Today, one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Alan and Helen Taylor, founders of the Autism Speaks Western Connecticut Walk and parents of Chase who is on the spectrum, in collaboration with Autism Speaks New England are hosting a free forum addressing ASD. The Autism Education and Awareness Forum will be held on Saturday, September 17, 2016 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Waterbury Arts Magnet School on 16 S. Elm Street. Sign in at 8:30 a.m. Pre-registration is required. Space is limited. This is an adult only event. The free forum will focus on topics relevant to families, caregivers, and educators. Register at events.autismspeaks.org/ctforum.
The keynote speaker is Kerry Magro, 28, an award-winning disability advocate, national motivational speaker, best-selling author of four books, movie consultant of two autism films, non-profit founder that has given over 30 scholarships for students with autism to attend college and has been a full-time employee at Autism Speaks for the past three years. Magro was completely non-verbal until the age of two and a half and was diagnosed with autism at four-years old.
Kerry will be sharing his story on how he survived the education experience growing up being on the spectrum and how his experiences, both good and bad, can help students with disabilities from early childhood to the transition into adulthood.
Mayor Neil O’Leary, Mayor of Waterbury will welcome the participants to the City of Waterbury. Alan and Helen Taylor are the Event hosts and organizers with moderators Ann Jordan, Lia Greenley, Roberta Daversa, Maya Willis and Andrew Cavanaugh. Angela Geiger, President/CEO Autism Speaks will share information about autism and Autism Speaks role in researching advocating and spreading acceptance of individuals with ASD..
Other speakers include Speakers Donna Murray, PH.D. – Autism Treatment Network- Vice President, Head of Clinical Programs, Judith Ursitti – Autism Speaks- Director, State Government Affairs, Emily Mulligan – Autism Speaks- Manager, Autism Response Team, David Gallaway, Psy. D, BCBA-D – The Institute of Professional Practice – Program Director, Denis Sukhodolsky, PHD – Yale- Assistant Professor Connecticut Licensed Psychologist , Janice Moynihan – Autism Speaks- Manager, Community Outreach, New England, and Inge-Marie Eigsti – UConn- Associate Professor of Psychology .
During lunch there will be an open Q&A forum to learn about the experiences of the Lunch Panel with Dr. Ellen Preen – Clinical Neuropsychologist, Brenda Wilson – Ryan Woods Autism Foundation, Donna Swanson and Shannon Hilton -FOCUS Center for Autism and parents Melissa Adorno and Ed Martin. Moderator Jane Natoli.
“Alan and I are the founders of the Autism Speaks Western Connecticut Walk and have held it at Library Park in Waterbury since 2010. We are happy that Autism Speaks is collaborating with us to bring this free forum to the community, which will educate families, caregivers, educators, and community members about ASD,” said Helen Taylor. “We are grateful to the prestigious speakers who have dedicated their time and expertise for this free forum.” The Event Sponsor is Whole Foods. Additional sponsors include CT FEAT (Connecticut Families for Effective Autism Treatment), ACT Jams Productions, City of Waterbury, Deep River Snacks Antonio’s Pizza and Deli. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available. The event will include a free autism resource and provider fair, offering information, materials and support to those living and working in the autism community. Vendors attending to date are Autism Speaks, Ability Beyond – Roses for Autism, Chapel Haven, Inc., Intensive Education Academy and ProxTalker.com LLC dba Logan Tech. Space is still available for a fee to be a vendor. The event is free. Space is limited. Pre-registration is required.
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lasts throughout a person’s lifetime. It is part of a group of disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Autism impairs a person’s ability to communicate and relate to others. It is also associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors, such as obsessively arranging objects or following very specific routines. Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe. Autism is a public health crisis, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1 in every 68 children, and 1 in 42 boys, in the United States has autism. The diagnosis rate is increasing 10-17 percent annually, making autism more common than pediatric AIDS, juvenile diabetes and childhood cancer combined.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed more than $570 million to its mission, the majority in science and medical research. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships in more than 70 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit AutismSpeaks.org.