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2013 Speaker Bios

SB-Rose van Wier-Hein

Rose Van Weir Hein
Founder and Executive Director, Golden Heart Ranch

Rose van Wier Hein is a married mother of two and a community leader on behalf of special needs families. She is founder and executive director of Golden Heart Ranch (GHR), a non-profit organization that addresses the crisis in special-needs housing and lifestyle. Golden Heart Ranch is dedicated to building a community that will provide family-style housing, sports, recreation, jobs and friendships. Additionally, she and her husband Bill created a Challenger League baseball program in Manhattan Beach that allows special-needs children across the South Bay to enjoy the all-American sport. Rose has received the Youth Services Award from the Manhattan Beach City Council, was featured on KFNX Radio, and her efforts have been documented by newspapers throughout the state.

The FRED Conference is a Golden Heart Ranch production, and dedicated to the expansion of opportunities for all adults with special needs. Rose and others at GHR have the belief that everyone deserves to live with purpose and meaning.

 SB-Mari-Anne Kehler

Mari-Anne Kehler
National Director, Tax Marketing, Deloitte Services LP
Director, FRED 2013

Mari-Anne Kehler has been with Deloitte Services LP over thirteen years, and is responsible for leading Marketing efforts for the firm’s US Tax practice. Prior to her current role, Mari-Anne was responsible for all Marketing and Business Development for Deloitte’s Pacific Southwest region. Since joining the organization, she has led efforts that include innovative marketing programs; development of strategy and staffing of two separate marketing teams in India; and activities to advance Deloitte’s Women’s initiative with a keen focus on developing talent. Mari-Anne also advocates for parents of youth and adults with special needs at Deloitte and provides strategic insights on balancing home and work demands.

She began her career on Wall Street, and has since enjoyed marketing roles in the following industries: finance, entertainment, media and consumer products. Mari-Anne is passionate about developing talented professionals, and enjoys working with the men and women across the US and in India that she mentors and coaches.

Mari-Anne and her husband, Eddie, have a son, Liam, now 17 and diagnosed as “severely autistic” (whatever that means) but is actually “severely awe-inspiring”. She serves on various non-profit boards supporting children, education and the special needs community. Mari-Anne has served as Past President of the Los Angeles Chapter of Autism Speaks, the primary global organization focused on research and advocacy for autism. She is active in the national special needs community in areas of raising awareness and funds, and in mentoring families impacted by autism. She has been a featured speaker at schools, colleges and conferences on the topic of autism awareness and its impact on families. Her specialty is bringing together groups that can further the quality of life for adults with special needs and providing families with practical tools for success. She helped launch the FRED movement and is the Director of the national FRED Conference.

SB-Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird
Nonprofit Success Strategies
Andrew Bird advises nonprofits on growing their revenues through the application of leading edge business marketing practices. A former Deloitte & Touche marketing leader, Andrew has over 20 years of experience in complex project management, marketing strategy, leading diverse teams, and developing future leaders. With Mari-Anne Kehler, he co-authored the upcoming book, Putting the Profit in Nonprofit! 5 Power Success Strategies for Nonprofits, the first in a series on Nonprofit Success Strategies.
A true believer in giving back, over the years Andrew has founded two nonprofits, served as executive director of three, and has been a Board member of five.  He currently serves on the Board of Global Brigades (www.Brigades.org), a $10 million+ nonprofit that sends thousands of student volunteers on overseas volunteer missions yearly, and also is the start-up leader for www.EmpoweredArts.org, a niche-focused offshoot of Global Brigades’ successful fundraising technology platform, www.Empowered.org.
Andrew earned his BS in Business Administration from New York University, an MBA from Loyola University, and an MA in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica (USM), where he continues to volunteer regularly. For USM, he was also a co-founder of SpiritWalk, a walk-a-thon fundraiser that earned over $100,000 for students facing financial challenges in 2010. This event is ongoing, and is executed each year by graduating seniors.
SB-Sharon Brent

Sharon Brent, Director, National Disability Institute 

Sharon Brent is a national expert on multiple Federal policy issues related to the employment and self-determination that improves economic status of youth in transition and adult individuals with disabilities. She is Founder and President of NDI Consulting, Inc. a women owned For Profit Small Business, and Director of Training and Technical Assistance and Grants Management for the National Disability Institute. Her expertise is in youth and adult issues regarding employment, housing, health care, asset development, Social Security programs (certified) (WIPA), DOL (DPN), HUD, and CMS (MIG) programs. As a parent of a 35-year-old son with Cerebral Palsy, Ms. Brent has the ability to apply personal as well as professional knowledge that provides credibility and technical information to a full range of stakeholders.? She is clear that knowledge is power and all stakeholders need the same information to create an equal partnership that will advance economic empowerment for people with disabilities.

