Dr. Michael McManmon and Dr. Stephen Shore have unique life stories as individuals with autism and as respected leaders in the field of understanding autism. Despite their challenges, they have both experienced remarkable success.
The two met 15 years ago when Michael was in the audience during one of Stephen’s presentations. After the presentation, Michael introduced himself to Stephen and invited him to visit the CIP Berkshire Center. Since this meeting, CIP has grown from one to five locations across the US. CIP is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.
Since their initial meeting, Shore and McManmon have become well known in the field of autism as sought after speakers and successful individuals on the spectrum. Over the years, they have co-presented on topics such as understanding an autism diagnosis, executive functioning, self-advocacy, and self-disclosure.
Michael and Stephen enjoyed traveling to conferences where they presented on autism-related topics.“ I had a great time presenting around the world with Michael in places like Hong Kong and South Africa,” Stephen commented. “We learned to adapt to each other and our quirks.”
“Stephen was like my Asperger's cousin”, McManmon stated. He seemed more affected by the syndrome in his mannerisms, while I seemed to pass as "neurotypical" much easier. But at the same time, we were different flavors of ice cream and seemed to compliment each other; we fed off each other's work.”
Shore believes one of the main differences between himself and Michael is that Stephen knew about his diagnosis his entire life as he had regressive autism and developed speech later. Michael, on the other hand, was misdiagnosed and accurately diagnosed later in life.
“He didn't know he was autistic when I met him. He was diagnosed by people at CIP. It took him a while to accept that. Once he did, it opened a floodgate of opportunity for him. He sensed he needed something different and his students needed similar things,” Shore remarked
Michael sees several similarities between Stephen and himself.
“Stephen and I are similar in that I feel we both are unique thinkers, we both require little for ourselves to exist, we both are very intelligent, we both enjoy irony and puns, we both like to educate others, we both care about what happens to young people on the spectrum. We like to travel, write books and we both like to swim,” Michael commented.
“From the beginning of our relationship, I thought Michael had a lot of insight into why people do what they did,” Shore commented. “I thought this was curious. He was surprised that I already knew he had Asperger’s after he told me he was diagnosed. Michael had self-discovery,” he continued.
Over the past 35 years, Michael guided CIP as it expanded beyond CIP's flagship Center in Lee, Massachusetts. CIP now operates five year-round and summer programs in Florida, Indiana, Northern and Southern California. The program continues to provide comprehensive support for students as they transition to independent living, college, and the workplace.
Shore believes the best way to measure success for CIP students is by measuring their outcomes. “Students need to transition out into the world of work, and the best pathway for success for students is to know themselves and what’s important to them. We need to support them with learning more about what it means to be autistic. They need to start thinking about transitions, look intensively at themselves and to know their interests and strengths,” he commented.
Stephen continues to travel and speak at conferences around the world. Michael is semi-retired and resides part-time in Mexico.
Shore serves on CIP’s Advisory Board and has been very supportive of Michael and CIP over the years. “CIP remains the most comprehensive program for helping students with autism,” stated Shore. “Their approach is effective. I have spent time with CIP faculty at various sites. They do it well.”
Sarah B. Williams is CIP’s National Director of Public Relations. She works to develop and implement communication strategies that will broaden CIP’s impact and overall awareness. Sarah earned a BA from UC Berkeley and has been published in media outlets that serve the autism and LD community. Sarah is passionate about helping young adults with learning differences achieve success. Her son is a CIP alumnus.