Autism National Committee: 2009 Conference Program
Opening Doors -- With Voices And Choices
|8:00 - 9:00||
|9:00 - 9:30||
Sharisa Kochmeister: President's Keynote
|9:30 - 10:30||
Jessica Butler: "Restraint and Seclusion - Lifting the Veil"
Congress and major media have increased attention on the dangerous use
of restraint, seclusion, and abusive techniques in school. The
session will discuss the increasing use of such abusive techniques and
the physical and psychological danger that they pose to children with
disabilities. We will also discuss pending Congressional action and
what individuals can do to make their voices heard on the legislative
level and in their own IEP meetings to stop these dangerous techniques.
|10:30 - 10:45||
|10:45 - 11:45||
Matthew Goodwin, MIT Media Lab: "Enhancing and
Accelerating the Pace of Autism Research and Support: The Promise of
Developing Innovative Technology"
This presentation will demonstrate a series of innovative technologies
being developed at the MIT Media Lab for autistic individuals, and
those who support them. Technologies that will be reviewed include
wireless autonomic nervous system sensors, wearable physical activity
sensors, and computerized facial expression recognition systems. These
personalized technologies have the potential to enable non-autistic
people to understand the ways autistic people are trying to
communicate and to help autistics more effectively understand their
own and others emotional states, all the while providing researchers and
clinicians with real-world data that appreciates the complexity and
uniqueness of the autistic experience.
|12:00 - 1:00||
|1:00 - 2:00||
Larry Bissonnette and
Tracy Thresher: "World Tour with Larry and Tracy"
Larry Bissonnette and Tracy Thresher, two adults with autism from
Vermont, will share their experiences in the making of a feature
documentary by Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker, Gerry
Wurzburg, about adults with autism around the world. The focus of the
film is Larry and Tracy's travels to Japan, Sri Lanka and Finland and
their work in those countries to advocate for others with autism.
|2:00 - 2:30||
|2:30 - 3:45||
Cheryl Jorgensen: "Presuming Competence that ALL Students Can Learn
the General Education Curriculum"
When students are labeled with "mental retardation" or autism, parents and professionals
alike may assume that those students cannot learn general education academics and that
their educational program ought to focus on functional life skills. This session will
present a rationale for presuming that all students can learn core general education
academic content. Multiple examples will be provided for students with a variety of
labels from elementary to high school.
Ari Ne'eman: "The Autistic and Cross-Disability Communities"
This talk will focus on the differences between the types and areas of
advocacy typically practiced by the autism community as opposed to the
cross-disability community. Drawing upon the perspectives and experiences
drawn from the work of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the session will
focus on methods to integrate the cross-disability perspective with the
autism and autistic community's priorities and needs as well as particular
opportunities brought about due to the disconnect between autism and
cross-disability advocacy to date.
Alan Kurtz and Janine Collins: "Effective Employment Supports
for People on the Autism Spectrum"
Janine and Alan will discuss the some of the key components of
effective employment supports for persons on the autism spectrum.
They will emphasize the importance of understanding the unique needs
of each individual, especially those related to sensory, movement,
emotional and communication differences. They will also talk about
the necessity of providing supports that are person-centered,
person-directed, and individualized.
Sharisa Kochmeister: "When the Wires Misfire: Battling and
Overcoming the Mind-Body Disconnection"
Sharisa Joy has been busily exploring what makes the wires between her
brain and body misfire and send the wrong messages in both
directions... it has befuddled her for much of her life and caused
behaviors of which she is, to say the least, not proud. She believes
she is beginning to overcome this and wished to share what she's
learned and continues to learn.
Barbara Delsack: "Searching for Autistic Mentors: What is
Needed for Our Autistic Children"
There exists a wide gap between autistic children and their
neurotypical families and the autistic adult communities. This
break-out session will share with the participants a proposed
mentoring program with unique differences from more typical mentoring
programs in the receptive and expressive communication components and
milieu for interactions. It is the hope of this presenter that
participants will help "blaze a trail" on the Internet that begins a
program offering a mentor to each and every autistic child and a
support to their family.
|3:45 - 4:00||
|4:00 - 5:15||
Barbara Delsack: "Funding for Assistive Technology (AT)"
Assistive technology is a very broad term. For some it is an expensive
wheelchair, but for others it might be an adaptive keyboard for the
computer, a dynamic communication device or something as simple as a
speaker phone. This break-out session will be a discussion of how
people with disabilities can get the needed AT through Medicaid,
Medicare, private insurance programs, school systems, or grants.
