Amanda Baggs is a 28-year-old writer, activist, public speaker, artist, and filmmaker. She works from the fundamental principle that everyone in the world matters and applies this to a variety of specific situations. She has spoken at events sponsored by Autism Network International, Autism National Committee, Autism Summer Institute, Triangle Speakers, and Families for Early Autism Treatment. Her short film "In My Language" has led to news coverage by CNN, Wired magazine, and the CBC, and has been used in classrooms around the world. She writes a blog called Ballastexistenz, primarily about disability rights issues. While she does not affiliate herself solely with any specific community, she has done work for several human rights movements and communities, including autistic, psychiatric survivor and ex-patient, physical disability, developmental disability, and gay rights. She is autistic, and does not identify with any functioning level or other medicalized subgrouping of the autistic spectrum, regardless of which ones other people have chosen to force her into.
Sarah Birge is a Ph.D. candidate in English at Pennsylvania State University. She is currently working on her dissertation entitled "Surviving the Narrative Self: Cognitive Disability in Contemporary Fiction."
Pamela Block, Ph.D., is currently President of the Society for Disability Studies. She is a cultural anthropologist and a fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology. She is a clinical associate professor in the occupational therapy program in the School of Health Technology & Management at Stony Brook University, where she is also a faculty associate in the Women's and Gender Studies program, the Latin American and Caribbean Studies program, and the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics. She currently writes and presents about autism with her sister, Hope Block, and her mother, Barbara Kilcup.
Jamie Burke is a 22 year-old junior at Syracuse University in the College of Human Ecology. He is a frequent presenter at Syracuse University School of Education and at conferences throughout the United States. He has traveled to England, Wales, and Germany, speaking about inclusion and what it has meant to his life. In the spring of 2001, Syracuse University produced a video written and narrated by Jamie titled, "Inside the Edge, A Journey to Using Speech through Typing." This video won the TASH Image Award in 2002, which honors those who challenge stereotypical beliefs of those with disabilities. He has appeared in a feature article in People magazine, in Time and on CNN. Jamie continues to advocate for Facilitated Communication as a gateway to speech and literacy. He attributes much of his life's success to years of innovative therapies and to full inclusion in regular education.
Kristina Chew is an associate professor of classics at Saint Peter's College in Jersey City, New Jersey. She is writing a book (working title: We Go With Him) about autism, language, and translation and has published a number of articles about autism, disability studies, and literature. She has made numerous presentations about advocacy, teaching college students who have ASDs, and literature about autism. From 2006-2009 she wrote two widely read blogs about autism, Autism Vox and the autism blog at She has also published a translation of Virgil's Georgics (2002) and written about classics and multiculturalism. She is the mother of 12-year-old Charlie.
Debra Cumberland is an associate professor of English at Winona State University in Winona, MN. Her work has appeared in various journals, including American Literary Realism, The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies, Hurakan, and the Laurel Review, among others.
Anne M. Donnellan, Ph.D., is a professor and director of the Autism Institute at the University of San Diego. She is professor emerita at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. An early researcher and teacher in the field, she has been a member of the Professional Advisory Board/Panel of the Autism Society of America since the early 1970's as well as the Autism National Committee. She is also an active member of TASH. She has written numerous books, articles and chapters about autism and positive ways to understand and support people with this label. For most of the last two decades she has been working with Martha Leary and David Hill on a greater understanding of the lived experience of individuals with the autism label and, in particular, the role of movement differences in that experience. She has presented on these topics throughout the world, hoping to change the way non-autistic people understand and work with people with autism.
John Duffy is co-editor of Towards a Rhetoric of Everyday Life and has written a book, Writing from These Roots, documenting the literacy development of Hmong refugees from Laos. Duffy teaches courses on literacy, rhetoric, and literature, and his area of study is the historical development of literacy and rhetoric in cross-cultural context. He is the Francis O'Malley Director of the University Writing Program and the Joseph Morahan Director of the College Seminar Program at the University of Notre Dame, where he is an associate professor of English. He has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship.
Paula C. Durbin-Westby is a member, and on the board of directors, of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN). Paula's work with ASAN includes public policy advocacy, educational issues, media and community outreach. She is also an autistic community member of the Academic Autistic Partnership In Research and Education (AASPIRE). She helps AASPIRE ensure that the research is relevant to the autistic community and conducted in a respectful, ethical manner. Paula has testified at numerous Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) meetings, calling for research into supports and services and urging NIMH to include autistic individuals as full partners in research projects. In November 2008, she gave a presentation to the IACC committee on "Ethical Concerns in Autism Research." She also represented ASAN as a panelist in the IACC Scientific Workshop panel on September 30-October 1, 2009.
Meredyth Goldberg Edelson, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at Willamette University, in Salem, Oregon. Her teaching and research interests include the intellectual functioning of children with autism, sexual abuse of children with autism, legal outcomes related to the sexual abuse of children, and the effects of domestic violence on women and children.
