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Inspirational speakers tapped for WesternU's Trends in Autism Conference

by Rodney Tanaka

March 25, 2014

Read 3 mins

When Jeremy Sicile-Kira was diagnosed with autism more than 20 years ago, his mother, Chantal, was told to find a good institution for him. Instead, she helped steer him toward the self-determined life he wants to have as a productive young man.

“Autism is an important aspect of my place in the world. There are many hardships to having autism, including difficulties with communicating verbally,” Jeremy Sicile-Kira says on his website, “Yet, a good thing about my autism is my capacity to see beautiful colors even in dust. My ability to paint the colors I see in my dreams is the greatest gift I have.”

Jeremy’s paintings represent a range of experiences and people seen through his unique visual processing. He has synesthesia: he sees letters and words in color, as well as perceiving and feeling emotions as different colors.

“I may look complicated on the outside, but the reality is that I’m really an easy-to-be-with kind of guy,” he wrote. “However, my body does not respond to the commands I give it. Only my brain seems to have an idea of the nice things I would like to do. Your tensions may come from the outside, but it is my insides that don’t get the outside to listen.”

Jeremy and Chantal Sicile-Kira will serve as the keynote speakers at the 13th Annual Trends in Autism Conference April 12, 2014 at Western University of Health Sciences, 309 E. Second St., Pomona, Calif. Click here for more information and to register.

Chantal is an award-winning author, speaker and leader in the field of adolescence and transition to adulthood. Her most recent book is “Autism Spectrum Disorder – Revised” (Penguin January 2014). Her first practical experience with autism was at Fairview State Hospital, teaching self-help and community living skills to severely developmentally disabled adolescents in preparation for their de-institutionalization. She has served on the California Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders, and as Co-Chair of the South Counties Autism Regional Taskforce.

Chantal and Jeremy co-authored the book, “A Full Life with Autism: From Learning to Forming Relationships to Achieving Independence,” published in March 2012.

Jeremy graduated from Torrey Pines High School in June 2010 at age 21 with a full academic diploma. He gave a commencement speech using voice output technology. He is likely the first person with autism to use assistive technology for communication to have his own column in his high school newspaper, and to be a staff writer on his college newspaper. Click here to visit Jeremy Sicile-Kira’s website and to view his commencement speech.

Autism advocacy is important to him. He serves as the Autism Research Institute’s Youth Representative to the United Nations, and as a Young Leader for the Autistic Global Initiative, a project of the Autism Research Institute.

Jeremy has been featured on MTV’s documentary series “True Life,” and was the recipient of a 2007 Voice Award. He was featured in a Newsweek cover story, “Growing up with Autism,” and received a Local Autism Hero Award from Cure Autism Now.

Jeremy was recently featured in a series of articles from the Autism Research Institute. He received a grant from the ARI to document his experiences with his new in-home support staff while they participated in the Autistic Global Initiative Online Residential/Daily Living Course.

“Nicely, staff needs to have an understanding of my real life goals. Having support staff who are justly aware of my short-term and long-term goals is important,” he wrote. “Just having everyone on the same page nicely makes a team run smoothly. I think having team meetings really helps remind everyone on the team of my goals. Having short-term goals followed through on is a big deal and very important to me. It truly makes me happy just finishing something I put my great mind to. Frankly, it also makes me happy knowing that my great team is following through on what is decided is important to my daily life.”


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