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Countdown to the Conference: What Do We Have in Store for You?

This is a blog post by Peter Bell, Autism Speaks Executive Vice President for Programs and Services. In the post below, Peter discusses some of the exciting things we have in store for families and professionals at the 2nd Annual National Conference!

In less than three weeks, hundreds of individuals, families and professionals living with or working in the field of autism spectrum disorders will come together in Columbus, Ohio for the 2nd Annual Autism Speaks National Conference for Families and Professionals. The two-day meeting will take place on Friday, July 26 and Saturday, July 27, 2013 at the Hilton Columbus at Easton. We hope you can join us!

The theme of this year’s conference is “Treating the Whole Person with Autism:  Care Across the Lifespan”. We carefully selected this title and the high-quality speakers for two very specific reasons:  1) research strongly supports the concept that autism most often affects the whole person, not just the brain and 2) for most, autism will be a lifelong condition. The conference was designed to equip families and professionals with information and resources that will help individuals with autism lead the best quality of life possible. Our line-up of speakers is worth a closer look (click here for conference schedule).

We are honored to have two outstanding keynote speakers to open the conference each day. Self-advocate Stephen Shore, EdD will kick-off the first day with a presentation on “Creating a Fulfilling Life”. Stephen is a highly respected author and assistant professor in education at Adelphi University in New York where his research focuses on matching best practice to the needs of people with autism. Our second keynote speaker will be Paul Carbone, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah. In addition to being a general pediatrician with a strong interest in autism and related disorders, Dr. Carbone also has a son with autism named Ben. Dr. Carbone’s talk “Understanding Medical Issues from Childhood to Young Adulthood” will focus on the concept of a “medical home”, not only a place but rather a process of care that emphasizes “home” as a headquarters for care and a place where families feel recognized, welcomed and supported. 

After each keynote presentation, there will be several Science Sessions given by highly regarded researchers in their fields. On Friday morning, Sue Swedo, MD will provide an “Update on DSM-5” followed by sessions on “Genetics for the Real World” by David Miller, MD, PhD and “Advances in Understanding GI in Autism” by Alessio Fasano, MD. The Science Sessions on Saturday morning will feature two outstanding researchers from Vanderbilt University, Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele, MD presenting on “Advancing in Medicines Development” and Julie Taylor, PhD speaking on “Preparing for a Successful Adulthood”.

During the hosted lunches each day, conference attendees will be able to visit the Exhibit Space as well as participate in “Mini-Talk” sessions where they can receive quick tips and demos on many of the Autism Speaks Family Services and ATN/AIR-P tool kits.

The afternoon sessions will break into two tracks of concurrent panels:  one for Professionals (“Care in the Clinical Setting”) and one for Families (“Care in the Family Context”). Conference participants are welcome to attend either panel session.

On Friday, the first Clinical Session panel (1:30 – 3:00 p.m.) will focus on “Medical and Care Management”. Topics (and speakers) will include:  “Providing a Comprehensive Evaluation” (Patty Manning-Courtney, MD), “Guidelines for Associated Medical Issues” (Dan Coury, MD) and “Integration of CAM into Primary Care” (Bob Hendren, MD). The first Family Session panel will focus on “Planning for Health Concerns Across the Lifespan”. Topics (and speakers) will include:  “Planning for Adult Medical Issues in Childhood and Adolescence” (Paul Carbone, MD), “Managing Medically Complex Individuals” (Margaret Baumen, MD), and “Getting the Best Care for Adolescents and Adults” (Susan Connors, MD).

The second Clinical Session panel (3:30 – 5:00 p.m.) will highlight “Treatment and Management of Psychiatric Conditions”. Topics (and speakers) will include:  “Identification and Management of Psychiatric Conditions from Early Childhood to Adolescence” (Chris McDougle, MD), “Non-Medical Treatments: Cognitive Behavioral Treatments for Anxiety” (Judy Reaven, MD) and “Medication Management: Managing and Supporting Family Decision Making” (Evdokia Anagnostou, MD). The second Family Session panel will highlight “Creating a Fulfilling Life for the Individual with ASD”. Topics (and speakers) will include:  “Parent Perspectives” (Marianne Sullivan, Amy Hess and Karla Garcia Diaz) and “Inclusive Life” (Peter Gerhardt, EdD).

Saturday afternoon also will include two concurrent panel sessions (1:00 – 2:30 p.m.) followed by concurrent workshops (3:00 – 5:00 p.m.). The Clinical and Family Session panels will include the same speakers from the second session on Friday but switched; that is, the speakers from Friday’s Clinical Session will give presentations tailored for families while the speakers from Friday’s Family Session will give presentations tailored to clinicians. The final session on Saturday afternoon will feature concurrent one-hour workshops with the following options:


3:00 p.m.

Option A:  Basics of Early Intervention/ESDM (Geri Dawson, PhD and Lauren Elder, PhD)
Option B:  Managing Challenging Behaviors (Paul Carbone, MD and Jacquie Wynn, PhD)

4:00 p.m.

Option A:  Nutrition and Developing a Feeding Plan (Kelly Barnhill, MBA, CN, CCN
Option B:  Working with Nonverbal Individuals (Connie Kasari, PhD)


3:00 p.m.

Option A:  Nutrition and Developing a Feeding Plan (Kelly Barnhill, MBA, CN, CCN
Option B:  Managing Your Child’s Treatment Team (Amy and Tom Hess)

4:00 p.m.

Option A:  Social Skills (Felice Orlich, PhD)
Option B:  Managing Challenging Behaviors (Jacquie Wynn, PhD, BCBA-D)

The National Conference is open to professionals (clinicians, psychologists, nurses, allied health professionals, educators, behavioral specialists and other professionals), and individuals and families affected by autism. CME/CE credits are available for physicians and psychologists. Nursing CE is not being offered for this conference. However, some state nursing boards will accept CE activity that has been approved by a nationally recognized accreditation system of continuing education approval (i.e. ACCME). Individuals should check with their state board for additional information. All other professionals will be given a certificate of attendance. Please check with your specific licensing board about guidelines for credit.

Autism Speaks is pleased to host this conference with our partners* at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

On behalf of the National Conference Planning Committee, we hope you will consider joining us for this unprecedented line-up of speakers and topics that are important to the autism community. A limited number of fee waivers are available to families with financial need. In addition, a limited number of $25 off discounted registrations are available via the online registration site. The discounted rates are not available by registering with the paper form.

We also encourage you to attend one of the social events that will take place during the conference. On Thursday night, there will be a Pre-Conference Parent Event for all families from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. A Complimentary Welcome Reception will take place on Friday evening from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. for all attendees. Both events will take place at the host hotel.

We look forward to seeing you in Columbus!

*Partial Support for dissemination of program findings is provided through cooperative agreement UA3 MC 11054, Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health (AIR-P Network) from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.