Dr. Katie Ellis is the author of Disabling Diversity: The Social Construction of Disability in 1990s Australian National Cinema (VDM Verlag 2008). Her current projects include co-authoring Disability and New Media (Routledge) with Dr. Mike Kent and reviewing her extraordinarily large DVD collection, one DVD per week. She should be finished sometime next century.
Susan Etlinger is a writer and public relations executive based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a past contributor to the blogs The Silicon Valley Moms and Babycenter's MOMformation and the author of her own blog, The Family Room, which is part personal chronicle and part resource for families and friends of children on the autism spectrum.
Chris Gabbard is an associate professor of English at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. He has published articles in PMLA, SEL, Eighteenth-Century Studies, and the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies.
David A. Hill, M.A., CCC-SLP, resides in Toronto, Ontario, and Shelburne, Nova Scotia, in Canada. He is a former teacher, special education consultant, coordinator, speech-language pathologist and school principal. He is currently on disability leave as a school administrator following a diagnosis of early-onset Parkinson's disease. He has spent many years supporting individuals with different abilities. He has presented at workshops, been a keynote speaker at conferences, and co-authored peer-reviewed articles. His writing and research interests continue to be focused on understanding the nature of differences in order to promote more inclusive communities.
Estée Klar, founder and executive director of The Autism Acceptance Project (, is the mother of a young autistic son named Adam. She is a writer and a freelance curator of art and a graduate student of Critical Disability Studies at York University. Her interests lie in human rights, inclusion, art and writing. She lectures at universities and organizations throughout North America.
Sharisa Kochmeister has been president of The Autism National Committee from 2007-Present; an Executive Committee member for the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council from 2005-Present; a member of Colorado's Watch Our Words from 2003-Present; and on the Panel of Spectrum Advisors of Autism Society of America since 2007. She was a former member of the board of advisors of The Autism Perspective magazine (of which she was editor-in-chief) and is currently the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Voices and Choices of Autism magazine with over 1000 worldwide subscribers. Most recently, she was appointed by The National Institute of Health and National Institute of Mental Health to an advisory panel for the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee to help determine federal policy and research targets and spending. The panel presented its findings and recommendations in Bethesda, MD, on September 30 - October 1, 2009.
Joseph Kras is a graduate student in bioethics at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He is also an associate professor of anesthesiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, where he is the director of education for the residency program and associate director of his department's simulation center. For over a decade he has been part of a research group that studies the use of simulators for training and evaluation of individuals in critical medical situations. He lives in St. Louis with his wife and two great kids, one of whom is autistic.
Martha R Leary, M.S., CCC-SLP, does training and consulting on creative ways to support people on the autism spectrum and those with other neurological differences. She has lectured extensively throughout Canada, the US, England, Ireland, and Australia. Martha is a speech language pathologist and has worked in this field for over 30 years. She continues to explore topics relevant to supporting people with complex needs by listening to people and reviewing the literature for further information to feed her collaboration with colleagues. She has co-authored several publications on sensory and movement differences, accommodations and the support relationship. Martha lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she is also a community developer and urban farmer.
Bruce Mills has published books and essays on American writers including Lydia Maria Child, Margaret Fuller, and Edgar Allan Poe. In recent years, his creative nonfiction about his son's autism has appeared in The Georgia Review and New England Review. He has also completed a book manuscript about his family entitled An Archaeology of Yearning. Bruce teaches at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Tito Mukhopadhyay is the author of three books: The Mind Tree, The Gold of the Sunbeams, and How Can I Talk If My Lips Don't Move? He has appeared on the CBS news show 60 Minutes and as the subject of a BBC special.
Stuart Murray is professor of contemporary literatures and film in the School of English at the University of Leeds. He is the author or editor of some 6 books, including Representing Autism: Culture, Narrative, Fascination (Liverpool UP, 2008), and is the co-editor of the Liverpool Representations book series that focuses on issues of disability, health and culture. He is co-editing a special issue of the Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2010) that focuses on representations of disability in postcolonial literatures. His new book project investigates the relationships between disability, humanism and post-humanism.
Ari Ne'eman is the founding president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), an international organization of adults and youth on the autism spectrum advocating for themselves in public policy, service-delivery, research and media representation. He is also an adult on the autism spectrum. To learn more about ASAN, visit:
Mark Osteen is a professor of English and film studies at Loyola University Maryland. He is the author or editor of six books, including The Economy of Ulysses: Making Both Ends Meet (1995), American Magic and Dread: Don DeLillo's Dialogue with Culture (2000), and The Question of the Gift (2002). His edited collection Autism and Representation was published by Routledge in 2008. He has completed a memoir, One of Us: A Family's Life with Autism, and is currently at work on a study entitled "The Big Night: Film Noir and American Dreams." Forthcoming from the University of Missouri Press is his memoir, One of Us: A Family's Life with Autism.
