Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category
Tuesday, December 11th, 2012
It was great times meeting up with old friends and meeting new ones in Long Beach, California at this year’s TASH conference with Master Trainers Harvey, Pascal, Marilyn, Darlene, Christi and Syracuse lovely grad students. We did a 4 hour training on communication, movement, research and message passing. I was able to type a word that Pascal was naïve to and message pass in front of a group of strangers…very cool. Our friend Sue Rubin and I took our history from early experiences and educated on the transforming power of communication. The World of autism opened up to possibilities only because we have a profoundly amazing way of thinking and the calm support we need to express our intelligent lessons of a life that is quirky but every bit as important as any other.
The sun took a rest behind the clouds. So what if sun wants to sleep; Larry and Tracy’s wit brought sunny smiles to the sun seekers. The Autism Society Inland Empire Communication Conference at the University of Redlands was a beautiful way to top off our sundae which California slim ladies likely request only at fat conscious yogurt shops. This Green Mountain Man prefers loaded with chunky hunks of yum from Vermont’s Ben & Jerry’s. Larry and I felt like Hollywood actors. Yogurt and ice cream do appear an odd combination but Larry and I felt the power of what our movie has done to open our world and that is a beautiful world of Inclusion. Thirty years ago the beautiful teens looked at me with passing glances of dismissiveness. Now all my charm is shining through to show the inner beauty of my wisdom and kind spirit. Tracy and Larry should make a new flavor for our fans to enjoy on a visit to Ben & Jerry’s. I am looking for fan ideas. Let’s hear it.
Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
My name is Tracy Thresher. I grew up in Barre, Vermont. As a child, I struggled with no reliable way to communicate. I now live out my dream of traveling to other states to educate others on movement and communication differences. Primarily, I advocate to promote the Presumption of Competence. I have had great opportunities to advance in my career thanks to Harvey who is the Communication Specialist at Community Developmental Services which is part of Washington County Mental Health Services. Together, we have traveled to educate in the United States. In 2009, while filming the documentary “Wretches and Jabberers”, we traveled to Finland, Sri Lanka and Japan to join forces with other activists who are living on the periphery of society. Quietly ignored autism as a rule feels as though society as a whole is not interested in knowing we are intelligent.
I have been using supported typing since I met Bill and then Alan who worked for Washington County Mental Health. I was in my early twenties. Harvey came on board once Alan moved to Maine. I was 23. I am now 45.
My case manager, Rachel, is a great communication partner and well organized. Having her in my life is more important than I can express. She has been with me for nearly ten years. A fiery passion for helping people describes Rachel.
Without the diligent organized support of well-trained communication partner, Jeanette, I could not stand before you today. Thanks to my team of communication partners I have opportunities to educate others. I have moved from working at the back of the store, feeling like I had no future, to now being respected for my activism and my work as a Communication Consultant. I serve on the State of Vermont Autism Advisory and Planning Committee, the Vermont Communication Task Force, and the Washington County Communication Alliance. I am standing before you tonight with respect for the difficult work you face with making critical life altering decisions which affect the most vulnerable Vermonters. The little state of Vermont should serve as a leader in equity for their progress with their policies such as the Respectful Language Law and expansion of health insurance coverage for autism therapies .
My communication is paramount to my well-being and is key to my being an active citizen. I take my right to vote seriously and pay close attention to politics. I may appear to be a man shrouded by a cloak of incompetence but if you will take the time to listen to my typing you will understand I am intelligent.
The Presumption of Competence is the message I hope you take away today.
Thursday, October 18th, 2012
The AutCom group is one of many great thinkers. I am fortunate to have been in sunny Maryland to present my ideas and share my knowledge of this life. Being in the presence of good company is greatly freeing. For me good company is defined as people who are open to listening to painstakingly slow typing. I want to thank the Vermont Developmental Disabilities Council for their financial support to make it possible for me to share my work with others. I was able to connect with other activists to work on promoting presumption of competence. From my perspective, I am able to share the progress that has been made in Vermont since I was in school. My life is much more my own because of my ability to communicate. Quietly ignored autism feels as though society as a whole is disinterested. AutCom is blissfully open-minded listening to people who have rather different ways than mainstream. The celebratory nature of AutCom is one I hope to promote in my work. Presumption of competence is the key to freely opening up dialogue with people. That is my platform to take to the world.