Stephen Shore and Paula Durbin-Westby: The IACC (Inter-Agency
Coordinating Committee for federal funding of autism research) - and
How to Get AutCom's Interests Onto Its Agenda
This session will describe the Federal IACC process from both sides of
the committee-hearing table: Stephen is a voting member of the IACC,
and Paula has attended many IACC meetings and has provided stakeholder
input as an autistic individual and parent, and on behalf of the
Autistic Self-Advocacy Network.
Mike Hoover and Jenn Seybert: "Living in the Community as
Consumer and Citizen"
COME AND LISTEN TO US AS WE SHARE OUR EXPERIENCES AND IDEAS AS TO BECOMING AN ACTIVE INDIVIDUAL IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Amanda Baggs - "Reducing and Avoiding Self-Injury: What I've
Learned from Other Autistic People"
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.
|6:00 - 7:00||
|7:00 - 8:00||
Excerpts from a Film by DJ Savarese: "Plotting Hope" and discussion with
DJ and co-filmmaker Rob Rooy
"Plotting Hope" is a 30-minute play written and assistant directed by
DJ Savarese about his life as an Autist. Performed by DJ's
classmates, the play received Outstanding Performance at the Iowa
statewide high school competition. This session will include three
parts: 1) a filmed version of the 30-minute play "Plotting Hope"
written and assistant directed by DJ Savarese; 2) a sample of
interviews DJ conducted with the cast; and 3) time for the audience to
ask DJ and Rob Rooy about the documentary film on which they are
|9:00 - 10:30||
Keynote - Margaret Bauman, M.D. - "Prescribing Hope: The
Critical Role of Clinically-Directed Follow-On After Diagnosis"
Dr. Bauman will address some areas in which clinicians need to become
more constructively and supportively engaged on an ongoing basis,
after diagnosis, with the autistic children and adults they see:
medical issues that are frequently overlooked in autistic patients, as
well as therapeutic and educational needs going forward from diagnosis.
|10:30 - 10:45||
|10:45 - 11:45||
Janet Williamson, Jeff Williamson and
Beth Dixon: "Self Directed Lives in a Bureaucratic World"
|12:00 - 1:00||
|1:00 - 2:00||
Alan Kurtz: "Autism Science - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"
Alan will discuss how terms such as "evidence-based practice" and
"science" have been misused to overstate the case for particular
educational or "therapeutic" approaches, cut off debate around
innovative strategies such as facilitated communication, and support
ossified theories about the nature of ASD. He will argue for a
science that recognizes both the complexity of human development and
the impossibility of locating social, communication, and behavior
differences purely within the individual.
|2:00 - 2:15||
|2:15 - 3:45||
Thalia Vitikos and Rob Cutler: A Therapeutic
Relationship Made Successful Through the Use of Facilitated Communication
Thalia Vitikos worked with Robert Cutler through the use of Facilitated Communication
over a period of seven years. Ms. Vitikos and Robert Cutler will discuss the impact
of therapy on issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, relationships,
physical challenges of autism, and other personal concerns.
They will also demonstrate how they work in the therapeutic setting.
Amy Frechette and Kathy Berger: "Going to College
In this breakout session, participants will learn about how to support those on the
spectrum in the post-secondary environment. The facilitators of this session are a self-advocate
and member of the IOD staff and the Director of Disability Services for Students (DSS) at the
University of New Hampshire. Together we hope to provide the audience with some first-hand
knowledge on what it feels like to be a student on the spectrum attending college, as well as
a college community can best collaborate on working with the student.
Pascal Cheng, Larry Bissonette,
Harvey Lavoy and Tracy Thresher: "Partnerships
for Best Practice in Facilitated Communication"
This session will present information on the training and supports
that people who use facilitated communication (FC) and their
communication partners need in order to be successful in the use of
FC. Ideas on how FC users can develop their skills for conversation
and independent pointing and typing will be shared. Experienced FC
users will share their perspectives on training facilitators,
developing their own skills as communicators, and following best
practices in the use of FC.
