2021 Autistics Present Schedule

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Location: Zoom Webinar

Link will be emailed after Registration, prior to Symposium start

Autistics Present Symposium: Foundations for Divergent Minds

The presentations of this Symposium will enlighten and enrich autistic people, family members, educators and other professionals.

See recordings, transcripts, and handouts below

Please note: although we had ASL interpreters at the event, they did not show up on the recordings due to technical difficulties. We are working to fix this – please check back.

10:00 a.m.

Welcome – Director of Neurodiversity Navigators at Bellevue College 

Sara Sanders Gardner (none/they)

Sara’s work in the disability field began in 2001, when as a newly diagnosed autistic, they served as a parent advocate for IEP meetings, provided parent classes at United Cerebral Palsy, and was president of a 600-family autism support group. Sara designed and developed the nationally recognized Neurodiversity Navigators at Bellevue College in 2011. Sara is lead curriculum designer for the cohort series of NdN classes, and is active in providing professional development opportunities to faculty and staff at the Faculty Commons, in Educational Equity courses, in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion workshops, and at Professional Development days, as well as to other institutions and organizations across the globe.

Sara holds professional certification as a Collaborative Problem Solving Trainer from the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. Other education includes certification at California State University at Fullerton Autism Evidence Based Institute, coursework in Early Childhood Education at Coastline Community College, and in English at SUNY Buffalo. Sara also provides training in Neurodiversity Cultural Responsiveness for Microsoft’s Neurodiversity Inclusive Hiring program, Amazon Web Services, and other corporations.

10:15 – 10:45 a.m.

Opening Keynote – Foundations for Divergent Minds

You Need Us: Centering Our Value is a Must in Evidence Based Practices

One of the key pieces required to consider anything an “evidence-based practice” is patient values. With autism, this is either overlooked or completely ignored, suggesting that most if not all therapies and practices are not, in fact, evidence-based. We will instead present practices that are evidence-based to better support autistic people that are integrated with Autistic culture and based on the principles of Neurodiversity.

We apologize, due to technical difficulties, the Opening Keynote was not recorded.

Oswin Latimer, FDM Principal Executive Officer (fae/faer)

Oswin Latimer is a lifelong advocate for practices and policies of issues of importance to disabled people. As a recognized expert and leader in faer field, fae works to empower people to have a voice in the direction and quality of their lives. Faer experience in leadership, educating, research, and public advocacy for issues surrounding autistic people has made faer a highly respected consultant, public speaker, and presenter both nationally and locally.

Oswin is the founder and President of Foundations for Divergent Minds (FDM) and former Director of Community Engagement for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN). Fae has served as a consultant on policy discussion to the US Department of Labor, Department of Education, and Department of Personnel Management. Fae is also a valued consultant to many parents, offering useful strategies on how to organize their homes and create individualized education plans that best meet the needs of their child. Oswin is of indigenous heritage and is a parent of three.

Oswin Latimer was featured in the documentary, Citizen Autistic, a film directed by William Davenport exploring the advocacy work of autism rights activists. Fae is regularly called upon for media interviews and to speak at local and national conferences on a variety of topics, including language and perception, executive functioning, and autistic parenting. Oswin also compiled and edited Navigating College: A Handbook on Self Advocacy Written for Autistic Students from Autistic Adults (used as a text in Neurodiversity Navigators cohort classes). Contact: Oswin.Latimer@DivergentMinds.org

10:45 – 11:00 a.m. BREAK

11:00 – 11:55 a.m. 

Foundations for Divergent Minds Workshop –

CYOA: What’s in Your Bag of Holding?

This is an interactive session. We will be exploring the accommodations and supports you need for your daily life from the FDM five foundational areas. Whether you’re neurodivergent or not, knowing the ways you need support means greater autonomy. As well, you can expect to learn how to depathologize support needs.

Oswin Latimer (bio above)

Menelly Martin, Outreach & Development Director (they/them)

Menelly Martin is an Autistic disability advocate with three neurodivergent children.  They are active in writing grants proposals, fundraising, and other critical organizational tasks for FDM.

They are a co-founder of the Tone it Down Taupe (TiDT) movement. Tone it Down Taupe provides comedic relief for autistic people by turning pathologizing on its head and focusing on the behaviors of allistic people. Menelly also facilitates TiDT’s assistive technology redistribution program to provide donations to Autistic people who cannot afford to purchase such equipment for themselves. Contact: Shalia.Martin@DivergentMinds.org

11:55 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. BREAK

12:30 – 1:25 p.m.

