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Meet Shannon Penrod of Autism Live in Woodland Hills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shannon Penrod.

Shannon, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
In January of 2006, my two 1/2-year-old son was diagnosed with Autism. I remember being shaken by the news, but I wasn’t devastated. My thought was, he’s still the same child he was before the diagnosis, we just have more information. Now we will find all the information available about Autism and we will help him. Simple. Except it wasn’t at all. I didn’t know where to turn, who could help or how to start. It was painful. It took time, research, luck and possibly divine intervention but eventually I found the help my son needed. As my son improved, I knew I wanted to make it easier for others to find their path. I was asked to host a radio show called Everyday Autism Miracles and I jumped at the chance to interview experts and members of the Autism community to spread information and inspiration.

While hosting that show, Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh came to me and asked me to host a show in the studio she was building. Dr. Granpeesheh is the founder of CARD, the Center for Autism and Related Disorder. CARD was the place I had found all of the answers for my son, so there wasn’t a possibility of saying no! It was like being handed a gift, the gift of being able to pay forward all I had received. For the last eight years, I have been hosting Autism Live, providing the Autism community with a place to go to find answers, hope, resources and fellowship. It has been the greatest privilege of my life after getting to be my son’s parent. The people I have met and interviewed have been some of the most inspirational people in the world.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
We often refer to Autism Live as “The Little Show that Could”. We are a little show with big aspirations! I can’t tell you the number of times someone has had an idea and the immediate thought has been, “We can’t do that.” But that quickly fades and then we ask, “HOW can we do that?” I think this is ingrained in me now because of my son. He has taught me that all things are possible. Sometimes you just have to look at it in another way and you literally find another way.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Autism Live – what should we know?
Autism Live in an interactive show all about Autism. We welcome the larger Autism community. This, of course, includes individuals who are on the spectrum themselves, but it also includes all the people who care about them, their parents, siblings, teachers, therapists, friends, spouses, etc. Our show airs Monday through Friday on a wide variety of platforms from YouTube, to Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, etc. and then the show is available as a podcast on iTunes, where it is a free download. All the content we provide is free to the world.

Our goal always is to provide information and inspiration. We know our community is not a “one size fits all” so there’s a lot to talk about and a lot to share. Autism Live is interactive, we take questions from our viewers all over the world. One of the things we are known for is our segment “Jargon of the Day” where we take a word, phrase of acronym that has something to do with the Autism community. We give the actual definition, which is often so ridiculously full of other jargon terms that all we can do is make fun of it! Then we give a working definition of the term with an example. We have heard from so many colleges and universities who use our “Jargon of the Day” as a way to teach their students! It’s mind-blowing. The other thing we are known for are the segments when real Autism experts answer questions from viewers. On Wednesdays we feature Ask Dr. Doreen. Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh, one of the world’s leading experts in Autism, answers questions for a full hour. I’m so proud we offer that as a free resource.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I think one of the most important things we have done consistently right at Autism Live is keep our eyes on mission 1, which was to be a resource to the larger Autism community. We wanted to be a place where people could come and feel safe, where they could get information and ask questions. I love what Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people won’t forget how you made them feel.” At Autism Live we want people to feel like they have come home to a place where we all belong and no one is left out. So that’s the mission. Not having my hair and make-up look perfect. Maybe not having new graphics, but just giving people a place to be positive.

We’ve also tried to listen to our viewers and respond to their needs. Every year we publish a toy guide that lists award-winning toys for children, teens and adults on the spectrum. We also host a yearly Sensitive Santa event in conjunction with We Rock the Spectrum and CARD. It’s my favorite time of the year. Families come and spend quality time at a We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym, then they get a private visit with Santa. They get to take as many pictures as they want and every child gets a free wrapped toy from one of the top toy makers. The entire event is free. It’s a really inspirational experience, I’m so grateful to be a part of it.

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