Hello, everyone. This is master blogger, Tracy, sharing with you my experiences at the 4th Spectrum of Opportunity conference at California Lutheran University on October 5, 2019 in California. I was joined with several other authors that wrote chapters for Edlyn Pena to edit and have published into an insightful, awesome book, Communication Alternatives in Autism. We are very proud of this book and hope many people will read it. The conference was a full day of celebrating the book, typing with friends and connecting with lots of, interested in our opinions, people. We really had a great time. It was lovely weather in Thousand Oaks, California with sunny skies with temperatures for shorts and short sleeve shirts.
The School District of Elmbrook, Wisconsin, hosted their 5th Annual Innovation Summit conference focused on Inclusive Practices. The iSummit 19 event was facilitated by Dr. Tanya Fredrich and Julie Causton, who were joined by the stars of the movie, Wretches and Jabberers, Tracy Thresher and Larry Bissonnette.
The conference in Brookfield, Wisconsin was attended by 600 educators who were learning about inclusive practices from two women who easily lit the stage with powerful information.
Larry and I had the honor of showing our movie and doing a presentation with excellent questions and answers afterwards. The day was awesome, with the learning about presuming competence and inclusion from the personal experiences of Larry and me.
Here are some of the responses from educators at the conference:
"I thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I have learned so much, but now have a new passion to learn more especially about how I can help my students best communicate their thoughts and desires."
"Dear Larry & Tracy,
As educators it was inspiring and poignant and it will help us all reflect on our practice to ensure that we plan meaningfully for all students. We will work hard to presume competence."
Tracy focuses on advocacy work in a variety of ways. He consults with local schools, is a member of the Vermont Statewide Communication Task Force, and does ongoing work with Green Mountain Self-Advocates (GMSA) of Montpelier, Vermont. Now an employee of WCMHS, he works as an advocate and educator, Tracy mentors teenagers and adults and leads trainings on communication.
In Tracy’s words:
“The self-advocacy movement for people with disabilities has its roots in the broader civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s. By teaching others to self-advocate and make their voices heard, I feel like my life has purpose. For educators, I recommend teaching students the power of self-advocacy and speaking up to meet their goals in life. Green Mountain Self-Advocates brings together self-advocacy groups in Vermont. GMSA has empowered many people through education and conferences.”
Green Mountain Self-Advocates: http://www.gmsavt.org
In 1990, Tracy was one of the first individuals with autism at his service agency, Washington County Mental Health Services (WCMHS), to be introduced to typing as a means to communicate. He presents at local, statewide, and national workshops and conferences. Tracy also consults with local schools, is a member of the Vermont Statewide Communication Task Force, and does ongoing work with Green Mountain Self-Advocates of Montpelier, Vermont. Now an employee of WCMHS as an advocate and educator, Tracy mentors teenagers and adults and leads trainings on communication. In 2013, Tracy was recognized as a Master Trainer by the Institute on Communication and Inclusion at Syracuse University.
Tracy Thresher’s services are coordinated by Community Developmental Services (CDS), a division of the non-profit comprehensive mental health agency, Washington County Mental Health Services, Inc. CDS is located in Barre, Vermont. CDS provides a full range of life supports to adults and children with developmental disabilities. As an organization, they are committed to ensuring that all people can contribute to and be valued members of their communities. Services include: Case Management, Shared Living/Developmental Homes, Supported Apartment Program, Employment Services and Supports, Communication Training and Resources, The Learning Network, Crisis Intervention, and a Crisis Intervention facility.