Conference offers forum for educators and families of kids with autism

Thousands expected to attend as the number of diagnosed autism cases continues to increase

University Park, Pa. — Educators, interested professionals and families of autistic children who hope to create effective educational programming will descend on Penn State's 2008 National Autism Conference, Aug. 4-8 at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel.

According to the latest figures by the U.S. Department of Education, the number of diagnosed autism cases has increased 172 percent since 1990. The amount of new cases continues to be a challenge for those who are educating and treating people with autism.

"As awareness of autism continues to grow, this conference will remain a vital forum for educators, providers and families to discuss the latest findings in treating and educating students with autism spectrum disorders," said Nancy Eckard, conference planner. "We host close to 400 conferences and meetings at the Penn Stater and the Autism Conference is one of the biggest."

The conference, which averages approximately 2,500 participants, will feature experts in autism, educators, autism advocates and people with autism and their family members. Speakers at this year’s conference include:

--  Eustacia Cutler, author and speaker, whose studies in autism and retardation led to two television documentaries: "The Disquieted," on disturbed children, and "The Innocents." Her book, "A Thorn in My Pocket: Temple Grandin's Mother Tells the Family Story," is in its third printing.

-- Rachel Marie Brooks, Miss Pennsylvania 2007, promoted her platform -- "Autism Awareness: Unlocking the Mystery" -- across the state. A graduate student in the University of Pennsylvania's Fels Institute of Government, she advocates for legislation and policies designed to benefit the autism community at the local, state and federal levels.

-- Joe Gans will share his challenges and successes as a 20-year-old Penn State student with autism.

The conference is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Information about the conference is available at http://www.outreach.psu.edu/programs/Autism/ online.

Contacts: 
Last Updated March 19, 2009