By Ellen Moran
UMass Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center is co-sponsoring the Ruderman Inclusion Summit, which fosters awareness and advocacy for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and shares best practices. Disability experts from around the world are expected to participate in the conference Nov. 1 and 2 at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston.
The two-day conference will focus on advocacy and awareness in such areas as employment, housing, religious life and community life. Plenaries, workshops, panel discussions and TED-style talks will be featured.
The plenary speakers are Ron Suskind, Loretta Claiborne and John Hockenberry.
Suskind, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, documented his family’s 20-year struggle with his son Owen’s autism in a memoir, “Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism.” An advocate for better autism research and treatment, he has been working with researchers on Affinity Therapy, an autism intervention his family developed with Owen.
Claiborne, a Special Olympics athlete since 1970, was born with a physical and intellectual disability. She did not walk or talk until she was 4 years old. She shares her life story to encourage acceptance and tolerance for all people worldwide. In 2000, Walt Disney Productions filmed a biography of her life, “The Loretta Claiborne Story.” She is the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage – ESPY Awards, and honorary doctorate degrees from Quinnipiac University and Villanova University. She also has run 26 marathons and twice finished in the top 100 in the women’s race in the Boston Marathon.
Hockenberry, an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning journalist, is host of The Takeaway, a morning news program on public radio. He is a former correspondent for NBC News, ABC News and NPR, and has written newspaper and magazine articles, a play and two books. His memoir, “Moving Violations: War Zones, Wheelchairs and Declarations of Independence,” was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He speaks at conferences about the media, design and disability
The Shriver Center has a rich history of supporting research, education, and service aimed at improving the quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families. The center develops and provides a range of information and resources to individuals with IDD and autism spectrum disorder and their families – plus clinicians, educators, and human services agencies.