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5th Annual International Conference
March 31 - April 1
|Continuing Education||Sponsors & Resource Partners||Travel & Accommodations||Presenters|
Honoring Individual Differences:
The Gateway to Supporting Neurodiversity in Autism & Mental Health Treatment
A ground-breaking conference dedicated to providing information on strength-based approaches informed by the latest neuroscience.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
San Marino, CA
Friday, March 31 – Saturday, April 1, 2017
This conference presented a paradigm shift from a disability perspective to approaches that value individual differences. Participants heard from neurodiverse individuals, ground-breaking authors and scientists who helped us see the difference between responses to stress (safety vs. threat) and what are commonly thought of as “disorders” and/or challenging behaviors. Through keynotes and in- depth case presentations, this thought provoking and inspirational conference detailed ways to support and presume competence in mental health and autism treatment across the lifespan.
BioA long time researcher, advocate and teacher, she founded one of the first programs in the English-speaking world for autistic children here in San Diego in 1970. For over 20 years, Dr. Donnellan and her students and colleagues have been writing books and articles emphasizing the importance of studying movement differences in order to understand and support autistic people. Today the Special Research Topic in Frontiers on “Autism: The Movement Perspective” strongly supports this view with over 30 scientific research articles from top research institutions world-wide. Dr. Donnellan co-edited the Frontier's issue and edited the three papers of Dr. Torres and colleagues from Rutgers and Indiana that document and measure those movement differences. She and her colleagues and students have two research papers in the issue as well (Donnellan, Hill & Leary; Robledo, Donnellan & Strandt-Conroy). The collective works of all these researchers are expected to transform autism by shifting the focus of research and treatments to the individual on the spectrum in ways that are more objective as well as more personalized.
BioStephen W. Porges, Ph.D. is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. He is the former president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences. He is a former recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Development Award. He has published more than 250 peer‐reviewed scientific papers across several disciplines. In 1994 he proposed the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system to social behavior and emphasizes the consequence of feeling safe in maintaining and optimizing mental and physical health.
BioChantal’s passion for empowering others and her personal interest in autism has led her to become an autism consultant, an award-winning author, speaker, and leader in the field of autism, adolescence and transition to adulthood. She has been involved with autism spectrum disorders for over 25 years as both a parent and a professional on both sides of the Atlantic. A tireless advocate for those on the autism spectrum, Chantal founded Autism College in order to provide consultation services, practical information and training online about autism. In 2009, Chantal was appointed by the California Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders to lead the South Counties Autism Regional Taskforce as Co-Chair; and in the past served on the Taskforce on Transitional Services & Supports reporting to the California Legislative Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism.
Chantal received her BA in Social Ecology from the University of California at Irvine (UCI). Her first practical experience with autism was at Fairview State Hospital, teaching self-help and community living skills to severely developmentally disabled and autistic adolescents in preparation for their de-institutionalization. Then, as a case manager for Orange County Regional Center for the Developmentally Disabled, Chantal provided information and resources to families. Little did Chantal know that years later, these work experiences would prove invaluable when her son (now a young adult) was born and eventually diagnosed with autism in Paris, France, where the only treatment on offer was psychoanalysis. Chantal’s struggle to find appropriate treatment for her son led them to move to England, where they became one of the first families in the UK to run a Lovaas-type (based on applied behavior analysis) home program. Having been a service provider in California, and then a parent raising her child and dealing with the ’systems’ in France, United Kingdom and the United States, gives Chantal a unique and well-rounded perspective few people in this field have. A former researcher on BBC documentaries and a line producer on a TV Series in Paris, Chantal blogs on Huffingtonpost.com, and PsychologyToday.com. Chantal has been interviewed on a wide variety of media, including NPR, PBS, The Chicago Tribune, Newsweek and Fox News. Jeremy, Chantal’s son, was highlighted in the Newsweek cover story “Growing up with Autism” and featured in the MTV documentary True Life series, in “I Have Autism” which was the recipient of a 2008 Voice Award. His commencement speech from Torrey Pines High School was covered by the media. Jeremy is a painter, writer, advocate and autism consultant.
