Successful Outcomes for Students with Autism & Related Disorders

Announcing a Special 1-Day Workshop with Diane Twachtman-Cullen on Successful Outcomes for Students with Autism & Related Disorders which is coming to Calgary, Alberta on April 13th 2011!

Register Today for SUPER Early Bird Rates – End January 31st 2012

Full details:

Achieving Successful Outcomes for Students with Autism and Related Disorders: A Strategic Roadmap for Parents, Teachers and Special Needs Professionals presented by Diane Twachtman-Cullen, Ph.D., CCC-SLP – Editor-in-Chief, Autism Spectrum Quarterly

Register Today for Super Early Bird Rates – End January 31st 2012
Autism Calgary – April 13th 2012 – Parent Super Early Bird – Special $49 – Regular $99
Autism Calgary – April 13th 2012 – Professional Super Early Bird – Special $79 – Regular $129

Calgary, Alberta – Friday, April 13th, 2012

Here are Just a Few of The Benefits of Attending:

  • Essential Elements of Individualized Programming
  • Past Perspectives and Present Practices
  • How to Write Meaningful Goals and Objectives
  • Measuring Student Performance
  • Tools for Assessment and Decision Making
  • Comprehension: The Power that Fuels Expression
  • Critical Thinking: An Essential Life Skill
  • All Things Social
  • Tips for Teaching Skill Development
  • Moving from Theory to Practice

This practical workshop offers a comprehensive “A to Z” plan for addressing the needs of students with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), nonverbal learning disorder (NLD), and ADD/ADHD. The learning-style differences and needs of these students will be defined, and a detailed step-by-step plan for achieving successful outcomes—The Strategic Roadmap for Teaching—will be presented for addressing challenges related to language, behavior, nonverbal communication, social thinking, and organization and planning. This strategic roadmap will include specific information on ways to decrease prompt dependency and facilitate generalization across multiple settings and people, as well as measurable teaching goals and objectives to ensure ease of application of evidence-based strategies in real-world settings.

Care for Caregivers

This is really cool! I’ve been thinking a long time about Second Life as a vehicle for people with autism to connect for a long time since social skills are a real challenge. Well lo and behold, even though this isn’t quite what I had in mind this is still really cool for caregivers (who desperately need attention too)

Check out this great concept designed exclusively for those who provide care for family members with special needs. Caregiver Village members are able to connect with friends, participate in book clubs with celebrity authors, journal, play mystery games, solve puzzles, and learn valuable information about care giving.

Authors such as Liane Kupferberg Carter, renowned journalist and author of many books including The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, and Dr. Cindy Ariel, a clinical psychologist specializing in therapy solutions for individuals with autism and their loved ones, will lead book club discussions on Autism and care giving.

As a caregiver myself I love the idea and wanted to share it with you.

Karen Simmons,
Autism Todays
Founder & CEO and Mom

“Qi” for ASD: Traditional Chinese Medicine Provides a Research Based Approach to Using Medical Qigong to Help Children on the Autism Spectrum

Parents of ASD children often become advocates willing to pursue innovative approaches to helping their children.  In my case, my eclectic background as a Harvard-trained developmental psychologist and acupuncturist led me to pursue options offered by Chinese medicine for my own son, who struggles with sensory integration and social relationship difficulties.

Imagine my surprise in discovering that an American medical doctor trained in classical Chinese medicine had already charted this territory and come away with a comprehensive treatment approach that pulls forward ancient teachings of medical qigong[1] to treat ASD children.

And, this Western MD had taken her initiative a step further and was actively placing qigong in the hands of early intervention specialists and parents via a training program that honors the age old principle that Chinese medicine is fundamentally for families.  Dr. Louisa Silva has been publishing research for the past 6 years[2] showing that her intervention, “Qigong Sensory Training”, reduces sensory impairment and improves adaptive behaviors in children with ASD.   Her most recent publication[3] draws on Chinese medical theory to suggest that autism involves the interplay of impaired sensory development and delayed emergence of self- regulation.  Addressing this delay via qigong can help children fill in missing developmental milestones. My training provided a lens to review Dr. Silva’s research—which I found compelling enough to invite her to come to the Boston area for the first time to offer her thorough training to occupational therapists and acupuncturists. The training also teaches parents to deliver qigong massage.  My experiences working with children and parents in the program contributes to my enthusiasm over this approach.  We are already seeing signs of reduction in sensory impairment in the children novice practitioners are treating.

