Chantal and Jeremy Sicile-Kira
Chantal’s passion for empowering others and her love of writing has led her to become an award-winning author, international speaker, advocate and leader in the field autism. Her greatest accomplishment has been raising her two children, including her severely autistic non-verbal son, Jeremy (now 27 years old)who has defied all expectations. In April 2016 Jeremy had his first curated sold out art show which garnered national media attention and invitations to juried Fine Art Shows. In addition, Jeremy has been receiving commissions for personalized paintings from around the country. Jeremy’s works of art now hang next to original works by Joan Miro and Yaacov Agam in the homes of art collectors, as well as in the homes of a few well-known celebrities. Jeremy is attracting attention in the same way that Stephen Wilshire (UK autistic savant) did at the beginning of his career. Some of Jeremy’s art and descriptions can be seen at http://www.jeremysvision.com/.
When Jeremy was diagnosed as severely mentally retarded and autistic, Chantal was told to institutionalize him and to get on with her life. Instead, she home schooled him when necessary, advocated for him in the public school system. Jeremy went on to give a commencement speech at his high school graduation using voice output technology https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8cEtand01w. As a young adult, he was a Youth Representative to the United Nations for the Autism Research Institute, an NGO.
Chantal has been involved with autism for over 25 years as both a parent and a professional on both sides of the Atlantic. Chantal has been invited to present in 10 countries, in over 50 cities in the US, has hosted online conferences and webinars, and MC’d fundraising events.
Born into a large French family, Chantal was brought up bilingual and bicultural in Ohio, New York and California. Family past times included cooking frog legs for breakfast over an open fire during summer months spent tent camping (with no flushing toilets) in the woods near Louisville, Kentucky. It was not until she was a young adult that Chantal learned that snails were not a traditional Thanksgiving starter.
Chantal received her BA in Social Ecology from the University of California at Irvine (UCI). Her first practical experience with autism was at Fairview State Hospital, teaching self-help and community living skills to severely developmentally disabled and autistic adolescents in preparation for their de-institutionalization and their new life in group homes in the community. Then, as a case manager for Orange County Regional Center for the Developmentally Disabled, Chantal provided information and resources to families.
Little did Chantal know that years later, these work experiences would prove invaluable when her son (now a young adult) was born and eventually diagnosed with autism in Paris, France, where the only treatment on offer was psychoanalysis. Chantal’s struggle to find appropriate treatment for her son led them to move to England, where they became one of the first families in the UK to run a Lovaas-type (based on applied behavior analysis) home program. Having been a service provider in California, and then a parent raising her child and dealing with the ’systems’ in France, United Kingdom and the United States, gave Chantal a unique and well-rounded perspective few people in the field of autism have.
A former researcher on BBC documentaries and a line producer on a TV Series in Paris, Chantal hosts webinars and online conferences on her website, AutismCollege.com. She blogs on Huffingtonpost.com, PsychologyToday.com, AutismCollege.com and is often asked to write for autism websites and magazines.
Over the years, Chantal has been active in many non-profits. Chantal has been invited by governmental agencies such as UNESCO and The French Ministry of Education to present at International conferences on education. Chantal was appointed by the California Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders to serve as the Co-Chair of South Counties Autism Regional Taskforce of the California Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders, and on the Taskforce on Transitional Services & Supports reporting to the California Legislative Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism.