Chantal Sicile-Kira’s passion for empowering others, her love of writing, and her personal interest in autism has led her to become an award-winning author, speaker, and leader in the field of adolescence and transition to adulthood. She has been involved with autism spectrum disorders for over 20 years as both a parent and a professional on both sides of the Atlantic. Recently, Chantal founded AutismCollege.com in order to provide more information and training on-lined to parents and educators.
Born into a large French family, Chantal was brought up bilingual and bicultural in Ohio, New York and California. Family past times included cooking frog legs for breakfast over an open fire during summers spent camping in Louisville, Kentucky. Chantal received her BA in Social Ecology from the University of California at Irvine (UCI). Her first practical experience with autism was at Fairview State Hospital, teaching self-help and community living skills to severely developmentally disabled and autistic adolescents in preparation for their de-institutionalization. Then, as a case manager for Orange County Regional Center for the Developmentally Disabled, Chantal provided information and resources to families.
Little did Chantal know that years later, these work experiences would prove invaluable when her son (now a young adult) was born and eventually diagnosed with autism in Paris, France, where the only treatment on offer was psychoanalysis. Chantal’s struggle to find appropriate treatment for her son led them to move to England, where they became one of the first families in the UK to run a Lovaas-type (based on applied behavior analysis) home program. Having been a service provider in California, and then a parent raising her child and dealing with the ’systems’ in France, United Kingdom and the United States, gives Chantal a unique and well-rounded perspective few people in this field have.
In 2009 Chantal was appointed by the California Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders to Co-Chair the South Counties Autism Regional Taskforce. Chantal had previously served on the Taskforce on Transitional Services & Supports reporting to the California Legislative Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism.
A former researcher on BBC documentaries and a line producer on a TV Series in Paris, Chantal has written five books. She blogs on ChantalSicile-Kira.com, AutismCollege.com, Huffingtonpost.com and PsychologyToday.com.
A Full Life with Autism From Learning to Forming Relationships to Achieving Independence (Macmillan, March 27, 2012) Chantal’s fifth book, was co-authored with her son Jeremy. Her fourth book, 41 Things to Know about Autism, has been revised and published as What is Autism?: Understanding Life with Autism or Asperger’s (April 2012). Chantal’s first book, Autism Spectrum Disorders: The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and other ASD’s was the recipient of the 2005 Autism Society of America’s Outstanding Literary Work of the Year Award, and was nominated for the 2005 PEN / Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction. The UK edition was the winner of the 2003 San Diego Book Award for ‘Best in Health.’ Her second book, Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum: A Parent’s Guide to the Cognitive, Social, Physical, and Transition Needs of Teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorders was awarded the 2006 San Diego Book Award for “Best in Health/Fitness.” Chantal’s third book, Autism Life Skills: From Communication and Safety to Self Esteem and More: 10 Essential Abilities Every Child Deserves and Needs to Learn (foreword by Temple Grandin, PhD) was published by Penguin (US) in October 2008, and Random House (UK) in May 2009.
Jeremy, Chantal’s son, was highlighted in the Newsweek cover story “Growing up with Autism’ and featured in the MTV documentary ‘True Life’ series, in “I Have Autism’ which was the recipient of a 2008 Voice Award. His commencement speech (see it here) from Torrey Pines High School was covered by the media. Chantal’s experience of raising her son in France, the UK and California was the subject of a 22 page article in the French professional journal on education and research for special education, La Nouvelle Revue de l’Adaptation et de la Scolarisation, June 2006, published by INS HEA.
For more information about Jeremy, go to jeremysicilekira.com.