Autreat presentations
Below are some of the workshops which were given at Autreat in the past:



Autreat 1996: Celebrating Autistic Culture

Abuse Recognition and Prevention

Kate Corcoran

The Americans With Disabilities Act

Dawn Engel

Avoiding Unfortunate Situations (autism and law enforcement personnel)

Dennis Debbaudt

Deaf Culture and the Deaf Community

Frieda N. Heckman and Mattie Letham

Orientation to Self-Advocacy for Parents and Professionals

Jane Johnston and Jim Sinclair

The Self-Advocacy Movement: What Is It and How Can People With Autism Be Involved?

Sally Johnston, Michael Kennedy, and Bonnie Shoultz

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Autreat 1997: To Survive – And Thrive!

Alternatives to Violence

Joy Meeker

Coping with Sensory Problems of Autism: Creative "Stimming"

Jane Johnston

The Gateway for Families: Fellowship is its Own Reward

Cara Crosby and Sylvia Wolfe

How to Get From Here to There: Basics of Advocacy, Supports and How to Access Them

Mary Handley and Beth Wallbridge

Introduction to Assistive Technology

Cal Montgomery

A Portable Tool Kit for Communication Survival

Jim Sinclair

Self-Awareness as a Survival Skill

Dave Spicer

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Autreat 1998: Celebrating Our Worlds

*Autism Literature and Research: How to be an Intelligent Consumer

Jane Johnston and Jared Blackburn. 

*Autism and People of Color 

Dr. Carla Bradley.

*Medical Malpractitioners: Self-Advocacy in the Health Care Setting 

Sue Solursh. 

*Balancing Two Worlds

Jim Sinclair.

*Cures and Rights: Medical and Social Models of Disability 

Ron Amundson (via video) and Cal Montgomery. 

*Models of Identity Development as Applied to Autistic People 

Dr. Carla Bradley and Jim Sinclair.

*On Inclusivity 

Cal Montgomery.

*"Speaking for the Disabled"? 

Mayer Shevin.  

*Parenting and Providing Care for Autistic Children and Adolescents 

Bud Cooney, M.S.

*Teaching Techniques for Educators 

Claire Waldron.

*Applied work group on finding appropriate assistive technology 

Cal Montgomery.

*Applied work group on making religious communities inclusive  

Cal Montgomery, Cantor Emanuel C. Perlman, C.S.W., and Rev. Nancy Lane, Ph.D.

*Learning About Me (for autistic children of elementary to middle school age) 

Sue Solursh and Claire Waldron.

*Figuring Out What to Do (for autistic youth of middle to high school age) 

Dave Spicer.

*Learning to Understand (for non-autistic children and teenagers who have autistic friends, neighbors, classmates, or family members)  

Jim Sinclair.

Complete Autreat 1998 brochure

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Autreat 1999 - Telling Our Stories

*The Autism Community as a Neurological Diaspora: Some Cultural Parallels and Some Practical Responses

Phil Schwarz

This workshop will examine the notion that the autism community is a diaspora. We will consider some definitions of the terms "autism community" and "diaspora", and look at some characteristics of more conventional (that is, more widely recognized) types of diaspora (ethnic, religious, linguistic, racial), and at some constructive community- and cultural-survival responses to diaspora conditions that various diaspora communities have developed. We will examine whether there are useful parallels between these and the autism community. If this workshop is successful beyond its facilitator's wildest dreams, we'll emerge with some goals and agenda items for the autism community that will strengthen us as a community.

*Jumping Hurdles: Strategies for obtaining and maintaining employment 

Dr. Marjorie F. Olney, Ph.D.

Autistic people and those with related disabilities often have a difficult time getting and keeping jobs. A variety of approaches have been suggested such as specialized assistance with job seeking, vocational counseling, and supported employment. In this workshop we will (a) review the employment literature, discuss promising practices, and apply principles and practices to various situations. Participants will learn how to: (1) Identify vocational strengths and needs for themselves; (2) Translate strengths into saleable skills; (3) Find out what employers want and expect; (4) Get the appropriate accomodations and supports; (4) Play to one's strengths; and (5) Communicate effectively with employers and coworkers. 

*Humour and Its Autistic Variants

Susan T. Solursh, M.S.Sc.

This will be a discussion of the ways in which we all share humour in the world (autistic and non-autistic alike) and of the unique ways in which persons with autism observe and understand jokes of various sorts and humorous situations. During the discussion we will look at the cognitive abilities necessary for the understanding of different types of humour and how this may present difficulties for persons with autism e.g., with sarcasm. We will also discuss how current societal perspectives on humour may lead to professional and familial ignorance regarding the ability of many autistic persons to enjoy humour. Finally, we will look at the personal and social health values of humour. Prior to Autreat, individuals planning to attend this workshop will be asked to bring something silly, or a picture or description of something silly, that they enjoy.

*Introduction to Euthanasia: A Disability Rights Perspective

Cal Montgomery

This discussion will cover some of the issues raised by the euthanasia movement and discuss how they are relevant to the disability rights movement in general and the autism community in particular. 

*How To...: Task Analysis for Fun and More Fun

Cal Montgomery

Have you ever tried to deal with the kind of people who populate the world? If you have, you know it takes some skills. 

*"The Role of Changeling Lore in Autistic Culture"

Kim Duff

The definition of Changeling lore, and how this lore applies to autistics and parents. Changeling lore is a means of self-identification for AC's. Changeling lore is a blameless explanation for parents.

*Demystifying the Politics of Transition: From Compliance to Empowerment  

Bud Cooney

This session will examine the insider perspective which currently dominates transition planning and processes. An overview of parent and young adult rights according to IDEA will be presented as well as suggestions for empowering young adults and parents for a more purposeful transition. 

*Autism and Relationships: Are We Having Fun Yet?

Dave Spicer and Dove.

We will discuss the theory and practice of relationships involving a person on the autistic spectrum. Using examples from our marriage, we'll address issues of communication, trust, acceptance, support, humor, and so on.


*The Professional as Non-Expert: Collaboration and "Challenging Behaviors"

Mayer Shevin, PhD.

We willSome of the most effective professional support comes in the form of finding out what a person wishes to change about his or her own behavior, and what that person hypothesizes will be helpful in supporting that change, and using that as a starting point for professional and team collaboration.

*Advocacy Strategies for Everyone

Bonnie Shoultz, M.A.

Skills to help you become a stronger advocate for your child or yourself.

*Stories About Stories: Learning and Building Through Popular Media

Jim Sinclair.

  Fixations and perseverations are powerful tools for autistic people. In this participatory session we will explore the impact of favorite television programs, books, music, or other popular media on our lives. Bring something to share about your own popular-media fixations!

Complete Autreat 1999 Brochure

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Autreat 2000: Living Life the Autly Way

*BACK TO BASICS: The Fundamental Principles

Cal Montgomery, writer, speaker, and activist focusing on disability issues 

In 1975, a group of British disabled people came together to discuss the "fundamental principles" of disability, and how those principles should guide activism. In the past 25 years, a great deal of interesting activism and research has been done based on social-model principles. We will discuss the fundamental principles to see whether - and if so, how - they apply to our lives. A reading list for further study will be provided.

*HOW TO PLAY WITH DOLLS: For Kids and Adults

Jim Sinclair, disability educator and consultant, coordinator of Autism Network International

For purposes of this workshop, a "doll" may be any inanimate object that we play with by imagining it to have aspects of personhood. This includes the traditional toy-human type of doll, as well as toy animals, and any other toys or objects that our imaginations transform into living entities. In this intergenerational workshop, we will share and explore different ways autistic people can use doll play for fun and for learning, and ways that parents, educators, and therapists can use doll play to help autistic people in developing skills and understanding. You'll also get to meet some of Jim's Hercules and Xena action figures! Participants are invited to bring their own favorite dolls and doll stories.

*Music: What Is It, What Does It Mean To Us, and How Can We Use It?

Katja Gottschewski, musician and music therapist, Bodø, Norway

In this workshop, we will explore different aspects of music. We will look at differences and similarities in how we as individuals or as AC's and NT's define and experience music. It will be discussed how we can communicate through music. How is music different from language? Can music be a bridge between AC's and NT's? Other functions of music will also be discussed.

*"On Paper I'm Free": The Role of Written Words in the Lives of ACs

Sola Shelly, writer and poet, recently-recognized as a Cousin

This workshop will discuss the nature of written words as an AC friendly medium. The various functions of written words in the lives of AC people, for self-preservation, interpersonal connections, and community building will be explored and illustrated. The format will be of a structured, moderated group discussion.

*Practical Autism

Dave Spicer, consultant to TEACCH and the Autism Society of North Carolina, ASNC Board Member

Being autistic in ways that work, finding effective ways of dealing with everyday autistic life. By pooling our wisdom and experience, we will build a "knowledge base" which will then be made available in printed form. Version 1.0 will appear after the first session; it will be revised and reissued after the second.

*Guiding Behavior Responsibly (Your Child's, and/or Your Own)

Jim Sinclair, disability educator and consultant, coordinator of AutismNetwork International 

Disability advocates are frequently confronted with the need to balance concerns about legitimate needs to teach and enforce standards of acceptable behavior, against the reality that techniques of behavior "management" are routinely used on developmentally disabled people that would be considered unacceptable if applied to nondisabled learners. In this workshop we will discuss both ethical principles and practical approaches for developing responsible self-management in autistic people. Though addressed primarily to parents and others who are in supervisory and teaching positions with autistic people, some of the concepts presented may also be helpful to independent autistic people (or those working toward independence) in thinking about how to balance their autistic sensibilities with the demands of the neurotypical world.

*Sisyphus Condemned: The Use of Power

Cal Montgomery, writer, speaker, and activist focusing on disability issues

Who decides? and How? are two fundamental questions about power. What is power? Who has it? Who wants it? What does it mean to have power? How is power used? And what does this mean for autistic people and those who live and work with autistic people? We will discuss power - focusing specifically on the ways in which power and powerlessness become issues in the lives of disabled people - and its use and abuse 

*There Must Be A Better Way: Guardianship and its Alternatives

Mayer Shevin, private consultant, and associate of Syracuse University's Facilitated Communication Institute

Many parents and families seek guardianship for their children with disabilities, as a way of protecting those people from exploitation, and as a way of providing supports which that person might sometimes need in certain aspects of decision-making. However, guardianship typically involves a finding of incompetence, and leads to a life-long loss of autonomy and basic civil rights. This presentation will identify some of the alternatives which exist to guardianship, and will include an open discussion on peoples' experiences which point toward non-oppressive and non-coercive support of decision-making. 

*Transforming Public Perceptions of Autism: A Question, Not An Answer

Laura A. Tisoncik ("muskie" on IRC), webmaster of http://www.autistics.org

This workshop examines the way autism is portrayed in the media and by professionals, how these portrayals affect the lives of autistics, looks at how other groups have transformed the way they are seen by society, and searches for ways we can transform current perceptions of autism. Participants are invited to bring examples of how autism is portrayed (good and bad), and plenty of ideas. 

*Using Sensory Integration Strategies to Cope in a Neurotypical World

Sue Golubock, MEd, OTR/L, Loudon County Public Schools, Virginia

Understanding how the AC brain processes input; how a parent or autistic can develop a "sensory diet" to help ease stress, decrease defensiveness, improve motor planning, and aid in organization; when to consider and what you might expect from a sensory integration trained therapist or other therapies.

Complete Autreat 2000 Brochure

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Autreat 2002: Exploring Our Paths

Developing an IEP for Yourself (if you are over 18) or Your Child Based on Autistic Strengths Rather Than Disabilities

Susan Golubock, M.Ed., O.T.R./L

Susan Golubock has worked for over 25 years as an occupational therapist in school systems across the US and in Germany. She both initiated and actively participated in the movement to change therapy services to become more educationally relevant. She has given presentations on team-building and interdisciplinary integration. Her master's thesis focused on building positive attitudes toward disabilities in the inclusive classroom. Susan is on the autism spectrum, which contributes to her strong interest in the needs and special challenges of autistic students.

Dealing with Your NT Parents

Jim Sinclair

Jim Sinclair is a counselor and educator who has a special interest in helping people learn to understand and translate between their own and others' communication systems. 

Autism and Sociology: Can You Get Here From There?

Dave Spicer

Dave was born in Connecticut in 1948 and relocated to western North Carolina in 1981. His autism diagnosis came in 1994 at age 46, after the diagnosis of his son Andrew (now age 17). He is the first autistic person to serve on the Board of the Autism Society of North Carolina, regularly assists the TEACCH program, and has presented at several autism conferences. Dave is currently attending the University of North Carolina - Asheville and plans to major in Disabilities Studies. He lives in Asheville with his wife Dove.

