April 7, 2014

TERI CAMPBELL
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – Sherell Marie Sparks, a family service coordinator and certified rehabilitation counselor for the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Southern Illinois University, will be the featured speaker at a diversity and inclusion event held Friday, April 11, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Room C138 at John A. Logan College.  The event is free and open to the public.

Sparks has extensive experience in the rehabilitation field, serving persons with developmental disabilities.  She is responsible for coordinating entry and follow up services for families at the center and provides counseling services for parents and adolescents with autism. She also performs screenings for autism spectrum disorders and participates in community events promoting autism awareness.

Toyin Fox, director of diversity and inclusion at JALC and chair of the college’s diversity advisory committee, invited Sparks to speak in commemoration of National Autism Awareness Month.

“The diversity committee tries to bring speakers to campus to discuss a broad range of topics including disability issues,” Fox said.  “We have students who have autism at the college. Our Student Success Center here offers one of the best services for Autism Spectrum Disorder students among the community colleges in Illinois.  I thought it would be good to be more informed about or at least more aware of the challenges Autism poses especially in a higher education setting like ours.  This presentation is opportunity for us to have a better understanding of it.”

Fox hopes the presentation is well attended.

“Everyone, including faculty, staff, students, and community member are welcome to come and hear Ms. Sparks speak,” Fox said.  “I think anyone wanting to know more about autism spectrum disorder will find this presentation useful.”

The event is sponsored by JALC’s Diversity and Inclusion Program. For more information contact Fox at 618-985-2828 or 618-457-7676, Ext. 8586.