Annual Conference Speaker Bios
Brenda Smith Myles, Ph.D.
Brenda is an associate professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas, where she co-directs a graduate program in Asperger's Syndrome and Autism.
The recipient of the 2004 Autism Society of America's Outstanding Professional Aware and the 2006 Princeton Fellowship Award, she has written numerous articles and books on autism and Asperger's Syndrome including Asperger's Syndrome and Difficult Moments: Practical Solutions for Trantrums, Rage, and Meltdowns (with Southwick) and Asperger Syndrome and Adolescence: Practical Solutions for School Success (withh Adreon), the winner of the Autism Society of Americs's Outstanding Literary Work.
Dr. Myles has made over 500 presentations worldwide and has written more than 150 articles and books on the topic of autism and Asperger's Syndrome, with several being translated into other languages. In addition, she has been the recipient of many grants to support the education of students on the autism spectrum. Dr. Myles also serves on the executive board of several organizations, including the Organization for Autism Research and MAAP Services, Inc. Brenda has also been ascknoweldged by the University of Texas at Austin as one of the top most productive applied researchers in the ASD world.
Jesse is a best-selling author, autism advocate and motivational speaker. He is considered one of the most respected leaders in the Anti-Bullying movement of his generation. Jesse also has a form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome (AS). Individuals with Asperger's are imparied by a profound lack of social skills, common sense and resistance to change in routine.
After graduating from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2004 with a BA in English, Jesse set out to conquer the 2,174 mile Appalachian Trail to benefit the Joey DiPaolo AIDS Foundation. He began hiking from Georgia to Maine on March 9, 2005 and successfully completed the journey on October 18, 2005, raising more than $19,000 for children to attend summer camp who had contacted HIV/AIDS through prenatal transmission. Shortly after his hike ended, Jesse was exposed to some of the cruel realities of living as an adult on the autism spectrum and was treated as a social pariah by members of the community who did not understand. His decision to write a book was an opportunity to escape these realities and advoate for hie peers who are not always granted a voice.
Jesse's story, "Atypical: Life with Asperger's in 20-1/3 Chapters," was published by Penguin Group (USA) in April 2010 and immediately became a popular memoir due to its practical advice and outrageous humor. He chronicles his misadventures and extremes to improve his social skills. The book quickly rose to the top of Amazon.com and placed Jesse as a dynamic media personality, motivational speaker and most important, an advocate for people with disabilities.
Jesse visits schools on a regular basis and has been successful with wiping out bullying or at least dramatically alleviating it with every presentation. He is currently working on initiatives to pioneer a middle/high school class in New York State that will be similar to Health, but will focus on educating young people about misunderstood disabilities as well as the pyschological and legal consquences of bullying.
After receiving a grant from the Anderson Center for Autism (ACA) in Stratsburg, New Yorki, Jesse completed his first skydiving jump in front of his community in an effort to eradicate bullying. "Free-Falling to End Bullying" 2012 is currently a popular video on YouTube. Click here to view it!