Nick Pentzell and Jeff Williamson:
topic(s) & title TBD
Jacob Pratt and Hope Block: "Why Kids with Autism Today Must
Have the Inclusive Education Denied Us"
Kids must be in real schools to get a real education. We learned what
we could on our own but one of us was in high school before he had an
education. There is no excuse today for treating people as stupid. We
know how to accommodate, e.g., movement, anxiety, communication, and
sensory differences while letting them learn and more importantly
make friends. We will explore what we wish we had had as students
with autism so other students today can benefit.
|4:00 - 4:30||
"The Last Word"
At the close of the conference a panel of present and past AutCom Board Members who are also on the Spectrum have the last word in giving us feedback on what important issues were raised at the conference, which things are most likely to help people with ASD and those which may tend to harm.
Sharisa Joy Kochmeister is a professional author of poetry and essays;
published and performed composer/lyricist; graduate of Denver
University with a 3.6 GPA and a dual Bachelor's degree (with honors
and awards) in Sociology and Psychology; professional speaker;
consultant: award-winning trainer and advocate in the areas of
disability rights, inclusion, and augmentative and alternative methods
of communication; President of AutCom (The Autism National Committee);
Executive Committee member for the C.D.D.C. (Colorado Developmental
Disabilities Council); member of W.O.W. (Watch Our Words) Colorado; on
the Panel of Spectrum Advisors of A.S.A. (Autism Society of America),
former member of the board of advisors of the now defunct "The Autism
Perspective Magazine" (of which she was Editor-In-Chief) and several
other advisory panels. She has created her own worldwide
positively-oriented, free-of-charge electronic autism
magazine called "The Voices and Choices of Autism" and has already
published 2 monthly issues and is working on more... her mission
continues to be to educate the world to accept and embrace autism
rather than seeing it as a "disease" in need of a "cure"! She is
feverishly studying the brain-body disconnection for clues to how to
Jessica Butler is the parent of a child with autism and apraxia and an
attorney specializing in antitrust litigation. She is the Past Chair of the
Board of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) and
served as Co-Chair for Congressional Affairs from 2006-2009. She is
the author the monograph, Unsafe In The Schoolhouse: Abuse Of Children
With Disabilities (COPAA 2009). She played a leading role in efforts
to advocate with Congress to prevent the use of restraint, seclusion,
and aversives in schools. Jess has been an active advocate on
disability issues in Congress and state legislatures. She is the proud
parent of a little boy with autism who loves Sesame Street with all
his heart, and is often busy trying to figure out how the washing
Matthew S. Goodwin, Ph.D., is the Director of Clinical Research at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Media Laboratory and Associate
Director of Research at the Groden Center -- an Institute for Autism
Spectrum Disorders in Providence, RI. He serves on the Executive Board
of the International Society for Autism Research, is Vice-Chair of the
Autism Speaks-Innovative Technology for Autism Initiative, and has an
adjunct associate research appointment in the Department of Psychiatry
and Human Behavior at Brown University. He has over a decade of
research and clinical experience working with the full spectrum of
children and adults with ASD; is well acquainted with a variety of
experimental methods and statistical approaches used in the behavior
sciences; and has extensive experience using innovative technologies
for behavioral assessment, including telemetric physiological
monitors, accelerometry sensors, and digital video/facial recognition
Tracy Thresher lives and works in Vermont.
Tracy began using Facilitated Communication in 1990 and was one of the several
individuals with Autism to pilot a project at Washington County Mental
Health Services. He has presented at local, statewide, and national
workshops and conferences. He has consulted with local schools, is a
member of the Vermont Statewide Standing Committee, worked part-time
for Green Mountain Self-Advocates and most recently has worked with
the Facilitated Communication Institute as a lead trainer. He and
Larry Bissonnette, partner in crime, are the subjects of a new
documentary film they are calling World Intelligence Magnified
traveling the world visiting Sri Lanka, Japan, and Finland.
Larry Bissonnette is an artist who lives in
Milton, Vermont. Bissonnette has been drawing and painting since he was a young child.
He is one of the featured artists of the GRACE (Grass Roots Art and
Community Effort) project based in Hardwick, Vermont. He has had his
work exhibited regularly both locally in Vermont nationally. In 1991,
he was introduced to facilitated communication and began combining
words with his art to express his thoughts and ideas. He is both the
subject and writer of an award winning film about his life, called,
"My Classic Life as an Artist: A Portrait of Larry Bissonnette" (2005).
