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AutCom Conference 2008

Conference Program

Friday, Oct. 17

9:00 - 4:00 Getting beyond “Behavior”: Including and Supporting ASD Individuals in Home, School and Community

Paula Kluth, Ph.D., Author and Consultant; Anne Donnellan, Ph.D., Professor, School of Leadership and Education Sciences, University of San Diego; Martha Leary, MS, CCC-SLP; David Hill, MS, CCC-SLP; and Sharisa Kochmeister, B.A., Editor of TAP (

Relationships are the basis for social participation and communication for all people. Individuals with neurological differences often communicate, behave and participate in unique, very personal ways that may be difficult to relate to and understand. Differences in the way individuals with ASD are able to use their bodies and focus their attention may lead those who would like to form a relationship with them to assume that a particular individual does not care to participate or communicate and does not desire a relationship. Such assumptions can affect expectations for them, the way they are spoken to and the educational and social opportunities that are offered to them. Friday’s program will be devoted to exploring different aspects of this challenge as it is encountered in the home, the school and the community.

6:00 Dinner at the hotel
7:30 Performance: Does God Make Garbage?

Mime presentation by Johnny and Chris Seitz, followed by a discussion which they will lead. Johnny Seitz started life as a head banging autistic child. Through effective intervention by his mother, he has grown up to be a successful and fulfilled adult. He has been happily married to Chris for 20 years, has been a teacher on the university level, and a mime performer. Chris, a neurotypical person, is a therapist working with autistic children. Together they present at autism conferences and do in–service presentations in schools.

Saturday, Oct. 18

9:00 Welcome
9:15 – 10:00 Keynote: Embracing the Hope and Joy of Autism in Promoting Success for All

Sharisa Kochmeister, B.A., President of the Autism National Committee, and Stephen Shore, Ed.D., Author and Consultant

10:00 – 10:30 Break
10:30 – 12:00 Concurrent panels

A ) A Little Experience Often Upsets a Lot of Theory: Stereotypes about Disability

Amanda Baggs, Nick Pentzell, Kassiane Sibley, Sharisa Kochmeister

B ) Living a Healthy Life with Autism

Mike Hoover and Rob Cutler

This panel of two men with autism will present information from leading sources on healthy lifestyle choices, ways to include them in daily life, how to inform others of your needs and preferences, how to prepare for and advocate in medical appointments, and what to consider as you get older.

C ) Friendships, Dating and Relationships

Anne Carpenter, Ian Sterret, and Johnny and Chris Seitz

D ) Maximizing the Communication Potential of Facilitated Communication Users

Pascal Cheng and Larry Bissonette

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 facilitated communication 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 and developing their own skills as communicators.

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch
1:00 - 2:00 Traveling with Lemonade

Judy Endow, author of Making Lemonade – Hints for Autism’s Helpers

2:15 – 3:45 Concurrent panels

A ) Neurodiversity: Views from Those of Us Who Are Supposedly Neurologically Atypical

Jacob Pratt, Jamie Burke, Daniel McConnell and Ari Ne'eman

The current neurological research shows that most of what DSM-IV says about autism is misguided at best. We know that people with autism labels have a lot of the same movement, anxiety, communication and sensory differences as so-called neurotypical people, but to a different--that is, diversified--degree. The panel members will discuss our neurological similarities and differences--both with each other and with people who do not acquire the autism spectrum label.

B ) Our Bachelor's Degrees Are on the Wall, but Our Journeys Are Far from Over

Jenn Seybert, Ian Wetherbee and Sean Sokler

C ) Life and School As a Teen on the Spectrum

Alex Kimmel, Michael Matthews, Dylan Russell, Krista Shuler and Scott Gordinier

D ) Parenting on the Spectrum

Jim Butler, Jay Kochmeister, Phil Schwarz and Estee Klar-Wolfond

4:00 – 4:30 The Last Word

A response to the conference by Members of the Board of Autism National Committee who are on the spectrum

Dinner(GF/CF) will be available for those registering for it.

Sunday, Oct. 19

8:30 – 12:00 Board Meeting