March 2016 Forum

Targeting Autism Forum Survey Results Reveal the Educational Impact of ASD Self-Advocates

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The University  of Illinois Springfield’s Survey Research Office conducted a survey of forum participants to find out what content and which speakers made the biggest impact at the March 2016 event.  Overwhelmingly, those who attended reported that they gained the most knowledge from self-advocates who spoke at the forum.

The ASD self-advocates who spoke at this year’s forum included (from left to right) Marty Murphy, national public speaker and author; Adria Nassim, consultant, speaker and founder of Adria’s Village; and Alex Dudzenski and Hayden Davis, two middle who, with the help of their teacher, Jan Abernathy, host a YouTube series where they interview guests, showcase pets and share interesting facts about autism.

All presentations from both the 2015 and 2016 Targeting Autism forums can be viewed on the Targeting Autism YouTube channel. 

We are seeking suggestions for speakers at the 2017 Targeting Autism forum.  If  you have ideas, please post a comment to the blog or send an email to Suzanne Schriar


Playwright Shares Kennedy Center Production of Her Award Winning One-Act Play at the Targeting Autism Forum

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Ariadne Blayde
Ariadne Blayde – playwright and 2008 winner of the Kennedy Center’s VSA Playwright Discovery Award for her one-act play, The Other Room, which depicts a brilliant high school student with autism, who struggles to communicate his inner thoughts and emotions, which are revealed to the audience through four unique characters.

On the evening of March 10th, 2016, Targeting Autism Forum attendees had the privilege of viewing the Kennedy Center’s professional production of The Other Room and meeting with the playwright, Ariadne Blayde.  After viewing the performance, it become obvious that the audience had experienced something that had touched their hearts to the core.

Ariadne Blayde effectively portrays the difficult and lonely struggle expressed by a brilliant high school student with Asperger’s Syndrome, who tries hard to communicate his thoughts and feelings, and ultimately experiences the heartbreak of being misunderstood.   And yet, it doesn’t take a connection to autism to know the pain of being misunderstood and not seen for who we truly are.  By touching own existential loneliness and struggle for genuine communication, Ariadne Blayde has given us a deeper connection to the mind of someone with ASD.

Ariadne’s talk, including the 2008 Kennedy Center performance of The Other Room can be accessed here



Inspirational Speakers Address Librarians and Others at the 2016 Targeting Autism forum!

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A few pictures from the 2016 Targeting Autism Forum, held at the Illinois State Library on March 10-11.  All sessions were recorded and will be accessible/posted soon.

There is Still Time to Register for the Targeting Autism Forum!

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The Illinois budget impasse has impacted registration for the Targeting Autism forum, March 10-11, 2016, leaving a small number of vacancies to be filled.  The forum will include two days of stimulating talks and opportunities to learn from examples of strong community collaborations among libraries and ASD stakeholders in Illinois.   A few of the speakers and topics presented at the forum will include:

  1. Marty Murphy – A nationally known speaker and ASD self advocate.  Marty will share her insights about the emotional influence of living with autism along with the many facets of how and why things affect her.   A  compelling speaker, Marty shares her energy, knowledge and humor to address the many challenges that parents and educators face in helping children with autism.
  2. Ann Ford – Executive Director of the Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living since 1999.  Ann has received several awards for her leadership and passionate involvement  in the area of disabilities advocacy.  She was active in the efforts to develop the Americans with Disabilities Act and get it passed, and remains active in efforts to assure full implementation.  Ann will talk about the importance of community relationships and working in partnership with service providers and advocacy groups to utilize all tools available to enhance services.
  3. Sarah Weaver, Ph.D – Executive Director of the Office of Disability Services for the University of Illinois at Springfield.  Dr. Weaver will address the topic of ADA as it applies to “hidden” disabilities.
  4. Debra Vines – Executive Director of The Answer Inc. – Autism Awareness and Support Agency.  Debra will address the challenges and opportunities for supporting the African-American ASD community.
  5. José Ovalle – is the executive director of Grupo SALTO (Latino Autism Society Working with Optimism) and the Former Regional Coordinator and Parent Liaison for TAP.  José will address the challenges and opportunities for supporting the Spanish speaking families of children with ASD.

This is just a small sample of what promises to be a very stimulating forum.  A complete agenda is forthcoming.

If you would like to attend, please contact Suzanne Schriar.  Priority will given to anyone who attended the first forum, but has not registered yet for the upcoming forum, school librarians and educators.  CPDUs will be provided.  Lodging for two nights and meals will be provided.