A Footnote from Caren Zucker, co-author, “In a Different Key: The Story of Autism”

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From Caren Zucker:

“…I cannot imagine the autism community better served than what you have all done – you are helping to educate a large group of librarians about autism so that they can better help the community.  You all then had the insight and kindness (lucky for us) to share our book with them…We hope your insight into the importance of educating others about autism is only the first, and many other educators and librarians will follow…”

The complete book talk was recorded and is available here.

book talk

Pictured from right to left:  John Donvan, Caren Zucker, Russ Bonanno (moderator)

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



Debra Vines Shares “Just for Men” video at 2016 Targeting Autism Forum

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For parents of children with autism, support groups can provide a powerful way connect and learn from others who share similar experiences, dreams and challenges.  These groups, however, are typically attended by mothers, leaving fathers with fewer opportunities to find encouragement in their day-to-day lives.  In addition, men are socialized to be more stoic and are often less likely to share their feelings, frustrations and often hide their need for support.   The result can be emotional isolation and depression.

An important component of The Answer, Inc., a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing support, resources, education, recreation and advocacy for families in the greater Chicago area that are challenged with supporting family members with autism & developmental differences, is the Just for Men support group.  Just for Men was created to cater to the needs of fathers dealing with individuals with autism or other mental impairments.

Take a few minutes to view the inspirational video Just for Men  which was shown at the 2016 Targeting Autism Forum and included as part of Debra Vine’s talk on March 10th. Debra’s complete presentation is available here

Recognizing one of our distinguished 2016 Targeting Autism forum speakers

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In honor of Women’s History Month…
Ann Ford, Executive Director of Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living (INCIL) in Springfield. Ann is one of the most significant advocates for Illinoisans with disabilities. Ann contracted polio at the age of five, and has become a tireless advocate and strong leader, overcoming countless challenges throughout her life. Ann has served as the Co-Chair of the Disabilities Services Committee – which improves the states compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Ann Ford has dedicated her life to empowering individuals with disabilities to become full participants in society and to realize that there are NO LIMITS!

Ann Ford

2016 Targeting Autism Forum Sessions

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If you were not able to attend the 2016 Targeting Autism Forum, you can see what you missed.  Links to most of the individual presentations are provided here for your convenience.

Marty Murphy – Autism: Beyond the Books Part I

                 Autism: Beyond the Books Part II

Marty Murphy

Ann Ford – The Importance of Building Relationships with Service Providers and Advocacy Groups

Ann Ford

Dan Weiss, Barbara Klipper, April Jones & Daniel Flores  – Music video, Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected and Autism Welcome Here: Library Programs, Services and More grant award presentations

Dan Weiss

Barbara awards Dan and April

Adria Nassim (and Lucy) – On Sensory Processing: A Personal Story

Adria and Lucy

Patti Foerster – Libraries, Disabilities and Washington, DC, Part I

Libraries, Disabilities and Washington, DC, Part II

Patti Foerster

Debra Vines – Report from the Founder/Executive Director, The Answer, Inc.

debra vines

Amanda Marti – Southern Illinois Targeting Autism Collaborative Community Report

Amanda Marti

Renee Grassi and Cate Loveday – Community Report – DuPage, Kane & Will Counties

renee and cate

Holly Jin and Dawn Wlezien – Supporting Transition-Aged Students at Skokie Public Library: Patron Stories and Lessons Learned, Part I

Supporting Transition-Aged Students at Skokie Public Library: Patrons Stories and Lessons Learned, Part II

Holly Jin and Dawn Wlezien

Sheryl Siebert – Community Report from the Director, Chenoa Public Library


The Alex & Hayden Show – featuring Alex Dudzenski, Hayden Davis, Jan Abernethy (teacher) and Katie Henderson (Hayden’s mom)

Alex & Hayden Show

John Donvan, Emmy Award-winning correspondent for ABC and Caren Zucker, Peabody Award-winning television news journalist – A book discussion of their book, In a Different Key: The Story of Autism

Book talk John Donvan and Caren Zucker

Sarah Colby Weaver – The Americans with Disabilities Act and Hidden Disabilities

Sarah Weaver

Mary Pelich – A Mother’s Journey

mary pelich


Nalini Mahajan – Information Connections: For Parents of Children with Developmental Disabilities and Chronic Diseases (made possible with grant funds from the National Library of Medicine)

Nalini - Information Connections

Sarah Isaacs – Early Intervention Clearinghouse (Illinois Department of Human Services, Bureau of Early Intervention)

Sarah Isaacs