ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)

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Friday, July 14, 2006: 10:45 AM-12:00 PM
Narragansett Ballroom C
#2110- God Does Not Make Garbage: A Live Performance
The dramatic live mime-dance performance, “God Does Not Make Garbage”, by Johnny and Chris Seitz opens up a window that takes participants directly into the world of autism. Through mime, poetry, and music, an empathic message is clearly generated and experienced by conference participants. This live performance gives participants a visceral experience of what life feels like living on the tightrope of autism. This powerful message alters the perspective and understanding of caregivers, service providers, educators and parents alike.

Presenters:Chris Rials-Seitz, MA, Psychology/MFT, South Bay Center for Counseling, MFT - Chris Rials-Seitz Chris is an MFT psychotherapist, a communicator and psychology instructor. Chris has been Johnny’s scriptor and liaison to the neurotypical world, a participant on the Decade Committee of Indigenous People at the United Nations, acting as a liaison on behalf of indigenous people, a producer of children’s programs for Nickelodeon, a published photographer, and filmmaker. Chris has a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology, working on a Doctorate. Currently, Chris works as an MFT, teaches psychology at East Los Angeles College and is a private Behavior Consultant in Los Angeles California.

Johnny Seitz, educator, and, an, adult, with, Ryokan College of Psychology, Life coach - Johnny Seitz Johnny Seitz is an educator and an adult with autism. Johnny is a published author, presents at autism conferences, serves as a resident faculty member at the Ryokan College of Psychology teaching his Bio-Typing technique and has a private practice a life coach. Johnny’s teaching credentials include Harvard, Princeton and he creation of an 8 Credit Degree program at New York University. Read more about Johnny Seitz in his book titled, Bio-Typing; Beyond Body Language, or

Session Content Plan:

This presentation, advocates respect and inspires a different perspective. It is important to note all artwork and poetry is created by autisitc adults. The intention of the program is to create an avenue that improves the quality of life for all whose lives are touched by autism, inspiring hope, and understanding. With this renewed perspective, parents, educators and service providers are empowered to create new dialogues in their approach to intervention, education, and care. The learning objective of this presentation is to create a dialogue between two cultures; the neurotypical and the autistic. The essence of change is acquisition of information to educate and provide understanding.

This presentation does just that. Parents, care-providers, and educators have found this presentation to shed new light on better understanding of the autism spectrum.

Johnny Seitz began life as a severely symptomatic autistic child; head banging, tantrums, face-blind and mind-blind. He is today, a successfully married adult, gainfully employed at a college of psychology, socially functional and a published author. This unique session is provides an informative, experiential presentation, which creates a memorable picture of autism from the inside. The session starts with a half hour mime-dance drama that presents a multi-media expression of slides, poetry, and mime, performed by Johnny and Chris Seitz. The poetry by Johnny Seitz is provocative, immersing the participant into the realm of autism. The performance can be followed by a lecture presentation by Johnny and Chris Seitz. A definitive message engages the audience; “Our worlds are very different and even though you think I don't have or express any feelings, I really do.” The myth that people with autism don't have any feelings is promptly dispelled. United States Senator Stille, who is a strong advocate for autism, has called it, “an evocative, important, educational tool”. This presentation creates a full sensory experience that integrates many truths, doubts and questions about autism.

In the lecture, Johnny Seitz elaborates his experience as a person with autism. One of the more important points covered is a look at how a mother's intuitive support served as a positive, early intervention which set the stage for a successful and fulfilling life. Johnny and Chris share about their lives together for the past 20 years in which Chris was able to gain a unique insight into the world of autism. Chris Seitz initiates the idea of autism as a distinct culture by expounding upon how cultures try to impose onto others, their way of thinking, seeing and learning, forgetting that other cultures have distinct ways of understanding and processing information. Chris Seitz introduces her distinct method of behavioral intervention, which she refers to as, Contact. The essence of Contact is respect. Chris considers respect, to be the most rudimentary, important element of any intervention and communication effort. Contact means, making an intentional, non-coersive, absolute connection with the individual you are working with. Contact can only be achieved if one is focused, acts with intention and is alert to one's intuition. Chris's Contact technique promotes partnership with the person with autism instead of imposing control or dominance.

The main goal of the program is to shift the paradigm of “fix my child”, to initiating full inclusion of parents and family members. It is important to develop an understanding that the homeostasis of the whole family is affected and thus needs to work together as a “whole”, not just to focus on “fix my child”. Family involvement can include parental training and counseling on the issues surrounding autism. The following pro-active measures are reviewed and provided as handouts for participants. 10 Step Pro-Active Measures provided are as follows:

1. Making Contact is imperative. Having a child's/adult's full attention before giving instruction is vital to communication efforts.

2. Identity disruptive behavior problems.

3. Identify stressors affecting the family and the person with autism.

4. Differentiate the behavior from the function of the behavior; this is a KEY element.

5. Create a calm environment

6. Learn and implement relaxation techniques.

7. Teach relaxation skills to the person with autism.

8. Create a stress management plan, which includes the whole family.

9. Spend quality time with the person with autism.

10. Maintain consistency in your program.

Included in the lecture, is an emphasis on the special attention that family members and care providers must pay, in order to be fully present for meeting the demands presented by the special circumstances of autism. Due to the constant state of anxiety experienced within a family that is affect by autism, parents, spouses and other family members most often develop symptoms that are overlooked.

a. Generalized Anxiety Disorder

b. Depression

c. Panic attacks

d. Post Traumatic Stress

When attention is given to these issues, decreased levels of stress and improved quality of life are reflect in the results. The message provided in this session reaches in, touches one's heart and reconnects participants with the love that has been hidden under waves of pain, disappointment, confusion and fear.

See more of The ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)