Autism Tennessee, Jessica Moore, Executive Director & Dave Griffin – Teen & Adult Program Manager

Speaker Friday, December 16, 2022

Autism Tennessee grew out of a group of parents who were struggling to deal with stigma and to find the right resources for their children over 25 years ago. At that time the understanding of Autism was changing dramatically. For many years, Autism was viewed as a psychological condition and “cold parenting” was considered a possible cause. However, in about 1987, The DSM-III definition of Autism changed pretty dramatically. Today Autism is considered a neurological and developmental issue that produces a spectrum of tendencies. There is no single stereotypical presentation of the disorder.

According to the CDC, Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. People with ASD often have problems with social communication and interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviors or interests. People with ASD may also have different ways of learning, moving, or paying attention. It is important to note that some people without ASD might also have some of these symptoms. But for people with ASD, these characteristics can make life very challenging.

Going back to the confusion over 25 years ago, these parents began sharing resources and useful information. Some of the parents began finding ways to give their thoughts and information more structure. Soon they formalized it into an organization that grew into Autism Tennessee, which is committed to

  • being the one door for your local autism community. 
  •  turning heartache to hope.
  • maximizing independence for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Jessica Moore grew up in Ohio and graduated from The Ohio State University with a BA in Human Ecology. She spent 5 years working as an Interior and Project Designer helping clients design and remodel kitchens and baths before deciding to stay home when she and her husband’s first son was born.  She is a graduate of The Sleep Lady’s Gentle Sleep Coaching program and has helped many children develop healthy sleep habits. She has served with AutismTN beginning in 2018 as a HELPline Advocate and most recently as Membership Director.  Jessica lives in Hendersonville with her husband, two sons (one of whom is autistic), and dog Jinxie, and enjoys spending time with friends and family, and gardening.

Dave Griffin holds multiple positions within the community in education and disability advocacy. He thrives in learning environments and excels in his position as Teen & Adult Program Manager. He is a self-advocate and a sought after public speaker in the autism community for sharing his story. Dave received his undergraduate degree from Duke University and Master’s Degree from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. In addition to his work with Autism Tennessee,  he is a substitute teacher for Metro Nashville Public Schools.  Dave is also a participant in Spectrum Pathways at Vanderbilt.  In his free time, Dave enjoys ballroom dancing, and he is a huge fan of the 1960’s sitcom Gomer Pyle USMC. 

According to https://autismtennessee.wildapricot.org/

Adults on the autism spectrum have worked hard to maximize independence and champion for their right to participant in society in a meaningful way.  Often the phrase, “Nothing about us, without us.” is used to promote the need for autistic voices at the decision making table.  Autism Tennessee takes that concept seriously, having representation among our staff, board of directors, and volunteers. 

We are honored to be a trusted friend for families who are navigating their autism journey. We are humbled to be the one door families can open to access all facets of autism support, education,  and network development.   

 Our Current Speaker Schedule

1/13/23Kim Kim — Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign
1/20/23Annual Meeting and presentation of new board (effective July 1)
1/27/23Dr. Candice McQueen — 18th president of Lipscomb University
2/3/23Todd Flowers — Nashville Inner City Ministry
2/10/23Williams Mason Jr. — National Action Network
2/17/23Carolyn Coleman — Being a death doula
2/24/23Angela Crane-Jones — NBIC (Nashville Business Incubation Center)