SB-Yasman Dianat

Yasaman Dianat, Behavioral Specialist

Yasaman Dianat received her Masters degree in Psychology, with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis atCalifornia State University Stanislaus and her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California, Irvine. She has over 15 years working with children and adolescents with 10 of those years working with children with developmental disabilities. She has training in ABA approaches including Discrete Trial Training, Pivotal Response Training, Positive Behavior Support and Social Skills Training. Her background includes providing direct intervention and developing behavioral management support programs for individuals with autism and their families in homes, schools and community and consulting with teachers and parents to instruct in ABA principles. In addition, has experience working with adults in therapy settings addressing issues such as anger management and couples counseling. Yasaman is currently working as a behavior specialist for a school district located in southern California.

SB-Virginia Erxleben

Virginia Erxleben, Director and co-founder, The Center for Learning Unlimited

Virginia (Ginny) Erxleben, Ed.D., BCET, is the co-founder and director of the Center for Learning Unlimited (CLU), a nonpublic, WASC accredited day school located in Torrance, CA that serves both publicly and privately sponsored students with unique, complex learning challenges.

After graduating from Indiana University in 1966 with a degree in education, Ginny accepted a special education teaching assignment for the U.S. Department of Defense in Panama and spent the next three years teaching a classroom filled with deaf and hard-of-hearing children ages 3 to 16. Energized by the experience, Ginny returned to her native Indianapolis in the 1970s and earned a master’s degree from Butler University in teaching learning-disabled and emotionally disturbed children as well as a doctorate in early childhood education from Indiana University in 1977.

Ginny’s work with the Center for Learning Unlimited began in the late 1980s when she and two partners purchased it. At the time, the agency was a tutoring center, and Ginny was building her educational therapy private practice for middle school through college aged students. Believing that each student should have hope and a path forward to learning, Ginny and a group of like-minded professionals felt that there was a need for a school where complex (i.e. Aspergers Syndrome, Bipolar Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), ADHD, etc.) children could receive an education, while having their emotional and psychological issues addressed, concurrently. In 2000, Ginny set about transforming CLU to fulfill this niche in the community, leading the organization as it retrained staff as para-educators, created a parent outreach organization and aligned the school’s curriculum with the California content standards. In September 2002, CLU became a nonpublic school (NPS) and has since continued its evolution by establishing an array of programs for students with complex learning challenges and earning WASC accreditation in 2010.

SB-Janet Grillo

Janet Grillo, Award-winning filmmaker and producer

Janet Grillo produced award-winning films as a creative executive at New Line Cinema, and then as an independent producer. In 2008, she won an Emmy as Executive Producer of the HBO documentary Autism: The Musical.

Janet’s short fiction film, Flying Lessons, starring Dana Delany (Body of Proof, Desperate Housewives, China Beach) debuted at Palm Springs Intl. Short Film Festival, won the Best Dramatic Short at First Glance Hollywood, and the Silver Lei at the Honolulu Film Festival. It inspired the critically acclaimed full-length narrative feature Fly Away, starring Beth Broderick (Sabrina The Teenage Witch), Ashley Rickards (MTV’s Awkward) and Greg Germann (Ally McBeal).

Fly Away premiered in competition at the South By Southwest Film Festival in 2011, winning Best Narrative Film at the Arizona Film Festival, before opening theatrically in select cities, to excellent reviews from New York Times, Huffington Post, New York Observer and LA Times, which called it one of four independent films “most overlooked for an Oscar.” Fly Away continues to be available in international release via iTunes, Amazon and others.

Janet is currently an Associate Professor of the Arts at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Undergraduate Film and Television Department. She is a former board member of Cure Autism Now, before it merged with Autism Speaks. Janet is a blogger on the Huffington Post, and the mother of a son on the Spectrum.