BioJeremy was born in Paris, France in 1989 and diagnosed with autism at an early age. He did not discover his gift for painting until he was 24, when he began to communicate to his parents about the colorful abstract portraits he was painting in his dreams. As a young child, Jeremy’s interest in bright colors was obvious: he spent hours looking at brightly colored fabrics, images in picture books, and the patterns in rugs. He loved visiting museums to look at the paintings, and cathedrals to follow the patterns on the floor tiles. Jeremy had many sensory-motor and vision challenges including peripheral vision (side vision). He did not enjoy participating in art activities when younger. He did not like the feeling the texture of finger paint, did not have the motor coordination to move a paintbrush, or squeeze a tube of paint. However, he loved watching the colorful paints in the Art Spinner go round and round and develop into colorful paintings.
Jeremy’s parents were told to find an institution for him. Instead they moved to Berkshire, England and subsequently to San Diego, California in order to provide him with an education. Jeremy was placed in moderate/severe special education classrooms. By age 17, Jeremy had little speech but learned to type and point to letters at home with his mother. Subsequently his local high school (Torrey Pines) placed him in general education classes. Jeremy graduated at age 21 with a full academic diploma, and gave a commencement speech using voice output technology. Jeremy’s story was highlighted on MTV’s documentary series True Life, in the episode, “I Have Autism” (recipient of a 2007 Voice Award), NPR, PBS, The Chicago Tribune, Newsweek (cover article), and Fox News.
Advocacy for others like him who have no voice is an important part of Jeremy’s life. After high school, Jeremy co-authored a book A Full Life with Autism (Macmillan 2012) and served as a Youth Representative to the United Nations for the Autism Research Institute, an NGO; and as a youth leader for the Autistic Global Initiative.
Jeremy discovered he had synesthesia in 2011, when he explained to his mother for the first time that he saw letters, numbers, words and emotions in color. In August 2012, Jeremy began to communicate about the dreams he was having: dreams that he was painting the emotions of people he had met into colorful portraits. One night he had a dream that he painted ten of his paintings and had an art show. He asked his mom if this could come true, and she encouraged him to paint in real life. In April 2016 his first curated solo art show was held at Space4Art in San Diego and was covered by national media including People.com, NBC, ABC, Good Morning America and thecreatorsproject.vice.com, as well as local media.
Currently Jeremy meets people in person at his art studio at Space4Art or online, and then paints to recreate the portrait envisioned while dreaming. Jeremy uses acrylic paint on wood panels and large canvases.
BioSteve Silberman is an award-winning science writer whose articles have appeared in Wired, the New Yorker, the MIT Technology Review, Nature, Salon, Shambhala Sun, and many other publications. He is also the author of the New York Times best-selling NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, which unearths the secret history of autism, long suppressed by the same clinicians who first became famous for discovering it, while also discovering surprising answers to the crucial question of why the number of diagnoses has soared in recent years. The book received a California Book Award as well as the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction — the first popular science book to win the prize in its 17-year history. Silberman speaks regularly at schools and universities, advocacy groups and organizations, and corporations including Microsoft, Google, and Apple.
In his book and his keynote presentations, Silberman shares little-known stories of the researchers and psychiatrists who pioneered the first autism diagnoses while also providing long-sought solutions to the autism puzzle. In an effort to shed light on the growing movement of “neurodiversity,” Silberman discusses the evolution of autism and explores the need for a more humane world in which people with learning differences and those who love them have access to the resources they need to live happier, healthier, more secure, and more meaningful lives.
Silberman’s writing has earned him numerous accolades and awards, including a 2010 Science Journalism Award for Magazine Writing from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Kavli Foundation for his article titled “The Placebo Problem,” His writing on science, culture, and literature has been featured in a number of anthologies, including The Best American Science Writing of the Year and The Best Business Stories of the Year. His TED talk, “The Forgotten History of Autism” has been viewed more than 800,000 times and translated into 29 languages while his Twitter account, @stevesilberman, made Time magazine’s list of the best Twitter feeds for the year 2011. Silberman lives with his husband, Keith, in San Francisco.
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