Ron Suskind is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, best-selling author, teacher essayist and speaker whose impassioned presentations mix monologue with reportage, pathos with humor and global politics.
He is the author of six bestselling books, including Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes and Autism, which was turned into an Oscar Nominated documentary, examining his own family’s two-decade struggle to help one of its members emerge from the shadows of autism through a unique, and wildly creative, form of therapy.
Ron joins the NPDDF conference this year to speak about his personal journey, as NPDDF explores how technology and new research advancements are helping to redefine how we look at autism.
Alexandra Samuel is an independent technology researcher and writer, and the author of Work Smarter with Social Media from the Harvard Business Review Press. The former Vice-President of Social Media for market research software company Vision Critical, Alex has conducted extensive research on the way parents navigate the digital world. She has written about family tech use as part of her regular contributions to The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The Harvard Business Review, The Christian Science Monitor’s Passcode, Oprah.com and JSTOR Daily. Alex is also the former director of The Social & Interactive Media Centre at Emily Carr University, and co-founded Social Signal, one of the world’s first social media agencies. She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University. She has two children, one of whom is autistic; you can follow his journey in The Peanut Diaries.
Alexandra joins us to talk about Hacking Parenthood: The Three Worlds of Digital Parenting: Today’s biggest educational and parenting battles are over screen time: how much tech access kids should have & what they should be doing online. This challenges are particularly acute when working with (or parenting) autistic kids, who may be particularly susceptible to compulsive technology use — and also, especially likely to find technology essential to their education, social life or emotional self- regulation.
Miss Generous (born 1992) is a professional speaker, neuroscientist, author, tech consultant, and observational comedian. Her TED talk “My Inner Life…” has received over 1.4 million views. Her works have been featured on NPR, Bloomberg Businessweek, TEDx, and the Sydney Opera House. Through high impact media, comedy, and creative storytelling, she advocates for scientific literacy, child welfare, and for the advancement of Mental Diversity in STEM and the entertainment industry. At 17, She attended the College of Charleston where she studied Psychology, Molecular Biology, and Neuroscience.
From 2013 to September 2016, she was the co-founder for Podium (formerly AutismSees), a social impact company that creates technology to help high functioning autistic millennials improve their presentation skills. In her 2015 TED talk, she comically shares how tech improved her public speaking skills. When she’s not speaking at conferences, she lives in Los Angeles where she works on media production and social impact technology.
Jessica Kubacki, MS
Jessica Kubacki,MS, is the Program Manager for the Technology in Early Childhood (TEC) Center at Erikson Institute. Jessica’s work focuses on Universal Design for Learning, Assistive Technology, Informal Learning, Professional Development, and Developmentally Appropriate Practice with technology tools. As an education intern with the TEC Center and Kohl Children’s Museum, she designed and piloted an early coding program, Toying with Tech, as part of a STEM initiative. Jessica is a certified secondary education teacher and taught Child Development and Culinary for 2 years. Her interest in adaptive cooking and technology led Jessica to work with Northern Suburban Special Education District where she taught in Education and Life Skills for three years, served as a signing assistant for individuals with hearing impairments, and implemented an adaptive cooking curriculum. Jessica holds a MS in Child Development from Erikson Institute and a BS in Family and Consumer Science from Illinois State University.
Tamara Kaldor, M.S.
Tamara Kaldor, M.S., is the Associate Director of the Technology in Early Childhood (TEC) Center at Erikson Institute.
Tamara is a child development specialist with over a decade of experience teaching parents, educators, and administrators how to integrate technology to support the social-emotional and learning needs of ALL children to help children play, relate and learn. Tamara has been invited to deliver workshops on technology, inclusion and disability, integrating technology into the classroom and lesson plans, and navigating the digital world responsibly throughout the U.S. and internationally. Tamara has collaborated with such organizations as U.S. Department of Education, UNICEF, UNESCO, NAEYC, Association for Children’s Museums (ACM), Association of Library Services for Children (ALSC), and Common Sense Media. In 2016, her work at the TEC Center was recognized by the White House for making outstanding contributions to STEM and Computer Science in early childhood.
