Penn State conference to focus on educational needs of students with autism

August 01, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Rachel Kittenbrink, who has worked with children with autism for the past 20 years, brings a new perspective to this year’s National Autism Conference at Penn State, as the mother of two children recently diagnosed with autism.

The National Autism Conference, to be held from Aug. 6 to 9 at The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center, focuses on the educational needs of students with autism and welcomes parents, educators and service providers to learn about autism research updates and to promote evidence-based interventions for school-based services.

Autism affects one in 59 children nationally, according to 2018 estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kittenbrink’s two children, both younger than 3 years old, were diagnosed with autism within two months of each other earlier this year.

“I’m going to air my family’s dirty laundry because sometimes sharing the realities of daily life is what people need to be able to actually tackle some of these challenges,” said Kittenbrink, who will present the session Social Communication and Reinforcement in the Home. “It’s an incredible motivator to try to help people, parents and professionals learn what can happen if the right interventions are put in place for children.” 

Several of the conference’s nearly 100 sessions will focus on the needs of young children on the autism spectrum, and speakers will share the services and best practices available from around the world. The conference also features activities for children with autism, including a science camp that explores artificial intelligence, a Children’s Institute and an Art of Expression exhibit.

Kittenbrink, who is the director of Pittsburgh Behavioral Services, says the ideas shared at the conference can have a significant impact on children with autism.

“The work of the PaTTAN autism initiative and the speakers at the conference have significantly influenced how I see children's potential and the significant influence that putting the right type of instruction and procedures in place can have on kids,” she said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Bureau of Special Education, PaTTAN and Penn State’s College of Education host the National Autism Conference. The conference is administered by Penn State Conferences and Institutes.

Visit the National Autism Conference website for more information.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated December 11, 2020