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AUTISM Video & RESOURCE Collection

Understanding Autism: A KET Forum

The words "Understanding Autism A KET Forum" against a striated blue and white background

In this new program, host Kelsey Starks explores the spectrum of autism with doctors, therapists and those affected by this neuro-difference to help viewers understand how individuals with autism learn and interact with the world around them. They discuss education opportunities and early intervention and offer suggestions for navigating available resources.

Premieres: KET Tuesday, June 27 at 8/7 pm

Meet Forum participants

  • Dr. Gregory Barnes is a board-certified pediatric neurologist. He is also the director of Norton Children’s Autism Center in Louisville, Kentucky’s only autism center offering a full range of health, educational and behavioral services. Dr. Barnes is also Chair of the Kentucky Advisory Council on Autism
  • Representative Tina Bojanowski (D-Louisville) is an elementary special education teacher for JCPS and a parent of an adult son with autism. Her dissertation was on students with autism attending college. She is currently a Louisville representative on the Kentucky State Legislature who has championed legislation for students with disabilities. 
  • Scott Brinkman served as a Kentucky Representative (2001-2010). As the father of a child with autism, he focused much of his time as a legislator on developmental disabilities. Brinkman was the primary sponsor of HB 296 in 2005 which created the Kentucky Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The Commission published a report of recommendations to address ASD in 2006. He co-sponsored HB 159 in 2010 which created insurance coverage for diagnosis and treatment of ASD, as well as the Kentucky Applied Behavior Licensing Board
  • Susan Mills is the mother of a nine-year-old son on the autism spectrum. She is also an author, podcast and talk show host, and the founder and executive director of the nonprofit, My Autism Tribe. 
  • Tanya Sturgill is an autism resource specialist with Fayette County Public Schools, a role she has had for the last 20 years. Starting her career as a speech-language pathologist, Sturgill has been advocating for people on the autism spectrum for over 30 years. 
  • Dr. Marisa Toomey is a fellowship-trained, board-certified developmental-behavioral pediatrician from UK HealthCare/Kentucky Children’s Hospital in Lexington. She is also the older sister of a woman who has autism and moderate intellectual disability.
  • Melanie West, Exec. Director of FEAT of Louisville, Families for Effective Autism Treatment, has been part of the FEAT movement for years, volunteering and participating in the 5K and FEAT galas. She joined FEAT in 2018 as the Autism Friendly Business Program Manager and then became the Exec. Director in 2021. She is passionate about engaging and partnering with businesses to establish awareness, acceptance and appreciation for the autism community.

Featured interviews

  • Donovan Blackburn, Director, AVA Center
  • Cody Clark, autistic adult/creator of “Cody Clark Magic”
  • Patrick Elias, Participant, Kelly Autism Program and WKU senior 
  • Michelle Elkins-Burckhard, Ed.D., Director, Kelly Autism Program
  • Drew Hardison, LifeWorks participant
  • Joy McAlpine, LifeWorks participant
  • Mary & Kris Vaughn, parents of James
  • Sarah Webb, LifeWorks participant
  • David Wheeler, Executive Director of LifeWorks at WKU

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KET and PBS Autism Programs and Resources

Host Renee Shaw on KET's Kentucky Edition set

Kentucky Edition: Appalachian Valley Autism Center Opens to Help Children with Autism

To accommodate the growing need for autism services in Eastern Kentucky, a new center in Prestonburg has opened for children with autism.

Host Renee Shaw on KET's Kentucky Edition set

Kentucky Edition: LifeWorks Center at WKU Teaches Social Skills for Young Adults with Autism

Making the transition to adulthood can be especially difficult for those with learning challenges. Learn about a special program at WKU focused on giving these young adults the skills they need to work and live independently.

A guest on KET's Kentucky Health set

Kentucky Health: Autism

Dr. Erick Dubuque, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Special Education, UofL College of Education and Human Development, talks about the diagnosis and treatment of autism, including Applied Behavior Analysis.

A little girl smiling at a smiling woman

PBS for Parents: Helping Children with Autism Connect with Emotions

When it comes to having a child who is autistic or who may have a developmental delay, we may get caught up in the stereotype that they don’t or can’t express emotion.

A smiling woman hugging a smiling little girl

PBS for Parents: Helping Children with Autism Handle Everyday Transitions

Transitions can be difficult for a lot of children, but you want to be sure to pay close attention to them when your child is autistic. Transitions come in many forms, such as from activity to activity, subject to subject, place to place, etc. 

A smiling woman helping a smiling little boy at a kitchen counter preparing food

PBS for Parents: How to Support Children with Autism Who Have Special Interests

Strong special interests and passions are a part of life for many autistic children. These special-interest areas are different from hobbies because of the strong intensity of the child’s focus and preoccupation.

Sesame Street characters Abby Cadabby, Julia, and Elmo

PBS for Parents: Julia, Sesame Street’s New Character with Autism, Helps Kids Learn About Acceptance

While the autism diagnosis is common, public understanding is not. Stigma can lead to discrimination, verbal and even physical abuse. Sesame Street’s character, Julia – a four-year-old with autism – helps combat misconceptions and teaches acceptance.

PBS LearningMedia: How Can the Social Model of Disability Change How Society Views Autism?

The brain is the most complex organ in the human body and everyone’s brain develops in a unique way. Unfortunately, neurodivergent people, including those with autism spectrum disorder, have historically been viewed through the lens of the medical model. The social model of disability turns this around.

Elliot Garcia sitting on a stool looking at a music stand with a TV monitor and a microphone in the background

PBS NewsHour: Thomas and Friends Introduces Bruno, Its First Character with Autism

Nine-year-old Elliot Garcia, who is autistic, voices the first ever autistic character in the Thomas the Tank Engine series: Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go. Bruno is a bright-red brake car.

Two woman and a man sitting at a table on a TV set

PBS NewsHour: We Need to Include Children with Autism in the Real World

Helping children with autism make small steps toward overcoming hurdles in public life requires shifting some of the burden, says Whitney Ellenby, a mom to a son with autism. That means parents need to educate others by disclosing a child’s disability, and bystanders need to offer tolerance.

A silhouette of a person's head with four blue puzzle pieces on the skull area

PBS NewsHour: Why More Children Are Being Diagnosed with Autism

CDC data reveals an increase in autism spectrum disorder in the U.S. The report shows in 2020, one out of 36 children in America was diagnosed with autism. In 2018, it was one in 44, and in 2010, one in 68. Amna Nawaz discussed the findings with Dena Gassner of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee.

Daniel Tiger characters Max and Daniel sitting on the floor playing with blocks with shelves and toys in the background

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Daniel’s New Friend Max

Daniel meets a new friend, Max, who is autistic; Daniel and his friends help make Max more comfortable at Chime Time.

Sesame Street characters Abby Cadabby, Elmo, Alan, Big Bird, and Julia

Sesame Street: Meet Julia

While Big Bird plays with Elmo and Abby’s friend, Julia, he notices that she does things a little differently. Alan helps him understand about autism.

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Organizations and resources mentioned in the program

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