There are different keynotes, presentations, workshops and full day seminars that I can deliver (in English or in French). Some frequently requested presentations include:
Why Me? Things I Wish I’d Known Sooner
In this dynamic and humorous keynote, Chantal shares lessons learned on resilience and re-invention during times of change. Based on the journey she has traveled since her son, Jeremy, was born 24 years ago and diagnosed mentally retarded and severely autistic, Chantal shares lessons learned about adapting to change. When Jeremy was diagnosed, Chantal was told to find a good institution for him and get on with her life. Instead, Chantal and her husband raised him in France, England and the United States. Chantal became an autism expert, advocate and an award-winning author of five books. Eventually, Jeremy graduated from high school, attended college, and is currently a Youth Representative to the United Nations for an NGO.
This positive and empowering presentation will encourage the audience to embrace change as an opportunity for new growth.
A Full Life with Autism: Creating a Life Worth Living
The transition out of school district services to adult services is a challenge for both the young adults and the parents. This presentation based on Chantal and Jeremy Sicile-Kira’s book, A Full Life with Autism, explains how parents, early intervention specialists, educators, and adult support staff can best prepare themselves and their young adult for this important life change. Topics discussed include how to assist the young adult in creating a self-determined life based on their abilities, goals and interests, and how to create a circle of supports to help the person reach his or her goals.
Finding Our Way Together: Creating Positive Outcomes
An old Swahili proverb, “A boat doesn’t go forward if each one is rowing their own way” aptly describes the philosophy of collaboration and common vision that infuses this keynote presentation. Drawing from her personal and professional experiences, Chantal shares insights and hard-won wisdom on how different professionals (including parents) with differing viewpoints can come together as a team to move towards a common goal.
First as a line producer on a multimillion dollar TV series with American producers, French crew, and multinational actors, and then as an autism advocate on task-forces, Chantal has led diverse factions towards a common goal.
Chantal’s inspiring message reminds us that although we may each be unique, by focusing on our similarities instead of our differences, together we can create the outcome that we all envision.
A Full Life with Autism: A Mother-Son Journey About Transitioning to Adulthood
This is a co-presentation by Chantal and her son, Jeremy. They explain each from their own perspective why the transition out of school district services is difficult and how parents can prepare themselves and their young adult for this life change. They share information they learned while researching to write A Full Life With Autism (Macmillan 2012). Practical advice includes how to assist the young adult in creating a self-determined life; how to create a circle of supports to help the person reach his/her goals over a lifetime. Jeremy uses powerpoint with voice output technology for his portion of the presentation.
“Thank You for Giving Me a Voice”
This is a presentation by Jeremy Sicile-Kira. Jeremy was diagnosed as mentally retarded and severely autistic. Yet despite his movement differences and sensory processing difficulties, he graduated from high school at age 22 with a full academic diploma and a GPA of 3.78, and gave a commencement speech using voice output technology. In this inspiring presentation, Jeremy explains how all the different therapies and education throughout his life helped him to “make sense of the world,” the first step necessary for communication. Jeremy will discuss how he learned to communicate and eventually to graduate through the use of augmentative and alternative communication both at school and at home, and how new technology such as the iPad and wireless keyboards have opened his world, allowing him to connect with others.
Concurrent Sessions (1.5- 3 hrs)
Autism Life Skills: Ten Essential Abilities Every Child Needs and Deserves to Learn
With advice and reflections from adults on the autism spectrum, as well as her personal experience as an advocate and parent of a young adult with an ASD, the following essential life skills are discussed : *Making Sense of the World * Communication * Safety * Self-Esteem * Pursuing Interests * Self-Regulation * Independence * Social Relationships * Self-Advocacy *Earning a Living. Based on Chantal’s third book, Autism Life Skills, ( Penguin, October 8, 2008) this positive and empowering “bill of rights” for every person with autism, regardless of impairment level, this session will provide hope and help — so that every child has a chance to reach his or her full potential.
More Than Just Coping: Empowerment Strategies for Parents
This motivational and practical workshop provides parents the opportunity to explore the feelings that are inherent to having a child with an autism spectrum disorder, and gives practical and positive strategies for attitude adjustment. Challenging the notion of a ‘grief cycle’ and the loss of expectations; personal beliefs about disability and today’s society’s striving for perfection; knowing what battles to pick and overcoming the fear factor; and how to develop positive relationships with service providers and school districts are areas that are all explored Chantal’s presentation leaves parents charged and empowered to move forward with their lives.
Adolescents On the Autism Spectrum
Adolescence is a difficult time for everyone, neurotypical or not, as a person transitions from being a child to a young adult. To become as independent in adulthood as possible, teenagers of all different ability levels must learn self-care, appropriate behaviors, modesty and sexuality. Areas to be covered include: explaining about puberty and changing bodies, hygiene and self-care and how to problem-solve difficulties in teaching self-care routines, the importance of modesty, and what to do about masturbation. For safety reasons and in preparation for adulthood, all teenagers need to learn about relationship boundaries, and sexuality. Ideas for preventing bullying and abuse will be discussed.
Autism Life Skills : Transitioning Teenagers to Adulthood
The transition to adulthood is a challenge, not only to the teen on the spectrum, but to the parents and educators as well. Hard-won wisdom and practical tips on how parents and professionals can prepare their students of all ability levels – and themselves - for adulthood. Focusing on the life skills needed as an adult working and living with autism (and how to teach them), will be addressed. Preparing for employment, college, and long-term living options based on a teenager’s ability and interest, as well as networking for resources will be discussed.
Preparing for College
A successful transition to college involves careful planning and preparation for the student on the autism spectrum. Needed life skills for college life, such as self advocacy to request needed accommodations will be addressed. Challenge areas such as scheduling, organizing, socializing and dating, and how to prepare and support your youth in those areas will be discussed.
Preparing for the Real World of Work
Temple Grandin says that her work is what gives meaning to her life. Not all individuals on the spectrum are as talented as Temple, but with proper skill-training and preparation, many can have productive employment or careers. This session addresses all different ability levels on the spectrum. An overview of the different types of employment structures currently available, (including self-employment) in the community will be given, as well as a description of 10 top attributes employers are looking for in a potential employee.
Full Day Seminars (6 hours)
Adolescents and the Transition to Adult Life
Adolescence is a time of positive growth as well as challenges. This session will provide practical strategies for teaching teenagers of all ability levels the necessary life skills of self-care, self-regulation, self-advocacy, and self-esteem. What and how to explain about puberty, relationship boundaries and sexuality will be discussed, as will common adolescent concerns such as bullying and masturbation. The Individualized Transition Plan will be covered. Areas to be emphasized include: focusing on the student’s strengths, developing work or career skills, preparing for college, the different types of employment structures (including self-employment) as well as employer needs and the use of mentors.