Chantal has presented in over 6 countries, 47 cities and 19 states and has provided virtual trainings on-line.
I was able to see both of your presentations today and I was fully inspired. I am a caregiver for a young man with CP and autism. We have struggled for years to find his voice and we are slowly getting there. Your talk today gave me ideas and motivation to try new ways to help him and his family transition into his young adult life. I just wanted to say thank you for everything you do. – Attendee, 2018 25th annual CARD conference Florida
Your keynote this morning brought memories of my role as a mother of a special needs son. You are an inspiration. God bless you and give you the opportunity to continue advocating for the most amazing human beings placed in this world . In my experiences working with the autistic I not only have been blessed but also had come to realized that this amazing humans are very close to what is really pure. Autistic human beings are the real and true meaning of love and Innocence. You touched my heart . Getting to know Jeremy through your experiences as a mother is an inspiration that I will use in my work. God bless him. – Attendee, 2018 25th annual CARD conference Florida
Chantal spoke openly and honestly about the obstacles. Her stories were real and entertaining, and she followed up every topic with a solution. We had only positive feedback from those in attendance. I have been to lots of conferences and worked with lots of speakers and Chantal is really right up there with the best!! Thank you Chantal for your leadership and inspiration. – Shelley Hubal, OPWDD Supervisor/Training Coordinator, The Family Resource Network Inc.
Chantal was a terrific Keynote Speaker and a Breakout Speaker at our Annual Convention. We had excellent evaluations from the audience and would bring her back without question. Top qualities: Great Results, Expert, Creative – Janet Donahue, Director of Development at The Arc of Illinois
Here are the different presentations Chantal can deliver:
Many have asked Chantal “How did Jeremy become the person he is today? We want to hear your story!” So here are two new options for keynotes that describe the journey!
“Greatly I Dream….” Keeping Sight of the Dream Even When Daylight Comes
This Keynote was developed and is more appropriate for an audience of k-12 educators and parents.
In this at times funny, at times heartbreaking personal account, Chantal describes how she helped Jeremy to make sense of the world around him as a young child with the help of educators and other professionals who shared their vision. Chantal humorously and lovingly wrestles with the trials and tribulations of her family’s successful attempt to change the prognosis given to her son when he was first diagnosed at age three: life in an institution. Some of the treatments and therapies that helped him are discussed, along with what Jeremy had to say about them later in life when he could effectively communicate. Twenty-six years later, Jeremy is living a life close to the dreams and hopes of his teenage self, with needed supports. Along the way, Chantal explores how she developed the grit and resiliency she needed as Jeremy’s mother and strongest advocate. Life-changing gifts are discovered, affirming the family’s belief that being “not like the others” means being different, but not less.
Love, Sex, God, & Autism
This Keynote was developed and is more appropriate for an adult crowd, including the general public or more specialized conferences discussing the inclusion of and support of adults with differences.
Love, Sex, God & Autism, is a universal and inspirational story about resiliency and adapting to change. In her 70-minute storytelling event, Chantal humorously and lovingly wrestles with the trials and tribulations of her family’s successful attempt to change the prognosis given to her child – life in an institution. It’s the hysterical and heartbreaking personal account of a young man’s quest for love, and a family’s search for normalcy – or at least inclusion! Along the way, Chantal explores how her upbringing provided her with the grit and resiliency she would need as Jeremy’s mother. Life-changing gifts are discovered, affirming the family’s belief that being “not like the others” means being different, but not less.
Living with Autism: Our Challenges, Our Strengths, Our Dreams
With advice and reflections from adults on the autism spectrum, as well as her personal experience as an advocate and parent of a young adult with an ASD, the challenges, strengths, and dreams of those living with autism will be discussed. Challenge areas such as sensory processing, communication, social relationships and safety will be explained. How building on a person’s strength or special interest can create community connections and employment opportunities will be explored. Finally, the dreams and hopes of those with autism and their families will be discussed, providing a greater understanding of neighbors who may be different…not less.
Why Me? Things I Wish I’d Known Sooner
In this dynamic and humorous keynote, Chantal shares lessons learned on resilience and re-invention during times of change. This positive and empowering presentation will encourage the audience to embrace change as an opportunity for new growth. Based on the journey she has traveled since her son, Jeremy, was born 24 years ago and diagnosed mentally retarded and severely autistic, Chantal shares lessons learned about adapting to change. Eventually, Jeremy graduated from high school, attended college, and is currently a Youth Representative to the United Nations for the Autism Research Institute.
A Full Life with Autism: Creating a Life Worth Living
The transition out of school district services to adult services is a challenge for both the young adults and the parents. This presentation based on Chantal and Jeremy Sicile-Kira’s book, A Full Life with Autism, explains how parents, early intervention specialists, educators, and adult support staff can best prepare themselves and their young adult for this important life change. Topics discussed include how to assist the young adult in creating a self-determined life based on their abilities, goals and interests, and how to create a circle of supports to help the person reach his or her goals.