Valerie Paradiz, Ph.D., develops educational programs for children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders(ASDs). She is the author of Integrated Self-Advocacy ISA™ (Autism Asperger Publishing Company), a curriculum and training series for educators and therapists who wish to support individuals with ASDs in achieving greater ability in self-advocacy. Valerie's memoir, Elijah's Cup: A Family's Journey into the Community and Culture of High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome (Jessica Kingsley, 2005), is the story of the author's experiences raising her autistic son, their involvement together in the advocacy community, and her own ultimate diagnosis with Asperger syndrome. Valerie is a member of the national board of directors of the Autism Society of America, where she serves as co-chair of the Panel of Individuals on the Spectrum and is a member of the Government Relations Committee. She is also a member of the Bankstreet College of Education's Institute for Cognitive Diversity.
Melissa M Park, Ph.D., OTR/L, is a guest researcher at the Division of Occupational Therapy, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences & Society, Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. Her scholarship is informed by an extensive background in visual arts, film, symbolic modes of representation, and aesthetics.
Nick Pentzell is a communication studies major and honors student at Delaware County Community College in metropolitan Philadelphia, as well as an autism self-advocate. In addition to conference and workshop presentations, he has shared his views about autism in his award-winning video, "Outside/Inside," and in various published works, such as "I Think, therefore I Am. I Am Verbal, therefore I Live" in The Autism Perspective.
Dawn Prince received her M.A. and Ph.D. in interdisciplinary anthropology from the Universität Herisau in Switzerland and has served as an adjunct professor of anthropology at Western Washington University. Currently writing full time, she is the author of Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey through Autism, Gorillas Among Us: A Primate Ethnographer's Book of Days and the editor of Aquamarine Blue 5: Personal Stories of College Students with Autism, as well as 5 other books in memoir and anthropology. She is on the advisory board of ApeNet, a nonprofit organization founded by Peter Gabriel.
Scott Michael Robertson is the vice president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and an adult on the autism spectrum. Scott has a bachelor's degree in computer science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a master's degree in human-computer interaction from Carnegie Mellon University. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in information sciences and technology at Penn State University's University Park campus. His research pursuits in the fields of disability studies, human-computer interaction, and computer supported work/learning focus on understanding and improving the lives of people with neurological and developmental disabilities. He has authored several peer-reviewed academic journal articles and conference papers on this subject.
William Rocque is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Redlands where he teaches courses on the body, power and exclusion/inclusion, and gender. He has several articles on autism under review and in preparation, and, along with Sandra Larsen, has co-authored "Faculty Development for Institutional Change: Lessons from an ADVANCE Project" published in Change.
Irene Rose is co-founder of the Cultural Disability Studies Research Forum and member of the editorial board of the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies. She is also a doctoral candidate at the Department of English and American Studies, University of Manchester where she is currently completing her PhD titled "Asperger's Narratives: Formations of Self in Autistic Autobiography." Other publications include "What Can We Do with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time?," "Autistic Autobiography or Autistic Life Narrative?," and "Heralding New Possibilities: Female Masculinity in Jackie Kay's Trumpet."
Sue Rubin is a student at Whittier College where she holds a John Greenleaf Whittier Scholarship ($38,000) awarded solely on merit, without regard to her disability. She was the subject of, and writer for, the 2004 academy award nominated documentary "Autism is a World" and has been the subject of two KCET (LA's public television station) Life and Times programs. She carried the 1996 Olympic Torch as a Community Hero in Los Angeles, received CALTASH's 1st Annual Mary Falvey Outstanding Young Person Award in 1998, and was the recipient of the 1999 Wendy F. Miller Outstanding Individual with Autism Award presented by the Autism Society of America. She has published articles in the L.A Times, TASH Connections, and Disability and Society. A two-term elected member of the national board of directors of TASH, she has presented at over 100 conferences, workshops, and classes.
DJ Savarese is a junior at Grinnell Community High School where he studies creative writing and the sciences. He is currently collaborating with Rob Rooy on a documentary that follows him from high school into college. DJ desires to free other kids who yearn to read and communicate. He has written and published op/eds, poems, and the last chapter of his father's book, Reasonable People (Other Press 2007). Last year he wrote and assistant directed his school's Readers' Theatre production entitled Plotting Hope. The play received "Outstanding Performance" at the state level.
Emily Thornton Savarese was an educational coordinator and the assistant director at the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She is a parent and education consultant who has presented at various conferences and universities on topics related to inclusion, such as literacy for nonspeaking autistic people, alternative communication supports, curricular adaptations, environmental modifications, toilet training and parental advocacy.
