IOD Offers Autism Workshop August 13-16
By Matthew Gianino, Institute On Disability / UCED
July 11, 2007
The Institute on Disability (IOD) at UNH will be presenting the ninth annual
Autism Summer Institute August 13 -16. This year’s four-day Institute, “Raising
Expectations: Presuming Competence,” is open to anyone interested in
learning more about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) from experts on the subject
including persons living with ASD.
Topics will include strategies to help support the full participation of
students in general education classrooms as well as exploring ways individuals
with ASD can improve the quality and independence of their everyday lives.
This year’s Autism Summer Institute includes keynote presenters alongside
some of the IOD’s most knowledgeable staff members. Expert keynote
presentations will be offered by Ros Blackburn, a lecturer from England living
with autism; Jamie Burke, a Syracuse University student with autism and advocate
for Facilitated Communication; CarolAnn Edscorn, a New Hampshire mother with
Asperger Syndrome; and Donna Williams, celebrated international public speaker,
author, and autism consultant from Australia.
The Institute is based on the principle that autism is a natural part of
the human experience. Each presentation at the Institute will acknowledge
that people with Autism Spectrum Disorders can and do lead satisfying lives
in their communities at the same time that they experience challenges with
communication, learning, social relationships, everyday tasks, and society’s
judgment that they are not competent.
“I’ve experienced abuse based on the presumption that ‘nobody
was home,’” says Donna Williams, “that I ‘couldn’t
feel pain,’ ‘couldn’t feel loss,’ ‘didn’t
understand,’ ‘couldn’t tell,’ and that basically
I was seen as a liability, a burden, something awaiting institutionalization,
often an ‘it,’ not a person.”
The presenters at the Autism Summer Institute will give an honest and hopeful
view of living with autism.
“Some people never learn how to ride a bicycle. Some people never
learn how to swim. Some people never learn how to drive a car. Yet, these
people may be ‘neurotypical’ in all other definitions,” says
CarolAnn Edscorn. “There are different competencies by which we judge
the human person. But in talking about competency as a human being, we need
to continue the shift in our dialoguing toward respect and understanding.
Just because a skill may be missing or less than perfect doesn’t mean
the person is less competent.”
In addition to the keynote presentations, participants will benefit from
frequent opportunities to interact and discuss strategies in smaller, more
informal workgroup settings.
The goal of the Autism Summer Institute is to provide perspectives which
focus on students’ strengths in order to improve the quality of education
in inclusive settings. Participants will gain skills and knowledge that will
help support the full participation of students with ASD in their schools
The fee to attend the four-day Autism Summer Institute is $399 per person.
The fee to attend keynote presentations is $60 each. Discounts for full-time
students, individuals with ASD and their families are also available. For
more information or to register online, visit www.iod.unh.edu or call (603)228-2084.