Autistic Parenting Panel

Autistic Parenting Without ABA

Panelists are autistic parents who rejected the pathology paradigm and are raising/raised their kids without ABA or behavioral approaches to autism. They will discuss the challenges of raising children when fighting against ableism, racism, childism and other oppressive systems and pushing back against the idea that autistic kids need to be indistinguishable from their non-autistic peers. Panelists will discuss conflicting access needs, teaching self advocacy skills, instilling a sense of autistic & disability pride and joy in children, intersectional identities & the unique challenges as well as the strengths of autistic parents.

We hope that through our lived experience and gentle approach to parenting, attendees will begin to understand that autism is not something that you can “parent” out of your kid, but an integral part of who they are and how they understand the world. We hope that parents & professionals can understand that a loving, respectful connection with their children is the most important thing they can do to help their children. We want attendees to know that not only does ABA harm kids, but that there are better ways to raise autistic kids that focus on respect, interdependence, disability pride and promoting self advocacy.

With the information in our workshop we hope that attendees will be able to critically examine “autism interventions” and to more successfully advocate for respectful and empowering supports for autistic kids and adults alike.

There are no handouts for the panel.

Court (Alison) Falk

Courtney (aka Court) is an activist and a parent of 3 amazing children.  Court is proudly autistic and multiply neurodivergent. Court has an array of disabilities/chronic health issues which cause intense pain and fatigue.

Prior to becoming a parent, Court  worked as a nanny, including to neurodivergent children. Court became and remains extremely passionate about respectful parenting and on challenging pervasive childist views.

Court co founded Respectfully Connected- a parenting blog exclusively by neurodivergent parents. This blog focused on respectful ways to discuss parenting disabled children, while prioritizing the privacy and dignity that all children deserve.

Court founded and runs NOVA Autistic Pride Lending Library- a local lending library whose purpose is to counter the ableist messages people receive about autism and all disabilities. Court has a long time passion for providing resources and guidance to caregivers of neurodivergent children.  They plan to continue to help guide caregivers in avoiding the pathology paradigm and the path of ABA and other intensive interventions. Instead fighting to give disabled children their childhoods back, rather than spend them in autism conversion therapies.

Court has been a volunteer with AWN for four years and is now working for them  as the Digital Media Content Manager.  Their down time is spent  researching and info dumping about various topics, and sleeping, as their pain and fatigue dictate. Court hopes to finish their book, as well as to adopt more pets, and continue to be a thorn in the side of, and eventually help take down, the big ABA machine.

Morénike Giwa Onaiwu,  FDM Advocacy & Research Director (she/they)

Morénike Giwa Onaiwu (she/they) is an educator, writer, public speaker, parent, and global advocate. A proactive, resourceful professional and disabled woman of color in a multicultural, neurodiverse, serodifferent family, Morénike, who is American-born to immigrant parents, possesses undergraduate and graduate degrees in International Relations and Education. She is passionate about human rights, justice, and inclusion.

She is involved in various social justice advocacy endeavors including HIV awareness, learning via technology, research, gender, disability, and racial equity and other issues. A prolific writer, Morénike has written for and/or been featured in numerous blogs, abstracts, magazines, books, and other platforms, often drawing from her personal experiences as a late-diagnosed Autistic adult woman, a person of color, an Autistic parent of Autistic and non-Autistic children, and a survivor of intimate partner violence. She is also involved in several projects in addition to her advocacy and writing, including research and consulting.

Morénike has been an invited speaker in the White House, at the United Nations Headquarters, and a keynote speaker and/or presenter at numerous peer-reviewed advocacy, education, disability, and research conferences. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the “Advocating for Another: Health Activist of the Year” WEGO Health Award and the “Service to the Self-Advocacy Movement” Autistic Self Advocacy Network Award.

Her executive experience includes board membership of a number of national research, disability, advocacy, and family service organizations, chairperson of both a large HRSA-funded local planning body and an international NIH-funded community research network, and leadership roles within various entities in addition to her role as a Humanities Scholar at Rice University.

Currently balancing her roles as a faculty member at a state college and as a doctoral candidate in what sometimes feels like a never-ending degree program, Morénike considers herself a “lifelong learner” who is constantly growing and changing, hopefully for the better! She considers her wonderful children (biological and adopted and all of whom have various disabilities) to be her greatest accomplishment.