Consumer Directed/Self-determination, Promoting Real Choice

Sally W. Johnston, Program Coordinator for Enable and Field Coordinator for the Self-Advocacy Regional Organizing Program and Lori Kelso, Self-Determination Project 

Sally Johnston is Program Coordinator for Enables Self Directed Personal Services and she is the Field Assistant for the Self-Advocacy Grassroots Regional Organizing Program.  Sally has been an activist in the disability rights movement for over 25 years and is currently President of the New York State Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Association. 

Lori Kelso has worked for the AmeriCorps project through the association and she is currently assisting the self advocacy grass-roots regional organizing program with presentations.

What is behaviour and what is not: just because it does not make sense to you does not mean it does not make sense to everyone 

Claire Waldron

Claire Waldron works as an advocate, educator, and support worker for individuals with neurological disabilities. She has worked in schools residential and institutional facilities as well as with families in their homes, schools, work places, public and religious communities. Her unique method requires an integrated approach to the persons daily activities and goals as set by the professionals and primary care givers. In a school environment, this method ensures that the individuals needs and abilities are met while the child continues to grow and learn in an environment that is positive and fun. She has taught professionals and parents all over the world about working with individuals with learning disabilities, autism and Tourettes syndrome. As an arts therapist, Claire uses non-conventional methods to establish and promote non-verbal methods of communication as an alternative to violent or unproductive behavior. 

 Inertia: From Theory to Praxis

Anna Sullivan

Anna is a (peer-diagnosed, self-confirmed) aspie, who's been perseveratively interested in inertia for about three years.

Bioethics and Disability: Thinking About Quality of Life

Adrienne Asch, PhD 

Adrienne Asch is the Henry R. Luce Professor in Biology, Ethics and the Politics of Human Reproduction at Wellesley College.  Her work focuses on the ethical, political, psychological, and social implications of human reproduction and the family.  At Wellesley, she has created a unique program rarely available to undergraduates, teaching such courses as: Multi-disciplinary Approaches to Abortion; Ethical and Social Issues in Genetics; Women and Motherhood; Ethical and Policy Issues in Reproduction; and Literature in Medicine. She is editor with Erik Parens of _Prenatal Testing and Disability Rights_, published in 2000 by Georgetown University Press, and is completing a book on assisted reproduction for Johns Hopkins University Press.

Sensibilities and Sensitivities -- Food Issues for People who are Autistic

Patricia E. Clark

Diagnosed autistic and also with celiac disease in 1950, Ms. Clark grew up unaware of those facts. She attended public schools in California, was married from 1964 to 1982, worked as a journalist for the military overseas for nine years, and raised two children on her own. Suddenly things fell apart and she was unable to work any more, partly due to autism, partly to the ravages of untreated celiac disease. She is now living near Atlanta, Georgia, and a board member of the Autism Society of America - Greater Georgia Chapter.

Support People on the Job

Perry Whittico

Perry Whittico is a field assistant for the Grass Roots Organizing Program of the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State, Inc.; administrator for the Self-Advocates of Central New York "Determined to be a Leader" grant; and volunteer adviser to On Board project staff at the Center on Human Policy. Perry is a co-funder and current advisory panel member of Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (National Self-Advocacy Steering Committee), and has current or past involvement with numerous boards and committees including the Center on Human Policy Advocacy Board, Task Force on Board Inclusion, Task Force on Self Determination, Hutchings Psychiatric Center's Consumer Advisory Board, and was co-chair of the Coalition for the Closure of the Syracuse Developmental Center.

Complete Autreat 2002 Brochure

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Autreat 2003: Transforming Our World

Building Alliances

Phil Schwarz, Vice President, Asperger's Association of New England

This workshop will focus on constructive working relationships with others -- "allies".
It will pose several relevant questions for discussion, including:
  • What are the boundaries of our community?  How do we identify sympathetic people outside the boundaries of our community?
  • What does it mean to be an ally to the autistic self-advocacy movement? To our community in general?
  • How do we identify potential allies?  How do we build productive working relationships with them?

Phil Schwarz has been a member of ANI since 1994, and has attended all
Autreats since 1997.  Phil is vice-president of the Asperger's Association
of New England, and has served on its board of directors since 1996.  This
is Phil's second time as an Autreat workshop presenter.

Cousinhood: Who cares and other questions

Sola Shelly

This workshop is about the various functions of ANI, as an example of an autistic-run organization. Some functions are within the AC community, as a social, cultural and support group, where A stands for "autistic", and C stands for "cousin". Some functions are advocacy-oriented, addressing the relationship between AC people as a group, and the general society. The premise of this workshop is that definitions and status of members depend on context. The term Cousin was first coined in ANI to refer to disabled non-autistic people having meaningful commonality with autistic people. However, over time the term Cousin was used in ANI also for people who had some autistic traits, but who were not fully autistic. There will not be an attempt to define what autism is, or draw the line between autism-labels and sub-clinical autism, but rather to describe various approaches to the autism continuum, and list arguments for and against using them in the medical, social-cultural and advocacy contexts, by looking at the relations between issues of disability, labeling, advocacy, community and culture, and by comparison with other visible and invisible disabilities. Clarifying terms is important for setting advocacy goals, and for diffusing some of the anxiety that people without formal labels, and even with formal labels, may feel about belonging with the AC community.

Sola Shelly initially became involved with ANI as a parent, but she soon became intensely interested in autistic community, and in the meaning of belonging to a community. Sola's respect for the autonomy and needs of autistic people involved her with issues of advocacy and disability rights. For some period of time she served as a moderator for the Parents' Auxiliary of ANI-L. Exploring her own place in this autistic community led her to a long-term fixation on the concept of Cousinhood. Through participation on ANI-L, attendance at ANI events, and personal contact with ACs, as well as extensive review of AC writings on the subject, Sola has gained understanding of the various meanings and implications of Cousinhood.  Sola's careful, thorough, rigorous examination of Cousinhood brought her to the conclusion, a few years ago, that she was a Cousin.  She later was formally diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.

Designing Your Own Sensory Diet (And How to Make It Work)

Susan J. Golubock, M.Ed., OTR/L

Just as food is important in keeping our physical bodies going throughout the day, sensory input is important to keeping our nervous systems functioning at desired levels throughout the day. Sensory processing and modulation challenges can drain our resources too quickly, leaving us starved and hungry for input that will put our nervous system back to a functional level. Discover your individual sensory profile. Identify sensory input that fits your profile and can become staples in your "sensory diet". Learn when to use what during your day to keep your nervous system functioning a little better.

After years as an occupational therapist pursuing everything she could on a personal and professional level about how the brain works, Sue finally discovered what made her own brain so different. She was diagnosed with PDD, then Asperger's in her 50's. Sue currently works as an OT for The Center for Neurodevelopmental Studies (www.thechildrenscenteraz.com), with children on
the autism spectrum. Her area of special interest has always been sensory
integration, to which she has added a master's degree in assistive technology. Sue owes much of what she has accomplished to the support of her husband of 35 years.

Organizing Domestic Space: Creating A Comfortable Home

Zosia Zaks

In this workshop, people on the autistic spectrum are offered concrete suggestions and procedures for organizing their homes. Various issues surrounding getting organized are also discussed, such as how to begin and how to feel good about where we live. Participants are invited (but not required) to make charts, diagrams, maps, and visual aids that will help the organizational process.

Zosia has Asperger's Syndrome. She struggled to organize her domestic
environment, but with the help of friends and much trial and error, she has worked out practical ways to get and stay organized at home. Zosia is an active member of the New York City Adult Asperger Syndrome Support Group and speaks publicly on issues important to the autistic community. This workshop was presented at the Asperger's Association of New England's October 2002 conference, and at the Advocates for Individuals with High Functioning Autism, Asperger's Syndrome and Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders conference on Long Island in April 2003. She is also currently writing a book about Asperger's Syndrome.

Social skills: An autistic assessment

Jim Sinclair

Social skills assessments for autistic people usually follow the approach of comparing the autistic person's behavior with expectations of typical behavior in NT society, and identifying any differences as deficits to be remedied through social skills training. This workshop will define different types of social skills, considering their implications for the autistic person and for the people interacting with the autistic person. We will look at ways to classify different social behaviors, and factors in distinguishing between differences and deficits. A structured system
will be proposed for assessing social skills and making decisions about social skills instruction, based on premises that are respectful of autistic and non-autistic people.

Jim Sinclair is an autistic person and a counselor working with AC
clients and consulting with families and schools. Jim does a lot of work
with autistic and non-autistic people on learning to understand each other
and developing skills for peaceful coexistence. Jim has been coordinator
of ANI since its founding in 1992, and has helped many autistic and
non-autistic ANI members untangle difficult interpersonal situations.

Spectrum/Non-Spectrum Intimate Relationships: A New Perspective On Making It Work

Gena Daniels and Zosia Zaks

This workshop presents ways to bridge differences that may come up between a partner on the autistic spectrum and one not on the spectrum in a way that doesn't negate the autistic partner's experiences or strengths. Instead of the standard focus on autistic short-comings and how the non-spectrum partner can negotiate these problems or live without all the things an autistic person can't give, the workshop
features creative compromises both partners can make that do not invalidate either one's needs. Practical suggestions can enhance communication and reduce frustration for both individuals. The workshop goes on to explore autistic experiences of love and how autistic strengths can play an important role in the relationship. For singles, alternative dating ideas and new ways to navigate the complex process of finding a partner are also included.

Zosia Zaks has Asperger's Syndrome and is in a relationship with Gena
Daniels, who is not on the spectrum. Their workshop on relationships began taking shape when, while seeking out information for spectrum/non-spectrum couples, Zosia and Gena found it difficult to find materials that emphasized autistic strengths and that analyzed relationship behavior from an autistic perspective. Zosia is an active member of the New York City Adult Asperger Syndrome Support Group,
speaks publicly on issues important to the autistic community, and is also currently writing a book about Asperger's Syndrome.

Gena Daniels is in a relationship with Zosia Zaks, who has Asperger's Syndrome. They live together in New York City with their four cats. Gena attends New York City Adult Asperger Syndrome Support Group meetings with Zosia regularly, and has also worked with many children on the autistic spectrum. For more information regarding interpersonal relationships with people on the autistic spectrum, Gena may be contacted via email here (Gena).

Complete Autreat 2003 Brochure

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Autreat 2004: Making Connections

  • "Brain Power": Uncovering the Possibilities of an Autistic Public Presence

    - Jean Kearns Miller

    Participants will be asked to consider the idea of a larger role in autism self-advocacy for public presence: a public visibility; consciousness-raising; outreach to isolated ACs; and stigma reduction. I will begin by presenting an abbreviated inventory of self-advocacy movements, most of them brain-related, which I have had recent connection with, along with what each of them does by way of public presence. To further enlist participants' help in imagining options, I will demonstrate a few options: artifacts, concepts, and snippets of performance art (kept mercifully short to allow for their dubious entertainment value). I hope participants will join me in exploring possibilities, defining parameters, and discovering available media and avenues, through both conversation and play, e.g, participating in sketches, writing monologue bits, coming up with car sticker designs and mottos...etcetera?

    - Jean Kearns Miller, 55, is a writer and community college English teacher who lives in Michigan with her husband and two children. She has recently published, edited, and contributed pieces to Women from Another Planet?: Our Lives in the Universe of Autism, a collection of conversations and writings by and about women on the spectrum.

  • Identifying, Educating, and Empowering Allies

    - Phil Schwarz, Vice President, Asperger's Association of New England

    This workshop is a follow-on to the Autreat 2003 workshop "Building Alliances". We will focus on practical steps we can take to identify, educate and empower potential allies in the non-autistic population, and on the issues and frontiers on which allies can be most effective.

    - Phil Schwarz has been a member of ANI since 1994, and has attended all Autreats since 1997. An AS adult and the father of an autistic son, Phil is vice-president of the Asperger's Association of New England, and has served on its board of directors since 1996. This is Phil's third time as an Autreat workshop presenter.

  • Autistic culture isolated by language

    - Heta Pukki, biologist, student of autism related special education

    The Finnish autism community has been developing for about six years in relative isolation from the wider internet culture. In many ways the views and self perceptions held within this community, and the action arising from it, resemble those elsewhere. Some local differences are apparent, and these are described along with possible factors leading to them. Questions will be posed for further discussion, concerning problems in crossing language and cultural boundaries, and ways to overcome these.

    - Heta is from Finland, biologist by her first training, just finishing two-year studies in autism related special education at the University of Birmingham (distance study). She has an AS diagnosis, as do herhusband and five-year-old daughter. She has been active in Finland's developing local autism culture for about six years, occasionally participating also in developing official services. I have a long term interest in autism theory, especially issues connected to emotional expression.

  • When Autism and Institutions Collide -- and the Aftermaths

    - A M Baggs and D M Kahrs

    Autistic people who have lived in institutions have a unique set of experiences that can profoundly shape, for better or for worse, the way we experience the world, even after we have left these situations. They resemble and differ from the experiences of non-autistic people in institutions, and the experiences of autistic people who have never been institutionalized. We will, incorporating our own lives as well as our research, explore a variety of institutional experiences and the ways they can shape communication, thinking, and perceiving. Our aim is to help in building a non-pathologized framework for understanding and self-understanding of autistic people who have lived in institutions, and bridge the communication gaps that can occur. There will be a discussion period at the end.

