudging Jillian Michaels and her perfectly toned abs, perhaps I’ll try sharing compassion for our shared experience of tipping over while putting on our undies. It’s a start.

Make sure to visit: CapGeneration.com

Pete Davidson nailed why you can be mentally ill and in a healthy relationship.

Photos by Alberto E. Rodriguez/ Getty Images and Jason Merritt/ Getty Images.

Singer Ariana Grande and “Saturday Night Live” cast member Pete Davidson were reportedly dating.

Neither star as of May 2018 had confirmed the relationship outright, but their reps haven’t pushed back on reports claiming the two have linked up. The vocalist and comedian’s playful interactions on Instagram have certainly suggested to fans a romance is budding.

While many celebrated the news, it inevitably came with a side of backlash too. Some of the criticism, however, traversed an unfortunate line.

Trolls began pointing to Davidson’s history of mental illness to suggest he couldn’t be in a healthy relationship.

The comedian felt it necessary to closed that down. Fast.

“Normally, I wouldn’t comment on something like this cause like, fuck you, ” Davidson wrote in a note he shared to his Instagram story. “But[ I’ve] been hearing a lot of ‘people with BPD[ Borderline Personality Disorder] can’t be in relationships’ talk. I simply wanna let you know that’s not true.”

Last year, Davidson said he was diagnosed with BPD in 2016 after having lived through a “nightmare” year that involved rehab and grappling with the ups and downs of diagnosis. The comedian has furthermore spoken openly about living with depression.

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/ Getty Images.

“Just because someone has a mental illness does not mean they can’t be happy and in a relationship, ” Davidson wrote. “It also doesn’t mean that person makes the relationship toxic.”

After noting there are many life-changing treatments available for people like him, Davidson emphasized the importance of combating stigmas links with mental illness.

“I just think it’s fucked up to stigmatize people as crazy and say that they are unable to do stuff that anyone can do, ” he wrote. “It’s not their faulting and it’s the wrong way for people to look at things.”

Images via Pete Davidson/ Instagram.

Davidson has been praised by mental health proponents for using his celebrity to humanize his illnesses — and poking fun at himself along the way.

In one “SNL” segment that aired shortly after he went populace with his diagnosis, the comedian speak candidly about his mental illness with “Weekend Update” host Colin Jost.

“If you’re in the casting of a late-night comedy reveal, it might help if they, you know, do more of your comedy sketches, ” Davidson joked about styles others can help him get through his dark days. “I was born depressed, but it might make me feel better if I was on Tv more.”

Photo by Christopher Polk/ Getty Images.

Like many comedians, Davidson often use brash and cringeworthy lines as a kind of therapy to overcome trauma. His father succumbed on 9/11, for example, and the comedian’s folded the devastating loss into his routine with a comedic spin.

Laughter may not be the best medicine, but it surely going to be able to.

Davidson ended his message on Instagram clarifying why he decided to speak up in the first place.

“I’m simply writing this because I want everyone out there who has an illness to know that it’s absolutely no truth to the rumors[ that you can’t be mentally ill and be in a relationship] and that anyone who says that is ill and full of shit, ” he wrote. “Mental illness is not a joke; it’s a real thing.”

“For all those struggling I want you to know that I love you and I understand you and it is going to be OK, ” Davidson concluded. “That’s all. Love to everyone else.”

Make sure to visit: CapGeneration.com

How one thoughtful gesture inspired a nonprofit for sick youth around the country.

Do you remember the exhilaration of ensure a movie in theaters when you were young?

Those experiences can feel magical. Even the interesting thing — your ticket being torn, watching your popcorn get scooped into a bag, scouring the display case for your favorite candy, choosing the perfect seat — are all part of this meaningful and exciting ritual, especially when it’s new.

Image via iStock.

It can be easy to forget, though, that not everyone has these experiences. For instance, youth in hospitals combating serious and even life-threatening illnesses are among that group .

Going to see a movie in theaters could be only a remote memory for them.

While their friends enthusiastically talking here the new “Star Wars” movie, quoting all their favorite lines, youth in hospitals are sometimes left out , not knowing when they’ll be able to see it. And by the time the movie is released after its theater running — presuming they have access to DVDs, streaming services, or the like — the excitement often has died down, and everyone has moved on to the next blockbuster.

For young people who already feel unplugged from the outside world, it’s one more route they can feel left out .

This is something that Janis Fischer noticed when she was volunteering at her local hospital’s movie night.

On these Friday evening movie nights, the hospital would screen movies they had rented. These were always popular occasions , so in January 2001, Fischer guessed she’d up the fun and give them an extra special experience: go to the movies that was still in theaters .

Fischer was able to borrow a friend’s screening copy of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas, ” which had only just opened in theaters. The exhilaration on the hospital floor lasted for days.

That’s when Fischer had a brilliant idea — rather than making this a one-time treat, she’d find a way to bring the theater to them on a regular basis.

After an introduction from a mutual friend, she teamed up with Evelyn Iocolano, who had worked on a number of major motion pictures like “I’ll Be There” and “The Big Tease.” Joshua Gaspero, a children’s book publisher and friend of Fischer, joined the team as well.

Together, the three founded Lollipop Theater Network , a nonprofit that brings brand new films and TV series to youth in hospitals across the country .

“[ We] let them have a little bit of their childhood back, ” Iocolano explains.