SB-Elaine Hall

Elaine Hall, Founder and President, The Miracle Project

When traditional therapies did not work for her son, Neal, Elaine Hall sought out a creative team of actors, musicians, and writers to join his isolated autistic world. These methods evolved into the creation of The Miracle Project. The New York Times references Elaine as the “Child Whisperer.”

She is the subject of the two-time Emmy Award-winning HBO documentary, Autism: The Musical, and has appeared on CNN, CBS News, Oprah Radio and featured in the LA Times, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Elaine is a keynote speaker and presents workshops throughout the United States and Canada. Hall serves on the L.A. Senate Select Task Force on Autism, and has been honored to speak at the United Nations. She created and directed an arts enrichment program and a Bar/Bat Mitzvah program for children with autism at Vista Del Mar, in Los Angeles. Her expertise in bringing Jewish studies to autistic children assures that they are able to share the joy of celebrating ceremonial rites of passage at the core of Judaism.

She is the author of Now I See the Moon: A Mother, a Son, a Miracle, and has recently starred in and co-produced a series entitled 7 Keys to Unlocking the World of Autism. Elaine lives in Santa Monica, CA, with the two loves of her life, her teenage son, Neal, and her husband Jeff, a Play Therapist.

SB-Jerry Horton

Jerry Horton
Founder, Down Home Ranch

In 1984, Judy and Jerry Horton had a baby named Kelly. Kelly was born with Down Syndrome.The new parents immediately began researching the optimal conditions under which children with disabilities prosper. Although there were resources for Kelly as a child, the opportunities for her as she entered adulthood were limited at best. The Hortons wanted Kelly to enjoy a community, a purposeful career, and friendships long after they were no longer alive. So in 1990 Jerry, took the leap and put a down payment on a 215 acre property that would become “a working farm and ranch for adults with disabilities.” Since then, Judy and Jerry have worked to receive grants, sponsorships, Medicaid programs, and status as a Home and Community-Based Service Provider. Each of these steps has contributed to the sustainability of Down Home Ranch. In 2007, Down Home Ranch was granted ICF-MR licensure to allow ranchers to live at the ranch. Future goals for the ranch include opportunities for offsite housing. Jerry and Judy are experts in the field of building and maintaining farms and ranches that create meaningful work and community for adults with disabilities.

SB-Mark Jackson

Mark Jackson, General Partner, Atlas Living, LLC

Mark is General Partner of Atlas Living, LLC, a company dedicated to creating high-quality, comprehensive living solutions for adults with disabilities in small, integrated shared-housing settings.  He is also a Founder and the Board President of Sweetwater Spectrum, a nonprofit which recently completed development of a cohousing community in Sonoma, CA for adults with autism.

His background includes 30 years as a real estate investment professional – having acquired over 30,000 multifamily units during his career.  Mark serves on the Coordinating Council of the CA Senate Select Committee on Autism, the Board of the Cedars of Marin, the Transition Committee of the Marin Autism Collaborative and is a founding member of the “I Have a Dream” Foundation in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mark holds a BA from Middlebury College and an MBA from UC Berkeley.

He and his wife Patty are the parents of a 21-year old son with autism who inspires them every day.

SB-Leslie Long

Leslie Long, National Director of Housing and Adult Services, Autism Speaks

Leslie is director of housing and adult services at Autism Speaks.  In this role, she manages the organization’s mission to promote supports for adults with autism spectrum disorders throughout the country.  Leslie has over 20 years of professional experience in leading federal, state and local advocacy efforts to benefit people with developmental disabilities. Her expertise includes supported employment, school to adult life transition issues, residential supports and Medicaid, specifically home and community-based waivers for individuals with developmental disabilities. Leslie consulted on public policy and grant projects throughout New Jersey with a focus on urban areas.  Leslie was formerly director of public policy for Autism NJ where she successfully collaborated on healthcare legislation, testified at multiple state legislative hearings to advance autism policies and analyzed funding and service delivery policies that impact individuals with autism.  Leslie successfully convened a think tank of leaders from the New Jersey human services community to develop a white paper with over 80 recommendations for the state’s human service system to improve supports for adults with autism, developed a statewide guide on services for adults with autism including housing and employment.  Leslie was recognized by the NJ Assembly Speaker for contributions towards legislation for the autism community.  She was appointed by the Governor to serve on “New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force,” received recognition for advocacy work on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and received a leadership recognition for service to persons with supported employment by NJ APSE.