Jennifer Vallier, MA, CCC-SLP
Jennifer is an ASHA certified speech-language pathologist with over 10 years of clinical experience and is a Regional AAC Consultant for the Prentke Romich Company. Her work in the field of assistive technology (AT) and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) began on a grant in graduate school and has continued throughout her entire career.
Jennifer has experience with diverse pediatric populations with a variety of communication needs. Her initial work experience included providing assessment and intervention services in the public schools. There she worked with children and adolescents with special needs focusing on individuals who benefited from the support of AAC. Prior to working with PRC, she provided home-based speech-language pathology services to individuals across the lifespan, again focusing on individuals with AAC needs or emerging language skills. Across settings, Jennifer has served as a clinical supervisor and professional development resource, providing AAC trainings and support to families, therapists, teachers and support staff. Jennifer believes in the power of great intervention to really get kids talking. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling, gardening, all things music and chocolate.
Rich Alapack is the founder of we all live here. He started the Chicago based organization as an antidote to all the things that have unintentionally evolved into reasons for people to not get along. Given his background in tech and advertising, he had the skills and connections necessary to start an organization whose mission was to use art, community, and technology to remind us all to get along and help each other succeed. If society is ever going to defeat things like racism, hatred, violence, etc. Rich believes we will have to start with our youth. So he works with schools to create public art that uses we all live here as a theme. He brings these art projects to life by teaching students basic graphic design during a school wide assembly. The students then design a logo for their school’s project. Rich collects these as crowd sourced ideas so that each project reflects each school’s unique neighborhood. The official logo gets put onto products which along with sponsorship from local businesses funds the art installations. This approach unites the staff and students with the broader community, introduces students to neighborhood leaders and entrepreneurs and also gives the them a blueprint of how to make their own ideas come to life. Come hear Rich and learn how to bring we all live here to your community.
Sherri Cawn, MA, CCC-SLP
Sherri Cawn is clinical director of Cawn-Krantz and Associates Developmental Therapies of suburban Chicago, has over 40 years of clinical pediatric experience specializing in the assessment and treatment of infants, toddlers, and school-age children. She is a leading practitioner of the DIR/Floortime model in speech and language development and trains other professionals throughout the United States and overseas on the concepts of this model. She is a frequent invited presenter at professional events.
Sherri is the author of the self study DVD/Manual on the Assessment and Intervention of DIR/Floortime Model produced by the American Speech and Hearing Association (2011). She is co-author of the Language Disorders chapter in the Diagnostic Manual for Infancy and Early Childhood (2005). Sherri is a senior faculty member of the ICDL DIR/FT Model Training Institute and the online Profectum Academy DIR model Training Programs and she is an adjunct faculty member at the Erikson Institute in Chicago, Illinois. She received her graduate and undergraduate degrees from the University of Illinois.
Beth Osten, MS, OTR/L
Beth Osten has more than three decades of pediatric experience. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Washington, Seattle, and her master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Beth’s graduate studies focused on sensory integration theory and practice, as well as on infant motor development. She brought this expertise to her practice in clinical, research and academic settings, including Beth Osten & Associates, Michael Reese Hospital, the Illinois Institute for Developmental Disabilities, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Beth specializes in sensory processing and motor disorders in infants and young children, including children on the autism spectrum. She helped to develop the Test of Infant Motor Development (TIMP), a diagnostic motor evaluation for premature and young infants. Currently, Beth is a faculty member and lecturer with both the Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning (ICDL) and the Profectum Foundation. Beth lectures on other treatment models and pediatric conditions. She has presented both nationally and internationally on topics including: infant motor development, care to the high-risk infant, sensory integration, treatment of autism spectrum disorder, and the DIR® Model.