Stacey Gordon, the Phoenix puppeteer who performs on “Sesame Street” as Julia, a curious 4-year-old with autism, is one of several local and national speakers on tap for the third annual Raising Special Kids Symposium in Phoenix on Thursday, Oct. 24.
Gordon owns and operates Puppet Pie, a downtown Phoenix puppet-building studio. She began her journey with the autism community in 2001 as a habilitation specialist and draws from that experience, and her experience as a mom, to bring Julia to life in an authentic, respectful and loving way. Gordon also teaches puppetry to a neurodiverse audience.
Opening the event — the theme for which is “Systems and Strategies for Managing Behavior” — is keynote speaker Michael Gurian, a marriage and family counselor in private practice and the New York Times bestselling author of 32 books, including “The Wonder of Boys” and “The Wonder of Girls.” Gurian pioneered efforts to bring neuro-biology and brain research into homes, schools, corporations and public policy.
Other presenters include:
- Lori Baudino, PhD, who specializes in dance/movement therapy to support children with cancer, special needs or terminal illness.
- Erin Callinan, an ASU graduate and author of “Beautifully Bipolar: An inspiring Look into Mental Illness.”
- Dan Davidson, a behavior-training specialist at Kaibab Behavioral Services in Flagstaff.
- Eva Marie Shivers, PhD, a third-generation south Phoenix resident and nationally recognized researcher on issues related to culture, community and family and child development.
- Jami Snyder, director of Arizona’s Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS).
- Ehren Werntz, PhD, clinical director for family and community services at Arizona Autism United, who focuses on the treatment of challenging behavior.
Raising Special Kids is a 40-year-old Phoenix nonprofit that provides information, resources and parent-to-parent support for families of children ages 0-26 with disabilities.
IF YOU GO: Raising Special Kids Symposium, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24. $85-$225 (A limited number of scholarships are available for family members and self-advocates.) Desert Willow Conference Center, 4340 E. Cotton Blvd., Phoenix. Register at rsksymposium.org