Through ongoing outreach, Dr. Silva aims to expand the reach of this Qigong Sensory Training Intervention.  If you are an open minded parent who wants to engage hands-on in your child’s wellness, consider participating in a QST training near you!

Author Bio:

Maria A. Broderick, MAOM, Ed.D., Lic.Ac., practices Chinese medicine with a focus on child and adolescent health and development.  Maria is a member of the clinical faculty of the New England School of Acupuncture (, where she supervises acupuncture interns in the pediatric in patient unit and the adolescent outpatient clinic at Boston Medical Center. Maria holds a Master’s degree in Oriental Medicine from the New England School of Acupuncture and a doctoral degree in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University, where she previously served on the Faculty of Education. Maria is a Schweitzer Fellow for Life. She is the Director of Reservoir Family Wellness (www.reservoirfamilywellness), in Acton, MA, where she treats children with ASD with Chinese medicine.

The Art of AUTISM

The ART of AUTISM Tour takes on Hollywood on May 19th! Keri Bowers – Advocate, Speaker, Seminar Leader, and Filmmaker – will host The ART of AUTISM, at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre to celebrate the talents of individuals on the autism spectrum. Music, dance, drama, monologues, art, film, and great fun. Performers include: Arrest My Sister, The Miracle Fly Kids, Autism Movement Therapy Dancers, Taylor Cross, Diane Isaacs, Susan Sheller, Nick Guzman, Dani Bowman, Kennedy Moore, Ballet for All Kids, and more.

HEARTS AND ARTS AWARDS will be presented to Janet Grillo for her work in advocacy and film (Fly Away and Autism the Musical); Naomi Heller (posthumously) for 30 years of dedication to children with Special Needs (Founder Intercare Therapy, Inc.) and Susan Baukus, behaviorist, for her dedication to children with special needs.
Debbie Hosseni will share her book, ARTISM: The ART of AUTISM, published by Autism Today, and a couple of guests will win free books and films at the event. Come see Trevor Aykin’s spray art LIVE, and artist Joel Anderson will be there to sign books as well!

Tickets are 20 bucks, visit to purchase.

This event will make you laugh and cry. BRING TISSUE! for more information

The ART of AUTISM; Hollywood is principally sponsored by Intercare Therapy, Inc. with co-sponsorship by Autism Today, Debbie Hosseini, and



Many of you have written or spoken to me personally about my new documentary series on PBS NEWSHOUR, “Autism Today,” produced by Caren Zucker, with the collaboration of Robin Mcneil, the beloved former co-host of PBS’ flagship news program, Macneil/Lehrer Newshour.  I have good news and bad news.  First – as lovely an idea as it is, PBS’ Autism Today has no relationship to my company, Autism Today.  To clear up the confusion, last week, we contacted the folks and PBS NEWSHOUR, and they were kind enough to change the name of the series they had previously marketed under the title, “Autism Today,” to “Autism Now.”  Ah, fame: bittersweet, and so fleeting!

The good news?  America has finally discovered autism!  Everyone at Autism Today is delighted to see PBS take this subject on. We admire MacNeil/Lehrer Productions’ reputation for broadcasting excellence, the personal integrity of Robin MacNeil and Jim Lehrer, and the reliability of the information provided through their broadcasts.  We are also big believers in Big Bird and all the great programming made possible in the U.S. by PBS, NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  So go buy your popcorn, gather the family and be sure to watch PBS’ Autism Now Monday on your local PBS channel.  Check your local listings for times.  If you do not have access to PBS, check out the PBS NEWSHOUR series at

