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CLASP presentation offers insights into parenting children with autism


The Clear Lake Association of Senior Programs will present “The Lived Experience of Autism: A Special Session” on Thursday, July 23, at 2 p.m. The event, to be held virtually via Zoom, features the insights of Judy Blake, a leadership and advocacy coordinator of the Family to Family Network and faculty member of LoneStar LEND, and Andrew Bennett, a research assistant at the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at University of Houston-Clear Lake.

Open only to K-12 educators and administrators, this presentation delivers an engaging discussion focusing on the experiences of parenting a child on the autism spectrum.

“This is the second time this event is being presented to our community,” said Alexis Nwagui, program manager in UH-Clear Lake's Office of Strategic Partnerships. “The event was so moving and informative the first time, we knew we had to bring it to the public again — this time to the members of our community who are charged with educating future citizens regardless of presumed ability.”

Blake is the single parent of an adult son on the autism spectrum. As leadership and advocacy coordinator for the Family to Family Network, a non-profit organization that helps individuals with disabilities and their families define and achieve success, Blake empowers families with education, resources and support as they navigate complicated school processes, social service agencies and medical services.

Bennett, who self-advocates with autism, said one of his passions was studying world languages and cultures. “I can compare autism to its own language because it’s something that you have to teach and have a local understanding about for there to be a world in which people with autism are treated fairly and equitably,” he said. “I have come to see autism as a universal language.”

He said that in 2019, he traveled to Prague with the nonprofit organization Global Autism Project to work with local professionals in the autism field. “Beyond just learning a new language, the experience of seeing how autism affected people in different countries made me realize that autism is a universal language,” he said. “My travels and making use of multiple foreign languages to further the work that I do is what inspired the concept of this presentation.”

He said that once you’ve learned the language of autism, you realize you’ve heard it everywhere. “There’s neuroscience that proves if you speak other languages, you’re mentally healthier,” he said. “If you learn how a person from a different country lives, that broadens your emotional and intellectual horizon. This is the same concept. Autism is just another culture people can learn about.”

Join the presentation on Zoom by clicking on the link: https://uhcl.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJcqcuGqqDwpGdVkV396ncmd1a8UiGDVESnr