A New Logo — A Symbol of Empowerment

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Yesterday, June 18th, in honor of Autism Pride Day, The Targeting Autism initiative changed its logo, replacing the puzzle pieces with the rainbow infinity symbol.  There was no better time than Autism Pride Day to change our branding by displaying the symbol that honors diversity with infinite variations and possibilities.New autism logo (2)

Autistic Activist, Archivist & Blogger, Steph Diorio, Inspires the Forum to Move Beyond Autism Awareness

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Stephanie Diorio TA forum 2019 1

Steph Diorio, the local history librarian/archivist at the Hoboken Public Library was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in 2009 and has been a tireless autism advocate ever since.  She speaks at conferences and blogs about the issues autistic people face including: (1) accessibility; (2) being infantilized/talked down to; (3) being taken seriously; and (4) being talked over by parents and “experts.”

Steph has been blogging and talking to all who would listen since 2010 in an attempt to support other autistic people and amplify their voices.   As both a passionate autism advocate and gamer, Steph started the Autistic Gaming Initiative , a group that provides a social outlet for autistic gamers, as well as, a vehicle to raise money for autism charities run by and for autistic people.

In answer to the question, “If I’m not autistic, how can I help autistic people I know,” Steph stresses the importance of listening to them.  If an autistic person tells you that a type of therapy, an organization or a societal expectation is harmful to autistic people, believe them!  She also urges us to reject the medical model that describes autism as a condition to be treated.  As Steph says, “We don’t “have” autism, we “are” autism.

Steph Diorio’s presentation slides can be viewed at the link below:

Steph Diorio Self-Advocacy In Your Community_ An Autistic’s Guide To Speaking Up And Speaking Out

Gyasi Burks-Abbott Shares His Personal & Professional Journey as Disabilities Self-Advocate

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Gyasi TA19 2Gyasi Burks-Abbott is a librarian, writer, public speaker, autism self-advocate and a fellow with Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disorders (LEND), a nationwide training program including 52 locations across the nation, designed to improve the health of infants, children and adolescents with disabilities.

In his talk on Autism and Civil Rights, Gyasi shares a timeline depicting the slow paradigm shift from a medical model of disability to a social model, and from institutionalization to community inclusion.

The beginning of this shift is evidenced in the 1970s, in the following timeline, as disability begins to be treated as a protected class in anti-discrimination legislation:

  • 1973 – Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in programs receiving federal funds.
  • 1975 – Education for All Handicapped Children Act (later renamed IDEA) mandates a free and appropriate public education for all disabled children.
  • 1990 – Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, public accommodations, and public services.
  • 1999 – US Supreme Court Olmstead Decision rules that unjustified segregation of people with disabilities constitutes discrimination in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • 2014 – Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Final Rule mandates that federal funds used for Home and Community Based Services must be in the most integrated setting.

Hurry – Register Now for the 2019 Targeting Autism Forum!!!

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There are some remaining seats for the 5th Annual Targeting Autism Forum, May 16 & 17, at Dominican University, River Forest IL.  Join us for an opportunity to network and learn about neurodiversity, civil rights and libraries from many nationally known experts and self-advocates.

Registration has been extended through April 19.  Email Suzanne Schriar for more information or to register.

Below are just a few of our speakers:

Free webinar, “Navigating the Transition Years for Individuals with ASD”

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sign up now

There’s still time to register for the free webinar, Navigating the Transition Years for Individuals with ASD, hosted by the Illinois State Library, the Illinois Center for Specialized Professional Support at ISU and the Autism Training and Technical Assistance (ATTA) project. Learn about ways that you can help students, families or loved ones prepare for college or a career and the free resources and supports available online through ATTA.  March 7, 2019, 11:30 a.m. (CST).  Register here:



Steph Diorio, Librarian, Archivist & Autistic Self-Advocate to Speak at the 2019 Targeting Autism Forum

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Steph Diorio is the local history librarian/archivist at Hoboken Public Library and has been an autistic self-advocate for ten years since her diagnosis in July 2009.  In addition to her work and advocating through her various archival and library posts, she is also the founder of the Autistic Gaming Initiative, an organization of autistic gamers who do monthly livestreams for autistic-run charities and organizations and to promote further acceptance of autistic people in the gaming community and at large.  Her academic areas of research include the history of comedy (with emphasis on British comedy in the 1960s and anything in the 19th century) and the Long 19th Century (particularly the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War and World War I).  She spends her spare time writing and drawing comics and shares her life with an abnormally large cat name Murphy.

Steph will discuss her advocacy work, including using her position as a public library employee to self-advocate for autistic folks in the community.  She will address why it’s important to include autistic people in the discussions about autism and how best to serve your community.

Registration for the Forum is open through April 15th.  Send an email here.   Include your name, contact information, professional affiliation and a brief statement of what you hope to gain from attending the forum.

Lodging and meals (breakfast and lunch) are provided.  Because registration for the forum will probably exceed the number of hotel rooms available, please consider commuting if travel to Dominican University in River Forest, IL, is convenient.