Autism Vancouver Wrap Up and THANKS

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of Autism Vancouver, on April 7-9,  Many months of hard work went into our 3rd biennial biomedical and behavioral Congress, arguably the autism community’s most diverse gathering of autism experts in a single event.  This year, with the help of Normal Films’ Keri Bowers, author Debbie Hosseini, the genius behind our latest title, Artism: The Art of Autism, and several of the wonderful artists featuring this magnificent window into the special creativity of artists on the spectrum, the Biennial Congress also became an arts carnival.  We are so pleased to add Keri and Debi as Autism Today partners, joining our loyal friends and collaborators, William Shaw Ph.D., Stephen Shore, M.Ed., Elaine Hall of the Miracle Project and many others.   To all of you, and to our dear friends who joined us in Vancouver, thank you!

Notice to all: Powerpoint presentations will soon be available for download from the Autism Vancouver website.  Please keep an eye on the homepage,, for notice the presentations have been posted.  (Attendees will receive an e-mail notification.)

Autism Today – Did you see this PBS Documentary?

I don’t know if you ever saw this interview with me and my son, Jonathan in this live PBS Award Winning Special Documentary Series produced by WLIW New York, the third largest PBS station in the nation, titled “HEALTHY MINDS”.

I thought I’d share an interview Jonny and I did for one of PBS’ top stations, WLIW in New York City. I hope you will forgive me a moment of maternal pride. Those of you who know me know how silly I can be about my kids. But I share these stories because I am a true believer – in all children with autism, in YOUR child who, for now, may seem still locked inside. As a gemologist, my favorite analogy is a gemstone – every one of these kids has a beautiful diamond, or nugget of gold, buried under those complex behaviors. I am here to say: Together, you will find a way to unlock that precious inner beauty.

Anyway, one of PBS’ many award-winning programs is PBS Healthy Minds, a production of WLIW21, in New York City, one of PBS’ flagship stations a series hosted by Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, a distinguished board certified psychiatrist, CEO and Medical Director of Holliswood Hospital, editor of Psychiatric Quarterly, and a distinguished psychiatrist specializing in autism and other neurological disorders. Doctor Borenstein had heard about Jonny’s story and invited us to the show specifically to hear from Jonny. I just came along for the ride! I am so proud of Jonny’s ability to present himself on national television. In our case, it illustrates the wonderful results early intervention can produce.

Right now, the world is just beginning to scratch the surface of autism understanding and it is of extreme urgency to note,that when society does finally wakes up and sees that train coming,there is something they can do about it. People will desperately want to know what the future might look like for their children and families so they don’t give up hope. That was my very first question to the doctor when I received that mysteriousautism diagnosis over 18 years ago! What will happen to Jonny? What will he do? Where will he live? Will he ever get married and have kids, and so on. All the doctor could do was give me a blank stare and say “I don’t know”. That has become my life’s mission to never, ever, have another parent feel my sense of loss and frustration.

Jonny was that child who did not make eye contact, spun in circles, rocked back and forth, watched the same movie over and over and over, who crossed a busy street barefoot in the snow in diapers, who walked home 5 miles in his bathing suit on a frigid October snowy Canadian night explaining “Don’t worry mom, I took all the back roads so the strangers wouldn’t get me!” and other situations too numerous to mention though I’m sure you can imagine what they are.

Regardless where your child is on the spectrum, there IS definitely hope! I can fill countless pages displaying perfect examples of successful outcomes of individuals on the autism spectrum. For instance, Dr. Stephen Shore who received his doctorate and is now a Professor at Adelphi University in New York, Jerry Newport, a brilliant person who recently won a prestigious award for being a math savant and is also the subject in the movie, “Mozart and the Whale”, Dr. Michael McManmon, Founder and President of the College Internship Program delivering the message of acceptance, love and diversity specializing in autism education, Seth Chwast, JA Tan and Mark Rimland, Award winning artists extraordinaire, Donna Williams, artist and author, Nobody Nowhere, Dr. Temple Grandin, President, Grandin Livestock and subject of 7 time Emmy Award winning movie “Temple Grandin” and countless other individuals too numerous to mention that cover the entire range of the spectrum.

