The Conference Presenters
Tracy Thresher is an advocate for people with disabilities. He lives and works in Vermont. Tracy began typing to communicate in 1990 and was one of the first individuals with autism at Washington County Mental Health Services (a community-based service provider) to be introduced to it. Prior to finding his voice, Tracy was excluded from normal education and was presumed to be unintelligent and incapable. However, in addition to starring in the nationally recognized documentary, Wretches & Jabberers, Tracy has now presented at local, statewide, and national workshops and conferences. He has consulted with local schools, is a former member of the Developmental Services State Standing Committee, and has worked for the Green Mountain Self-Advocates in Montpelier, Vermont. In Vermont, he mentors teenagers and adults. Most recently, Tracy has consulted at Syracuse University as a Lead Trainer.
Larry Bissonnette is a disability rights advocate and artist who lives in Milton, Vermont. He has been painting and drawing since he was a young child and exhibits his art regularly both locally and nationally. In June 2015, he will have a solo exhibition of his art in the Amy Tarrant Gallery in Burlington, Vermont. His work is in the permanent collection of GRACE (Grass Roots Art and Community Effort), Hardwick, Vermont and in the Musée de l'Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland. Larry is both the subject and writer of an award winning film about his life, called, My Classic Life as an Artist: A Portrait of Larry Bissonnette (2005). Most recently, he starred in a feature length documentary directed by Gerardine Wurzburg about adults with autism called Wretches and Jabberer (2010). In 1991, Larry learned to communicate through typing and began combining words with his art to express his thoughts and ideas. Over the past 15 years, he has been a featured presenter at many national educational conferences and has written and spoken on the topics of autism, communication and art.
Marilyn Chadwick is a Speech/Language Pathologist and has been a part of the Institute on Communication and Inclusion at Syracuse University since 1992. She has previously played the roles of Director of Training and Assistant Director of the FCI, developing the various levels of training and working to publish standards on the method of supported typing. Marilyn has been a leader in supporting FC users to work toward independent typing and speaking. Now as the Senior Consultant, she continues to contribute to the Institute on Communication and Inclusion through conferences, independence clinics and the Training of Trainers program at Syracuse and around the country. Marilyn recognizes the role that rhythm plays in support for individuals with movement differences and communication struggles. She participated in neurologic music therapy training to learn more to
assist her in her own work. Marilyn is in private practice, based in Syracuse, New York.
Casey DePriest is a Certified Neurologic Music Therapist and a 1994 graduate of the University of Evansville. Casey began her career working in physical rehabilitation, then child/adolescent psychiatric treatment at Welborn’s Mulberry Center. In 2002, Casey started a private practice and became an Indiana Medicaid Waiver provider to serve individuals with developmental disabilities. Since that time her practice, Integrative Music Therapy, has grown to reach over 160 clients per week through the addition of six other talented and qualified music therapists. Casey is the Chair of the Indiana Music Therapy Task Force and a member of the Executive Board for the Association for Indiana Music Therapists, which work to raise awareness and provide increased access to quality music therapy services in Indiana. Casey has specialized in autism treatment through nearly 20 years of experience, advanced training, and professional supervision. She recognized a need for increased access to services and educational opportunities for individuals on the spectrum, recognizing their movement differences, neuro-connectivity differences, and related sensory and communication struggles. In 2014, Casey founded Optimal Rhythms, Inc. (501c3) and a new therapeutic school program, ACCESS Academy, to help support the needs of these individuals in our community. Casey is partnering with Colorado State University to further study the impact of rhythm on movement in individuals on the autism spectrum. Casey was recognized in 2014 as a Health Care Hero by the Evansville Courier & Press and is a 2015 Leadership Evansville Nominee.
John Smyth is a 20 year old young man with diagnoses of autism, communication disorder and seizure disorder. John has been nonverbal since he lost his speech to regressive autism at about 20 months of age. For years he was unable to communicate even his most basic needs; he was considered to have the mind of a 3 year-old, and he struggled with severe behaviors. He was placed in life skills classes for most of his education, having taken a couple of years off to do Verbal Behavior Therapy/ABA in a private setting. At the age of 16 ½ he began taking lessons in Supported Typing. To his parents’ complete surprise; he began communicating age appropriate thoughts immediately. At the age of 19, John now attends Brownsburg High School, in Brownsburg, Indiana. Having recognized his high level of intelligence, his school placement was changed to a general education placement which includes some necessary accommodations and supports and he will be graduating with a core 40 diploma in May, 2015. John plans to attend college. His mission in life is to share this story with other families of nonverbal children so that “their children will not have to suffer the years of loneliness that I suffered.” He was a presenter at the 2014 ICI Summer Institute at Syracuse University. John is the co-founder of the not-for-profit organization, Saved By Typing, in Carmel, Indiana.
We have a number of outreach projects we are offering soon:
Our private day school provides students with severe autism:
Creating Optimal Rhythms for Life,
Learning, Communication, and Independence