Penn State Conference Offers A Family Perspective On Autism

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Experts estimate that two to six children out of every 1,000 will have autism, but these statistics hide the full extent of autism. The entire family is affected by autism. Family members will join educators, autism advocates and people with autism to offer their perspectives on autism at Penn State’s 2009 National Autism Conference, August 3-7 at the Penn Stater Conference Center.

Growing Up With Autism: Brothers and Sisters Speak Out

Experts estimate that two to six children out of every 1,000 will have autism, but these statistics hide the full extent of autism. The entire family is affected by autism.

Family members will join educators, autism advocates and people with autism to offer their perspectives on autism at Penn State’s 2009 National Autism Conference, August 3-7 at the Penn Stater Conference Center.

Cathy Scutta, lead consultant for the Autism Initiative for Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network and one of the conference organizers said that the National Autism Conference takes a unique approach by including the whole family.

“One of the most important and unique components of the National Autism Conference is the Children’s Institute.” Said Scutta, “We provide a fun, safe, camp-like experience for 100 children with autism and their siblings to attend, free of charge, while their parents attend the conference sessions to learn and network with other families and professionals.”

Scutta said the institute makes attending the conference more convenient for parents and reinforces the state’s commitment to children with autism.

“It is an amazing part of the overall commitment that the Pennsylvania Department of Education has toward families and children with autism,” Scutta said. “And the Children’s Institute is our effort to make attending the conference as easy as possible for the families whose lives are impacted by autism,” she said.

The conference includes a strand of topics for families that includes sessions such as, “Families of Children with Autism: Caring for Everyone’s Needs,” “Growing Up With Autism: Brothers and Sisters Speak Out” and “Parents Learning to Lead,” “Promoting Sleep in Individuals with Autism” and “Special Needs Trusts” which offer a family perspective on autism, as well.
The conference, which averages approximately 2,500 participants, will feature experts in autism, educators, autism advocates and people with autism and their family members. Keynote speakers at this year’s conference include:

  •     Joey Gans and team will highlight the success of a Penn State friendships that started during the preschool years. Hear from Joey, his family, and his fabulous friends about the success they built together.
  •     Temple Grandin will share the challenges and rewards of her life, highlighting how early intervention, sensory challenges, and the way she thinks has impacted her success.

The conference is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Information about the conference is available at 2009 National Autism Conference.

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Matt Swayne
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