    - A M Baggs is a 23-year-old autistic woman who was told, after she first attended Autreat, "You have 'institution' written all over you!" Not having realized that her experiences had a name prior to that point, she has spent the last five years researching what that comment meant. She has made sense of the mess her life seemed at the time by learning directly from those with similar experiences, and reading about different experiences and the emotional, mental, social, and political aspects of institutionalization. She now perceives these experiences as having shaped her life and personality nearly as much as autism has, and wants to help create better communication and understanding of this area of people's lives.

    - D M Kahrs is a 47-year-old non-autistic woman who was institutionalized for a year and a half when she was a teenager. She has had experience working with and around people with developmental disabilities, and specifically autism, many of whom have also been institutionalized in one form or another. She has assisted people with developing self-advocacy skills. She currently works for A M Baggs as an SLS (supported living) worker. She also wants to help create better communication and understanding around institutionalization and its effects.

  • Making Employment Fit: Accommodations and other dirty words

    - Joel Smith

    Employment is difficult for many autistic people. We are square pegs who don't fit nicely into round holes. Rather then forcing the autistic into a job, would it be possible to change the job to better fit the autistic? In this presentation, ideas and real-life examples are presented of how jobs can be modified to best accommodate autistic sensitivities. We will also discuss how to modify your job without alienating your boss or coworkers.

    - Joel Smith is an non-typical employee who has managed to survive and even thrive in several types of employment - small business, venture startup, large corporations, and government - by modifying the jobs to fit himself. Joel has worked as the team leader, hiring and supervising small teams, which has given him insight into the "other side" of employment. Joel currently works for a government agency, where he has successfully negotiated a variety of accommodations to make his job fit Joel, rather then the other way around.

  • Women from another planet? Some relations between feminism and AC awareness

    - Sola Shelly

    This workshop is inspired by a book titled "Women from Another Planet? Our Lives in the Universe of Autism", to which I have contributed. I will illustrate some of the profound differences between AC and NT women, in relation to the traditional and the feminist role model of women. The conclusion of this presentation is, that AC women may have more commonalties with AC men than with NT women, because ACs are much less aware of, or are much less affected by, gender roles than NTs are. Without trying to define feminism, I will explore the usefullness of some ideas, which are widely identified with feminism, for AC people.

    - Sola Shelly has been a female and an Aspie all her life. While her AC awareness has not developed until her 40's, she has wondered about gender roles and about her relating with other girls and women since a very young age, because she has always felt different. Sola is a contributor and a co-editor of a book edited by Jean Kearns Miller, titled "Women from Another Planet? Our Lives in the Universe of Autism", which is a collection of writings by AC women.

  • Issues of creative writing and sexuality in the light of mainstream research and autistic culture - the need to resist attitudes disguised as science

    - Heta Pukki, biologist, student of autism related special education

    Current theoretical approaches to autism are moving away from many obviously false one cause explanations. However, problematic aspects remain, and these may often be harder to spot than simplistic belief in things like the "Theory of Mind" hypothesis. Research approaches and scientific discourse reveal subtle attitudes that can be harmful if they are passed on to practitioners and allowed to guide support measures. Some views of this type by various researchers and theorists, concerning creativity, sexuality and emotion in autistic people, will be pointed out. Examples of ways to counter such views will be presented, on the basis of the speaker's two-year studies at the University of Birmingham autism program.

  • Who cares? Or: The Truth about Empathy in Individuals of the Autism Spectrum

    - Isabel Dziobek, M.S., and Kim Rogers, M.A.

    A lack of empathy is considered a central characteristic of individuals on the autism spectrum. Surprisingly though, to date, no systematic research has been carried out in support of this view. We will present data from such a study conducted at the Center for Brain Health, NYU School of Medicine. The results seem to contradict common belief and indicate that, once you account for social cognitive problems, people on the spectrum show just as much empathy as neurotypicals.

    - Isabel Dziobek received her Masters Degree in Psychology from the University of Bochum, Germany and has been practicing neuropsychology in clinic and research since 1997. She is currently completing her PhD in experimental neuropsychology at the University of Duesseldorf. With the Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research in Cologne she has developed a new video-based instrument to measure social cognition in autism spectrum disorders. Since 2001 she has been working at the Center for Brain Health, neuroimaging laboratory of the NYU School of Medicine where she is co-investigator of a study looking at social cognition and the brain in adults with Asperger syndrome.

    - Kimberley Rogers received her master's degree in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College in New York. She has gained considerable experience over the past few years conducting neuropsychological assessments at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center and the NYU School of Medicine. She is currently involved in research at the NYU School of Medicine's Center for Brain Health, focusing on empathy and social cognition in Asperger Syndrome.

  • Understanding How Plants Can Facilitate Connections in Autistic children and adults

    - George Salamunec, HTR, COTA/L, Certified Master Gardener, and Susan Golubock, M.Ed., OTR/L

    Working with, and understanding about, plants can be an effective tool for developing the senses, reducing stress, and learning to make new connections in autistic children and adults. Matching plants to one's personality and needs is an important first step. Plants provide opportunities for autistic children to explore life, nurturing, modulation, non-aggressive options and choices for dealing with natural adversities, and why learning about other life (and people) outside of ourselves is so important. For autistics of all ages, plants provide an opportunity to successfully interact with another life form that doesn't require a lot of time or money and that can enhance, rather than compromise, as the human world sometimes can, one's sense of "self" and one's way of being.

    - George Salamunec, HTR, COTA/L is a Registered Horticultural Therapist through the American Horticultural Therapy Association and a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. He is also a Certified Master Gardener and a Junior Master Gardener Specialist though the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences-Maricopa County Cooperative Extension. Since 1997, George has worked at The Children's Center for Neurodevelopmental Studies (CCNS) treating children that have Autism and other developmental disabilities utilizing a sensory integrative frame of reference. He has aided in the training of occupational therapy, music therapy and Speech-Language Pathology interns in utilizing horticultural therapy as a therapeutic modality. George has initiated and been developing the horticultural therapy program at CCNS-East Valley Site. He is also developing a vocational program and is working with special education teachers to integrate prevocational tasks into the student's daily routine. George is participating in a research project at CCNS-East Valley Site determining the effectiveness of sensory integration therapy. George has been diagnosed with Non Verbal Learning Disorder early in his life. He is also the founding Vice President of the Arizona Horticultural Therapy Association.

    - Susan Golubock has worked as an occupational therapist for over 30 years. Her area of focus has been sensory integration. She has presented at least 3 years at Autreat in this area of specialty. She earned a master's degree in special education technology in 1995. Susan self-diagnosed at age 50, and received an official diagnosis of PDD-NOS, followed by a diagnosis of Asperger's, within the next 3-7 years. She currently works, with George, at the Children's Center for Neurodevelopmental Studies in Mesa, Arizona, with predominately autistic children and adolescents. She has recently initiated a research project in an attempt to demonstrate the effectiveness of teacher-therapist collaboration in facilitating sensory integration and promoting natural neurological connections in autistic individuals.

  • The Nature and Functions of Boundaries, Rules, and Social Conventions

         Jim Sinclair

    This workshop will explore the concepts of boundaries, rules, social conventions, and their relative importance in different social situations.

    Jim Sinclair is an autistic person who began violating social expectations at birth (if not before) and is still at it, but has a deep respect for the concept of boundaries. As a counselor, Jim frequently has occasion to help people navigate situations in which there are discrepancies between one person's behavior and another person's expectations. Communicating and explaining about rules, boundaries and conventions are central to much of Jim's work as well as personal life.

Complete Autreat 2004 Brochure

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Autreat 2005: Reaching Out

Self-Advocacy for All Autistics

Susan Golubock, M.Ed., OTR/L

Self-advocacy, the ability to speak up for one self, is an essential life skill. For many autistics and cousins (ACs), development of this skill can be significantly delayed or interfered with due to the sensory, social, communication and cognitive differences that make learning and/or successfully executing this skill difficult.  Case studies will be used to show how practical, non-invasive, tools and strategies can be adapted to teach or facilitate the learning of self-advocacy skills with AC children and teens with varying levels of abilities. The presentation will cover teaching/learning rights as well as personal responsibilities.

Susan Golubock is an occupational therapist with over 30 years experience in working with school age children in the area of sensory integration. In 1995 Susan earned a master's degree in assistive technology. Susan was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome as an adult, following her own self-discovery while working with autistic children. Susan focused exclusively for 4 years on the assistive technology and self-advocacy needs of middle and high school students, many of whom were on the autism spectrum. Susan spent the last 2 years working with autistic children and teens dealing with significant sensory processing challenges in a private school setting. She currently works part-time in a private clinic with autistic children in addition to giving workshops as a co-founder of Making Sense of Autism.

The Meaning and Practice of Acceptance: Long-Term and Short-Term Goals for Autistic Children

Sola Shelly

This presentation will elaborate on the difference between accepting an autistic child as he/she is, versus accepting them for who they are-- autistic. Ideas and dilemmas relating to long-term personal goals will be applied to autistic children. Decisions like choosing therapies and educational settings will be discussed from an autistic point of view. Some tips for daily life will be described and illustrated by examples.

Sola Shelly is an Aspie woman. One of her children is an autistic teenager. While not having a formal degree in psychology or related areas, she has read extensively, and attended professional conferences, to educate herself about the approach of the parent/professional community to autism and its treatment. More than anything, Sola has gained important insights from reading writings of, and interacting with, autistic people. Sola is a great believer in self-awareness both for parents and children, and in well-informed decision-making.

"Ask an NT" Panel

Jim Sinclair

Mainstream autism conferences often have panels of autistic people to answer questions about the experience of autism. This is our chance to ask a panel of neurotypical people all those things we've wondered about NTs and why they do the things they do.

Jim Sinclair was a member of the panel of autistic people at the 1990 Autism Society of American conference, and has spoken at many conferences and other events since then. Jim has been organizing Autreat since 1996, and has worked extensively with both autistic and non-autistic presenters and conference organizers.

Developing Leisure Skills and Promoting Social Skills for Teens Through Assistive Technology

Barbara Stern Delsack, MSPA/CCC
Speech-Language Pathologist
Assistive Technology Specialist
Montgomery County Public Schools
Montgomery College

Parents and teachers are challenged to engage autistic teenagers in meaningful, motivating and age appropriate activities. Teens have difficulty finding recreation and leisure activities that encourage peer interactions and socialization. This workshop will provide practical ideas, examples and resources for using assistive technology to create quality activities for these autistic teenagers.

Barbara Stern Delsack is a Speech-Language Pathologist/ Assistive Technology Specialist with Montgomery County Public Schools. She is a graduate of the Hahnemann University : Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and has worked in the area of Autism for the past 20 years. In addition, she is an Adjunct Professor at Montgomery College (Infants, Toddlers, and Young Children with Special Needs and Chronic Conditions, Introduction to Augmentative Communication and Assistive Technology, Augmentative Communication Strategies: Formulating and Creating Schedules and Other Visual Supports, Engineering the Environment for Communication and Leisure Time Activities) and at The George Washington University (Introduction to Augmentative Communication and Assistive Technology). She has presented at numerous conferences (Tam-Kellar Conference: Recreation and Leisure Activities for Teenagers with Special Needs February 7, 2003, A Partnership: Baltimore City Schools PAL Programs And Johns Hopkins Center for Technology in Education Teaching Children with Autism  for example).

BECOMING UNFRAZZLED, Alternative Healing Tools and Strategies to help Highly Sensitive People to Feel Safe and  Empowered.

Eline M. Glas, OTR/L, Reiki  I, II and III

An overview of simple, low cost or free tools and strategies (such as meditation, Reiki, Closing Spiral, I Ching, and resistance exercises) that can be useful to help you or your child feel safe, calm, grounded, balanced and an asset to others.

Eline Glas was born in The Netherlands as the oldest daughter of deaf parents. She is an occupational therapist, the mother of three daughters and recently came out as being a person with Aspergers. She has had a lifelong interest in meditation, healthy diet and yoga, as well as other complementary healing methods. She has a private practice serving families of children with autism and Aspergers.

Applying Jigsaw Learning to Promote Social Inclusion of Included Autistic Students

Lauren Pierce, doctoral graduate student

This is a discussion session talking about jigsaw learning, an educational methodology that allows for easier and promotes greater social interaction. This discussion will talk about ways to feel less intimidated in classroom structured environments and ways that having this method employed may help autistic students develop more friendships and peer relations. It is also a beneficial session for teachers and parents who may want to learn how this method can be utilized to foster and support social interactions in academic and learning environments.

Lauren Pierce is a doctoral student at North Carolina State University pursuing her PhD in developmental psychology. As an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill, she worked extensively with autistic children and adults residing in group homes and served as a personal aide to a fully included autistic student. Currently serving as an instructor for Educational Psychology, Lauren found a way to incorporate work with autism into her instruction of psychology to future educators. It was through this integration that she became involved with jigsaw learning methodologies and its application to persons with autism.


