Straight From the Source

Monthly Milestones | July 2018

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Straight from the Source: Autism at Work – Meet the Panelists

One highlight of our conference each year is our Straight from the Source series, a grouping of panels featuring individuals with autism and those closest to them. This year, we held an Autism at Work panel, a session for adults on the spectrum to share their experiences of joining and being a part of the workforce. During this panel, attendees got to meet Evan Spencer, Amy Kleinman, Angel Russo, and Tim Hughes, self-advocates with a variety of perspectives gained from employment. Evan, Amy, Angel, and Tim were kind enough to sit down with Milestones after their panel to share a little bit about the topics discussed and why they wanted to get involved.

Thanks so much for taking some time to talk to us today! Would you mind telling us how you first heard of Milestones?

Evan: My mom runs a support group that works closely with Milestones. I came my first year to the conference kind

of nervous, to see what was here for myself. I always thought it would be people my mom’s age who are working for individuals with autism, but then I saw it was also for individuals and that’s what sold me on coming back.

Amy: I’ve known about Milestones for I don’t know how many years. My mother and I had talked about coming to the conference for years; we have gone to Beth Thompson for some

help when we needed it. And finally last year, we were just like ‘you know what, we’re going to get scholarshipped and we’re going to go!’ Then this year, Beth asked me to speak, so we’re here again. And hopefully next year too!

Angel: Haley Dunn who is with Milestones, I knew her for a long time so she asked me to come speak.
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Monthly Milestones | June 2018

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Straight from the Source – 2018 Conference Speaker, Raesin Caine

T-minus two weeks until #MNAC2018 and we could not be MORE excited about all the insightful, informative sessions this year! Milestones is especially thrilled about the outstanding line-up of self-advocates presenting, one being Raesin Caine, MS. Raesin is a self-proclaimed nerd for science, the arts, and learning new things whenever she can. Diagnosed just last year with autism, Raesin celebrated when she received the news. Since her diagnosis, Raesin has made it a personal goal to change the way people think about autism by counteracting negative perspectives of the disorder when she encounters them.

“If I had my way, I’d do away with the charity walks, puzzle pieces, and tragic language, and insist on reframing autism in a way that promotes confidence, ownership, and celebration (I’m imagining the enthusiasm you’d find at a drag ball or marching band extravaganza.)”

What initially got you interested in the Milestones Conference? Can you describe your first conference experience and why you wanted to come back as a speaker?

“Admittedly, I was starstruck by Temple Grandin, who has been one of my heroes since I first read about her back in the nineties in the book, An Anthroplogist on Mars. I was also curious about what I could learn at an autism conference since I’d never attended one before.

I had a lot to say on my feedback form for last year’s conference. I learned important things at some of the workshops, met great people, and absolutely loved Dr. Grandin’s talk. At the same time, I felt disappointed by the number of sessions offered by self-advocates. It’s important for self-advocates to see ourselves throughout the programming and for neurotypical people to listen to our perspectives, so that’s why I decided to submit a presentation proposal.

I spoke up in a couple of workshops during the question-and-answer sessions last year and a number of people pulled me aside to ask me more about my experience. Their reactions were a good reminder that parents, sponsors, and other attendees need to hear from self-advocates especially because we tend to be heavily outnumbered at autism conferences. I am certain autism conferences would proceed quite differently if self-advocates developed the full conference schedule, gave all the talks, and provided all the sponsorship.”
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Monthly Milestones | May 2018

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