6/22 – Cora, Crew and Coffee (Little Rock, Arkansas) Day 2

Our second day of interviews with Cora, this time outside for a small conversation at a local coffee shop where she shares more about her daily life. Given the fact that she can talk about her opinions so articulately, it is hard to imagine that Cora, as an autistic person, has difficulties interacting with others at times. But Cora loses her speech when overwhelmed by sensory and emotional overload. On this day, she shows us how she is always prepared for unexpected events and difficulties that might arise in social situations.

Cora receives us at the front door.
Meanwhile, outside it was raining hard.
The view of the street from inside the van. Hurricane Cindy was approaching the area but we still had a few hours before it hit full force.


In the parking lot, Mr. Takeuchi and Mr. Yoshikawa prepare their equipment before going into the coffee shop.
Cora also sets up her assisting device, so we can experience first hand the importance of the technology to her daily routines.
Heading to Mugs Cafe, not far from where Cora lives.
The film crew wanted to capture Cora’s interactions with the coffee shop workers using AAC (augmented assisted  communication) device. Most people do not at first understand how to interact with someone who speaks through an assistive device. But in this case, everything goes without a problem.


Interacting through her assisting device isn’t always so easy. It can be difficult for others to understand that she can lose speech when overwhelmed by various physical (lights or sounds) or emotional inputs.
Cora also showed us the full content of her pockets; she likes to be prepared for situations that might overwhelm her senses. The precise term for what Cora and many on the Autism spectrum experience is Sensory Overload; items like the ones Cora carries can be used as anchors and comforts, mitigating disruption.

Dr. Ikegami mentioned that “although Cora’s wearing of the vest with 22 pockets and all the tools that she keeps inside in order to prevent her from having a breakdown might look like an obsession for neurotypical audiences, it is symbolic for her real autistic experiences. “

Among the things she carries are essential oils, which help when her sense of smell is overtaken by powerful or not-so-pleasant aromas.

“The deeper issue here is that she has hyper-sensitivities in sensory perceptions and emotional reactions, and she also has different ways of understanding the world in terms of the way she perceives time and space.

“Cora’s vest serves like a fighting jacket for her in order to be able to live in society.” said Dr. Ikegami.

She even carries things in her back pockets.
Mr. Takeuchi, carrying the camera outside.


Cora and Eiko


A small coffee break for the crew.
One of the most common views in Little Rock: big highways criss-crossing the city.
Back at home. Cora also uses a timer for every day things like letting the dog outside, otherwise she quickly loses her sense of time.


Cora and Dr. Ikegami engaged in a deep conversation about the sorts of issues that people on the autism spectrum have that make their daily routines different from others.
Dr. Ikegami translates questions the NHK crew have into English, and then explains Cora’s answers back to them.
A gift of silk from Japan.



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