Jody Saitsky, Bill Krebs, and Charles Haley, Speaking For Ourselves

Jody Saitsky is a past vice-president of SFO. She is a longtime activist with ADAPT, a grassroots organization that works to free people from institutions and
nursing homes. Jody was a community outreach visitor to people living in a large nursing home in Philadelphia. She is participated in Temple University's Partners in Policymaking, and received a certificate as a disability advocate. Jody uses a wheelchair and speaks to others about her experience as a person living with a developmental disability. Jody has worked as a consumer satisfaction monitor, visiting people's homes and assessing with them the quality of their supports.

As a young man, Bill Krebs was told he would not amount to much. He would spend his life receiving governmental assistance and handouts without the ability
to independently support himself or others. However, Bill has proved them all wrong. Bill is the vice-president of Speaking For Ourselves, a statewide grassroots self-advocacy organization; he is the guardian of a teenage female high school student; and financially supports an elderly parent. He also serves on twelve state run level committees and six local organizations.

Charles Haley is a long-standing member of Speaking For Ourselves, a grassroots self-advocacy organization for people with disabilities. In the capacity of "computer guru" Charles helps in the maintenance of the office commuters. He
assisted in the development of the "Point and Read" computer program, which aids people to navigate computer programs and the Internet. He is on the newsletter committee of the "Family Forum," a newsletter for families and people with disabilities, and is active in the self-advocate movement. Charles is a tireless advocate for the rights of people with disabilities to be self-sufficient and independent.

SAA RED: A Method of Identifying Interaction Components Without Losing Your Self-Identity

Rachele J. Jones, M.A.

Tired of social skills programs that make very little sense? I was, but I still had to interact with others in order to survive. So, after much research, I created the SAA RED model (based on real communication theories) so that I could figure out how to get along with other people.

Rachele Jones began studying Autism Spectrum Disorders and primarily Aspergers Syndrome (AS) in December 2000 when her eldest son was diagnosed with AS. Since then she has learned that all the interpersonal struggles she has endured were also related to AS. In an effort to help her son avoid some of those struggles she created SAA RED while working on her masters degree in Communication Studies. She is currently finishing a doctorate in Special Education at Texas Tech University in an effort to be of more assistance to everyone on the autism spectrum.

Alternatives to Speech and Real-Time Communication

Joel Smith

This workshop will discuss strategies for dealing with real-time speech difficulties.  It will explore some of the reasons people may want to consider alternatives to real-time speech.  A variety of alternative communication modes will be discussed.  Social pressures and prejudices toward users of alternative modes of communication, as well as ways to counter them, will also be discussed.  This presentation should be useful for anyone that has problems communicating in real-time or with speech in at least some situations.

Joel Smith is a part-time user of non-traditional communication techniques.  One of his  perseverations, since a very young age, has been on different forms of communication.  As a result of that and a result of contact with people who use communication techniques other then real-time speech, he has gained some insight into ways of functioning in a world designed for real-time speech without always being able to engage in real-time speech.

False Dichotomies and Other Rhetorical Ploys (and how they distort the public discourse about autism)

Phil Schwarz, Vice President, Asperger's Association of New England

In this workshop we will examine rhetorical ploys intended to distort or discredit arguments (and those making them) in the public discourse about autism -- a look at what each kind of rhetorical ploy is, a look at a number of examples advanced by various parties in the population of parents, professionals, clinicians, and autistic people often referred to as the "autism community", and a look at how those examples affect and distort the public perception and debate about autism, both within the "autism community", and beyond the "autism community" through the mainstream media.  We will explore ways to counteract those false dichotomies in debate.  Participants are encouraged to write down and bring in examples they encounter (or have been subjected to).

Phil Schwarz has been a member of ANI since 1994, and has attended all Autreats since 1997. An AS adult and the father of an autistic son, Phil is vice-president of the Asperger's Association of New England, and has served on its board of directors since 1996. 

Complete Autreat 2005 Brochure

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Autreat 2006: Living Life the Autly Way

Making Life Easier with Visual and Auditory Aids

Susan Golubock, M.Ed., OTR/L

For those autistics, or friends/family members of autistic individuals, who struggle with planning, organization or memory skills that make getting through daily living tasks difficult, this presentation will provide suggestions for low tech/low cost visual and auditory assistive devices that can make these tasks easier and faster. Each participant will have the opportunity to obtain the materials they need to
create one visual or auditory aid that they decide might meet their own need or that of an autistic individual with whom they live or work.

LeisureLand - A working Autistic Intentional Community in Oregon

TR Kelley and Randy Hamme -  members of LeisureLand Community

TR Kelley (AC) and Randy Hamme (NT) present a talk and slideshow about
their Autism-focused "intentional family" living in rural western Oregon. The LeisureLand Community has 7 residents, 5 who are AC. Issues of sensory intrusion, chores, responsibilities, shared finances and food, personal property, transportation and employment will be viewed through a lens of autism and voluntary simplicity. By removing ourselves from artificial demands the indistinguishable-from-his-peers consumer lifestyle, we have gained freedom and time to be who we are. By banding together, we lower our individual costs and raise our level of safety and efficiency in running a household. By honoring autism and allowing it to flower, we reinforce pride and self-worth as well as continued learning about who we are and what living arrangements suit us best.

Educating and Empowering Non-Autistic Allies: Next Steps

Phil Schwarz, Vice-president, Asperger's Association of New England

In my past speaking and writing, I have articulated the benefits that a well-educated and empowered population of non-autistic allies can bring to the autistic self-advocacy movement.  The most successful model for the development of such an ally network is the population of straight allies of the gay community.

In this workshop, we will hear from representatives of organizations that do extensive outreach and support of straight allies, about how they do their work, and discuss how to replicate those specifics in the development of a network of non-autistic allies of the autistic community.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication: Other Ways to Communicate

a panel of educators from Speaking For Ourselves, www.speaking.org

Making connections: How and why

Sola Shelly

I call a "connection" a voluntary, non-utilitarian relationship. Connections can engage other humans, animals, plants or even inanimate objects. Using examples from AC writings, I will illustrate how the nature of connections that a person develops expresses his or her identity. Some implications on treatment methods for autistic children and adults will be described.

Autism and Counseling: A User's Guide

Jim Sinclair

If you're considering getting counseling, or if you're in counseling and would like to be getting more out of it, this session will help you to understand how to make counseling work for you. It will include information on different types of counseling, choosing a counselor, setting goals for counseling, communicating effectively with your counselor, and what to expect during counseling. It will also address frequent difficulties autistic people have with counseling, why those difficulties occur, and offer some counseling self-advocacy skills for managing them.

Into the Enemy's Camp - Examination of Prejudice

 Joel Smith

Autistics face murder, abuse, and discrimination as a result of prejudices held by society.  In this workshop, common prejudices will be examined and analyzed, and some means of dealing with these prejudices will be discussed.  The societal context and motivations behind these prejudices will be considered, to allow attendees to better address these prejudices when they impact their own or someone else's lives.

For Autistic Family Members:
How to Deal With and Respond to Neurotypical Behavior and Neurotypical Expectations

Zosia Zaks

In this workshop designed specifically for Autistics who regularly relate
closely to neurotypicals and who may experience frustration, anger, or the
reverse  a sense of partnership  with these important and intimate neurotypical relations, Autistics will have a safe place to explore feelings, understandings, and reactions to the neurotypical behavior and expectations of non-Autistic parents, brothers, sisters, partners, spouses, and children. Without judging or debasing the concerns and social patterns of neurotypicals, this workshop sincerely aims to provide Autistics a chance to reduce miscommunication, enhance cooperation, and promote mutual understanding by investigating neurotypical behavior and
then promoting positive responses to it.

Making Conferences and Organizations More Accessible for People with Complex Handicaps

Susan Goodman, JD, Governmental Affairs Director, National Down Syndrome Congress

In this session, Susan Goodman will give us some history and background on how the National Down Syndrome Congress and the Autism National Committee have struggled with and attempted to address the issues involved in making their events and organizational governance more accessible and meaningful to their members who have complex needs and profound handicaps. From that history and the issues identified in it, we will move on to discuss how we can apply the lessons learned from it to improving accessibility and meaningfulness of Autreat and other aspects of participation in ANI.

"Ask an NT" Panel

Jim Sinclair

Mainstream autism conferences often have panels of autistic people to answer questions about the experience of autism. This is our chance to ask a panel of neurotypical people all those things we've wondered about NTs and why they do the things they do.

Complete Autreat 2006 Brochure

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Autreat 2007:

What Current Testing Doesn’t Tell Us Or How to Show What You Know

Joanne Cafiero, Ph.D.
Barbara Stern Delsack, MSPA.CCC
Elizabeth Tsakiris, M.Ed., M.A. Doctoral Candidate, University of Maryland

Why are so many of our autistic children being diagnosed as mentally retarded? If Albert Einstein were paralyzed or unable to speak, would we lean toward the assumption he was limited cognitively? If we applied our traditional assessment and therapy approaches the most likely the answer would be “yes” unless the diagnostician was able to function outside the box of testing traditions. And, if Albert were lucky enough to find such a diagnostician, there would be a good chance that they would be challenged by some of their professional colleagues. Our presentation will introduce a format for determining the best ways for autistic adults and children to show what they know. We will discuss some of the most frequent assumptions that could derail accurate assessment and determination of successful intervention and augmentative support strategies.  We do not have all the answers by any means, but if autistic adults, children and their families can add the information that we share into their advocacy skills, we feel we can give them some of the tools needed to make sure that our little “Albert” will be able to demonstrate what he knows, or at least demonstrate his potential for learning.  We hope that development of this advocacy skill will also increase an awareness of resources, such as assistive technology, that can provide the tools for expression as well as learning throughout life.

Parenting from a Self-Advocacy Perspective: Autistic Parents Speak

Zosia Zaks, MS
Philip Schwarz
Lisa Cohen, MS, PT

Autistic parents discuss their experiences raising Autistic, neurotypical, and other-disabled children of various ages and abilities from a self-advocacy perspective. How Autistic parents can promote self-advocacy and disability awareness in their families and society is a major theme running through each panelist’s specific topics. Topics include disclosure, navigating, relationship dynamics, sibling issues, focusing on strengths, promoting cooperation, and more. Panelists will also provide insight into parenting and family dynamics for Autistic adults considering partnership and parenting journeys of their own.

Welcome to the Jungle: Vacations for Autistic People

Joel Smith

It is possible for an autistic to enjoy a vacation! Many ideas and suggestions will be presented to allow a wide variety of people with autism to actually look forward to and enjoy their vacations. Focus will be on vacations that are enjoyable (instead of the standard vacation which might be dreaded and something to try to survive). Suggestions will also be given for autistics who have tight budgets, little spare time, significant sensory sensitivities, or narrow interests. Techniques to manage and minimize the stress of a vacation will also be discussed.

Neurodiversity and the Autistic Community

Ari Ne'eman, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, President

The Neurodiversity is a relatively new force in the disability world.
Originating largely from the autistic community, this movement has immense implications for all aspects of interaction, both amongst ourselves and with the outside world. The concept of neurological diversity is the equal legitimacy of a variety of neurological make-ups. This presentation will go into depth as to the origins, implications and current activities of the neurodiversity movement.

How to be a Self-Advocate

Daniel McMullen, Speaking For Ourselves member (presenter)
Frank Yurick, President, Philadelphia Chapter of Speaking For Ourselves (presenter)
Charles Haley, Speaking For Ourselves member (presenter)
Christopher Connor, Speaking For Ourselves member (presenter)
Sharon Ferry, Director of Leadership Development, Speaking For
Ourselves (facilitator)

People living with Autism are often not asked about how they want to live an Everyday Life.  So it's up to the people with Autism to take action and make their desires known.  Whether a person can use language or not, that person can "speak" as long as they have the tools to make it happen.  Putting a plan together and getting the support of family and professionals takes strength and skill. The title used to describe such a person is "self-adavocate."  Self-adavocacy is not just speaking out, but planning, enlisting support for the plan, and putting the plan into action.

Autism and emotions: Some thoughts about feelings

Jim Sinclair

Autistic people often experience and express emotions differently than NT people. These differences are a very common source of misunderstanding and miscommunication between autistic and NT people. This presentation will explain what emotions are, briefly explain the most common NT expectations about emotions, and then review a number of common autistic patterns of experiencing and expressing feelings.

