Lowcountry Forum Highlights Resources in Autism Community

Resources were more scarce in the ‘90s for kids with autism, according to Rob Scharstein, Executive Director at the Lowcountry Autism Consortium.

“We constantly had to fly people in or go other places to get the care our kids needed. That was really, really difficult,” Scharstein said.

And while we’ve certainly made progress, Scharstein says that there’s still a lot more ground to be covered.

In its second annual Lowcountry Autism Forum, LAC brought state, regional and national experts to Charleston on Saturday to help parents and professionals harness resources while addressing such topics as early diagnosis and treatment, the development of social skills, occupational training and long-term care planning.

The event featured keynote speakers Peter Gerhardt, education director for the New York’s McCarton School for children with autism, Lorri Unumb, vice president for state and governmental affairs for Autism Speaks in Columbia, and Frampton Gwynette, a pediatric psychiatrist with Medical University Hospital.

“I look forward to a time when autism is just another word,” said Gerhardt. “It’s just autism— that’s all. They’re people.”

Scharstein said almost 600 people registered for the forum, which took place at the College of Charleston’s Sottile Theatre on George Street.  The event was free and open to the public.

“One of the things parents tell us is that their child sees a speech therapist here, goes to school there, visits a doctor here—the illness is so complex that it requires a lot of specialists. Every time you add another specialist, there’s fragmentation. … If you’re seeing patients together in the same spot, research builds off of that and education follows suit,” Gwynette said.


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