Finding Our Way Together: Creating Positive Outcomes
An old Swahili proverb, “A boat doesn’t go forward if each one is rowing their own way” aptly describes the philosophy of collaboration and common vision that infuses this keynote presentation. Chantal’s inspiring message reminds us that although we may each be unique, by focusing on our similarities instead of our differences, together we can create the outcome that we all envision. Drawing from her personal and professional experiences, Chantal shares insights and hard-won wisdom on how different professionals (including parents) with differing viewpoints can come together as a team to move towards a common goal.
Keynotes with Chantal and her son, Jeremy
A Full Life with Autism: A Mother-Son Journey About Transitioning to Adulthood
This is a co-presentation by Chantal and her son, Jeremy. They explain each from their own perspective why the transition out of school district services is difficult and how parents can best prepare themselves and their young adult for this life change. They share information they learned while researching to write A Full Life With Autism (Macmillan 2012). Practical advice includes how to assist the young adult in creating a self-determined life; how to create a circle of supports to help the person reach his/her goals over a lifetime. Jeremy uses powerpoint with voice output technology for his portion of the presentation.
“Thank You for Giving Me a Voice”
This is a presentation by Jeremy Sicile-Kira. Jeremy was diagnosed as mentally retarded and severely autistic. Yet despite his movement differences and sensory processing difficulties, he graduated from high school at age 22 with a full academic diploma and a GPA of 3.78, and gave a commencement speech using voice output technology. In this inspiring presentation, Jeremy explains how all the different therapies and education throughout his life helped him to “make sense of the world,” the first step necessary for communication. Jeremy will discuss how he learned to communicate and eventually to graduate through the use of augmentative and alternative communication both at school and at home, and how new technology such as the iPad and wireless keyboards have opened his world, allowing him to connect with others.
Concurrent Sessions (1.5- 3 hrs)
Autism Life Skills: Ten Essential Abilities Every Child Needs and Deserves to Learn
With advice and reflections from adults on the autism spectrum, as well as her personal experience as an advocate and parent of a young adult with an ASD, the following essential life skills are discussed : *Making Sense of the World * Communication * Safety * Self-Esteem * Pursuing Interests * Self-Regulation * Independence * Social Relationships * Self-Advocacy *Earning a Living. Based on Chantal’s third book, Autism Life Skills, ( Penguin) this positive and empowering “bill of rights” for every person with autism, regardless of impairment level, this session will provide hope and help — so that every child has a chance to reach his or her full potential.
More Than Just Coping: Empowerment Strategies for Parents
This motivational and practical workshop provides parents the opportunity to explore the feelings that are inherent to having a child with an autism spectrum disorder, and gives practical and positive strategies for attitude adjustment. Challenging the notion of a ‘grief cycle’ and the loss of expectations; personal beliefs about disability and today’s society’s striving for perfection; knowing what battles to pick and overcoming the fear factor; and how to develop positive relationships with service providers and school districts are areas that are all explored Chantal’s presentation leaves parents charged and empowered to move forward with their lives.
Adolescents On the Autism Spectrum
Adolescence is a difficult time for everyone, neurotypical or not, as a person transitions from being a child to a young adult. To become as independent in adulthood as possible, teenagers of all different ability levels must learn self-care, appropriate behaviors, modesty and sexuality. Areas to be covered include: explaining about puberty and changing bodies, hygiene and self-care and how to problem-solve difficulties in teaching self-care routines, the importance of modesty, and what to do about masturbation. For safety reasons and in preparation for adulthood, all teenagers need to learn about relationship boundaries, and sexuality. Ideas for preventing bullying and abuse will be discussed.
Autism Life Skills : Transitioning Teenagers to Adulthood
The transition to adulthood is a challenge, not only to the teen on the spectrum, but to the parents and educators as well. Hard-won wisdom and practical tips on how parents and professionals can prepare their students of all ability levels – and themselves – for adulthood. Focusing on the life skills needed as an adult working and living with autism (and how to teach them), will be addressed. Preparing for employment, college, and long-term living options based on a teenager’s ability and interest, as well as networking for resources will be discussed.
Preparing for College
A successful transition to college involves careful planning and preparation for the student on the autism spectrum. Needed life skills for college life, such as self advocacy to request needed accommodations will be addressed. Challenge areas such as scheduling, organizing, socializing and dating, and how to prepare and support your youth in those areas will be discussed.
Preparing for the Real World of Work
Temple Grandin says that her work is what gives meaning to her life. Not all individuals on the spectrum are as talented as Temple, but with proper skill-training and preparation, many can have productive employment or careers. This session addresses all different ability levels on the spectrum. An overview of the different types of employment structures currently available, (including self-employment) in the community will be given, as well as a description of 10 top attributes employers are looking for in a potential employee.
Full Day Seminars (6 hours)
Adolescents and the Transition to Adult Life
Adolescence is a time of positive growth as well as challenges. This session will provide practical strategies for teaching teenagers of all ability levels the necessary life skills of self-care, self-regulation, self-advocacy, and self-esteem. What and how to explain about puberty, relationship boundaries and sexuality will be discussed, as will common adolescent concerns such as bullying and masturbation. The Individualized Transition Plan will be covered. Areas to be emphasized include: focusing on the student’s strengths, developing work or career skills, preparing for college, the different types of employment structures (including self-employment) as well as employer needs and the use of mentors.