How high is the 'glass ceiling' for us?: Learning from some examples of struggles of autistic people in Japan

Joseph DeChicchis, Ph.D., Professor, School of Policy Studies, Kwansei Gakuin University, Sanda, Japan
Yasushi Miyazaki, Masters course student, Graduate School of Policy Studies, Kwansei Gakuin University, Sanda, Japan

In this workshop, we think about the invisible obstacles facing us, focusing not on neurological aspects, but on SOCIAL aspects. Citing some experiences of autistic people in Japan, we think about how high the GLASS CEILING for Japanese autistics is. Also we shall discuss whether the height is different or the same in different cultures, mainly between those of the U.S. and of Japan. The workshop will be a time for us to immerse ourselves in cross-cultural thinking, in the spirit of the name of "Autism Network INTERNATIONAL". The workshop consists of oral presentation with audio-visual aides and a discussion or role-play.

Information Technology & The Autistic Culture: Influences, Empowerment, & Progression of IT Usage in Advocacy Initiatives

Scott Michael Robertson, Ph.D. Candidate (Penn State)

Online information technologies (e.g. email, instant messaging, website forums) have enabled and advanced the emergence of a rapidly growing autistic culture and community where none had existed previously. Specific empowering advantages of computers and their text-based electronic communication (ex. fewer nonverbal communication cues, logical and systematic organization, lack of auditory language processing) led to their adoption and usage by autistic adults and adolescents who often found in-person communication and telephone conversation to be more challenging. Since then, the use of online IT by autistics has fueled the growth of autistic advocacy, culture, and acceptance movements, fostered the establishment of autistic-run conferences and organizations (ex. Autreat, Autscape, Autism Network International) and influenced the new development of new language (ex. neurodiversity). IT usage by autistics continues to expand as seen by the rapid growth of autistic-run blogs and online communities (e.g. Wrongplanet.net) during the last three years. In parallel, IT has the potential to facilitate greater networking and knowledge exchange between autistic self-advocates and educators, who can make use of their expertise and knowledge in planning and developing classroom, instructional, and community initiatives.

If not a cure, then what? Parenting autistic children

Sue Golubock, M.Ed., OTR/L, consulting therapist and workshop presenter
Sola Shelly, AC mother, activist and writer

Accepting your child and bringing them up as autistic does not mean neglecting them! It means listening to them and learning their unique way of experiencing, to help them develop to be the best autistic person they can become. This presentation will address some common issues that parents of young autistic children struggle with, and give some practical suggestions according to ANI philosophy, on where to start and how to seek for further help. Some guidelines will be given as well on how to be informed consumers of resources such as educational programs, therapists and literature. According to the audience's interest, part of the session will be devoted to questions and answers.

Complete Autreat 2007 Brochure

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Autreat 2008: Living Life the Autly Way

Catching the Assistive Technology Wave

Barbara Stern Delsack, MSPA/CCC
Speech-Language Pathologist
Assistive Technology Specialist

Why are Educators Resistant?
The technology available for promoting communication is growing at the fastest rate in years, yet many of our autistic children and autistic adults, verbal and nonverbal, are not being considered or privy to these tools. Today's presentation hopes to clarify the truths, untruths, and unknowns about Assistive Technology and Augmentative and Alternative Communication(AT/AAC). It is today's objective to give adults and families of children with autism the language, materials, and supports for them to pursue the technology that is available for them to become functional, independent communicators and to communicate to their full potential. Participants will leave with the understanding that the ultimate goal is the ability to access individual words, expressions, and commonly used phrases; the ability to say anything about anything at anytime. We have the tools out there and available, we need to let educators and professionals know that it is the right, the communication right, the human right, of all autistic children and adults to be given a way to communicate, regardless of the extent or severity of their disabilities. Each individual has a basic right to affect, through communication, the conditions of their own existence (The Communication Bill of Rights, developed by the National Joint Committee for the Communicative Needs of Persons with Severe Disabilities, 1992).

Barbara Stern Delsack, MSPA/CCC, is a Speech-Language Pathologist, Assistive Technology Specialist with Montgomery County Public Schools, InterACT Team. She is a graduate of Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and has worked in the area of Autism for the past 25 years. In addition, she is an Adjunct Professor at Montgomery College and at The George Washington University.

Services for Autistic Adults: What Are the Needs and Who Can Provide Them?

Susan J. Golubock, M.Ed., OTR/L

Everyone agrees that there is a need for services for autistic adults, but does anyone agree on what those needs are? Join me in exploring what these needs are, from an autistic adult perspective, and how these needs might realistically be met through existing services (with appropriate training).

Susan J. Golubock ,M.Ed., OTR/L. After years as an occupational therapist pursuing everything she could on a personal and professional level about how the brain works, Sue finally discovered what made her own brain so different. She was diagnosed with PDD, then Asperger's in her 50's. Sue currently works as an occupational therapy consultant to parents of children, and to adult clients, on the autism spectrum. Sue, along with Jim Sinclair, founded Making Sense of Autism, LLC, which provides workshops to help educate parents and providers of services in effective ways to work with autistic people. Sue's area of special interest has always been sensory integration, to which she has added a master's degree in assistive technology.

Public Policy and Social Change: Advocacy for the Autistic Self Advocate Community

Ari Ne'eman

The past year has seen exciting new developments for the autistic self-advocate and neurodiversity movements in public policy, social change and media outreach. This presentation will seek to summarize some of the exciting new developments as well as go into depth as to the context and history that made them possible. In addition, the presentation will focus on the practical measures necessary to engage in public policy advocacy and media outreach as well as a discussion of the priorities of the autistic community in reference to this important field of self-advocacy. Among the topics addressed will be the Ransom Notes Ad Campaign, the increased prevalence of Autism Speaks advertising, the presence of autistic self-advocates at the Inter-Agency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) and public policy issues that affect the autistic community, such as the ADA Restoration Act, autism insurance mandates and other important legislative and regulatory matters.

Ari Ne'eman is the Founding President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, a non-profit organization of adults and youth on the autism spectrum. He is currently studying Political Science and Economics at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County as a Sondheim Scholar of Public Affairs. Ari is an Asperger's autistic and has been active in the autistic culture, neurodiversity and disability rights movements for a number of years. He first became involved in self-advocacy as a high school student, arguing for his own inclusion and access to high level academic coursework. He later became involved in disability and education policy advocacy.
Ari serves as the Policy Workgroup Leader for the Youth Advisory Council to the National Council on Disability, the Public Policy Chair for the New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education and a member of the Steering Committee of the New Jersey Olmstead Implementation and Planning Advisory Council advising the NJ Department of Human Services on de-institutionalizing adults with developmental disabilities in the wake of the landmark Olmstead v. L.C. Supreme Court case. His writings have appeared in a variety of venues, including the Neurodiversity Weblog, the influential education policy blog Eduwonk, Jewish Week and The Home News Tribune. In his capacity as President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, he organizes social/support networks for youth and adults on the autism spectrum, promotes self-advocate involvement in the policymaking process and regularly presents and advises on issues relating to autism, Asperger's, disability policy, special education and the neurodiversity movement.
Ari can be emailed at aneeman@autisticadvocacy.org

Government Sponsored Discrimination Against Autistics-in California and Beyond

Janis Oberman

The State of California discriminates against the Autistic population by using DSM-IV diagnostic categories in a divisive manner, by distinguishing between "AS/PDD-NOS" and "Autistic Disorder" in its policies and when delivering social services. Discriminatory policies are applied more rigidly to the older adult Autistic population, than to the younger adult Autistic population, especially concerning adults who were not diagnosed with Autism before the age of 18. Effectively, these practices force many Autistic adults into a "Mental Illness" classification in order to receive social services, where they usually receive no Autism related services. Such practices exemplify more general political, economic and cultural processes which occur in many geographical locations other than California.

Janis Oberman: I am a 50 year old woman with an AS diagnosis, received in 2005. I have worked for 20 years in the various industries as a System Programmer/Analyst, Web Designer and in Publishing/Graphic Design. I have a BA from UC Berkeley in Social Welfare. I am currently pursuing a certificate in Multi-Media from Santa Rosa Junior College.

Autistic Social Networking - How Autistics are Increasingly Using the Internet to Communicate in New Ways

Alex Plank

Alex will be talking about the role of the Internet in allowing autistics to interact in new ways from the perspective of the developer/founder of WrongPlanet.net an online autistic community with 18,000 members. He will discuss how autistics made use of technology in the past (email, chatrooms) and how autistics are beginning to benefit from the most recent communication platforms such as RSS, twitter, and facebook APIs and how this technology helps autistics form a supportive collaborative community where we can interact efficiently. Alex will explain how the increasing use of the Internet will benefit Autistics in the future and what we can expect in years to come.

Alex Plank runs, owns, and develops WrongPlanet.net, a popular community for individuals with Asperger's Syndrome and Autism which he started after being diagnosed with Asperger's. Wrong Planet currently has around 18,000 registered members from across the globe. Alex is also a student at George Mason University majoring in Film and Video Studies.

Emerging Partnerships Between Autistic Self-Advocates & Researchers in Academia: Opportunities for Empowerment & Growth

Scott Michael Robertson, Ph.D. Candidate, Penn State University

This session discusses how autistic adults and teens have increasingly played a greater role in the research process. It will first examine their role as research participants in providing experiences and perspectives through interviews and surveys. The session will then discuss the roles of autistic individuals as active members of research teams in the U.S., Canada, and England. Finally, the session will present influences that have enabled autistic adults to become involved in the research process (ex. online technology) and share emerging trends in the autistic self-advocacy community's involvement in autism research.

Scott Michael Robertson , 27, is an Asperger's autistic adult attending a Ph.D. program in the College of Information Sciences & Technology at Penn State University. Scott's dissertation research at Penn State is focused on how online communities can support college transition for autistic students.
Scott has previously given more than 45 presentations on topics concerning autism and disabilities (ex. employment, adolescence and adult living, reducing bullying, inclusion, postsecondary education) to conferences, schools, and organizations. He is a co-investigator for the Academic Autistic Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education (AASPIRE) and the vice president of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN), as well as a leader in several other autism nonprofit organizations (e.g. the Autism Higher Education Foundation, the Asperger Syndrome Alliance for Greater Philadelphia). Scott has served on several advisory committees for Pennsylvania's state Bureau of Autism Services (in the Dept. of Public Welfare) that have developed a Medicaid Waiver program for autistic adults living in PA and investigated the development of employment, postsecondary education, and housing/living services. His other hats in the autism community include teaching and mentoring autistic adolescents and adults and organizing a monthly meeting social group for autistic secondary students.

Autistic Community and Culture: The Israeli Case

Sola Shelly, President, ACI - The Autistic Community of Israel
Ronen Gil, General Manager, ACI - The Autistic Community of Israel

This workshop is aimed to explore the interplay between the international autistic community and culture, the Israeli society and culture, and how they have both influenced the emerging Israeli autistic community and culture. We will list some aspects of the Israeli society and culture which are relevant to disability in general and to the autistic spectrum in particular. We will briefly describe attitudes towards autism among parents and parents-organizations, professionals, service providers, and the media (mainly newspapers). Then, we will describe the (very short) history of the autistic community in Israel: its early stages, when Israeli AC people participated in the international autistic community as individuals; the need for a local community and the process of coming together; the foundation of ACI the Autistic Community of Israel. Some implications of language: a barrier separating some of us from the international autistic community and the need to develop a Hebrew jargon to discuss autistic experiences will be described. Finally, we will survey some of ACI's recent advocacy activities, and discuss some prospects for the future of the Autistic Community of Israel.

Sola Shelly has been an Israeli AC all of her life. She has always considered belonging with the land of Israel and its culture an important part of her identity. After discovering her place on the autistic spectrum in her 40's, she now considers autism too as an important part of her identity. Being a mother of an autistic son, she was an active member of the Israeli autism society, advocating for more respect and better services for autistic people. Sola has participated in the international autistic community through the Internet since 1994, and started an Israeli network of ACs since 2003. She is a co-founder and a president of ACI - the Autistic Community of Israel, an organization by and for Israeli ACs.

Ronen Gil was raised as and has been a socialist Zionist for all his life. Being a weirdo in his surroundings, as well as being born with a rare eye impairment, has led Ronen to engage in social change activities from the onset of his awareness. At the age of 36, with the help of the international autistic community and some local Israeli ACs, Ronen found himself on the autistic spectrum. From that point on, his motion for social change in the Israeli culture put on a much more specific form of a fight for better quality of life and equality of rights for Israeli ACs. Living and supporting his wife (a Cousin herself) and their 3 daughters (1 aspie and 2 cousins) on disability allowance alone, this fight is not only ideological but a personal one as well. Ronen is a co-founder and a general manager of ACI - the Autistic Community of Israel, an organization by and for Israeli ACs.

Caregiver Stress and Violence: Beyond "Us vs. Them"

Jim Sinclair

Publicized reports of violence between autistic people and caregivers often trigger heated exchanges of rhetoric between advocates for disabled people and advocates for caregivers, about who's to blame and who's the real victim. This presentation will start by exploring what we know about how stress and violence occur in caregiving relationships. The emphasis will not be on blaming or excusing anyone involved in instances of past violence, but on the principle that in order to prevent something from happening in the future, we need to understand as much as we can about how and why it happened in the past. With prevention as the goal, we will discuss guiding principles, situational factors, and personal choices that can increase or decrease the risk of violence. We will identify some specific things that can be done by caregivers, care recipients, educators, advocates, allies, and policy-makers, to minimize the incidence of violence in caregiving relationships.