Friday, August 10th, 2012
Once again, I had the opportunity to participate in the Autism Summer Institute. This year the gathering of friends further opened my mind to the power of relationships. Julia Bascom was wonderfully amazing in her keynote presentation: “The Loud Hands Project: Autistic Culture, Community and Resilience.” Julia challenges old perceptions of nonverbal communication and expression such as stimming. Please read her blog. Listening to the voices of self-advocates is critical to changing old attitudes. Attitudes are the real disability.
This is our time my friends and our voices now have the power to continue building momentum by joining forces to make the shift in attitude to one of respect for our communication and intelligence rather than eradicating our pesky behaviors. Think communication rather than how to cure my autism. We look to be listened to and respected for our intelligence. The common thread of humanity must not be snipped with pointed words of passing glance assumptions. It is the hope in all people to have at least one person who presumes that competence lives within. I am fortunate to have the support of my dream team lead by Guru Harvey.
Yesterday, I presented to Choice Academy in Barre, Vermont. Choice is an alternative high school. This was part of their staff training. The staff watched “Wretches and Jabberers” last week. I followed up with their staff yesterday beginning with an activity that illustrated the feelings associated with no reliable mode of communication. I presented my PowerPoint titled: “Presumption of Competence”. Of course, I referenced Bob Williams and the “cloak of incompetence” as well as Doug Biklen and the “presumption of competence” which he wrote about in his book, “Autism and the Myth of the Person Alone.”
During Q&A, the staff peppered me with thoughtful questions. My favorite question was: “How do you feel about the impact of technology on your communication?” My response was: “I am amazed by how far I have come; the most important part is people though. I need great support.” To expand upon that, I need respectful relationships rooted in the presumption of competence. The iPad is truly putting my communication on the smoothly rhythmic rails to present my thoughtful ideas. However, peaceful people are the key. My power to communicate is built on a solid foundation of trust, respect and presumption of competence. Not even the brainiacs of technologically-minded Apple can duplicate this. Only a peacefully grounded open-minded ally is capable. Neurodiversity needs to be celebrated. To do so one must have the power of open communication.
Thursday, December 15th, 2011
Atlanta is the perfect place to put two Green Mountain men on the podium to show folks how it feels to be looked upon in the fishbowl that life becomes if the environment is not a natural fit. I like to look upon gorgeous fish swimming about. To have good provisions and the care of professionals who meticulously tend to the needs of marine life for the enjoyment of others helps to educate. To have the opportunity to see the aquarium excellently providing respect to the natural needs of creatures leads me to reflect on my life.
To be in environments with Harvey reminds me of the life I desire; that is to say he communicates well with an interest, respectful of my communication. The main thing he does is closely monitor my natural body rhythms, helping me to stay regulated while providing me the communication support that is life sustaining to this big time man of typing to shift world views. I like to go to big cities educating others on the presumption of competence. Communication is a natural need for all people to thrive. To have Harvey is like moving from a little fishbowl to a posh aquarium.
- Tracy and Larry presented at the 2011 TASH Conference in Atlanta, GA, Nov. 30 – Dec. 1, where “Wretches & Jabberers” was honored with the TASH Media Award.
Friday, May 20th, 2011
This week I had the opportunity to travel to Hartford, Connecticut with Harvey to show the movie to a group of nursing professionals. To be in the midst of intelligent professionals as an educator taught me I need to keep plugging along on my mission to educate the World about the presumption of competence. Many wonderfully brilliant questions erupted volcanic thoughts of how our World is in the right place and time to let the ashes of old thinking blow out on the winds of change.
The nursing professionals I spoke to have a better understanding of people who may communicate in a way that is different from the traditional way. It helps my mind to know the medical profession finds my work to be of interest. It is important for the medical profession to be educated on alternative communication so all people get the best medical attention possible. For myself, I educated my primary doctor who is now my medical hero because he listens to my typing and is open to my suggestions. For example, I wanted to go more holistic and he was receptive.
I recommend to people who have communication that is not traditional that you be the lead person in educating your medical professionals. We need to be the leaders of eliminating old ways of having others interpret how we feel solely on our outer appearance.
