October 10, 2019 06:30 PM to 08:30 PM

This event was so popular in 2018 that you are not going to want to miss it this year!

Find out from experienced parents how they handled challenges, what they would do differently, and anything else you want to know!  Come with your questions as the night will offer a Q/A style format.  

This will be a special night and will fill up quickly. A few things to know:

  • RSVP to reserve your spot!  
  • Please arrive between 6:10-6:25 PM so that we can get everyone registered/seated; we will start promptly at 6:30. 
  • Pizza and Salad will be provided for this event. 
  • Sorry, childcare is not available for this meeting.

Speaker Panel:

Agapi Burkard – Agapi drew upon her legal training and experience as a full-time mother and advocate of an amazing, engaging, and challenging child with Asperger’s to create The Burkard School. Now in its 5th academic year, The Burkard School is a school specializing in bright students who need additional support with self-regulation, executive functioning, and/or social-emotional learning in the classroom. Agapi is mom to two boys: a 9-year-old and a 13-year-old with high-functioning Aspergers.

Jill Escher – Jill is the mother of two children with autism: Jonny, who is 20, and Sophie, who is 13. She currently serves as president of Autism Society San Francisco Bay Area and also the National Council on Severe Autism. She is also a housing provider to adults with developmental disabilities and currently has 13 tenants with DD, mainly autism. Finally, Jill is an active autism research philanthropist (Escher Fund for Autism) and is known for her pioneering work in emerging questions of autism causation.

Suzanne Bennett Francisco – Suzanne provides disability rights and special education and advocacy services to people with disabilities and their families as CEO of Exceptional Rights Advocacy, LLC.  She continues to work alongside her former digs at KPS4Parents (Knowledge Powers Solutions for Parents), a 501(c)(3) non-profit advocacy organization. As a nationally published and recognized writer, subject matter expert, Suzanne heads up outreach initiatives on alternatives to conservatorship or Supported Decision-Making,   In 2018, she partnered The Arc of California and The Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University to create the SDM Bootcamp which is available online for further education. You can also find her recent SDM interview with the SCDD online.  With the rollout of California’s Self Determination Program, Suzanne now serves on SARC’s SDAC and practices as both an Independent Facilitator and a Person-Centered Planner. In addition to her undergraduate degree in Business, Suzanne is a current law student at Golden Gate University who plans to become a Disability Rights Attorney.  Personally, she is a mother to 3 teenagers with CMD and ASD as well as the sister of a woman with a significant disability who was a strong self-advocate.  

Kristen Brown – Kristen is the Mom of two teen boys with ASD.  She is currently Chair for the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education-SELPA IV (SJUSD & SCCOE) and parent representative on Santa Clara County Office of Education Task Force for Special Education.  In addition to her other endeavors, Kristen is currently costuming a production of Christmas Carol for Northside Theater.

Cindi Savelli – Cindi served as Facilitator for the PHP Anxiety & Mood Disorders support group from 2009-Spring 2019. Her 23-year-old son Antoine is a perpetual student at Oregon Tech in Portland in civil engineering geomatics (1/2 way through to a bachelor’s) and working.  He lives independently in a 2-bedroom apartment, managed by Mom. 🙂  Antoine was diagnosed with ADHD at 4, Aspergers at 9, bipolar at 13. He was homeschooled through 2nd grade, public school for 3-5 grade, private religious school for middle school, private independent high school in Menlo Park freshman-junior, and completing high school at San Jose Unified Middle College on the campus of San Jose City College in 2015. Her daughter Lydia is a pre-med senior at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.

Mary Burkhart – Mary is the parent of a son diagnosed at age 3 and now attending his first month in college as a mechanical engineer. Mary was hands-on involved in the schools as a volunteer and then as a reference for gaining social skills with in the schools. She eventually worked to be a certified behavior technician then went back to school and got a teaching credential and is now a fifth-grade teacher. Mary tries to look at the students’ perceptions and educate how different perceptions lead to misconceptions.

Looking forward to seeing you there!


Kat Kanaaneh is PHP’s volunteer Autism Support Group facilitator.  She started her journey with autism 10 years ago when she and her husband received their son’s diagnosis.  She didn’t know anyone with a child that had autism and the Autism Support Group was a lifeline for her.  She recently started a blog (www.StrivingMamas.com) to share her experience with other moms that have kids with autism.  She is looking forward to meeting everyone at the meetings!

There is a collection of excellent materials available on Autism Spectrum Disorder available for check-out at the PHP Resource Library for both parents and professionals.  Also, check out resources of interest in PHP’s E-Learning directory at www.php.com.

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