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The 2014 Autism Awareness Month online lecture series has concluded. Please see below for links to archived recordings of the sessions and other downloadable resources. Also, visit Celebrating Neurodiversity: Autism Acceptance Companion Guide, a collection of resources from all of the panels.
From K–12 education to healthcare, business to politics, and the arts to science to all other fields and facets of life, understanding and embracing individuals with autism and all across the neurodiversity spectrum is a goal worth striving for.
At WGU, we will be joining the nation in celebrating Autism Awareness Month throughout April. Beginning Thursday, April 10, with a panel discussion of the PBS film Neurotypical, we will present a varied and engaging series of interdisciplinary online discussions about autism.
Check out the schedule below and be sure to make yourself a calendar reminder to attend the sessions you’re interested in. Then, on the day and time of the event, visit wgu.adobeconnect.com/autism-acceptance-month and call into 1-855-810-8948, participant code 971065#.
Panelists will include subject-matter experts, students and alumni, and mentors from throughout WGU’s colleges and disciplines. Some have personal experience with autism; others have academic or other backgrounds that lend them special expertise.
Thursday, April 10, 2014: PBS Neurotypical Film Discussion: Beginning a Dialogue
View the recording of this session »
Dr. Lauri Barnes (General Education), Dr. Kim Cohen (Teachers College), Dr. Steve Harris (General Education)
In this opening panel, we will discuss the film Neurotypical, directed by Adam Larsen as part of PBS’s POV series. We will explore some of the main questions that the film grapples with: What is the spectrum of neurodiversity? What is “normal”? How does being in the world differently allow for divergent thinking? We will also think about how we can begin our dialogue during this month’s activities. You can prepare for this panel by watching the free streaming video: PBS POV: Neurotypical Video Link (52m).
Tuesday, April 15, 2014: What I wish people and teachers understood about autism: A Parent Perspective
Dr. Kim Cohen (Teachers College), Mikki Naught (Health Professions), Linda Byrd (Health Professions), Dr. Steve Harris (General Education), Stacey Ludwig Johnson (Associate Provost, Academic Services)
We have gathered several parents to share some of their perspectives and experiences as a parent to a child with autism. In addition to what the panelists will share, we hope that you will bring with you questions, concerns, and anecdotes of your own to build a dialogue about autism in the community and classroom.
Wednesday, April 16: Nursing Care for the Autistic Patient
Lisa Sanderson (WGU graduate, MSN–Education, Class of 2013)
Join WGU alumna Lisa Sanderson, MSN, RN, for a presentation based on research conducted as part of her capstone project for the master’s in Nursing–Education degree program at WGU. Sanderson will cover nursing confidence in caring for the autistic patient while discussing the basics of what autistic symptoms present as, concluding with helpful practical approaches for nurses when caring for the autistic patient. The discussion focuses on pediatrics, but can be generalized to adult care as well.
Thursday, April 17, 2014: What I wish I knew before going into my classroom: A Classroom Teacher Perspective
Karl Swenson (Teachers College), Karen Hager-Martinez (Teachers College), Dr. June Robinson (Teachers College)
We have gathered several classroom teachers to share some of their perspectives and experiences in their classrooms with autistic students. In addition to what the panelists will share, we hope that you will bring with you questions, concerns, and anecdotes of your own to build a dialogue about autism in the classroom.
Monday, April 21, 2014: EAP Finding Balance: Families with Special Needs
This session provides time for participants to evaluate what is necessary to have balance if their lives. It also offers specific work and home strategies to help participants overcome the barriers to finding balance. We will also discuss the concerns of families with special needs. While it can be rewarding to support our loved ones, the task can be challenging and overwhelming. This session will provide valuable information on preventing burnout and coping with difficult behaviors.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014: Myths vs. Facts about Autism
Leah Gherardi, M.S. in Education, with SocialSolutions4Autism
In this panel presentation, Leah Gherardi, a certified special education teacher, consultant, and advocate, will discuss what the core misconceptions about autism are, as well as what we can say we know for a fact. The panel will also discuss the increased diagnosis rates and contributing factors, autism complications, and treatments.
Wednesday, April 23: Parents and Schools as Partners/Policymaking
Download the slides from this session »
Carolyn Huston, MBA student and parent/lay advocate
“In the last three years since my son was officially diagnosed with autism, I have taken extensive trainings to become an advocate and parent support for other parents,” WGU MBA student Carolyn Huston says of this panel. “As part of this webinar, I will share some of what I have learned from the trainings and through being an active participant as a volunteer parent support member in over 100 CPSE/CSE meetings during the last two years.”
Thursday, April 24, 2014: Much Ado About Autism: How Teaching Shakespeare Empowers Communication
Dr. Jenni Randonis (Teachers College), Dr. Noelle Carter (Teachers College)
Dr. Jennifer Randonis will present how a unique program between the Royal Shakespeare Company and Ohio State University presents an opportunity for using Shakespearean performance as a transforming and therapeutic event for children with autism. Dr. Noelle Carter will discuss the practical application of Shakespeare as an occasion to teach social skills and stories while also offering opportunities for inclusion.
Friday, April 25, 2014: Understanding Asperger’s Firsthand
Joyce Dahlhauser, M.S. MTL (Information Technology)
“My brother has Asperger’s syndrome, which is considered a high-functioning form of autism, and this is a story of how those afflicted may not be diagnosed and are often very misunderstood,” IT Student Mentor Joyce Dahlhauser says of this panel. “He was often considered ‘weird’ because of his lack of social skills and tormented by his own obsessions. I want to help others understand how this syndrome has its own set of problems and how it affects those around him as well. This form of autism was not commonly known when we were growing up, which resulted in my brother being labeled as weird. There is hope for those having this disorder with the help of family and friends who understand. I want to share the many things unseen with a disorder that is not obvious and let others know the very different trials someone like my brother have in everyday life.”
Monday, April 28, 2014: Temple Grandin: The World Needs All Kinds of Minds
Dr. Lynn Brogan (Teachers College), Dr. Amy Hughes (Teachers College)
Participants will view the 20-minute TED talk featuring Temple Grandin, livestock handling designer and autism activist. Facilitated discussion will follow the talk. Through groundbreaking research and the lens of her own autism, Temple Grandin brings startling insight into two worlds.
Tuesday, April 29: An Author’s Journey
Carolyn Huston (MBA student, mother of a son with autism, and author of four books)
“When my son was beginning preschool and making the transition from early intervention services, I looked for books that could give him an idea of what to expect,” WGU MBA student Carolyn Huston says. “Neither the local librarian or myself could find any that related to a child with autism. With that, my series of books began. By the end of 2014, we plan to have 10-15 available in this series. If you are interested in reading or acquiring any of my four books prior to this presentation, they are available through amazon.com at this link: Books by Carolyn Huston.”
Wednesday, April 30: Teaching Empathy and Social Skills to Neurotypicals: Learning from Autistic Protagonists in Literature
View the recording of this session »
View the companion teaching guide »
Dr. Kim Cohen (Teachers College), Dr. Carmen Turner (Teachers College)
In this panel, we will explore the dynamic role that literature and other cultural content can play in opening up to neurotypicals how people with autism live in the world. The rise of the autistic protagonist presents readers and teachers alike with the opportunity to see the world from another’s eyes and create opportunities for empathy and dialogue. We will be discussing children’s literature, such as Kathryn Erskine’s Mockingbird, Nora Raleigh Baskin’s Anything but Typical, and Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, as well as pop culture figures such as BBC’s Sherlock, Bones’ Dr. Temperance Brennan, and more.
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