Cheryl Jorgensen is project director and assistant
research professor with the Institute on Disability and the Department of Education
at the University of New Hampshire. She currently directs a four-year OSEP Model
Demonstration project entitled Beyond Access for Teacher Education: Preparing Teachers
of Students with Low Incidence Disabilities to Promote Learning of Core General
Education Academic Content; and an OSEP General Supervision and Enhancement Grant
that is supporting the NH Department of Education's revision of its statewide alternate
assessment. Since 1985, Dr. Jorgensen has worked with public school teachers, parents,
and administrators to increase their commitment to and capacity for including students
with disabilities in general education classes. For the past several years, her work
has focused on the restructuring of policies, teacher certification standards,
organizational structures, and teaching practices that naturally facilitate inclusion
and learning for all students. Dr. Jorgensen has collaborated on several multi-university
grant proposals, writes extensively in the field, presents at state, national, and
international conferences, and provides technical assistance in New Hampshire and
the New England region.
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 at the
University of Maryland-Baltimore County as a Sondheim Scholar of
Public Affairs. Ari is an adult on the autism spectrum 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
disability and education policy advocacy. Ari served as the Policy
Workgroup Leader for the Youth Advisory Council to the National
Council on Disability, as Vice Chair of the NJ Adults with Autism Task
Force, as the Public Policy Chair for the NJ Coalition for Inclusive
Education, and as a member of the Steering Committee of the NJ
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 vs.
L.C. Supreme Court case. His writings have appeared in the
Neurodiversity Weblog, in the influential education policy blog
Eduwonk, in Jewish Week, in the Home News Tribune, and elsewhere. In
his capacity as ASAN President, 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.
Alan Kurtz is a former special educator, Ph.D Candidate at the
University of New Hampshire and a research associate at the Center for
Community Inclusion at the University of Maine. He has a brother with
autism and is a close friend of a man with autism who used to live in
his home. Alan's interests include research on educational practices
for persons with ASD, sensory and motor differences, facilitated
communication, and dynamic systems theory.
Janine M. Collins, MTS, MSW is a Research Associate at the University
of Maine's Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies. She
holds an undergraduate degree in Special/Elementary Education and
Psychology and graduate degrees in Theology and Social Work. She is
co-author of Quality Employment Practices for Supporting Individuals
with Autism Spectrum Disorders and works on a number of projects
related to best practices and improving service delivery. She is
currently on the Board of the Autism Society of Maine and serves as
co-chair of the Board's Legislative Committee.
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
Stephen Shore, Ed.D -- Diagnosed with "Atypical
Development and strong autistic
tendencies" and "too sick" for outpatient treatment Dr. Shore was
recommended for institutionalization. Nonverbal until four, and with
much support from his parents, teachers, wife, and others, Stephen is
now a professor at Adelphi University where his research focuses on
matching best practice to the needs of people with autism. In
addition to working with children and talking about life on the autism
spectrum, Stephen presents and consults internationally on adult
issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, advocacy,
and disclosure as discussed in his books Beyond the Wall: Personal
Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome, Ask and Tell:
Self-advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism Spectrum, and
the critically acclaimed Understanding Autism for Dummies. Dr. Shore
serves in the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, and for the
Board of Directors for Autism Society of America
Unlocking Autism, AutCom, and other autism related organizations.
Paula Durbin-Westby is the Autistic Self Advocacy
Network's Regional Director, East Coast, and also is the coordinator for ASAN's Virginia
activities. Paula began her work with ASAN shortly after learning
that she is an Asperger's autistic. She worked on the Nathan Darnell
court case in September 2007, the
opposition to the Ransom Notes advertising campaign, and various other
initiatives. Recently, she presented an ASAN statement to the Florida
Department of Education Public Hearing on the Proposed Rules for the
Use of Reasonable Force by School Personnel. Paula has testified at
several IACC meetings. Her testimony at the March 14, 2008 meeting
called for research into supports and services throughout the
lifespan. On May 12 she represented ASAN, urging NIMH to include
autistic individuals as full partners in research projects. She has
compiled information for several IACC Requests for
Information, including research into services and supports and the
IACC Draft Strategic Plan. Paula is an autistic community member of
the Academic Autistic Partnership In Research and Education (AASPIRE).
She works on making sure the research is relevant to the autistic
community and conducted in a respectful, ethical manner.
Mike Hoover -- I AM MIKE HOOVER FROM BOULDER, COLORADO.
I LIVE IN MY OWN APARTMENT AND I HAVE A VERY ACTIVE LIFE. I AM ON SEVERAL BOARDS,
KEEP BUSY AT CHURCH, TAKE MUSIC AND DANCE CLASSES, AND I HAVE FUN WITH
MY FRIENDS, I AM IN WATCH OUR WORDS, A GROUP OF FC USERS.