Leslie has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, including CNBC, NPR,  MY9 TV, The Star Ledger, and multiple others as an expert on topics that include policy impacting individuals with autism spectrum disorders and developmental disabilities.  She has a BA in Psychology and minored in Gerontology from Stockton State College.

SB-Dr Zoe Mailloux

Dr. Zoe Mailloux, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA; Author, Consultant

Dr.Zoe Mailloux received her B.S., M.A. and OTD degrees in occupational therapy from the University of Southern California.  She is nationally and internationally recognized within the profession of occupational therapy in the area of sensory integration theory and practice.  Zoe has participated in test development and clinical research related to sensory integrative dysfunction and autism and she was a research assistant to Dr. A. Jean Ayres from 1978 to 1984 during which time she was involved in many clinical and research projects with Dr. Ayres, including the development and standardization of the SIPT. Zoe was a founder of Pediatric Therapy Network, a non-profit children’s therapy center in Southern CA. In addition, she has published numerous journal articles and textbook chapters on these topics. Zoe has received a number of professional awards, including being named a fellow of AOTA in 1993. She also received an award of excellence from the Autism Research Foundation in 2003, was named the Wilma West Lecturer at the University of Southern California for 2004, and received the A. Jean Ayres Award in 2005 and the Virginia Scardina Award of Excellence in 2008 from the American Occupational Therapy Foundation.  Zoe is interested in innovative practice that will enhance life satisfaction in new and effective ways for children and their families.

SB-Diana O'Brien

Diana O’Brien, Chairman, IMPACT Autism; Managing Principal of Deloitte University 

Diana O’Brien is uniquely qualified to lead IMPACT Autism and help transform the state of care for those with autism via fresh, bold, technology-driven solutions. She is the mother of teenage triplets, each of whom is autistic. Therefore, she is intimately familiar with the struggles and challenges that autistic people and their families face. She is also well aware of the current underdeveloped, under-funded state of resources for children and adults with autism. It was recognition of these shortcomings in services and solutions that have inspired her and IMPACT Autism to envision bold new alternatives such as IMPACT Every Day and IMPACT Marketplace. Achieving IMPACT Autism’s vision requires new and better ways of approaching autism care along with the creative uses of technology to achieve those goals. These challenges are right in Diana’s wheelhouse. She is partner in Deloitte Consulting, one of the world’s most acclaimed business strategy and organizational change firms. Diana joined Deloitte in 1985. For 26 years, her practice has focused on helping health care and life science companies become more competitive by pursuing optimal strategic initiatives, implementing process improvements, leveraging technologies and driving organizational change. Diana is the Managing Principal of Deloitte University, the firm’s $300 million learning and leadership development center. She is also Deloitte’s Global Lead Client Service Principal for Merck, a pharmaceutical giant. In addition, she advises on several of Deloitte’s key health care clients. Diana has an MBA in Finance and a BS in Behavioral Management from the Xavier University. She was also named to the 2003 class of Leading Women of Greater Cincinnati by Leading Women Inc.

SB-David Sponder

David Sponder, Educational Psychologist, Sponderworks

David Sponder is a Licensed Educational Psychologist who has worked with children, adolescents and adults in the Greater Los Angeles area for 29 years.  He is a former Special Education Teacher, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and an RDI Program Certified Consultant.  David’s private practice is devoted to children and adolescents with developmental, emotional, attachment or psychiatric disorders.  He also is the Executive Director of Sponderworks Children’s Services, which provides therapeutic services to children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Genetic Syndromes and consultative services to parents, schools and agencies.

David’s specialty is helping parents, schools and other professionals help children with severe behavioral issues.  His approach features a prescription-based and individualized, integrated framework of developmental, attachment, neurological and behavioral strategies.

David is one of only three individuals in the country with accreditation in both Behavioral (BCBA) and Relationship-Based (RDI) methodology, as well as a deep grounding in developmental and attachment psychology and years of experience in almost every type of setting in which children can be found.

