Dont forget to tune in tonight at 6pm EST on the VoiceAmerica Variety Channel!
As an archaeologist and father to Becky, a teenager who was diagnosed with autism as a child, Tom Penders was well-positioned to realize the connection between archaeology and people on the autism spectrum. Out of the desire to help Becky and other children on the autism spectrum improve the quality of their lives as much as possible and have fun in the process, Tom founded Archaeologists for Autism, which is currently based in Titusville, Florida. Through free events that feature fun activities related to archaeology, AFA aims to spread awareness about autism, promote research, and encourage the children to develop their potential and show their families what they’re capable of. Tom hopes AFA will one day expand to include nation-wide events that allow children and families struggling with autism to experience archaeology in a fun and low-stress environment. Find out more about the program and how you can help on tonight’s episode!
Tom Penders has been an archaeologist since 1984, working throughout Florida and also in Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico and Belize. He is currently the cultural resources manager for the 45th Space Wing, USAF at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. He also heads a small CRM firm called Thomas Penders and Associates and runs volunteer archaeological research projects on weekends from January to April as part of the Indian River Anthropological Society, a local chapter of the Florida Anthropological Society. They have developed a partnership with the Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands Program, conducting archaeological research projects on their lands and assisting them with their management of cultural resources. Tom’s research interests are in aerospace archaeology, the Indian River Cultural Area, faunal artifact analysis, and wet site archaeology. In addition to his professional life, he is the father of Becky who is 15 years old. She has bilateral Anophthalmia (blind, she has no eyes), has epilepsy and is autistic. Tom and his wife Nell have been married for 26 years.