Autism Speaks, the world's largest autism science and advocacy organization, is a major sponsor and scientific participant in the 2010 International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR). Organized by the International Society of Autism Research, IMFAR brings together 1800 participants to hear from top scientists from around the world who will share their latest research into autism's causes, treatments and diagnoses. The conference is being held May 20-22 at the Philadelphia Marriott, 1201 Market Street.
"Autism is a worldwide challenge," commented Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., "and this conference offers an opportunity to bring together researchers from around the world to share and collaborate, which helps accelerate research on diagnosis, causes and treatments needed by families in every country." During the three-day meeting, Autism Speaks encourages the media to attend the below events. Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., will be available for interviews along with other scientists.
Wednesday, May 18
2:00 p.m. - IMFAR press conference. Scientists will discuss key studies to be presented during IMFAR including novel interventions for improving social skills children with autism that have been tested in general education classrooms; a study using an innovative brain imaging technique that sheds light on why toddlers with autism are delayed in developing; prenatal risk factors for autism; and the efficacy of the gluten free/casein free diet that many parents use with their children with autism spectrum disorders, hoping that it will improve symptoms. Dr. Dawson is available to provide comments on the importance and impact of these research efforts to the autism community represented by Autism Speaks.
Thursday, May 19
1:30 p.m. - Ethics of Communicating Scientific Findings of Autism Risk Panel, Dr. Dawson will be presenting. The session will report on the challenges and ethics of communicating to parents and others members of the general public the complex findings related to genetic and environmental risk factors. Among the topics to be discussed are the role of advocacy organizations, how scientific findings are outpacing clinical guidelines, and the use of the internet for communicating information to families.
Friday, May 20
10:30 a.m. - Autism Speaks' Innovative Technology for Autism (ITA) initiative will illustrate how novel applications of technology can be used to improve the lives of individuals with ASD, including innovative communication devices and techniques for promoting social interaction. Local area families have been invited to participate in this session to test the technology.
11:30 a.m. - Luncheon for families co-hosted by Autism Speaks and the INSAR Diversity Committee. This gathering is intended to make IMFAR more approachable for everyone, including families affected by autism.
3:45 pm - Very Early Intervention for ASD: Research Challenges & Promising Results, Studies exploring both behavioral and pharmacological interventions for very young children with ASD will be discussed. Dr. Dawson will participate in the panel discussion sharing information on the Early Start Denver Model, a new and proven strategy in providing treatment to toddlers. She will be discussing new research on factors that help predict which children will be most responsive to very early interventions.
7:00 p.m. - Autism Speaks and the INSAR Diversity Committee will co-host a dinner and meeting. The purpose of the event is to facilitate interactions and networking between the INSAR board/committee members with international researchers, especially those from low and middle income countries. The dinner will be followed by presentations on screening and diagnostic instruments adaptation and the development of more efficient tools for research and clinical care that can be used in countries with low resources. This event is not open to press, however interviews may be scheduled with Autism Speaks leadership and with involved international attendees.
Saturday, May 21
9:45 a.m. - Medical Care of Children and Adolescents with ASD: Findings from the Autism Treatment Network. Autism Speaks Vice President of Clinical Programs Clara Lajonchere, Ph.D. will chair this meeting to present findings from this Autism Speaks-funded network of 14 sites across the U.S. and Canada. This session will present new findings regarding the prevalence of GI, sleep, psychiatric, and other medical conditions associated with ASD as well as the wide range of treatment methods that are being used by parents to help address these conditions.