Tracy & Harvey pose with DDNA Conference Attendees
Friday, May 13th, 2011
It has been the most wonderful time of my career as a self advocate. Larry and I were awarded the Theresa Wood Citizenship Award at the Green Mountain Self Advocates’ Voices and Choices Conference this week. I am so honored to be recognized for my work. To know others value the work I have done to break down the barriers that have been preventing people from living the lives they deserve is wonderful. I stood before my peers in amazement that I had progressed from the young boy who teachers overlooked in the hard eyes of being bothered to being looked upon as a wise leader of teaching others the presumption of competence is the opening of the barriers people may have in their minds.
I like to hear the cheers of fellow self advocates but more than that I love to hear them telling their stories and taking the reins in their lives. I have had many people inquire my opinion on the direction I would recommend they take. It is the seeker in you that needs to find your super purpose; to go for it like an Olympian until you grab onto it then don’t let it go. You must practice patience; perseverance is the key.
Tracy receives the Theresa Wood Citizenship Award!
Category Conferences | Tags: Tags: advocacy, autism, blog, Green Mountain Self Advocates, happiness, inclusion, Theresa Wood Citizenship Award, Tracy Thresher, Voices and Choices Conference, wretches & jabberers,
Friday, May 6th, 2011
It is great to be preparing for the Voices and Choices Conference that is coming up next week. The Green Mountain Self Advocates have led the right thinking in the State of Vermont. They have promoted inclusion and taught self advocacy to people with challenges for years. I have had the honor of working with this wonderfully hard working group on initiatives to improve the quality of mental health services in our Green Mountains.
Together, Larry and I will address the self advocates about finding their purpose in life. I will also be presenting with two self advocates who I have mentored for years. It is with great pride that I see them working on changing the language that is used in Vermont to be respectful and person first. To think I have had a part in their pursuit of purpose is humbling. I look forward to learning from the new generation of self-advocates. I hope to see my fans next week for the “Stand up and be heard!” message at Voices and Choices.
Category Conferences | Tags: Tags: advocacy, autism, blog, film, Green Mountain Self Advocates, inclusion, self advocacy, Tracy Thresher, Vermont, Voice and Choices Conference, wretches & jabberers,
Monday, November 1st, 2010
I have been amazed at the outpouring of support for the film since the premiere in Burlington and the screening of the film at the “Making Communication Happen Worldwide” conference. I am so happy that we are having an impact on the world and changing attitudes. I have noticed changes in my own community today. For example, I walked at the mall today and noticed people connecting with my friends who are unable to express themselves in the conventional ways that society is accustomed. Only ten years ago, we were present but not spoken to as valued members of society. I also noticed, when mentoring my student at Williamstown High School today, that other kids came and spoke to her without prejudice. I notice these subtle changes in the next generation. I have much faith that soon children will be well educated no matter what diagnosis or label they may have been given. I have dreamed that I would move the mountains that have been built up by generations of ignorance and lack of information. I know there are a lot more walls to break down. Together, we will make this social movement happen. Like Larry said, “Let’s make a big step for humankind.”
I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with two students at Spaulding High School this morning. What a change there has been since my school days. There is knowledge there being used to educate all students, not just the speaking students but those brilliant minds that are locked in uncooperative bodies waiting to be set free. I am pleased that I am able to return to the high school that needed knowledge and be a part of educating teachers, parents and educators. I feel proud to be a part of this positive change. Together, Larry and I opened minds of professionals in the Mental Health field. Can you imagine what we can do for those folks who have no personal experience with communicating in alternative ways?
I do not know what the future holds but I know it is brighter with the ability to connect with others. Over the past week something inside of me came to know love in a way I never imagined. This is very personal but I will say that I am head over heels and it could not have happened without the ability to reach out through an alternative mode of communication. Two people know love because of the work of pioneers in communication and inclusion. I would like to thank Harvey and Pascal for giving so much of themselves so Larry and I can pursue our dreams and find friends in the world. The past week has opened my heart in unimaginable ways. I find such humor in Larry and such fondness for Chammi, Henna, Antii and Naoki since getting to know them through the making of this film. It is my hope to continue to grow our relationships and to reconnect for the writing of our manifesto.
I will see you in Denver, Colorado next.
Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
I thought the film was tremendous with cool music, wonderful cinematic presence. More like professional actors from the wretches. It was interesting from the California laid back beach style to see people get so excited about the film, they really liked it and wanted to have a copy for their own viewing pleasure.
I really encourage people to watch the movie.