Ralph James Savarese Ralph James Savarese teaches American literature, creative writing, and disability studies at Grinnell College. He is the author of Reasonable People: A Memoir of Autism and Adoption (On the Meaning of Family and the Politics of Neurological Difference), which Newsweek called a "real life love story and a passionate manifesto for the rights of people with neurological disabilities"; co-editor of the forthcoming Papa PhD: Men in the Academy Write about Fatherhood (Rutgers University Press); and co-editor with Stephen Kuusisto of a forthcoming special issue of Seneca Review entitled "The Lyrical Body: Creative Writers and Human Difference." His opinion pieces about autism have appeared in the LA Times, the Houston Chronicle, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Des Moines Register, and the Huffington Post, among other places. His essay, "The Lobes of Autobiography: Poetry and Autism," was one of two finalists for the 2008 Donald Murray Prize for the best published essay on writing from the National Council for the Teachers of English. In late 2010, the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability will publish his essay on Tito Mukhopadhyay entitled "Toward a Postcolonial Neurology: Autism, Tito Mukhopadhyay, and a New Geo-poetics of the Body."
Phil Schwarz is vice-chair of the Asperger's Association of New England ( and a member of the board of directors of AutCom. He is an Asperger's adult, the father of an autistic son and a daughter in the broader phenotype, and is married to a nonautistic spouse.
Stephen Shore, Ph.D., was diagnosed with "atypical development and strong autistic tendencies," considered "too sick" for outpatient treatment, and recommended for institutionalization as a young boy. Although nonverbal until four, with much support from his parents, teachers, wife, and others, Stephen is now a professor at Adelphi University, where his research focuses on matching best practice to the needs of people with autism. In addition to working with children and talking about life on the autism spectrum, Stephen presents and consults internationally on adult issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, advocacy, and disclosure as discussed in his books Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome; Ask and Tell: Self-advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism Spectrum; the critically acclaimed Understanding Autism for Dummies; and the newly released DVD Living Along the Autism Spectrum: What it Means to Have Autism or Asperger Syndrome. He currently serves on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, on the board of directors for Autism Society of America, Unlocking Autism, and other autism related organizations.
Kassiane Sibley is a vintage 1982 autistic adult. When not reminding general society that autistics, epileptics, and others with hidden differences are human too, she teaches self-advocacy to autistic kids and gymnastics to kids of all neurotypes. Kassiane has contributed to several books and looks forward to the day that autistic people are listened to even if they don't have a bibliography.
Jim Sinclair is an autistic adult who has extensive experience in autistic self-advocacy, having pioneered the use of service dogs for autistic people in the late 1980s; co-founded Autism Network International ( in 1992 and been its coordinator since that time; and produced Autreat (, the first annual gathering of its kind designed by and for autistic people, since 1996. Jim has an undergraduate degree in psychology, post-graduate education in developmental and child psychology, a master's degree in counseling, and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. Jim's writings have been widely reprinted and translated into many languages. Jim is a popular and dynamic speaker at conferences nationally and internationally. To read more of Jim's writings, please visit
Tracy Thresher lives and works in Vermont. Tracy began using facilitated communication in 1990 and was one of several individuals with autism to pilot a project at Washington County Mental Health Services. He has presented at local, statewide, and national workshops and conferences. He has consulted with local schools, is a member of the Vermont Statewide Standing Committee, worked part-time for Green Mountain Self-Advocates and most recently has worked with the Facilitated Communication Institute as a lead trainer. He and Larry Bissonnette, partner in crime, are the subjects of a new documentary film they are calling "World Intelligence Magnified."
James C. Wilson is a professor of English and journalism at the University of Cincinnati and the primary companion of his 29-year-old son and amateur meteorologist, Sam. His most recent books are Weather Reports from the Autism Front: A Father's Memoir of His Autistic Son (McFarland, 2008) and Embodied Rhetorics: Disability in Language and Culture (Southern Illinois U.P., 2001), which he edited with Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson. He has disability essays in Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities (Modern Language Association, 2002) and The Disability Studies Reader (Routledge, 2006).
Melanie Yergeau is a Ph.D. candidate in rhetoric, composition, and literacy at The Ohio State University, where she also teaches courses in writing, digital media, and disability studies. She has published in Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy and Computers and Composition Online and was a recipient of the 2009 Kairos Best Webtext Award. She is an associate editor of Computers and Composition: An International Journal and the editorial design director for Computers and Composition Digital Press, an imprint of Utah State University Press. She also currently directs the Central Ohio chapter of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN).
Zosia Zaks, M.Ed., CRC, author of Life and Love: Positive Strategies for Autistic Adults (AAPC 2006), continues to write and speak on issues of importance to the autism community. In addition to working as a disability adjustment counselor, Zaks serves on the board of several local and national autism organizations, advocates for people with disabilities at state and federal levels, and teaches and trains professionals who work with autistic adults.
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