IFEA 64th Annual Convention & Expo IFEA 64th Annual Convention & Expo
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Comfort Zone: Stepping Outside of Ours to Create Experiences for Others

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Room -Tidewater A
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Nicole Miller
Autism Society, Tidewater, Virginia, Resource Coordinator

Nicole is a Chesapeake, Virginia native, graduate of Great Bridge High School and James Madison University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and International Affairs. For the past decade, Nicole has been an advocate for the autistic community as both an employee of the largest and oldest autism specific non-profit in the nation, but as a mother and wife.  Her son, Alex, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, and other co-morbid disorders over the years, and her husband is also on the sensory spectrum.  She works daily to located and provide resources to members of her local autistic community in Hampton Roads.  Nicole has completed several autism awareness and sensory inclusion trainings at a wide range of venues.  Yet, she is still an active volunteer in her local community.  It is her goal to create an inclusive environment for the autistic community in her community and nationwide.

Jan Hodgson
Autism Society, Tidewater, Virginia, Co-President

I am honored to serve as the Co-President of the Autism Society of America Tidewater affiliate. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Memphis. I have previously served on our Board of Directors from 1996 to 2007. With a desire to link adults with Autism to as many community supports and resource options as well as create opportunities and resources, I have decided to once again serve on the Board of Directors.   I am a sleep deprived Mom of two children, Zander and Maddie, and I have two bonus sons, Sam and Tom. I recently married PJ Hodgson who actively volunteers with me.   Zander is on the autism spectrum, nonverbal, limited signs and other medical diagnosis. Our family and the Z team are attempting to navigate the adult autism community that is unfortunately not ready to meet the needs of these individuals. Watching someone you care so much for, struggle daily to find their niche in our community is such a helpless feeling, especially when that person tries to reach out in their own way to make conversations and connections. Sadly, the world isn’t very kind to those they don’t understand, and opportunities for adults like Zander are just not readily available yet. I am looking forward to being a part of a growing chapter that continues to work hard to make a difference in the lives of individuals and families affected by autism. Together we can do so much more than on our own. 

Douglas Panto
Alzheimer's Association of Southeastern Virginia, Community Programs Manager

The Autism Society, Tidewater Virginia’s mission is to create a world where persons within the autism spectrum disorder are fully included, participating members of their communities. The Alzheimer's Association of Southeastern Virginia is similarly focused on those with Alzheimer's and Dementia.  In this important presentation, our main goal is to give you, as festival and event professionals, an overview of what both Autism and Alzheimer's are and the special sensory and other needs of those dealing with both, that can be addressed by events to make them more welcoming to everyone in your respective communities.