Jim Sinclair: I am an autistic person, a peer advocate, and a certified counselor. I also have extensive personal experience caring directly for AC children, often children who were considered particularly "difficult" to work with. For more than ten years I have been giving presentations about "guiding behavior responsibly," in which I have emphasized the importance of caregiver self-control as a requirement for being able to help others learn to manage their own behavior. But when my dog, Isosceles, became severely disabled during his old age, I gained a much deeper and more personal understanding of the dynamics of caregiver stress and violence. That experience continues to inform my practice as a counselor and educator.

Planning for Disaster

Joel Smith

Disasters happen - whether it is a fire in your home, a water heater malfunctioning, or a major hurricane, there are many situations where advance preparation will pay off. Autistic people have both standard disaster preparation needs and unique ones. This presentation will discuss ways that you can prepare for the worst. Come and learn how to prepare in a way that considers your autism, finances, support requirements, and medical needs. We will talk not only about what you can do for yourself, but also what you can do for your neighbors, loved ones, and even pets.

Joel Smith has an interest in disaster preparation and response, which can be helpful to others who are considering how to prepare for disaster. He has experience with emergency situations, both personally and professionally. Personally, he has experience surviving without traditional resources, sometimes by choice (camping and recreational activities) and sometimes not (such as week long power outages). His professional background includes disaster recovery and continuity of government work.

"Ask an NT" Panel

Panelists to be announced

Mainstream autism conferences often have panels of autistic people to answer questions about the experience of autism. This is our chance to ask a panel of neurotypical people all those things we've wondered about NTs and why they do the things they do.

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Autreat 2009: Living Life the Autly Way

The History of Autism: How We Got to Where We Are Now and Where We Are Going From Here.

Zosia Zaks, M.S., M.Ed.

The definition of autism has changed radically in the past 20 years. Until recently, autism was considered a tragic, rare disease that destroyed a child's life. Today, autistics as well as some non-autistic allies have gained a voice and challenged this notion. How did such a complete shift in thinking occur so rapidly? What are the implications for autistic children and adults? This workshop will provide an overview of the history of autism, allowing the community to better place today's debates and decisions in context.

Zosia Zaks is an autistic adult and the parent of an autistic child. Zosia, author of Life and Love: Positive Strategies for Autistic Adults, speaks nationally and writes extensively on issues of importance to the autism community. Additionally, Zosia conducts research, informs policy, and teaches disabled youth and adults community living skills from a self-advocacy perspective.


The IACC Chronicles: Experiences at Interagency Autism Coordinating Meetings

Paula C. Durbin-Westby

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee is mandated by Public Law 109-416, also known as the "Combating Autism Act." The Committee is headed by the director in NIMH and includes both Federal and public members. This presentation discusses how the IACC is structured and some of the tasks mandated by law. Various methods for collecting information, such as RFIs (Requests for Information), written and oral comments, will be discussed. In my written and spoken commentary to the Committee, I have stressed focusing on research that will have practical outcomes for autistics, often using the text of the law to make my points.

Paula C. Durbin-Westby is an autistic and disability rights activist. She has presented comments at the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee both as a representative of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and as a concerned autistic citizen and taxpayer.  She is an autistic community member of AASPIRE, the Academic Autistic Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education.


Healthy vs. Abusive Relationships

Katie Miller

Learn key points to recognizing the difference between healthy and abusive relationships.  The topic is not limited to couples' healthy or abusive relationship dynamics can occur in all interpersonal relationships including family, friends and co-workers.  Become aware of the various forms and disguises that abuse takes and know what to do if you or someone you love is a victim. Learn how to recognize a true friend and learn how to be a healthy social partner in all your interactions.

Katie is a twenty-five year old woman on the autism spectrum. Since being diagnosed 3 years ago, she has become active in the autistic rights movement and loves participating in autistic culture. Katie is a professional artist. Her website is www.artistkatiemiller.com

Coming Out: Informing people about your diagnosis

Winnefred Ann Frolik

At some point we all have situations where we need to inform the new people we meet; be they potential roommates, acquaintances, co-workers, employers, etc. about being on the Autistic spectrum and what that means. I'm here to talk about some suggestions and techniques for when that moment arrives that we may better communicate the truth about ourselves to NTs.

Winnefred Frolik was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome in college and after graduation immediately began working in the non-profit sector.  She is proud to be serving her third year with the Americorps program, and is currently the staff writer for the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes, an organization that provides independent living for adults with developmental disabilities.  She has a dual major in Creative Writing and English Literature from the University of Pittsburgh, and is presently in the stages of completing a book on women in the U.S. Senate.  For the last couple of years she's been involved in lobbying efforts for the autistic community, as well as educating Americorps personnel about autism and disability issues. She currently lives alone in a studio apartment with Ebony, her much belove d Tortoiseshell kitty she adopted from a shelter.


Emerging Autism Research and Its Impact on the Autistic and Allied Community: Reflections and Impacts

Scott Michael Robertson
Penn State University
, Ph.D. Candidate in Information Sciences and Technology
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Vice President

This presentation will share a discussion of emerging autism research and its impact on the autistic and allied community. The presentation will include four sections: a) an overview of major changes in autism research and funding, b) a discussion of emerging applied research in autism, c) a discussion of updates to community-based participatory research with autistic people, and d) a discussion of emerging autism research in the areas of diagnosis, neurology, physiology, and genetics that will impact the autistic and allied community. The presenter will offer an in-depth discussion and commentary throughout the presentation about recent research studies and their impact, as well as shifts in research funding and the growth of applied research centers on autism and organizations, such as the new scientific think tank for research on autistic adults. The presentation will also incorporate some related research from the broader neurological and developmental disability community.

Scott Michael Robertson is an autistic adult and a Ph.D. Candidate in the College of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State University (main campus). His research there involves disability studies and human-computer interaction/computer-supported collaborative work (CSCW). Scott serves as the vice president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and as a member of the Advisory Board of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare's Bureau of Autism Services. He has given many presentations on autism and disabilities at conferences, schools, and organizations, including 9 keynotes.

Acknowledging autistic adulthood: Parent transition planning

Jim Sinclair

There is a lot of information available for parents, about planning for their autistic children's transition to adult living. But as children become adolescents and then adults, their parents also go through transitions: from being caregivers of helpless infants, to being guides and supervisors of children who are beginning to explore their own worlds, to--hopefully--being respectful supporters and allies of self-directing adults. This workshop will address the information and skills and supports that parents need, in order to make their own successful transition from being parents of children to being parents of adults. If you're a parent facing your child's transition to adulthood, or if you're an adult or soon-to-be adult whose parent needs support in learning to be the parent of an adult, this workshop is for you.

Jim Sinclair has a B.A. in psychology, M.S. in counseling, and postgraduate education in developmental and child psychology. Jim is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor who has worked professionally with autistic children, adolescents, and adults, and has provided training seminars for teachers and therapists of autistic children. As an autistic adult, Jim has extensive experience in autistic self-advocacy, having pioneered the use of service dogs for autistic people in the late 1980s; co-founded Autism Network International in 1992 and been its coordinator since that time; and coordinated Autreat, the first annual gathering of its kind designed by and for autistic people, since 1996. Jim's writings have been widely reprinted and translated into many languages. Jim is a popular and dynamic speaker at autism conferences nationally and internationally.

Searching for Autistic Mentors: What is Needed for Our Autistic Children.

Barbara Stern Delsack, MSPA/CCC
Assistive Technology Consultant

There exists a wide gap between autistic children and their neurotypical families and the autistic adult communities.This presentation will share with the participants a proposed  mentoring program with a unique differences from a more neurotypical mentoring program in the receptive and expressive communication components and milieu for interactions. It is the hope of this presenter that Autreat participants will help "blaze a trail" on the Ethernet that begins a program offering a mentor to each and every autistic child and a support to their family.

Barbara Stern Delsack, MSPA/CCC, is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Assistive Technology Specialist with Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland, on the InterACT Team. Mrs. Delsack has worked in the area of Autism for the past 22 years. In addition, she is an Adjunct Professor at Montgomery College and at The George Washington University. Mrs. Delsack serves on the Board of Directors Autism National Committee (AUTCOM).

Reducing and Avoiding Self-Injury:  What I've Learned from Other Autistic People

A M Baggs

Whether the reasons are from inside or outside ourselves, many autistic people self-injure and want to stop or at least reduce this.  This workshop aims to teach a large number of strategies for dealing with this, and show how to adapt them to a wide variety of individual strengths and weaknesses.  The presenter learned far more of these strategies within a few years of meeting and talking to other autistic people, than she learned in a childhood and adolescence spent in several forms of therapy that tried to address this problem among others.  The strategies discussed in the workshop will be drawn from the concrete experiences of lots of other autistic people, rather than from an established and packaged form of therapy or theory about autism. Autistic people who want to stop self-injury are the main audience, but other autistic people as well as family, professionals, and friends, could also learn a lot.

Amanda is an autistic person who has experienced self-injury most of her life, and who has been in a number of different sorts of therapy.  However, she did not learn even a little bit of how to stop herself from doing these things, until she encountered and learned from other autistic people.  Applying those ideas over the course of a few years, as well as figuring out many of her own, she went from severe self-injury to infrequent self-injury.  She also stopped doing a lot of other impulsive things she hadn't wanted to do.  She wants to pass these strategies on to other people who might not have encountered autistic-friendly ideas on how to stop self-injuring.


Tensions Within the Disability Community

Ari Ne'eman
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network

The autism community is familiar with conflicts between the parent and self-advocate community, most notably on issues such as causation, cure and the ethics of "autism treatment". However, the disability community at large has far broader controversies that are relevant to the autism and autistic communities as well. This presentation will discuss issues of controversy in the cross-disability community. Among the issues to be discussed include the divide between the physical and mental disability world, controversies between separatist and assimilation-oriented visions of the future of disability rights and various inter-community rivalries, such as that between the National Federation for the Blind and the American Council of the Blind, between the oralist and the signing deaf community and between the various camps in the mental health consumer movement. A presentation of controversies of similar importance in the provider and family stakeholder groups will also be discussed. Consideration will be given in each instance to how this situation affects the autism and autistic communities and how it can be analogized.

Ari Ne'eman is the Founding President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, a non-profit organization of adults and youth on the autism spectrum. He is currently studying Political Science and at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County as a Sondheim Scholar of Public Affairs. Ari is an Asperger's autistic and has been active in the autistic culture, neurodiversity and disability rights movements. He first became involved in self-advocacy as a high school student, arguing for his own inclusion and access to high level academic coursework. He later became involved in disability and education policy advocacy. He recently served as the Patricia Morrissey Disability Policy Fellow at the Institute for Educational Leadership. Ari is on the board of TASH and the Autism National Committee and is currently the Vice Chair of the New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force. Ari served as the Policy Workgroup Leader for the Youth Advisory Council to the National Council on Disability, the Public Policy Chair for the New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education and a member of the Steering Committee of the New Jersey Olmstead Implementation and Planning Advisory Council advising the NJ Department of Human Services on de-institutionalizing adults with developmental disabilities in the wake of the landmark Olmstead v. L.C. Supreme Court case. Amongst other things, his advocacy work has included coordinating the campaign to stop the NYU Child Study Center's Ransom Notes ad campaign, achieving representation for autistic self-advocates in numerous state policymaking bodies and arranging for the inclusion of Augmentative and Assistive Communication (AAC) technology in the insurance mandate component of the Autism Treatment Acceleration Act. In his capacity as President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, he organizes social/support networks for youth and adults on the autism spectrum, promotes self-advocate involvement in the policymaking process and regularly presents and advises on issues relating to the autism spectrum, disability policy, special education and the neurodiversity movement.

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Autreat 2010: Living Life the Autly Way

Understanding the Executive Functioning Issues That Can Impact on Daily Living and Social Skills in Autistic Individuals

Susan J. Golubock, M.Ed., OTR/L

The tasks that many people find easy are often the most difficult for autistics. Regardless of intellectual abilities, or age, individuals on the autism spectrum often struggle with daily living tasks such as self-care, dressing, organization, household chores and unplanned social interactions due to differences in executive functioning. Learn how to identify what is happening and what you can do to make these tasks easier.

Sue is an occupational therapist who was diagnosed with PDD, then Asperger’s in her 50’s. She currently works as an occupational therapy consultant to parents of children, and to adult clients, on the autism spectrum. Sue, along with Jim Sinclair, founded Making Sense of Autism, LLC, which provides workshops to help educate parents and providers of services in effective ways to work with autistic people. Sue’s area of special interest has always been sensory integration, to which she has added a master’s degree in assistive technology.    

The Ethical, Scientific, and Societal Implications of Grading Autistic People .