SB-Earle Weiss

Earle Weiss, General Partner, Atlas Living, LLC

Earle is General Partner of Atlas Living, LLC, a company dedicated to creating high-quality, comprehensive living solutions for adults with disabilities in small, integrated shared-housing settings.  He consulted on the planning, design, and construction of Sweetwater Spectrum, a nonprofit which recently completed development of a cohousing community inSonoma, CA for adults with autism.

As a licensed architect and general contractor, Earle has been developing green buildings for the past 20 years in California. He holds a BA in architecture as well as a BA in psychology and economics from the University of Michigan.

He and his wife Joan are the parents of a 16-year old son with autism.

SB-Michelle Krotinger

Michelle Krotinger Wolf, MPA, Non-Profit Director and Disabilities Advocate

Michelle K. Wolf is a  non-profit professional and parent of a teen with CP and global developmental delays. She is the Transitions Coordinator for Bet Tzedek Legal Services in Los Angeles and also part-time Director of Foundation and Government Relations for the Los Angeles office of the American Diabetes Association.

She was formerly the Director of Serving the Vulnerable for The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, and in 2005, she co-founded HaMercaz an innovative multi-agency collaborative one-stop model that helps Jewish families raising children with special needs with a focus on developmental disabilities. She blogs weekly on topics related to Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities at *Jewish Journal*.

Michelle previously served as Director of Public Policy/Grantwriter for the Alzheimer’s Association of Los Angeles, Director of the Middle East Commission for the Los Angeles JCRC and was Press Secretary to Los Angeles City Councilmember Zev Yaroslavsky,

She is a graduate of the double master’s program in Jewish Communal Service (Hebrew Union College) and Public Administration (USC) and has taught professional development classes through the Center for Non-Profit Management.

SB-Mark Woodsmall

Mark Woodsmall, Founder, Woodsmall Law Group

Mark Woodsmall is the founder of Woodsmall Law Group, PC a law firm based in the San Gabriel Valley area. The firm practices exclusively in the areas of Special Education, Regional Center Matters, Special Needs Trust Planning and Conservatorship. In 2006 Mr. Woodsmall joined the faculty of the USC Gould School of Law as a Professor Adjunct, teaching in the area of special education law.  He also serves as the teaching attorney in the Special Education Advocacy Training Project – Los Angeles.  The SEAT Project,an innovative nationwide advocacy training project, is funded under grant from the US Department of Education and administered through COPAA, The Council of Parent Attorneys & Advocates and the USC Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (Children’s Hospital Los Angeles). In 2012, Mr. Woodsmall presented at the Copaa (National Organization of Parent Attorneys) national conference in Miami.  He is an invited speaker at the 2013 conference.

Mr. Woodsmall sits on the UCLA Center for Autism Research & Treatment (CART) Community Advisory Committee. In 2012 Mr. Woodsmall recieved the prestigous National Ambassador Award from Casa Colina. He has been an active volunteer with Cure Autism Now/Autism Speaks, serving on the National and Los Angeles Walk Planning Committees and Government Relations Committee.  In 2008 he was named to the Board of Autism Speaks – Los Angeles.  He currently serves as its Chair.

Mr. Woodsmall is a national lecturer on parent’s rights under the IDEA, Section 504 and the Lanterman Act. Mark & Eva Woodsmall are parents of a child with autism.

SB-Janice Cline

Janice Cline, Bittersweet Farms (Ohio)

Jan Cline, M.S., CCC-SLP has served at Bittersweet, Inc. since 1991. Bittersweet Farms, founded in 1983, is a working farm that provides a purposeful community to adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum. Located in Northwest Ohio, Bittersweet is active in four major areas: Residential, Community living, Vocational services and Specialized services.

Bittersweet provides residential support in several areas of Ohio; offers vocational programs in horticulture, animal care, woodworking, art, grounds keeping, janitorial support, culinary activity and community employment; and includes activities for youth in a variety of programs throughout the year. Consultation and training is offered for families and agencies across the country. Over 100 individuals with autism spectrum disorders are involved in the Bittersweet services on a regular basis.

Jan has been a Speech and Language Pathologist for over thirty years. After graduating from The University of Michigan, she specialized in hospital service by evaluating and treating individuals with brain injury, developing treatment for persons before and after a laryngectomy, and training medical personnel about medically based communication disabilities.  She also worked in the field of Developmental Disabilities with adults with intense support needs, and served as a director of religious education and a grief and crisis counselor for ten years prior to her call to come to Bittersweet Farms.

