Autism Society of Michigan holds conference in GR

Oct 21, 2015

Left to right: Kathy Johnson, former ASM president; Maxim Ziskie, recipient of the ASM Corey's Courage Award; Penny Bearden, President of ASM Board.
Credit Mariano Avila / WGVU

One in 68 children born in the United States today is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This week, the Autism Society of Michigan organized a conference in Grand Rapids to share and compare resources.

Kira Rockman has a 14-year-old child on the Autism spectrum. She attended the Autism Society of Michigan's conference on Monday because, she says, of the practical examples and the activities she can get there.  

"It's given me a lot of really great ideas about things that I can incorporate, just going to church, going to school and just every day ideas."

Penny Bearden, president of the ASM, says with schools cutting funding for "special programs," they look for ways to encourage achievement in children.

"You look for the strengths, you play to those strengths and you look to see where that's gonna take them in life because they've all got so much potential and so many things that they can do."

One of the students who has done many things is Maxim Ziskie, of Goodrich High School.

Although he was diagnosed at age six with high-functioning autism, he's an accomplished high-school freshman by any standard.

"I have been part of National Honors Society, I am part of the International Thespian Society through our High School's theater troupe. I am a black belt in martial arts."

Maxim also makes time to visit elementary schools and raise awareness about Autism.

"I actually do an autism awareness presentation." 

His message: 

"Just set your mind to a goal, and you can achieve it."