Jennifer Paige Seybert began her undergraduate
education at Penn State University in Pennsylvania and later transferred to Le
Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, where she completed a B.A. in
Psychology in 2006. During her studies at Le Moyne, she was inducted
into Psi Chi, the National Psychology Honor Society. While living in
PA, Jenn was active in advocacy and presented for the PA Office of
Mental Retardation throughout the state as an autism expert for staff
at all levels, teachers, family members and people with disabilities.
She organized an advocacy group who joined her in speaking to others
about being advocates with and for those with disabilities. After
moving to Central New York, she continued to serve as a presenter and
participated in many trainings and conferences. She was selected to
represent Central New York in the state-wide Conference for Community
Participation. Currently, Jenn sits on the Regional and County
Steering Committees and provides in-service trainings for local
agencies. In November, 2007, she completed her accreditation in the
New York State Partners in Policymaking in November, 2007. Jenn has
been a presenter at conferences in several states including Michigan,
Massachusetts, Florida, Maryland, New Hampshire and New York and was a
keynote speaker at the Pennsylvania State OMH/MR Conference in 2000
and the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education Conference in 2003.
She has served as a guest lecturer in courses at a number of
universities including Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa, Arcadia
University, Glenside, PA, Le Moyne College and Syracuse University,
Syracuse, New York. She has also served as
a presenter and consultant in England at the Bolton Institute and at
meetings in Manchester and Liverpool. She has published numerous
articles on autism in journals, magazines, newsletters, and several
books. She serves on the Executive Board for the Autism National
Committee (AutCom) and is an associate with Networks for Training and
Development, Inc., a non-profit training / consulting organization
with offices in Philadelphia, Valley Forge, and Sunbury, PA. Jenn has
completed graduate courses at Le Moyne College and Syracuse University
and accepted into the Master's program in Disability Studies at
Syracuse University, where she will continue her graduate education.
Amanda Baggs 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.
DJ Savarese is a junior at Grinnell Community
Senior High School where he studies creative writing and the sciences. He is currently
collaborating with Rob Rooy on a documentary that shows "how free
people with autism can be and yearns to teach teachers how to dearly
include kids in Frees' schools."
Robert Rooy is an independent film and video producer whose company,
Rooy Media LLC, creates media products that engage and educate people
about important human issues. He has worked in more than twenty
countries for organizations
such as UNICEF, the Grameen Foundation, Ashoka, Innovators for the
Public and Rodale Institute. He is one of the foremost chroniclers of
microfinance, an innovative anti-poverty strategy, and has also worked
as first assistant director on more than forty Hollywood film
Margaret L. Bauman, MD is Associate Professor of Neurology, Harvard
Medical School; Associate Pediatrician and Assistant Neurologist,
Massachusetts General Hospital, Director of LADDERS (Learning and
Developmental Disabilities Evaluation and Rehabilitation Service)
which is a satellite multidisciplinary clinic of the MassGeneral
Hospital for Children, a branch of which is located at Giant Steps
Connecticut in Southport, CT. Director, The Autism Research Foundation
and the Autism Research Consortium, Boston, MA. Adjunct Associate
Professor, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University
School of Medicine, Boston, MA. Child Neurology consultant, Casa
Colina Centers for Rehabilitation, Inc, Pomona, California. Founder
and Chair of the Autism Research Consortium (ARC). Past Medical
Director of the Autism Treatment Network (ATN). Research interests
include the study of the microscopic brain
structure in autism, Rett syndrome and other disorders of neurological
development. Co-editor of the book, "The Neurobiology of Autism"
which was originally published in l994 by Johns Hopkins University
Press. The second edition of this book was released in January 2005.
Beth Dixon, a parent of four children and grandparent of four, is
interested in equality for all people in all areas that affect our
lives - education, social/friendship ties, work environments, housing
options, recreation opportunities, and more. Beth enjoys organizing
and presenting best practices to participants at the NH Leadership
Series. Watching people change and broaden their expectations for
themselves and/or their children is exciting to her - but even more
exciting is watching them become involved in their communities and in
Janet Williamson has been employed at the Institute on
Disability for the past 19 years in a number of capacities. She is
currently a coordinator/group facilitator for the NH Family Leadership
Series. Janet is a powerful advocate in the movements for inclusive
education, consumer direction, self-determination, individualized
budgets, and community-based supports and services. As the parent of a
38-year-old son with significant disabilities, Janet and Jeff have
demonstrated how these values lead to a healthy, more satisfying, and
independent way of life without increasing the resources necessary to
provide supports and services.
