Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Community Reads Event Announced

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The 10th annual Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads Event will be held on Thursday, January 19 at Towsley Auditorium at Washtenaw Community College.  The event focuses on the 2012 Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads book selection Born On A Blue Day: Inside The Mind Of An Autistic Savant by Daniel Tammet, and will feature nationally-known Autism consultant Dr. Julie Donnelly and (via Skype) Dr. Darold Treffert, one of the world’s leading experts on Autistic Savant Syndrome.

The public program will occur from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.  Doors will open at 6:00 pm to offer the opportunity to connect with community agencies and representatives who will be staffing information tables in the lobby.  Many of these organizations will center on autism and local related services, and there will also be time following the event to interact with these local organizations.  Copies of the book will also be on sale.

Dr. Darold Treffert will discuss Extraordinary Savant Syndrome, highlighting recent developments in research on this remarkable condition, including acquired savants and genetic memory that hint at the hidden potential--a little Rain Man perhaps--within us all.  He will also discuss and show videos from his interactions with Daniel Tammet (the author of Born On A Blue Day) and Kim Peek (the original Rain Man).  Dr. Treffert wrote the forward for the original U.K. version of Born On A Blue Day and served as the consultant for the Oscar-winning film Rain Man starring Dustin Hoffman.

Dr. Julie A. Donnelly will focus on  the account of Jean-Paul Bovee, her child who was born with classic autism in a time when the advice of medical professionals was to put the child in an institution.  Julie was told that autism was “incurable by definition” and that her son's disability was her fault.  

Despite these opinions, she worked with her son in her home and with the help of his step-father and three siblings, he progressed and attended school.  His school years were difficult, but he continued to improve.  People were surprised when he graduated from high school, but he went on to finish college with two master’s degrees.  He later married and currently has a two-year-old son, to whom he is a devoted father.  

Julie, his mother, became a teacher of children with autism, then an autism consultant.  She is now a well-known speaker on autism and shares her perspectives from being a parent and professional.

Dr. Darold Treffert has appeared on numerous television and documentary programs including 60 Minutes, Oprah, Today Show, CNN, Discovery Channel in the U.S. and foreign documentaries in Japan, Germany, Australia, Sweden, Korea and many other countries.  He first met a savant in 1962 after developing the child-adolescent unit at Winnebago Mental Health Institute in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and has been engaged in research on savant syndrome since that time. He was a technical consultant to the movie Rain Man which made ‘autistic savant’ a household term.

His most recent book, Islands of Genius: The Bountiful Mind of the Autistic, Acquired and Sudden Savant, was published in 2010 with a forward by Daniel Tammet. He maintains an internationally popular website on savant syndrome thorough the Wisconsin Medical Society at

Dr. Julie A. Donnelly, Ph.D., is currently Associate Director of the Missouri Department of Education's autism agency.  She has helped to initiate an online Master’s Degree in Autism program for the University of Missouri-Columbia and teaches the autism classes in this program.  Julie has taught and consulted in the public schools for over 30 years and publishes and presents nationally and internationally.  She is the mother of Jean-Paul Bovee, who has progressed from having classic autism to gaining the skills to have a functional life.

Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads has been coordinated by several area organizations, including the Ann Arbor District Library, the Ypsilanti District Library, the University of Michigan, Washtenaw Intermediate School District, Barnes and Noble Bookstores, Nicola’s Books, Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw Community College, and many others.

Washtenaw Community College is located at 4800 Huron River Drive in Ann Arbor Township.  For more information about Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads or this event, check out the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads website.

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