Thinking Positive About the Future for Young Adults with Autism & Learning Differences St. Louis Panel Presentation
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Thinking Positive About the Future for Young Adults with Autism & Learning Differences St. Louis Panel Presentation

Thinking Positive Panel St Louis

Featuring free panel presentations by several expert guest speakers who work with the Autism and Learning Differences community and young adult transition; offering advice on the key stages of transition to adulthood including: letting go, adjusting to college, finding success in the workplace and achieving independence.

Il Monastero, Saint Louis University – St. Louis, MO
February 18, 2016 | 6pm – 8:30pm

About the Presenters:

KarenTKaren Thomas is the Program Director at CIP Bloomington. She has supported young adults with developmental disabilities including those with autism spectrum disorders in secondary classrooms and community settings in the Bloomington area for the last 15 years. Karen believes that curriculum and instruction are most effective when it is person-centered, student-directed, and related to real life experiences. She has presented on topics related to transition issues, self-determination, self-advocacy, and technology at local, statewide, and national conferences.

Debora DavidsonDebora Davidson, PhD, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with over 35 years of professional experience. She has served as a faculty member in top-ranked OT programs, including Washington University and Saint Louis University. In 2011, she initiated Bright Futures, a private OT practice that helps young people with learning, developmental, and mental health problems to identify, plan, and attain their dreams for full and satisfying lives after high school. 


Aaron LikensAaron Likens, author of Finding Kansas: Decoding the Enigma of Asperger’s Syndrome, is an Autism Ambassador for Easter Seals Midwest Autism Services. In 2003, at the age of 20, Aaron was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Through his shared experiences with the diagnosis, Aaron has created a new vocabulary for parents, educators and therapeutic professionals that turned sterile, technical terms into an understandable narrative. Having been diagnosed later in life, Aaron is committed to advocating for early intervention services, and to helping members of the community better understand autism. Now, an accomplished public speaker, published author, and avid blogger, Aaron has led presentations and training sessions for more than 10,000 people throughout Missouri and across the nation.

Craig StrohbeckCraig Strohbeck is the Executive Director of Pathways to Independence, an agency focusing on supporting adults with certain disabilities to understand the social nuances of interacting with others and more fully participating in the community. Pathways has been performing this role for nearly 30 years by helping hundreds of individuals to build their network, interact more effectively and engage on a continual basis. Craig and the team at Pathways bring experience from backgrounds including Therapeutic Recreation, Social Work, Speech/Language Pathology, Occupational Therapy, Communications and more as seek to provide well-rounded programming that gives each person a chance to succeed.

Colleen StarkloffColleen Kelly Starkloff is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Starkloff Disability Institute (SDI). She has spent 42 years advocating the rights of persons with disabilities to live independent, productive lives in the community. As Co-Director of the Starkloff Disability Institute she helped to shape the Next Big Step initiative, a program focused on assisting adults with disabilities to be competitive job seekers in mainstream jobs. SDI welcomes disabled persons with college degrees or technical degrees to the Next Big Step program to assist them in finding the right job in corporate America. She is a local, national and international disability rights leader, and a dynamic speaker on disability related topics.

Jeanne EichlerJeanne Eichler, MOT, OTR/L, MT serves as a faculty member of Saint Louis University’s Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy and is both an Occupational Therapist and a Music Therapist. She has experience working with multiple populations and enjoys providing occupation-based, enjoyable strategies with a high level of success. Jeanne currently works with teens (Teen Connection to Social Competency) and young adults (OTonCampus and Connections to Independence: Bridges to Success) who have difficulty making friends and working with others, two very important skills for success in college and career. Jeanne also consults with parents, teachers and therapists to facilitate individualized, innovative solutions through her infamous “burying the peas in the mashed potatoes” approach.

Additional resources for the ASD/LD population will be provided.

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This has been a special needs program update from Asperger’s & LD College Programs. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.