She can be contacted by making a direct appointment at MorenikeGO.YouCanBook.Me and/or by email (via her assistant) at S.Luna@AdvocacyWithoutBorders.org

Emma van der Klift

Emma Van der Klift is a neurodivergent speaker, author and activist. Recently diagnosed as Autistic, she has embraced the diagnosis with a sense of relief, recognition and confirmation. Although she worked in the non-profit sector supporting individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities for many years, like many other autistic girls and women, she did not recognize her experience as represented in the common societal narratives. Since discovering a supportive and vibrant community of other autistic adults and allies, she has become an active member of the Neurodiversity movement.

With her partner Norman Kunc, Emma has travelled the world doing inservice and training on issues of inclusive education, employment equity, conflict resolution and other disability issues. Emma and Norm’s first book “Being Realistic Isn’t Realistic” is a collection of essays on disability, identity, inclusion and innovation. Emma recently published a second book based on the research she did over the course of several years titled “Talk to Me: What educators (and others) can Learn About De-escalation from Hostage Negotiators”. Emma holds a Master’s degree in Conflict Analysis and Management from Royal Roads University and was certified as a mediator and negotiator through the Justice Institute in Vancouver. She sometimes wonders if she might be the only autistic mediator!

Lei Wiley-Mydske

Lei Wiley-Mydske is an Autistic activist, wife and homeschooling mom.  After being misdiagnosed for many years, Lei was diagnosed as Autistic when she was in her thirties. Lei is also the director and founder of the Ed Wiley Autism Acceptance Lending Library, which serves the communities of Stanwood & Camano Island, WA by lending books and materials that promote the ideas of autism acceptance, social justice, disability rights and neurodiversity.  She is an administrator on the popular Facebook page “Parenting Autistic Children With Love & Acceptance“.

In her spare time, Lei enjoys reading, painting, cooking, hiking, science fiction, comic books, and just spending time with her allistic husband and amazing Autistic kid.

Lei is also the affichiste for the Autistic Present Symposiums.

1:30 p.m.

Closing Keynote – Foundations for Divergent Minds

We’re Taking the Wheel: Autistics as Drivers of Autism Research

The message of the closing keynote, We’re “Taking the Wheel:” Autistics as Drivers of Autism Research is a double entendre with both literal and figurative significance. 

In part, it plays upon an older Southern colloquium  (“Jesus, take the wheel!”) meant to denote an urgent need for immediate and drastic change due to an unacceptable status quo in which others have made a mess of things. Thus, in that sense, Autistics are metaphorically taking the wheel in research in an effort to mitigate the immense destruction that has been done to date under the imperialistic reign of non-autistic researchers. 

But beyond the theoretical, we assert that we are taking the wheel because we are the rightful owners and operators of the vehicle (research). The Autistic community never consented to be a captive and unwelcome passenger in our own vehicle to begin with! Therefore, we must be the ones to determine and direct where research is heading, at what speed, in which conditions, and who accompanies us there. 

Utilizing both symbolism and real life examples, the presenters will highlight five principles that are crucial elements of the concept of Autistic people as drivers of research.

Morénike Giwa Onaiwu (bio above)

Kassiane Asasumasu, FDM Content & Coordination Director (she/they)

Kassiane Asasumasu is a multiply neurodivergent Hapa (biracial Asian) longtime autistic activist. You may know her work from the acclaimed Radical Neurodivergence Speaking, Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance, or any one of several anthologies. Kassiane is also the reluctant mastermind of the project We Are Like Your Child.

When not causing a social media crisis, Kassiane practices aikido, studies neuroscience, makes sure kids are included in neighborhood recreation programs, and cuddles her three cats (but not all at once). She seeks to drag the rest of the world to autism acceptance & disability justice, even if the rest of the world kicks & screams the whole way. Contact: Kassiane@DivergentMinds.org

Symposium Schedule

10 a.m.Welcome
Neurodiversity Navigators Director
Sara Sanders Gardner
10:15-10:45 a.m.Opening Keynote
Foundations for Divergent Minds, PEO
Oswin Latimer
10:45-11 a.m.BREAK
11:00-11:55 a.m.FDM Workshop
Oswin Latimer, Menelly Martin
11:55 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.BREAK
12:30 - 1:25 p.m.Autistic Parenting Panel
See speakers below
1:30 p.m.Closing Keynote
Foundations for Divergent Minds
Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, Kassiane Asasumasu

Last Updated May 13, 2024