Over the years on the farm, Jan has worked in a variety of capacities with the individuals and families of Bittersweet through communication assessment and support, staff and program development, clinical services’ leadership and, currently, with a focus on training and consultation.

Ms. Cline is frequently requested to present on topics about autism and especially about the Bittersweet model of services. State and county board programs, teachers, families, providers of residential and day habilitation services, conferences, and university classes have found the functional material very helpful and readily applicable to some of their most challenging concerns. Bittersweet regularly communicates with families and groups from around the world who are seeking ideas, networking and guidance to develop their dreams for quality support programs for adolescents and adults touched by autism.

SB-Deirdre Sheerin

Deirdre Sheerin, CEO and Executive Director, Sweetwater Spectrum (California)

In 2009, a group of families with autistic children founded the nonprofit organization Sweetwater Spectrum to meet an extraordinary need: appropriate, high-quality housing for adults with autism. The goal is to build for autistic adults an environment typically not available to them—a place where they have a sense of community and belonging.

Deirdre Sheerin is a teacher, an artist, a marathon runner and a leader of wilderness trips. She has worked in classrooms with children who are autistic and learning-disabled, and in the boardrooms of non-profit organizations, government and business. Sheerin began her career as a special education teacher and taught in private and public schools in Missouri, New York, Massachusetts and California. She has since held executive positions at a number of non-profit organizations, including Zonta Services, a pioneering school serving children with autism in San Jose. She served as education program coordinator for the Family Life Center in Petaluma and executive director of Image for Success in San Rafael. Sheerin will seek ways to allow residents to participate in the surrounding community, whether through jobs, day programs or involvement in Sonoma’s farmers markets.

SB-Christine Motokane

Christine Motokane, Author

Christine Motokane was diagnosed with high functioning autism at the age of four but through the assistance of many professionals, family and friends successfully navigated through the public school system as a full inclusion, diploma-bound student. After graduating from Mira Costa High School (Manhattan Beach, CA) in 2010, she enrolled in El Camino College (Torrance, CA) with intentions of transferring to a four-year university majoring in psychology. She has ambitions to become a therapist to help other children on the autism spectrum. Christine is currently writing a book that chronicles her journey to adulthood and hopes it will be an inspiration to parents and others on the autism spectrum.

SB-Beth Meyer

Beth Meyer, Self-Advocate

Beth Meyer is 51 years old, and when she was young they didn’t diagnose her as having Asperger Syndrome; they called it Autism back then.  She has lived and worked at Bittersweet Farms in Whitehouse, Ohio since it opened in 1983.  Her parents helped to found Bittersweet.  Her jobs on the farm have included cutting grass, splitting firewood from the forest, driving the tractor, and being a locksmith for the community. For leisure she enjoys weaving, volunteering with the tourist railroad (Toledo-Lake Erie-And Western Railroad) and doing Special Olympics.

SB-Jeremy Sicile-Kira

Jeremy Sicile-Kira, AuthorJeremy Sicile-Kira  is a part time student, advocate, and enjoys traveling and painting. He is co-author of  A Full Life with Autism: From Learning to Forming Relationships to Achieving Independence (Macmillan, 2012). In 2010, Jeremy gave a commencement speech at his high school graduation using voice outputtechnology: *Watch Jeremy’s Video*Jeremy’s advocacy work includes serving as Autism Research Institute Youth Representative to the United Nations; a Youth Leader for the Autistic Global Initiative; and a Youth Advisor to the California Employment Consortium for Youth. In 2007 he was highlighted in MTV documentary series True Life in I Have Autism.www.jeremysicilekira.com

SB-Eliza Wilson

Eliza Wilson, Self Advocate

Eliza Wilson is a 21 year old woman with autism. She is currently is attending the Adult Community Transition program through the Long Beach Unified School District. She fought to remain in the school district through mediation, giving up her diploma so that she can get the skills she needed to be an independent adult. She will be completing her program in June of 2013.  Her interests include writing stories, playing video games, and watching TV. She has an interest. She is a self advocate and recently traveled with parents and professionals to Israel on the Special Needs Study Mission sponsored by the Jewish Federation. She committed to being an active part of the process in bringing what she learned back to Los Angeles. She hopes to work with animals once she leaves school and would like to be active in self advocacy.