The third annual Autism Summit welcomed the legendary Ed Asner and his son, Matt, to the Akron Civic Theatre, where they shared their life and journey with autism. The duo talked about being fathers to individuals with autism, along with Ed being a grandfather and Matt being a sibling. Between the two of them, there are four wildly different young men in the family who live with autism. The family’s experiences include many highs and lows, like many families, but both men talked about the need for society to change to meet the needs of people with autism, versus their having to meet societal expectations of “normal.” Bruce Winges, Editor of the Akron Beacon Journal, moderated the discussion that was enjoyed by all.
On Friday, the Autism Summit continued into a full-day conference that focused on effective advocacy. The theme was in response to last year’s Autism Summit, where people said advocating for systemic and governmental change was critical for an improved quality of life for people living with autism.
Laurie Cramer and Matt Asner outlined the Autism Society of Greater Akron and the Autism Society of America’s strategic planning goals. ASGA and ASA are aligned with their focus on the Quality of Life goals that help the organization as a whole set its priorities with programs and service that focus on the best possible life outcome for people living with ASD.
The keynote speaker, Jeanne Wiedt, Dale Carnegie and Associates, translated the principles of the famous book, “How to win friends and influence people” into everyday advocacy giving away the “Golden Book” of principles to the audience. Next was the panel of providers, educators, parents and self-advocates who talked about advocacy in their lives and finally, the morning was topped off with Gary Tonks, CEO of Arc of Ohio, emphasizing the importance of legislative advocacy.
The afternoon was filled with educational breakout sessions that focused on communication, educational and self-advocacy learning opportunities.
Thank you to all who participated in the Autism Summit!
Please take the 2018 Greater Akron Community Autism Wellness Survey! Look for the results to be released at next year’s Autism Summit!