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Dena Gassner, MSW

Dena Gassner on Self-advocacy

Self-advocacy Begins with the First Happy Meal

Dena Gassner, MSW
October 12, 2017

This presentation explores multiple expressions of self-advocacy for parents and autistic individuals. From asking for that plain hamburger to requesting a break, it's key that parents not only advocate but also teach these key skills to their children as early as possible, using age-appropriate skills. Learn how to give language to difficult moments and help children understand how they perceive the world differently. From that foundation, we can help children, teens, and transitioning adults to advocate for what they need and maintain a calm and positive focus for learning in school and the community. 

Dr. Dena Gassner is a PhD candidate in Social Welfare at Adelphi University. A wife, mother, grandmother and an autistic woman, she has presented to the United Nations, the National Autism Society of Scotland, to families and educators in Russia and to researchers at Cambridge University under Simon Baron-Cohen. She is a national board member with The Arc US and a consultant with AHANY. She's under contract for her third book contribution and will speak in Sweden in 2018. She began as an advocate for her son who was diagnosed with intellectual disability and autism at 3 and then for herself after she was diagnosed at 38. She seeks to live an authentic life not overcoming her autism, but by fully embracing it. She's not outgrown her autism--she's grown into it.