‘Understanding autism: A KET Forum’ premieres June 27

Autism, which is a complicated and often misunderstood neurological and developmental disorder, will be the subject of a forum on KET at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday, June 27 and on KET2 at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, June 29. The program will be available on demand at KET.org and the PBS app.

Kelsey Starks will host “Understanding Autism: A KET Forum” with experts including doctors, therapists and those affected by what some call “a neuro-difference” to help viewers understand how individuals with autism learn and interact with the world around them. They will also discuss education opportunities and the need for early intervention, and suggest ways to navigate the resources available. The studio guests will be:

• Dr. Gregory Barnes, director of the Norton Children’s Autism Center in Louisville and chair of the Kentucky Advisory Council on Autism

• Dr. Marisa Toomey, developmental pediatrics specialist at UK Children’s Hospital in Lexington

• Melanie West, executive director of Families for Effective Autism Treatment of Louisville

• State Rep. Tina Bojanowski, a special-education teacher in Jefferson County Public Schools and parent of a child with autism

• Scott Brinkman of Louisville, attorney and parent of a child with autism, and former state representative and state Cabinet secretary

• Susan Mills of Lexington, founder and executive director of the nonprofit My Autism Tribe and parent of child with autism

• Tanya Sturgill, autism resource specialist with the Fayette County Public Schools.

The program will also include recorded interviews with Kentuckians who live with autism or work in the field:

• Donovan Blackburn, director of the Appalachian Valley Autism Center in Pikeville

• Cody Clark, Louisville-based autistic adult/creator of “Cody Clark Magic”

• Mary & Kris Vaughn of Prospect, parents of a 16-year-old son with autism

• Patrick Elias, a Western Kentucky University senior and participant in the university’s Kelly Autism Program

• Michelle Elkins-Burckhard, director of WKU’s Kelly Autism Program

• Drew Hardison, participant in the LifeWorks transitional program at WKU

• Joy McAlpine, participant in LifeWorks

• Sarah Webb, participant in LifeWorks

• David Wheeler, executive director of LifeWorks

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