Jeffrey Williamson lives a busy and fulfilling life in the city of
Manchester, NH. Excluded from most typical experiences for the first 19
years of his life due to assumptions about his competence because of a
diagnosis of profound mental retardation shortly after birth. At the
age of 19 he was given the opportunity to join a typical school
community, participate in all school activities, work both in the
school and community hospitals. It was obvious by his actions that
this was where he belonged. Now, having used Facilitated
Communication for the past 18 years he is able to quest speak at
various venues to share his wry sense of humor and talk about his life
in Manchester, working, praying, shopping, volunteering, walking, and
Robert Cutler is a past-President of AutCom and a person with autism
who uses FC for his most effective communication. He has been
counseled by Thalia Vitikos for over seven years. He in turn mentors
troubled teens and young people in recovery.
Thalia Vitikos is both counselor and music therapist. She has been
counseling Rob Cutler over 7 years now through FC and successfully
dealing with PTSD, relationships, and other personal issues. Working
with Rob through FC has caused her to reconsider the competencies of
others she counsels.
Amy Frechette has a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome and brings her
expertise as a self-advocate to her work with the IOD. She is a strong
advocate and statewide leader in the area of ASD, serving as a board
member for the Autism Society of NH and a governor appointed
self-advocate for NH Council on ASD which is responsible for
coordinating the implementation of the recommendations made in the
report NH Commission on ASD. Amy is a 2007 graduate of the NH Family
and Consumer Leadership Series and co-instructor for the Graduate
Seminar on ASD in the Communication Sciences and Disorders Dept. (with
Rae Sonnenmeier, Ph.D.). Amy works in the NH LEND Program and serves
as faculty in self-advocacy for the LEND expansion program. Amy has an
Autism Service Dog, Eden, a male Pomeranian who is 7 years old.
Pascal Cheng has a M. Ed. and a C.A.S. in Special Education from the
University of Vermont. He currently is an educational and
communication specialist for HowardCenter Developmental Services in
Burlington, Vermont, providing training and technical assistance for
communication and literacy in both adults and children with
developmental disabilities. He has been doing training and
consultation in facilitated communication for over fifteen years. He
serves as a member of the Vermont Communication Task Force, a group
that works to improve communication supports and services for
individuals with developmental disabilities in the state of Vermont.
Harvey F. Lavoy, 3rd has worked for Community Developmental Services,
a Division of Washington County Mental Health Services in Montpelier,
Vermont as a Communication Resource Specialist and Consultant since
1994. He has a B.S. in Special Education and has worked in the field
of Human Services for over 30 years. He provides education, training
and technical assistance to adults and children with complex
communication needs as well as their families, support staff,
educational teams, schools and agencies. He is a member of the Vermont
Communication Task Force and the Facilitated Communications
Institutes' national network of Facilitated Communication Trainers. He
received a Certificate of Recognition as a Master Trainer in
Facilitated Communication in 2006.
Jacob F. Pratt is the Executive Director, founding member,
and consultant-trainer for the Autism Spectrum Differences Institute
of New England, a 501(c)(3) organization that applies comprehensive,
innovative, evidence-based approaches to celebrate strengths and
support movement, anxiety, communication, and sensory differences of
individuals with autism spectrum disorders of all ages at home,
school, and work, and in their communities. Previously, he was a
consultant-trainer for Rammler & Wood, Consultants, LLC. As a
brilliant person with significant movement, anxiety, communication,
and sensory challenges associated with autism who also uses
alternative communication, Jacob is firmly committed to breaking down
barriers so that others have the same opportunities he has had to
participate in inclusive education, meaningful employment, and
self-determined living in a real home in his community. Jacob
receives rave reviews for his poignancy, thoughtfulness, and humor.
Jacob has given numerous presentations across the country, taught
sections of graduate level classes, and been invited back by many
participants in his trainings.
Hope Block has been active in the Self-Advocacy movement
in Rhode Island and a regular presenter at numerous events including
TASH National and TASH New England conferences where she has
frequently co-presented with Jacob Pratt. Hope is also a brilliant
person with significant movement, anxiety, communication and sensory
challenges associated with autism who uses alternative communication.
She joins Jacob in the commitment to breaking down the same barriers
and has also received rave reviews for her insightfulness, humor, and
sensitivity. Hope has co-authored several articles and also taught
sections of graduate level classes.
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