PuzzleThe Foundation for Human Potential, in partnership with Whitney Young Magnet High School, is pleased to announce its new up coming event,
Assessing Autism Spectrum Disorder: Turning Challenges into Advantages.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 68 children in the United States has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which is almost five times more common in boys than in girls. ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups and, for reasons that are only partially understood, is being diagnosed with considerably greater frequency today than in previous decades. As the name implies, the disorder comprises a spectrum of manifestations from mild impairment to extreme disability, and some people affected by ASD are extremely gifted.

ASD is a developmental disorder that may affect people’s ability to communicate and interact with others and to learn. But most children and adults with ASD possess individual strengths and learning abilities and are capable of making meaningful contributions to society. Understanding the impact of ASD on individuals and families is an important first step toward providing them with the support they need.

To facilitate a dialogue on this increasingly common and often highly misunderstood disorder, Assessing Autism Spectrum Disorder will feature child psychologist and widely published author Clark McKown, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Rush Neurobehavioral Center in Chicago, IL.The program will also showcase the inspirational story of Jason McElwain, a high school student with ASD who was able to excel as basketball team manager and demonstrate remarkable athleticism on the court that neither he nor others suspected he had, thanks to the interest in and respect shown for him by basketball coach Jim Johnson. Johnson recounted this story in the 2011 book A Coach and a Miracle: Life Lessons Learned from a Man Who Believed in an Autistic Boy.

Megan Mawicke, anchor and sports reporter for CBS 2 Chicago, will lead a discussion to engage students and teachers in topics of advocacy and community involvement, recognizing the positive direction of Coach Johnson.

The program will be presented to an audience of 100-150, including Whitney Young’s faculty and psychology students, as well as select guests. Its aim is to increase awareness and knowledge of ASD and to give students a basis for enhanced social skills for greater community participation with those affected by ASD. In so doing, students and teachers will be encouraged to accept such differences and become advocates for the people who have them.

Guest Speakers

Clark McKown

ClarkClark McKown, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the Rush NeuroBehavioral Center. Dr. McKown is a licensed clinical psychologist and Associate Professor of Behavioral Sciences at Rush University Medical Center. Dr. McKown received his doctoral training at the University of California, Berkeley and completed his pre-doctoral internship at Stanford University Medical Center’s Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Health Council. Dr. McKown’s clinical specialties include psychological assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with social, emotional, and learning challenges, including autism-spectrum, anxiety, mood, and disruptive behavior disorders. Reflecting a passion for understanding children’s positive social connections, Dr. McKown’s research focuses on factors that influence social status among elementary-aged children. In support of that work, Dr. McKown has received federal and foundation grants and has published and presented his findings widely.

Jim Johnson

100_0605Jim Johnson has served as the varsity boys’ basketball coach at Greece Athena High School, near Rochester New York. On February 15, 2006, an autistic high school student, the team manager, stunned the world when he entered a basketball game in the dying minutes and proceeded to shoot the lights out! CBS, ESPN,CNN and major news networks, globally, picked up the story. The You Tube video got millions of hits and the world was fascinated with everything about this boy, Jason McElwain

Jim’s book, A Coach and a Miracle: Life Lessons from a Man who Believed in an Autistic Boy, is the inspirational tale of the remarkable relationship between himself (Coach) and Jason (student). It reinforces the value of applying passion, goal-setting, perseverance and teamwork to any of life’s endeavors. Coach Johnson’s sense of compassion led him to give Jason the chance of a lifetime, the result of which is emblazoned far and wide!

Jim is a graduate of the State University of New York He is a member of several coaching and professional speaking organizations, has developed a motivational DVD and provides workshops on leadership and personal development.


Megan Mawicke

MeganMegan Mawicke, a Chicago area native, serves as weekend sports anchor for CBS 2 Chicago. She is a sports reporter for the station during the week.

Mawicke joined CBS 2 Chicago in 2004 from WMAQ-TV where she had served as a freelance sports anchor and reporter since 2002. Before that Mawicke worked at Fox Sports Net (2000-2002), serving three regions: Chicago, Bay Area and Ohio. In that position she anchored several 30-minute shows per day. Mawicke also hosted the pre and post game shows for the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks and served as a correspondent for the Bears.

Previously, Mawicke worked as a sports anchor and reporter at WBAY-TV in Green Bay, Wisc. (1998-2000). She also served as co-host for a one-hour live Green Bay Packer Monday Night kick-off show. Before that she served as a production assistant at WMAQ-TV (1998).

Mawicke began her television career with ABC News as a freelance producer during the Democratic National Convention and Presidential Inauguration (1996-1997). She later worked for Medill News Service in Washington, D.C., as a reporter for WKYT-TV in Lexington, Ky., WIFR-TV in Rockford, Ill., and WHO-AM in Des Moines, Iowa.

Mawicke is a four-time Big Ten Women’s Tennis Team champion and a two-time Illinois State Tennis champion. She competed on the WTA professional tour and in four NCAA tournaments. She received her B.A. in Journalism from Indiana University in 1995 and her M.S. in Broadcast Journalism from Northwestern University in 1997. In 2007 Mawicke won a Peter Lisagor Award for her story on the Bear’s long snapper. She has won three local Emmy Awards for her work on CBS 2 Chicago′s broadcasts of the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon (2004, 2005, 2006).

Mawicke is a marathon runner and is involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.