The message I want to deliver to you today is to never give up hope! In the world today, though autism can be a very debilitating and challenging issue, it is paramount that we all come together as the voice of the community to recognize and passionately embrace the brilliance, strengths and talents that people on the autism spectrum possess.

Autism crosses all boundaries culturally, socio-economically, politically, and geographically! I believe wholeheartedly that our children and adults on the autism spectrum are here to teach us the lessons of unconditional love, patience, empathy and how to connect our world at the souls level. Consider the possibility that our children are here to help connect us at the heart level,to shatter the illusion of separation amongst all human beings because after all, we are all connected.

Always believe in your child and love them until their fur rubs off like in the book, “The Velveteen Rabbit” because in the end, that’s what life is all about. I encourage you to meet my son, Jonny, in action in this live PBS interview with Dr. Jeffery Borenstein. I hope it changes your life’s dreams.

Have a look! Autism Today PBS Special – Healthy Minds

For answers to life’s questions that other parents and professionals are asking us about the future of autism please refer to our best seller,

“Autism Tomorrow”: Autism Tomorrow

To all of you, thank you again for being a part of the Autism Today family.

With love,


Karen Simmons
CEO, Autism Today
Co-Author, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Children with Special Needs

Every Autism Mom is a Star: But there is only one Eustacia Cutler

What can I say about Eustacia Cutler?  It is impossible to know Temple Grandin‘s story without intuitively knowing the strength, the dogged determination of the woman who never gave up on her daughter.  Even if you knew nothing of Eustacia, her background, her own beautiful telling of her story, A Thorn in My Pocket, you would know her through Temple.   And if you talk to Temple, you learn how much Temple herself is the product of an ethical, and maternal act of faith, in Temple’s inherent worth, autism and all.  At a time science would have instructed her to abandon her child to an institution, she embarked on a deeply personal equivalent of the Apollo mission, sacrificing her own ambitions (which were many for a Harvard-educated young woman of the 50s), and focusing on Temple’s potential.  How richly that journey has paid off – for Temple, and for all of us.

Temple Grandin honored her mother so beautifully at the Emmy Awards.  Even those not entirely familiar with the autism story, or even the movie Temple Grandin, remember the moment when the lady in the cowboy gear brandished an Emmy statuette and gave her mom a shout out.  It was an electrifying moment for autism moms.  Those tributes to Eustacia Cutler have continued to flow since the Emmys.  I wanted to be sure everyone has seen this one. In it, Julia Ormand, the actress who played Eustacia in the HBO movie, gives Eustacia her Emmy statuette at a conference last November.  Noting that Eustacia had once hoped to be an actress, Ormand jokes that Eustacia can use the Emmy as a door stop.  But then, unscripted, Ormand says: “I want you to have it for all the doors you have opened.  I want you to have it for the thing you let go – that you gave to me.”

See video of Eustacia’s Tribute to all mothers

Ormand’s explanation of an autism mom’s sacrifices is a restatement of a code we all are familiar with, as autism moms.  “This mother met the challenges of motherhood with such courage.  She did not attempt to be her kid’s best friend.  She said ‘I’m here to give you boundaries.  I’m here to do the tough stuff so you can walk through life empowered.”  Eustacia, in accepting the award, drives the point home.  “This is for all the mothers who work in silence.  Autism is a family disorder — everyone is affected.”

Eustacia, thank you for joinning us in Vancouver.  We can’t wait to welcome our favorite mom – and to be warmed by your triumph.

It’s a Personal Question: Are You Behavioural or Biomedical? Or Both?

Dear friends,
Welcome to this special Autism Vancouver edition of the Autism Today newsletter.  In just two weeks, I will stand up at a podium at the magnificent Vancouver Convention Centre, on the harborfront of one of Canada’s most beautiful cities, and open our 3rd Biennial Behavioral and Biomedical Congress.  I am thrilled by how far we’ve come since our first Biennial Congress.  And imagine our speaker line-up: Temple Grandin’s mom, Eustacia Cutler; Sheila Wagner of Emory University, one of America’s top autism educators; Dr. Bill Shaw, CEO of Great Plains Laboratories, and one of the top advisors to health professionals on the biomedical aspects of ASDs; popular behavioral experts like Stephen Shore and Doreen Granpeesheh; and many others.

