Glendon Theatre, Toronto
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June 3rd, 2016

Here’s a snapshot of the day at TEDxYorkUSpectrum:

The event opened with Neil Walker as our emcee, who explained our colour communication nametags, where people could select their level of comfort with social interaction, sending messages of autism awareness and acceptance (a highlight among many of the self-advocates and parents). Welcome addresses were given by Dean Skinner, Jonathan Weiss and Jonathan Lai.

The talks opened with two parent perspectives (Doug McCreary “Undaunted, We Press On”, Connie Putterman “Finding Your WAZE”). Doug spoke about the perseverance needed as a parent of two children on the spectrum and Connie told of the empowerment she received through being involved in ASD research with her son in her journey.

Our first break introduced our audience to our interaction boards, where participants could either write down or use stickers to engage with the material presented and with each other. The room also displayed 6 posters spanning the breadth of the Chair in ASD Treatment and Care Research.

David Nicholas, from the University of Calgary, then gave a passionate and thought-provoking talk about the different paths that youth and adults may take in their emerging adulthood – and challenging our thinking about society norms and belonging. Next, Daniel Share-Strom took the stage and got the crowd going – opening with “Hi, I’m Daniel, I hate toothbrushes, loud noises and washing my hair” – pointing out what acceptance for adults like himself may look like, and how we need to move beyond awareness to forge a just society. After a TED video by Steve Silberman “The Forgotten History of Autism”, we turned to Michael McCreary, a 19 year old comedian with Asperger’s, displaying his skills and wit, leaving the house roaring with “Does This Make My Asperger’s Look Big?”.

This was followed another refreshments and interaction break, where plenty of good conversation and connections occurred. During these breaks, video interviews done by our Storyteller Anneliese Poetz from the NeuroDevNet KT Core, who asked about participant experiences, what they learned and how this will change them. These clips will be made into a behind the scenes and summary video.

Yona Lunsky from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health brought the healthcare system perspective as a clinician scientist with her talk “What’s the Big Emergency?”, showing how the healthcare system needs to change to address the needs of adults with ASD. Temple Grandin’s TED talk “The World Needs All Kinds of Minds” touched on the talents of those on the spectrum. We then closed with a panel of community advocates. Cynthia Carroll, from the Canadian ASD Alliance (CASDA), gave a national perspective and outlined a vision for moving forward together. Esther Rhee, from Autism Speaks Canada, invited the community to “Choose In” and get involved as role models, mentors, and emphasized the role of community beyond family for people with ASD. Marg Spoelstra ended the day highlighting the often-not-recognized caregivers, the challenges they face and support they need as well.

speakers post-event

The event is over, but not our impact.

We are currently editing the videos and will be posting them online shortly, where we believe this will make a different across the globe. Once they are up, we will proudly share the links with you on this page.

Edit: August 8th, 2016

It’s here – click on the following link to view the talks from the Spectrum Salon event!