(DOUG JESSOPJESSOP’S JOURNAL) What is the difference between “autism awareness” and “autism acceptance?” In this Jessop’s Journal episode we visit with people that have powerful, positive and inspirational stories.

Watch the video for the full 30-minute episode of Jessop’s Journal – a collection of “Powerful, Positive & Inspirational Stories.” Tune in to ABC4 Sunday mornings at 10 or visit JessopsJournal.com

In this 30-minute episode of Jessop’s Journal we are featuring “Music, Motors & Autism Acceptance”

Our first guest has a powerful voice and positive story.. so yes, he’s going to be our musical guest as well.

Cheyenne Stevens has an inspirational story of autism acceptance through her custom Ford Mustang named “Cookie Monster”

Alexis Cruz explains her autism acceptance connection with the hit ABC TV show “The Good Doctors.”

Everyone has a story. Objects with stories are Treasures Remembered.

But first, Will Baxter.

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Think about the storytelling power of music. Music can make you all kinds of emotions. Jessop’s Journal features extended interviews with people from all walks of life. In this episode I sat down with the lead singer/songwriter for the Will Baxter Band, none other than, Will Baxter.

Life can be a bit serendipitous sometimes. I interviewed a gentleman by the name of Fire Battalion Chief Jeffrey Thomas.

Jessop’s Journal interview with Fire Battalion Chief Jeffrey Thomas

I noticed that Jeffrey had shared a link to one of his favorite R&B musicians. One thing led to another and here we are.

I enjoy featuring musicians for a couple of reasons. Number one, I love music and back in the day, when I had more hair, I was a radio DJ. Number two, it takes some major cojones to be a full-time musician and this lovely COVID thing really hit the entertainment industry hard. Be able to feature musicians is my way of trying to help out.

Will was surrounded by music and music lovers as a kid. There was one genre that he didn’t have much exposure to at home. It was a friends Dad that had an incredible collection of Rhythm and Blues and Motown that sparked the creative juice in Will.

Lucky for you and me, Will also happen to bring his guitar along and performed a song called “You and I” in this interview. I felt like Marvin Gaye had transported to the chair next to me as Will serenaded; “Where have the good times gone. Sing along. We’ve got to come together. Find a way to make tomorrow better than today.”

I asked Will; “What’s it mean for you to have somebody say, you know there’s this one song, that this guy, Will Baxter sings. That every time I think about it, I think about this?” Will smiled broadly and replied; “To me that is leaving your mark. It’s that song, ‘You and I’ that you heard and kind of connected to. I think the greatest songwriters, that is probably their goal. To reach people through music, that message. And I like to leave a mark that is a positive message.”

I’m all about positive. Well said, Will!

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(DOUG JESSOP JESSOP’S JOURNEYS) The universal symbol for autism is a puzzle piece. Cheyenne Stevens has taken that symbol to new heights with her customized Ford Mustang on exhibit at the Autorama car show.

Cheyenne’s car “Cookie Monster” is just one example of unique vehicles you will see at AutoRama.

When you take a closer look at “Cookie Monster” you will notice a huge number of those “puzzle pieces” on the car. Cheyenne explained that her favorite part is the hidden puzzle pieces. Instead of the standard “Autism Awareness”, Cheyenne is promoting “Autism Acceptance”. She explained that the hidden puzzle pieces are like the parts of a person dealing with autism that you might not know or recognize. The takeaway – don’t judge people automatically , get to know them .

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Autism. You may know about lack of eye contact and other social skills, but do you know about the unique ability to look at things differently.

Alexis Cruz deals with autism. ABC’s The Good Doctor illustrates the challenges along with the strengths you may not realize about people with autism. We asked her about the character Dr. Shaun Murphy, a young surgeon that has autism. “It blew me away with how accurate it feels. I do really relate to that character as well sometimes.”

The Dr. Murphy character is quite direct; “I have a neurological condition. I will always have it. “

Alexis is not a character of a TV show. She is an example of a young woman living with autism. She told me; “With autism there is no pill.  There is nothing that will help you focus or fix whatever social, communication problems you have. So, we have to cope with that and use that to our ability.”

The video trailer from the Good Doctor flashes the words across the screen “Greatest Challenge” followed by “Greatest Strength.”  Alexis demonstrates the ‘strength’ portion of that statement. “My superpower is autism. With autism, I can see solutions to problems that some people didn’t know existed. I see multiple outcomes of certain things.”

Stephanie Mackay with Columbus Community Center explains; “Young adults on the spectrum often have hyper focus. They can see patterns. they have different sensory experiences that can make them see things differently. “

What is Alexis’s hyper-focus?  “Ever since I’ve been able to hold a crayon. It’s always art stuff. Anything to do with art… “

That creative superpower has landed her a job as an apprentice with a local jeweler with the help of vocational rehab and job placement services from Columbus Community Center.

I have to admit, Alexis Cruz impressed me with her resolve when she told me; “I will show people what I can do…go ahead and underestimate me, just because I have autism. But I’m going to show you what I am as a human being, not as a person with autism.”

What advice does Alexis’s Mom, Cindy Cruz, have for other families that are dealing with autism? “Get to know your kid. And keep trying because there are things that you think they should be doing because that’s the normal. But they have a different set of normal and that’s okay.”

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Ilanna Schwalbe from Connecticut sent me these pictures and the story behind her Russian samovar.

Samovars became popular as a source of accessible hot water and for warmth from the bitter Russian winters. Most importantly, Samovars were the center of cultural life.

When Illanna’s great, great grandmother and her family from Minsk, Belarus were fleeing the Cossacks in the late 1800s and trying to get to America, they hid this samovar in a blanket and disguised it as a baby. 

They arrived in New York and settled in Milwaukee. This tea server with the Russian writing has been passed down and was given to Ilanna by her mother.

Everyone has a story. Objects with stories are Treasures Remembered.

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Everyone has a story. I strongly feel that “stories have power”. Chances are that if you are going through something, that someone else probably has as well. The shared experiences we humans have can help each other. That my friend makes the point that stories “help us understand each other.”

You don’t have to agree with everyone, but in my opinion, if people would take more time getting to knowing more about others and where they are coming from, we just might find out that we have more similarities than differences.

Please consider following me at www.DougJessop.com, LinkedIn, YouTube and at “@dougjessopnews” on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Jessop’s Journal is something special when it comes to broadcast news. I have the honor of being able to do longer in-depth interviews that you don’t normally see with people from all walks of life. A big shout out goes to my collaborator, Ed Wilets, who does a great job as my videographer/editor for all my stories. Your feedback is always welcome at DJessop@abc4.com

It’s my honor to be able to share, Jessop’s Journal, a 30-minute collection of Powerful, Positive and Inspirational Stories every Sunday morning at 10 a.m. on ABC4 to all of Utah along with parts of Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and Arizona. Jessop’s Journal is also available worldwide at JessopsJournal.com.

With another entry into Jessop’s Journal, I’m Doug Jessop.

Doug Jessop
For Doug Jessop, it all started with a cassette recorder he got for Christmas when he was 12 years old growing up in Southern California. Doug interviewed relatives, friends and anyone else that might have a good story. You can follow Doug at www.DougJessop.com, on YouTube.com/DougJessop, and @DougJessopNews on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Jessop’s Journal is a copyrighted production of Fedora Incorporated and made possible by the generous support of XLEAR, Tatt2Away, Millcreek Gardens and LIFE Never Boring.