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AutCom Conference 2009

Opening Doors  — With Voices and Choices


8:00 - 9:00


9:00 - 9:30

Opening Remarks & 'The Power of Words': a Short Film by Judy Endow

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

Breakout Sessions

1. )

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.

2. )

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.

3. )

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.

4. )

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.

3:45 - 4:00


4:00 - 5:15

Breakout Sessions

1. )

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.

2. )

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.

3. )

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.

4. )

DJ Savarese, Joey Geriak, Sam Tamarelle, and Nick Needler: "Talking with Teens"

A panel of four teens will provide insight about inclusive education, their hopes for their futures, and strategies for taking charge of their lives. Teens from across the country include: DJ Savarese, Joey Geriak, Sam Tamarelle, and Nick Needler. Mary Schuh from the UNH Institute on Disability's National Initiative on Inclusive Education and Students with Autism will facilitate this exciting panel of future leaders.

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 collaborating.


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"

Beth Dixon and Janet Williamson will present about their familys' journey supporting their sons to realize lives of their own choosing: what their self directed lives look like today, why they chose the self directed strategy, and the planning that took place along the way. Beth and Janet are the parents of adult sons with disabilities. While their family experiences are dramatically different, the outcomes for their sons are the same: living lives to the fullest, turning visions into reality, and utilizing the "system" to achieve real life choices of post secondary education, home ownership, real careers and creative business models, travel, and meaningful relationships.

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

Breakout Sessions

1. )

Thalia Vitikos and Robert 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.

2. )


Amy Frechette and Kathy Berger: "Supporting Students with ASD who are 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.

3. )

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.

4. )

Jeff Williamson and Nick Pentzell: "Living the Good Life: Creating Meaning through Living"

It's not enough to communicate choices and participate in the world around us. We want to make meaningful decisions about our lives and our connections with other people. We want to give to our communities and perform work that makes them a better place to live. Quality of life matters. Jeff will discuss his transformation from being a recipient of the service system to controlling his services and becoming a contributing member of his community, and Nick will describe some ideas he's found to be personally eye-opening about meaning in interpersonal communication and communicating more meaningfully in relationships. Together, we will have a dialogue about strategies we have developed to enrich our lives. We invite others to join and share in our discussion after our presentations.

5. )

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.


Presenter Biographies

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 machine works.

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 systems.

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 involved in 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 (AutCom).


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 productions.

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 public life.

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 partying.

Robert Cutler was the first President of AutCom who had autism (1999– 2002). Since he began to communicate through FC in 1997 He has presented at numerous conferences including AutCom, Northeast Regional Conference on Autism, Syracuse University, Brandeis University, UNH, Fitchburg State College, UMass Medical School, Pennsylvania Office of Mental Retardation, Mass. Department of Developmental Services, TASH and Mass. Advocates Standing Strong. He has been published in TASH Connections, Responding to the Challenge (Ed. Hank Bersani), the Communicator (Ask Rob Column), Sharing Our Wisdom (Eds.,Gillingham & McClennen), addressing issues of communication, movement disorder, various health issues in autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, spirituality, institutionalization, community services and aversives. Mr. Cutler has sampled the array of services unfortunately including five years in a state institution.

Mr. Cutler represented AutCom with Drs. Lehr and Maurer at the national Institute of Health Working Group on Autism and Genetics; later he attended with his staff an NIH Conference on funding. For the past several years he has been mentoring young people in recovery from addiction and social difficulties. He is a strong advocate for social justice and is politically active. He has served on the State Advisory Council of the Department of Developmental Services and presently serves on one of its Citizen Advisory Boards. He has been honored by that Department and the Mass. State Legislature.

Thalia Vitikos who will be co-presenting with Robert Cutler is both counselor and music therapist. She has over 20 years experience in working with people who are labeled developmentally disabled. She accepted the challenge of working with someone with autism through the use of Facillitated Communication for the first time and has been successfully counseling Mr. Cutler for the past seven years. Working with Mr. Cutler through FC has caused her 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.

Nick Pentzell is a Communication Studies major and honors student at Delaware County Community College in metropolitan Philadelphia, as well as an autism self-advocate. In addition to conference and workshop presentations, he has shared his views about autism in his award-winning video, Outside/Inside, and in various published works, such as “I think, therefore I am. I am verbal, therefore I live,” in the most recent issue of The Autism Perspective (pp. 86-89),

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.