February 2, 2022
2021-22 Wise Webinar Series:
My Life, My Success; Blowing up the Myths and Stereotypes around Autism
Curtis Harris is a remarkable individual. Through he and his family's grit and determination he was the first individual with autism to enroll in the Chicago Illinois Public school system, and later became a major disability rights advocate. With the skillful interviewing of his friend Chuy Campuzano we will learn about Curtis' amazing life and get perspective from his point of view on what we need to know to truly provide person centered services.
- Recognize that limitations shared by "experts" should not direct opportunities provided to people with disabilities
- Gain the ability to dispel stereotypes about autism
- Discover the impact of waiting lists for services and importance of advocacy
- Identify strategies to support self-advocacy and independence
- Understand the need to begin supporting strategies for dealing with stress and anxiety in the community
Chuy Campuzano was born and raised in Chicago Illinois where he still resides. Growing up in Chicago he went through the special education system. After graduating he never received services from the Illinois Council of Developmental Disabilities as he was unaware and uninterested in long term services. Chuy was ashamed and felt isolated with his disability. Fortunately, he joined, Access Living, a Disability Rights Organization in 2008. He began to learn about individuals with all types of disabilities and to accept them. This led to Chuy becoming a leader in the advocacy community.
Chuy is a member of the Going Home Coalition and chairs the leadership committee. As a member of the WOW team Chuy plans and co-hosts the meetings and created the WOW Facebook Group. Chuy is a regular presenter at the Speak Up Speak Out Summit. His project “Dis Life …An historical perspective of Lives that matter” has allowed him to conduct numerous interviews with individual in the disability community. Chuy believes that getting to know individuals and their strengths will lead to better outcomes in life. Everyone should be treated with respect and dignity!
As a 44-year-old black man with autism, Curtis serves as a self-advocate and champion for advancing issues related to the disability community. At the age of 4, Curtis was diagnosed with autism and predictions from ”experts” for his life were grim. His family and he ignored these predictions and he became the first student with autism to enroll in the Chicago Public Schools system in January of 1984 . After graduating from Chicago Public Schools system in 1996, he attended college for a span of 10 years.
Curtis currently serves on the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities, is a member of Access Living's Racial Justice Advanced Your Leadership Power (AYLP) and other advocacy organizations at Access Living that focus on Housing and Home Services Attendant. Curtis is a Board Member of the Chicagoland Autism Connection (CAC) and Vice President of a self-advocacy organization called CAC Trailblazers. Curtis is passionate about teaching us to treat individuals with respect and dignity, to get past the misunderstanding and stereotypes that many have about disability and to develop supports based on each individual.