Amanda Baggs
Drew Morton Goldsmith
Morton Ann Gernsbacher

This workshop will critically evaluate the common tendency to grade autistic people” as low versus high functioning. One of the presenters (Goldsmith) will present the ethical history of grading people, including the use of terms popular at the turn the 20th century: low-, medium-, and high-grade normals, morons, imbeciles, and idiots. Another presenter (Gernsbacher) will review the contemporary scientific evidence, or lack thereof, for distinctions between so-called "low-functioning autistics" and "high-functioning autistics." And the third presenter will discuss the sociological basis of labeling autistic people as low- or high-functioning. Together, we hope to challenge clinicians', parents', non-autistic people's and autistic people's all-too-common tendency to grade autistic people.

Amanda Baggs is a 29-year-old autistic person who has been referred to by others as both low and high functioning (usually low) but rejects both labels.

Drew Morton Goldsmith is a 13-year-old autistic person who has also been referred to by others as both low and high functioning but rejects both labels.

Morton Ann Gernsbacher is a 54-year-old non-autistic person who rejects referring to other people as low or high functioning.

Technologies for Autistic Daily Living.

Molly McGrath

This talk will discuss new technologies being developed at the MIT Media Lab to help autistic people in their daily lives by providing a means for emotion understanding and recognition practice; distress detection; and assisted communication. The presentation will outline our projects and share the ideas, applications, and goals behind these interesting technologies. Specific technologies which we will most likely present include software for recognizing and classifying facial expressions, wearable hardware for sensing and displaying physiological changes related to nervous system activation (which goes up as a result of strong emotions and distress which could lead to an overload), games to help with auditory sensitivities, and an inexpensive alternative communication device that uses motion sensing. We will be open to discussion of these technologies and possibilities for others as well as collaboration with people from the autistic community.

Molly  McGrath is on the autism spectrum and an intern in the MIT Media Lab\'s Affective Computing Group. Over the years, she has participated in activism and discussion of alternative means of coping with autism beyond traditional therapies, including autism service dogs and various assistive technologies. Her current focus is applying affective computing and human-computer interaction in order to create technologies to help others with autism.

Pseudoscientific Medicine: What It Is And How It Harms Autistics.

Alexander Cheezem

The world of autism is awash with countless scientific and pseudoscientific treatments for a wide variety of both real and imagined ills. Many of these are based on false understandings and questionable rationales. This workshop is intended to discuss how to tell a pseudoscientific from a scientific treatment method, how pseudoscientific treatments harm autistics, and how the continued use of pseudoscientific "treatments" for autism complicate the national discussion on autism.

Alexander Cheezem is an autistic clinician from South Florida. During his clinical work, he has observed the harms caused by pseudoscientific treatments first-hand and has researched them extensively in order to better understand and help his clients.

"One of us": Attraction and apprehension toward the concept of "belonging"

Jim Sinclair

This presentation will explore what it means to "belong to" or "be part of" a group, why this concept is so appealing to some people, and why it's so uncomfortable or even aversive to others. What does it really means to be a "social animal," and how does it apply to autistic people? We will examine some of the benefits and pitfalls of group belonging, for individuals in general and for autistic people in particular. Suggestions will be discussed for effective communication and social self-defense when navigating one's own and other people's perspectives on group membership. We will consider implications for the concept and the experience of "Autistic community."

Jim Sinclair co-founded ANI in 1992 and has been coordinating ANI since that time and Autreat since 1996. Throughout these 18 years Jim has been repeatedly startled and astonished to find autistic people doing things we're supposed to be incapable of doing. This presentation is the result of research inspired by that startlement and astonishment.

How They Hate Us: Common Forms of Prejudice Against Autistics.

Ari Ne'eman, President, The Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Facing prejudice - both direct and indirect - is an experience Autistic people are usually very familiar with. Yet, unlike other marginalized groups in society, Autistic people often struggle to explain the specifics of how specific forms of behavior and experiences reflect prejudice and create societally-created difficulty for Autistic people. This challenge is common to many people with invisible disabilities and reflects the lack of a clearly describable narrative of discrimination and theory of prejudice. This presentation will analyze the concept of prejudice as applied to other communities, describe some of the ways in which Autistic people experience prejudice and open up a broader discussion as to how to deal with prejudice in our own lives and at a broader social change level.

Ari Ne'eman is the Founding President of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, where he initiates and directs efforts to increase the representation of autistic individuals in public policy discussions. An adult on the autism spectrum, he frequently briefs policymakers and speaks publicly on disability and autism policy issues. Mr. Ne'eman also recently completed service as Vice Chair of the New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force, where he represented Autistic adults in reviewing the state's autism services. He also previously served on the New Jersey's Special Education Review Commission, where he authored a minority report on the topic of aversives, restraint and seclusion. Mr. Ne'eman previously served as the Policy Workgroup Leader for the Youth Advisory Council to the National Council on Disability. He is a board member of TASH and the Autism National Committee. In 2008, he received the HSC Foundation \"Advocates in Disability\" Award. Mr. Ne'eman graduated from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County in May 2010 with a Bachelor's Degree in political science. In December of 2009, he was appointed by US President Barack Obama to serve on the National Council on Disability.

Countering Bullying and Cyberbullying: Strategies, Approaches, and Recommendations from the Autistic Community and Allies and Supporters.

Scott Michael Robertson, Ph.D. Candidate (Penn State)

This proposed presentation will focus on the challenges of bullying and cyberbullying that negatively impact autistic people and our allies and supporters. The session will define and describe bullying and cyberbullying, convey how bullying and cyberbullying impacts the quality of life of autistic people and our allies and supporters, and offer strategies and recommendations for handling instances of bullying and cyberbullying. It will be interactive in nature in that the audience will be invited to offer their questions, thoughts, comments, etc as the subject is very complex, contextual, and personal. The presenter will also share his ongoing thesis research project on bullying and cyberbullying of autistic adolescent students.

The presenter of this session, Scott Michael Robertson, is an autistic adult who has previously experienced bullying throughout his childhood and adolescence (during all of K-12 education) and into his adult life (e.g. at work). Scott is active in serving the autistic and allied communities and the cross-disability community through various roles, such as mentoring, teaching, public service, community research, and public speaking. He serves as the Vice President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, as a volunteer for the Pennsylvania Developmental Disability Council (PADDC), and as a leader in numerous other disability organizations. He is currently completing his Ph.D. studies at Penn State University (main campus) where he researches disabilities, quality of life, and technology.

Map to Involvement: Effective Local Advocacy

Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone
Paula C. Durbin-Westby
The presentation will be grounded in both the presenters’ experiences as advocates, and will present a road map to those looking to get involved in advocacy. We will talk about ways to get involved in advocacy and address areas of concern to Autistics, such as communication differences and requesting accommodations, types of advocacy that can be done at the local and state level, working with other Autistics on local projects, and others. Savannah will talk about working in organizations such as the board of Pa Families Inc, The Advisory for the PA state Office of Mental health and Substance Abuse Services, Youth Outreach Union, governing board member for National Youth Leadership Network, and Director of advocacy for Autism Women's Network. Paula will talk about opportunities for involvement in state-level autism planning such as is taking place currently in Virginia, where she is on two workgroups to decide state policy on a number of autism-related issues. She will also talk about sustaining longer-term efforts, including an update on IACC activities this year.

Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone has been involved in self-advocacy since the age of 12 in Mental Health issues, but it didn't become a passion until adulthood, after accepting her Autism Spectrum Dx. She is currently the Director of Advocacy at Autism Women's Network, as well as being involved in county and state advisories, National Youth Leadership network, and as a rogue advocate with ASAN. She loves Anthropology, Social Histories, Advocacy, and her Cats.

Paula C. Durbin-Westby is on the Board of Directors of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. Her work with ASAN focuses on public policy, most notably the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee as well as initiatives to prevent restraints, aversives and seclusion.

Navigating Security-Avoiding Pitfalls-Strategies for People within the Autism Spectrum.

Rhonda L Basha, JD

The presentation will focus on what people with autism can expect when they undergo TSA's security screening procedures, new and emerging programs and technologies, and strategies and tools they can use to pro-actively make the process easier. A listening session Q +A session will also provide a forum where participants can raised questions and provide input on new security procedure policy development and training.

Rhonda Basha is the Director of the new Office of Disability Policy and Outreach at the Transportation Security Administration. From 2001 until September 2009, she served as the Supervisory Policy Analyst for the Youth Policy Team of the Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy where she was instrumental in developing national level disability policy affecting transition-aged youth and young adults. Prior to this, Ms. Basha served on the staff of the Presidential Task Force on the Employment of Adults with Disabilities under the Clinton administration, as an agency liaison for the Office of the Executive Secretariat, and as a supervisory attorney/advisor for the Benefits Review Board of the United States Department of Labor.

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Autreat 2011: Living Life the Autly Way

Building Independence: Update on Assistive Technology and Augmentative Communication (AT/AAC)

Barbara S. Delsack, MSPA/CCC-SLP

This presentation will be an update on assistive technology and augmentative communication devices, applications and strategies that promote independence and vocational success. It will also include discussion on ways to influence the further development of AT/AAC tools that meet individual needs.

Barbara Stern Delsack, MSPA/CCC/SLP, is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Assistive Technology Specialist with Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland, on the InterACT Team. Mrs. Delsack has worked in the area of Autism for the past 23 years. In addition, she is an Adjunct Professor at Montgomery College and at The George Washington University. Mrs. Delsack serves on the Board of Directors Autism National Committee (AUTCOM).

Hearing Voices: Attributions and Echoes

Jim Sinclair

Recognition of autistic differences has given rise to many legends, theories, explanations, and characterizations -- some by neurotypicals about autistics, some by autistics about ourselves. The stores we're told, and the stories we tell ourselves, are different for different people under different circumstances and in different generations. This workshop will explore some of these attributions and their lasting impact on autistic people's self-perceptions and self-presentations.

Jim Sinclair was an autistic child during the late Bettelheim and early behavior-modification eras, an autistic young adult during the repressed-memories-of-sexual-abuse era, and an autistic graduate student during the megavitamin, gluten/casein/yeast, and heavy-metal-poisoning eras. Jim is now an autistic counselor, as well as being coordinator of Autism Network International.

Autistic Parenting

Melody Latimer

Autistic adults face many challenges when becoming Autistic parents. Many new and veteran parents offer the same sets of worries and concerns, such as sensory overload, marriage disputes and perceived inadequacies. Autistic adults many times become fearful of what may or may not happen, leading them to never pursue parenthood. In this session, attendees will discuss managing sensory issues, alternate ways of showing affection, combating harmful stereotypes and how to give children adequate opportunities for developmental growth. As well, there is hope that by attending, Autistic adults can gain the confidence, if they want, to pursue parenthood.

Melody Latimer is an Autistic parents with two Autistic boys. She also runs a website for Autistic parents. Melody has been a panelist for the Autism Society of America's "Speaking for Ourselves" presentation and speaks regularly to parents of Autistic children about Neurodiverse approaches to parenting. She is a member of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and runs the Dallas-Ft. Worth chapter. She is currently the chair of the ASAN Newsletter committee.

Applied Behavior Analysis: History and Issues

Alexander Cheezem

Many controversies relating to autism center around applied behavior analysis (ABA) and its assorted applications towards autistics of all ages. Unfortunately, many relevant advocacy efforts are undermined by fundamental misconceptions and misunderstandings about ABA. This presentation will cover the fundamentals of ABA, the history of ABA as applied to autism, and a wide variety of common misconceptions about and misunderstandings of ABA both within and without the field of autism. In addition, I will be covering a variety of issues relating to ABA which can form potential targets for advocacy and reform efforts.

Alexander Cheezem is a graduate student in Nova Southeastern University's Masters in General Psychology program. He has approximately three years of clinical experience with autistic children of all ages. He has completed the full coursework required for board certification as a behavior analyst and intends to sit the certification examination upon graduation.

Accomodations in Schools

Crystal Abbott

Once Auties reach teens or adulthood, they are expected to take active roles in their own accommodations in middle school, high school, and college. Because each Autie is unique in their talents and needs, no "set" of accommodations can suit any individual and school officials lack the knowledge of how to accommodate each student. This presentation is meant to empower each Autie with ideas and choices about accommodations to make their education more fulfilling and less of a struggle.

Crystal Abbott graduated from Wesleyan University last year. Xe was diagnosed in middle school, but was given the opportunity to sculpt xyr own accommodations in college. Xe was the first diagnosed Autie at Wesleyan and largely had to make stuff up. Xe now has a bachelor's degree in anthropology.

Self-Determination: Best For Us, Better For The Community

Marc Rosen and Ivan

Self-determination is the term most commonly used to describe community-based living arrangements with supports. In this presentation, Marc and Ivan will provide a crash course on how it works, why it works better than any other option offered thus far, and the politics surrounding it. They'll also provide information on how to best make use of self-determination, and suggestions on how to advocate for stronger self-determination options in one's own community(ies).

Marc Rosen is the coeditor of "Perspectives: Poetry Concerning Autism and Other Disabilities", former Long Island Autism Examiner for Examiner.com, a member of the National Youth Leadership Network's Governing Board, and one of the founders of The Bards Initiative (a regional poetry organization). He currently works as an advocate and consultant in the fields of autism, education, and disability while pursuing a Master's in Social Work, and finds being autistic to be an advantage in helping his clients. He will be coediting "Perspectives 2", a sequel to the internationally-praised "Perspectives Anthology", in the fall, and expects to release his first full-length book of original poetry before the end of 2011.

Ivan is 27 years old, one of three members living in one body. Studies mathematics in college. Interest in autistic advocacy comes from being on the spectrum along with his in-body siblings.

Driving with Autism

Linda McCumber, MS, OTR/L, CDI, CDRS

Driving with Autism: How a Certified Driving Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS) and Occupational Therapist can assist in the process of determining the potential for individuals on the spectrum to become safe, licensed drivers.

Linda McCumber is an Occupational Therapist, Certified Driving Instructor in New York and a Certified Driving Rehabilitation Specialist. She is currently employed by the Sunnyview Driver Rehabilitation Program in Schenectady, NY. Ms McCumber specializes in driver training services for individuals with physical or cognitive disabilities. She has extensive experience providing driver training for individuals on the autistic spectrum.

Adults Who Are Self-Diagnosed or Late-Diagnosed: A Presentation and Discussion

Paula C. Durbin-Westby, staff member, Autistic Self Advocacy Network

This workshop will be an interactive presentation about, for, and with adults on the spectrum. Topics we will cover include the needs and perspectives of adults on the spectrum, including people who are Autistic Cousins, self-diagnosed, diagnosed later than childhood, misdiagnosed etc. However, there is no age limit. Some people may consider themselves to have a “late diagnosis” at age 15 or 20, for example. We will discuss learning about our autism, making sense of experiences, disclosure, accessing supports, services, and healthcare, and other topics people might want to discuss.

Situated Functioning: Facilities, Difficulties, and Problems of Living

Matthew Moore, Doctoral Candidate, History of Consciousness Department, UC Santa Cruz

Individuals on the spectrum are routinely described in terms of their level of "functioning," often modified as either social or intellectual functioning, with the result that the entirety of their dis/ability and personhood gets summed up as either high- or low-functioning. In practice, functioning labels work in conjunction with the concepts of intelligence and retardation to rank individuals and assign relative worth. I offer "situated functioning" " with the terms "facilities" and "difficulties" as alternatives for intelligence and retardation " as a more nuanced approach that better accounts for complexity, contingency, and emergent potential. I reposition individuals as functioning in relational, variable, and complexly articulated situations " where every body engages with changeable, spatially and temporally specific, environments. Drawing from the work of autistic authors, I argue that thinking with situated functioning and facilities/difficulties calls for recognition of collaborative encounters, assistive technologies, and augmentive creativity.

Matthew is a graduate student in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is working on a dissertation that focuses on the autistic rights movement, the power of diagnostic categories, and the politics of dis/ability. He thinks of himself as autistic cousin, although some ANI members suspect he's firmly on the spectrum. He's cool with that, too.

"Ask an NT" Panel

Jim Sinclair
Panelists: TBA

Mainstream autism conferences often have panels of autistic people to answer questions about the experience of autism. This is our chance to ask a panel of neurotypical people all those things we've wondered about NTs and why they do the things they do.

Complete 2011 brochure

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Autreat 2012: Living Life the Autly Way

Relationship Options and Alternatives to Marriage


Marriage is often held up as the pinnacle of social success. While the vast majority of people will be married at least once at some point in their lifetime, available studies confirm anecdotal evidence that the rate of marriage among autistic people is far less than that of the general population. Rather than being seen as a goal to which everyone should strive, marriage or otherwise typical relationships should be seen as simply one option among many.

Marcie is an autistic adult and has a M.A. in anthropology. She developed her interests in alternatives to marriage through a mixture of science-fiction, being single, involvement in polyamory, accidental long-distance relationships, explorations into the asexual, GBLT, and kink communities, and a passion for alternate ways of thinking and living. Though having shared homes with roommates, she has never resided with romantic partners.

Autism and Ritualized Eating - Eating Disorders and How To Cope

Jay Jackson

Both a London study and Tony Attwood report that a rate of about 18% - 23% of teenagers who suffer from anorexia also meet the diagnostic criteria for an autism spectrum disorder. By contrast, the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in the general population is less than 1%. What defines an eating disorder? Why do autistic people seem to be at greater risk of developing one? And how can a person with autism cope? This presentation will attempt to answer these questions.

Jay Jackson is a Canadian university student studying Music and Psychology. He is on the autism spectrum and also has suffered with a spectrum of eating disorders, diagnosed as anorexic in 2007 and bulimic in 2008. He has largely recovered from these eating disorders over the past 4 years.

Selling Prejudice: Strategies and Tactics Used to Promote Pseudoscience, Postmodernism, and Other Forms of Nonsense

Alexander Cheezem

Misinformation, prejudice, pseudoscience, and general nonsense flood the world of autism today. It is virtually impossible to turn a metaphorical corner at conferences or online without being confronted with some form of bigotry, pseudoscience, or prejudice being marketed as truth. Whether it's a DAN! doctor presenting at a state agency's annual conference on how to "improve" children's language by running an electrical current through their skull, a postmodernist talking about how their vitamin pills allegedly contain no chemicals, or a scientist talking about how we categorically have no ability whatsoever to understand that other people have opinions which differ from our own, nonsense is everywhere.

This presentation will focus on common forms of false information -- and on why it is false. Attendees should learn to identify common methods used in the promulgation of nonsense and several strategies for countering them.

Alexander Cheezem is an autistic graduate student in Nova Southeastern University's M.S. General Psychology program. He has over three years' clinical experience working with autistic children, is presently working on completing his thesis ("A Systematic Evaluation of Methodological Rigor in the Behavioral Literature"), and has far more experience tracking foolishness, prejudice, and fraud than he ever wanted.

How to Fail at Designing Assistive Technology.

Joel Smith

How can we make assistive technology better? This is not just a workshop to help designers know how to build technology! Rather, it is geared towards helping disabled people, support people, parents, and others gain the vision to fully realize the promise of technology. It will frame the technological elements alongside the human elements, to build a system that truly improves the life of the user.

Joel first programmed a computer over 30 years ago. He's built experience in designing solutions, both high and low tech, for his own needs and for others. He wrote one of the first free augmentative communication software packages, with the needs of a user in mind. In addition, he has been involved in advocating for the freedom of people to define their own lives, through both self-advocacy and advocacy for others.

Autism Acceptance Day: Autistic Community Holidays and Celebrations

Paula C. Durbin-Westby

Paula C. Durbin-Westby started Autism Acceptance Day in 2012. She has been studying Autistic-created holidays, celebrations and special events, as well as the ideas and concepts behind those celebrations. The presentation will cover well-known celebratory events such as Autreat, days such as Autism Acceptance Day, Autistics Speaking Day and Autistic Pride Day, as well as some lesser-known events such as the Hans Asperger Memorial Dinner held each year in Washington DC. Paula will talk about why these events and days are important and ways to expand on them in ways that Autistics find meaningful, which might not always be the same way non-autistic people think of celebrations.

Paula C. Durbin-Westby is an autistic and disability rights activist. She promotes the concept of neurodiversity, with practical applications for people's lives.

In 2011 Paula started Autism Acceptance Day as a Facebook event and a blog on Blogger. Autism Acceptance Day was intended as a corrective to "business as usual" during April, with its negative portrayals of autism as a "devastating disorder." The first Autism Acceptance Day had over 1300 attendees, requests for non-Facebook access, a radio show and other outreach. The 2012 event is more extensive, and seems that it will be a permanent holiday in our community.

Autistic People and Companion Animals

Jim Sinclair

Many autistic people either already have or would like to have animal companions. Some have, or are interested in having, service or support animal to assist them in addition to enjoying their companionship as pets. Still other autistic people have animal allergies or intense fears of animals. This presentation will review many aspects of getting and caring for an animal, special issues of working animals, and avoiding problems between people who have animals and people who have difficulties with animals.

Jim Sinclair has an extensive personal and professional background in living and working with animals, advocating for disabled people and for animals, and assessing and serving autistic people's individual needs. Jim has been involved in animal rescue and animal rights advocacy for more than 30 years. In the late 1980s Jim pioneered the concept of service dogs for autistic people, and more recently has been training service cats. Jim is also a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and is professionally trained and qualified to work with disabled people in identifying their strengths, interests, and support needs, and helping them pursue their personal goals.

Getting the Most out of Healthcare as an Autistic Adult

Dora Raymaker, MS, Co-Director, Academic Autistic Spectrum In Research and Education (aaspire.org)

Christina Nicolaidis, MD, MPH, Co-Director, Academic Autistic Spectrum In Research and Education (aaspire.org)

The Academic Autistic Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education (AASPIRE), a partnership between academic researchers and members of the Autistic community, has conducted a series of studies to understand the healthcare experiences of autistic adults. We are using what we learned from these studies, as well as the lived experiences of our team members, to create information and tools to improve healthcare for autistic adults. After sharing what we learned from our studies, we will offer tips, ideas, information, and tools that may enable more effective self-advocacy in healthcare settings and reduce barriers to healthcare, including care for acute and chronic medical problems and preventive care. We will cover how to find and evaluate a healthcare provider, what to consider when deciding to make an appointment, how to prepare for a visit, what to expect during a visit, and what types of things to think about after a visit. We will show a tool we made for creating an individualized accommodations letter to give to healthcare providers and office staff.

Dora Raymaker, MS, is an Autistic self-advocate who has served in leadership positions with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Self Advocates as Leaders, and the Oregon Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorder. She co-founded and co-directs the Academic Autistic Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education. Her interests include complex systems, research as a tool for social justice, writing science fiction, and anything that sparkles.

Christina Nicolaidis, MD, MPH, Associate Professor at Oregon Health Science University, is a physician and health services researcher who has devoted most of her career to partnering with minority communities to improve their health and healthcare. She co-founded and co-directs the Academic Autistic Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education.

Advocacy in the Age of Social Media

Lydia Brown

How can a laptop and a thousand strangers lead to a positive outcome for an Autistic student charged with assaulting her teacher after being restrained for an hour? Social media has transformed all aspects of society and culture, including the ways in which advocates can organize and direct support for a cause. We will discuss different types of opportunities for organizing grassroots support for a cause or action item using online social media. We will explore the effectiveness of online grassroots advocacy, the roles that social media can play in an advocacy context, and methods for integrating online advocacy with offline action. Through examining a few case studies of actual campaigns -- successful, unsuccessful, and ongoing -- participants will learn more about the dynamics of social media and disability advocacy and activism.

Lydia Brown is an Autistic woman who interns for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. She is a member of the Outreach and Awareness Committee of the National Youth Leadership Network and the Consumer Advisory Council of the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development. She is the author of two petitions on Change.org about cases involving Autistic students. One resulted in a positive outcome after almost 1,200 signatures, and the other, with over 191,000 signatures, has not yet led to a resolution (but the fight isn't over). Lydia is a student at Georgetown University.

Locked In and Locked Out: Segregation Across the Lifespan

Ari Ne'eman

From segregated special education schools to institutions and sheltered workshops, Autistic people and others with disabilities are frequently sent to segregated environments from birth to death. What motivates that segregation? What is the result of it? This presentation will analyze the economic, social, political and service-provision implications of segregation and segregated environments on Autistic people and other people with disabilities. Through an analysis of research, data, personal narratives of those who have experienced or are experiencing segregation and a review of current controversies in disability policy regarding segregated settings, this presentation will outline the motivation and impact of segregated environments.

Ari Ne'eman is the President and co-founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, a non-profit advocacy organization run by and for Autistic adults and youth. In 2009, he was appointed by President Obama to the National Council on Disability, making him the first openly Autistic presidential appointee in American history. He currently chairs the Council's Policy & Program Evaluation Committee. In addition, he serves on the Inter-Agency Autism Coordinating Committee, a body within the Department of Health and Human Services which advises Secretary Sebelius on autism research and policy. Ari worked to shut down the New York University Child Study Center's "Ransom Notes" campaign and also led other successful disability community responses to offensive advertisements, including the response to the Autism Speaks "I am Autism" fundraising video. In his policy work, Ari has worked on a wide variety of disability rights related legislation relating to education, transition, employment, rights protection and other areas. His work has been featured in the New York Times, New York Magazine, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Guardian (UK), Maariv (Israel), Wired.com, Good Morning America and other major media outlets.

"Ask an NT" Panel

Jim Sinclair

Panelists to be announced

Mainstream autism conferences often have panels of autistic people to answer questions about the experience of autism. This is our chance to ask a panel of neurotypical people all those things we've wondered about NTs and why they do the things they do.

Complete 2012 brochure

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