Hundreds Turn out to Rockland Autism Symposium, Thursday October 24th

Over 600 parents, teachers, and other community professionals gathered at the Pearl River Hilton in Rockland County last Thursday for the 8th Annual Rockland Autism Symposium. Sponsored by Mindworks, the charitable trust of Inna and Joshua Needelman, the free event provides autism stakeholders with relevant news in autism research and education.

The day opened with remarks from Rockland County Legislator John Murphy (R- Pearl River). Murphy is the president of Camp Venture, a non-profit providing day and residential services to children and adults with developmental disabilities. The Venture Foundation also contributed support to the Rockland Autism Symposium.

After County Legislator John Murphy opened the meeting, Peter Perri, Executive Director of the Interagency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies, Inc was the first to present. Perri explained how the changing face of healthcare in New York will affect those who care for individuals with autism. Perri’s discussion was followed by Dr. Russel Tobe of the Nathan Kline Institute discussing pharmacological interventions for individuals with autism. Following Dr. Tobe, Gina Zecchin-Tiri, certified behavior analyst and curriculum coordinator for Prime Time Upper School, discussed ways to revolutionize behavioral systems for students and educators. Next, Dr. James Cook and Dr. Jill Harper of Melmark, New England discussed the relationship between repetitive behaviors in autism, and Obsessive- Compulsive Behaviors, and how researchers are using physiological measurements such as heart rate to distinguish between the two. Finally, Dr. Joshua John Diel of the University of Notre Dame introduced his robot Kelley to the crowd, explaining how researchers are using robots as co-therapists to teach social skills to children with autism.

Additional support to the event was provided by the Rockland County Legislature and the Autism Science Foundation. Stay tuned to  information regarding next year’s event, which is sure to be informative and educational.

By: Stephanie Millman