The Help Group Summit 2006 Featured More Than 20 Leading Experts in Autism, Learning Disabilities & ADHD

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Two-Day Seminar for Professionals and Parents Presented Cutting Edge Information in Research and Best Practices

The Summit was an opportunity to hear from an extraordinary group of speakers who have made significant contributions to the body of knowledge in the area of neuro-developmental disabilities: knowledge that advances our theoretical foundations and informs our clinical and educational and public policy practices

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The Help Group (http://www.thehelpgroup.org), the largest and most comprehensive nonprofit serving children with special needs related to autism, Asperger’s disorder, learning disabilities, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, mental retardation, abuse and emotional problems, hosted The Help Group Summit 2006 that featured more than 20 of today’s leading experts in autism, learning disabilities and ADHD (LD/ADHD) on Friday, October 20 and Saturday, Oct. 21 at The Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, CA.

Dr. Barbara Firestone, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Help Group was joined by Dr. Paul Satz, Professor Emeritus and Dr. Peter Whybrow, Director, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at The Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA as Summit co-chairs. The Help Group Summit 2006 was generously sponsored by First 5 California, First 5 LA and Wells Fargo and was attended by more than 450 professionals and parents.

“The Summit was an opportunity to hear from an extraordinary group of speakers who have made significant contributions to the body of knowledge in the area of neuro-developmental disabilities: knowledge that advances our theoretical foundations and informs our clinical and educational and public policy practices,” said Dr. Firestone.

This year’s Summit featured Dr. Robert Bilder, Dr. Robert Brooks, Dr. Sophia Colamarino, Dr. Deborah Fein, Dr. David Feinberg, Dr. Jack Fletcher, Dr. Bruce M. Gale, Dr. Daniel H. Geschwind, Dr. Elizabeth Gonzalez, Dr. Stephen Hinshaw, Dr. David Mandell, Dr. James T. McCracken, Kris Perry, Dr. Albert “Skip” Rizzo, Dr. Sally Rogers, Dr. Laura Schreibman, Dr. James Swanson, Dr. Leanne Tamm and Dr. Louis Vismara. The program included a special half day session on Saturday, October 21, featuring Dr. Robert Brooks, who spoke on the topic of “The Power of Mindsets: Nurturing Resilience in Children with Special Needs.”

The Help Group’s Dr. Laurie Stephens, Director of Autism Spectrum Disorders Programs and Assistant Clinical Professor, Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior, presented “Building the Foundations for Social Development: Facilitating Play and Interaction Skills in Young Children Across the Autism Spectrum” and Dr. Philip Levin, Program Director, The Help Group – UCLA Neuropsychology Program, Director Outcomes Research, Assistant Clinical Professor, Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior, offered “The Effects of ADHD, NLD and Executive Functioning Delays on a Child’s Response to Reading Remediation.”

During the luncheon program, Dr. Firestone introduced The Help Group National Autism Foundation’s public service announcement campaign. The Foundation was established to promote autism awareness, early identification and intervention, education and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. Jim Gott, former LA Dodger and parent advocate for autism gave an inspiring keynote speech. Gott, father of two children with autism spectrum disorders, shared how he’s turned his professional skills as a Major League baseball player into strategies for life by “keeping it simple,” setting his children up for success and staying confident as a father.

Dr. Firestone presented The Help Group’s Champion for Children Award to Fran Pavley, California State Assemblymember of the 41st District, for her distinguished work as a legislator in support of individuals with developmental disabilities. On behalf of Cure Autism Now (CAN), President and CEO, Peter Bell accepted a Champion for Children Award for its outstanding efforts. On behalf of KCET, President and CEO, Al Jerome accepted The Help Group’s Media Excellence Award for its innovative daily television series, website and extensive outreach program “A Place of Our Own” for the series’ efforts in communicating the unique needs of people who care for children, including children with special needs. The luncheon program concluded with a special Lifetime Achievement Award to Summit co-chair Dr. Paul Satz in recognition of his significant contributions to understanding neuro-developmental disorders and to the progress of treatment.

ABOUT THE HELP GROUP. Founded in 1975, The Help Group is the largest, most innovative and comprehensive organization of its kind in the United States serving children with special needs related to autism, Asperger’s disorder, learning disabilities, ADHD, mental retardation, abuse and emotional problems. The Help Group’s six specialized day schools offer pre-K through high school programs for more than 1,200 students. The Help Group’s wide range of mental health and therapy services, child abuse, foster family and residential programs extend its reach to more than 5,000 children and their families each year. With over 700 staff members, The Help Group’s state-of-the-art schools and programs are located on four major campuses in the Los Angeles area. Through its professional training programs and efforts at the state and national levels, The Help Group touches the lives of children with special needs across the country and in other parts of the world. At the heart of its effort is its commitment to helping young people fulfill their potential to lead positive, productive and rewarding lives. For more information about The Help Group, please call 818-779-5212 or visit http://www.thehelpgroup.org.

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Deborah Smith-Roges
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