I won’t kid you – it’s not easy to combine the true believers from either the purely behavioral or purely biomedical schools of thought at a single event.  Some people feel deeply antagonized by the mere suggestion that both sides could have something to teach us.  Some speakers don’t like the format, some families and teachers don’t understand it.  And imagine trying to explain the significance of such a happening to the mainstream media!  But at Autism Today, we are deeply focused on empowering individuals – people with autism spectrum disorders and their families – on the most complex, personal journey they will face – the path of emergence (some even say, “recovery” and even, “cure”).

The argument over how to define a fulfilled, fully expressed life is as varied and endless as the human race.  Our job, as we see it at Autism Today, is to equip each person and his or her family with information about every legitimate tool they might use to find their own way.  There are not top-down answers in autism.  It’s not only grass roots; it’s deep in the soil.  Success depends in part on a willingness to get dirty!  And on some level, love that process.  Watch the HBO movie about Temple Grandin, or listen to painter Keri Bowers describe her work with her son Taylor Cross, literally spending hours, dipping him bodily into paints, and creating art, or listen to almost any narrative of successful intervention, and you learn – it’s a hands-on process.

Autism Vancouver is still two weeks away.  But it is not too early to give thanks to our champions who will make this such a special event.  None of this could happen without a dedicated staff and the support of our Autism Today friends and family.  We especially wish to thank Keri Bowers, founder of Normal Films, and director of Normal People Scare Me, Debbie Hosseini, author of our newest title, Artism: The Art of Autism – both tireless champions of the arts as a vehicle of emergence — Kelly Lebrock, who has donated her star power and agreed to act as honorary hostess of our Gala, and Diana Graling, of Helms-Briscoe, whose invaluable logistical counsel is helping us to run a tight ship in Vancouver.

For those unable to join us in Vancouver, I hope you won’t mind this special Congress edition of the Autism Today newsletter.  Please remember we will be broadcasting segments of the Congress via webcast every day of the Congress, April 7-9, and for those who wish to experience the complete program, we will make this available in DVD for purchase.

Soon, we will have the capacity in place to make all of our programming available by live webcast, so you can enjoy and benefit from it without the expense of travel, and in the company of family, students or colleagues.  Keep an eye on our newsletters for announcements about these enhancements to our program offerings.

Thank you again for your friendship and support.

Warm regards,

Free Live ABA Webcast with Doreen Granpeesheh, Founder of CARD

You’re invited to join us for a Special Live Webcast on March 14th, 2011 presented by renowned Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh on Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA): A Flexible and Affordable Intervention for Autism! This web-cast is being brought to you from Autism Today and is Absolutely FREE! With the 3rd Autism Vancouver Biennial Congress just around the corner we’re extremely excited to give you this no-cost gift featuring one of our amazing event speakers.

The Live FREE Webcast Details are Listed Below:

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA): A Flexible and Affordable Intervention for Autism
Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh, Executive Director and Founder of the Centers for Autism and Related Disorder (CARD)

March 14th, 6pm PST / 7pm MTN / 8pm CST / 9pm EST

The webcast can be viewed at the following URL:

As you know, Doreen is one of the world’s leading ABA practitioners and will be a featured speaker at the Autism Vancouver Biennial Congress, this coming April 7-9 2011!

What you will learn on the Live Webcast…

Internationally-renowned pioneer of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh, provides a practical, informative introduction to this powerful treatment methodology. Widely practiced in North America, intensive ABA has been scientifically proven effective as a means of improving social and intellectual function in pre-schoolers.  Dr. Granpeesheh will also explain how  online tools and services now enable parents and educators to apply ABA more affordably and conveniently.

See you there!

Contact Info

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